- Series 1: Propaganda Posters, 1929-1931 Add to Shelf
- Folder-Item 1.1: "For What Did 10,000,000 Die?", 1929 Add to Shelf
- Across the bottom of this poster in bold is asked: "For What Did 10,000,000 Die?" Relating to the World War of 1914-1918 (the Russian revolutionary state signed a separate peace, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, with Germany in March 1918), the captions are minimal. The forceful art work is intended to carry the overarching message of the horrors of war, which leave little to the imagination. A crippled veteran bears the sign "4,000,000 invalids." A huge skeleton advertises "10,000,000 Lost or Killed by Wounds." "InAll the War Mobilized 68,000,000 Men" declares the next message. Next to an industrial smokestack is "The Cost of the War to the Major Combatants was 1200 Billion Rubles." And in the foreground before suffering masses reads "20,000,000 Men Injured."
- Note: The obvious intention is that the pictorial representations should deliver the principal message of this poster, with captions acting as secondary reinforcement. Although painted in 1929, the objective is to deliver one more condemnation of the international capitalist order by focusing on the carnage of World War I. In short, by implication international capitalism caused the war. The fact that totals of all victims are presented, as opposed to listing casualties by country, suggests that the World War was a class rather than national phenomenon. In these terms, it endorses the Russian Revolution by implication. Signed by the artist Kotog, who was not in the front rank of Soviet poster artists, in 1929, the publication information is covered.
- Folder-Item 1.2: "Literate One, Instruct the Illiterate", undated Add to Shelf
- Across the top reads: "Literate One, Instruct [and across the bottom] the Illiterate." In the main portion of the poster, a silhouette in revolutionary red and bearing the outline of a worker's cap raises up the hand of a grey figure whose silhouette wears peasant boots. Black silhouettes in the lower left quadrant representing clergy and counter revolutionary forces attempt to lasso the peasant's leg. The red worker carries a placard that reads: "We Must Undertake a Simple Urgent Task-The Mobilization of the Literate for The Battle With Illiteracy." Behind the worker are positive representations of industrial productivity. Across the bottom: "The Three Year School [basic grammar school] for the Liquidation of Illiteracy Strengthens the Five-Year-Plan of Socialist Construction."
- Note: This is a straightforward message early in the First Five Year Plan (1928-1932) that links the as yet incomplete campaign against illiteracy to vanquishing counter-revolution and promoting industrial production. This is to be done by mobilizing workers to lift the peasantry, among whom illiteracy is more prevalent. The mention of the three year school, however, indicates that goals remain modest. Three years was the basic education peasants received prior to 1917, which few males and even fewer young females completed. Thus, while the objective of achieving total literacy in society remains the same, the level of literacy pursued is rudimentary.
- Folder-Item 1.3: "Socialist Competition...", after 1929 Add to Shelf
- This poster is directed toward raising productivity on collective farms. The backdrop to the upper two-thirds of the poster shows vast expanses of wheat fields being worked by industrious collective farmers. The backdrop of the lower third shows mechanized farm equipment. The caption in the upper left quadrant reads: "Socialist Competition, Piece-Work, Matching [literally, emulation] the Norms [and continues below] of the Best Shock Workers Guarantees the Success of the Harvest and Fall Sowing." The somewhat enigmatic male and female peasants in the lower left quadrant appear serious but downtrodden and ready to benefit from revolutionary change. He holds a red flag on which only the adjective "vanguard," can be read, but the word was so commonly used in promoting revolutionary values that the intent could not possibly have been misunderstood by the intended audience.
- Note: This undated (but obviously after the collectivization of agriculture in began late 1929) poster was issued by the State Publishing House and the Art Department of the State Publishing House, OGIZ-IZOGIZ, in a press run of 25,000, but no price is listed. The presentation encompasses major propaganda themes of the period-most pronouncedly the projected bounty of collectivized agriculture and of mechanization, the means of attainment. The so-called "tractorization" campaign launched early in the collectivization of agriculture strove to convince peasants that mechanized agriculture made the traditional Russian wooden plow, the sokha, obsolete. Peasants, however, resisted abandoning familiar tools for those yet unproven to them and even linked tractorization to other unwelcome incursions into their lives such as the Soviet antireligious campaign. According to one rumor, "The tractor will plow up the bones of your ancestors." In sum, the messages on this poster were by no means gratuitous but were considered geared to the level of consciousness of the intended audience.
- Folder-Item 1.4: "The Descent of St. [illegible] on the Apostles", 1930 Add to Shelf
- In this antireligious poster, coins fall from the mouth of a pig-like creature with wing shaped ears, who wears the quintessential symbol of bourgeois decadence, a silk top hat. Below, apostles (clergy representing various faiths) scramble to collect the bounty, with Russian Orthodoxy in the middle. The single caption, written in pre-revolutionary script, top reads: "The Descent of St. [illegible] on the Apostles."
Note: Produced in 1930, this poster sold for 60 kopecks in a press run of 20,000. It was published by the Artistic Press of the Association of Artists of the Revolution [AXP] Society, a diverse group of artists that existed from 1928 to 1933 and receives credit for formulating the basis of the style to be known as Socialist Realism. Although many works in the artistic and literary community conformed voluntarily to the tenets of Soviet propaganda in the 1920s (Fedor Gladkov's 1926 work Cement is renowned as "the first proletarian novel"), the term Socialist Realism was not coined publicly by a Soviet official until May 1932. Later that year at a gathering of writers in the home of Maxim Gorky, Joseph Stalin described Socialist Realism as truthful representation in the arts, although in his view truth could only show the Soviet Union moving toward revolutionary socialism. Writers spent the next two years amplifying and refining Stalin's basic tenets, and when the first congress of the newly formed Union of Soviet Writers met in August 1934 Socialist Realism became official state policy-the only acceptable approach in all creative arts.
This poster depends far more on the elaborate art work than the cryptic caption to deliver its message, which is painted in a style that would suggest a connection to the old world and to the pre-1918 Russian alphabet. With an almost fairy tale quality to the representation, the poster simply accuses religious leaders of greed and avarice.
- Folder-Item 1.5: "Where is my money?", undated Add to Shelf
- With a giant bottle of wine as a backdrop, the drunken figure asks "Where is my money?" The bottom of the poster asks: "And what is there for the family?"
Note: This is a simple and standard salvo in the battle against alcohol--one the state was losing. The Russian Imperial Government had imposed a prohibition during World War I, but the revolution brought with it the widespread looting of the liquor reserves. The Soviet revolutionary government tried to revive the wartime prohibition in 1917, but even its Red Guards and workers= militias could not resist the temptation to drink. Inthese times of grain shortage, the state wanted the population to eat rather than drink existing supplies in the form of grain alcohol, but the illegal distillation of samogon (bootleg liquor) became a major enterprise that whole villages pursued as a cottage industry, despite harsh penalties for doing so.
The revolutionary regime passed draconian decrees against the distillation, sale, and consumption of samogon that it was virtually powerless to enforce. Rural moonshiners brought their wares to urban markets like any other agricultural product, and urban distillers sold from their homes. Distillers easily bribed the police sent to arrest them, often with samogon itself. The fact that the technology involved was not complex exacerbated matters, and some Party officials began wistfully to remember the state's pre-1913 liquor revenues. Inlate 1925, the Soviet state once again began producing vodka, without apparently diminishing the illegal homebrew industry. Needless to say, this did not produce an alcohol-free revolutionary society, but rather placed the revolutionary regime in the position of producing vodka for revenue purposes and opposing its consumption out of a concern for social welfare. Posters such as this testify to the ongoing-and seemingly futile-character of the battle.
- Folder-Item 1.6: "This is What the Church Teaches", 1931 Add to Shelf
- This poster mixes an antireligious message with one against violence against women, a thematic rarity. The graphic and colorful art work tells the story. A smug clergyman in the background holds a religious inscription justifying the right of a husband to dominate his wife, and the matriarch of the peasant household (the husband's mother) encourages the peasant to discipline his spouse. The man prepares either to beat her with a rope or to tie her for a beating. She pleads for mercy to no avail, as he rolls up his sleeves for the task. The simple caption across the bottom reads: "This is What the Church Teaches."
- Note: This 1931 offering from the Art Department of the State Publishing House, IZOGIZ, had a press run of 20,000, but no price is listed. The theme of curbing domestic violence by no means reached prominence in Soviet poster art, but in this case the opportunity to tie it to an overt antireligious message, and by implication to indict peasant ways as backward, obviously served as the inspiration.
- Folder-Item 1.7: "Working Through General Participation in Carrying Out of the Sanitary Minimum", undated Add to Shelf
This straightforward promotion of hygiene graphically depicts three sanitary processes: the benefits of fresh air, cleanliness through sweeping, and especially a detailed demonstration of the proper way to wash hands. Across the top: "Working Through General Participation in Carrying Out of the Sanitary Minimum [A Soviet expression used to define minimum standards in fields like hygiene, allotted living space, and public health]"
"We Will Reduce the Fulfillment of the Five Year Plan to Four Years" "Carry Out the Sanitary Minimum"
"In personal life / in living quarters /on the street / in enterprises / in local social encounters."
- Note: The State Publishing House, Glavlit, produced this in a press run of 20,000, but the date of publication and price are covered. The revolutionary message is implied; public sanitation itself is not ideologically neutral but cairies a positive political valence. Hygiene is a tool ofrevolution and the building of socialism. The practical objective is to promote basic hygiene and sanitation, called the "Sanitary Minimum" or "Sanminimum" here. This was part of a broader attempt to promote hygiene and sanitation to a society that was dominated by peasants who lacked tooth brushes, shared bowls and eating utensils, and practiced only occasional personal and living space cleanliness. Such campaigns continued through the 1930s and beyond, with the Stalinist regime defining knowledge of basic hygiene as a marker of "culture." Indoor plumbing, running water, and regular garbage removal did not reach the majority of Soviet society until the 1950s.
- Folder-Item 1.8: "We Will Restructure the Village in Athesist Socialist Harmony", undated Add to Shelf
“We Will Restructure the Village in Atheist Socialist Harmony” reads the inscription across the top.
The slogan in the upper left quadrant, on the grounds of a former religious institution, reads:
“We Will Transform the Monastery
Into a Commune of the Poor.”
In the center of the background is the “Atheist Club,” and to its right is the “Labor School.”
In the upper center the slogan reads:
“The Tractor Leads Us on
the Road to Collectivization.”
Beneath the slogan on the former church is “Agricultural Machinery Warehouse.”
The slogan in the upper right quadrant, in a workers club that is an agitational center and reading room, reads:
“We Will Convert the Center of the Drug [a common reference to religion in antireligious propaganda]
Into a Cultural Center.”
On the wall is the slogan “Atheists, Build the Collective Farms.”
To its right hangs the slogan “Down with Sectarians and Priests.”
In the lower left quadrant, as the uninitiated witness a scientific demonstration, the slogan reads:
“Do Not Learn from the Bible, but Learn
at the Experimental Station [Laboratory].”
In the lower center the slogan reads:
“The Proletarian Town Will Help
The Atheist Village.”
The building in the left background is labeled “Nursery School.”
The building in the center of the background is labeled “Commune.”
In the lower right section, workers tour an electrical generator plant, and the slogan reads:
“Down with the Realm of the Prophet,
Long Live Electrification.”
Note: No element of the Russian Revolution suffers more frequently from misunderstanding than the Soviet assault on religion. Common misperceptions posit that immediately upon taking power the Bolsheviks closed all churches, executed clergy, and made individual worship illegal. In actuality, during the Russian Civil War and thereafter zealots did indeed close local churches, and there were instances in which priests who lost their lives. Monasteries and church property were confiscated and sacred objects defiled, including the opening of crypts of interred saints. But while the revolutionary regime made clear from the outset its intention to rid Russia of religion, the tactics of the Party leadership often differed from those of uncontrolled local activists, and it never outlawed personal belief.
In practice, revolutionary leaders frequently found themselves reining in “excesses” in antireligious work by local atheist zealots, while simultaneously promoting secularism with a combination of propaganda and repression. Thus, the Communist Party pursued atheism as its official position but also recognized pragmatically that overt attacks on religion, especially on the Russian Orthodox Church, did more to galvanize opposition among the rank-and-file than to win their hearts and minds. In schools and general propaganda, antireligious campaigns initially relied on a nonreligious (promoting science and rationalism to wean believers reflexively away from religion) rather than an antireligious (direct action against religious institutions) strategy.
Party leaders faced myriad problems. Religious belief persisted in Party ranks despite official prohibitions, and the League of the Godless (later the League of the Militant Godless) began operations only in 1925. From then until the Party disbanded it in 1944, the League drew continual criticism for its lack of effectiveness. Despite the regime’s overt public repudiation of religious institutions, Party documents show antireligious work to have been chronically underfunded, carried out by comrades considered less than the most talented, and frequently neglected by regional and local Party organs in favor of what were considered more pressing tasks.
This is not to deny the extensive attacks on religious institutions that did occur. The revolutionary state never lost sight of its goal of general atheism, and pressure was relentless. In 1922-1923, the Soviet state carried out an orchestrated confiscation of church valuables, and during the collectivization of agriculture that began in 1929 churches and priests were special targets, as was the seizure of church bells. And the Soviets never abandoned the goal of closing the maximum number of churches with the least possible social disruption.
Nothing justifies the violence against religion that took place, but we must recognize that the Soviet state depended just as heavily on propaganda to achieve its antireligious goals. And because antireligious work was a low priority in practice, such propaganda succeeded best when integrated with other objectives. This poster illustrates that principle well, as it links the elimination of religion to other revolutionary aims: creating a better material life through technology and science, alleviating poverty, providing nurseries for small children, establishing workers’ clubs, promoting the mechanization of agriculture, achieving the electrification of the country, and creating collectives.
- Folder-Item 1.9: “For the General Line of the Party”, undated Add to Shelf
- The 5 and 4 on the left reiterate the widespread slogan to fulfill the First Five Year Plan for industry (1928-1932) in four years. The lower left expresses support “For the General Line of the Party.” Opposition comes from two main forces: a cross bearing priest and a bomb wielding fascist.
Note: This poster advocates fulfilling the First Five Year Plan for industry (1928-1932) in four years, a prevailing slogan during the period. The First Five Year Plan (subtracting 1928 from 1932), however, was not a “five year plan” at all, and the starting date was actually projected backwards from when the plan functionally went into effect in 1929. In a large sense, it also was not a “plan” in any rational economic sense. It set unrealistically high goals and quotas for each branch of the economy that the developed industrial economies of the West would have strained to meet, but were impossible for the ravaged economy of the USSR. In reality, this was a mobilization campaign based loosely on the idea that pursuing unattainable levels would ensure maximum effort from all. Opposition from religion and fascism were also stock elements of this propaganda.
The artist Deni [Viktor N. Deni] signed at the lower right. Deni (real name Denisov) emerged as a prodigy of poster art in the early years of the Revolution, and he produced as steadily as his health permitted thereafter. By 1930s, however, some of his work was criticized for being insufficiently agitational, that is, more concerned with aesthetics than didacticism and the mobilization of opinion.
- Folder-Item 1.10: "The Illiteracy of the Child is a Disgrace for the Mother", 1930 Add to Shelf
- The captions read, “The Illiteracy of the Child is a Disgrace for the Mother." and “The Soviet school provides the best builders of life—cities, fields … we do not need ignoramuses and smatterers … parents, do not be cut off from the studies of your children! (A. Sharov)”
Note: Printed by the Art Department of the State Publishing House, IZOGIZ, in 1930 in 30,000 copies, this poster addresses one of the major concerns of the revolutionary state during the 1920s-1930s: illiteracy. While much of the focus during the 1920s was on adult illiteracy, the state made clear from the outset that it placed great hope in children and adolescents to create the revolutionary future (as older citizens who could not be converted inevitably would die). In this straightforward poster, three young boys [the child on the viewer’s right carries an ABC book] enthusiastically and purposefully walk toward school, beckoning a fourth to join them. He, however, cannot, since his mother—generally regarded in Soviet propaganda as carriers of culture with immense influence in shaping their offspring—holds him back. Hence, although ostensibly promoting child literacy, the target of the poster is above all recalcitrant parents.
The allusion to cities and fields as foundations of life reflects the radical experimental pedagogy of the period, which eliminated the study of distinct disciplines in elementary schools and integrated practical experience outside the classroom or in labor. Joseph Stalin would restore traditional methods and standards in the 1930s.
The word for “ignoramus” used here is actually a diminutive of the man’s name Mitrofan. The name became a synonym for “ignoramus” or “person of little education” in reference to the character Mitrofan in Denis Fonvizin’s 1781 play The Minor, sometimes translated as The Young Oaf.
- Folder-Item 1.11: “The Collective Farm in the Struggle with Infectious Diseases”, 1930 Add to Shelf
Translation, beginning lower right quadrant: “Farm Collective, Learn How to Struggle with Infectious Diseases, Organize Readings [and] Discussions of Sanitary Issues, Drawing the Attention of the Local Doctor, Midwife, [or] Female or Male Nurse to This Business.
Establish Sanitary Corners [that is, exhibits for dispensing information] in Clubs [and] Reading Rooms, Having Supplied Them with Easy to Understand Books on Infectious Diseases [and] Obtaining Available Sanitary Film-Reels, Etc.
There does not have to be even one person fall ill with smallpox in the collective farm. See to it that all babies older than three months are given a preventive inoculation. Adults also need to be inoculated for smallpox every five years.
Scarlet fever, diphtheria, typhus, bloody diarrhea—are dangerous infectious diseases which are easily transmitted by surroundings. All these illnesses result in a fever for the ill person.
Transfer each person taken ill with an elevated temperature immediately to a separate isolation ward room. Such an ill person must remain in the isolation ward until he is sent to a hospital.
The place where the infected person was found must be thoroughly cleaned with hot water and soap or lye.”
- Note: This was published in 1930 by the State Medical Press, Gosmedizdat, in a press run of 10,000 copies, and it sold for 30 koecks. In the background of the upper left quadrant a peasant woman and female child demonstrate sanitizing a space occupied by an contagious person, as described in the directive in the right lower quadrant. In the foreground, the lower left quadrant, a female peasant girl receives a vaccination from a professional nurse in a sanitary white smock while a peasant woman, presumably the girl’s mother, waits with an infant for a smallpox vaccination. In the upper right quadrant a peasant couple bring an older peasant woman by horse drawn cart to an isolation ward. Thus, the illustrations all demonstrate and reinforce the steps set out in the detailed instruction at right. During the Russian Civil War (1918-1920), Communist leader Vladimir Lenin declared that either the revolution would defeat typhus or typhus would defeat the revolution. The very existence of this poster in 1930, in combination with the very rudimentary explanation of contagion and sanitation directed toward its intended audience, testify to the limits of success against infectious diseases in the Soviet countryside.
- Folder-Item 1.12: "It Is Not True That Alcohol Nourishes, Warms, [and] Strengthens the Power of the Muscle", 1931 Add to Shelf
Translation: “It Is Not True That Alcohol Nourishes, Warms, [and] Strengthens the Power of the Muscle.”
“Comparative Strengthening Qualities Of Foods:
Butter 100; Meat 55; Sugar 48; Bread 36; Potatoes 13; Vodka 0.
It is true that alcohol increases professional illnesses and poisoning, accidents and absenteeism, [and] diminishes labor productivity.
The number of accidents per 1000 people that involve loss of work time
Up to 4 weeks: Of all insured workers, 82; among alcoholics, 969.
More than 4 weeks: Of all insured workers, 15; among alcoholics, 53.
Alcohol is the Enemy of Healthy Labor”
- Note: Printed by the State Publishing House and the Art Department of the State Publishing House, OGIZ-IZOGIZ, in 1931 in 25,000 copies, this poster is more elaborate and specific than many in the Soviet state’s anti-alcohol campaign. At the outset, it challenges widespread myths that tie the ability to consume alcohol to positive images of manhood—in this instance that alcohol builds physical strength. Then the poster not only urges workers to avoid alcohol generally, but addresses comparative nutritional benefits of avoiding it with statistics. It also cites the scourges of illness on the job, absenteeism, and factory accidents attributed to alcohol in the workplace, concluding with an exhortation counterpoising alcohol and healthy labor.
- Folder-Item 1.13: "I Was Drunk on the Job", undated Add to Shelf
- This poster delivers a straightforward message urging sobriety in the factory. A beleaguered worker with a recently amputated left hand appears above the caption “I Was Drunk on the Job.”
- Note: The visual representation leaves little to the imagination. The publication information is covered. The artist signed the work with his own brand that combines the Russian letters К and Ф (K and F).
- Folder-Item 1.14: "Grief, Illness, Sorrow and Need Always Follow Vodka”, 1929 Add to Shelf
This poster shows an alcoholic passed out on a bed with an empty bottle nearby. His barefoot wife washes laundry by hand while their infant child plays on the floor in the foreground. The didactic message reads:
“Stop! See for Yourself Whether This is a Good Picture—Alcohol—A Terrible Boggy Slime.
Grief, Illness, Sorrow and Need Always Follow Vodka.”
- Note: This poster was published in 1929 by the State Medical Press and cost 18 kopecks. No press run is listed. Although directed toward one of the points of focus of state social policy—battling alcoholism—it is published by the State Medical Press and not the more general State Publishing House, and its content strives to cast the subject more in terms of effects on health. The depictions themselves are straightforwardly didactic, intimating a concern not only for the present generation, but future ones.
- Folder-Item 1.15: “Proletariat of the West[,] To the Scaffolding of the Socialist Construction in the USSR”, 1941 Add to Shelf
“Proletariat of the West[,] To the Scaffolding of the Socialist Construction in the USSR”
With a “5 in 4” banner in the background (a reference to the slogan of fulfilling the First Five Year Plan for industry of 1928-1932 in four years), a Western worker (as evident by his bag marked “Instrument” in English) is welcomed to a Soviet construction site by a comrade. The banner above the Soviet worker reads:
“For Sotscompetition [Socialist Competition]
For a Shock Work Tempo!”
At left is a befuddled bourgeois capitalist amid the symbols of Western decadence. He wears a swastika cuff link and carries an S-D [Social-Democrat (moderate Marxist)] declaration that reads: “The Horrible Atrocities of the Bolsheviks!”
Across the bottom reads: “The Proletariat of the West and America Come to the USSR to Participate in the Building of Socialism.”
The message for Soviet consumption reads: “The task for the workers of our countries is to adopt their production experience and technical knowledge, their tempos of work, their [poster torn; word missing] to operate machines.
Having [poster torn; word missing] leading technology with the support of the international proletariat
we will transform our country from a backward agrarian one into a vanguard industrial one; not only
learning but also surpassing the capitalist countries in the shortest possible time, [and] we will build socialism!
Note: This was produced by the Art Department of the State Publishing House, IZOGIZ, but other production information is covered. Generations of interested Americans have read John Scott’s Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia’s City of Steel, first published in 1941 and still in print today. Scott, a dropout from the University of Wisconsin, emigrated to the Soviet Union during the Great Depression, when jobs in America were scarce and the USSR still offered the prospect of building a new world. In 1933, armed mainly with skills acquired in a single General Electric technical course, he went to work on the construction of Magnitogorsk, intended to be the largest steel mill in the world adjacent to a rationally planned model socialist city. There Scott married a Russian woman, enjoyed the (scant) privileges of a foreign technician, learned passable Russian, and in 1938 reluctantly departed when the onset of Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror placed foreigners in jeopardy. Even so, Scott continued to support the Soviet Union’s relentless program of rapid industrialization that placed heavy industry above human needs and costs. The end of defeating Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War, as the Russians call World War II, justified the means in Scott’s view. Less well known is the fact that Scott’s experience was far from unique. Motivated either by ideological sympathies, a desperate search for employment, or some combination of the two, large numbers of workers from the industrial West made their way to the USSR in the 1930s. No two stories, of course, replicate one another exactly, but Scott’s compelling account of his five years at Magnitogorsk offer penetrating insight into the experience of this legion of foreigners in Russia and, indeed, into the building of industrial socialism itself.
This poster encourages Soviet workers to welcome their Western comrades. Following some generic messages promoting socialism and industrialization in the top half of the poster, the real message to the Soviet work force appears at the bottom. Western workers possess both technical knowledge and labor discipline, which the Soviets not only need to use but to emulate. The poster characterizes Soviet Russia as economically backward, but it also promises rapid transformation and the construction of socialism if workers utilize Western technology and labor.
- Folder-Item 1.16: “Social Fascists Dream When They Cannot Sleep …”, undated Add to Shelf
- This picture depicts a figure labeled “Capital” being hanged from the loop of the number 5 of the First Five Year Plan for industry (1928-1932), which is to be fulfilled in four years. This fulfillment is characterized at upper left as “Their Nightmare.” Below, another representative of capital rests on a sack labeled “War Budget.” Beneath him, between pictures of bombs, are the words “Ammunition” and “Against the Reds.” The lower right reads: “Social Fascists Dream When They Cannot Sleep …”
- Note: Produced by the State Publishing House for 40 kopeks in a press run of 80,000, this is one of the more optimistic examples of propaganda. In contrast to the usual practice of imploring the audience to some form of greater effort, this poster depicts the fulfillment of the plan as an accomplished fact. It deprives social fascists of sleep, allowing them only to daydream of unattainable victory.
- Folder-Item 1.17: “With the banner of Lenin...", 1930 Add to Shelf
This upper right hand corner of this poster advocates fulfilling the First Five Year Plan for industry (1928-1932) in four years, the most predominant exhortation in posters focusing on the plan. On the left are the various opponents to progress and the plan: clergy with a cross; a capitalist in top hat; a Jew in night shirt and sleeping cap bearing the daily Yiddish newspaper, “Forverts;” a well-dressed counter-revolutionary carrying the “Menshevik Herald,” a newspaper of the less radical Menshevik Marxists who opposed the course the Bolshevik/Communist revolution followed; and a general hand at the bottom promoting forged documents
A benign and young Stalin observes them from the right side of the poster with reserved confidence and determination. The quotation in the lower right quadrant reads:
“With the banner of Lenin we prevailed in the battles for the October Revolution.
With the banner of Lenin we secured decisive successes in the struggle for the victory of the building socialism.
With this very banner the proletarian revolution will emerge victorious in the whole world.”
(Stalin. Political Report of the C[entral[ C[ommittee] of the XVI Congress of the VKP(b) [All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks)].
Note: As with posters noted above, this is another exhortation to exam advocates fulfill the First Five Year Plan for industry (1928-1932) in four years. At this early date in Joseph Stalin’s rule, the poster quotes a pronouncement by Stalin at the Sixteenth Party Congress of the All-Russian Communist Party (June-July 1930), but the content still summons the authority of Vladimir Lenin for legitimacy. This would change in the 1930s.
Published by the State Publishing House in Moscow and Leningrad in 1930 in a press run of 20,000, it sold for 20 kopecks. The artist Deni [Viktor N. Deni] signed the lower right quadrant. As noted above, the prodigy of poster art, Deni (Denisov), produced from the early years of the Revolution, but by the 1930s his work was sometimes considered too more concerned with aesthetics and insufficiently didactic.
- Folder-Item 1.18: “Dark Forces Are Preparing a Plunderous Raid on the USSR. Proletariat—Be Like the Cheka!”, undated Add to Shelf
- The main impact of this poster is obviously intended to be visual, linking the leaders of religion with significant military force to be used against the USSR. The caption reads: “Dark Forces [literally, ‘Black Marias,’ which in this usage is obsolete in contemporary Russian, but is a shorthand for the vehicles used to carry away persons arrested for political crimes] Are Preparing a Plunderous Raid on the USSR. Proletariat—Be Like the Cheka!”
- Note: Publication information is not available, other than that the press run was 50,000, which is considerably above average. The reference to emulating the Cheka is an early exhortation for vigilance against counter-revolution by ordinary citizens. This would become a major leitmotif later in the 1930s. The Cheka was the initial political police organ of the Soviet state. Although called the Cheka only in 1918-1922, “Cheka” became a colloquial shorthand for the political police under its various names for the remainder of the Soviet period.