Soldier, Liberate Your Belorussia!
Viktor Koretsky, 1943
It can be imagined how powerful this poster might have been for Russian soldiers, a large part of whose country had already been invaded, occupied, and ruined by Nazi soldiers. Imagery as simple and moving as this could draw even peaceful men to war.
As with numbers 5 and 6, you need to look no further if you want to understand why many people go to fight in wars. For the ordinary soldier, the war was not so much about ideological allegiance as it was about protecting the ones they loved. The frightening images here weren’t designed to show what could hypothetically happen, if the war was lost; they showed what had already happened
Red Army Warriors, Save Us!
Viktor Koretsky, 1943
The imagery in the WWII posters is generally far simpler than those of the propaganda campaigns of the 20s and 30s. The propaganda posters were indoctrination campaigns, targeted at certain groups of people, aiming to convince them of certain things that they might not otherwise believe.
But images like this one did not need to be complicated in order to have the desired effect. Koretsky, the artist who created this poster, received letters from soldiers on the front: they “kept his poster folded in the left-hand top pocket of their uniform, next to their heart, just as icons had been kept by their fathers before them.”
The Kukriniksy, Wartime
Many of these hand-painted posters were pasted over windows for propaganda purposes. Despite initial and unexpected friendship with the Axis powers during the war, Hitler’s surprise invasion of Russia had resulted in a strong alliance with the U.S. and Britain.
KPSS – Glory!
Boris Berezovsky, 1962
KPSS stands for “Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskogo Soyuza” – the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. This poster celebrates a series of feats, which intensified the space race and redefined the whole Cold War. On the left is Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. To his right is Gherman Titov, the first person to spend a whole day in space. They are pictured alongside two other cosmonauts who made it to space. The achievements of these men both shocked and excited people in the U.S., and played a major role in Kennedy’s decision to prioritize sending a man to the moon.
Long Live Our Happy Socialist Land!
Gustav Klusis, 1935
Five years later, during the war, Stalin’s face wouldn’t be featured on so many posters. The Russian people couldn’t forget the sinister policies, the sweeping purges, and the brutal coercion he had imposed upon them between 1935 and 1940 – which were hardly masked by images of utopia such as this.
We Will Eradicate the Agents of Fascism
Sergei Igumnov, 1937
We Will Eradicate the Spies and Saboteurs, the Trotskyist-Bukharinist Agents of Fascism.”
This poster was published on behalf of the NKVD – the Soviet Secret Police – during the infamous Show Trials in Moscow. Stalin went on to personally direct what became know as the Great Purge, and later as the Great Terror. According to the propaganda of the time, the purge was a cleansing of the rotten elements in his government. But in reality, he meant to systematically suppress the voices of anybody he perceived as a threat to his own power. It’s a scary thought: propaganda posters such as this one could be used very effectively to keep the tide of opinion in his favour, despite the bloodshed.
Viktor Koretsky, 1941
Just before WWII, the end of the Spanish Civil War had seen a Nazi-backed Fascist government come to power, after the irresponsible western powers, Britain and France, refused to offer military assistance to the Spanish Republicans. Many left-leaning writers and artists from the west, most famously George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway, had volunteered to fight for the Republican cause. The collapse of the socialist Spanish Republic, and the suffering endured by its citizens during the war, was an emotional subject for many Russians.
By 1941, not only Spain but also France, Belgium and the Netherlands had fallen under Fascist rule. This double-imaged poster contrasts the tragic fate of these western countries with the strong, stable and prosperous society established in Soviet Russia under Stalin.
For the Motherland!
A. Polyansky, 1941
To the Russians, WWII was known as the Great Patriotic War. Less than six months after the poster above this one was published, Germany had abandoned its former understanding with Russia, and invaded. Much of Germany’s eastern-front fighting over the next three years took place on Soviet soil…
My Son! You See My Plight…
Fyodor Antonov, 1942
Red Army soldiers knew that they had everything to lose in the war with Germany. Behind this old woman are the smoldering remains of the family home; she implores her son to save the country.
The image of Stalin is similar for almost everyone. Today we want to show you the leader as a person who also had childhood and youth. This is how he was depicted by Georgian artists on their pictures.
“Childhood of Soso”. (real name of Stalin was Soso Dzugashvili).
“Soso Dzhugashvili – tender years”.
“Expulsion of Stalin from the Seminary”.
“Stalin – juvenile years”.
“Stalin and Hashim”.
“Stalin talking to peasants from Adjara”.
“Stalin’s demostration in Batum in 1902″.
“Worker’s coterie under the leadership of Stalin”.
Stalin is delivering a speech.
“Escaping from Siberia (1904)”.
Part 2 To follow
Examples of Stalinist Posters & Political Art (1930-1953)
N. Kh. Rurkovsky. Stalin at Kirov’s Bier. 1934
I.I. Brodsky, Stalin (1937)
G.M. Shegal’, Leader, Teacher, Friend(1937)
via Propaganda Art.
via Propaganda Art.