Reichstag flag [1945]

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Soviet Union soldiers Raqymzhan Qoshqarbaev and Georgij Bulatov raising the flag on the roof of Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany in May, 1945.


Photographer: Yevgeny Khaldei (1917-1997)

44 thoughts on “Reichstag flag [1945]

  1. Why does no one ever talk about how many Russian women were raped by the Germans and how many of those Russian soldiers doing the raping in Berlin must have witnessed these atrocities in their villages. How many Russian women and children were locked in barns and churches that were set on fire so they would burn alive, I wonder how many of those Russian soldiers witnessed those sights and the screaming of the people, and the countless deaths of their relatives and comrades in arms. Don’t try to philosophize on here saying two wrongs don’t make a right, the Russians didn’t invade Germany it was the other way around.

  2. Keep in mind that when the Russians stormed Germany, many women were forever scarred by being raped. Everyone wanted to see the fall of the Nazis, however, two wrongs don’t make a right

  3. “Denis says: It is really hard to get it if you’re not russian. We didn’t choose this war like US did. Nation had to fight to survive. It is now a HUGE part of Russian mentality, culture, sanctity, character, history, proud, and sorrow.”

    Especially critical for surviving was Winter war against tiny Finland, occupation of three Baltic states and finally half of Poland – together with great friend Hitler. It’s something to be really proud of.
    “It represents the end of the bloodiest battles on the bloodiest front of the bloodiest war of all time”
    Not really. Soviet Union continued this war until all Eastern Europe regained independence from communist regimes. That wasn’t easy, let’s just remember Prague and Budapest, Vilnius and today’s Chechenya.
    And – I am afraid it’s still not 100% over, as Mr. Putin said, “collapse of USSR was the biggest tragedy in our history”. So we may expect some more red flags in future.

  4. Staged? So what? Most of the famous photographs are actually staged. The Iwo Jima photograph was staged as well, which is a well-known and a well-documented fact. Did you go and post that comment for Iwo Jima photo? Somehow I don’t think so.

    As for the “propaganda purposes”… OK, let’s play the at game. The Joe Rosenthal’s Iwo Jima phpotograph was staged specifically for _propaganda_ _purposes_!!! LOL.

  5. To clear up some misconceptions someone might have on the WWII, the Allied forces won the war – not the Soviets, and not the US. Allies comprised of the following nations (in alphaphetical order): Australia, Canada, France, Poland, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

    The western born hatred against communism was invented later during the cold war, and no other nation than than the U.S. and it’s citizens were more victimized from this brainwash. I feel heartbroken that this fine nation had to endure the lies of their leaders. Don’t get me wrong: I honor the veterans for their personal effort and suffering, but I despise leaders that are willing to sacrifice the lives of young men and women for a totally useless war such as the Vietnam conflict was.

    The Reichstag picture is in fact real, but “photoshopped”. There were actually several flags that were erected on top of the building during the robbery and raping conducted by the Soviet forces on what was left of the city and ordinary citizens of Berlin. As an example of the alterations, the smoke on the backround is artificial. Closer examination of the original pictures proved that the soldier holding the flag actually had wristwatches on both hands after the looting of the city. The photographer later told that he personally scratched the other one out directly from the negatives. (As far as the erecting of the flag at Iwo Jima goes, it actually happened as pictured. Unfortunately the truth also is that the picture itself is staged, as no-one photographed the real thing. Sorry.)

    War is hell. No-one really wins a war. Except for corporations. Just think about this: in WWII American manufactured fighter planes fought against each other in the European skies for several years! A fleet of Brewster 239 Buffalos painted in the colors of the Finland’s Air Force combatted the North American Aviation’s P51 Mustangs, Bell 39Q Airacobras and Curtiss P-40′s, just to name few, all of them carrying the USSR red star. Entire swarms were gunned down in the Karelian peninsula by the Finland’s aces piloting the Brewsters that were aquired from the US in December of 1939. Google if you don’t believe.

    All that’s true in war is pain and suffering. There probably is some heroism and bravery in personal level, but all else is pure propaganda. Please keep that in mind. Always. When you are asked to vote for a war, believe in nothing. Not in your leaders, not in their philosophy, not in possible weapons of mass destruction, not in war against terror. Innocent lives will be lost. And why? Because all modern wars are about money, and your government will do anything to make you support their cause. Lying is the easiest way to do just that if you’re easily convinced.

  6. it was just word of mouth from people that experienced WW2 in Transilvania, that attest to this day, that the russian troops were very underequipped, most primitive, dirtiest looting bunch all accross Transilvania and probably other countries too, true they did end up having a decisive impact in the war but so did the bombing of Dresden which served as a psychological turning point in the Eastern Front.

  7. Iwo Jima was NOT staged. There was a second attempt which obviously was staged, but the first photo, the famous one, wasn’t. That’s what makes it so famous on the first place.

    This photo, the Reichstag flag, might or might not be staged but it’s still a powerful, deeply sentimental, awe-inspiring and artistic photo. To tell you the truth I thought it was a painting the first time I saw it. It might be staged, but it does represent a final and painful victory over an enemy that was overwhelmingly powerful. It represents the end of the bloodiest battles on the bloodiest front of the bloodiest war of all time, and the success of the struggle of the Russians against the mighty Nazis.

    But PLEASE, that doesn’t mean you guys who defend this photo have to attack the Iwo Jima one, or the Americans, for that matter. That does not have ANYTHING to do with this. They’re two different fronts, to different conflicts, to different outcomes. Because you are Russian and you might not like America that much doesn’t mean you have to minimize the merits of the Americans in WWII, or say they entered the war because they are a bunch of self-centered, ambitious pigs because that’s an unnecessary offense to many of us.

    Same thing for my fellow Americans. Some of us might not like the fact that it’s the Communist flag the one that’s being risen up in this photo, but that doesn’t mean we have to belittle the Russians’ efforts or the artistic values and historic significance of this magnificent picture.

    That’s it, as far as I go. I’m not trying to be a conflict settler or anything like that but please, let’s be a little objective when assessing this kind of matters.


  8. Agreed. It’s staged and edited – as is every comparable iconic photo. It was inspired by Iwo Jima, which was also staged. Every winner has such a photo in their history portfolio and they need it to feel good. Winning and the demonstration of it is part of war.

    Here’s more info about the pic:

    Interesting enough: The Reichstag burnt down in 1933 and the bulding was neither renewed nor used afterwards (the parliament had no function in the dictatorship anyway). It had absolutely no representational value for the Nazis despite a negative one. Still, during the fight of Berlin, the Red Army fought it’s way directly to the Reichstag building, as if they had been waited for that moment for so long …

  9. Who cares if it was staged or not. it’s an amazing and powerful photograph! Sometimes photographers stage their shots in order to convey their point and to tell a story through the pictures. It’s devastating to see the destruction and burnt buildings in the backround but you feel a sense of liberation for the Russian people proudly flying their flag! Americans do it too. I don’t understand why it was criticized so much. The Russians fought and succeeded. Get over it!

  10. And the “1 rifle for 2 men” thing is absolute crap. Find me one good source that shows this actually happened (and Enemy at the Gates is not a historical source).

  11. Anyway, this is an incredibly powerful picture, which says to me the struggle the Russians had to go through to achieve victory along side their comrades.

  12. It’s not that America was waiting to see who was going to win, we just didn’t want another war. We were just coming out of the Great Depression, as was most of the civilized world, and didn’t want to get involved, but once we were attacked at Pearl Harbor there wasn’t much we could do to escape it.

    I also belive that the Russians fought with incredible bravery, but since Stalin was throwing troops away with total disregard for human life, and their military was poorly equppied and trained , the Germans would have won shortly after they neutralized Great Britain. Without Americans supplying Britain with equipment and making Hitler fight a two front war ( Russia, and North Africa, …later Italy then France)
    there’s a good chance they would have won.

  13. It is really hard to get it if you’re not russian.
    We didn’t choose this war like US did. Nation had to fight to survive.

    It is now a HUGE part of Russian mentality, culture, sanctity, character, history, proud, and sorrow. It is in everyone of us. The nation wasn’t supposed to survive, but it did. It was both miracle and heroic deed of people (yes, with “two soldiers one rifle” sometimes, but because we didn’t have over choice but fight with whatever resourses we had). All men were fighting while all women and children were working in macaroni facrories that were turned to produce bullets with the same diameter …

    To get an idea of how profound this war was, read about Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and Barbarossa Plan. In his book, Hitler made clear his belief that the German people needed Lebensraum (“living space”, i.e. land and raw materials), and that it should be found in the East. It was the stated policy of the Nazis to kill, deport, or enslave the Russian and other Slavic populations, whom they considered inferior, and to repopulate the land with Germanic peoples. How does that sound as a 3-year plan for your country??

    it is hard to find a single family in Russia, which hasn’t been affected by war, which doesn’t have a grandfather-veteran or missing grandparents.

    And as US…
    Well, it had it’s needs, threats and interests in this war. I don’t want to speculate on the idea that US was waiting to see who’s winning, Nazis or Communists before they joined the war (as russians are tought in schools). But I think that contribution and toll for the victory by USSR and US are incomparable.

    For those who want to know more about IBM selling its machines from NY to Nazis to handle tracking of people in concentration camps, and about Coca-Cola designing new product “Fanta Orange” so it can be sold in Germany during the war (and wouldn’t be so “american” labeled as “Coca-Cola”), – watch AMERICAN movie “The Corporation”.

  14. The reason Russia had the most casualties is because the Russian government gave every two soldiers one rifle. The Russian military budget for WWII was minuscule.

    America didn’t fight as hard? They fought two different campaigns at the same time on two different continents. You’re an idiot.

  15. Thats the stupidest comment ever, you killed your own cause you couldn’t feed them dipshit, oh then the Germans rolled all over everyone cause Stalin had killed all the good generals

  16. This is a powerful image that marks the victory of our Russian comrades in the east over the evil fucking german nazis.

    america has not fought as hard or sacraficed as much as the Russians in ANY fucking war as Russia had the most casualties out of the world wars. it is because of this fact ignorant capitalist americans will hate on this victory and this picture.

    Long live the struggle to destroy fascism!

  17. For everyone whom ever lived post world war II, to know that we alone did not win, but to our friends the the east, worked through great barriers with sweat and blood, to reach a common point of interest, Berlin. The picture embodies the human spirit of victory, weather over oppression or another cause.

  18. This is the ultimate end of 5 year struggle with s much blood, sweat and tragedy u cant even imagined… Its beautyfull and shows the tramandous power of the Soviet Union that time

  19. Most war photographs are staged in the sense that they aren’t capturing the truth behind what they show. Regardless of whether this was the first time the Red Banner flew over Berlin or not, you come across as historically ignorant because you completely miss the point.

    This image gives me chills when I look at it, not because of its authenticity, but because 27 million Soviets died for this moment in history. It is so much more powerful than the Iwo Jima photo because this isn’t just a battle won, this photograph solidifies the Soviet Union’s triumph against overwhelming odds.

    Let’s not be trashing the photograph or its place here.

  20. this is a raudulent falsification, everyone hereover knows that. It was for propaganda purposes in every East German history schoolbook.

  21. It was indeed staged, however from what I know it was staged on the Reichstag itself and there were still fights going on around and inside the building. The photographer (Yevgeny Khaldei) was probably one of the first Soviet people to climb up to the roof where he awaited the two soldiers that were chosen for the task.

  22. The famous Iwo Jima picture wasn’t staged. It was just the second raising of the flag. They took down the first flag because they didnt want it to be taken by some guy (I forget who, it wasn’t important), and also because the second is much bigger. Rosenthal (the guy who took the picture) barely got his camera up in time to capture the photo. He didn’t even know he had gotten the picture until it was developed later on.

  23. It was actually retouched afterwards to remove the two/three wrist watches the soldier was wearing.
    It wouldn’t be nice for the communist propaganda to show that their soldiers looted like capitalists…

  24. also McArthur’s famous return to the Phillipines was a staged photo, and I’ve heard that the signing of the Japanese instrument of surrender was delayed to allow it to be signed on the USS Missouri, which was named for Truman’s home state.

  25. It may well be staged, but so is the famous photo of the US soldiers raising the Stars and Stripes at the battle of Iwo Jima.

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