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.A. Babitskii’s poster of 1944, while employing many of the familiar motifs of other war-era posters, shows an increase in confidence in ultimate victory in the Great Patriotic War.
The ghostly head of Lenin on a large red banner dominates the sky. The sacred Spassky tower of the Kremlin, here bathed in the reddish-golden light reflected off the banner, glows in the background, and a tank rushes forward to battle under the protective red banner.
The giant figure of Stalin in his military uniform dominates the poster, however, in this poster Stalin does not merely inspire the troops from the sky, as he does in many other posters of this time.
Stalin is depicted here as rushing forward into battle. In his hands he carries a large map, the red territories showing the ground held by Soviet forces. Thus Stalin is shown as a man of action and as an active participant in the battle – Stalin the military strategist!
It is only in 1944, when victory in the war is almost assured, that Stalin becomes directly associated in propaganda with the actual military leadership of the war.
Prior to this, he has been portrayed as the leader of the nation, a father, a teacher, a friend, and merely an inspiration to the troops on the ground.
In the background, behind the Kremlin, is a little fireworks display – subtle and colourless as yet, but a precursor to what is yet to come.
The caption of the poster makes it clear that Stalin is responsible for this latest positive turn of events –
Under the leadership of Comrade Stalin, forward – to the definitive crushing of our enemy!
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