To be sure, Time did not always name those admired by its founder, Henry Luce, a liberal Republican and interventionist in the run-up to World War II. For 1942, it named Joseph Stalin for the Soviets' successful resistance to the Nazi invasion that began in 1941, but it had also, justifiably, named Stalin as the man of the year in 1939, because the Hitler-Stalin pact agreed to in August 1939 enabled Adolf Hitler to invade Poland without serious opposition. Indeed, Time also named Hitler man of the year for 1938, when he got Britain and France to appease him by destroying the power of Czechoslovakia to resist conquest.
Hitler was named Time's Man of the Year for 1938:
The Man of the Year story begins:
Greatest single news event of 1938 took place on September 29, when four statesmen met at the Führerhaus, in Munich, to redraw the map of Europe. The three visiting statesmen at that historic conference were Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain, Premier Edouard Daladier of France, and Dictator Benito Mussolini of Italy. But by all odds the dominating figure at Munich was the German host, Adolf Hitler.
I believe Time obtained their image from a Nazi film -- the same from which the following three images originate. These kinds of publications, especially during and shortly after WWII, gave rise to the popular notion that Adolf Hitler was insane. People seem unwilling to distinguish between the stage Hitler and the private man. He may have been insane, as it's an easy argument to make that a man who destroys millions of people with death camps and warfare qualifies as insane -- but the enraged Hitler who gave fiery speeches, with wild hand gestures and flying spittle, was a carefully created public image, one that seems to have only rarely appeared in private.
The 1931 cover story begins:
Fighting every inch of the way, three men stood out against the advance of Fascism in Germany last week: pale, bespectacled Chancellor Heinrich Bruning; white-haired Paul von Hindenburg; and their faithful lieutenant, Minister of the Interior and of War Wilhelm Groener. Each morning foreign correspondents in Berlin expected the Bruning Government to fall and Fascist Adolf Hitler, who only fortnight ago pounded a platform and shouted in his best Mussolini manner "Right goes hand in hand with Might!", to seize the Government. Municipal elections were held in Stuttgart. Hitlerites nearly doubled their previous vote. The provincial diets of Oldenburg, Brunswick and Hesse were all Hitler-controlled. Adolf Hitler sat in Berlin giving press interviews as though he were already Chief of State. In Leipzig a congress of pharmacists and physicians turned into a typical Fascist rally. Hitlerite orators, drunk with the sound of their own voices, shouted their program to maintain the superiority of "the Nordic race, the finest flower on the tree of humanity." They mentioned the hanging of Marxists, abolition of trade unions, compulsory sterilization of Jews.
The 1941 cover story begins:
The crucial spring of his career came last week to Adolf Hitler. He could see it in sheltered, sun-struck places around the Berghof where lilies of the valley, violets, Alpine roses, blue gentians, and wild azaleas bloomed, and in the green showing through the white on the Untersberg's slopes across the way. But he could feel it even more strongly in his bones: spring, when armies march.
The 1945 cover story begins:
Fate knocked at the door last week for Europe's two fascist dictators. Mussolini, shot in the back and through the head by his partisan executioners, lay dead in Milan (see below). Adolf Hitler had been buried, dead or alive, in the rubble of his collapsing Third Reich. Whether or not he had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage (as reported from Stockholm), or had "fallen in his command post at the Reich chancellery" (as reported by the Hamburg radio, which said that he had been succeeded as Führer by Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz), or was a prisoner of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler as a political force had been expunged. If he were indeed dead, the hope of most of mankind had been realized. For seldom had so many millions of people hoped so implacably for the death of one man.
If they had been as malign as he in their vengefulness, they might better have hoped that he would live on yet a little while. For no death they could devise for him could be as cruel as must have been Hitler's eleventh-hour thoughts on the completeness of his failure. His total war against non-German mankind was ending in total defeat. Around him, the Third Reich, which was to last 1,000 years, sank to embers as the flames fused over its gutted cities. The historic crash of what had been Europe's most formidable state was audible in the shrieks of dying men and the point-blank artillery fire against its buckling buildings.
Adolf Hitler or the incarnation of absolute evil; this is how future generations will remember the all-powerful Fuehrer of the criminal Third Reich. Compared with him, his peers Mussolini and Franco were novices. Under his hypnotic gaze, humanity crossed a threshold from which one could see the abyss.
At the same time that he terrorized his adversaries, he knew how to please, impress and charm the very interlocutors from whom he wanted support. Diplomats and journalists insist as much on his charm as they do on his temper tantrums. The savior admired by his own as he dragged them into his madness, the Satan and exterminating angel feared and hated by all others, Hitler led his people to a shameful defeat without precedent. That his political and strategic ambitions have created a dividing line in the history of this turbulent and tormented century is undeniable: there is a before and an after. By the breadth of his crimes, which have attained a quasi-ontological dimension, he surpasses all his predecessors: as a result of Hitler, man is defined by what makes him inhuman. With Hitler at the head of a gigantic laboratory, life itself seems to have changed.