Is the photo of the Reichstag flag more famous than the Iwo Jima flag?

The two famous WW2 flag raising photos

I’ve seen various Europeans claim that the image of the flag raised over the Reichstag is much more iconic/famous than the raising of the flag over Iwo Jima and that the Iwo Jima flag raising photo is practically unknown in Europe.

It’s very hard for me to to discern being American myself but I find it hard to believe the Reichstag flag is more famous simply because the Iwo Jima flag raising pic has been parodied so many times in both American and foreign media, especially satirizing American culture/policy.

Basically I ask two questions, which of these photos is more famous internationally, and which of these is more well known in Europe?

Edit: Yes I realized it says Iowa Jima in the title, for some reason even as I typed all this my autocorrect automatically kept replacing Iwo with Iowa

In Russia it sure as shit is, and it represents a battle, campaign, theatre orders of magnitude greater than the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. It was the culmination of the deaths of millions over vast, devastated swathes of White Russia and East Europe, compared with the deaths of thousands over tiny coral atolls in the Pacific (this is not to disparage those who fought) . By way of comparison, the Soviets lost around 82,000 KIA and 280,000 WIA in the Battle for Berlin. The Americans lost 6,821 KIA and 19,000 WIA taking Iwo Jima.

As a Canadian I recognise both equally.

As an Australian, I recognise both, but perhaps Iwo Jima slightly more. I suspect that Iwo Jima is mainly famous among people who use primarily or solely English-language media, which wouldn’t be the case in Europe

Moderator Note


The relevance of casualty counts escapes me when it comes to evaluating iconic photos.* One could argue with similar “logic” that since neither battle was pivotal in the war’s outcome, both photos get a giant meh.

*I don’t recall ever seeing the Reichstag one before.

The Battle of Times Square had even fewer casualties and yet the kiss photo is still iconic.

I don’t think there is one answer. In the US the Iwo Jima photo is much more iconic. I knew exactly what it was before I clicked even when it was misspelled. The other photo I recognized after I clicked but it doesn’t mean much to me. I bet most Americans don’t remember seeing it. In other parts of the world it’s the exact opposite.

I fail to see how it escapes you. It’s what it’s an icon of.

Tangentially, I’ve always loved the detail about the Soviets erasing the soldier’s extra watch in the Reichstag photo.

This American has never seen the Soviet flag photo before.

Neither photo is iconic of a single battle. Iwo Jima is iconic for the US victory over the Japanese in the Pacific, the Reichstag photo of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. The casualty counts in the specific battles are pretty much irrelevant.

The most iconic photo from the Vietnam War is probably the young girl whose clothes were burned off by napalm, in an engagement that probably few people could name. Whether a photo is iconic is due to the quality of the photograph, not the casualty count.

The Allied victory TYVM; the Soviets would not have got to Berlin without the other Allies.

Neither has this American, nor has he ever heard of it.

And yet, with negligible American involvement* other than holding the western front of the encirclement, which explains why it’s of no great “iconic” significance to Americans.

*not intended as a rebuttal, but as a parallel point helping to explain the answer to OP’s question: to Americans, at least, the Soviet capture of Berlin is of no emotional significance at all, because it wasn’t an American victory.

Since OP’s question isn’t actually restricted to Americans, I can’t answer definitively, and I doubt anyone can, since “iconic” is inherently dependent on the population being assessed. Very few things are universally famous to anyone and everyone, regardless of nationality.

I wouldn’t have really understood that it was the Reichstag picture if you hadn’t told me before hand. So to me it’s not iconic, just an interesting victory photo. Good for the Russians, glad they helped beat Hitler. I’m sure people in the former Soviet Union would likely say the thing about the Iwo Jima photo.

Now the moon landing, that’s probably universally iconic.

Add me to the Americans that have never seen the Reichstag photo.

And high casualty counts by themselves don’t mean you were better in battle - technically, it means you were worse, even if you ultimately won.

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making some other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

They almost certainly would have in the long run; the other Allies made it quicker for them.

Other than the political decision to let the Soviets reach Berlin first.

And lend-lease.

In any case, this is probably better suited to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Looks like Wikipedia screwed up on that. They have the original being the one without the watch, rather than with. And from what I’ve read elsewhere, it was the photographer himself who erased it.