10 Fake Documents That Changed The World

10 Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1903) First published in Russia, this book is an antisemitic hoax claiming to document a secret Jewish plan to take over the world

It’s authors remain unknown, but the contents were widely reported as fact throughout the world, with the likes of Henry Ford helping popularize it by distributing 500,000 copies in America alone Despite being exposed as fraudulent in 1921, the Protocols were used by several regimes as a reason to persecute Jews In Nazi Germany, one of the first anti-semitic measures was a boycott of Jewish stores in 1933, which was justified as a defense against the Elders of Zion It also helped provide a basis for the atrocities committed during the holocaust as Hitler ensured the book was studied in classrooms as factual and referred to it in his speeches as well as Mein Kampf Even after World War Two the book has been repeatedly cited as real – in 2015 the Polish defense minister said it might be genuine

Sources: National Geographic, University of California, Jewish virtual library, Anti-Defamation League, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Guardian 09 Memoirs of Mr Hempher (1868) This fake autobiographical account of a British spy named Hempher, supposedly provides evidence of a British plan to destroy Islam and the Ottoman Empire Published in Turkey, the memoir recounts Hempher’s supposed mission to weaken Muslim morals by encouraging alcohol and fornication but also by trying to divide Muslims through the creation of a new ultra-conservative form of Islam called Wahhabism The document even says that 5,000 British spies had infiltrated the Ottoman Empire, with 100,000 more to follow

Used to foster hatred of Britain and Wahhabism, the document is still popular amongst Islamic Conspiracy theories and it was used by Saddam Hussein’s regime to attack Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist royal family Sources: The New Yorker, Harvard, The Hidden Hand by Daniel Pipes 08 Tanaka Memorial (1927) Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Giichi [g-ee-chee] is said to have authored this alleged plan for World Domination on behalf of Emperor Hirohito The plan lists the order of the countries Japan would conquer and, as the real events of Japanese expansion during the war mirrored those in the document, it caused panic Now considered a forgery, it was used in Western propaganda as a way to stir up anti-Japanese sentiment and encourage more volunteers for the war effort

It’s true origins are still unknown, but it is rumored that it may have been a Russian plan to force the US into conflict with Japan, saving Russia a war on two fronts Sources: Monash University, Romerstein, H, ‘The Venona Secrets’, Operation Snow by J

Koster 07 Remember the Maine (1890s) As the Spanish Empire dwindled in the late 19th century American businessmen became concerned over their investments in Spanish colonies’ sugar, tobacco and iron industries Newspapers, under the control of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, began reporting fake news: Spanish death camps, cannibalism and tortures to stir up public outrage at Spain When the US

S Maine battleship sank of unknown causes Hearst was fast to blame the Spanish, helping to add to the growing anti-Spanish sentiment and eventually public pressure forced politicians to declare war Spain would lose the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rica and Guam to the USA in the ensuing conflict Source: pbsorg, University of South Florida 06

Letter of Lentulus (1474) The Letter of Lentulus is a fake document from the medieval era that was thought to accurately describe Jesus’ appearance The letter was supposedly sent to the Roman Senate after being written by Publius Lentulus, the governor of Judea prior to Pontius Pilate In it, Jesus is described as tall, with an unblemished face and chestnut hair Once considered an eyewitness account of Jesus, the letter is almost certainly fake as there are no records of a governor called Lentulus and the writing style doesn’t fit Roman conventions Despite being exposed, it is largely responsible for how Jesus’ appearance is depicted – even to this day

Sources: Lutz, C, The Letter of Lentulus Describing Christ, Tufts University, Jesus: The Great Debate by GR Jeffrey 05 Donation of Constantine (~750AD) This forged Roman imperial document states that Emperor Constantine transferred authority of Rome and the western parts of the Roman Empire to the Pope It provided the basis for Papal power in Italy and beyond for centuries, only problem was – it was a complete fake

Dubbed ‘history’s greatest forgery’ and thought to be created 400 years after Emperor Constantine’s death, the Donation of Constantine helped to break apart the Roman and Orthodox Catholics The East-West Schism followed shortly after Pope Leo IX used the document as proof that he was rightful head of all the Church It was discovered as a fake in the 15th century when studies showed the grammar and spellings to be too modern Sources: University of Washington, Harvardedu 04

Zinoviev Letter (1924) The Zinoviev Letter changed the face of British politics for 20 years and fundamentally damaged Anglo-Soviet relations in the lead up to World War Two The document called for communist agitators to mobilize and take over the ruling Labour Party – essentially turning Britain into a Communist country Supposedly written by senior Soviet official, Grigory Zinoviev, the letter was published just days before the British general election – which the Labour party lost The anti-Communist backlash it caused also hardened relations between Britain and Soviet Union, forcing the USSR into an isolationist policy with the West Although the author remains unknown, it is likely it was written by counter-revolutionary Russians but one explanation is that MI6 wrote the letter to oust the Labour Government

Sources: The Guardian 03 Operation Mincemeat (1943) In 1943 during World War Two, the dead body of a British solder was found floating off the coast of Spain A local German spy was informed and the corpse was found to be carrying top secret documents that revealed the Allies were going to invade Greece Only they weren’t The solider was actually a dead tramp and the documents were complete forgeries, created by British intelligence to hide the real target of the Allied Invasion – Sicily

It worked too and helped change the course of the war Germany moved 90,000 soldiers to Greece, making the invasion of Sicily far easier and helping topple Mussolini far faster A dead tramp and some fake documents had essentially saved thousands of lives Source: BBC 02 INFEKTION (1983) In 1983, an Indian newspaper published a report from an American scientist claiming that the AIDS virus was man-made and had been created by the Pentagon

Two years later biophysicist, Dr Jakob Segal, produced a report called “AIDS—its nature and origins”, in it he claimed AIDS had been developed by the USA and tested on gay prisoners Both the newspaper and Dr Jakob Segal were being operated by Soviet Intelligence, who were seeking to discredit the USA and distract the public from their own biological warfare testing The AIDS story was reported worldwide, particularly the idea that the USA was using the disease to target black people or other ethnic minorities

Aside from damaging US credibility, the conspiracy is still widely believed today, with 10 to 15% of Americans still believing AIDS was created by US Government agencies That number rises to 25% for African-Americans Source: io9, CIA 01 Yellowcake Uranium (2001) As early as 2001, Italian Military Intelligence agency, SISMI, provided the CIA with documents claiming to show that Saddam Hussein was attempting to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger to create WMDs These documents would later be used, in part, to justify the invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition

However, the documents were considered to be forgeries well before the conflict ever started In 2002 even the CIA itself had concluded that the reports were inaccurate, while the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded they were forgeries Yet the claim was still included in George Bush’s State of the Union speech in 2003 – three months later, the US, Britain and their allies began their invasion of Iraq The person responsible for forging the documents remains unknown, the consequences of the invasion are still being felt in the region Source: New Yorker, TIME, Vanity Fair

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