The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar Hoax, 1874
Did Poe say 'The best things in life make you sweaty'?
The disumbrationist art hoax, 1924
Sober Sue, the woman who never smiled, 1907
Mencken's fake history of the bathtub, 1917
September Morn, the painting that shocked the censor, 1913
Man flies by own lung power, 1934
Dead Body of Loch Ness Monster Found, 1972
Old-Time Photo Fakery, 1900 to 1919
The Lovely Feejee Mermaid, 1842
Operation Mincemeat, 1943
In 1943 the body of a British officer, Major William Martin, was discovered off the coast of Spain, near Huelva. British diplomats strongly requested that all documents found with the body be returned to them, and the Spanish government eventually complied. But upon examination, it was obvious the documents had been opened and read before their return. This was exactly what the British had hoped would happen, because Major Martin did not exist. He was part of a military hoax, codenamed Operation Mincemeat, designed to fool the Germans.

The British military had obtained a cadaver, chained a briefcase containing supposedly top-secret papers to its wrist, and dropped it in the sea off the coast of Spain. The plan was that the Germans, via the Spanish, would find the body and read the fake papers. The papers stated that the Allies' planned invasion of southern Europe would begin with an attack on Greece and Sardinia. In reality, the Allies planned to attack Sicily first. The hoax was successful. When the Allies launched their offensive on Sicily, most of the heavy German equipment had been moved to defend these other locations.

Ewen Montagu, the British officer who devised the operation, later wrote a book about it titled The Man Who Never Was. The book was subsequently made into a movie.

Links and References
Categories: Death, Military, 1914-1949
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.