A historian has uncovered hidden evidence that the first biography of Adolf Hitler, which helped propel him to power, was written by the dictator himself.
The 1923 book Adolf Hitler: Sein Leben und seine Reden (Adolf Hitler: His Life and his Speeches) presented Hitler as Germany's "saviour" and compared him to Jesus.
It was the first major profile of Hitler and appeared under the name of north German aristocrat and war hero Victor von Koerber.
Now Aberdeen University historian Thomas Weber has unearthed evidence, including signed testimony, hidden in a South African archive which he said demonstrates it was "almost certainly" written by Hitler himself.
He said: "The book, which also includes a collection of Hitler's speeches, makes some outlandish claims arguing that it should become 'the new bible of today' and uses terms such as 'holy' and 'deliverance', comparing Hitler to Jesus likening his moment of politicalisation to Jesus' resurrection.
"To find it was actually written by Hitler himself not only demonstrates that he was a conniving political operator with a masterful understanding of political processes and narratives long before he drafted what is regarded as his first autobiography, Mein Kampf, but also challenges the accepted view that at this stage in his life he did not see himself as the man to lead the German revolution.
"The image of Hitler that has been conveyed in recent years is of someone who even once he had entered the Nazi party was really doing the bidding for someone else - a gift to propaganda to attract populist support - and that it was only in the writing of Mein Kampf several years later that he came to believe he could be the saviour or German messiah.
"The fact Hitler wrote the biography and collated the speeches himself and put it together under a different name speaks to the fact that at a much earlier time he saw himself in this 'saviour' role and that he started in a very manipulative way to plot his way to the top."
Professor Weber made the discovery while studying von Koerber's private papers during research for his latest book about how Hitler became a Nazi.
He said: "Going through his papers, I soon realised that von Koerber, who later broke with the Nazis, had merely been a front for the profile and not its real author.
"I found a signed testimony given under oath by the wife of the book's publisher stating that Victor von Koerber had not written the book and that Hitler had asked General Ludendorff if he could find a conservative writer without any connection to the Nazi party to put his name to it.
"I also found a statement by von Koerber as well as a letter he wrote to a man with whom he had been incarcerated in a concentration camp that gave details about Hitler's authorship of the book."