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Soviet soldier in famous Reichstag photo dies

AFP/The Local · 17 Feb 2010, 14:32

Published: 17 Feb 2010 14:32 GMT+01:00

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Abdulkhakim Ismailov died on Tuesday in his home town of Khasayvurt in Russia's southern Dagestan region, the local government announced in a statement on its website.

"His enormous life experience and services to the Motherland will remain forever in the memory of today's and tomorrow's generations," it said.

Ismailov took part in the pivotal 1942-43 battle of Stalingrad and fought all the way to Berlin, which Soviet forces stormed in April 1945, leading to the surrender of Nazi Germany days later.

He went down in history, however, for being one of the three Soviet soldiers shown in a photograph by TASS photojournalist Yevgeny Khaldei showing the hammer-and-sickle banner being raised over the Reichstag.

The photograph was staged for propaganda purposes and shot after Red Army soldiers had already captured the building, but it nonetheless became an iconic symbol of the Soviet Union's triumphant victory over Nazi Germany.

It has often been compared to the similarly iconic 1945 photograph of US soldiers raising the flag during the battle of Iwo Jima.

When photographer Khaldei developed the negatives, he realized that one of the three Soviet soldiers on the roof was wearing two watches, one on each wrist – a clear sign of looting which did not fit with the heroic image of the army.

He scratched the second watch from the negative and it was printed a week later in an illustrated magazine.

Story continues below…

Khaldei also added more clouds of smoke in the background and even substituted the original flag with a large one filled with wind.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:48 February 17, 2010 by lordwilliams629
The 2 big differences between that momment and the flag raising on Iwo Jima is the American raising of that flag was real not staged by propagandist as this one was, and the American flag was that of freedom unlike this soviet flag of human oppression and murder.
16:10 February 17, 2010 by lorus77
The guy in the picture has watches on both hands. Making heroes out of looters.
16:47 February 17, 2010 by deadgoon
Just a small correction on comment #1:

The flag raising on Iwo Jima was done twice. Once with a small flag and later, with a larger flag. The second flag raising was staged and was more widely known than the first flag raising. Feel free to check out the wiki article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raising_the_Flag_on_Iwo_Jima

War is about propaganda first and truth a distant second.
17:58 February 17, 2010 by wood artist
Hmmmmm. He changed the negative to erase the second watch? Well, that might have fooled the folks at home, but nobody in Berlin would have believed for a moment the truth about the Russian occupation. It wasn't called "The Tomb of the Unknown Rapist" for no reason.

19:06 February 17, 2010 by DepotCat
If the German army had stayed at home, Abdulkhakim Ismailov wouldn not have been involved in a propaganda photo shoot in Berlin.

Also the Russian occupation of Berlin and East Germany would not have taken place, and of course much of Eastern Europe would not have had one foreign occupier removed only to be replaced by another.
20:37 February 17, 2010 by wxman
The propaganda by both the Nazis and the Soviets wasn't such a big deal, as opposed to the censorship we sometimes experience on the Internet today.
21:59 February 17, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
@ DepotCat

Don't kid yourself into thinking that Stalin wouldn't have invaded Central (and later, Western) Europe when he felt the Soviet Union was strong enough. Yes, the Nazis were a bunch of bastards. But let's not forget that the Soviets murdered more people than any of Hitler's henchmen ever did, and that they were just as bad.
22:06 February 17, 2010 by Celeon
Indeed, the flag raising of Iwo Jima was also staged for a photographer.

It was not even the real flag that was raised on Suribachi first but instead a bigger one. The first one was just too small to be seen from the beach so another bigger one was brought in.

Clint Eastwood made the movie "Flag of our fathers" which covered the invasion of Imo Jima and especially the story behind the making of that photo.

It is quite ironic that the russian photographer Yevgeny Khaldei was more or less thrown out of the Red Army in 1949 without any reason ever given to him.

He always suspected it was because one of his superiors recieved word that he was jewish.
10:27 February 18, 2010 by The-ex-pat
I can't really believe that this forum has boiled down to propaganda flame war.

American propaganda is solid democratic PROPER-ganda and Russian propaganda is the stuff of oppression and ruling the masses. Not had such a good laugh in quite a while. Thanks people...
13:56 February 18, 2010 by dbert4
"the American flag was that of freedom unlike this soviet flag of human oppression and murder."

I wonder what the Vietnamese, Iraqis and Afghans would think of that comparison?
20:14 February 18, 2010 by wxman
I think those Viets who lived south of the DMZ prior to 1975 would have much to regale you with vis-a-vis the difference pre vs. post "liberation" by the Peoples Republic of Vietnam. Re-education camps anyone?
20:51 February 18, 2010 by bobjob
Does anyone care today about whether the picture was staged or not? We know how corrupt the Stalinist regime was and that it didn't matter to Stalin WHO was in the picture, just so long as the message of victory was made clear to all in the Soviet Union, the US, Western Europe - and more importantly, the Soviet occupied parts of Eastern Europe.

I doubt the three Soviet soldiers in Berlin and on top of the Reichstag were too concerned about whether they were part of some propaganda flick. They were probably just relieved they had finally made it to Berlin alive. Germans killing their friends at the front, Soviet generals killing them in the rear and Americans killing them from above.

I am so saddened by the two watches on the man 'holding' the flag-waver - especially as the soldiers chosen for the 'shot' would have been expected to represent good Soviet soldiers. Looting is a disease in war and signifies a total lack of proper military training. If a soldier can loot, then other 'laws' of war also disappear.

Times have changed, Nazism is dead, the Soviet Union is gone, and I like to think of the Reichstag having another iconic image - Sir Norman Foster showing off the new Reichstag to a democratically elected German government!

Let the old soldiers gracefully fade away

Let the new future grow.
15:46 February 19, 2010 by wenddiver
The rape of Berlin was just one more thing we can add to the list of why we despise the most awful regime in history- the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. Any photo glorify this barbarism is rightly despised.
20:26 February 19, 2010 by lordwilliams629
Deadgoon your very very wrong. What happen was a commanding officer had the first flag raised then another one came along who wanted that flag for a souvenir and also said he a wanted a much bigger flag raised to boost the morale of his marines, but see hears also the biggest part your leaving out and that is the fact that after a photogapher named Joe Rosenthal and his assistant was going threw photographs after getting off the island, they then found that unique picture, some of those marines that raised that flag even died before it even came out in the press, And I think you know this part but your not saying it because your a dirty lyer, not only that you discredit the marines who raised that flag then died later while fighting. Look nobody says you have to like americans or even say anything good about them, but at least go on honesty and fact, and don't try only giving half the story while leaving out the other half so you can make the story sound differnt then what it was, see cause when you do that you only show what kind of an under handed idiot you are. And as far as this photo of the russian, it has always been known by anyone who knows history as a staged photo, and that fact was never disputed.
07:41 May 9, 2011 by Sophisticate
The rape of Berlin? How dare you! The Germans have attacked the entire world!!! The nazi pigs destroyed so many priceless pieces of art, half the cities, so much of St. Petersburg! Berlin deserved to be obliterated, not just raped... So the guy has two watches how does it compare to what Nazi pigs did to millions of people! THEY ATTACKED US AND GOT WHAT THEY DESERVED. Actually less than they deserved. How dare you?! You will be shamed for this for eternity to come! You have more monuments dedicated to your own shame than in any other country in the world. Are you so brave online only?

And the first idiot, lordwilliam, do you know that this shot, in fact, was not staged? I mean, understand that you're american, but still, how stupid can you be?!
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