It’s not often that Walter Presents gives us a slight comedic tone in its output – they’re far more associated with darker types of series from Northern Europe and elsewhere – but ‘Faking Hitler’ breaks that trend and gives us an amusing window into the events surrounding the faking of Hitler’s diaries in the 1980s (although it’s important to mention that much of the portrayal here is fictionalised).
If you want to avoid all spoilers, stop reading this article now.
Gerd Heidemann (played brilliantly by Lars Eidinger) is a hugely successful journalist (and somewhat unscrupulous Nazi obsessive) at Stern, a German national newspaper. He gets wind of a story about the discovery of journals written by Adolf Hitler – and sensing the potential for the biggest story of his career, not to mention his fixation with the führer – immediately heads to East Germany to investigate the authenticity of diaries.
Meanwhile, we meet Konrad Kujau (Moritz Bleibtreu) – a small-time fraudster who makes a living faking artworks and selling them off as originals. One day, whilst unsuccessfully trying to sell a fake of a Hitler painting, he realises he is able to imitate Hitler’s handwriting to such an extent that it fools even the most experienced of experts – and so he hatches a plan to fake his journals and make his fortune.
The third thread of the storyline involves Elisabeth Stöckel (Sinje Irslinger). She is a young journalist struggling to make her mark in a male dominated world where she’s often overlooked because of her youth and gender. So, when a story breaks about former Nazis in high-powered positions in Germany, she’s keen to investigate. But when one particular name is revealed, her personal life is turned upside down.
If you enjoyed the 2022 Netflix series, ‘Clark’ (about Clark Olofsson, the criminal who masterminded the Norrmalmstorg robbery in Sweden, a failed bank raid where the hostages ended up sympathising with their captors, coining the term Stockholm Syndrome) you will enjoy this show too. It has the same nostalgic, humorous feel – and is also based (loosely) on true events.
This is top-drawer stuff from the Walter Presents team – the script and acting is exemplary, and the 80s setting is a wonderful nostalgia trip for those of us who lived through the decade. The show has received various nominations and awards in Germany and beyond, including winning both Best Drama and Best Actor (for Moritz Bleibtreu) at the German TV Awards 2022. Also worthy of note is the music, which adds to the ambience without ever being intrusive.
It’s still early in the year, but this sets the bar pretty high in terms of any Best Series of 2023 lists – it really is that good. Essential viewing, in my opinion.
Walter Presents: ‘Faking Hitler’ is available as a full boxset on All 4 now.