stalin poster of the week 16: viktor koretskii, on the joyous day of liberation from under the yoke of the German invaders…, 1943

1943 poster by Viktor Koretskii celebrating the turning of the tide of war in Soviet favour

Viktor Koretskii (Корецкий, Bиктор), On the joyous day of liberation from under the yoke of the German invaders the first words of boundless gratitude and love of the Soviet people are addressed to our friend and father Comrade Stalin – the organiser of our struggle for the liberation and independence of our homeland (В радостный день освобождения из под ига немецких захватчиков первые слова безграничной благодарности и люби советских людей обращены к нашему другу и отцу товарищу СТАЛИНУ – организатору нашей борбы за свободу и независимость нашей родины), 1943

 

 

Stalin poster of the week is a weekly excursion into the fascinating world of propaganda posters of Iosif Stalin, leader of the USSR from 1929 until his death in 1953.

Here, Anita Pisch will showcase some of the most interesting Stalin posters, based on extensive research in the archives of the Russian State Library, and analyse what makes these images such successful propaganda.

Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.

In the early years of the Great Patriotic War (Second World War), Stalin’s appearances in both the media and posters declined, possibly in order to avoid associating the leader with the disastrous decisions and their consequences of the beginning of the war. The Germans clearly had the upper hand and, at one stage, came within a few kilometres of capturing Moscow.

By 1943, with the tide of the war turning in the Soviet Union’s favour, Stalin began to appear in propaganda more frequently and was sometimes depicted as ‘standing in’ for absent fathers.

In  Viktor Koretskii’s ‘On the joyous day of liberation …’ of 1943, a portrait of Stalin is hung on the wall like an Orthodox icon and has talismanic properties; however, the child is also treating the portrait as if it were a portrait of his own father.

Detail of Koretskii 1943 poster of Stalin

This bearded peasant is unlikely to be the child’s father – younger men are away from home, defending the Motherland from the Germans

 

The peasant man in the poster appears too old to be the husband of the young woman, or father of the child, and it can be safely assumed that, with the war still raging outside the window, the child’s father is away defending the nation.

The family gather instead around a portrait of Stalin who, in this early version of the poster, is not wearing insignia of military rank and looks humble and approachable. This reading of the poster is supported by the lengthy poster caption in which Stalin is referred to as ‘our friend and father’, rather than a great warrior or military strategist.

In 1943, the USSR was gaining back some of the earlier lost ground, and claiming some victories against the German invaders. The poster lays responsibility for these victories wholly at Stalin’s feet.

Detail of Koretskii 1943 poster of Stalin

Stalin’s portrait is hung on the wall like an icon

 

Stalin’s portrait is hung in a ‘Lenin corner’ or ‘Stalin room’ as they were now sometimes called, with great reverence by a young, blond child who appears to be instructing his peasant family in the virtues of Stalin’s beneficence.

The little Russian boy represents the future of the motherland. Stalin is the glorious father who is to be venerated above all others. As art historian Erika Wolf observes: ‘The family resembles the Holy Family, with a mother and child accompanied by an older and impotent man, akin to Saint Joseph.Stalin thus stands in as the absent father of the family, as well as the “father comrade” of the Soviet people.’*

 

Detail of Koretskii 1943 poster of Stalin

Stalin appears soft and humble – paternal

 

Stalin’s portrait is soft and paternal and the icon’s talismanic powers are juxtaposed with Soviet military success. The frame of the portrait balances the window frame through which a large red flag and some departing soldiers can be seen. The Red Army soldiers have restored peace and the village is intact and safe.

 

Detail of Koretskii 1943 poster of Stalin

Through the window can be seen the (somewhat blurry) image of troops departing under a red flag

 

Koretskii’s poster celebrates the liberation of an occupied village and inspires the population with hope for victory in the war. The extensive text makes it clear who is responsible for the victory, and to whom a boundless and unpayable debt of gratitude is owed:

‘On the joyous day of liberation from under the yoke of the German invaders the first words of boundless gratitude and love of the Soviet people are addressed to our friend and father Comrade Stalin — the organiser of our struggle for the liberation and independence of our homeland.’

Stalin  does not yet appear in full military uniform and, despite being appointed marshal of the Soviet Union in 1943 and accepting the award of the Order of Suvorov, First Class,** in November 1943, he may still have been cautious about claiming military and strategic brilliance until ultimate victory in the war was assured.

 

* Erika Wolf, Koretsky: the Soviet photo poster: 1930–1984, New York, The New Press, 2012.

** The Order of Suvorov, created in July 1942, was awarded for exceptional leadership in combat operations.

Anita Pisch‘s new book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 – 1953, is now available for free download through ANU Press open access, or to purchase in hard copy for $83. This lavishly illustrated book, featuring reproductions of over 130 posters, examines the way in which Stalin’s image in posters, symbolising the Bolshevik Party, the USSR state, and Bolshevik values and ideology, was used to create legitimacy for the Bolshevik government, to mobilise the population to make great sacrifices in order to industrialise and collectivise rapidly, and later to win the war, and to foster the development of a new type of Soviet person in a new utopian world.

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stalin poster of the week 15: gustav klutsis, the reality of our program is living people, you and i, 1931

1931 poster of Stalin walking alongside coalmoners by Gustav Klutsis

Gustav Klutsis, (Густав Клуцис),The reality of our program is living people, you and I (Реальность нашей программы – это живые люди, это мы с вами), 1931

 

Stalin poster of the week is a weekly excursion into the fascinating world of propaganda posters of Iosif Stalin, leader of the USSR from 1929 until his death in 1953.

Here, Anita Pisch will showcase some of the most interesting Stalin posters, based on extensive research in the archives of the Russian State Library, and analyse what makes these images such successful propaganda.

Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.

The reality of our program is living people, you and I (Gustav Klutsis, 1931) is an early and somewhat unusual poster in that Stalin appears to be the same size as the marching coal miners he strides alongside.Stalin frequently appeared in posters in gigantic proportions – in traditional Russian art, the relative size of a figure was commensurate with that figure’s importance or status relative to others.

According to Victoria Bonnell,* one of Klutsis’s sketches for this poster depicted Stalin as much larger than the coal miners. By ultimately choosing to depict Stalin as the same size as other people in the poster, the message is given at this time that Stalin is a leader who can still regarded as one of the people, walking alongside them in their struggles, standing in their shoes.

 

the-reality-of-our-program-is-real-people-its-you-and-me-poster-1931-dtap26-2

Stalin is the same size as the workers, but his image is more clearly defined

 

Although Stalin is the same size as the workers, his image is distinguished by being sharper and clearer than those of the workers, and although he wears a worker’s cap and boots, his dress is still distinct from that of the miners, with their helmets and lamps. Thus Stalin at this time is regarded as ‘first among equals’.

The caption of the poster is taken from Stalin’s speech delivered at a conference of business executives on June 23, 1931 in which he announced the recent changes in the conditions of industrialisation in the USSR.

 

the-reality-of-our-program-is-real-people-its-you-and-me-poster-1931-dtap26-3

The six conditions for the development of Soviet industry summarised in the poster text are taken from Stalin’s speech to business executives on 23 June 1931

 

In the speech, Stalin outlined the six new conditions of development of Soviet industry, which are given in summary form on the poster:

  1. We can no longer count, as of old, on an automatic influx of manpower. In order to secure manpower for our industries it must be recruited in an organised manner, and labour must be mechanised. To believe that we can do without mechanisation, in view of our tempo of work and scale of production, is like believing that the sea can be emptied with a spoon.
  2. We cannot any longer tolerate the fluidity of manpower in industry. In order to do away with this evil, we must organise wages in a new way and see to it that the composition of the labour force in the factories is more or less constant.
  3. We cannot any longer tolerate lack of personal responsibility in industry. In order to do away with this evil, work must be organised in a new way, and the forces must be so distributed that every group of workers is responsible for its work, for the machinery, and for the quality of the work.
  4. We can no longer manage, as of old, with the very small force of old engineers and technicians that we inherited from bourgeois Russia. In order to increase the present rate and scale of production, we must ensure that the working class has its own industrial and technical intelligentsia.
  5. We can no longer, as of old, lump together all the experts, engineers and technicians of the old school. In order to take into account the changed situation we must change our policy and display the utmost solicitude for those experts, engineers and technicians of the old school who are definitely turning to the side of the working class.
  6. We can no longer, as of old, manage with the old sources of accumulation. In order to ensure the further expansion of industry and agriculture we must tap new sources of accumulation; we must put an end to inefficiency, introduce business accounting, reduce production costs and increase accumulation within industry.

The full text of the speech was printed in the newspaper Pravda, No. 183, July 5, 1931. Stalin concluded by emphasising that fulfilment of the new conditions is not an unrealistic goal:

There are certain near-Party philistines who assert that our production program is unrealistic, that it cannot be fulfilled. They are somewhat like Shchedrin’s “sapient gudgeons” who are always ready to spread “a vacuum of ineptitude” around themselves. Is our production program realistic or not? Most certainly, it is.

Anita Pisch‘s new book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 – 1953, is now available for free download through ANU Press open access, or to purchase in hard copy for $83. This lavishly illustrated book, featuring reproductions of over 130 posters, examines the way in which Stalin’s image in posters, symbolising the Bolshevik Party, the USSR state, and Bolshevik values and ideology, was used to create legitimacy for the Bolshevik government, to mobilise the population to make great sacrifices in order to industrialise and collectivise rapidly, and later to win the war, and to foster the development of a new type of Soviet person in a new utopian world.

* Victoria E. Bonnell. Iconography of Power: Soviet Political Posters under Lenin and Stalin. 1 ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998, p.162.

Albania: Ten curious things the novice traveller should know

 

Tirana

Albania is a fabulous place to visit with a great cultural heritage, good food, and amazing natural beauty where you can enjoy the seaside and the mountains simultaneously. Well worth a stay for a week or so, there are a number of local peculiarities that provide both spice and challenge in equal measure for the unsuspecting traveller.

properganderpress shares some travelling tips in this quirky top ten.

1. Hotel bathrooms do not come pre-equipped with plugs. You can’t buy them either. The Albanian word for plug is … plug.

2. Shower curtains are an unknown concept in Albania and flooded floors are considered a normal part of the daily routine. Often there is a little fan heater on the floor to cope with this!

 

Pyramid built to honour the memory of Enver Hoxha

Pyramid built to honour the memory of Enver Hoxha, Tirana

 

3. The capital city of Tirana’s train station is closed. Durres, about 35 km to the east, is the major rail hub of the country.

4. The bus services are unreliable and often do not run in the afternoons (making it difficult to get back from day trips). Furgons (minibuses) cover many routes and only depart when they are full…. however long that takes.

5. Despite the lack of reliable public transport, the concept of hiring a private driver for the day is almost unheard of in Albania. Not even uni students seem willing to make a quick buck this way.

Stray dog in Tirana

Lonely stray in Tirana on a cold winter day

 

6. Albanians walk very slowly but drive very fast. By and large, they are happy to hurtle into oncoming traffic at breakneck speed to gain a one-car advantage.

7. There are about 7000 stray dogs in Albania, living on the streets, in parks, on roundabouts on busy roads, and in ancient ruins. According to Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj: “Many people who know little about street animals think they are dangerous, while in most cases the animals are simply scared. We believe that a city like Tirana has a place for all, people and animals alike.” A recent vaccination and sterilisation program has reached about 320 dogs to date (these are the ones with ear tags). Our experience of stray dogs was that they were gentle and shy.

8. The likelihood of a museum being open on the day you choose to visit, regardless of website information, advertising material and signage, is fairly slim. If you do get through the front door, staff seem genuinely shocked to have visitors.

Albanian car wash

Car washes are big business in Albania, a nation of car lovers

 

9. The biggest industries in Albania appear to be betting shops (baste), car washes (lavazh), and tyre repair places (gomisteri). There are a lot of Mercedes on the roads.

10. A surprisingly large number of Albanians speak good English, and many speak excellent Italian.

Albanian graffiti

 

stalin poster of the week 14: i. v. stalin, 1930

Poster of Stalin, 1930

I.V. Stalin. Comrade. Stalin (Dzhugashvili) Iosif Vissarionovich …, И.В. Сталин.Тов. Сталин (Джугашвили) Иосиф Виссарионович …, 1930

 

Stalin poster of the week is a weekly excursion into the fascinating world of propaganda posters of Iosif Stalin, leader of the USSR from 1929 until his death in 1953.

Here, Anita Pisch will showcase some of the most interesting Stalin posters, based on extensive research in the archives of the Russian State Library, and analyse what makes these images such successful propaganda.

Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.

This early poster of Stalin, with hair parted on the side and wrinkles under his eyes and on his brow, was published in an edition of 25,000 by Litografia CKKPO in Krasnodar, Russia, in 1930, just one year after Stalin consolidated his personal power as leader in the battle for succession after Lenin’s death, and a year after Leon Trotskii’s exile. It is an interesting first tentative attempt to begin constructing a warrior identity for Stalin.

 

Detail of I.V. Stalin, 1930

In this early poster, Stalin’s hair is parted on the side, rather than swept straight back. His eyes and forehead show lines, with his skin yet to reach the unearthly perfection that is found in later posters

 

The text of the poster provides an extensive biography purporting to summarise each year of Stalin’s adult life, making mention of his revolutionary underground activities, several arrests, exiles and escapes.

 

Poster text for I.V. Stalin, 1930

Poster text for I.V. Stalin, 1930

 

However, at this early stage in Stalin’s career, his military exploits are not elaborated in great detail. The civil war years merely contain references to Stalin’s roles as People’s Commissar for Nationalities, and People’s Commissar for the Worker-Peasant Inspectorate, as well as his appointment as General Secretary of the Party in 1922.

 

Poster text for I.V. Stalin, 1930

Poster text for I.V. Stalin, 1930

 

Stalin appears hatless and in a vaguely military-style shirt without embellishment, although he prominently displays two military decorations, both Orders of the Red Banner, which were awarded for extraordinary heroism and courage in battle.

 

Detail of I.V. Stalin, 1930

Two Orders of the Red Banner, an award for exceptional bravery, are pinned to Stalin’s chest

 

Behind Stalin, sketched in a faint pale green, is evidence of booming industrialisation, as a result of the implementation of the First Five-Year Plan, which was midway through in 1930.

 

Detail of I.V. Stalin, 1930

Scenes of successful industrialisation provide a faint green backdrop

 

The poster serves as an introduction to Stalin as leader, as a resumé of his revolutionary and civil war credentials and of his personal qualities of courage and Bolshevik conviction, and as a means of associating him with the goals of the Five-Year Plan.

Anita Pisch‘s new book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 – 1953, is now available for free download through ANU Press open access, or to purchase in hard copy for $83. This lavishly illustrated book, featuring reproductions of over 130 posters, examines the way in which Stalin’s image in posters, symbolising the Bolshevik Party, the USSR state, and Bolshevik values and ideology, was used to create legitimacy for the Bolshevik government, to mobilise the population to make great sacrifices in order to industrialise and collectivise rapidly, and later to win the war, and to foster the development of a new type of Soviet person in a new utopian world.

stalin poster of the week 13: mizin, ‘”the leninist komsomol was and still is the young reserve of our revolution.” stalin.’ 1934

1934 Soviet propaganda poster by Mizin. Komsomol

Mizin (мизин), ‘”The Leninist Komsomol was and still is the young reserve of our revolution.” Stalin.’ (Ленинский комсомол был и остается молодым резервом нашей революции. Сталин), 1934

 

Stalin poster of the week is a weekly excursion into the fascinating world of propaganda posters of Iosif Stalin, leader of the USSR from 1929 until his death in 1953.

Here, Anita Pisch will showcase some of the most interesting Stalin posters, based on extensive research in the archives of the Russian State Library, and analyse what makes these images such successful propaganda.

Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.

Mizin’s 1934 poster celebrates the Komsomol, the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League (or VLKSM) for youth aged 14 to 28 years. Originally formed in 1918 as the Russian Young Communist League, or RKSM, the Komsomol was one of a series of youth organisations that provided activities and education for children, and groomed them to become valuable Party members.

Children under nine years old could join the Little Octobrists, then progress onto the Pioneers (Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organisation) for children aged 10 to 14. Pioneers wore red scarves and undertook activities similar to the scouts. After Pioneers came the Komsomol.

 

Detail Mizin 1934 propaganda poster

The Komsomol welcomed a cross-section of young people of both genders and all nationalities of the USSR

 

Mizin’s poster shows Stalin down among the youth, one of the ‘everyday’ people, although his white tunic and cap mark him out for special attention. The youth represent a cross-section of Soviet young people – armed forces personnel, aviators and agricultural workers.

 

Detail Mizin poster 1934

The new breed of agricultural worker tied a red scarf with a knot behind the head, rather than under the chin like the peasants of old

 

Agricultural workers were often represented as women in red scarves, the knot tied behind their head. The red scarf designated a collective farm worker, someone who had willingly embraced Stalin’s policy of collectivisation and laboured for the state. The knot behind the head, rather than under the chin as with traditional peasant women, showed the new breed of peasant woman – strong, dedicated and determined.

Behind Stalin’s right shoulder, a female aviator follows him. Many women embraced the opportunity to forge a career in aviation and some of the first female heroes of the Soviet Union were aviators.

 

Detail Mizin poster 1934

A young aviator, pride of the USSR

 

An attempt to capture the ethnic diversity of the USSR is made, with Stalin surrounded by youth of various nationalities, all striding together in the same direction.

Stalin and the youth are protected by the ubiquitous red banners, Lenin’s glowing profile offering protection and blessing over the youth who strive in his name. These youth are particularly notable, some of them wearing state awards.

 

Detail 1934 Mizin poster

Lenin’s glowing silhouette on a red banner inspires, protects and sanctifies those below him

 

Behind the youth and banners, a crowd throngs in, stretching back for miles to a horizon punctuated by electricity towers, evidence of the huge strides made in electrification of the country. Electrification of Russia was a project particularly associated with Lenin. Stalin took Lenin’s work further by undertaking electrification of the entire Soviet Union.

The text of the poster is taken from Stalin’s speech on the tenth anniversary of the Komsomol, October 28, 1928:

‘The Leninist Komsomol was and still is the young reserve of our revolution’.

Although the Komsomol is primarily associated with Lenin, it is Stalin, the man of the present, who takes the role of interpreter of Lenin’s doctrine.

Anita Pisch‘s new book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 – 1953, is now available for free download through ANU Press open access, or to purchase in hard copy for $83. This lavishly illustrated book, featuring reproductions of over 130 posters, examines the way in which Stalin’s image in posters, symbolising the Bolshevik Party, the USSR state, and Bolshevik values and ideology, was used to create legitimacy for the Bolshevik government, to mobilise the population to make great sacrifices in order to industrialise and collectivise rapidly, and later to win the war, and to foster the development of a new type of Soviet person in a new utopian world.