Hackers did not project the Soviet Victory banner on Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate this week

CLAIM: Images show the Soviet Victory banner projected by hackers onto the east side of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Tuesday night, prior to annual festivities celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The images were fabricated. Berlin police and the company that manages the Brandenburg Gate confirmed to The Associated Press that the Soviet Victory banner did not appear this week on the monument, one of Germany’s most significant landmarks.

THE FACTS: Social media users shared photos and videos that made it appear the banner was being projected onto the Brandenburg Gate ahead of this week’s commemorative celebrations.

“Last night, hackers breached the projection on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and put the Soviet Victory Banner,” reads one X post that had received approximately 21,000 likes and more than 5,300 shares as of Friday.

A TikTok video viewed more than 198,000 times was similarly captioned: “Last night, hackers hacked the projection on the Brandenburg Gate and reminded authorities of who once defeated them, German police have launched an investigation.”

Other posts claimed that the alleged hack was a response to Berlin banning Russian symbols during the celebrations.

But an investigation into the reports found no evidence of such activity involving the popular landmark, an 18th century city gate that symbolized Berlin’s division during the Cold War and became representative of a reunified Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“After evaluating all the findings available to the Berlin police, the videos and photos circulating on social media of the alleged projection at the Brandenburg Gate are an optical/graphical fake,” Susann Barahona, a spokesperson for Polizei Berlin, the city’s police force, told the AP in an email written in German.

Johanna Steinke, a spokesperson for BIM Berliner Immobilienmanagement, a real estate company that manages the Brandenburg Gate, wrote in an email, also in German, that the claim spreading online is a “false report.”

It is unclear how the fabricated images were created.

The Soviet Victory banner was raised by the Red Army atop the destroyed German Reichstag on April 30,1945, during the Battle of Berlin, in which the city fell to the Soviets. German dictator Adolf Hitler committed suicide the same day in his underground bunker.

Flags with a Russian connection, among other symbols, were banned from Soviet memorials in Berlin and their immediate surroundings on May 8 and 9 amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, according to a press release from the Berlin police. World War II veterans, diplomats and other representatives taking part in commemorative events marking the end of the war at these locations were excluded from the regulations. Bans were also in place in 2023 and 2022, the year Russia invaded Ukraine.
This is part of the AP’s effort to address widely shared false and misleading information that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.

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