Those two issues from East Germany were based on a photograph which was shot by the Ukrainian photographer Yevgeny Khaldei. However, the fact that the Russian flag was hoisted on top of the German parliament – Reichstag was considered to be a very serious matter: in fact, so serious that the photograph could not be left “intact” by the people in charge!
On 30th April 1945, a 24-year old Russian soldier raised the Russian flag above the German parliament. The Germans removed it but, after two days, they conceded a crushing defeat. Thus, on 2nd May, Yevgeny Khaldei climbed up the roof along with two “new” Russian soldiers, one giving a helping hand to the other, in order to secure the flag at the top of the building.
Nevertheless, upon closer examination, we notice that one of the soldiers is wearing two wrist watches: one around each of his wrists! This is, no doubt, undesirable evidence of looting that had to be erased by the photographer who added more dark smoke and increased the volume of the three-dimensional flag in order to do their superiors’ bidding. What is more, as the photographer realized that the soldiers had rather Asiatic facial features, he thought it a very good idea to substitute those soldiers for other ones with a better “appearance”. Finally, he fixed the picture as it had to be presented.
This second retouching is still a symbol, today. Naturally, those postage stamps are the most important ones of World War II as they signal its end. As we know today, the only real thing in that photograph is the raise of the flag and even that took place two days later than the actual event. Everything was the product of a wonderfully spectacular staging.
KO for eCharta