August 13 – Acrobat Crowned King of Albania - Except It Didn't Happen!

Posted on August 13, 2017

On this date in 1913, Albanian troops crowned a German acrobat as their king!

Or at least, that's what the acrobat, Otto Witte, claimed. 

Here's his story:

Albania had broken away from the Ottoman Empire, and some Albanian Muslims invited a nephew of the Sultan to come to Albania to be crowned the king.

Somehow a circus acrobat named Otto Witte heard about this invitation, and realizing that he looked a lot like that nephew, Witte decided to try to fool the Albanians into crowning HIM king.

Witte said that he traveled to Albania with a circus friend, a sword swallower. And he introduced himself as the nephew and was actually crowned king!

For five days, according to Witte, he lived like a king, enjoyed the harem, and even declared war on Montenegro. When he was found out as an impostor, Witte not only managed to escape, he even claimed that he stole a big chunk of the King's treasury!

Does that whole story sound like fishy to you?

Actually, not only is there no evidence of most of these things happening, the evidence that exists proves that most of these events were impossible!

Why would Otto Witte make up such a crazy story?

First, you should know that he did benefit from the story. In Germany he became famous and was able to make many public appearances billed as the "former King of Albania." (Even his tombstone claims that title!) Some newspapers and magazines believed the story and neglected to fact check - and so they reported his story as truth and as news.

Second, there was may have been something wrong with Witte psychologically - something that made him lie even when the lie was going to hurt him or was going to be discovered to be untrue. A compulsive liar may or may not know he is lying and may or may not benefit from his lies. Maybe the compulsion comes from being unhappy with his ordinary life, a desire to live a more thrilling, dramatic, dangerous life...

Get this, Witte also made another untrue claim: he claimed to have founded a political party in Germany, further claiming that he ran for the presidency in 1925. His various accounts of the first round of the election (what would be the primary election in the U.S.) state that he gained 25,000 to 230,000 votes.

The Germans had election records, of course! None of that was true!

I'd like to assume that good old Otto was not able to help himself; when he opened his mouth, elaborate and detailed lies came out. We can learn a lesson from Otto: there are people in history who have made crazy claims that turned out to be "fake news," so we should be skeptical of unlikely stories until there is corroborating evidence.

No comments:

Post a Comment