Viktor Koretskii, Great Stalin is the banner of friendship of the peoples of the USSR!, 1950
Viktor Koretskii’s 1950 ‘Great Stalin is the banner of friendship of the peoples of the USSR!’ promotes Stalin as a unifier and saviour of the people. The people pay floral tribute to Stalin, and the poster merges the archetypes of Warrior, Father, and Saviour.
Stalin is elevated on a podium which separates him from the common people, with a multitude of flowers forming a physical barrier between them. He gazes down on the people with paternal affection.
There are two sources of light in the picture, Stalin himself and the flat white background, however, it is Stalin’s light that illuminates the faces of the subject peoples.
In the background there are sixteen flags, representing the sixteen republics of the federation. In September 1939, the number of republics in the Soviet Union increased from eleven to sixteen – Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzistan, Moldavia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
The Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) had been incorporated into the USSR under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in 1939, then occupied by the Germans in June 1941, before being ‘liberated’ by the Soviets in 1944.
The people in the poster are of various ethnicities, many in their national costumes, and they deluge Stalin with flowers, most notably roses. Their faces are filled with joy at the chance to meet their benefactor.
Stalin makes eye contact only with a professional Russian male. Males from other nationalities gaze up at him with reverence (and deference), and most of the women present are in profile, in shadow, or partially obscured, as if of secondary importance.
Naum Karpovskii, Long live the Komsomol generation! Stalin., 1948.
At a time at which Stalin was being lauded and celebrated as the saviour of the USSR, this 1948 poster by Naum Karpovskii depicts a flesh-and-blood Stalin as a man of the people. In ‘Long live the Komsomol generation’ Stalin is surrounded by smiling people, pressed right up against him, some of them even higher than him in the picture plane.
The landscape format of the poster suggests an equality of the people depicted, rather than a hierarchy, and in this poster it is only the huge stone head of Lenin that sits above all others.
Rather than the flattened, airbrushed appearance of Stalin’s face as seen in posters such as that by Denisov and Pravdin of the same year, Stalin’s face shows as many dimples, lines and shadows as those of the people around him.
The publication of the poster coincides with the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Komsomol. Komsomol membership was open to those aged between 14 and 28 years of age, although higher functionaries could be older and, apart from providing an educational arena for the instillation of Bolshevik values, Komsomol members were often mobilised as mobile work brigades to make up for shortfalls or complete special tasks.
The simple text of the poster is a quote from Stalin’s speech to the Leninist Young Communist League on the day of the tenth anniversary of the Komsomol, printed in Pravda on 28th October, 1928.*
In this poster Stalin combines the warrior and father archetype. On the one hand, he inspires young people to join the Soviet Armed Forces, but is also encouraging of those in industry and agriculture, the continuing battlefront. Industrial work such as mining appears to be the domain of men, while women work in agriculture, or look pretty and present flowers.
However, in 1948 Soviet propaganda was already emphasising the need for young people to gain technical and scientific skills, and to work smarter rather than harder. Thus, this poster can also be read as a celebration of the past, with Stalin, first among equals, surrounded by the characters who built the Soviet Union.
* IV Stalin. ‘Leninist Young Communist League: Welcome to the day of the tenth anniversary of the Komsomol,’ Pravda № 252, October 28, 1928 accessed at http://www.marxists.org/russkij/stalin/t11/t11_24.htm.
Petr Golub’, Stalin raised us to be loyal to the people!, 1948
The 1944 version of the Soviet national anthem includes the lines ‘And Stalin raised us to be loyal to the people / Inspired us to work and to deeds’, formalising Stalin’s patriarchy as a matter of state.
The first line is quoted directly in a 1948 postwar poster by Petr Golub’. The lyrics of the anthem were, of course, well known and instantly recognisable to the Soviet people, and the two lines preceding this one glorify Lenin, ‘Through storms the sun of freedom shone on us / And great Lenin lit up our path’. However, Lenin is nowhere to be seen in this poster, either in text or image.
‘Stalin raised us to be loyal to the people!’ combines the Father and Warrior archetypes in one pastel image. The poster caption makes clear the dual nature of Stalin’s role for the sailors — as the Generalissimus of the Armed Forces, he is their military leader and as the man who raised them, he is their symbolic father.
Under the protective canopy of the Soviet Navy flag, Stalin inspects the troops and addresses a young sailor who has been pulled out of line.
Stalin and the sailor stand eye-to-eye, the sailor holding the leader’s gaze. They look remarkably alike in terms of facial features, almost as if they could be related.
Unusually, Stalin is shown as the same height as the young man, although the peak of his cap makes his overall height slightly greater.
The sailor’s cap shows that he is attached to the cruiser named ‘Molotov’ (after Vyacheslav Molotov). The project 26bis Kirov-class cruiser of the Soviet Navy served during World War II and into the Cold War, supporting Soviet troops during the Siege of Sevastopol (1941-2), the Kerch-Feodosiya Operation (1941) and the amphibious landings at Novorossiysk in 1943.
The flag that flies overhead is the Soviet Navy ensign flag. It is white with a sky blue strip across the base, and big red star in hoist and red sickle and hammer in fly. It is seen in reverse in this depiction.
This ensign was adopted by the decision of the Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissioners on 27 May 1935. It was first hoisted on naval ships on 1 July 1935.
**SPECIAL EDITION: VICTORY DAY**
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.
SPotW61 Babitskii 1944
SPotW62 Pen Varlen 1942
SPotW63 Bayuskin 1942
SPotW64 Belopol'skii 1950
SPotW65 Belopol'skii 1952
SPotW66 Dlugach 1933
SPotW67 Zhitomirskii 1942
SPotW68 Toidze 1949
SPotW69 Mikhailov 1937
SPotW70 Cheprakov 1939
SPotW76 Toidze 1943
SPotW77 Futerfas 1936
SPotW78 Mukhin 1945
SPotW79 Golub' 1948
SPotW80 Karpovskii 1948