Seeing is Not Believing  -The Dictator and the Doctored Photo

Stalin manipulated photograph

Is the Trump administration taking a well-worn page from Joseph Stalin’s propaganda playbook?


Altered Image Womens March 2017

File this disturbing story under “Back in the U.S.S.R.”

On Saturday, the day of the 2020 Women’s March , the National Archives, our countries official record keeper exhibited altered images critical of President Trump taken at the Women’s March from 2017. Through the trickery of Photoshop,  placards critical of Trump and his policies were seamlessly blurred, his name magically erased for posterity.

Move along folks, no anti-Trump sentiments here.

Citing the need to avoid “political controversy” as the reason for the photo doctoring, it was controversy they got. Caught red-handed amidst an outpouring of outrage, the National Archives apologized admitting they made a mistake.

In a world awash in fake news with Russian bots allowed to run rampant unchecked, our government can’t just photoshop history as they please creating “alternative facts.”  It is the fundamental job of the National Archives to document history,  not alter it to better serve a needy and thin-skinned president’s ego.

But as we already know this pathetically insecure President’s bloated ego is every bit as large as other famous despots and fascist of history.  Setting a precedent from the very start, Trump began his presidency based on a doctored photo. Following direct orders from a self-deluded Donald Trump, a photographer photoshopped the official picture of the inauguration to make the crowd appear bigger.

Joseph Stalin would be so proud of Putin’s puppet following in his footsteps.

Now You See Him, Now You Don’t – Where’s Leon?

Altered Photo Lenin Soviets

On Nov 17, 1919, this photo (top) showed Soviet Leadership celebrating the 2nd anniversary of the Oct. Revolution. After Trotsky and his allies fell from power a number of figures, Trotsky included were removed from the image. (Bottom)

The Soviets, of course, mastered the art of erasing people from both photographs and history.

Trump can only dream, envious of the ease with which Stalin eradicated people. If only someone in Trump’s administration had been quick enough to photoshop the seemingly endless parade of photos popping up of Les Parnas surrounded by Trump’s inner circle. His smarmy visage is now as ubiquitous as  Wheres Waldo.

This despite claims of no one seeming to know who this man is.

Cut and Paste

Photo manipulation has long been a favored tactic of the most brutal dictators.

Long before Photoshop,  many historical photos were altered to appease the likes of Adolph Hitler, Chairman Mao, Mussolini and that grandaddy of photo manipulation, Joseph Stalin.

Great Purge

Photo of Nikolai Yezhov ( Naval Commissar) and Stalin walking along Moscow Canal. After Yezhov fell from power he was arrested, shot and his image removed by the censors

When it comes to alternative history, Joseph Stalin is the gold standard. During the Great Soviet Purge of the 1930’s he tried to rewrite history through copious photo manipulation and censorship.

Stalin was known for erasing all traces of those who fell out of his good side, were deemed disloyal or whom he no longer had use for. Most people disappeared not only in the photo but disappeared in real life too.

There was the famous 1934 photo ( above)  in which Stalin’s censures removed Captain  Nikolai  Yezhov from any photographic record including removing him from a photo where he smiled next to his former boss Stalin.

And Then There Was One

Stalin Soviet altered Photograph

The original picture left to right with party officials shows how after time each of Stalin’s comrades from the original shot was removed as they fell out of favor with Stalin.

Stalin made heavy use of photo retouchers to cut his deemed enemies out of official photographs.

He removed scores of party officials who had been photographed next to him on many events. As each fell out of favor they were literally snipped out of the photo until sometimes Stalin was literally the last man standing.

Paging Dr. Despot

Adolph Hitler manipulated photograph

Adolf Hitler and his minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, second from left, are seen laughing and joking with a group of people in this 1937 photo. Until he was cut out.

Doctoring photos seem to be the choice of many other brutal dictators.

Adolph Hitler removed his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels from a 1937 photo when he fell out of favor with the Fuehrer.

Mussolini Altered Photograph 1942

Mussolini Altered Photograph 1942

Benito Mussolini didn’t want to look like he needed any assistance from a horse handler as he triumphantly raised a sword in the air. He had the horse handler removed from a 1942 photo

A present filled with propaganda and lies makes for an unreliable future.




One comment

  1. Bravo, Sally. Another instance where you take mainstream news reporting to a higher level.

    Liked by 1 person

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