Last modified: 2021-08-26 by rob raeside
Keywords: banner of victory | reichstag | ww ii | qaldeĭ (evgeniĭ) | berlin | 150 ctp | 150 str. ordena kutuzova ii st idrick. div. 79 s.k. 3 u.a. 1 b.f. | myth |
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On 7, April, 1945 Military Council of 3rd Shock Army (lead by general
Kuznetsov) decided to make 9 “victory banners”. They were made of
table-clothes in Moscow and presented to 9 divisions of the Army in 20ths
of April. All banners were destroyed except the banner #5. It was hoisted
upon Reichstag on 30, April, 1945 21:50 by sergeants Egorov (russian) and
Meliton Kantarija (georgian). Lt. Berest escorted the two inside the
building, but he didn’t went to the roof. As you understand nodody (and
famous photographer Khaldei too) can take a photograph in that time. It
was late evening.
The banner was photographed by plane in early morning ot 1, May. But on afternoon 1 of May the banner was throwed down with german projectile. Somebody (may be Egorov and Kantarija again?) hoisted the banner again in afternoon 1 of May. On 3 of May the Banner was taken off from Reichstag and in June was sent to Moscow.
The Victory Banner was not a first red banner upon Reichstag in 1945. It is a well known fact since 1960ths. It was first official flag, first flag officially adopted and inspired by army command.
Other banners was made by soldiers without official adoption. We know about 40 (!) red banners hoisted by different military units of Red Army upon Reichstag. All they were hand-made, very often plain red without inscriptions. First red flag was hoisted by G. Bulatov on 30, April, 1945 14:25 (plain red banner). It was throwed down soon because the battle was very fierce.
Victor Lomantsov, 08 May 2000
The flag was produced in April 1945 in the trenches with the battle of
Berlin. On a red cloth of the bed-underwear, the initials of the regiment
and the division were written with white color. There was no yellow color in
the confused of the war. At the May 5,1945 a soviet-georgian soldier was
hoisted the banner on the northern part of the Reichstag. The famous
universally known photo became at the May,7 1945 duplicated. Here was the
flag also the classic national flag of the USSR.
Jens Pattke, 28 Jun 2001
Ratio 1:2. The hammer and sickle is really larger than usual. The inscriptions
and hammer and sickle are really white but a little fade (lost colour) — this is
not astonishing, they were drawn with paint (and not a good paint) about 55 years
Victor Lomantsov, 25 Oct 2000
The Victory Banner is red with big white hammer and sickle and star and inscription:
150 стр. ордена
150th rifle [division, awarded with the] Order [of]
Кутузова II ст.
Kutuzov of II degree,
[honour title] Idrickaâ division,
79 С.К. 3У.А.IБ.Ф
79th joint corps, 3rd Shock Army, 1st Byelorussian Front
all in cyrillic letters, of course — It is the
full name of military unit. Inscription is on one side of the flag, reverse
side is without inscriptions.
Victor Lomantsov, 08 May 2000
Jens Pattke, 05 Jul 2001
Flagmaster shows this flag
with a couple of mistakes in the inscription.
António Martins, 10 May 2000
This flag is now at the Central Museum of the Armed Forces, Moscow. Other
thing worth of mentioning is the shape of the star: it is more fatter (inscribed
circle diameter if the half of the outscribed diameter).
by Željko Heimer, 01 Aug 1996
In the German History Museum in Berlin, a copy of the Banner of Victory
is in the exhibition. The original is in Moscow.
Jens Pattke, 05 Jul 2001
The Red Army’s WW II organization was a bit
different that that of Western armies, which can lead to some confusion.
The basic large unit was the Army, of which there were three types:
infantry, tank and shock. They tended to be smaller than Western armies
— an infantry army usually controlled 4-8 rifle divisions, with 6 being
average. The Corps had been abolished as an echelon of command in 1941
(primarily due to lack of trained commanders and staff), so that divisions
were controlled directly by the army headquarters. (The WWII Tank Corps,
Mechanized Corps and Cavalry Corps were actually division-size units.)
Thus the Army was intermediate in size between the Western corps and army.
The next echelon of command was the Front, similar to the Western army
The Shock Army originated in 1942 and at first it was a temporary grouping. An ordinary infantry Army would be reinforced with extra artillery and tank units to make the initial breakthrough in an attack, after which a Tank Army would exploit the breach. Thus "shock" = "assault". By 1944, the organizaton of the Shock Army had been regularized and one was assigned to each active Front. If I recall correctly, the 3rd Shock Army remained on the postwar establishment and was part of the Soviet Army Group of Forces in East Germany until the end of the Cold War.
Tom Gregg, 12 May 2000
The photo shows a young soldier hoisting a red flag
on top of the Reichstag and two officers looking at him,
and behind, on the street some tanks and a car, and a
tram. On the photo the flag is plain red with the star
and hammer and sickle, but without any text. The photograph
was later used in the film Battle for Berlin, and
is fairly well known and published in many places.
Željko Heimer, 31 July 1997
The absence of inscriptions on the photo explained by the
fact that the flag had a plain reverse.
António Martins, 10 May 2000
Yevgeni Khaldei, the Ukranian photographer who has died aged 80,
created one of the most celebrated images of the Second World War,
that of a soldier raising the Soviet flag above the ruins of the
Reichstag on May 2, 1945.
Khaldei’s lot, as a war journalist, was to produce propaganda, a task
eminently suited to his heroic style of photography. As the Soviet
troops approached Berlin he was anxious to acquire a red flag that
might act as a suitable backdrop.
Since there were none at the front, he flew back to Moscow and
persuaded the storekeeper at his employers, the news agency Tass, to
lend him three red tablecloths normally used for conferences. Khaldei
then sat up all night with his uncle, a tailor, sewing on stars,
sickles and hammers.
Early on the morning of May 2 he began to pick his way across the
smoking rubble that had been the centre of Berlin. He heard the news
of Hitler’s death, then climbed to the top of the Brandenburg gate,
where he draped a flag around a statue.
Spurred on by a desire to avenge the death of his Jewish sisters in
the war, Khaldei then turned his sights on the Reichstag. There was
still fighting in the basement when he rounded up a group of Soviet
soldiers who were celebrating their victory with vodka.
The flag party carefully made its way up the broken staircase to the
roof, loosing off bursts at each landing to keep German heads down.
The roof itself was dangerously slick with blood. The flag was held
aloft by a Russian soldier, Alexei Kovalyov, aided by a sergeant from
David Cohen, 21 Oct 1997, quoting The Weekly Telegraph
A Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet, carried an
interview with the Russian photographer Yevgeny Khaldei
some weeks ago. Khaldei is depicted holding a large copy
of the Red flag on the Reichstag photo. Khladei is credited
with taking the picture. Here are the main points concerning
Khaldei told the newspaper the flag was made by his uncle,
who stitched the hammer, sickle and star on to a red table
cloth taken from the TASS office in Moscow. Khaldei was
then on a short stay in Moscow, but soon returned to the
front. On 2 May 1945 Khaldei ordered the three soldiers in
his company up to the roof of the Reichstag. Various
arrangements were tried before the final famous picture was
made. The day after the picture arrived in Moscow. However,
a month later Khaldei was ordered to fix the picture because
the soldier supporting the one holding the flag had two
watches on his arm!
Jan Oskar Engene, 01 August 1996
Apparently there is more to the story. Like the
Iwo Jima one, the famous scene
was not the original but a staged reenactment. (OK, Iwo Jima
wasn’t a fake, just a second flag raising.) Apparently the
soldier with the flag was wearing several wristwatches, and Soviet
authorities ruled that it wouldn’t do to show the Red Army looting
Europe, so they had Khaldei go back and shoot the scene again.
(You’d think they could have just touched up the photo, so this might
be an urban legend.) Great photo all the same.
T. F. Mills, 20 Oct 1997
An obituary with more details and two photographs
(one was the Reichstag picture) was published in the
Telegraph for 11 October 1997 (“Yevgeny Khaldei
— Ukrainian war photographer who captured the moment
of Soviet triumph on the ruins of the Reichstag”). There
it is told that «Khaldei always denied allegations that
the moment had been restaged for his Leica», but that
«The truth, however, certainly succumbed under the hands
of the Kremlin’s picture editors. Aware of the potential
power of the photograph, they made sure to touch out one
of the two watches being worn by each soldier, to prevent
accusations of looting. In deference to Stalin, it was
also given out that the flag-raiser was a fellow Georgian,
Mikhail Kantaria, and that he had been helped by a
Jan Oskar Engene, 21 Oct 1997
Stepan Andreyevich Neustroyev was the commander of the battalion that stormed the Reichstag in 1945 and the man who hoisted the flag over the building… one of the most famous images of World War Two and only last year did it become known that it had been doctored… Khaldei had made the flag in the photograph himself from red tablecloths from Tass, which were emblazoned with the hammer and sickle like the Soviet flag. In Erich Kuby’s book entitled The Russians And Berlin, on page 60 he says:
It seems strange that the Russians should have looked upon the Reichstag, deserted since the [Nazi started] fire of February 1933, and now an empty piece of masonry, its windows and doors bricked up, as the symbol of Germany… …Mednikov describes this historic action in great detail.About noon on April 28, one of our battalions advanced on the Spree. At the same time the commander of the regiment, Col. F.M. Zinchenko, took charge of a red banner…expressly set aside for planting on the dome. It was Red Banner No.5 of the [150th Rifle Division] 3rd Shock Army…[it was] twenty-three-year-old Capt. Stefan Andreyevich Noystroev…men [who eventually] battled their way into the building, fighting for every room and corridor…Noystroev ordered a shock detachment commanded by Lt. Berest to escort the two [Zinchenko appointed regimental] standard-bearers…[who] took nearly half a day to reach the dome. At 10:50 P.M. on April 30, the banner of victory was unfurled over the Reichstag.From this account it becomes clear that the famous photograph [by Khaldei] of [standard-bearers] Egorov and Kantariya planting the Red Flag on the roof of the Reichstag could not have been taken at that historic moment. For a start, it was dark at 10:50 p.m., while the picture was obviously taken in broad daylight. Moreover, the soldiers in the street appear to be moving about quite fearleesly and openly, which they would not have done had fighting still been going on all around them-as it was at the time the banner was first held aloft. If we look more closely, we see that there is no trace of anything on the vulgar pinnacle of the Reichstag to which a flag pole could have been attached. The soldier is simply holding up the flag in a dramatic pose. In other words, the world-famous photograph must have been taken a day or two after the storming of the Reichstag.
Ben Weed, 28 Feb 1998