Famous Historical Moments That Were Photoshopped

Published October 1, 2017
Updated January 9, 2018

From Stalin to Hitler to Lincoln, these famous photoshopped photos will make you question history.

Famous Photoshopped Photos Churchill

Source: Kings Of War

When anyone is in a position of power, public perception becomes either your foundation, or a tidal wave that will swallow you and your legacy whole.

Which means, of course, that PR becomes an incredibly important tool to have in your arsenal. This is why all public figures have countless advisers and managers whose only job is to look after the images of their superior. They do not only reflect the powerful’s persona to the masses, after all; they create it.

PR gurus meticulously examine every image, tweet or video that goes public to ensure that they convey the right message. If they don’t, they are altered or thrown out.

Nowadays, thanks to Photoshop, alteration has become as quick as it is common, and virtually every image in every newspaper or magazine ever gets touched up a bit (or a lot!). But even before Photoshop was around, pictures were being altered to fool the masses and distort perception.

Check out some of the most famous photoshopped photos throughout history…

Famous Photoshopped Photos: Joseph Stalin

As part of the trade, dictators are pretty great at doctoring images. Since they are usually not inconvenienced by a free press or those who feel free to express their opinions, it’s a lot easier for their cabinets to control every image of their beloved leaders sent out to the press.

Famous Photoshopped Photos Yezhov

Source: Wikipedia

Case in point: here is a relatively standard photo of Stalin along with other Soviet officials. To Stalin’s left is Nikolai Yezhov, head of Stalin’s “police force”. However, at one point Yezhov fell out of Stalin’s good graces and was removed from office. As was standard practice for Stalin, he attempted to have Yezhov removed from history as well, and had him eliminated from public record, including the above image, one of history’s most infamous photoshopped photos.

Famous Photoshopped Photos Stalin

Source: Tumblr

Leon Trotsky

Photoshopped Photos Trotsky Waving

On the left, Trotsky is seen waving next to Lenin. On the right, he is gone. Source: Reddit

Leon Trotsky was really the one who lived through his own erasure from the Soviet Union.

As Stalin’s main rival, Trotsky was a trusted advisor to Lenin and was the one who everyone, Lenin included, saw as the next in line to take power. Stalin, of course, would ensure that that never happened and, as with Yezhov, proceeded to scratch out any signs of Trotsky from the public record.

Famous Photoshopped Photos Lenin

Another image where Trotsky was airbrushed out. Source: Business Insider

Adolf Hitler


Source: Postiar

This example is a bit more confusing. For some reason, Joseph Goebbels is removed from the original image, but we are not sure why. The two of them never had a falling out, and Goebbels remained by Hitler’s side until the end.

Famous Photoshopped Photos Hitler

Source: Postiar

As a bonus, here are a few more photoshopped photos showing Hitler in possible disguise. These were created after the war by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) out of fear that Hitler might have escaped Germany.

Famous Photoshopped Photos Disguise

Who knows, he might have been your neighbor Source: Rare Historical Photos

Benito Mussolini

Creating an illusion of power and grandeur is essential to the success of any megalomaniac with dictatorial aspirations. In the image above we have Benito Mussolini appearing all heroic and triumphant.

However, the real photograph shows a horse handler making sure that the horse doesn’t rear at an inopportune time, dropping Mussolini on his fascist posterior.

All That's Interesting
Established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together a dedicated staff of digital publishing veterans and subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science. From the lesser-known byways of human history to the uncharted corners of the world, we seek out stories that bring our past, present, and future to life. Privately-owned since its founding, All That's Interesting maintains a commitment to unbiased reporting while taking great care in fact-checking and research to ensure that we meet the highest standards of accuracy.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.