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.
Iraklii Toidze’s 1941 poster ‘“All our forces — to support our heroic Red Army and our glorious Red Navy! All the power of the people — to defeat the enemy!” Stalin.’ quotes from Stalin’s famous radio address to the Soviet people of July 3, 1941 and shows a determined Stalin striding to the right accompanied by Soviet tanks and aircraft.
The figure of Stalin forms a curious mixture of motion and stability. His gaze is steady and unflinching. The extended arm, showing the way forward with pointed index finger, is rigid and firm. Stalin is fixated on victory and the strength of his will carries the army and airforce with him.
The force of his forward momentum is revealed by the way in which his coat lapels fly about him, and by the swirling motion of the clouds in the sky. These stormy clouds part above Stalin’s head, suggesting that even the forces of nature bend to Stalin’s will, making way for his unstoppable progress towards victory.
Many posters of this era are captioned with quotes from Stalin, which had become akin to quoting scripture, and the posters are captioned as if these words contain deep wisdom, spiritual guidance, and unimpeachable truth.
Writing in 1942 about Stalin’s speeches during the war thus far, President of the USSR Mikhail Kalinin said:
‘We call these historic speeches not only in the sense that they are documents but because of their influence on our people and on our army. They are speeches that make history.’
Many people, both immediately after the war and today, claim that Stalin’s speeches had a rallying effect on the nation and contributed to the Soviet victory in the Second World War.
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.