On September 26 2019, a since-suspended Twitter account (@4truthbombs) shared an image purporting to show a very young Angela Merkel with a previous, infamous chancellor — Adolf Hitler:
Exacerbating the issue is the fact that Google Image Search automatically suggested “Merkel Hitler” or “Angela Merkel with Hitler” as a “possible related search”:
We were unable to find the specific photograph among archival images of Hitler with small children (and there are many.) However, a similar image showing what appears to be the same child and date stamped 1937 appeared in stock photograph archives of the Nazi leader attempting to use children to soften his image. The photograph was captioned:
Adolf Hitler talking with a girl, historical photo circa 1937 Adolf Hitler spricht mit einem Mädchen, historische Aufnahme, ca. 1937
It is not clear whether @4truthbombs was suspended over the mislabeled image purporting to show Angela Merkel with Adolf Hitler or for some other reason, but the disinformation has long been in circulation, and did not originate with that particular account. Claims like it rely on readers’ lack of inclination to fact-check basic aspects of the claim, as well as hopes that people would be swayed by a mislabeled photograph.
As noted repeatedly in response tweets, Chancellor Angela Merkel was born in July 1954. Adolf Hitler died on April 30 1945, ruling out all possibility that he had ever appeared in a photograph with her, much less — as some of the more overheated claims would have you believe — fathered her.