Fact Check: Post Mislabels As 'Current' A 4-Year-Old Der Spiegel Caricature Of 'Fire Devil' Trump Wielding Lit Match

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Post Mislabels As 'Current' A 4-Year-Old Der Spiegel Caricature Of 'Fire Devil' Trump Wielding Lit Match Old Mag Cover

Does a social media post from April 2024 show a "current" cover of German news magazine Der Spiegel, featuring Donald Trump with a lit match and a headline that calls him a "Fire Devil"? No, that's not true: The Der Spiegel edition shown was published in 2020, not 2024. Additionally, according to a Lead Stories translator, the headline more appropriately refers to Trump as a "firebug," not a "Fire Devil."

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) published on Facebook by Veterans Against Trump-ism on April 29, 2024. The graphic, which shows an image of Donald Trump holding a lit match, says:

Der Spiegel is the most influential news magazine in Germany. This is the current issue's cover, and the cover story is titled 'Fire Devil: A President Burns Down His Country.'

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon May 6 15:15:44 2024 UTC)

The cover

The social media post is partially correct. The image shown is from a cover of Der Spiegel magazine, but not from 2024; it was published on June 5, 2020. Here's a screenshot of the online version of the publication:


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon May 6 15:15:44 2024 UTC)

The cover shows a publication date of "05.06.2020," using the date format in Germany of day/month/year. That's how Lead Stories determined the publishing date of June 5, 2020.


The title on the magazine cover says this in German:

Der Feuerteufel

Ein Präsident setzt sein Land in Brand

Translations of individual words vary depending on the context of what's being said. Lead Stories staff translated "Der Feuerteufel" as either "fire devil" or "firebug." However, our translator, a native German speaker, said "firebug" is the more appropriate choice in this case.

The line "Ein Präsident setzt sein Land in Brand" translates to "A president sets his country on fire," giving us this final translation of the Der Spiegel cover:

The Firebug

A president sets his country on fire

To emphasize, the Lead Stories translator disagreed with the translation in the social post that said the cover called Trump a "Fire Devil."

Read more

At the time this was written, USA Today had reviewed the same claim.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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