Boris Knoblok, “A strong and powerful dictatorship of the proletariat ..., 1933
Boris Knoblok (Бори́с Гео́ргиевич Кно́блок), “A strong and powerful dictatorship of the proletariat—that is what we need now in order to scatter to the winds the last remnants of the dying classes and to frustrate their thieving designs..” Stalin (“Сильная и мощная диктатура пролетариата – вот что нам нужна теперь для того, чтобы развеять впрах последние остатки умирающих классов и развить их воровские махинации”. И. Сталин), 1933
Like many other posters of the early 1930s and using the same portrait of Stalin, this time mirrored, this 1933 poster by Boris Knoblock uses stark graphics and a block of text as a means of communicating directives from the leadership to the public.
The poster is focused on the section of Stalin’s January 1933 speech in which he outlines the results of the five-year plan in four years in the sphere of the struggle against the remnants of the hostile classes – in other words, class warfare.
Aware of the value of an enemy in uniting a population, Stalin refers to them as ‘has-beens’ who, unable to make a frontal assault on the regime, have wormed their way into workplaces and even the Party, sabotaging work and causing mischief and harm, and plundering state property.
Stalin identifies the enemy as comprising
“the private manufacturers and their servitors, the private traders and their henchmen, the former nobles and priests the kulaks and kulak agents, the former Whiteguard officers and police officials, policemen and gendarmes, all sorts of bourgeois intellectuals of a chauvinist type, and all other anti-Soviet elements.”
Stalin urges the public not to become complacent and to actively fight to protect public property from theft and plunder. Vigilance is necessary.
One of Stalin’s main assertions is that as class struggle nears an end, it actually intensifies and the state needs to intensify its power to the utmost to crush the remnants of the dying classes.
Boris Knoblok was a highly celebrated artist and recipient of the Stalin Prize, second class in 1948, the title of Honoured Artist of the RSFSR in 1955 and the State Prize of the Tatar ASSR in 1973.
Having studied at VKhUTEMAS, he did military service as a poster artist and festival designer between 1927 and 1933 before de-mobilisation and a subsequent career as a production designer in the theatre, the circus, the cinema and of festivals.
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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