Photographs by Yevgeny Khaldei [via]
Biographical essay by Alexander and Alice Nakhimovsky
One of the greatest Soviet treasures to come to light after the end of the cold war is the work of the photographer Yevgeny Khaldei. A staff photographer for the Soviet news agency TASS during World War II, Khaldei produced a tremendous and valuable archive of images. He covered every day of the conflict from the German invasion of the USSR in 1941 to the fall of Berlin in 1945, where he raced to the roof of the burning Reichstag to take his famous photograph of a soldier hoisting the Soviet flag. His unflinching approach, and the moving images that resulted, have led to comparisons with the work of Robert Capa.
Khaldei's life was shaped by the triumphs and disasters of the Soviet twentieth century. Yevgeny Khaldei was born in 1917, just months before the Bolshevik Revolution. A year later, as pogroms ravaged the Jewish towns of the Ukraine, his mother was shot and the bullet that killed her lodged in his chest. At the age of eleven he made a crude camera from a cardboard box and his grandmother's spectacles. Before long his images of the heroes of Soviet construction, triumphant steelworkers and stoic farmers, were appearing in the newspaper Pravda. By the end of the war Khaldei was acknowledged as Russia's greatest combat photographer. Born as the Soviet Union was coming into existence, Yevgeny Khaldei has lived through its struggles, triumphs, and eventually its downfall. Eighty years old, Yevgeny Khaldei still resides in Moscow.