The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Soviet photo manipulations from WWII

The Soviets are master of photo manipulations, this is a trait that they first used before WWII and brought to an art form during the "Great Patriotic War".  When I was patrolling the 1K zone...Every G.I in Germany knew what this meant...
You couldn't go past this point without permission, and in the VII corp of operation in southern Germany it was the 2nd ACR.  To operate inside the 1K zone required special training, I even now still remember what "Brass Monkey" means.   Well one of the thing they told us was "Never wave or make any hand gestures at all near when you are being observed by the VoPo's
The East Germans would take your picture....with very good camera's..get your name off your uniform, make some minor alterations to your wave basically removing several fingers leaving 1 prominent finger, then mail that picture to SACEUR, and you heard the old adage " Crap rolls downhill...well it is a long way from Brussels to the B.F.E border camp you are staying at and it will build up speed.  So we made no gestures of any kind.   I did enjoy the border duty, although we knew that we were the speed bumps for 8th Guards Army as they rolled through the Fulda Gap.
   But I digress, there was a method to this post...It is the use of photo deception...and the Soviets are very good at it.   The Soviets used photo's to demonize and dehumanize their opponents...back then it was the Germans.  I ran across these pictures and no background data, so I had to do a bit of research to go with the pictures.   Most of these pictures were captured in film rolls or were completed photo taken by NKVD from different sources.

Looks like a German was going to shoot some female Soviet prisoners..The Soviets used females on their combat units, for them it was total war.  This pic was designed to incite anger in the people who would see these pics.
The Actual Photo...
Here is another.....
Concentration Camp.....Soviet Style.....
The Actual Photo....Not as inflammatory...
This Picture looks bad...they had called "hanging a Nurse" Noticed the area where it looks like she was stripped.....Again to antagonize.
Well here was the actual photo.  When the Germans first crossed into the Ukraine area of the Soviet Union, they were welcomed as liberators...the Ukrainians hadn't forgotten the pograms that Stalin had done in the 1930's where whole villages were wiped out due to starvation and resettlements.  Then the SS went in after the regular German army and basically pissed off the locals with their "Untermensch" or "inferiors" policies as decreed by the Nazi Party.
Here is another depicting the Germans hanging somebody's mom....Again designed to inflame the emotions.
The actual picture, I believe this person was either addressing a group or getting an award.
This looks like a bunch of Germans had hung the people of a collective and stole all their livestock, and the picture shows them happy about it....again designed to inflame and demonize.  if you look closely, you can see the crop marks...especially after seeing the original.
This is the origional.  Yes the Germans did "forage" the livestock.....All armies did....it wasn't anything endemic to the Germans.    I remember a phrase when I was a "G.I"
   " We would souvenir everything long time....."
This one was also called "Hanging a Nurse"  This was designed to inflame the Russian Military against the Germans, and demonize and dehumanize them.  Making it easier to kill them.   "Urra Stalina"   War is good.   This also made it brutal on the German civilians that had to deal with the Red Army,   There are 3 Monuments outside Berlin that is dedicated to the Red Army that took the city in 1945.  The Germans for many years called the monuments " the tombs of the unknown rapists".
Here is the actual picture.....not bad at all, and if you compare it to the one preceding it, you can still see the greatcoat of the gentleman that was "whited out" on the other-side of the "tree"

    This practice continued to the fall of the Soviet union...There are pictures of people at the Kremlin with the leadership watching the annual mayday celebration, then later on those people would be in disfavor or sent to a gulag or given the "7.65 option" behind the ear, and those people would be "sanitized" from subsequent pics of the same time frame.   I remembered seeing some and if I can find them, then I will post those also.


  1. Yep, they could and DID, as you show, photoshop pictures long before that was supposedly possible...

  2. I remember some of these. Great post! Crazy they could do all that without digital art. And what a bunch of sickos. Bleh.

  3. Hey Old NFO;
    I am sure that you as a P-3 guy also knew the Soviet proclivity to fabricate a reality that suited them.
    Hey Momma Fargo,
    Does this mean that I will be a character in one of your books? The quiet strange one;)