He took the defining photo of the U.S.S.R.’s victory over Nazi Germany, although many of his photographs were heavily doctored or staged for Soviet propaganda purposes. But instead of accolades from communist authorities, Yevgeny Khaldei — born 100 years ago in 1917 — struggled to remain employed as anti-Semitism swept through the Soviet Union.
Yevgeny Khaldei worked for TASS in WW2 photographing everything from the Ghettos to the Fall of Berlin in 1945. But TASS fired him in 1948 as a wave of anti-Semitism swept through the U.S.S.R. When the Soviet mouthpiece laid off five employees, Khaldei said the reasons at first were unclear. “[They fired] me and four Russians…but then within a month the other four guys were re-hired and I wasn’t. That’s when I knew that it was all about [my ethnicity].”
Although Khaldei was later hired by Pravda, the communist newspaper, in 1959, he again lost his position in 1976. The great photographer ended his days in a small apartment in the suburbs of Moscow. He died in 1997.