stalin poster of the week 59: n. petrov and konstantin ivanov, glory to great stalin, the architect of communism!, 1952

1952 poster of Stalin by Petrov and Ivanov

N. Petrov and Konstantin Ivanov (Петров, Н. и Иванов, К.), Glory to great Stalin, the architect of Communism! (Слава великому Сталину – зодчему коммунизма!), 1952

 

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 poster by N. Petrov and Konstantin Ivanov was published in 1952 and carries the same slogan as the 1951 poster by Boris Belopol’skii on the same theme.

 

1951 poster of Stalin as the architect of communism by Belopol'skii

Boris Belopol’skii (Белопольский, Б), Glory to Stalin, the great architect of communism! (слава сталину – великому зодчему коммунизму!), 1951

 

Unlike the earlier poster, which was in full colour and employed a graphic portrait of Stalin in front of a huge hydroelectric station, this 1952 poster uses black-and-white photography as a means of documentary evidence of the progress of Soviet society.

Stalin is superimposed in front of a view of Moscow and is looking up the Volga River. The city appears to be bustling with pedestrians, cars and river traffic, and is bathed in a white light which also shines on Stalin from above.

 

Detail of 1952 poster of Stalin as the architect of communism by Petrov and Ivanov

Moscow is a thriving metropolis, full of movement and impressive buildings

 

Stalin looks out of the picture, this time to the viewer’s left, which is usually associated with the past, and suggests that Stalin is surveying what has already been achieved.

The poster plays on the two levels of meaning of the architect symbol. Stalin is literally shown as responsible for the planning and rebuilding of Moscow, which commenced in 1935, but he is also responsible for planning and building the new communist society.

 

Detail of 1952 poster of Stalin as the architect of communism by Petrov and Ivanov

Just one year before his death, Stalin smiles as he surveys all he has accomplished

 

As Robert Tucker notes:

It was [Stalin’s] role as Supreme Architect of Communism to discover the laws, and it was the business of Soviet society to study them and put them into effect, and thus to “attain mastery” over them.*

Moscow was seen as a symbol for the whole federation, her transformation a metaphor for the moral and political transformation of the whole of Soviet society.

Katerina Clark points out that, although only parts of Moscow were rebuilt, Moscow was usually represented as being totally rebuilt, and photographs of models were often presented to the public (as in the case of the Palace of Soviets) as if the new buildings already existed.**

Moscow was also represented — in Stalin’s ‘Greetings on her 800th anniversary’ in 1947, for example — as a sort of symbolic saviour of the West, having liberated the West from the Tartar yoke, repulsed the Polish–Lithuanian invasion in the Time of Troubles, repelled Napoleon in 1812, and won the Great Patriotic War against the fascists.

*Robert C. Tucker, ‘Stalin and the Uses of Psychology,’ World Politics, Vol.8, No.4, 1956, pp. 455-83, p. 461.

**Katerina Clark, ‘Eisenstein’s Two Projects for a Film about Moscow,’ The Modern Language Review, Vol. 101, No. 1, Jan., 2006, pp. 184-200, p. 186.

 

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 is www.anitapisch.com

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stalin poster of the week 58: veniamin pinchuk, the spirit of the great lenin and his invincible banner inspire us now in the patriotic war… (i. stalin), 1943

1943 war poster of Stalin and Lenin by Veniamin Pinchuk

Veniamin Pinchuk (Пинчук, В.Б.), The spirit of the great Lenin and his invincible banner inspire us now in the patriotic war… (I. Stalin) (дух великого Ленина и его победоносное знамя вдохновляют нас теперь на отечественную войну…), 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.

The guiding and protecting spirit of Lenin is invoked in a 1943 poster by renowned sculptor and portraitist Veniamin Pinchuk, which visually references the 1942 poster by Vladimir Serov discussed last week. The differences between the two posters are minor but significant.

An image of Stalin from the chest up is placed before a chalky red banner. His right arm is outstretched and his hand palm down in a gesture of benediction. Over his right shoulder is the ghostly head of Lenin.

In these details, the 1943 Pinchuk poster closely resembles the top half of the 1942 Serov poster. However, in the 1943 poster, the entire bottom section of the poster – that unconventional section that shows the brutal slaying of the German enemy – has been removed.

 

Detail of 1943 poster of Stalin and Lenin by Pinchuk

Lenin is unstoppable

 

In addition, there are subtle differences in the portraits of Lenin and Stalin used by Pinchuk. The Lenin of the Serov poster looks out to the left at eye level, his face serious, but composed. In the Pinchuk poster, Lenin’s narrowed eyes and head are tilted up, and his mouth set with a grim, almost angry look.

And while Stalin is wearing the same clothes in both posters, and making the same gesture with his right arm, in the 1943 poster he turns to face the viewer, looking directly out of the poster and into the viewer’s eyes.

Both posters show Stalin from the chest up, however in the 1942 poster his lower body has been dissolved in a bank of battle smoke, while in the 1943 poster Stalin’s body is solid to the edge of the image.

 

Detail of 1943 poster of Stalin and Lenin by Pinchuk

Stalin, with some small war victories in hand, can finally meet the viewer’s eye

 

This Stalin is not floating in the sky like a disembodied spirit, but has been brought back to ground to lead his troops to victory. By 1943, there were already some small signs that the USSR’s fortunes in war were turning around after the disasters of 1942.

On 2 February 1943, the Germans troops at Stalingrad surrendered. Although the war was far from won, there was finally some good news to spread to the populace and, in 1943, Stalin’s image began to be cautiously associated with victory.

Anita Pischs 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 is www.anitapisch.com

stalin poster of the week 57: vladimir serov, under the banner of lenin – forward to victory!, 1942

1942 poster of Stalin and Lenin during the war

Vladimir Serov (Серов, В.), Under the banner of Lenin – forward to victory! (под знаменем ленина – вперед, к победе!), 1942

 

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 1942 poster by Vladimir Aleksandrovich Serov shows the spirit of Lenin from beyond the grave guiding the spirit of Stalin, both overlooking the battlefield during the disastrous early days of the Great Patriotic War.

Almost the entire top half of the poster is filled by a huge red banner infused with the ghostly head of Lenin looking calmly into the distance. Lenin’s sacred head emits a white light that illuminates the right arm and face of Stalin below him.

 

Detail of 1942 poster of Stalin and Lenin by Vladimir Serov

Lenin and Stalin are steely and determined, guiding the soldiers below by the force of their will.

 

Stalin also does not look at the action below, but straight ahead and far out of the picture plane. He is grim and determined. His right arm is raised and outstretched, but his fingers are spread and his palm turned down, a gesture of blessing and benediction over the field of action below him.

Just as Stalin blesses his troops and their actions, Lenin sits on Stalin’s right shoulder to bless and guide him.

The bottom half of the poster depicts the battlefield in closeup. In the immediate foreground is a trench with barbed wire, and a German soldier being bayoneted by a Russian. The German has lost his gun and sprawls helpless on the ground, a dead comrade arched over barbed wire next to him.

 

Detail of 1942 poster of Stalin and Lenin by Vladimir Serov

The battle is brutal. Red Army soldiers rush forth and bayonet helpless German soldiers

 

The Russian with the bayonet steps over the body of another dead German soldier and, next to him, a comrade prepares to throw a grenade, while a poised bayonet gleams in the hands of a soldier behind him. A tank rumbles through in the background.

The red text is simple and direct:

Under the banner of Lenin, forward, to victory!

The imagery in this poster is unusual in that it is not often that Stalin appears in a poster with enemies (whether internal or external to the regime), and one of the few instances in which he is seen alongside any kind of brutality.

The war was cruel and the Soviet people suffered harshly under German occupation. In Volume 5 of his memoirs, Men, Years – Life, Ilia Ehrenburg recalls that the Russian people did not initially have any hatred for the German soldiers:

The men defending Smolensk or Briansk repeated what they had heard first at school and later at political meetings, or read in the newspapers: in Germany the working class was strong, it was a leading industrial country; true, the fascists, supported by the Ruhr magnates and the social-traitors, had seized power, but the German people were in opposition and were carrying on the struggle. ‘Naturally,’ the Red Army men said, ‘the officers are fascists, and of course there must be misguided men among the rank and file, but millions of soldiers advance only because otherwise they’d be shot.’*

Ehrenburg recalls feeling enraged when gunners on the front line refused to shell a highway when commanded to do so. One of the gunners explained to Ehrenburg:

We can’t just shell the road and then retreat. We must let the Germans approach and try to explain to them it’s time for them to come to their senses and rise against Hitler, and that we’ll help them to do it’. The others feelingly supported him. A young and intelligent-looking artillery main said: ‘Who are we shooting? Workers and peasants. They think we’re against them, we don’t leave them any choice’.**

All of the propaganda of the preceding decades which had emphasised the unity of the working classes around the world, and their shared goals and interests, had been largely successful, and some of the Russian soldiers saw this confrontation as an opportunity to reach out to the working classes of other less fortunate nations.

However, atrocities committed on Russian soil, a series of punishing defeats, and a propaganda campaign featuring highly emotive images that highlighted the risk to women and children under German occupation turned this pacifist attitude on its head, and troops were encouraged to fight savagely in order to win the war.

*Ilya Ehrenburg. Men, Years – Life, Transl. by Tatiana Shebunina and Yvonne Kapp, London, MacGibbon and Kee, p. 26.

** Ilya Ehrenburg. Men, Years – Life, Transl. by Tatiana Shebunina and Yvonne Kapp, London, MacGibbon and Kee, pp. 27-8.

 

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 is www.anitapisch.com

stalin poster of the week 56: f. litvinov, raise the banner of lenin-stalin – the banner of our great victory!, 1949

Crimean Poster of worker/war hero with Lenin-Stalin banner by Litvinov, 1949

F. Litvinov (Литвинов, В.), Raise the banner of Lenin-Stalin – the banner of our great victory! (выше знамя Ленина-Сталина – знамя великих побед!), 1949

 

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 poster by F. Litvinov was published by the Crimean publishing house, Krymizdat, in 1949, four years after the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War (Second World War).

At this stage, the Crimea was part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. It was only in 1954, a year after Stalin’s death, that  the Crimean oblast was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR.

The poster grants credit for the war victory to the protective banner of Lenin and Stalin, who form the hyphenated identity of Lenin-Stalin, with Stalin now portrayed as a joint leader of the 1917 October Revolution.

 

1949 Crimean poster of Lenin and Stalin by F. Litvinov

This Crimean war hero acknowledges the inspirational role of the banner of Lenin-Stalin in the Soviet victory

 

A young man in civilian clothing, wearing the Order of the Patriotic War medal (awarded to all soldiers in the Soviet Armed Forces, security troops and partisans who participated in the Great Patriotic War) waves a huge banner that ripples like the winds of inspiration through the sky over a crowd of people stretching back to the horizon.

The young man, in greyscale except for his military decorations, is symbolic of the Soviet people as a whole, also in greyscale. The text of the poster reads

Raise the banner of Lenin-Stalin – the banner of our great victory!

 

1949 Crimean poster of Lenin and Stalin by F. Litvinov

Lenin, man of words, and Stalin, man of deeds, are illuminated by divine white light as they look back on a glorious military past.

 

Merged into the fabric of the banner are the profile heads of Lenin and Stalin, Lenin in shirt and tie, Stalin with military collar. Both are illuminated by a divine white light and all three figures in the poster look out to the viewer’s left.

The focus of this poster is firmly on the glorious military past.

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 is www.anitapisch.com