Stalin sees himself as the "great leader and teacher of the Soviet people." He wishes the media to picture him as the true friend, comrade and successor of Lenin. If a few photos must be altered to accomplish this, so be it. During Stalin's "Great Purge" of enemies, untold millions succumb to famine or execution.

Original Newspaper, Izvestia. May 1, 1936
 
     
  Under communism, the government controls what images go to press. This "official image" has a dark story behind it. Sorrow, scheming and horror lurk behind the happy smiles in this 1936 photograph on the front page of Izvestia, which becomes a famous icon titled "Friend of the Little Children." The child is Gelya Markizova, whose father, Ardan, is shot for allegedly plotting against Stalin and whose mother, Dominica, is murdered mysteriously.  
 

 

 
The Commissar Vanishes
Communism and Propaganda
The News in Russia
Reinventing the Bolsheviks
Stalin Controls his Image
The Art of Deception
The Soviet Message
Death is Not the End
 
Stalin with helpful worker.   Original Projector magazine.
     
Even the little people feel the sting of the airbrush. In a display of Stalin's contempt for ordinary workers, one who points the way for "The Boss" at a party congress in 1930 is dutifully replaced by architecture. In the version printed in Projector magazine, Stalin doesn't need any help.