FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Time’s Buried Hitler Cover

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

New Orleans, Louisiana

A week after he was praised in Life’s magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” issue, Time magazine, in its scheduled April 20, 1934, issue went a step further by making the controversial German black-shirt nationalist, just installed as chancellor, the subject of a lengthy cover story, bearing the title quoted in the headline to this item. Eventually, after a last minute reconsideration by Time’s boss, Henry Luce, the cover story was shelved in favor of a report on the farm crisis in the Midwest. The Hitler story was already rolling off the presses when Luce issued the order to change the cover. The dumped edition, recently came to light in a long-lost Luce archive.

Throughout the article, Time’s reporters and rewrite team gave Hitler every benefit of the doubt. Hitler’s notoriously vitriolic hate speech was alternately dismissed as a put-on or excused as “from his heart.” The worst Time could say about Hitler is that he could “occasionally be coarse,” citing Hitler’s oft-repeated claim that Jews are “genetic garbage”. Time readers learned that Hitler is an omnivorous reader (the report mentions Gobineau and several American writers on population control), and that he regards himself “as a public intellectual.”

Hitler is dubbed “iconic” by Time because he “epitomizes the way politics is now discussed in the Munich beer halls.”

“Hitler has a reputation for carelessness with facts, “ Time reported, adding that its checking staff “did not in fact find many outright errors,” though the magazine acknowledged that Hitler was, in a sense, hard to “fact check” because he “rarely makes arguments based on facts”.

Throughout the cover story, Time presents instances where Hitler has been allegedly misunderstood or underappreciated. Hitler, it claims, “likes to shock reporters by wondering aloud whether Germany might be better off if the world was rid of global lice like Slavs, gypsies and Jews” but writes or speaks such things on “only to get a rise out of journalists” and enhance his political profile. Time recalls a 1932 Munich rally where Hitler offered his typical hyperbole: “We must drench the world in blood in retribution for Germany’s past injuries”. Unfortunately, writes Time, “his drench-the-world bit” would later be wrenched from context and repeatedly quoted as Hitlerian nuttiness or worse, The context, apparently, is that Hitler was laughing when he said it. Time admits that maybe not everyone would find the line funny.

Time downplayed Hitler ’s record of rank racism. Recounting his defense of racial purification, Time wrote, “It would be easier to accept Hitler’s reasoning if a shadow of bigotry didn’t attach to many of his statements about Slavs and Jews.”

Experts on Time’s history note that there was considerable pressure on the Luce empire in circulation wars with Hearst publications, whose proprietor, William Randolph Hearst, was an open admirer of Hitler. Admiration for Hitler was widespread among newspaper publishers. A few weeks earlier the New York Times had editorially welcomed Hitler’s assumption of the German chancellorship.

The Human Comedy

Here in New Orleans this beautiful first weekend morning of Jazzfest I stood on the corner of Esplanade and Chartres, on my way to a locksmith to avert a repeat of the imprisonment of all my belongings in the trunk of the ’82 240D Mercedes I just acquired in South Carolina. As so often, blame it on the vacuum system, and maybe a worn key. On the grassy median strip of Esplanade stood a young woman, in black jeans and t-shirt, multiply pierced, pale of face and looking as though the night had been a rough one.

Twenty yards away from her down the median strip stood a solemn young man in long heavy black overcoat and other Gothick accessories. The young woman gazed at him forlornly and finally called out, “Can’t we discuss this like normal people.” I’m glad to say the Goth finally shambled forward and a muted reconciliation transpired.

Nourished by this affecting site, I discovered that all locksmiths in
New Orleans, notably Rocks Locks on Paris Ave, close for the weekend and turned my attention towards Ann Coulter, whose appearance on the cover of Time had provoked a monstrous explosion in CounterPunch’s inbox. Pleasing testament to the sound cultural values of New Orleans, Time was hard to find. I eventually ran a copy to earth on the fourth floor of Virgin Records on Decatur, lurking among the glamor and beauty mags. I handed it over to the man behind the counter who glanced at La Coulter’s image with a shudder and hissed, “I can’t stand to display her books. Shall I put this under plain cover.” I agreed it would be unfair to the strollers on Decatur to flaunt Coulter on my arm and so he shoved her into a brown paper bag.

I read the Coulter piece back at the Richelieu and asked myself the question answered above. James Wolcott, my colleague at the Village Voice long years ago and now Vanity Fair’s Supreme Pontiff on media matters, had an excellent comment on his site, beginning thus:

It’s not worth wasting any more outrage on the subject of Ann Coulter.We all know what she is, and can hear in the brief quiets between her brash pronouncements the squeal and squeak of mice running wild in the messy hayloft of her mind. She’s an empty uproar with long legs and long shiny hair and a reputation for extending the cocktail hour indefinitely that casts her with what Paddy Chayevsky emphemistically called “an aura of availability.” Middle-aged men and younger can daydream that if they met her under under auspicious circs, as they say in Bertie Wooster novels, they might have a shot, a reverie harder to entertain about Wonkette, whose wedding ring is powered with a special wolf-repellent ray. Coulter may have female fans, I wouldn’t know, but her media stardom is primarily a male fantasy that is both sexist and racist. She is the pinup pundit of White Prerogative, her arrogant vanity perfect for a country and a media-political culture that refuse to recognize its postindustrial decline and decay. A country that still thinks it can whip the world into obeying its will.

Pollitt Wronged

A recent contribution on this website by Sherry Wolf stigmatized the Nation’s Katha Polllitt as having favored the US invasion of Afghanistan as a positive factor in the liberation of Afghan women. At the time of the attack Pollitt never adopted such a position and indeed positively denounced the invasion and associated flagwagging.

Disclosure Statement

The trouble with satires and parodies is that people believe them. So, just for the record, so far as the editors of CounterPunch are aware, there was no Time cover story on Hitler of the precise nature described above. But, yes, Hitler was popular at the time with newspaper publishers such as William Randolph Hearst and the NYT’s Sulzberger family.

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail