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Man, who raised Soviet Union’s flag over Berlin in 1945, dies

11.01.2008
 
Man, who raised Soviet Union’s flag over Berlin in 1945, dies

WWII veteran Mikhail Minin, a Hero of the Soviet Union, the man, who raised the USSR flag, the banner of Victory, over Germany’s Reichstag in May of 1945, died.

Minin will be buried on January 12 in his native city of Pskov where he resided until then, Interfax report.

Mikhail Minin was born in the village of Vanino in 1922. In June of 1941 he volunteered to join the army to fight against Nazi Germany. He took part in battles to liberate Leningrad from blockade and made his way across the fronts from Leningrad to Berlin.

When the Soviet army was storming Reichstag in Berlin on April 30, 1945 Minin broke into the building and became the first man to raise the Red Banner on its tower. In May of 1945 Minin was awarded the title of the Soviet Union Hero for his deed and other services in battle. The famous photo does not show Minin but a Georgian soldier. It was not taken at the actual event.

Josef Stalin had urged his troops to mount the flag on the Reichstag building no later than May 1, 1945. Minin's superiors had told the soldiers that any piece of red cloth fixed to the building would symbolize that the battle was won.

Minin was part of a team of five soldiers who brought a red flag and tried to enter the building. They found most doors to be replaced by concrete and one door that was locked. The members of the group recalled seeing a tree limb nearby. Using the limb they managed to break the locked door by force. As they entered there was sporadic fire from German soldiers. They responded with their machine guns and managed to go up the stairs and reach the roof. Once there they decided to attach the flag to the large statue Germania over the entrance. At first they did not manage to fix the flag at a good place. Someone noticed that the person sitting on the statue was wearing a crown. They climbed the statue and managed to insert a metal pole with the flag inside the crown. They then used belts from their trousers to fix the flag at its location.

Minin was recognized for his feat, but was not really rewarded. As there were no photos taken when the flag was put on the roof on 10 p.m., other photos were taken on other occasions of which the one above has become most famous.

When the Great Patriotic War ended, Minin continued his army service. In 1959 he graduated from the Military Academy and joined special strategic purpose troops. Minin moved to Pskov in 1977 and decided to stay in the city afterwards.

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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