Unknown artist, Six historical conditions of Comrade Stalin, undated
Yet another 'six conditions' poster on cheap paper, this time unsigned and undated. As the speech by Stalin from which the six conditions are taken was delivered on June 23, 1931, the poster post-dates this speech.
The poster appears to have been created in the early 1930s, as both the style and the Stalin portrait are of that time. The cameo format of the portrait places this poster within the tradition of informative and statistical posters of early Stalinism.
The poster shows scenes of industrialisation at the top and agricultural collectivisation at the bottom. The use of red fill denotes the socialist nature of this progress.
Strong diagonals among the industrial construction lead the eye to the medallion photographic portrait of Stalin. Stalin gazes directly at the viewer, appealing to them to adopt his six conditions.
The text of the poster reads:
Unknown artist, The path to victory - implementation of the six conditions of Comrade Stalin, 1932
This 1932 version of the six conditions poster by an unknown artist prioritises text over image. This sort of poster with simple design on cheap paper was often used as a way to publicise important messages from the leader.
The text reads:
The path to victory - implementation of the six conditions of Comrade Stalin.
Nina Vatolina, Nikolai Denisov, Vladislav Grigorevich Pravdin, & Zoia Rykhlova-Pravdina, Thank You Comrade Stalin for our Happy Childhood!, 1938.
Although the 1938 poster ‘Thank you Comrade Stalin for our happy childhood!’, by Nina Vatolina, Nikolai Denisov, Vladislav Pravdin and Zoia Rykhlova-Pravdina features a similar colour scheme and several of the same objects as the Viktor Govorkov poster of 1936, significantly, the action in this poster takes place in front of a New Year tree.
The New Year Tree had been banned in the Soviet Union since 1916, and was only reinstated in 1935. Pavel Postyshev, second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, wrote a letter to the newspaper Pravda (meaning Truth) in 1935 calling for the installation of the New Year tree in schools, homes, children’s clubs and at Pioneers’ meetings.
Much fuss was made over the re-institution of the New Year tree by the newspaper Izvestiia (meaning News). On 1 January 1937, Izvestiia reported:
‘On New Year’s Eve nearly A QUARTER OF A MILLION HOLIDAY TREES were lit up in the capital alone. The spruce tree has come to symbolise our country’s happy youth, sparkling with joy on the holiday … The clinking of glasses filled with champagne. At the stroke of midnight, hundreds of thousands of hands raised them in a toast to the health of their happy motherland, giving tribute in the first toast of the year to the man whose name will go down through the ages as the creator of the great charter of socialism.’*
The tree in the 1938 poster is decorated with traditional candles and garlands, but also with small aircraft, parachutes and red stars.
The model aeroplane and ship are typical Soviet toys, inspiring boys to emulate Soviet heroes in aviation and exploration. Catriona Kelly notes that official New Year tree ceremonies, which in practice were open to a fairly limited elite group, ‘were in part a way of tutoring the offspring of the Soviet elite in new roles (hence the giving of telephones as gifts …)’**
By including these toys in the poster, oblique reference is also made to the great Soviet achievements in these fields. Stalin is not only providing a happy childhood, but also offers the children the potential for happy and fulfilling futures.
In the 1938 poster, Stalin is surrounded by fair-haired Russian children who are situated on the same level in the picture plane as he although, by virtue of his status as adult male, he looks down on the children protectively.
The scene is relaxed and informal, with four of the children gazing up at Stalin with affection while a fifth child has his back turned to Stalin and gazes directly at the viewer.
The poster implies that a Soviet childhood is a time of sacred innocence, unbounded joy, and material abundance. The flowers in the bottom right-hand corner are a further indication of material wealth, fertility, and the blossoming of the Soviet Union.
As the slogan suggests, all of this bounty is provided by the dominating paternal presence of Stalin, who is the equivalent of a kind of secular Father Christmas.
This was not the first time that Stalin had been depicted in this role. On 30 December 1936 Stalin appeared on the cover of the newspaper Trud (meaning Labour) as Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost), making literal his role as mythical children’s benefactor.
*Translated in Thomas Lahusen, Véronique Garros, Natalia Korenevskaya, Intimacy and Terror: Soviet Diaries of the 1930s, p. 12.
**Catriona Kelly, Children’s World: Growing Up in Russia, 1890-1991, p. 112
Viktor Deni, Six Conditions for Victory, 1931
This is one of the earliest of the 'six conditions' posters, published in 1931, the year in which Stalin delivered the speech New Conditions — New Tasks in Economic Construction at a conference of business executives on June 23.
By notable graphic artist Viktor Deni, it features Deni's usual sparse style and use of line drawing rather than the popular technique of photomontage so frequently used by Klutsis and others at the time.
The conditions on this poster are in a truncated and summarised form, making them easy to take in with a quick read. This is in contrast to most of the other six conditions posters, which have a lot more text and require prolonged engagement.
The text reads:
Six Conditions for Victory.
1. Recruit manpower in an organised way
2.Do away with wage equalisation
3. Put an end to the lack of personal responsibility at work
4. Create our own industrial and technical intelligentsia
5. Pay greater attention to the old specialists
6. Reinforce financial accountability
Dr Anita Pisch
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.
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