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“Literally Hitler” is a hyperbolic expression that can be used to denounce an individual or group as being worse than the German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. On the social networking site Reddit, the phrase is also used to mock circle jerk discussions that ultimately manifest into examples of Godwin’s Law.
In August of 2009, the single topic Tumblr blog “Obama is Literally Hitler” was launched, which featured photographs of Barack Obama juxtaposed with Adolf Hitler to illustrate tenuous similarities (shown below). As of June 2013, the blog has since removed all published posts.
Around the same time the Tumblr was created, comparisons of Obama to Hitler had been on the rise in response to the growing debate about Obamacare healthcare reform. That month, a video of a Tea Party protester getting chastised by congressman Barney Frank after comparing Obama to Hitler during a townhall meeting surfaced on YouTube (shown below).
As early as August 10th, 2009, the “Obama is Literally Hitler” blog was highlighted on Gawker and the viral content site BuzzFeed. Also in August of 2009, the “Obama is Literally Hitler” blog was highlighted on On February 14th, 2010, the phrase “Obama is literally Hitler” was submitted to the blog Literally Misused. On October 25th, Bungie Forums member the squee masta submitted a thread titled “Men without moustaches are useless,” in which he asserted that men without moustaches were “literally Hitler.” On September 26th, 2011, the novelty Reddit account “Literally Hitler” was created. On November 16th, Redditor ravendward submitted a post to the /r/circlejerk subreddit, joking that the word “Nickelback” means “literally hitler” in Spanish. Before the post was archived, it received over 3,100 up votes and 100 comments. On January 2nd, 2012, Redditor chromiumsun submitted a video to the /r/videos subreddit, in which actor Will Wheaton accuses the Kardashian family as being “more depressing to me than Hitler” (shown below). In the comments section, many Redditors mocked Wheaton’s statement by referencing the “literally Hitler” meme.
On the same day, Redditor aidaman submitted a post titled “Upvote because the Kardashians are LITERALLY worse than Hitler” to the /r/circlejerk subreddit, garnering more than 3,200 up votes and 90 comments prior to being archived. On March 31st, Redditor Sforzato submitted a post titled “This guy is literally Hitler” to the /r/circlejerk subreddit, containing a photograph of Adolph Hitler (shown below). Prior to being archived, the post gained over 3,200 up votes and 50 comments.
On February 4th, 2013, the single serving site Is Literally Hitler was launched, which features a text input field to make custom images using the phrasal template “X is literally Hitler.” On March 18th, a similar serving site was created at LiterallyHitler.org, containing user submitted messages accusing others of being “literally Hitler.”