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How come I never saw this before?
February 11, 2010 11:25 AM   Subscribe

The iconic photograph of the Soviets hoisting the hammer and sickle over the Reichstag in April 1945 by Yevgeny Khaldei is awe inspiring and makes one wonder how this could be missed by anyone over the age of thirty. Staged? Oh yeah! But it still ranks up there with Joe Rosenthal's Iwo Jima shot and Robert Capa's Falling Soldier during the Spanish Civil War. And it's loads cooler than our most recent entry.
posted by jake1 (22 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jumping on a plane back to Moscow he was able to convince employees of his news agency to give him three red tablecloths normally used for official functions. With his uncle they spent the night sewing on stars, hammers and sickles before Khaldei returned to Berlin.

One of my first thoughts upon looking at the picture — which I had never seen before and yes, I am over 30 — was how homemade the flag looked.
posted by orange swan at 11:32 AM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've also never seen this photograph. It's awesome. Harder to base a statue on it than the Iwo Jima shot.
posted by acrasis at 11:37 AM on February 11, 2010


Can't forget the greatest staged politico-visual spectacle of them all.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:38 AM on February 11, 2010


Among the most profound images of WWII. Ranking up there with it is this shot of the destruction of Dresden, taken from the Rathausturm (town hall).
posted by hiteleven at 11:46 AM on February 11, 2010 [11 favorites]


Related: pretty much everything Errol Morris has written on his NY Times blog.
posted by mhum at 11:48 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ranking up there with it is this shot of the destruction of Dresden

I've known for many years that the Allies bombed the hell out of Dresden (Corrie ten Boom wrote that as she took the train back to Holland after her release from Ravenbruck concentration camp the sight of Dresden "brought tears to her eyes"), but had never seen a picture of it before. Dear God.

Makes me wonder... are there shots of the destruction of Iraq or Afghanistan?
posted by orange swan at 12:16 PM on February 11, 2010


Even better than the shot of the Soviets hoisting the flag (even though it's pretty awesome) is the flim clip of the Soviets blowing up the swastika that stood atop the Reichstag. I can't find it now, but every time I see it, a tear of joy flows down my cheek.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:37 PM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mayor Curley, might you be thinking of the video of US soldiers blowing up a swastika at the Zeppelinfeld in Nuremburg?
posted by Tullius at 12:41 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tullus, I think Mayor Curley is referring to this clip.
posted by briank at 12:47 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Question which never crossed my mind until that picture of the angel weeping over Dresden: What kind of propaganda mileage did the Germans get out of the bombing? On the one hand, I can see them trying to cover up the extent of the damage in order to convince the citizenry that the Reich was still strong; on the other, they could have used images like that* to show everyone that they were fighting monsters who had to be repelled at all costs.

*not claiming that the photo was intended as propaganda - like I said, I don't know that it was - or that it's power is in any way diminished by that usage*
posted by Toby Dammit X at 12:47 PM on February 11, 2010


Iconic indeed. And like those American Marines in Iwo Jima, they earned it.

It is the Red Army that can claim the lions share in the accolades of defeating the German army.

If one examines the casualties of the Western Allies, their total combined for the whole war did not even approach one single battle fought by the Soviets.
posted by three blind mice at 12:47 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


They airbrushed out the two watches the guy on the bottom is wearing in the original version of the Reichstag flag photo because evidence of looting would make the Red Army look bad.

Dresden was beautiful in the 1890s. Before-and-after photos showing bomb damage. At least 25,000 people were killed. Map showing the Eastern and Western Fronts.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:55 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had misremembered. But it's still AWESOME!
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:03 PM on February 11, 2010


Makes me wonder... are there shots of the destruction of Iraq or Afghanistan?

Probably. In the absence of carpet bombing and firestorms, they probably won't have the same immediate emotional impact, though. But their dead are just as dead.

What kind of propaganda mileage did the Germans get out of the bombing?

The bombing was in February 1945, and I'd guess that at that point propaganda was pretty well irrelevant.

The better case was probably Hamburg in 1942 or 1943. But even then, the biggest propaganda effect is probably only that after the war was over nobody liked Bomber Harris.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:04 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had not seen that photo of Dresden before. Just incredible. You can see how living through that might have broken Billy Pilgrim loose from time in Slaughterhouse Five. The book presents the time shifts as actually happening but I've always felt it was about Vonnegut's sense that aliens time switching a hapless character was no more absurd and horrifying than the real world events we are meant to accept as fact.
posted by Babblesort at 1:17 PM on February 11, 2010


I took a walking tour of Berlin and seem to recall the guide saying that 7000 troops had died in the battle for the Reichstag. I think that was on both sides. For one building.
posted by Dasein at 1:19 PM on February 11, 2010


Poor Dresden. Think of all the destroyed homes their dead jewish owners couldn't return to.
posted by pianomover at 1:24 PM on February 11, 2010


I thought it was Dimitri Petrenko. Guess that's what I get for learning all my history via Call of Duty games.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:00 PM on February 11, 2010


Robert Capa's falling soldier might have been staged as well.
posted by dabitch at 3:53 PM on February 11, 2010


Replacing one evil flag with another. Wheee!
posted by snottydick at 5:01 PM on February 11, 2010


Iconic recent images - Tank Guy? Hello? He's my freaking hero -
posted by newdaddy at 6:13 PM on February 11, 2010


Yes! Tank guy is iconic. Miles have been written about the bags he carries, as if he was on his way home with the groceries and then decide: "enough of this, I'm going to block the tanks path".
posted by dabitch at 3:35 AM on February 12, 2010


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