GERMAN REICHSTAG, BERLIN, GERMANY
MAY 2, 1945
PHOTO BY YEVGENY KHALDEI

REPRESENTATION:
Red Army soldiers raising the Soviet flag over the Reichstag (parliament) as they defeat Hitler’s Army. This photo became a World War II icon and one of the most widely published war photos of all time, symbolizing Soviet triumph over Nazi Germany.

REALITY:
Yevgeny Khaldei, a Soviet Army photographer in Moscow, had his uncle sew a tablecoth into a large Russian flag. The photographer then flew to Berlin with the intention of recreating photographer Joe Rosenthal’s iconic image of US Marines raising a flag on Iwo Jima. Khaldei took soldiers to the Reichstag roof, had them pose with the flag in a journalistic fashion, then quickly flew back to Moscow to develop and print his film.

Before the photo’s first publication in Ogoniok, a Russian magazine, Khaldei scratched from the film negative multiple wrist watches worn by the Russian soldiers, concealing Soviet Army looting. Dark clouds of smoke were added in a later version on the photograph.

German magazine Der Spiegel wrote, “Khaldei saw himself as a propagandist for a just cause, the war against Hitler and and the German invaders of his homeland.” When asked about the manipulation, Khaldei responded, “It is a good photograph and historically significant. Next question please.”
 

"Khaldei saw himself as a propagandist for a just cause, the war against Hitler and the German invaders of his homeland. In the years before his death in October 1997 he liked to say: 'I forgive the Germans, but I cannot forget.' His father and three of his four sisters were murdered by the Germans."
- Der Spiegel, "The Art of Soviet Propaganda"


Learn more:


Image copyright Yevgeny Khaldei