Raising a flag over the Reichstag, by Yevgeny Khaldei
I'm reading Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, which is utterly depressing and endlessly fascinating. Here's an interesting tidbit regarding looting by the Red Army (particularly of wristwatches) and that iconic image of the Soviet soldier raising the Hammer and Sickle above Berlin's Reichstag:
Wristwatches seemed to have almost mythical significance for Russian soldiers, who would walk around wearing half a dozen if they could. An iconic photograph of a Russian soldier raising the Soviet flag atop the Berlin Reichstag had to be touched up to remove the wristwatches from the arms of the young hero. In Budapest, the obsession with them remained part of local folklore and may have helped shape local perceptions of the Red Army. A few months after the war, a Budapest cinema showed a newsreel about the Yalta Conference. When President Roosevelet raised his arm while speaking to Stalin, several members of the audience shouted: "Mind your watch!" The same was true in Poland, where for many years Polish children would "play" Soviet soldiers by shouting: "Davai chasyi"--"Give me your watch." A beloved Polish children's television series of the late 1960s included a scene of Russian and Polish soldiers during wartime, camping out in deserted German buildings having amassed a vast collection of stolen clocks.
After taking the symbolic photo, [Yevgeny] Khaldei quickly returned to Moscow. He further edited the image at the request of the editor-in-chief of the Ogonyok, who noticed that Sen. Sgt. Abdulkhakim Ismailov, who is supporting the flag-bearer was wearing two watches, which could imply he had looted one of them. Using a needle, he was able to remove the watch from the right wrist. He also copied the smoke in the background from another picture to make the scene more dramatic.
According to some sources, the second watch was in fact a compass. In the Red Army, wearing both a wrist-compass and a watch was fairly common, but from a distance, as in the photo, it appeared as if he was wearing two watches. [Yeah, right.]
And this wouldn't be the last time Russians were caught tweaking wristwatch photographs.
From an Associated Press story published in April 2012:
The Russian Orthodox Church apologized on Thursday for doctoring a photograph of Patriarch Kirill to remove what bloggers said was a luxury wristwatch following accusations that he lives a lavish lifestyle.
The church responded after bloggers said a 2009 photo of the Patriarch on its website showed the reflection of a Breguet watch worth about $30,000 in the polished surface of a table where his arms rested during talks.
Of course, Americans aren't ones to talk when it comes to wristwatch fetishes: