The famous photo of the Soviet flag being raised during the Battle of Berlin in 1945 was actually doctored. Photographer Yevgeny Khaldei added smoke to make it seem more dramatic, and also removed one of two watches from a Senior Sergeant’s wrist, as it would have implied looting.

Raising a Flag over the Reichstag

A typical Soviet Adrianov compass.

After taking the symbolic photo, Khaldei quickly returned to Moscow. He further edited the image at the request of the editor-in-chief of the Ogonyok, who noticed that Senior Sergeant Abdulkhakim Ismailov, who is supporting the flag-bearer, was wearing two watches, which could imply he had looted one of them, an action punishable by execution. Using a needle, Khaldei removed the watch from the right wrist. Later, it was claimed that the extra watch was actually an Adrianov compass and that Khaldei, in order to avoid controversy, doctored the photo to remove the watch from Ismailov’s right wrist. He also added smoke in the background, copying it from another picture to make the scene more dramatic…. Continue Reading (1 minute read)

10 thoughts on “The famous photo of the Soviet flag being raised during the Battle of Berlin in 1945 was actually doctored. Photographer Yevgeny Khaldei added smoke to make it seem more dramatic, and also removed one of two watches from a Senior Sergeant’s wrist, as it would have implied looting.”

  1. vanalla

    I miss when my skills as a graphic designer were likened to being a doctor.

    Now I’m just a computer monkey who has assholes looking over my shoulder all day.

  2. woodie4u247

    I believe also that it was staged?

  3. R3dditorM

    Can people really see ANY watch on that photo?

  4. minidanish

    I think the second watch is actually a wrist worn compass but that’s not well known or obvious so to prevent implying looting they removed it just in case.

  5. Ugly_with_an_alibi

    I worked as a docent in the San Francisco Jewish Museum when we were running a Khaldei expo. He was still alive at the time and actually came down and answered questions. According to him, the second watch in the doctored photo belonged to a fallen comrade of the soldier.

  6. mrv3

    There’s plenty of reasons to carry two watch, I believe the Soviet command used Moscow time which made sense over such a large field with changing coordination.

    Let’s say you want to coordinate between the airforce and ground troops sure you can do a bunch of converting telling each group the local time(and preying it doesn’t change as they advance or cross borders) or you can tell everyone the Moscow time and have them keep Moscow time.

  7. notnotaginger

    Hey, my man just wanted to know what time it was in Berlin AND Stalingrad

  8. Usernamenotta

    If you are wondering why two watches: time zones.

  9. sassydodo

    My great-grandfather was a decorated vet who went through WWII. When I was young he frequently told me stories about the war (mostly when my grandfather asked him to tells us about it). They were looting, it was very common. They were taking food supplies from locals (tho they were kinda happy to feed people fiting fascism). They weren’t super brave and heroic.

  10. lazyant

    Similar to the Iwo Jima famous flag raising pic, I don’t mind.

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