Facebook Bans Renowned Colorist, Deems World War II Photos 'Dangerous'

Facebook Bans Renowned Colorist, Deems World War II Photos 'Dangerous'

After numerous suspensions of her social media accounts, a renowned photo colorist fears she will be permanently blocked from Facebook and Instagram. She says she is hesitant to continue posting new work after the social platforms previously threatened to ban her for posting colorized images of Nazi leaders.

Regarded as one of the world’s best colorists, Olga Shirnina, of Russia, partakes in the colorization process purely for fun, happily committing hours at a time to working on the images. She also allows anyone to use her work on the basis of it being not for profit.

Her first warning came from Instagram back in September 2019, when she apparently “violated community guidelines” for posting a colorized version of a photo of Nazi leaders. It was then she was notified her account could be deleted if she posted works of a similar nature. After that, several were taken down from both Instagram and Facebook, culminating in her Facebook account being suspended due to a photo of two Nazi soldiers mid-battle, taken in Ukraine. The photo in question displayed no Nazi propaganda or swastikas, raising suspicions it was reported rather than flagged by Facebook’s automated system.

Facebook removes the images as part of its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy, which aims to put an end to encouraging actions that can lead to “real-world harm.”

A posting of Evgenei Khaldei’s photo of Soviet soldiers raising their flag above the Reichstag led to another Facebook account suspension for Shirnina, who had to submit her driving license to Facebook in order to first confirm her identity. An issue she takes with Facebook’s policy is the inconsistency; numerous photos of murderous Soviet leaders, complete with visible Soviet imagery, have gone under the radar and remain online.

In her own words:

I work with real historical photos, and they can’t be corrected!

See more of Olga Shirnina's work at her Flickr and Instagram.

Images used with permission of Olga Shirnina.

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47 Comments
Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Such a shame as it is incredible work!

David Pavlich's picture

I see this as history. Yes, it's a dark time and millions died senselessly, but it's history and ridding the world of images of our history will not change the past.

Now, if any person that posts this sort of image is using it to spread hatred toward a race or religion or attempting to glorify the evil of the time, then it should be removed.

Attempting to rid the world of our past will only ensure that we repeat it.

Jack Alexander's picture

Perfectly said

Kevin Dahl's picture

Couldnt agree more.

Deleted Account's picture

Well that's ironic

Motti Bembaron's picture

Facebook is about glorifying today's violence and division to better its cash position.

Alex Harris's picture

So “ Facebook removes the images as part of its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy, which aims to put an end to encouraging actions that can lead to “real-world harm...” Do they take down pictures of Trump? ;-)

Kawika Lopez's picture

How is banning her account not a communist move...

Perry Harrington's picture

Ironically, Trump wants to repeal 230, which would lead to him being kicked off Twitter. Yet FB is already treating the world like 230 doesn't exist and suppresses history because it's "not nice"...

Deleted Account's picture

Equating communism itself with the practices of dictators acting under its flag is to equate capitalism with the actions taken against natives by colonialists.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Both soviets and nazi were dictatorships which killed millions of people.

They even started WWII together, first dividing Poland.

Elmar Akhmetov's picture

How many death camps have "soviets" established in Poland?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

They had enough territory to build on their own.

Deleted Account's picture

You're doing a bit here, right?

Elmar Akhmetov's picture

Hehe, plenty of territory with death camps on it did not stop fascists from building some more in Poland. However, my point is different, let's assume that you are correct and there were plenty of death camps on the soviet territory. How many polish people were killed there?

Stefan Gonzalevski's picture

Well, they reused immediatly the german camps to put their prisoners and other opponents, so they didn't have to build any.

Elmar Akhmetov's picture

Sorry for my ignorance, but I do not have any idea about the number of prisoners and especially the death toll in those reused camps. Do you mind sharing some information on this?

Stefan Gonzalevski's picture

Obviously, the communists didn't reuse the camps the same way the nazis did, but they have quickly put there the "unwanteds" (i"m not sure of the translation of this word but most of the opponents qualify). I don't know the overall death toll, but according to historians (here Erhart Neubert) on 234,300 Germans inmates in these camps [german concentration camps] before 1950, 105,000 never came back. At the end of 1945, in Buchenwald, there were mote inmates than one year before, when Hitler was still at the head of the state. (cf Francis Lachaise). According to a report from a german commission of 1955, from 1945 to 1948, these concentration camps had the characteristics of extermination camps.

Motti Bembaron's picture

The Russian had their own and came to be way earlier than the Germans camps. They were called 'The Gulags". They estimate that around 20,000,000 people went through them. Millions never made it. The Russian Gulags were in existence from 1918 to the 50's.

It is is estimated that Russia exterminated some 30,000,000 people, many died in those gulags, never seen again. They were at their peak in Stalin's time (30's to 50').

They were no doubt an inspiration for Hitler.

Elmar Akhmetov's picture

Gulag is not a name of the camp(s). This abbreviation stands for the administration office. From what I know the system was in place from 1929 as from 1918 and forth Soviet Russia was a bit busy with a civil war and the invasions from neighbors plus Japan, USA and Britain trying to rebuild at the same time. So they had some time to organize and reorganize the system that they have inherited a little later. Who estimated and how is really the question, as for example I can estimate whatever I like that does not bring my estimations any closer to reality.
As far as the numbers go - "20,000,000 people went through them". If you take Wikipedia as an information source (which I highly discourage, but let's use it as an example), it says that the peak capacity of camp and colony population was 1.6 million (compare it to 2.3 million in US prisons). If you divide 20 million from your quote by 20 years it seems that 1 million prisoners per year was going through the system (some times more, some times less - take the peak capacity into account). That means that it was a 1 year sentence on average for the majority, doesn't it? I am not saying anything about the justice - I believe it's hard to imagine that all of them were innocent, as otherwise it would appear that those inmates that are currently in jail are all innocent as well.
As for 30 million exterminated - have a look at the demographics of the Soviet Union (even if on Wikipedia). You will see the steady growth of population for all the periods from 1926 to 1991 except for one - between 1941 and 1946 which coincides with WW2 where Soviets lost more than 20 million people. I would imagine that the loss of 30 million would leave the the similar mark, however I cannot see it in the statistics. Is the statistics wrong? If so how do you define good and bad statistics?

As for the inspiration for the said painter in question just google "US influence on hitler" you might be surprised at what you find.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Technically true, Yes. However, later on those camps were just called Gulags. In the west the name Gulag was used simply to describe a Russian camp. A famous line from Star Trek "The Undiscovered Country" Chekov described where Captain Kirk and the doctor were sent to as worst Gulag in the galaxy :-)

The statistics regarding cleansing of intellectuals and others in the USSR comes from researches withing the Soviet Union. I read an amazing (small) book about the horrific executions that occurred before WW2, during the war and after, by Stalin and the numbers are between 25-30 million. I will look for the book, it has been years since I read it (I mean 30 years at least).

Many of those perished in the Gulags. Not like the Germans, the Russians did not keep exact records. On top of that, many massacres that happened in the Ukraine and other USSR satellite nations the Russian conquered, were never documented. They were not much better than the Germans really.

In Hungary as well as in Czechia, they always joke that they still cannot decide who was worse, the Germans or the Russians.

I will do as you suggested regarding US influence on Hitler. Kind of scary to see what comes up :-(

Motti Bembaron's picture

Actually, to be exact, Germany started WWI alone. No one wanted a war, however, Hitler's ego would not let him achieve things peacefully. Germany and Russia did have a secret pact but Germany did not honor it and invaded Russia in 1941. Big surprise, they also did not honor the pact they had with Britain (Chamberlain's famous appeasement)

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Yes, if we look day by day, Germany started war alone, just backed up by Soviets (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) and Soviets joined Germany on 17/09 only by joining the occupation of Poland.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Will we see another egocentric idiot starting a war again?....

Alex Herbert's picture

I'd like to see how capitalism is portrayed in the future, once mankind has figured out that it doesn't work either.

Rhonald Rose's picture

Capitalism is flawed, but works way better than everything else we've got. Communism, socialism (Germany was socialist, nationalist, fascist country during those period), fascism, totalitarianism and others.

Deleted Account's picture

So you think totalitarianism is an economic model? I'm quite curious where you place botulism. You know, because it's also an -ism.

David Pavlich's picture

I know what Rhonald was stating. Of course, you do as well but you thought it would be cutesy to bring up a biologic as some sort of political/economic system. Please enlighten us on what system produces better than the capitalist system?

Deleted Account's picture

Look at all that imaginary authority -- I'm imagining that I'm intimidated right now. Really shaking in my imaginary boots.

Point still stands. He's comparing apples to hacksaws.

David Pavlich's picture

Terrific job ducking the question.

Elmar Akhmetov's picture

National Socialism and not just Socialism was there for Germany - there is a big difference between these two -isms.
First of all, as it was correctly pointed out, you have thrown too many isms into the mix. Some of those are economic philosophies/models and some are political systems/ideologies.
As to what being the best - how many wars has the capitalism sparked and how many people has it seen dead? Please count not only those dead in the wars of the last century, but also those dead as a result of a British rule in India and Asia, conflicts in Africa, South and North America.
In terms of sheer number of people dead - I totally agree with you, capitalism definitely "works way better than everything else we've got".

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Well, socialisms, fortunately did not exist for a long time but during their short history sparkled many wars...

Deleted Account's picture

So I'm the troll for calling you out? You aren't the troll for derailing this comment section by not even responding to the article but going completely off topic and making an absurd flame bait comment about how communism itself is literally nazism?

I guess baiting with intentionally absurd posts is now acceptable behavior. I'll take note of that.

Stefan Gonzalevski's picture

I started by quoting the article, then added an obvious statement, confirming somehow the bias of the unfair treatment the article talks about and facebook's inconsistency. Then I tried not to respond to your off topic comment. And I am the troll ? Interesting...

Deleted Account's picture

Yeah, sure. That wasn't just a cheap segue for the obvious flame bait which was the real content of your post.

Elmar Akhmetov's picture

What are those "manuals in which violence is promoted and seen as the only possible way" that you refer to?
Also capitalism is not that recent, primitive capitalism emerged in the 17th century, so colonial expansion and rule of British Empire starting from the 18th century actually qualify for being driven by capitalism.

Alex Herbert's picture

My ancestors weren't thrilled with capitalism, for 400 odd years. I guess if you're white, middle class and live in one of the countries that benefits directly, then yeah. Capitalism is all good, I'm sure the ruling classes in Russia were alright with their version of communism too.

Stefan Gonzalevski's picture

Well, Communist Party Manifest : "Communists [...] goals cannot be achieved without the violent overturn of the actual social order".

Rhonald Rose's picture

We are in the process of getting rid of anything historical, to give 'perfect' illusion to the younger generation. This will backfire greatly by millions of younger generation venturing the same path that lead to millions of lives lost, without knowing the history.

S Browne's picture

I think Facebook either fails to see there is no difference between their repressiveness and the Nazis or else fears others will realize there is no difference.

Alex Herbert's picture

I recently watched the film "They Shall Not Grow Old" which is made from restored, colorised, interpolated and dubbed WW1 footgage (brought to us by Peter Jackson). Now I was born in 1980 and have never had ANY interest in WW1, not when I was in school, and not in later life. Watching jerky, grainy, sped up black and white video just doesn't carry any weight, my mind registers it as 'old footage' and it's hard to see any real humanity in it. However, the film drew me in like nothing else has because it felt so REAL. People looked like real people, it made it seem so much more current. I can imagine these colourised images could do the same for the younger generation, who have no point of reference to black and white photos other than that they're 'old'.

Phyllis Hall's picture

This is one perfect example of just how dumbed down the world has become, and it seems we aren't even trying to not be stupid and/ or racist. These photographs are links to our past; it has already happened and cannot be erased....the games that being created; the movies that are being filmed; and "freedom" of social networks are far more dangerous than this photos, yet no one is censoring them or trying to shut down the creators/ owners of said media. The world (and I DO mean THE WORLD) needs to get it's collective heads out of it's ass and stop allowing cry baby, butt hurt, shit for brains people to dictate what should, could and will be allowed. People just need to grow the F up and mind their own business.

Robert George's picture

Too much truth and not enough traffic generating controversy for Facebook in her work. Dollars are all that matters to Zuckerberg and actual history isn't where it's at. Plus it may allow some all too real comparisons to certain current leaders that could impinge on said dollar making.

Deleted Account's picture

"After numerous suspensions of her social media accounts, a renowned photo colorist fears she will be permanently blocked from Facebook and Instagram. She says she is hesitant to continue posting new work after the social platforms previously threatened to ban her for posting colorized images of Nazi leaders."

Well, it hasn't happened yet.

I bet she can figure out how to get her images in there and keep them there.

Jeena Paradies's picture

What I really don't understand is why people who have those problems don't post on their own website where nobody can tell them what they're allowed or not allowed to post.

Fstoppers doesn't just rely on YouTube and Facebook for their community, they have this website where they can do whatever they feel to do. Buying a domain and getting someone to install and update blog software on it isn't really that expensive nor hard and you're instantly free. Keep posting with a back link to your website and once you get banned you don't lose everything, just one stream of many. And if people were really interested in your work they will find it outside of Facebook.

Adam T's picture

Maybe FB's AI is jealous it wasn't a world-renown colorist yet and robo booted him

Alex Herbert's picture

Definitely the most logical explanation!