Historical sensation of the decade - or very clever forgery? That is the question raised by West German magazine Stern in its April 25 publication. The magazine revealed that it possesses 60 volumes of what it believes to be Hitler's secret diaries.
''On Monday the 13th of October, 1980, Stern reporter Gerd Heidemann telephones Berlin number 41 90 40,'' breathlessly begins Stern's 12 pages of text and 30 full pages of photos.
British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper says the pages handwritten in ink are for real, declared the London Sunday Times. But according to Reuters, Mr. Trevor-Roper says there is still a chance they could be forgeries.
The handwriting is his, says South Carolina writing expert Ordway Hilton. But Hitler wasn't in a physical condition to handle a pen after 1943 and could only have written in pencil, says Hitler specialist and history professor Werner Maser.
After 21/2 years of pursuing the issue, Stern is convinced that the 1932-1945 diaries are legitimate. While preparing publication of the entire text, it is revealing the juiciest bits first:
''The already anticipated main offensive has begun. The Lord God stand by us.'' (Probably April 16, 1945)
''I almost believe (SS chief Heinrich Himmler) is no longer right in the head.'' (June 17, 1943)
''Report is reported to me of some ugly attacks by people in uniform (on ''crystal night,'' the first onslaught on Jewish synagogues and shops) in some places also of Jews beaten to death and Jewish suicides. Did these people go crazy? What will they say abroad. (sic) The necessary orders will be given immediately.'' (Nov. 10, 1938)
''I gave (SA chief Ernst Rohm) the chance to draw the consequences (of offending Hitler himself) but he himself was too cowardly to do so. On my order he was later shot.'' (July 3, 1934)
Soviet chief Yuri Andropov has stepped up the warning to West Germany not to accept the new NATO missiles planned for initial deployment in December.
''If that (deployment) happened, it would have the gravest consequences for the Federal Republic (West Germany) itself,'' said Andropov in a written text that appeared in the April 25 edition of Spiegel magazine. ''Judge for yourself what damage would arise for these relations if the territory of the Federal Republic would become the starting point from which a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union and her allies could be launched.''
In response the West German government warned Moscow not to misjudge Western determination in this issue.
Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher told Hesse radio, ''The faster the Soviet leadership recognizes that the Western states are determined to do what is necessary for their security, the faster it will also be ready to contribute to concrete (Euromissile arms control) negotiations.''
In a lighter vein, in the oral part of the interview with Spiegel editor Rudolf Augstein, Andropov confessed to a fondness for Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata.
Hot arguments continue to rage here over policy toward East Germany. The object of the exercise, however, seems more to give ''profile'' to each of the parties in the center-right coalition than to change ''Ostpolitik'' (detente policy).
In brief, the further right of the two conservative parties, the Bavarian Christian Social Union and its leader Franz Josef Strauss, is calling for a tougher policy toward East Germany. This might even go so far as to disinvite East German party and state chief Erich Honecker from his prospective visit to West Germany next fall.
The junior coalition partner, the Free Democratic (Liberal) Party, is warning against Strauss's urgings and defending ''continuity'' - i.e., continuing to deal with East Germany in a businesslike fashion and going ahead with the Honecker visit.
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Chancellor Helmut Kohl is thus left in the position of ''integrating'' his two coalition partners' ideas rather than initiating new policies of his own. The word from the chancellery is that Honecker's visit is still on - but that it is understood that such a visit must lead toward ''concrete'' results, presumably in the humanitarian field.
In the exchange, Dr. Strauss has thus once again carved his own ''profile'' as a rhetorical hard-liner - while at the same time blowing a smoke screen over his party's concessions in virtually all foreign policy issues to moderates in Chancellor Kohl's CDU.
At the same time the Liberals have had a splendid chance to proclaim both Liberal loyalties and their firm opposition to right-wing excesses of their favorite bogeyman, Strauss.