Bonhams Auctions The Leica Camera That Took One Of The World’s Most Iconic Photos
by Ian Skellern
A couple of months ago, Elizabeth Doerr visited the Leica camera factory in Germany for an event celebrating the iconic brand’s 100th anniversary.
As part of the centennial anniversary celebrations, Leica hosted an exhibition of 36 historical images taken with Leica cameras over the course of the brand’s 100 years. The exhibition was very logically titled “36 aus 100” (“36 from 100”).
One of the photos particularly caught Elizabeth’s eye, and then grabbed her attention when her guide explained that one of the subjects in the image was wearing two watches, one of which was removed in official reproductions of the image.
The photo was taken in Berlin at the end of World War II by Yevgeny Khaldei, a young Ukrainian-born photographer working for the Soviet news agency TASS.
Khaldei set out to create politically powerful scenes to photograph and had made a Soviet flag (there was a shortage at the time) as a prop. For this image he asked a couple of soldier friends to pose hoisting the flag over the Reichstag, the symbolic (though, at the time, not actual) seat of German political power.
One of the soldiers was wearing two watches. While the Soviet propaganda machine thought that the photo was excellent, it “removed” one of the watches as it did not wish to show anything that may have inflamed accusations of looting (of which there had been quite a bit).
The image has been widely reproduced on posters and the stamps of a few countries, including Russia, East Germany and Cuba.
The actual camera that Khaldei used to take that iconic image, a Leica III, is to be auctioned by Bonhams in Hong Kong on November 30, 2014. The camera is expected to fetch more than £300,000 ($500,000).
For more information on the auction, please visit http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20819/.
And for Elizabeth’s related articles, please click: Leica Celebrates 100 Years: A Factory Tour In Wetzlar, Germany and Historic Yevgeny Khaldei Photograph In Leica Exhibition.