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Adolf Hitler: Time Magazine Man Of The Year, 1938 (Fact Check)

Time magazine’s Man of the Year started in 1927, then known as Man of the Year. The first person to come on the cover was Charles Lindbergh in 1928, supporting his historic individual flight across the Atlantic.

The magazine’s criteria for the selection is “the person or persons who most influenced the news and our lives, for good or ill.” The magazine wrote that Adolf Hitler fell within Time’s criteria for 1938.

After myriad readers complained, Time added a clarification on Aug. 21, 2014: “We’re not saying that these figures [i.e., Hitler, et al.] were ‘good people.

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Adolf Hitler was indeed responsible for many deaths.” The post also included a quote from then-managing editor Henry Luce, who said, “It is difficult to name one man who has done more harm than good. But I think Adolf Hitler may be the exception to that rule.”

We found no evidence that the media’s widespread praise for Hitler affected American views on him. Time Magazine’s Person of the Year selection for 1938, Adolf Hitler, had no impact on the negative public image of Hitler.

Hitler fell within Time’s criteria for 1938. It was the height of the Nazis’ power and foreshadowed the outbreak of war in Europe.

After myriad readers complained, Time added a clarification on Aug. 21: “We’re not saying that these figures [i.e., Hitler, et al.] were ‘good people. Adolf Hitler was indeed responsible for many deaths.” 

The post also included a quote from then-managing editor Henry R. Luce, who said, “It is difficult to name one madman who has done more harm than good. But I think Adolf Hitler may be the exception to that rule.”

We found no evidence that the media’s widespread praise for Hitler affected American views on him. Time Magazine’s Person of the Year selection for 1938, Adolf Hitler, had no impact on the negative public image of Hitler. 

Fact Check Of Claim

This claim is similar to one that appeared on social media in October 2016, which said, “Hitler was TIME’s Man of the Year in 1938.”

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The post is factually inaccurate. Time did not name Hitler its 1938 Man of the Year; the magazine denounced his tyranny in the issue by saying, “Forever and ever, amen, hell has a new master.” It would be more accurate to say “Time” magazine named him Time’s Person of the Year for 1938.

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