The first biography of Adolf Hitler, which compares the Nazi dictator to Jesus and hastened his rise to power, was actually written by the fuhrer himself, it has emerged.
Adolf Hitler: His Life and His Speeches was published in 1923 under the name of German war hero Victor von Koerber, two years before Mein Kampf.
Aberdeen University historian Thomas Weber recently uncovered evidence which shows the book was written by Hitler.
Professor Weber said: "The book 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.
"To find it was actually written by Hitler himself 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."
Prof Weber made the discovery in a South African archive while researching his latest book about how Hitler became a Nazi.
He explained: "I stumbled across a reference to von Koerber's private papers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
"Once I had flown to South Africa, it quickly became apparent that surprisingly they had not previously been investigated in this context.
"Going through his papers, I soon realized that von Koerber, who later broke with the Nazis, had merely been a front for the profile and not its real author."
He added: "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 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."
"Taken together, the pieces of evidence now available to us build a compelling picture that this was indeed an autobiography written to boost Hitler's profile as the 'German saviour' and that even at this early stage of his career he was an astute and manipulative political operator."