stalin poster of the week 45: petr golub’, long life and prosperity to our motherland! i. stalin , 1949

1949 poster of stalin by Petr Golub

Petr Golub’ ( П. Голубь), Long life and prosperity to our Motherland! I. Stalin (Пусть здравствует и процветает наша родина! И. Сталин), 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.

Stalin was frequently depicted as the father of the people in Soviet propaganda posters, but is always shown without a female partner.

Stalin had been married twice, his first wife dying young of an illness, and his second wife committing suicide in 1932. The nation saw Stalin mourn Nadia and, from this point on, he did not publicly have a female partner – in fact so little is known of this aspect of his personal life that there is only speculation as to further sexual relationships after Nadia’s death.

 

Fig 13 Shurpin

Fyodor Shurpin, The morning of our motherland, 1948

 

Stalin’s life centred around his role as leader and it was easy to depict him as ‘wedded to the nation.’ A famous painting of 1948 by Fyodor Shurpin, ‘The morning of our motherland,’ depicts a calm, reflective Stalin in a plain white tunic, isolated and alone in a muted pastel landscape, his greatcoat draped over his sleeve.

Behind Stalin in the distance, tractors plough the fields and power lines melt into the hazy sky. Stalin is bathed in the early morning light and looks out to the right to the dawn of the communist utopia.

This famous painting is undoubtedly the inspiration for a poster by Petr Golub’ published in 1949 in an edition of 300,000. The poster caption, ‘Long life and prosperity to our motherland,’ is a quote from Stalin.

 

 

It is interesting to compare the poster to the painting that inspired it, as the differences between them are telling.  A key difference is that Stalin is slightly more face-on to the viewer in the painting than in the poster and looks considerably more tired. In the poster, he is less heavily jowled, his skin brighter, and his moustache more trim.

Stalin has a much more military bearing in the poster, almost standing at attention, while in the Shurpin painting he is relaxed and leans back slightly. In the poster, Stalin wears his military uniform while in the painting he appears as a civilian, a much more private individual, alone at dawn.

The poster is in portrait format, while the painting is in landscape format, hence the poster emphasises the figure of Stalin, while Shurpin’s painting places him in the landscape.

 

Detail of 1949 poster of Stalin by Petr Golub'

The young Pioneer boy is the product of the union between Stalin and the Motherland and represents the bountiful future

 

Indeed, in the poster by Golub’, Stalin is not alone, but accompanied by a young Pioneer boy who gazes silently into the future with him, the symbolic son of the wedded union between Stalin and the Motherland. The landscape has also been altered and the Golub’ poster features the national Russian symbol of a birch tree in the foreground (birch is also associated with beginnings), standing straight as Stalin, and a patchwork of lush green fields behind the two figures.

The notion of plenitude and abundance is reinforced by the small sprig of flowers in the child’s hand. A river flows through the landscape, continuing the dual association of Stalin with water, and with the golden light that illuminates him from above.

By drawing so obviously on Shurpin’s painting, the poster suggests the dawn of a new age of abundance for the Soviet Union, the arrival of the long-awaited communist utopia after the dark nights of the Civil War, the purges, and the Great Patriotic War.

Stalin is the father of the nation who cared for, protected, and raised the nation and, in Golub’s poster, the hope of the future lies in the nation’s youth.

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.

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

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stalin poster of the week 44: v. fedotov, xxv years of the komsomol, 1943

1943 poster of Stalin by Fedotov

V. Fedotov (В. Федотов), XXV years of the Komsomol (XXV лет ВЛКСМ), 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.

In attempting to create an all-encompassing image for a leader with a personality cult, it is necessary to incorporate both stereotypical masculine and feminine traits within the leader persona.

In addition to such typically masculine traits as determination, iron will, bold leadership and a warrior demeanour, Stalin was sometimes also given traditionally female characteristics of nurturing, empathy, modesty and gentleness by his propagandists.

A degree of androgeny in leader personas is quite common in personality cults, and is found in the cults of Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong. One of the major archetypes associated with Stalin throughout his leadership is that of the father of the nation (otets narodov).

In this 1943 poster by Vladimir Fedotov, Stalin is portrayed on the battlefield (which, incidentally, he never visited) and is referred to as a father and ‘apparent husband of Lenin’ in the poster text. Stalin stands above the Soviet fighters and gazes over the field of battle, binoculars in hand.

 

Detail of 1943 poster of Stalin and Lenin by Fedotov

Stalin is far-sighted and watches over the field of battle. Lenin looks determined.

 

Despite Lenin appearing as strong and determined in the poster image, the poster caption, in the form of a verse by Kazimir Lisovskii,  sees Lenin take on the maternal qualities of love and nurturing.

Meanwhile, Stalin adopts the role of the father and raises the Komsomol generation – these are not children, but young people of fighting age. The poem reads:

In labour and battle we are stronger

We gave the Motherland our youthful enthusiasm.

Great Lenin lovingly nurtured us,

Stalin reared us with a father’s care.

Military winds are raging over us,

With enemies not yet decisively finished.

In the battle the banner of Lenin covers us

And beloved Stalin is conducting us to victory!

Lenin’s banner is draped protectively over the young fighters, like the veil of the Virgin in Orthodox icons of the Feast of Intercession. It is Lenin’s spirit that is invoked to intercede on behalf of the Red Army troops, while Stalin leads the troops in the earthly realm.

 

Detail of 1943 poster of Stalin and Lenin by Fedotov

Soldiers rush into battle, watched over by Stalin and protected by Lenin’s maternal care

 

Produced on cheap paper without details of place of publication or size of edition, this curious poster celebrates twenty-five years of the Komsomol, although the poster image itself is about the war effort.

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.

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

stalin poster of the week 43: nikolai zhukov, thank you comrade stalin for our happy life!, 1940

Fig 7 Zhukov

Nikolai Zhukov (Н. Жуков), Thank you Comrade Stalin for our happy life! (Спасибо товарищу Сталину за нашу счастливую жизнь!), 1940

 

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 genre of the happy childhood was a major theme in Soviet propaganda posters featuring Stalin from 1936 to 1950, with a brief interlude during the Great Patriotic War when propaganda had other priorities.

In 1940, with the Soviet Union on the brink of war, it is not only children but the entire population that is infantilised and thanking Stalin for their happy life. A poster by Nikolai Zhukov features a remote and celebrated Stalin as a giant poster on a wall above some youthful observers of a huge parade.

 

Detail of 1940 poster of Stalin by Nikolai Zhukov

Stalin’s image is five storeys high

 

Children and young people wave excitedly from a balcony above a festive parade that extends as far as the eye can see. Revellers carry red banner and images of Lenin and Stalin down a long avenue of apartments.

The apartment blocks are evidence of the state providing quality housing for the people. Two aircraft fly overhead, symbolic of Soviet achievements in aviation and of preparedness for the upcoming war although, in truth, the aircraft that were setting world records in aviation for the USSR were not the sort of aircraft needed to win a war.

 

Detail of 1940 poster of Stalin by Nikolai Zhukov

Aircraft symbolise great feats of Soviet aviation and reassure the population that the country is ready for the upcoming war

 

Zhukov’s ‘Thank you Comrade Stalin for our happy life!’ makes it clear that the Stalin persona presented by the propagandists of the personality cult is largely symbolic. The poster features a quotation from Vyacheslav Molotov on the Stalin symbol:

‘We have a name that has become the symbol of the victory of socialism. It is the name of the symbol of the moral and political unity of the Soviet people! You know what that name is — STALIN!’

In the Short Biography released in 1947, Stalin’s value as the symbol of a plethora of Bolshevik values is made explicit in the text:

‘In the eyes of the peoples of the U.S.S.R., Stalin is the incarnation of their heroism, their love of their country, their patriotism’

‘Stalin’s name is a symbol of the courage and the renown of the Soviet people, and a call to heroic deeds for the welfare of their great country’ and

‘The name of Stalin is a symbol of the moral and political unity of Soviet society’*

 

 

Detail of 1940 poster of Stalin by Nikolai Zhukov

Children and youth represent an infantilised population: loyal, obedient, dutiful and HAPPY!

 

Writing in 1971, with the benefit of historical perspective, Roy Medvedev also regarded Stalin as a rallying symbol to unify and give hope to a suffering population during the Great Patriotic War:

‘Stalin’s image became a sort of symbol existing in the popular mentality independently from its actual bearer. During the war years, as the Soviet people were battered by unbelievable miseries, the name of Stalin, and the faith in him, to some degree, pulled the Soviet people together, giving them hope of victory.’**

Evidence exists that this was true for at least some soldiers. The writer Konstantin Simonov quoted an officer on the Stalingrad front who said he

‘gained all his strength from the idea that our great leader directs everything in our enormous cause from his office in Moscow and thus invests in him, an ordinary colonel, part of his genius and spirit’.***

Poster artist Nikolai Zhukov was a highly decorated People’s Artist of the USSR with two Orders of Lenin, was also a Soviet pilot and was the artistic director of the Studio of Military Artists from 1943.

 

*G.F. Alexandrov, M.R. Galaktionov, V.S. Kruzhkov, M.B. Mitin, V.D. Mochalov & P.N. Pospelov, Joseph Stalin: a short biography, Moscow, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1947, pp. 201-3.

** Roy Aleksandrovich Medvedev, Let history judge: the origins and consequences of Stalinism, New York, Knopf, 1971, p. 749.

*** Quoted in Orlando Figes, The whisperers: private life in Stalin’s Russia, New York, Metropolitan Books, 2007, p. 410.

 

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.

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

stalin poster of the week 42: nina vatolina, thank you dear stalin for our happy childhood!, 1939

Vatolina poster of Stalin 1939 happy childhood

Nina Vatolina (Н. Ватолина), Thank you dear Stalin for our happy childhood! (спасибо родному Сталину за счастливое детство!), 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 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 theme of a happy childhood was a major trope in Soviet propaganda posters of the Stalin era, beginning in 1936. Many posters were produced on the theme of a happy childhood and, in some of them, Stalin appeared as the father of all children of all territories of the USSR.

In Nina Vatolina’s 1939 version of ‘Thank You Dear Stalin for our Happy Childhood,’ the children are from various nationalities within the Soviet Union, although Russian children still predominate in their Pioneer scarves.

Whereas in earlier posters on this theme Stalin and the children occupied the same space in the picture plane and interacted in an affectionate manner, in this poster the children are totally separated from Stalin. He is geographically isolated from them – nominally, away at the Kremlin, but in fact floating above them in the sky, looking down on them like an omnipotent god.

 

Detail of 1939 poster of Stalin happy childhood Nina Vatolina

Stalin floats above the children like a god in the heavens

 

This god-like quality is reinforced by the difference in scale in the two halves of the poster – Stalin’s head is that of a titan and it dominates the heavens.

There is no sky, only light (as in an icon) and the sacred spire of the Kremlin, topped by its red star, stands like the steeple of a church bathed in fairytale light. The Spassky tower is the earthly home of the benign deity and, in the poster, forms a link between the realms of the heavens (inhabited by Stalin) and earth (inhabited by the children).

 

Detail of 1939 poster of Stalin happy childhood Nina Vatolina

Children pay floral tribute to a remote Stalin

 

The children bring offerings, but these lush bunches of flowers will not actually reach Stalin and remain purely symbolic. While the children salute and gaze with reverential awe,

Stalin looks down on them as a symbolic father, offering protection and benefaction from afar. Stalin radiates white light, which not only illuminates the Kremlin tower, but also the faces of the children across the various lands and territories of the union.

It is here that Stalin’s transformation from man to myth commences.

 

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.

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

stalin poster of the week 41: dmitrii grinets, thanks to the party, thanks to dear stalin for our happy, joyful childhood, 1937

Poster of Stalin by Grinets 1937

Dmitrii Grinets ( Д. Гринец), Thanks to the Party, Thanks to Dear Stalin for a Happy, Joyful Childhood (спасибі партії, спасибі рiдному сталіну за щасливе, веселе дитинство), 1937

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.

 

In the 1937 poster ‘Thanks to the Party, Thanks to Dear Stalin for our Happy, Joyful Childhood’ by Dmitrii Grinets in the Ukrainian language, Stalin adopts a fatherly pose with three children.

The portrait format of the poster emphasises the intimacy and physical closeness of the scene. By depicting such a scene with Stalin standing in as the father for non-related children, the suggestion is made that he is the father of all children of all nationalities of the USSR, intimately concerned with the prospects and fate of each child in his care.

 

Detail of poster of Stalin by Dmitrii Grinets, 1937

Stalin cuddles the small boy in a fatherly way

 

Stalin holds the smallest child against his chest, while his focus is keenly on the elder boy who plays the violin for him. The youngest boy shows ambition to join the armed forces, wearing military garb and clutching a toy aeroplane in his right arm. The older boy wears a Pioneer scarf and will be a successful musician.

 

Detail of poster of Stalin by Dmitrii Grinets, 1937

Girls are nurturing and grateful

 

It is only the young girl, wearing traditional headdress, who is given no costume or prop to indicate her future vocation. Perhaps her gratitude and devotion are a sufficient contribution.

The caption of the poster, occupying the bottom third of the picture plane, reinforces this notion of gratitude, and is uncommon for its time in that it emphasises the thanks owed to the Party, as well as to Stalin.

The word ridnomu (and its Russian equivalent rodnomu) does not translate precisely in English. Used as a term of endearment, the word also connotes a kin or familial relationship with the person to whom it is applied.

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.

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

stalin poster of the week 40: k.v. zotov, we’re growing up under lenin and stalin’s banner!, 1934

1934 poster of Stalin by Zotov

K.V. Zotov (К. В. Зотов), We’re growing up under Lenin and Stalin’s banner! (Мы растем под знаменем Ленина и Сталина.), 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.

In the early years of Stalin’s rule, he often appeared as an overseer of socialist development and progress, his image appearing in a corner of a poster about factory work, or alongside graphic depictions of Soviet progress.

In the case of ‘We’re growing up under Lenin and Stalin’s banner!’ of 1934 by K.V. Zotov, Stalin and Lenin oversee the upbringing of Soviet toddlers. Lenin, in the left corner, is the sacred and revered inspiration for this important work, while Stalin on the right is the interpreter of Lenin’s words, the one who translates Lenin’s doctrine into action.

 

Detail of 1934 poster of Stalin by Zotov

Stalin is the man with the plan

 

Between Lenin and Stalin is an indistinct graphic that mimics the statistical posters popular at that time in which the great feats of socialist progress are outlined in documentary fashion.

 

Detail of 1934 poster of Stalin by Zotov

Boys play with building materials. Women look after children – it’s the Soviet way!

Beneath the graphic, toddlers play in a nursery with toy trucks, building blocks and construction sets, pre-empting their future careers as builders of the socialist state.

Interestingly, the children are all male. The only female in the poster is the childcare worker who looks over the children with devoted attention, her red scarf tied behind her neck – the symbol of the female Soviet worker.

 

Detail of 1934 poster of Stalin by Zotov

The future is… male

 

In the foreground, three young boys of varied ethnicities beam out at the viewer. One wears a small Lenin badge on his jumper, and another holds an alphabet block with A for ‘Aviatsiya’ – Aviation – a desirable career path and one in which the Soviets were to set over 60 world records in the next few years.

Stalin, as the interpreter of Lenin’s teachings, is quoted beneath his own image:

“Let’s bring up a new generation; hard-working, healthy and cheerful and capable of elevating the power of the Soviet country to the height it deserves.”

In this early stage of Stalinist propaganda, Stalin is not portrayed as a fatherly figure and does not engage with the children. He is the conscientious leader with the master plan for bringing Lenin’s dream to fruition.

Within two years, Stalin’s image in propaganda was to undergo a dramatic transformation as a symbolic persona was created for him that incorporated key mythic universal archetypes and saw him depicted as the father of the nation.

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.

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

stalin poster of the week 39: unidentified artist, under the name of stalin we won. under the name of stalin we will win!, 1941

Poster of Stalin from 1941

Unidentified artist, we won. Under the name of Stalin we will win! (с именеи Сталина мы побеждали. с именеи Сталина мы победии!), 1941

 

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.

It was relatively uncommon for Stalin to be depicted in propaganda posters with any form of enemy, and even more uncommon for him to be pictured alongside any kind of brutality.

The Great Patriotic War (Second World War) was cruel and the Soviet people suffered harshly under German occupation. The propaganda of the preceding decades, which 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 the war as an opportunity to reach out to the working classes of other less fortunate nations.

Well-known Russian writer Ilia Ehrenburg* recalled 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:

‘“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 man said: “Who are we shooting? Workers and peasants. They think we’re against them, we don’t leave them any choice”.’

Terrible atrocities committed by German troops on Russian soil, a series of punishing defeats, and a concerted propaganda campaign with 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.

Many of the posters of the time (in which Stalin’s image does not appear) focus on fear, brutality and German atrocities, as well as depicting the enemy as subhuman or vermin.

In these most desperate years of the war, a few posters contained both an image of Stalin and an image of the hated enemy.

 

Detail of 1941 war poster of Stalin

A silhouette of Stalin on a red banner motivates and protects the troops as they go into war.

 

A simple war poster of 1941 by an unidentified artist, published in Leningrad in an edition of 25,000, is dominated by a large diagonal banner on which Stalin’s profile appears only in white outline silhouette.

Beneath Stalin’s head, the words ‘Under the name of Stalin we won. Under the name of Stalin we will win!’ separate his faint image from the battle scene below. This caption refers to Stalin’s earlier victory at Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad) in the Civil War in order to legitimate his leadership and rally the troops in the current conflict.

 

Detail of 1941 poster of Stalin

Aircraft accompany a large Soviet tank that crushes the verminous Nazi enemy during the Great Patriotic War.

 

The crude graphic shows two aircraft above a Soviet tank that is crushing the enemy beneath it. The enemy is depicted in cartoon fashion as a skull in a helmet with long sharp-clawed paws protruding from the sleeves of its Nazi uniform — in both the Civil War and the Great Patriotic War, the enemy was often depicted with animal characteristics so as to highlight either the danger posed by the enemy, or its vermin-like, subhuman qualities. Alternately, the enemy could also be depicted in cartoon-fashion as cowardly and ridiculous.

*Men, years — life, vol. 5, The war: 1941–45, Tatiana Shebunina & Yvonne Kapp (trans.), London, MacGibbon and Kee, 1964, pp. 26-28.

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 at www.anitapisch.com

 

stalin poster of the week 38: konstantin cheprakov, we swore an oath to our leader to fight the enemy…, 1941

Konstantin Cheprakov, We swore an oath to our leader to fight the enemy.We will keep the covenant of our fathers. Lead us into battle victory, wise Stalin - Clear the enemy, father of fighters! (in Uzbek and Russian), 1941

Konstantin Cheprakov (Чепраков, К.П.), We swore an oath to our leader to fight the enemy.We will keep the covenant of our fathers. Lead us into battle victory, wise Stalin – Clear the enemy, father of fighters! (Разбить врага – вождью мы клятву дали. Мы сохраним завет своих отцов. Веди нас в бой победный, мудрый Сталин – Гроза врагов, родной отец бойцов!) (in Uzbek and Russian), 1941

 

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.

Konstantin Cheprakov’s poster of 1941 shows Stalin looking slightly ethnically Uzbek in a characteristic wartime pose of strength and iron will.

 

Detail of 1941 poster of Stalin by Konstantin Cheprakov

Stalin looks slightly Uzbek in this poster by Uzbek artist Konstantin Cheprakov

 

Stalin appears in profile, right arm rigidly indicating the way forward to victory. His tunic and coat-tail swirl, but here he appears to have been depicted just as he has come to a halt.

In Stalin’s left hand, he carries a scroll. The scroll is symbolic on two levels: first, it can be read literally as a ‘plan’, i.e. Stalin has a strategy for winning the war and is in the process of executing it; second, it is visually reminiscent of the scroll (logos) carried by Christ in Russian Orthodox icons and suggests that Stalin is the saviour of the nation.

 

Detail of 1941 poster of Stalin by Konstantin Cheprakov

The enemy is under attack by strong and determined forces

 

Soldiers, tanks and aircraft surge forward past him, set on reaching the indicated destination. Diagonal banners and a raised bayonet in the foreground reinforce the violence of the forward motion, as do the aircraft diving in on a diagonal.

The poster’s caption, in Uzbek and Russian, reinforces the notion of the allegiance owed to Stalin as the wise father of the people:

‘We swore an oath to our leader to fight the enemy. We will keep the covenant of our fathers. Lead us into battle victory, wise Stalin — Clear the enemy, father of fighters!’

Images that appear to be photographic purport to tell the truth. Stalin never went near the front in the Great Patriotic War but, if Stalin is depicted as physically leading the troops into battle, it is easier to associate him with qualities of vision, bravery, heroism and steadfastness, even if this is at a subconscious level.

Despite the fact that Stalin is portrayed here as leading the troops into battle, he was not yet depicted in military uniform. Insignia of rank were abolished in 1917, immediately after the Revolution, however, in 1935, Stalin reintroduced personal ranks and, in 1940, general officer ranks. Insignia of rank were fully restored in 1943.

Stalin is shown hatless or, on the rare occasions when he does wear a cap, it is unadorned, and he wears no epaulettes or other insignia of rank.

To represent Stalin as a military genius at this point in time may have been risky and may even have opened him up to ridicule. Lack of preparedness for war, poor decision-making, and a blatant misreading of the enemy could all be placed at Stalin’s feet, as could the consequent losses of Soviet life.

Despite the advantages in wartime of portraying a strong and successful warrior, the propaganda machine was as yet unable to unambiguously drape Stalin in the mantle of the warrior. Instead, the established archetypes of Father and Teacher were called upon in an effort to maintain some legitimacy for the leader and to mobilise the population behind him in this crisis.

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 can be found at www.anitapisch.com

stalin poster of the week 37: viktor deni and nikolai dolgorukov, glory to stalin’s falcons – the conquerors of aerial elements!, 1937

Viktor Deni and Nikolai Dolgorukov (дени, долгоруков), Glory to Stalin’s Falcons–the Conquerors of Aerial Elements! (Слава Сталинским Соколам - покорителям воздушной стихии!), 1937

Viktor Deni and Nikolai Dolgorukov (дени, долгоруков), Glory to Stalin’s Falcons–the Conquerors of Aerial Elements! (Слава Сталинским Соколам – покорителям воздушной стихии!), 1937

 

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 significant genre of Soviet propaganda was concerned with documenting and publicising great Soviet achievements, crediting them all to the Revolution, the Party, and ultimately the brilliance of the great enabler whom history had placed in the role of the leader.

Stalin was effusively credited with not only facilitating all of the successes of the Soviet Union, but with such apparently miraculous abilities as keeping his aviators and polar explorers warm against the Arctic cold. Stalin was able to do this by virtue of the breadth and depth of his paternal care.

The 1937 poster ‘Glory to Stalin’s falcons — the conquerors of aerial elements!’ by Viktor Deni and Nikolai Dolgorukov, celebrates the historic and dangerous flight from Moscow to the United States via the North Pole without even identifying the men directly involved  in the flight (Valerii Chkalov, Georgii Baidukov and Aleksandr Beliakov).

 

1937 poster of Stalin and Soviet aviation by Deni and Dolgorukov

One could be forgiven for thinking that Stalin had piloted this historic flight himself, as there is no mention of the legendary aviators on the poster

 

Instead, the focus is on Stalin, whose profile image sketched on a red flag sits above the city of Moscow in the mid-left of the poster.

The centre of the poster is dominated by a flat view of the globe from the North Pole, with the USSR positioned to the bottom, and the United States tucked away at the top. The large landmass of the USSR is coloured Soviet red, and extended by the adjoining red flag, which billows across the globe in a symbol of Soviet domination.

 

1937 poster of Stalin and Soviet aviation by Deni and Dolgorukov

Moscow is vibrant and alive, sketched in sacred Soviet red

 

A well-populated Moscow bustles below, the people carrying a sea of red flags and banners. The route of the historic flight is traced by a thick red line through the North Pole, the centre of the poster, which swoops upwards through Canada to the United States.

 

1937 poster of Stalin and Soviet aviation by Deni and Dolgorukov

Washington is colourless and without character

 

While Moscow is sketched in vibrant red, features the identifiably ‘Russian’ towers of the Kremlin, and is densely populated, Washington is a colourless and unpopulated landscape of featureless and indistinct skyscrapers.

The steep red line that marks out the route is reminiscent also of the line on a graph, the upward swoop registering success and progress, as well as the trajectory of takeoff.

 

1937 poster of Stalin and Soviet aviation by Deni and Dolgorukov

The Tupolev 25 used to complete the record-breaking flight has the words ‘Stalin’s falcons’ inscribed on its side

 

Almost as large as the globe itself, and larger than the whole territory of the United States, are the images of the two Soviet planes that sweep across the top of the poster, and to which Stalin’s gaze directs our eye. The nearer, larger plane is marked with the number 25 (the Tupolev 25 flown on the mission), the abbreviation USSR, and its body is inscribed with the words ‘Stalin’s falcons’.

The text reinforces the association of this historic accomplishment with Stalin, proclaiming glory to ‘Stalin’s falcons’, rather than to the individuals involved, and also reiterates the key Soviet priority for conquering nature and the elements.

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 at www.anitapisch.com

stalin poster of the week 36: bainazar al’menov, but there is one branch of science which bolsheviks in all branches of science are in duty bound to know…, 1951

Bainazar Al'menov (Альменов, Б.), But there is one branch of science which Bolsheviks in all branches of science are in duty bound to know... (..есть одна отрасль науки, знание которой должно быть обязательным для Большевиком всех отраслей науки), 1951

Bainazar Al’menov (Альменов, Б.), But there is one branch of science which Bolsheviks in all branches of science are in duty bound to know… (..есть одна отрасль науки, знание которой должно быть обязательным для Большевиком всех отраслей науки), 1951

 

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 ‘banner of Marx–Engels–Lenin-Stalin’ theme was a minor but fairly consistent theme (except during the war years) throughout the 25 years of Stalin’s leadership … and even beyond.

Several of these posters were published outside the two major centres of the Russian nation, Moscow and Leningrad, and this 1951 poster was published by Tatgosizdat, the publishing house of the Republic of Tatarstan, in Kazan, Tatarstan.

The text quotes Stalin on the necessity to train all cadres, regardless of specialty, in the scientific laws of Marxism–Leninism. It comes from the Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, delivered on March 10, 1939.

But there is one branch of science which Bolsheviks in all branches of science are in duty bound to know, and that is the Marxist–Leninist science of society, of the laws of social development, of the laws of development of the proletarian revolution, of the laws of development of socialist construction, and of the victory of communism.’ I. Stalin.

Marxism-Leninism as a science was seen as defining immutable and unchallengeable laws and was foundational for all other scientific endeavour.

This 1951 poster by illustrator of folktales and fairytales Bainazar Al’menov (1909 -1976), shows the four pillars of communism  – Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin – as part of a billowing banner that fills the top half of the picture plane.

 

Detail of 1951 poster of Stalin and Lenin by Al'menov

Stalin and Lenin have vaguely Asiatic facial features in this poster from Tatarstan – Stalin viewed himself as Asian and Lenin was part Kalmyk.

 

Stalin and Lenin both appear particularly ‘Asiatic’ in their banner profiles. Stalin was often given facial features reminiscent of the general racial characteristics of the place in which the poster was published. In the Asian parts of the Soviet Union he tended to have Asiatic features, while in the European parts he looked more European.

In fact, Stalin actually described himself to Georgi Dimitrov, leader of the Communist International, as a ‘Russified Georgian–Asian’ (obrusevshii gruzin-aziat).*  Lenin was part Kalmyk on his father’s side.

 

Detail of 1951 poster of Stalin and Lenin by Al'menov

These precious books by the four great Communist thinkers are bound in sacred tones of red and gold and surrounded by laurel leaves and a pulsating Soviet star

 

The banner is rich red in colour and adorned with gold tassels. Beneath it, also in rich red with gold trim, are four slender books, one by each of the men pictured above, which outline the immutable laws of Marxism–Leninism. Stalin’s work thus resides unambiguously beside those of the three legendary great thinkers.

Bainazar Al’menov worked as the Artistic Director of the regional publishing house, Tatknigizdat, served in the Second World War, and was awarded the Meritorious Art Worker of the Tatar ASSR.

*See Jan Plamper, The Stalin cult, p. 46.

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