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Mayor praises Hitler's virtues

Adolf Hitler deserved to be voted Time's Person of the Year, according to a left-wing mayor in Budapest. The American magazine had also named Communist dictator Joseph Stalin and former French Prime Minister Pierre Laval as Person of the Year. Laval, who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, was later convicted and shot dead for treason.

"In 1936 or 1937, Time magazine chose Hitler as Person of the Year. Did he deserve it? He did, because his work up to that point has basically led to the spectacular rise of Germany, most notably after the global economic crisis. However, what happened afterwards doesn't really fit into this picture," Imre Laszlo, the mayor of Budapest's 11th district said at a municipal meeting. Imre Laszlo, who came to power as a member of the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) party - headed by Hungary's former disgraced Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany - was wrong, in that the former Nazi dictator was elected as Time's man of the year in 1938.

Time magazine began the tradition of selecting a Person of the Year (or, in some cases, persons of the year) in 1927. While for the most part the recognition was awarded to respectable politicians, scientists, researchers and freedom fighters, the magazine has had some shocking choices over the many years. In 1931, Time magazine's cover featured former French PM Pierre Laval, who cooperated with the Germans during France's German occupation (1940-1944), a crime for which he was prosecuted, and eventually shot dead for treason after the war.

Time's choice fell on the Communist dictator, Joseph Stalin, not once, but twice (1939, 1942). By that time, western intelligence services already knew that Stalin's secret police had killed hundreds of thousands of people and that he had carried out a purge within the ranks of the Red Army between 1936-1938. During the Great Purge three of the Red Army's five marshals, 14 of its 16 generals, and all of its admirals were shot dead.

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