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.
In Stalin Prize winner Viktor Ivanov’s ‘Great Stalin is the beacon of communism!’, Stalin stands alone in his study in front of a bookshelf containing the collected works of Marx and Engels, Lenin, and his own writings.
Caught in a moment of quiet reflection, Stalin holds a book by Lenin and appears to be pondering the words he has read. In 1949, there was an emphasis by the Soviet leadership on greater scientific, technological and ideological education of the people.
Socialism was believed to contain irrefutable scientific laws that could guide people in every branch of endeavour and, accordingly, science should flourish and lead to the discovery of absolute truths if practised in accordance with Marxist principles.
Stalin was also laying the foundations of his own claim to immortality as a great revolutionary theorist and evidently felt he was qualified to make a valuable contribution to the science of Marxism–Leninism, a contribution born from the cauldron of actual experience in endeavouring to work in a socialist system.
The poster caption refers to Stalin as a ‘beacon’. Numerous propaganda posters depict Stalin either as the source of light in the image or as illuminated by a light from above, and Stalin was associated with both natural and artificial light.
Although in this poster Stalin is lit from above in sacred golden tones, the text makes it clear that it is Stalin who has assumed Lenin’s mantle as the guiding light of communism.
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