The Museum of Hoaxes
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Life discovered on the moon, 1835
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
The damp spot that hoaxed a city, 1912
Eccentric's last prank, 66 years after his death, 1900
The Instant Color TV Hoax, 1962
The Berners Street Hoax, 1810
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
Prankster causes volcano to erupt, 1974
The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, 1959
The Hitler Diary Hoax, 1983
The Commissar Vanishes
During the 1930s Nikolai Yezhov was one of Stalin's most powerful officials. In 1936 he was appointed People's Commissar for Internal Affairs, in which position he led brutal purges, causing him to be widely feared. Yezhov can be seen in the top photo (undated, but probably from the mid 1930s), strolling along the Moscow-Volga Canal with Stalin, Defense Commissar Kliment Voroshilov and Premier Vyacheslav Molotov. Yezhov is on the far right beside Stalin.

But Yezhov's violent methods eventually provoked a backlash, and in the late 1930s he fell out of favor. He was arrested in 1939 and executed in February 1940. In a subsequently released version of the Moscow-Volga canal photo (bottom), Yezhov was no longer present. He had been removed by political censors.

This pair of images gave its name to The Commissar Vanishes, a book (and later museum exhibit) by David King that explores the history of Soviet photo falsification. It has become one of the most famous examples of how totalitarian regimes often doctor photos in an attempt to rewrite history.

Links and References
The Commissar Vanishes. Newseum.org.
Nikolai Yezhov, Wikipedia.
Photo Categories: Deleted Details, Politics, 1940-1959


All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.