Cautionary Tales – The Wild Turkey of Schleswig

There are eight American turkeys painted on the walls of St. Peter’s Basilica in Schleswig — which is odd… since the frescoes were created two centuries before Columbus crossed the Atlantic.

How were creatures added to the medieval biblical landscape? Is this evidence that the Germans reached the Americas long before Columbus did? Or do the painted birds tell a different story together?

Cautionary Tales written by myself, Tim Harford, and Andrew Wright. Produced by Ryan Daily, with support from Courtney Guarino and Emily Vaughn.

Sound design and original music by Pascal Weiss. Julia Barton edited the scripts.

Thanks to the Pushkin Industries team, including Mia Lubell, Jacob Weisberg, Heather Fine, John Schnarz, Carly Migliori, Eric Sandler, Emily Rostic, Roston Biserv, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano, Daniela Lakhan, and Maya Koenig.

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Further reading and listening

The definitive account of the Malskat case is the story of Jonathan Kitt Fake: Why Fake Products Are the Great Art of Our Time (2012)And the Completed by Sepp Schuller Counterfeiters, dealers and experts (1960).

I learned about the anecdote at Alice Sherwood authenticity (2022).

Bomber Command data on the Lübeck raid

The New York Times on the trial of Lothar Malskat

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