The Kiss

In 1979, Régis Bossu, a freelance photographer for European Stars and Stripes, Stern, Spiegel, and Sygma, went East Berlin to photograph the festivities of the 30th anniversary of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik — East Germany. The celebrations’ guest of honor was the aging Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

When Brezhnev finished his speech, East German President Erich Honecker opened his arms to congratulate him with a big kiss, a normal ritual for socialist comrades. (But both Honecker and Brezhnev were a little more enthusiastic than your average Communist dictator in kissing. A contemporary joke runs such: Brezhnev was commenting about a foreign leader, “As a politician, rubbish… but what a good kisser!”) A dozen photographers were there to capture this moment, but it was Régis who captured two men at the decisive moment. Many magazines used it immediately, and Paris Match devoted double pages to it, with a caption “The Kiss”.

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