Fascists and Photoshop

The program Adobe Photoshop was first released in 1990, and has revolutionized modern photography. But photo manipulation has been a part of authoritarian rulers for much of the 20th century.

Joseph Stalin, commissar of the original “Great Purge,” frequently erased individuals from photographic evidence of his reign. The photo below is perhaps the most famous example of how Stalin sought to erase Nikolai Yezhov, a senior figure in the Soviet secret police during Stalin’s reign who was executed in 1940.

stalin photoshop

There is a whole website dedicated to the people erased from history during Stalin’s reign which you can check out here, and a wikipedia article on the subject here. The practice lasted well after Stalin, although in more subtle ways.

ENDNOTE: Stalin wasn’t alone. Mussolini wanted to look tough and got rid of his horse handler in this iconic photo.


About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Fascists and Photoshop

  1. Curzon says:

    Not sure if I should be amazed or scared or bewildered that 1940s Soviet technology is arguably superior to 2010s Egyptian technology…

  2. Graham J. says:

    I have been trying for ages to find a copy of David King’s out-of-print coffee table book about this called The Commissar Vanishes that costs less than $100. It’s harder than you’d think.


  3. Thomas says:

    Curiously, there is an internet meme going around Europe that involves photoshopping Nicolas Sarkozy into all sorts of iconic photos for comical effect.