The Russians on the Reichstag during WWII

Two stamps of DDR showing the flag on German Parliament

Two DDR stamps  showing the flag on German Parliament

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.


Left the original photograph where we may notice the non-commissioned officer wearing the two wrist watches. At the right the retouched photograph with its smoke and the “right” soldiers!

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.

german parliament postcard

A nice postcard of the German Parliament – Reichstag – in 1900

KO for eCharta

The Iwo Jima Photo-Symbol

On 23rd February 1945 the battle of Iwo Jima was over. It was a major battle and that morning the US marines stepped on the summit of Souribaki mount. Six men – Shrier, Thomas, Hansen, Lindbergh, Michaels and Carlo- hoisted the American flag on the top of that mountain at 10:30. The scene was captured by Louis Lowery among the cheers of the rest.First_Iwo_Jima_Flag_RaisingHowever, the photograph depicted on the US stamp on the cover underneath, which is among the most celebrated ones in the 20th century, is not the one taken by Lowery!

FDC Iwo Jima

The cover bears a cancellation dated on the day following the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The United States Administration had decided that the flag was rather too small and sent a larger one on the mount escorted by a different team of photographers!

This time the team comprised: Joe Rosenthal, an Associated Press photographer; Bill Genaust, a sergeant photographer; Private Bob Campbell, a  photographer; and, Bill Hipple, a Newsweek photographer as well as other marines who took part in that imaginary hoisting. They hauled down the small flag and replaced it with the large one with excellent cinematographic direction at noon time on the same day. It is, indeed, an expressionistic scene!

WW2_Iwo_Jima_flag_raisingThe photograph was taken by Rosenthal, who became known in the entire world through that photo. The cover depicted bears a cancellation dated on the day following the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

By James Makris for eCharta