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.
Once post-Second World War victory celebrations in the USSR had quietened, the task of rebuilding the devastated nation and getting back on track to the ultimate goal of communism moved to the forefront of propaganda.
Alongside this, from 1947, was an attempt to merge Stalin’s Warrior archetype, appropriate for the crisis of the war years, into that of the Saviour of the nation by presenting him as the bringer of peace.
This 1947 poster by Boris Berezovskii shows Stalin uncharacteristically out of military uniform and back in his earlier tunic as he proclaims the Soviet desire for peace — ‘“We stand for peace and we defend the cause of peace.” I. Stalin’.
This quotation is taken from Stalin’s report to the Seventeenth Party Congress on the work of the Central Committee, 26 January 1934, many years prior to the onset of war in Europe, and suggests that Stalin has ALWAYS been a man of peace.
Stalin appears softer, rounder and more genial than in most of the contemporaneous posters and, by wearing his pre-Victory plain tunic, plays down the Warrior archetype that is so prevalent in other posters of this time.
Engulfed by an undefined red backdrop, and with the poster caption in gold, the Russian Orthodox icon is invoked through colour symbolism, engendering a subconscious association of Stalin with the revered saints of the church for the initiated beholder.
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.