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Does the cover of the October 2023 issue of the German satirical magazine Titanic feature a cartoon of people wearing masks depicting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, with a title that translates to "This time there won't be enough sweets for everyone"? No, that's not true: Titanic's webmaster confirmed to Lead Stories that this supposed cover is fabricated. The official cover archives for Titanic and the publication's digital platforms contain no cover image of trick-or-treaters in Zelenskyy masks begging for candy.
A version of the claim about the supposed Titanic cover originated in a cartoon image shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, on October 19, 2023 (archived here). Text on the image read, "Dieses Mal wird es nicht genug Süßigkeiten für alle geben," which, according to DeepL, translates from German to English as:
This time there won't be enough sweets [candy] for everyone.
This is how the post appeared at the time of writing:
(Source: X screenshot taken Fri Nov 3 16:41:00 UTC 2023)
Titanic is a German monthly satirical magazine based in Frankfurt. The magazine's supposed cover image (above), which used a Halloween theme, was shared widely on X (for instance, here and here) in October 2023.
The image featured a lookalike version of the Titanic logo in the upper lefthand corner and a group of Halloween trick-or-treaters in green fatigues -- some with the Ukrainian flag -- and wearing masks of Zelenskyy's face. A stereotypical image of an Orthodox Jewish boy is the only one whose pumpkin is overflowing with candy.
The fake Titanic cover coincided with a push in Congress for more funding for Ukraine.
Smaller text in the top righthand corner showed the supposed issue number ("Nr. 11") and the issue date (October 2023):
In a November 3, 2023, email to Lead Stories, Titanic's webmaster, Alexander Golz, denied that the cover is legitimate. Golz wrote:
this was not done by us.
The image is an instance of imposter content, which the News Literacy Project, an educational nonprofit, defines as content that "falsely uses a well-known name, brand or logo to fool people into believing that it is authentic content."
Lead Stories looked through Titanic's archives for all its 2023 magazine covers and did not find an issue with the above image on its cover. A look through the contents section of the October 2023 issue made no reference to "Zelenskyy," "Halloween" or "candy."
Similarly, a search through the publication's website did not result in the image posted on X.
(Source: X screenshot taken Fri Nov 3 20:49:51 UTC 2023)
(Source: X screenshot taken Fri Nov 3 20:52:07 UTC 2023)
Titanic's authentic October 2023 cover had nothing to do with Ukraine or Zelenskyy. Its headline for a satirical photo of a Nazi-themed bathtub bacchanalia read: "Falsches Spendenkonto angegeben: TITANIC rettet aus Versehen den STÜRMER." (DeepL translation: "Wrong donation account given: TITANIC accidentally saves the STORMER.")
The outlet posted the official cover of the October edition via X on September 29, 2023, with a caption that read, "Das neue Heft ist da!" ("The new issue is here!"):
(Source: X screenshot taken Fri Nov 3 17:25:00 UTC 2023)
It's not the first spoof Titanic cover that has been presented as authentic, either. In late October 2022, a few weeks after Zelenskyy met with representatives of the world's leading economic powers to discuss support for Ukraine amid Russia's full-scale invasion, another fake cover featured Zelenskyy eating money.
Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims about President Zelenskyy can be found here.
2023-11-03T22:50:13Z 2023-11-03T22:50:13ZCorrection: A previous version of this fact check incorrectly stated that the October 2023 Titanic cover featured German politician Martina Werner. This statement has been removed. Adds denial from Titanic magazine.