Unknown artist, 6 conditions of Stalin, 1938
This 1938 poster by an unknown artist is one of the later of several posters outlining 'Stalin's six conditions'. Posters were published on this theme as early as 1931, the year in which Stalin gave the speech from which they are extracted, New Conditions — New Tasks in Economic Construction, delivered at a conference of business executives on June 23.
Each poster features a large body of text to spell out the six conditions:
A new way to work in a new direction.
The poster shows Stalin as central to, and actually melded to, Soviet industrialisation and agriculture. He is surrounded by grain silos and scenes of construction. Industrial products are moving above his head, along with an aircraft and a dirigible.
Towers and a massive dam flank the text, while scenes of agriculture run across the bottom of the poster. The banner on the tractor reads 'Bread to the state'. Collectivisation meant that tractors replaced horses and that produce became the property of the state.
The bottom left shows a scene of a teacher giving instruction to children at a board, while on the bottom right is a charming little country schoolhouse. Thus, all areas of Soviet achievement under Stalin are graphically represented and the need for an educated citizenry is highlighted.
In earlier times, the Bolsheviks had waged class war against the bourgeois and the wealthier farmers (kulaks). In his speech, Stalin now suggests that the intelligentsia, the educated and the highly skilled worker be embraced into the socialist fold as the new leaders in the push forward to catch up the western world.
The poster was published by the mid-Volga Regional Council, League (Union) of Militant Atheists. The League of Militant Atheists was an atheistic and anti-religious group of workers and intelligentsia that formed in 1925.
The league, which had a presence in work places, collective farms, educational institutions and youth organisations, aimed to extinguish religious belief in the Soviet populace and to replace it with an emphasis on science.
The League of Militant Atheists was disbanded in 1941 when Germany invaded the USSR and Stalin opened the churches, allowing believers to flock back to religion in their millions.
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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