It was one of the biggest media scandals in German post-war history: In 1983 the “Stern” published the diaries of Adolf Hitler. But they are fake.
A fabric made for films. Or series. In “Schtonk!” Helmut Dietl took up the topic in a satirical way in 1992. At the beginning of the 90s there was also a British television series with comedic elements. Now the streaming portal RTL + has grabbed the exciting story and also produced a series. And like the podcast released in 2019, it’s called “Faking Hitler”.
The podcast told the story from the point of view of the faked “Stern” reporter Gerd Heidemann and the art forger Konrad Kujau based on original recordings of phone calls between the two. The new six-part series also paves the way for the diaries to be published – tongue-in-cheek, entertaining and with fictional elements.
The story is told from the point of view of Kujau (Moritz Bleibtreu), Heidemann (Lars Eidinger) and the young journalist Elisabeth Stöckel (Sinje Irslinger). She is struggling with the fact that her father (Ulrich Tukur) was part of the Waffen SS as a young man and that she is now being blackmailed by a Jewish Nazi hunter (Daniel Donskoy).
With the film, UFA producer Tommy Wosch also wanted to get to the bottom of the question: How much National Socialism is actually in our society? “So just this silent mass. The crazy, tattooed idiots with combat boots, you can also count them numerically,” he told the German Press Agency in Hamburg.
The subject had already preoccupied him as a child and adolescent, which was reinforced again by the Pegida movement. And unfortunately it remains current: “A few weeks ago the AfD reached almost 30 percent in my constituency. I mean, it just doesn’t stop. It’s unbelievable.” Wosch incorporated this context into the script about the story of the journalist and her father with a Nazi past.
As the main theme for both strands, he has chosen the subject of seduction and seducibility. Seduction through money, through fame, through recognition. “I like films where people can’t stop at their peak,” says Wosch.
RTL +: Moritz Bleibtreu made the bathtub a problem
Moritz Bleibtreu plays in “Faking Hitler” the sleazy, brazen and talented art forger Konrad Kujau, who not only forged the Fiihrer’s diaries, but also allegedly produced pictures painted by Hitler. With an excellent Swabian-Saxon dialect and a fat mustache. The series was written with “rascal in the neck” – and so he was allowed to play his role, that was what attracted him to the role, said Bleibtreu of the dpa news agency. “I always love acting comedically. My first love was always comedy and it will always stay that way.”
The Kujausche gibberish was easy to slip off his lips. “I speak several languages and am also pretty good with dialects. Not only is it easy for me, it is also a lot of fun for me.”
Much more difficult for him was holding his breath in the bathtub, which Kujau does every now and then in the film. “I hate to keep my head under water in the bathtub. There is water in my ears. And we shot almost three days in the bathtub. But I think it turned out really nice,” continued Bleibtreu.
The series is not only captivating with its light comedy and the story that is as unbelievable as it is true. Above all, she is fascinated by the characters. One likes to follow them through their emotional roller coaster rides, and in some cases maybe even understand their decisions. And everyone for himself – despite or maybe because of it – always gets sympathy points.
Lars Eidinger as a Nazi-obsessed journalist
Lars Eidinger slips into the role of the legendary “Stern” reporter Gerd Heidemann. In an interview with the RND, the actor spoke about the role. Heidemann would have been a great collector of Nazi devotional objects in his day and “even bought Göring’s yacht and sold his row house for it”.
Eidinger didn’t like “Schtonk!” and busy with the podcast to create your very own character. “One of the attractions of fiction is that you can ignore the limits of reality. I interpret Gerd Heidemann, but I don’t act out him.”
You can see “Faking Hitler” from November 30th, 2021 at RTL +.