13 Aug: The Fake King of Albania

German circus performer Otto Witte went to his death-bed claiming he had been crowned King of Albania on 13th August, 1913 for a five-day reign which culminated with him being chased out of the country as an imposter.

Generally believed to have been a fantasist who invented the story, Witte was humoured by the German authorities in his life-time, and his tombstone in Hamburg bears the inscription, ‘former King of Albania’.

In this episode, Rebecca, Olly and Arion explore the phenomenon of the German ‘originale’; uncover the legend of ‘Sausage Hans’ and ‘the slag monkey’; and reveal who inspired the story of Baron Munchausen… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The Man Who Was King’ (TIME, 1958): http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,868723,00.html

• ‘The legend of Otto Witte, the impostor King of Albania’ (The Balkanista, 2018): http://thebalkanista.com/2018/10/04/the-legend-of-otto-witte-the-impostor-king-of-albania/

• An enterprising man acts out the works of the Cologne ‘originales’ on German Wikipedia: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%B6lsche_Originale