Whose is The Flag of Victory?: Reusing and Abusing an Icon of War

This is an Archive of a Past Event

The famous photograph and newsreel film of the raising of the Soviet flag over Berlin’s Reichstag in May 1945 have been frequently recycled to stand for the end of war and the Soviet part of victory in it. While there have been many analyses of these images as falsifications of the actual events of the storm of the Reichstag, their rich symbolic power as what have been called ‘iconic images’ evoking a momentous historical event has been undiminished. This lecture will examine the uses that this imagery has been put to in films from The Fall of Berlin (1949) to Liberation (1971) and in recent TV dramas and documentaries TV, as well as in posters, games and other media through various periods of Soviet and Russian history up to the present day. I shall argue that the subtle variations in the appropriations of the ‘flag of victory’ reflect shifting priorities in memory politics, and lay bare the fault lines in Soviet and Post-Soviet memory of remembrance of the Great Patriotic war. 

Jeremy Hicks is a Reader (ie Associate Professor) in Russian Culture and Film at Queen Mary University of London (UK). He is the author of Mikhail Zoshchenko and the Poetics of Skaz (Nottingham, 2000), Dziga Vertov: Defining Documentary Film (London and New York, 2007) and First Films of the Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and the Genocide of the Jews, 1938-46 (Pittsburgh, 2012), which won the the Wayne C. Vucinich Prize, the most prestigious book award in the field of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies.