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On the 77th anniversary of WWII win, Sitaram Yechury shares iconic picture of raising a Flag at Reichstag, this is how the Soviets doctored it to hide their brutality

In one photograph smoke was added and the contrast was manipulated to add drama and in a second version, one of the two wristwatches on one of the soldier's wrists was removed.

May 9 marks the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s World War II triumph over Nazi Germany. May 9 is a national holiday in Russia honouring the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. It is known as Victory Day across Russia. The commander of the last German forces surrendered to the Red Army of the USSR on May 8, 1945, however, due to the time difference between Berlin and Moscow, the event is commemorated on May 9 in Russia.

To mark the occasion, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury took to Twitter to share an iconic World War II photograph, ‘Raising a Flag over the Reichstag‘, taken during the Battle of Berlin on 2 May 1945.

While sharing the iconic photograph, Yechury, praising the communist army Tweeted, “This signalled to the world the defeat of Hitler & Nazi fascism on this day in 1945. The Red Flag is the firmest, surest defender of liberty, freedom & human dignity”

In the picture, a Red Army soldier is seen hoisting a communist flag (a red flag with a white hammer and sickle, the traditional symbol of communists) over the Reichstag building (a historic building in Berlin which houses the Bundestag, the lower house of Germany’s parliament) in Berlin in 1945. The photograph was taken by a Soviet soldier, Ukrainian-born Yevgeny Khaldei and was first published on May 13, 1945, in Ogonyok magazine.

It was reprinted in thousands of publications and came to be regarded around the world as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. The image was, however, heavily modified. In one photograph smoke was added and the contrast was manipulated to add drama and in a second version, one of the two wristwatches of one of the soldier’s wrists was removed.

As can be seen below, in the original photograph ( the one on the left-hand side) one of the soldiers is wearing a wristwatch on both his hands. In the edited image (the one on the right-hand side), the second watch worn by one of the soldiers is edited out.

The original image is on the left while the doctored image is on the right (source: vox.com)

Why the Soviets doctored their most iconic World War II victory photo- “Raising a Flag Over the Reichstag”

Khaldei stated that he modified the image at the request of the Ogonyok’s editor-in-chief, who noticed that Senior Sergeant Abdulkhakim Ismailov, who was assisting the flag-bearer, was wearing two watches. This, he concluded, could imply that the soldier had looted one of the watches, bringing to light the crimes committed by the Red Army during World War II.

Rampant atrocities, killings, mass rapes of women, and looting by Soviet soldiers during the WWII

The Soviet Union entered World War II in September 1939, when the Red Army marched into eastern Poland and attempted, in coordination with Nazi Germany, to depose the government and dismember the country, however German invasion of the USSR in 1941 changed their stance. During the later stages of World War II, when allied troops infiltrated and seized German territory, rampant atrocities, killings, mass rapes of women, and looting and plundering occurred both during combat operations and during Germany’s postwar occupation.

Actually, Germany had brutally invaded Russia in 1941, fostering in the country a hunger for vengeance that seemed unquenchable when the tables were turned on Germany the following year. The Red Army, too, committed umpteen atrocities against civilians en route their march to Germany.

Though for the Russian public, the Soviet victory over Germany in 1945 remains a source of immense pride, it is pertinent to mention that during its occupation of eastern Poland, Finland, and other East European countries from 1939 to 1941, the Red Army committed numerous crimes and massacres. Soviet soldiers were infamous for raping women in the countries they conquered during and immediately after World War II.

In fact, history reveals that when Joseph Stalin, the dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1929 to 1953, realised that his soldiers were indulging in mass rape in occupied territory, he dismissed it by saying that the soldiers were merely “having a little fun.”

The precise number of German women and children raped by Soviet troops during the war and occupation is unknown, although historians estimate it to be in the hundreds of thousands, and possibly as many as two million.

Furthermore, the millions of Soviet soldiers who surged into Eastern Europe and Germany in 1943-1945 disassembled and carried practically everything of value with them. According to a credible estimate, the theft totalled 2.6 million pieces of what the law refers to as “cultural property,” ranging from the smallest symbol to the Great Altar of Pergamon, a great Greek landmark from antiquity.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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