In the George Orwell book Nineteen Eighty-Four, an Unperson in Newspeak is someone who has been vaporized. Vaporization is when a person is secretly murdered and erased from society, the present, the universe, and existence. Such a person would be taken out of books, photographs, and articles so that no trace of them is found in the present anywhere – no record of them would be found. This was so that a person who defied the Party would be gone from all citizens' memories, even friends and family. There is no Newspeak word for what happened to unpeople, therefore it is thoughtcrime to say an unperson's name or think of unpeople.
This is similar to the Stalinist Soviet Party erasing people from photographs after death; this is an example of "real" unpeople.
The Stalin-era Soviet Union also provided real-world examples of unpersons in its treatment of Leon Trotsky and other members of the Communist Party who became politically inconvenient. In his 1960 magazine article "Pravda means 'Truth'", reprinted in Expanded Universe, Robert A. Heinlein argued that John Paul Jones and a mysterious May 15, 1960 cosmonaut had also received this treatment.
- A look at Orwell’s Newspeak Archived 2016-10-18 at the Wayback Machine