Khaldei, Yevgeny Anan’evich. born in 23-03-1917, in Yuzovka (now Donetsk, Ukraine), Russian Empire to a Jewish family and was obsessed with photography since childhood, having built his first childhood camera with his grandmother’s eyeglasses. He started working with the Soviet press agency TASS at the age of nineteen as a photographer. His father and three of his four sisters were murdered by the Nazis during the war.
In 1945 he persuaded his uncle to create a large Soviet flag after seeing Joe Rosenthal’s photo of the flag raising at Iwo Jima while the Soviet army closed in on Berlin and took it with him to Berlin for the Reichstag shot. He later took photographs of the Nazis at the Nuremberg Trials and of the Red Army during its offensive in Japanese Manchuria.
Khaldei continued to work in photojournalism after the war as a TASS staff photographer, but was reprimanded in a 1947 evaluation:
“After returning to peacetime conditions, he failed to develop himself at all, and at the present moment he is considered a passable photojournalist. . . . The reasons for this are several. First, all the praise that was heaped upon him as a military photojournalist finally went to his head, and he rested on his laurels. His growth as a photojournalist stopped. The other reason has to do with Khaldei’s cultural level, which is exceptionally low.
In October 1948, Khaldei received notice that he was being let go because of the agency’s “staff downsizing.” Khaldei himself attributed the firing to anti-Semitism.
Khaldei continued to photograph, now working as a freelance photographer for Soviet newspapers, and focused on capturing the scenes of everyday life. In 1959, he got a job again at the newspaper Pravda, where he worked until he was forced to retire in 1970.
Khaldei’s wartime photographs were collected in a 93-page book, Ot Murmanska do Berlina (From Murmaansk to Berlin), published in 1984. His work continues to be distributed through the Sovfoto agency which has operated in the West since 1932. Khaldei’s international fame dates from the 1990s, when exhibitions of his photographs began to be held in the West.
Khaldei’s most renowned photographs were taken when he was a Red Army photographer from 1941 to 1946. Khaldei’s photographs emphasised his feelings for the historic moments and his sense of humour. One of the more famous anecdotes was during the Nuremberg Trials, where Hermann Goering
was being tried. Khaldei says about the Goering shot:
When we received orders to leave Nuremberg, I asked an American colleague to photograph me with Goering. Goering remembered that, because of me, he had been hit with a club, and hence he always turned his head aside when I came into the courtroom. When he noticed I wanted to get into the picture with him, he put down his hand in front of his face.
While Khaldei frequently staged or manipulated his photographs, he insisted that this was to signify the importance and add strength to a particular event. His work was also admired by the elites of the Soviet Union and he is renowned for creating commissioned portraits for State leaders such as Joseph Stalin, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin.
Khaldei’s most famous photo was of a Red Army soldier raising a Soviet flag above the German Reichstag at the end of World War II: the historic defeat of Nazi Germany in a war that cost the Soviet Union twenty million lives; the magazine Ogoniok published the photograph on 13-05-1945. Khaldei had shot an entire roll of film, 36 images. One shot, along with some of its very similar versions, became the most iconic of the event (The Times identified one such version). When Khaldei arrived at the Reichstag, he simply asked the soldiers who happened to be passing by to help with the staging of the photoshoot; there were only four of them, including Khaldei, on the roof: the one who was attaching the flag was 18-year-old Private Alexei Kovalyov from Kiev, the two others were Abdulkhakim Ismailov from Dagestan and Leonid Gorychev (also mentioned as Aleksei Goryachev) from Minsk.The photograph was taken with a Leica III rangefinder camera with a 35mm f3.5 lens. Abdulkhakim Ismailov died 17-02-2010, age 93 in Chagarotar village, Dagestan, Russian Federation.
The celebrated image is a re-enactment of an earlier flag-raising of which no photograph was taken, as it happened at 10:40 p.m. on 30-04-1945 while the building was actually still held by German troops . A group of four Soviet soldiers fought their way to the roof, where 23-year-old private Mikhail Minin climbed up on an equestrian statue representing Germany, to fasten an improvised flagpole to its crown. As that occurred at night and under fire, no photo could be taken. The next day German snipers shot down the flag. The surrender of the Reichstag came on 02-05–1945, and only after that did Khaldei scale the building along with the three soldiers which he had picked up randomly on his way. He was carrying with him a large flag sewn from a red tablecloth by his Jewish friend in Moscow for this very purpose. The seams are indeed visible on the picture. Mikhail Minin died on 10-01-2008, age 85, and was buried in his native city of Pskov..
Death and burial ground of Khaldei, Yevgeny Anan’evich.
Khaldei made the next historical pictures.
Khaldei, Yevgeny Anan’evich. died 06-10-1997, aged 80 in Moscow, Russia and is buried on the Kuntsevo Cemetery, Moscow. My friend Radek Hroch visited the cemetery and sent me the photo’s, with thank.