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We’ll keep the red flag flying (at half mast)

February 19, 2010

Another day, another story behind another iconic photograph (see the earlier entry Straight for the vernacular). This is one of the most famous images from the second world war and it was posed – by Tass photographer Yevgeny Khaldei, who also made the flag by sewing 3 tablecloths together. He also doctored the negative, as one of the soldiers had two watches on and the Red Army didn’t want looting to get in the way of a good photo opportunity. You could argue that Khaldei wasn’t being entirely fictional. A few days earlier a similar scene had happened. The only shot taken was by a German sniper who decapitated the flag pole. Later the American’s may have followed the Soviets in a bit of creative camera work with the equally iconic picture of the raising of the stars and stripes on Iwo Jima. The picture of the hammer and sickle being raised on the Reichstag in Berlin was in the news again this week, as one of the soldiers pictured, Abdulkhakim Ismailov, has died aged 93. It was only in the 1990s that he was recognised as one of the soldiers. The other two were Aleksei Kovalyev and Aleksei Goryachev.

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