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.
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.