stalin poster of the week 81: viktor koretskii, great stalin is the banner of friendship of the peoples of the ussr!, 1950

koretskii 1950

Viktor Koretskii (Корецкий, В.), Great Stalin is the banner of friendship of the peoples of the USSR! (великий сталин – знамя дружбы народов ссср!), 1950

 

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 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.

Viktor Koretskii’s 1950 ‘Great Stalin is the banner of friendship of the peoples of the USSR!’ promotes Stalin as a unifier and saviour of the people. The people pay floral tribute to Stalin, and the poster merges the archetypes of Warrior, Father, and Saviour.

 

paternal affection

Stalin in marshal’s uniform looks down on his subject peoples with paternal affection

 

Stalin is elevated on a podium which separates him from the common people, with a multitude of flowers forming a physical barrier between them. He gazes down on the people with paternal affection.

There are two sources of light in the picture, Stalin himself and the flat white background, however, it is Stalin’s light that illuminates the faces of the subject peoples.

 

Sixteen flags

Sixteen red flags represent the sixteen republics of the USSR

 

In the background there are sixteen flags, representing the sixteen republics of the federation. In September 1939, the number of republics in the Soviet Union increased from eleven to sixteen – Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzistan, Moldavia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

The Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) had been incorporated into the USSR under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in 1939, then occupied by the Germans in June 1941, before being ‘liberated’ by the Soviets in 1944.

 

smorgasbord of nationalities

A smorgasbord of Soviet nationalities is separated from Stalin by a barrier of flowers

 

The people in the poster are of various ethnicities, many in their national costumes, and they deluge Stalin with flowers, most notably roses. Their faces are filled with joy at the chance to meet their benefactor.

Stalin makes eye contact only with a professional Russian male. Males from other nationalities gaze up at him with reverence (and deference), and most of the women present are in profile, in shadow, or partially obscured, as if of secondary importance.

Anita Pischs 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 at www.anitapisch.com

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stalin poster of the week 80: naum karpovskii, long live the komsomol generation! stalin, 1948

Naum Karpovskii (Карповский, Н.), Long live the Komsomol generation! Stalin. (да здравствует комсомольское племя! Сталин.), 1948.

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.

At a time at which Stalin was being lauded and celebrated as the saviour of the USSR, this 1948 poster by Naum Karpovskii depicts a flesh-and-blood Stalin as a man of the people. In ‘Long live the Komsomol generation’ Stalin is surrounded by smiling people, pressed right up against him, some of them even higher than him in the picture plane.

 

Lenin is the only deity in this 1948 poster

 

The landscape format of the poster suggests an equality of the people depicted, rather than a hierarchy, and in this poster it is only the huge stone head of Lenin that sits above all others.

Rather than the flattened, airbrushed appearance of Stalin’s face as seen in posters such as that by Denisov and Pravdin of the same year, Stalin’s face shows as many dimples, lines and shadows as those of the people around him.

 

A flesh-and-blood Stalin even has dimples

 

The publication of the poster coincides with the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Komsomol. Komsomol membership was open to those aged between 14 and 28 years of age, although higher functionaries could be older and, apart from providing an educational arena for the instillation of Bolshevik values, Komsomol members were often mobilised as mobile work brigades to make up for shortfalls or complete special tasks.

The simple text of the poster is a quote from Stalin’s speech to the Leninist Young Communist League on the day of the tenth anniversary of the Komsomol, printed in Pravda on 28th October, 1928.*

 

Useful men and pretty girls with flowers

 

In this poster Stalin combines the warrior and father archetype. On the one hand, he inspires young people to join the Soviet Armed Forces, but is also encouraging of those in industry and agriculture, the continuing battlefront. Industrial work such as mining appears to be the domain of men, while women work in agriculture, or look pretty and present flowers.

However, in 1948 Soviet propaganda was already emphasising the need for young people to gain technical and scientific skills, and to work smarter rather than harder. Thus, this poster can also be read as a celebration of the past, with Stalin, first among equals, surrounded by the characters who built the Soviet Union.

 

* IV Stalin. ‘Leninist Young Communist League: Welcome to the day of the tenth anniversary of the Komsomol,’ Pravda № 252, October 28, 1928 accessed at http://www.marxists.org/russkij/stalin/t11/t11_24.htm.

Anita Pisch‘s 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 at www.anitapisch.com

stalin poster of the week 79: petr golub’, stalin raised us to be loyal to the people!, 1948

1948 poster of Stalin and the Red Navy by Petr Golub'

Petr Golub’ (Голубь, П.), Stalin raised us to be loyal to the people! (Нас вырастил Сталин – на верность народу!), 1948

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 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 1944 version of the Soviet national anthem includes the lines ‘And Stalin raised us to be loyal to the people / Inspired us to work and to deeds’, formalising Stalin’s patriarchy as a matter of state.

The first line is quoted directly in a 1948 postwar poster by Petr Golub’. The lyrics of the anthem were, of course, well known and instantly recognisable to the Soviet people, and the two lines preceding this one glorify Lenin, ‘Through storms the sun of freedom shone on us / And great Lenin lit up our path’. However, Lenin is nowhere to be seen in this poster, either in text or image.

‘Stalin raised us to be loyal to the people!’ combines the Father and Warrior archetypes in one pastel image. The poster caption makes clear the dual nature of Stalin’s role for the sailors — as the Generalissimus of the Armed Forces, he is their military leader and as the man who raised them, he is their symbolic father.

 

512px-Naval_Ensign_of_the_Soviet_Union.svg

Naval ensign of the Soviet Union

 

Under the protective canopy of the Soviet Navy flag, Stalin inspects the troops and addresses a young sailor who has been pulled out of line.

Stalin and the sailor stand eye-to-eye, the sailor holding the leader’s gaze. They look remarkably alike in terms of facial features, almost as if they could be related.

 

Detail of 1948 poster of Stalin and the Red navy by Petr Golub'.

The young sailor meets Stalin’s gaze without fear

 

Unusually, Stalin is shown as the same height as the young man, although the peak of his cap makes his overall height slightly greater.

The sailor’s cap shows that he is attached to the cruiser named ‘Molotov’ (after Vyacheslav Molotov). The project 26bis Kirov-class cruiser of the Soviet Navy served during World War II and into the Cold War, supporting Soviet troops during the Siege of Sevastopol (1941-2), the Kerch-Feodosiya Operation (1941) and the amphibious landings at Novorossiysk in 1943.

The flag that flies overhead is the Soviet Navy ensign flag. It is white with a sky blue strip across the base, and big red star in hoist and red sickle and hammer in fly. It is seen in reverse in this depiction.

This ensign was adopted by the decision of the Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissioners on 27 May 1935. It was first hoisted on naval ships on 1 July 1935.

Anita Pisch‘s 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

stalin poster of the week 78: **SPECIAL EDITION: VICTORY DAY** boris mukhin, glory to the great heroic red army, defending the independence of our country and winning victory over the enemy. glory to our great people, people-victors!, 1945

Mukhin copy

Boris Mukhin (Мухин, Б.), 1941-1945. Glory to the great heroic Red Army, defending the independence of our country and winning victory over the enemy. Glory to our great people, people-victors! I. Stalin (Слава нашей героической Красной Армии, отстоявшей независимость нашей родины и завоевавшей победу над врагом! Слава нашему великому народу, народу-победителю! И. Сталин.), 1945

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 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.

Boris Mukhin’s celebratory poster of 1945 uses text from Stalin’s radio broadcast on the 9th May, the day of the victory of the Soviet troops – ‘Glory to the great heroic Red Army, defending the independence of our country and winning victory over the enemy. Glory to our great people, people-victors!’

The Army and the people are lauded as victors, and Stalin appears in the poster only as the profile portrait on the Medal for the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945.

 

stalin medal

Stalin’s dignified profile appears on the medal for the victory over Germany

 

This medal was awarded to 14,933,000 people, including all the soldiers, officers and partisans who directly took part in live combat actions during the war. The medal was officially established on May 9, 1945

 

caption

The poster caption comes from Stalin’s victory speech on May 9, 1945

 

The poster is colourful, features a victory wreath, and a sky lit up by celebratory lights.

Anita Pisch‘s 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.

Visit Anita Pisch’s website at www.anitapisch.com

stalin poster of the week 77: *SPECIAL EDITION: MAY DAY* genrikh futerfas, stalinists! extend the front of the stakhanovite movement!, 1936

1936 poster of Stalin and Stakhanovites by Genrikh Futerfas

Genrikh Futerfas (Генрих Футерфас), Stalinists! Extend the front of the Stakhanovite movement! (сталинцы! шире фронт стахановского движения!), 1936

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 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 Stakhanovite movement was named after Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov, a coalminer who, in 1935, exceeded his quota of seven tons of coal per shift with an output of 102 tons, and reorganised his work brigade to increase its production through the use of improved work methods.

Stalin personally praised this extraordinary achievement and founded a movement in Stakhanov’s name with the aim of increasing Soviet industrial output across the board.

At the First All Union Conference of Stakhanovites was held in November 1935. Stalin stated:

The Stakhanov movement is a movement of working men and women which will go down in the history of our socialist construction as one of its most glorious pages.

The 1935 Conference of Stakhanovites generated substantial publicity and was followed by a related publicity campaign. The 1936 poster ‘Stalinists! Extend the front of the Stakhanovite movement!’ by Genrikh Futerfas promotes the Stakhanovite movement and exhorts working people to join their ranks.

The poster design resembles many others of the early to mid-1930s, and is a somewhat less skillful rendition of the style of poster so successfully executed by Gustav Klutsis.

The technique used is photomontage, and the colour scheme is monochromatic, save for the diagonal slash of red surrounding the outstanding figure of Stalin, who heartily greets the army of enthusiastic workers beneath him.

 

crowd

The surging crowd of Stakhanovite workers is headed by Central Committee members Nikita Krushchev and Lazar Kaganovich, who were instrumental in bringing the Moscow Metro to fruition in 1935.

 

The diagonal suggests movement, as if swarms of people are indeed pouring in to swell the ranks of the Stakhanovite workers, all joyously active and working together in the upward direction indicated by Stalin’s guiding hand.

Despite the multitude of workers featured in the poster, they are concentrated in the bottom third of the space, and it is the figure of Stalin that dominates and is the only figure to penetrate the upper plane. Stalin’s upraised hand, his palm flat and facing outwards, is a well-known recurring motif in the work of Klutsis.

 

Detail of 1936 Stakhanovite poster of Stalin by Gendrikh Futerfas

Stalin’s upraised hand is both reminiscent of the hand motif frequently employed by leading photomonteur Gustav Klutsis, and a characteristic gesture of Stalin in posters suggesting both greeting and a connection to higher authority

 

The subtitle of the poster quotes from Stalin’s speech at the Stakhanovite conference:

Life is getting better, comrades. Life has become more joyous.  And when life is joyous, work goes well.

The first part of this refrain became one of Stalin’s major slogans, and was the inspiration for a popular song of 1936, Life’s Getting Better,* with lyrics by Vasilii Lebedev-Kumach and music by General Aleksandr Aleksandrov of the Red Army Ensemble.

In his speech to the Stakhanovite conference, Stalin stated that it is the combination of hard work and technical mastery that lead to increases in productivity, and he outlined the progression from capitalism to socialism to Communism.

In this transitional socialist phase, each person is to be rewarded according to his work. It is only under a Communist system, when there is an easy surplus of consumer goods that each person is provided with goods and services according to his needs.

Thus, the extraordinary benefits and rewards accorded to those who overachieve, including trips to conferences and gramophone players, are explicable under the socialist system, and do not contradict the basic ideological concept of equality.

Part of the transition from socialism to Communism also involves the education of workers and the gradual elimination of the distinction between mental and manual labour.

Stalin said that this will occur because the level of technical and cultural education needed for the mastery of all tasks will elevate the manual worker to the level of technical worker or engineer and thus place him on a par with the mental worker.

The 1936 poster by Futerfas is an interesting example of the concepts of obligation and reciprocity in Soviet society as reflected in the Stakhanovite movement.

While the conference itself, and the sentiments expressed in Stalin’s speech, acknowledge the contribution made by these extraordinary workers, the emphasis in both the poster and Stalin’s speech, which is referenced on the poster, is on the obligation owed to the State.

 

stalin

The figure of Stalin dominates the poster

 

Stalin was at great pains to point out that it is not just the heroic efforts of the workers that are responsible for the increases in industrial output. In fact, he claimed that their achievements could not have occurred without the gifts bestowed by the Revolution and the State:

The basis for the Stakhanov movement was first and foremost the radical improvement in the material welfare of the workers. Life has improved, comrades. Life has become more joyous. And when life is joyous, work goes well. Hence the high rates of output. Hence the heroes and heroines of labour. That, primarily, is the root of the Stakhanov movement. If there had been a crisis in our country, if there had been unemployment — that scourge of the working class — if people in our country lived badly, drably, joylessly, we should have had nothing like the Stakhanov movement. Our proletarian revolution is the only revolution in the world which had the opportunity of showing the people not only political results but also material results.

 

The Stakhanovites owed a debt to the State for the opportunity it provided them to work hard and to overachieve. (Despite Stalin’s vehement disclaimers, this sounds remarkably like capitalist ideology, only here the role of capitalist private enterprise is replaced by the socialist State).

Stalin ended his speech at the conference on a note which stressed the reciprocal nature of the relationship between these exemplary workers and the State:

I shall not undertake to deny that you, the members of the present conference, have learned something here at this conference from the leaders of our government. But neither can it be denied that we, the leaders of the government, have learned a great deal from you, the Stakhanovites, the members of this conference. Well, comrades, thanks for the lesson, many thanks!

Life’s Getting Better*

Beautiful as birds, all in a row

Songs fly above the Soviet land.

The happy refrain of the cities and fields:

“Life’s getting better and happier too!”

The country is growing and singing as one,

It forges everyone’s joys with its songs.

Look at the sun – the sun’s brighter too!

“Life’s getting better and happier too!”

There’s room everywhere for our minds and our hands,

Wherever you go you’ll find you have friends.

Old age feels warmer, and youth braver still –

“Life’s getting better and happier too!”

Know, Voroshilov, we’re all standing guard –

We won’t give the enemy even a yard.

There is a saying for folks old and young:

“Life’s getting better and happier too!”

Let’s let the whole gigantic country

Shout to Stalin: “Thank you, our man,

Live long, prosper, never fall ill!”

“Life’s getting better and happier too!”

*From James von Geldern and Richard Stites. (eds). Mass Culture in Soviet Russia: Tales, Songs, Poems, Movies, Plays and Folklore, 1917 – 1953. Bloomington, Ind. 1995, pp.237-8.

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 can be found at www.anitapisch.com