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.
A 1940 poster from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, by Vladimir Kaidalov quotes from Stalin’s funerary oath to Lenin on 26 January 1924: ‘Departing from us, Comrade Lenin urged us to strengthen and extend the union republics. We swear to you, Comrade Lenin, that we will fulfil with honour your behest’.
A giant head of Lenin sits above the Kremlin in a crimson sky. In 1940, Lenin had already been dead for 16 years, but was still the major legitimating tool for the Soviet government, and for Stalin as leader. By depicting Lenin as hovering in the sky, he appears as a protective spirit, guiding Stalin and the people on the path from socialism to full communism.
Beneath the sky, a holy shade of red like the background in an Orthodox icon, a crowd of people in Uzbek dress carry large red banners and look up at Stalin, who stands at the podium, arm raised to swear his oath.
The portion of Stalin’s oath that is quoted on the poster refers to socialist work to be undertaken in the union republics. In 1940, Tashkent was in the early stages of a total reconstruction that would see a ‘cultured city’ rise out of the demolition of a city of single-storey mudbrick houses, the opening of the Tashkent canal, and the opening of the children’s railway.
Plans to refashion Tashkent’s inhabitants into high-rise dwellers were meeting with resistance, and this poster calls upon the apotheosised Lenin to legitimate Stalin’s plan, whilst also showing Stalin to be a man of honour, having given his word to carry on Lenin’s plans in his funeral oration.
Kaidalov, who was born in Barnaul, Siberia in 1907 and only moved to Tashkent in 1932, achieved considerable fame as a painter in Uzbekistan and was awarded the
honorary title of the People’s Artist of Uzbekistan.
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.
Dr Anita Pisch’s website can be found at www.anitapisch.com