Vietnam Execution

Behind the camera: Eddie Adams
Where: In Cholon, the Chinese section of Saigon, Vietnam
Photo Summary: General Nguyen Ngoc Loan killing Vietcong operative Nguyen Van Lem
Picture Taken: Feb 1, 1968

After Nguyen Ngoc Loan raised his sidearm and shot Vietcong operative Nguyen Van Lem in the head he walked over to the reporters and told them that, “These guys kill a lot of our people, and I think Buddha will forgive me.” Captured on NBC TV cameras and by AP photographer Eddie Adams, the picture and film footage flashed around the world and quickly became a symbol of the Vietnam War’s brutality. Eddie Adams’ picture was especially striking, as the moment frozen is one almost at the instant of death. Taken a split second after the trigger was pulled, Lem’s final expression is one of pain as the bullet rips through his head. A closer look of the photo actually reveals the bullet exiting his skull.

Nguyen Ngoc Loan



httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGrsw6m9UOY

“Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and General Nguyen Ngoc Loan” – Eddie Adams. Nguyen Ngoc Loan was one of 11 children born to an affluent family in the ancient city of Hue. He finished university at the top of his class and trained as a jet pilot in the South Vietnamese Air Force. It was in the air force that he meets, Nguyen Cao Ky, the flamboyant pilot who once flew a helicopter into the courtyard of his girlfriend’s house to impress her. Ky would later become Prime Minister of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1967, and then Vice President until his retirement from politics in 1971. When in power Ky Surrounded himself with trusted men including his friend, Nguyen Ngoc Loan who he put in charge of the national police. As police chief Loan immediately gained a reputation among reporters for his anger and hair-trigger temper when the Vietcong struck civilian targets. 

Nguyen Van Lem

The guy killed one of … Loan’s officers and wiped out his whole family
-Eddie Adams

The prisoner whose last instant is captured in Adam’s shot was Nguyen Van Lem. A Viet Cong operative, who like other Viet Cong agents went by the secret name of Captain Bay Lop (Lop was his wife’s first name). His wife, who still lives in Saigon (Now Ho Chi Minh City), confirms that Lem was a member of the Vietcong and that he disappeared shortly before the Tet Offensive never to return. Lem’s role in the Viet Cong is murky. Most reports give him the role of a Captain in a Viet Cong assassination and revenge platoon responsible for the killing of South Vietnamese policemen and their families. Eddie Adams was told by Loan that Lem had killed one of Loan’s friends and his family, “They found out that [Lem] was the same guy who killed one of his —uh—Loan’s officers and wiped out his whole family.” Yet facing international pressure when the picture and footage aired Vice President Ky, said the prisoner had not been in the Viet Cong but was “a very high ranking” communist political official. History hasn’t clarified Lem’s role in the Vietcong and the Vietnamese government has never acknowledged his role in the war. Lem’s widow and children lived in poverty for years before being discovered by a Japanese TV crew living in a field. It was only then that the Vietnamese government provided her shelter. 

Taking the picture

He was a hero … very well loved by the Vietnamese
-Eddie Adams on General Loan

Adams, the man who captured Lem’s final instant was a former Marine photographer in the Korean War. Working for AP, he had arrived in Vietnam a few weeks before the Tet Offensive. This was his third tour; the first was when marines initially touched down in Vietnam in 1965. On the second day of the Tet Offensive Eddie heard reports of fighting near the Cholon, the Chinese section of the capital. The AP and NBC were office neighbors and often pooled resources when reporting the war. So Eddie teamed up with one of NBC’s cameramen, Vo Su, and went to check out the location where the fighting was reported. 
The two shared a vehicle but as they got closer started to proceed on foot. Hal Buell, Eddie’s boss, tells what happened next: 

Adams watched as two Vietnamese soldiers pulled a prisoner out of a doorway at the end of the street. The soldiers then pushed and pulled what appeared to be a Viet Cong in a plaid shirt, his arms tied behind his back. They escorted the man toward the spot where Adams and Vo Su were located.
“Eddie Adams said, ‘I just followed the three of them as they walked towards us, making an occasional picture. When they were close – maybe five feet away – the soldiers stopped and backed away. I saw a man walk into my camera viewfinder from the left. He took a pistol out of his holster and raised it. I had no idea he would shoot. It was common to hold a pistol to the head of prisoners during questioning. So I prepared to make that picture – the threat, the interrogation. But it didn’t happen. The man just pulled a pistol out of his holster, raised it to the VC’s head and shot him in the temple. I made a picture at the same time.’ “The prisoner fell to the pavement, blood gushing,” Buell, quoting Eddie. “After a few more pictures of the dead man, Adams left.

 
[midgoogle]

Video Footage


NBC also acquired film footage of the incident, thanks to the South Vietnamese journalist with Adams, Vo Suu, a cameraman for NBC correspondent Howard Tuckner. The color footage of the execution filmed by Vo Suu was shown to a stunned America already shocked by images of a supposed “defeated” on the offensive during the Tet attack.
After the picture and footage flashed across the world there were cries for Loan to be charged with War Crimes for his summary execution of Lem. Loan’s execution would have violated the Geneva Conventions for captured soldiers or Prisoners of War (POWs) if Lem had been wearing a military uniform. Since Lem was caught wearing civilian clothes, plaid shirt and black shorts, Loan was only restricted by the laws of the South Vietnamese government, which allowed the use of such harsh measures.

After the War

 

His Vietnam execution shot won Eddie Adams the Pulitzer Prize for the Associated Press in 1969. He has always felt guilty over his role in demonizing Loan. After the picture was released in 1969 the AP assigned Adams to follow Loan around Vietnam. In this time Adams remembers, “I . . . found out the guy was very well loved by the Vietnamese, you know. He was a hero to them . . . and it just saddens me that none of this has really come out.”
Adams would later do a series of shots of 48 Vietnamese boat people who had managed to get to Thailand in a small 30ft boat, only to be towed back out to sea by Thai military officials. His reports and picture convinced President Jimmy Carter to grant asylum to over 200,000 Vietnamese boat people. “I would have rather won the Pulitzer for something like that. It did some good and nobody got hurt.” 

General Loan Taken out of Action

The guy was a hero. America should be crying
-Eddie Adams on hearing of Loan’s death

In May 1968 only a few months after the execution picture, now, Brigadier General Loan was seriously wounded. While leading the charge against a Viet Cong strong point a machine gun burst had ripped off his leg. Once again a photograph captured Loan. This time the general was bleeding profusely while the broad-shouldered Australian war correspondent, Pat Burgess, carried him back to his lines. 
Loan was taken to Australia for treatment but when it was discovered who he was there was such an outcry from the Australian public he was moved to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. After recovering from his injuries the one-legged Loan returned to Saigon where because he had been relieved of his command due to his injuries devoted his time to set up hospitals and the helping Vietnamese war orphans. 

General to Pizza Cook

When South Vietnam fell to the north in 1975, Loan at almost the last moment made it out of the country on a South Vietnamese plane after being denied help by the fleeing Americans. He settled in the United States eventually opening a pizzeria in northern Virginia. He lived a quiet life until he was forced to close his restaurant in 1991 when his identity was discovered. In 1998, at 67, he died of cancer but is survived by his four children his wife, Chinh Mai; and nine grandchildren. “The guy was a hero. America should be crying,” Eddie Adams response when he learned of Loan’s death. 

Eulogy

I won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for a photograph of one man shooting another … The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still, photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn’t say was, “What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?” General Loan was what you would call a real warrior, admired by his troops. I’m not saying what he did was right, but you have to put yourself in his position.  

…This picture really messed up his life. He never blamed me. He told me if I hadn’t taken the picture, someone else would have, but I’ve felt bad for him and his family for a long time. I had kept in contact with him; the last time we spoke was about six months ago when he was very ill.
I sent flowers when I heard that he had died and wrote, “I’m sorry. There are tears in my eyes.”
–Eddie Adams

Eddie Adams: The Execution of a Viet Cong Guerilla, 1968

With Color


Life After the Picture

Eddie Adams born on June 12, 1933, in New Kensington, Pennsylvania has covered 13 wars but has also become famous as a magazine cover photographer. His pictures have been seen on magazines and newspaper covers around the world including Time, Newsweek, Life, Paris Match, Parade, Penthouse, Vogue, The London Sunday Times Magazine, The New York Times, Stern and Vanity Fair. (Yes Penthouse! He shot a number of “Pets” in the 70s) He has shot cover shots for some of the most famous people in the world, presidents Richard Nixon to President Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, Anwar Sadat, Deng Xiaoping, Fidel Castro and Pope John Paul II. In 1988 he started an annual photo event, Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Photojournalism Workshop. For four days the workshop brings together newbies and seasoned pros in the Photojournalism field for photography, editing tips and networking. 
Eddie Adams himself lived to 71 when on September 18, 2004, he died from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Vietnam war correspondent who carried the wounded Loan to safety, Pat Burgess, also died from painful sclerosis of the nervous system, similar to the type Eddie Adams had.
The North Vietnamese failed to achieve any of their goals with the Tet Offensive. The attack was a military disaster for the Vietnamese and Vietcong forces where never able to return to the pre-Tet strength. However, in the eyes of the American pubic, it seemed like America had been the one that had been dealt a serious blow. The Offensive contradicted the message from the White House that the USA was winning. The execution photograph was a part of the media presentation of the Tet Offensive and seemed to present a battle that had been reduced to desperation and savagery. Yet for all the emotional impact that the film and picture had, the event had little effect on the presence of American soldiers in Vietnam. American G.I.s stayed for another five years. The American government still continued funding the South Vietnamese for another seven years, until 1975; the same year South Vietnam fell. 

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[Vietnam]

Related Posts:

Burning Monk

Behind the camera: Malcome Browne
Where: Phan-Dinh-Phung St.
Photo Summary: Thich Quang Duc igniting himself on fire to protest South Vietnamese religious policy
Picture Taken: June 11th, 1963

On June 11th, 1963 a Buddhist protest march was making its way down one of Saigon’s busiest arteries, Phan-Dinh-Phung St. The procession of around 400 Buddhist monks and Nuns moved through the city until they hit Le-Van-Duyet St where a light blue Austin that was part of the procession, the car is seen in the background of the picture, stopped. The hood was raised as if the car had engine trouble while the nuns and monks in the parade quickly surrounded the car forming a circle of some seven monks deep. Thich Quang Duc a 66-year-old monk calmly got out of the car and walked to the center of the circle sitting on a cushion provided for him. His religious brothers removed a jerry can of fuel from the car and proceeded to pour it over Quang-Duc who was now meditating in the lotus position. Quang-Duc with his Buddhist prayer beads in his right hand, then opened a box of matches, lit one and was instantly engulfed in flames. He did not move while his body was incinerated, while Malcome Browne the only western reporter present snapped the picture of the monk on fire.

Aftermath




Reenactment from the shockumentary Mondo Cane 2


Malcome Browne’s image, that would later get him the Pulitzer prize that year, was on news covers around the world including the desk of American President, JFK. When Kennedy saw the image he was heard to remark, “Jesus Christ … This sort of thing has got to stop.” Marking the beginning of the end of American support for the Ngo Dinh Diem regime.
For many, the story was their first introduction to religion not then common outside of Asia, Buddhism. Time, in its article “Faith that Lights” article attempted to introduce a faith that would inspire it’s followers to light themselves on fire. When describing the Eightfold Path Time told it’s readers that Buddhism was “full of pitfalls,” and that “in many Western ways, Buddhism is socially useless. It has only a limited tradition of good works,”.

Thich Quang Duc


Thich Quang Duc

Thich Quang Duc


Thich Quang Duc, real name Lam Van Tuc, was born in rural Vietnam in 1897. At the age of seven, he entered the religious life becoming a disciple of the Zen master Hoang Tham. At twenty he officially became a monk spending the next decade and a half in the remote Ninh Hoa Mountains. In 1932 he came out of isolation and started teaching Buddhism and also spending time rebuilding Buddhist pagodas. By 1942 he had rebuilt 20 pagodas and the same year moved to Saigon where he settled into the Quan The Am temple eventually becoming the Head of rituals Committee of the United Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation.
During Vietnam’s time as a French colony, Catholicism spread throughout with the colonial government favoring Catholics for key positions in the government, army, and police. By 1963, South Vietnam was ruled by a dictatorial leader, Ngo Dinh Diem. Under Diem, most of South Vietnam’s power was held in the hands of Catholics. Diem’s regime oppressed the Buddhist majority, who made up some 80% of the country. Most high-ranking government figures were Catholic, and Buddhists were being discriminated against in Universities and government jobs. Government policy followed a strict Catholic morality such as, “bans on dancing, contraceptives, divorce, and polygamy, [that ran] counter to customs and beliefs of the majority.“ Buddhists were not allowed to teach or practice their own religion, and protesting monks and nuns were being beaten, detained and tortured by Diem’s secret police. Even in the fight against the communists, it was only the Catholics who were given weapons with which to fight the Viet Cong. It was this intense religious persecution that Thich Quang Duc was protesting against, not the ongoing guerrilla war with the Vietcong.

The ancient city of Hue is arguably the heartland of Buddhism in Vietnam. Hue is also the birthplace of Diem, South Vietnam’s leader. Ruled by Diem’s two brothers — one as a major/warlord, the other ruled as the Catholic archbishop. In May 1963 Diem celebrated the anniversary of his brother’s promotion to the archbishop in a ceremony where the gold and white Catholic flag flew next to Vietnam’s national flag. The two raised flags were a direct violation of South Vietnam Law prohibiting any flag but the national flag to be flown. Only days later, Hue’s Buddhist community attempted to fly its own five-colored flag to celebrate the 2,587th anniversary of Buddha’s birthday. The government said no and when people took to the streets in protest, 9 people were killed by government forces firing into the crowd. Diem tried to blame the deaths on the communists but the damage was done.

The car seen in the background has been saved and still be viewed

People spilled onto the streets demanding change. The Buddhist monks disregarded as meditating, out of touch, holy men proved surprisingly knowledgeable on how to use the modern media, calling reporters, using English signs, in an effort to get their plight to the outside world. The monks strived to push a common message making the following request of the Diem regime: “Lift its ban on flying the traditional Buddhist flag; Grant Buddhism the same rights as Catholicism; Stop detaining Buddhists; Give Buddhist monks and nuns the right to practice and spread their religion; and Pay fair compensations to the victim’s families and punish those responsible for their deaths.” Reporters who had been slugging it out in the rice paddies covering the fight against the Vietcong quickly moved back into the cities to cover this urban civil unrest. Foreign journalists soon had their phones ringing off the hook as they received tip after tip telling them about the next demonstration.

Taking the photo


2010 site of the Burning Monk

Present day picture of the Intersection. Located at Phan Dinh Phung Boulevard and Le Van Duyet Street in HCMC


As early as the spring of 1963, Western reporters knew of Buddhist plans to use staged suicides as a form of protest. These plans were never taken seriously as no one could imagine that the priests of a religion that was regarded as nonviolent would condone suicide. Even after the deaths from the flag incident, the Buddhists followed a policy of non-violent marches and peaceful rallies. When June rolled around it was painfully obvious that the strategy wasn’t working. The protests, “were having no impact on the general populace,” and the foreign news media had “lost interest completely.” So the monks moved to Plan B and escalate the protest. In secret experiments, they discovered that gasoline burned too fast risking horribly burning the protester and prolonging the agony. They solved the problem by creating a diesel and gas mix that would burn hot yet burn long enough to guarantee death. By early June the foreign media started ignoring the phone tips that told them where the next protest was. That is everyone but Malcome Browne:

…So while other correspondents got tired of the endless Buddhist street demonstrations that were going on all that summer, I stuck with them, because I had the sense that sooner or later something would happen. [The night before the Quang-Duc protest, a message was sent] to half a dozen other American correspondents, but they all ignored it. I did not. That morning a Buddhist monk went out and sat down in a main intersection in downtown Saigon. Two of his fellow monks poured gasoline over him, and he set himself on fire [at 9:22 AM] and died [13 min later]. I was there, the only western correspondent present and taking pictures. I suppose I took six or eight rolls of 35-millimeter film … [By 10:45AM he had the film en route to Tokyo]

It was clearly theater staged by the Buddhists to achieve a certain political end. At the same time, there was a human element to it that was just horrifying, because the sequence of pictures showed the initial shock of the flames touching his face, and so forth. He never cried out or screamed, but you could see from his expression that he was exposed to intense agony and that he was dying on the spot … I’ve been asked a couple times whether I could have prevented the suicide. I could not. There was a phalanx of perhaps two hundred monks and nuns who were ready to block me if I tried to move. A couple of them chucked themselves under the wheels of a fire truck that arrived. But in the years since, I’ve had this searing feeling of perhaps having in some way contributed to the death of a kind old man who probably would not have done what he did — nor would the monks, in general, have done what they did — if they had not been assured of the presence of a newsman who could convey the images and experience to the outer world. Because that was the whole point — to produce theater of the horrible so striking that the reasons for the demonstrations would become apparent to everyone.

The Body


Heart of the burning monk

The heart refused to burn after Thich Quang Duc was cremated

Browne would later recount that the monks at the protest had trouble getting Thich Quang Duc horribly burnt corpse into a casket, “because he was splayed out in all directions.” After the protest, Duc’s body was burned again when his fellow monks cremated him. The monks claim that his body was reduced to ashes except for his heart which while singed was still intact. The organ was declared Holy and is still kept as a holy artifact by the monks. Before Duc died he composed a letter to explain his actions and asked people to unite and work towards the preservation of Buddhism in Vietnam and around the world. This became known as the Letter of Heart Blood.

Government response

Diem’s regime handled the burning badly. He quickly tried to pass off the whole protest as a Buddhist plot with monks working somehow with the communists. He tarred Browne with the same brush claiming that the enemy had bribed him. Things were made worse when Madame Nhu a famous outspoken relative of Diem was quoted as saying, “I would clap hands at seeing another monk barbeque show…” After this quote, Madame Nhu became known and feared as the “Dragon Lady”.
The regime was so outraged over the whole incident, and in a later protest, the secret police cornered and beat Browne and some reporter colleagues, including Peter Arnett. Browne, the actual target was able to half climb a pole while Arnett took the brunt of the blows. He was eventually pulled down and his camera smashed but not before he snapped off a few pictures with the same Minolta camera that captured Duc’s burning body. One of the pictures Browne salvaged from the camera was of famous Vietnam correspondent David Halberstam brawling with the police while trying to pull Arnett to safety.
Thich Quang Duc’s suicide was the first of many other self-immolations around Vietnam. The Buddhist protest exposed the hypocrisy of the American policy in Vietnam. The question of how could the white house claim to be protecting freedom by supporting Diem when the government practiced such severe religious persecution was not answered. After a crackdown on the Buddhist protests began, America cut off aid and the White House became hostile after more and more monks and nuns doused themselves in fuel and lit themselves on fire. When American intelligence learned of a plot to assassinate Diem in a coup attempt, US officials contacted the conspirators and assured them that the U.S. would not interfere. On Nov 2, 1963, Diem and his younger brother were killed.

Malcolm Browne: The self-immolation of Thích Quảng Đức, 1963

With Color

The Photographer – Malcolm Browne

On April 17, 1931, Malcolm Wilde Browne was born in New York. He left Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania with a degree in chemistry and was quickly drafted and almost served out his enlistment as a tank driver but instead worked for the military newspaper which jump-started his interest in journalism.
Malcolm Browne spent forty years documenting world events thirty of which he worked for the New York Times. Much of that time was spent in war zones and he has been shot at, thrown out of over a dozen countries and for his work in South Vietnam even put on a death list. While in Vietnam he met his wife Le Lieu and the two have been together ever since. It was Le Lieu who notified the world that at 81, on August 27, 2012, Browne lost his fight against Parkinson’s disease. He was survived by his wife, a son, Timothy; a daughter, Wendy, from a previous marriage; a brother, Timothy; and a sister, Miriam.

Copyright

The copyright for this image is held by APIMAGEs: Burning Monk by Malcolm Browne

Other Famous Pictures

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Wait for me, Daddy

Behind the camera: Claude P. Dettloff
Where: Eighth Street and Columbia Avenue intersection, New Westminster, Canada
Photo Summary: The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) marching down the street when Warren “Whitey” Bernard runs out to his father, Pte. Jack Bernard.
Picture Taken: October 1, 1940

Canada had been at war for over a year and still, the men of The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) waited to be called up for service. Finally, in 1940 the order came down and the men marched through New West Minister to a waiting train to take them overseas. As the men marched, one little boy, seeing his father ran out onto the street and was quickly chased by his mother. Photographer Claude P. Dettloff was all ready to take a picture of the hundreds of BC boys going off to war when Warren “Whitey” Bernard ran into his picture. With a click Dettloff took one of the defining Canadian pictures of World War II.

Background


The Oct. 2, 1940, front page of The Province featured Claude P. Dettloff's famous Wait for Me, Daddy photo.

The Oct. 2, 1940, front page of The Province featured Claude P. Dettloff’s famous Wait for Me, Daddy photo.


The Bernard family was at that time living in Vancouver near Queen Elizabeth Park. Five-year-old Warren “Whitey” Bernard was in Grade 1 at nearby General Wolfe Elementary (His mother had lied about his age to get him in). Whitey’s Dad was enlisted in the British Columbia Regiment and was stationed in the city on various sentry points throughout the city. Since the declaration of war in 1939, the men of the BC regiment had been doing various guard duty assignments which were boring and monotonous. One of the most exciting events occurred when a bored sentry at the Jerrico Air Base fired his weapon into the ground and then informed his superiors that he was shot at. Worried about German saboteurs guard duty was doubled, especially after an expert from Ottawa was sent in to investigate; after careful study he declared it to be 9mm German slug. The base would have remained on high alert if a suspicious Lt Neil Pattullo hadn’t coaxed out the “true” story out of the sentry.
Finally after months of waiting the regiment received word that it was to be moving to a secret destination “Overseas.” As the troops marched to a waiting train to take them to their next destination photographer Claude P. Dettloff snapped the photo standing at the Columbia St crossing as the men marched down Eighth Street in New Westminster, Canada.

Whitey Fame



Whitey doesn’t remember running on to the street or getting his picture taken but he does remember the next day when after the picture was published in the Province Newspaper he became the most famous kid in Vancouver. As other newspapers picked up the photo he soon became the most famous child in Canada. The small Whitey was even enlisted to sell war bonds. In an interview years later he remembered that the war bond drives were quite fun.

Colourized version of the photo by Doug of @colour_history

They were six weeks long, and so I had to be excused from school. They had entertainers and put on shows. I remember meeting Edgar Bergen and ‘talking’ to his dummies, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, and there were local entertainers, too: Barney Potts, Thora Anders, Pat Morgan, and I’d come out at the end in front of a big blowup of the picture with a fellow dressed up as my dad. I’d stand there in my dressy blue blazer and short grey pants, they put me in short pants, and give a little speech, and I’d end by asking everyone to buy war bonds to help Bring My Daddy Home. That got everyone all misty-eyed and they’d rush up to buy bonds.

His future wife, Ruby, fondly recalls that she had actually known her husband for years. Whitey’s photo “was hung in every school in B.C. during the war,” she said. “I saw him years and years before we actually met.”
[midgoogle]

Overseas


The reunion after the war

The reunion after the war


As for his Dad, Pte. Jack Bernard, the secret “overseas” location turned out to be the Camp Nanaimo base only a few hours away on Vancouver Island. The regiment spent time on the coast defending against German and then Japanese attack. It wasn’t until August 1942 that the bulk of the Regiment sailed for England. They didn’t see action until July 23, 1944, when they landed at the established D-Day beachhead and participated in Operation Totalize, one of the first attempts to close the Falaise Gap. After the Allies had crushed the German Army groups based in France they with the rest of Allies harassed the retreating Germans all the way to Holland. There the regiment took part in a number of operations in Holland and in Northern Germany. The last battle they took part in was on April 17, 1945, when they crossed the Kusten Canal. A month later Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day) was declared on May 5, 1945. Throughout the war the Regiment had 122 Officers and men killed and 213 wounded.

After the War


Whitey Bernard pointing himself out

Whitey Bernard pointing himself out


Whitey’s dad survived the European theatre and came home in October 1945. One causality of the war was Whitey’s parents’ marriage; as Jack and Bernice Bernard eventually divorced. Whitey grew up and moved to Tofino and met and married his wife Ruby in 1964. He ran a small marina that sold hardware and gas before getting involved in local politics. He was elected an alderman then was major for several years before becoming a Councillor. He’s now retired but his son, Steven Bernard, still runs the family marina.

More Images of World War II


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Flag on the Reichstag

Behind the camera: Red Army photographer Yevgeny Khaldei
Where: On top of the German Reichstag building in Berlin
Photo Summary: The Soviet flag being raised over the German Reichstag building by Red Army soldiers
Picture Taken: May 2, 1945

In the closing days of World War II, the Communist Russian Red Army smashed its way into Berlin. In the Nazi capital, the German army was overwhelmed into pockets of resistance that either surrendered or fought fanatically to the last man. On the front lines with the Red Army was Yevgeny Khaldei, a Soviet war photographer. In the future, he would say that he spent every 1,481 days of the Russian-German war covering the Soviet battle for the motherland, but in Nazi Berlin, he was looking for one thing, his Iwo Jima shot. Khaldei had seen the pictures of American GI’s raising the flag over the Japanese volcano and before the war ended he wanted to snap a similar scene in Berlin.

Less commonly or as in article https://www.gulickhhc.com/drugs/erectile-dysfunction/tadalis.htm, psychological factors cause or contribute to heart disease. Get full review!


Flag over the Reichstag color

Colorized version

 

Creating his Iwo Jima

Choosing the German Parliament building, The Reichstag, as his Iwo Jima, Khaldei moved to create his Soviet Propaganda masterpiece. With frustration he discovered, he had a place to raise the USSR colors but no Soviet flag. Jumping on a plane back to Moscow he was able to convince employees of his news agency to give him three red tablecloths normally used for official functions. With his uncle, they spent the night sewing on stars, hammers, and sickles before Khaldei returned to Berlin. Even though the Reichstag had been abandoned since the fire of February 1933, which allowed Hitler to take power, it was still heavily defended.

Who raised the flag?

As Berlin fell in the closing days of the War, Red Army photographer Yevgeny Khaldei gathered some soldiers and had them pose a shot of them hoisting the flag (called the Victory Banner) on the roof of the Reichstag building. The photo represented a historic moment, the defeat of Germany in a war that cost the Soviet Union tens of millions of lives. The photo was published on May 13, 1945, in Ogonyok magazine. Out of the 36 Images that Khaldei took and of all the other photographers who took pictures of the flag on the roof it was Khaldei’s images that became iconic.

Celebrated as the image is, it was a reconstruction of a moment that had happened earlier but had been missed by the cameras. The events surrounding the flag raising are murky due to the infamous, “fog of war” caused by the confusion of battle. On April 30th there was great pressure from the Soviet leadership to take the building seen as the “den of the fascist beast” before Mayday celebrations. First, two planes dropped several large red banners on the roof that appeared to have caught on the girders of the bombed-out dome. Also, a number of reports had reached Red Army headquarters that two parties, M.M. Bondar from the 380th Rifle Regiment and Captain V.N. Makov with the 756th might have been able to hoist a flag on the afternoon of April 30th. These reports made it back to Marshal G.K. Zhukov who issued an announcement stating that troops had captured the Reichstag and hoisted a flag. However, when correspondents arrived they found no Soviets in the building and in fact they were pinned down outside the Reichstag by Nazi fire. Zhukov’s announcement that the building had been taken was already broadcast to the world. When the local commander found out that the Nazis still controlled the building contrary to the official Soviet version of events he was frantic to get a flag up and ordered a push to get one somewhere, anywhere on the building.
Soviet soldiers were able to use mortar rounds, fired horizontally, to punch through one of the bricked-up doorways. Splitting up into small teams to hide their purpose the Soviets slowly gained more and more control of the Reichstag interior. Even with the hold-out defenders a small Soviet five-man strike team was able to find a stairway and make their way to the top. At one point they had to use a tree to ram down a door. Making their way to the roof, they chose the mounted statue of Germania, a woman representing Germany, on the roof of the Reichstag to attach their banner. At first, they were going to use their belts to hold it in place but then noticed that the crown on the statue had holes where a flag pole would fit. So at 10:40 PM on April 30, 1945, a 27 years old Mikhail Petrovich Minin climbed the statue and inserted the flag in Germania’s crown. But this first-night flag-raising wasn’t captured on film.

The real raising of the Reichstag-painting

A painting in the Russian Voronezh Museum showing Mikhail Petrovich Minin and his strike team raising the flag

The next day the German troops attacked when they saw the Soviet Victory Flag flying above. Only with Soviet reinforcements was the Red Army able to beat off the counter-attack. While the Nazis didn’t force the Soviets from the building they did manage to bring down the flag. Two days later the Germans that remained trapped in the basement finally surrendered and on the morning of May 2, 1945, they left the building under a white flag.

Finally, Khaldei was able to scale the now pacified Reichstag to take his picture. The official story was that two soldiers: Georgian Meliton Kantaria (to please Stalin who was also Georgian) and the Russian Mikhail Yegorov had raised the flag on April 30. Further conflicting events made things even more confusing when reports emerged that a group of men led by Sergei E. Sorokin made it to the roof and also planted another flag.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it emerged that due to political factors the subjects of the photo were changed and the actual man to hoist the flag, in the picture, was Alyosha Kovalyov. Accounts would emerge that Kovalyov, a Ukrainian, was told by the NKVD to keep quiet about his role in the flag-raising. The other man supporting Kovalyov was revealed in 1996 to be Abdulkhakim Ismailov. In addition to officially naming him as the man in the photo, the Russian government gave him a Hero of Russia medal. Ismailov died on February 16, 2010, in his native village of Chagar-Otar, in the restive southern Russian province of Dagestan.

Reichstag and location of the flag raising copy

The circle indicates where, on the East side of the Reichstag, the flag raising took place. Clicking on the image will show the Google Map location of the picture

Yevgeny Khaldei

Original Image


Yevgeny Khaldei was born into a Ukrainian Jewish family on March 23, 1917, in Donbass, a Ukrainian steel town. He was still an infant when his mother was killed in an anti-Jewish pogrom in 1918. A true survivor, during the Soviet-designed famines that killed millions in Ukraine, Khaldei learned to eat grass to stay alive. Despite Stalin setting in motion the events that led to millions of his Ukrainian countrymen dying in the Famine, he was still loyal to the state.

Edited version with smoke added

From a young age, Khaldei was fascinated by photography. As a young teenager, he built his first camera from a lens of his grandmother’s glasses. Soon his pictures started to appear in a local paper the, Socialist Donbass. A few years later he would join the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) as a press photographer. On assignment, photographing children reciting poetry, as part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the famous poet Mikhail Lermontov, he first heard the news that Germany had invaded. One of his most famous pieces, “War is announced” was taken on that day on June 22, 1941.

Photographer of the Soviet Army

Red army soldiers raising the soviet flag on the roof of the reichstag with two Watches

The original photo with the watch on Ismailov’s right wrist

Commissioned into the Soviet army as a lieutenant he was sent out to photograph the war. Sent into the field with just 160 feet of film because his editor thought that Hitler would be defeated within two weeks. Khaldei was first stationed in the Arctic city of Murmansk with a squadron of British pilots sent to protect the Soviet Union’s lifeline to the West, the Arctic convoys. As the war progressed he shot the liberation of major Soviet cities including Kerch and Sevastopol. At Yalta, he captured the Allies leaders planning post-Nazi Europe. He was part of the red wave that swept across Europe and crushed Berlin. His shot of the Soviet Hammer and Sickle flag over the Reichstag is one of the most significant of World War II. Symbolizing Soviet victory and revenge; not only did Khaldei immortalize the moment: he created it.

Red army soldiers raising the soviet flag on the roof of the reichstag with two Watches

The original photo (above) was altered by editing out the watch on Ismailov’s right wrist

In his heroic Soviet propaganda style, he is probably the only journalist to arrange, choreograph and then capture such a symbolic event. He defended posing most of his pictures by insisting that the shot taken should match the importance of the event. As was the case with many Soviet and other journalists during the war, once the picture was taken and developed, that did not mean it was finished. Censors at the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) noticed that on the wrists of the solider in the picture there was not one but two watches indicating a common practice by all parties during World War II, looting. The officials thought the sight of looting members of the Red Army would look badly and told Khaldei to edit them out. Not stopping with the watches, Khaldei also added smoke to the background to add to the drama of a wartime shot. In a recent Art show commemorating his work, only one of his shots was actually taken during combat and not posed. In defence of Mr. Khaldei, he might have been too busy to actually take pictures during combat. Unlike their fellow Allied journalists, Soviet reporters carried arms and were soldiers first, journalists second.

After the War

Smoke over Berlin

The smoke that was added to the image


After the surrender of Germany, Khaldei covered many events including the Nazi war-crimes tribunals, the Nuremberg trials. In 1947 Robert Capa travelled to the Soviet Union with his friend, John Steinbeck. When he was leaving the country Soviet officials wanted to look through his undeveloped images. Capa refused to give them access unless Yevgeny Khaldei developed them. Capa had befriended the photographer while the two covered the Potsdam Conference and the Nuremberg Trials together and photographed one another there. Both men were hard-drinkers and recognized as playboy lady killers.

Khaldei worked with TASS until 1948, when increased Stalin sanctioned antisemitism of the time or his support of Tito, who went against Stalin, forced him from the job. He struggled to find work as a lot of Jews did during that period, until Stalin died in 1953. After Stalin’s death, the antisemitism was brushed under the Soviet carpet and he was able to find work again at the Russian Newspaper giant, Pravda. While it was official state doctrine that everyone in the USSR was equal and there was no race problem like America, Khaldei still felt the ever-present antisemitism that has dogged Russian culture for centuries. He was allowed to take pictures of Russian musicians but forbidden to give coverage to Jewish artists. These double standards continued until finally in 1972 when he was again, because of his background, forced from his job at Pravda. Even though Russian antisemitism caused the death of his mother and Soviet antisemitism forced him from two jobs he still supports the Soviet communist dream:

I was a son of Communists, and we were pioneers by the time I was 8. I was invited to Albania and flown there in President Enver Hodja’s plane at age 9. I militated for almost everything possible until I was 17. From then on, my conscience has been drawn inward and as a result, I can’t stand groups, organizations, and dominating ideologies anymore. This doesn’t mean that I don’t deeply respect the socialist ideal, and I’m a far cry from wanting to harp along with everyone else about the curse of communism. At least the respect for values and ideas exists in this ideal, which is terribly lacking nowadays. It’s no coincidence that most members of the Resistance movement were communists if they weren’t Jewish communists.
Credit he deserved

Antisemitism almost buried Khaldei into oblivion as his photos including his shot of the Soviet Flag over the bombed-out ruins of Berlin were published without credit. It was only till after the cold war and the collapse of communism that professors Alexander and Alice Nakhimovsky came across his name in the Russian archives and created a book showcasing his work, WITNESS TO HISTORY: The Photographs of Yevgeny Khaldei. Now the Khaldei Exhibition has a retrospective in major cities all over the world. The book even led to a movie about his life, Evgueni Khaldei: Photographer Under Stalin. Before he was discovered, Khaldei was surviving on a $35 monthly pension from the State. Just after the film was finished on Oct 6, 1997, at the age of 80 he died. He never made any money from royalties of his work but his son-in-law Yuri Bibichev said Khaldei didn’t care, “He was glad that what he had done over 80 years was of use to someone”.

Copyright Status

This image used to be copyright free but in 2006 the Russian State changed its copyright laws. So now images:

  • taken after 1943 (Image was taken in 1945)
  • images whose author wasn’t discovered before 1995 (Khaldei’s role was discovered in 1991)
  • the author died 70-years-ago (Khaldei past away in 1997)
  • the image was published 70-years-ago (This photo was published May 13, 1945, in the Ogonyok magazine.)

Pictures that fit one of these conditions, like this picture, are all covered by copyright laws and not public domain images.

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