Friday Photo: The Leica That Took the Reichstag

(Bonhams)
(Yevgeny Khalder)OK, so it’s the Leica that took the photo of Russian troops taking the Reichstag, but you get the idea! Alas, there is no Black Friday discount on this camera, which goes on the block tomorrow in Hong Kong as part of Bonhams’ droolworthy Leica centenary sale (note to Tom Sachs: there’s also a fine circa-1966 NASA model up for grabs) and is estimated to fetch between 3 million and 4 million Hong Kong dollars—approximately $390,000-$520,000 at current exchange.

While working as a photojournalist for the Soviet news agency TASS, Yevgeni Khaldei used the trusty chrome Leica III to take Raising a Flag over the Reichstag (above), one of the most famous photographs of World War II. There is more than Khaldei’s eye and the Leica’s Elmar 3.5cm f/3.5 lens to thank for the image: taken on May 2, 1945, it’s a restaging of the moment two days earlier when Red Army fighters had first flown the Soviet flag over the Reichstag (Germans had fought back and dislodged the Red Army, scuttling that photo op). And there was also a bit of Soviet-style proto-Photoshopping involved: more smoke was added to suggest that the fighting was still taking place and the soldiers’ looted watches were made to vanish from their wrists and from history.