10 Historical Documents Proven to be Forgeries
We’re all aware of how important of an asset information is, but what some don’t realize is that it’s been that way for centuries. False information can be dangerous and can even alter the course of history as we know it, and the 10 fake documents below is the proof of that.
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
This document is a fabricated anti-Semitic text that “exposes” the Jews’ plan to take over the world. First published in 1903, the Protocols were largely responsible for the prosecution of Jews throughout history and the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany. For the longest time, it was believed to be true, and unfortunately, there are still attempts today to pass the Protocols off as genuine.
Memoirs of Mr. Hempher
Also titled “Confessions of a British Spy”, this book is a fabricated autobiography of a British spy that tells a tale of a man who allegedly founded the Wahhabism movement. The account states that the British were responsible for the movement initiated as a way to weaken Muslim morals and ultimately take over the Muslim population. Although obviously a fake, some Islam leaders still believe it to be a true account and it was of great significance to Islam conspiracy theorists.
This memorial is a fake account supposedly written by Japanese prime minister Tanaka Giichi and it details Japanese plans for world domination, which includes plans to take over the US, Russia, China and Europe. It has been proven to be fake but to this day, it is unclear whether the Tanaka Memorial was a piece of Soviet propaganda or a way for the Chinese to get support against Japan. It was also an instrument of the US war propaganda as a sort of Japanese equivalent of Mein Kamph.
Remember the Maine
One of the first examples of “yellow journalism”, the stories written under control of Joseph Pulitzer and W.R. Hearts were fake reports of news about Spanish death camps and torture in order to stir up public outrage at the Spanish empire. This was done because the American investors were concerned with their investments in Spanish colonies at the time. The sinking of U.S.S. Maine was quickly blamed on the Spanish which eventually led to the Spanish-American war.
Letter of Lentulus
The letter of Lentulus is an eyewitness account of Jesus’ appearance which was believed to be written by Pontius Pilate’s predecessor Publius Lentulus, but was later proven to not be authentic. Its influence, however, cannot be disputed, given that even today, we still mostly depict Jesus in accordance with the letter – blemish-free face and long chestnut hair and beard.
Donation of Constantine
This forged Roman imperial decree states that Emperor Constantine has transferred the authority over the Western Roman Empire to the Pope. The document was eventually included in Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals and was very effective in reinforcing the Pope’s authority throughout history. It is also believed to have had a major influence on the separation of Western and Orthodox Churches.
British newspapers leaked a fake letter by Soviet official Grigory Zinoviev just before the 1924 elections. The letter called for intensified Communist agitation in Britain and urged British communists to start a civil war. The letter led to a considerable worsening of Anglo-Soviet relations and eventually, although proven to be fake, served as a contribution to USSR’s pact with Nazi Germany a few years later.
This is a rare instance where misinformation was a good thing. Operation Mincemeat involved the Germans intercepting false secret documents detailing the war plans of the Allies. These were attached to a dead body of a homeless man dressed as “Major Martin” left on the coast of Porta Umbria, Spain. The Nazis “swallowed rod, line and sinker” and thousands of lives were saved as a result.
Even today, the impact of “Infektion” can be observed amongst the US population. Infektion was a Soviet campaign to discredit the US and it started with a letter to a pro-Soviet Indian newspaper by an “anonymous American source” that stated that AIDS was developed by the Pentagon as biological warfare and was being tested on gay prisoners. Even today, 15% of the American population believes that HIV was created by the government.
Niger Uranium Forgeries
Niger Uranium Forgeries were documents released by Italian Military Intelligence and depicted an attempt by Saddam Hussein to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger. The US and the UK believed, as a result, that Hussein was violating UN sanctions and attempting to produce weapons of mass destructions. The Forgeries were believed to be an important reason for the 2003 Invasion of Iraq – indeed, even George W. Bush believed them to be true, as he stated in his January 2003 State of the Union Speech.