stalin poster of the week 103: viktor ivanov, great stalin is the beacon of communism!, 1949

beacon

Viktor Ivanov (Иванов, В.), Great Stalin is the beacon of communism! (Великий Сталин – светоч коммунизму!), 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 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.

 

SAM_0540

The collected works of Marx and Engels are prominent on Stalin’s bookshelves

 

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.

 

SAM_0543

Stalin’s own writings take their place alongside those of the geniuses of revolutionary thought

 

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.

 

stalin

Stalin is bathed in sacred golden tones

 

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

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stalin poster of the week 102, aleksandr druzhkov and i shagin, long live soviet physical culture athletes!, 1939

DruzShag

Aleksandr Druzhkov and I. Shagin (дружков, д. и шагин, и.), Long Live Soviet Physical Culture Athletes! (Да здравствует советские физкультурники), 1939

 

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.

This poster, published just before the outbreak of the Second World War, is one of only three posters I have found in which Stalin’s image appears in a physical culture poster. Stalin appears in profile outline on a red banner carried by an athletic woman in a physical culture parade and his image sanctions the propaganda message.

 

stalin

Stalin’s unmistakable profile sanctions the activities of the athletic women in the poster

 

The physical culture poster was a massive genre in Soviet posters of the Stalin era, encompassing not only health and physical activity, but also hygiene, anti-smoking and ant-drinking campaigns, anti-delinquency measures, and even posters about the maintenance of appropriate clothing.

Prior to the October Revolution of 1917, sport had largely been the province of the idle rich or associated with military training. When  the All-society Military Instruction (Vsevobuch – Vseobshchee voennoe obuchenie) committee was formed in May 1918, it took charge of all sports groups in the country with a mandate to create better, healthier men.

In the 1920s, non-competitive sports that fostered a collective spirit came to the fore and a cultural revolution sought to forge beautiful, strong and agile bodies that both represented and served the regime.

But it was only under Stalin that massive sports parades became a feature of public holidays and fiercely competitive sport on the international stage sought to showcase Soviet achievements. However, the Soviets did not participate in the Olympics until after World War Two, instead promoting the Spartakiad – the socialist games.

In April 1930, the party’s Central Committee established the All-Union Council of Physical Culture (Vsesoiuznyi sovet fizicheskoi kul’tury) in an attempt to centrally control, standardise and systematise sport in the USSR. Programs introduced under this council were inclusive of both women and children, and the regime achieved a large degree of success in encouraging women into sport and physical culture in general.

The programs were also present throughout the republics of the USSR and propaganda featured women of all ethnicities and religions engaged in physical cultural activity.  According to Alison Rowley, by 1934, the number of female fizkul’turalisti had reached 1.7 million.*

From the mid-1930s, marching in parades became a popular physical pastime for women, and a popular image on posters and the covers of women’s magazines. In photo spreads, Stalin and the top leadership were often depicted watching these parades on Red Square.

Rowley sees three primary goals of propaganda encouraging women to take up sport in the 1930s:

  • to strengthen the military preparedness of the country,
  • to improve worker productivity,
  • and to promote ideological goals with regard to appropriate leisure activities.**

 

bike

This young woman is so highly skilled that she can sharp-shoot whilst laying prone on a moving motorcycle. Impressive and slightly scary.

 

In the 1939 poster by Druzhkov and Shagin, two skilled and agile women feature in the foreground of the poster, part of the mass parade that can be seen behind them. A young gymnast balances on a moving motorcycle whilst hoisting aloft the banner of Stalin. Her companion lays flat on the bike, holding a machine gun, showing her preparedness and willingness to fight for the Soviet Union.

Motor sports and shooting were part of Red Army training and women had begun competing in shooting competitions in the 1920s. With world war on the doorstep, a fit and trained population could act as reservists when fighting erupted on Soviet soil.

Propaganda featuring strong and competent women served to bolster internal confidence while deterring potential invaders from entering Soviet soil.

*Alison Rowley (2006) Sport in the service of the state: Images of physical culture and Soviet women, 1917–1941, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 23:8, 1314-1340, DOI: 10.1080/09523360600922246, p. 1317

** Rowley, p. 1314.

 

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 101: gustav klutsis, politburo tsk vkp(b), 1935

politburo

Gustav Klutsis (густав клуцис), Politburo TsK VKP(b) (политбуро цк вкп(б)), 1935

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.

This 1935 photomontage by renowned graphic artist Gustav Klutsis introduces members of the Central Committee of the Politburo to the Soviet people.

In front of a billowing red backdrop, Stalin is identified as the leader and most important character by making him larger than everyone else.

 

Stalin

The big chief is … big!

 

In the front row, from left to right, are Stalin’s closest allies: Anastas Mikoian, Mikhail Kalinin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Kliment Voroshilov, and Sergo Ordzhonikidze.

The back row features Stanislav Kosior, Vlas Chubar, Mikhail Tomsky, Pavel Postyshev, Grigori Petrovskii, Andrei Zhdanov, Robert Eikhe, and Nikolai Yezhov.

 

Rudzutaks

Execution is a precursor to total erasure from history

 

The ‘inked out’ figure is Jānis Rudzutaks, a Bolshevik revolutionary and Soviet politician of Latvian descent.

Rudzutaks was expelled from the Central Committee in 1937, the first arrest of a Politburo member with no record of having opposed the party line. After torture, confession to being a spy, and then a retraction of this confession, Rudzutaks was shot on 28 July, 1938.

Figures who fell from grace under Stalin, whether top Soviet leaders or purged family members, were systematically deleted from the visual record by blacking them out or tearing them out of the image.

These erased figures formed a conspicuous censorship, their erasure speaking even more strongly than their presence – an eerie reminder of the reach of the leadership and the penalty for suspicious or treacherous behaviour, although the vast majority of victims of the purges had committed no crime and were often even loyal to the regime.

Torture forced victims to not only confess to crimes, but to implicate others as well, who also subsequently confessed – often to outlandish claims – under torture.

Ordinary citizens often took to their own photo albums with scissors and ink to purge the image of family members upon whom suspicion had been cast, dissociating themselves from charges of treachery or disloyalty.

Under Stalin, the falsification of history eventually extended to all areas of public discourse. Paintings on popular revolutionary subjects, such as the salvo from the Aurora and the storming of the Winter Palace, were published in history textbooks and took on the status of documentary images.

It was not enough, though, for enemies of the people to disappear from historic occasions. Stalin had also to be seen to be present at the most decisive moments in revolutionary history, whether or not he had actually been there, and his image was inserted into the visual record in key places.

This conspicuous alteration of history continued even in times of triumph, such as victory in the Great Patriotic War. Marshal Zhukov gained enormous popularity for his role in the war victory and, on the first Victory Day, he stood side by side with Stalin on the Lenin mausoleum to receive the gratitude and adulation of the pressing crowds.

The situation had already changed by the second Victory Day when Zhukov completely disappeared from the public eye. By the third anniversary of victory, Pravda commemorated the event without even mentioning Zhukov and victory in the war became solely attributable to the military genius of Stalin.

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 100 – **SPECIAL CENTENARY EDITION**: pavel sokolov-skalia, the train is going from the station of socialism to the station of communism, 1939

Sok-skal

Pavel Sokolov-Skalia (Соколов-Скаля, П.), The train is going from the station of socialism to the station of communism (поезд идет от ст. социализм до ст. коммунизм), 1939

 

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.

Stalin makes an interesting and highly unusual appearance with Marx, Engels and Lenin in a notable 1939 poster by Pavel Sokolov-Skalia.

Sokolov-Skalia was a well-known painter as well as graphic artist, head of Okna TASS, theatre artist and cinema artist for Mosfilm. At the time of this poster, Sokolov-Skalia was teaching at the Grekov Studio of War Artists.

 

four heads

Marx heads the communist train, with Engels, Lenin and Stalin arrayed like carriages behind him

 

In ‘The train is going from the station of socialism to the station of communism’, Stalin appears with the other pillars of communist thought on a banner that decorates the side of a train pushing up a slope. The four heads appear so that it is Marx who is at the head of the train, and Stalin bringing up the rear.

 

stalin

The state is in safe and experienced hands!

 

Stalin is also portrayed in the window of the engine room as the train driver. The poster is sub-captioned ‘Tried and tested locomotive engineer of the Revolution, Comrade Stalin’.

 

schedule

The implementation schedule presents key events on the journey to socialism as train stations

 

Beneath the picture of the train is a graph with the title ‘implementation schedule of the movement of the Bolshevik train’ which shows the various stops on the journey to socialism, beginning with the foundation of the newspaper Iskra in 1900, progressing through the armed uprising of December 1905, the founding of the newspaper Pravda in 1912, and the October Revolution of 1917.

Another graph titled ‘current schedule’ shows the one-stop journey from socialism to communism.

This playful graphic depicts Stalin as both the last in the line of great communist thinkers, and as the man currently responsible for steering the nation’s journey to the final destination envisaged by Marx and Engels.

The trope of the locomotive driver is related to that of the helmsman. Due to the far more recent emergence of the train and the railroad, this metaphor cannot boast the same long history of use as the helmsman metaphor, although, for obvious reasons, it is related to (perhaps even an updated extension of) the helmsman metaphor, in keeping with the Soviet emphasis on modernity and progress.

There is one significant difference between the ship and the train: a helmsman must use all his knowledge and skill to navigate a safe route among many possible other routes, while the train driver has no choice of alternate routes and must follow the tracks.

 

engine

The train is called the I. Stalin

 

The train driver’s role involves keeping the engine running, avoiding pitfalls, and managing speed and braking. The locomotive is often used as a metaphor for history, and there is inevitability about the destination along a route that was already laid out before the engine driver sat at the controls.

This makes the train a particularly apt metaphor for the communist journey. According to Marxist theory, scientific laws govern history, and the final destination of communism is inevitable. The leader is a caretaker of the state until it is no longer needed and withers away. Once the destination is reached, neither the train nor the train driver will be needed.

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 99: viktor deni and nikolai dolgorukov, long live the leninist vkp(b), organiser of socialist construction, 1934

fig0460 copy

Viktor Deni and Nikolai Dolgorukov, Long live the Leninist VKP(b), organiser of socialist construction, 1934

 

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.

‘Long live the Leninist VKP(b), organiser of victorious socialist construction’ of 1934 by renowned graphic artist duo Viktor Deni and Nikolai Dolgorukov is an early example of the Stalin portrait being carried in a parade.

Five hands hold a sketched portrait of Stalin under the protective banner of the Leninist Party amid a sea of Klutsis-style open-palmed hands, all raised in the air and pointing upward in the direction of the victory of socialist construction.

No other part of the body can be seen in the crowd, the hand itself symbolises the socialist worker.

 

portrait

The hands bearing Stalin aloft symbolise the workers

 

This poster is a forerunner of other posters in which Stalin’s portrait is carried in a parade. Here, it is very much in the manner of a workers’ demonstration or celebratory parade.

Later, Stalin’s portrait was often carried on a pole or held aloft in such a way as to suggest the carrying of an icon in a religious procession.

 

construction

1934 was a year in which Soviet successes were formally celebrated while Stalin began centralising his personal power

 

Scenes behind Stalin depict arenas of Soviet achievement: the establishment of an airforce (an achievement of Stalin’s own that he did not have to share with Lenin); industrial and agricultural construction; the construction of the Dnieper Dam, the Belomor-Baltic Canal, Magnitogorsk; electrification of the nation; and improvements in communication technology.

The text on the banners carried by the workers reads:

Long live the Leninist VKP(b) [the Communist Party]

Forward to new victories!

The Red Army is the stronghold of the world

Mastering technology

Implementation of the plan

Making the collective farms prosperous and bigger

Harvest more crops

 

cccp

Planes flying in clever formation to spell the letters of the USSR (CCCP) are an achievement that belongs to Stalin alone

 

In 1934, the Congress of Victors – the Seventeenth Party Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) – had just declared the full achievement of socialism. Progression to the next and highest stage, that of communism, was just commencing.

The name ‘Congress of Victors’ celebrated the success of the First Five-Year Plan and of the policy of collectivisation of agriculture. Stalin was elected as General Secretary of the Party and power became increasingly centred around his own person, rather than through more inclusive policies of the entire Politburo.

One-hundred-and-thirty-nine members and candidate members of the Central Committee were elected at the Seventeenth Party Congress in 1934. By 1940, 98 of these people had been killed.

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.

You can visit Dr. Anita Pisch’s personal website at www.anitapisch.com