Dmitrii Grinets, Thanks to the Party, Thanks to Dear Stalin for a Happy, Joyful Childhood, 1937
In the 1937 poster ‘Thanks to the Party, Thanks to Dear Stalin for our Happy, Joyful Childhood’ by Dmitrii Grinets in the Ukrainian language, Stalin adopts a fatherly pose with three children.
The portrait format of the poster emphasises the intimacy and physical closeness of the scene. By depicting such a scene with Stalin standing in as the father for non-related children, the suggestion is made that he is the father of all children of all nationalities of the USSR, intimately concerned with the prospects and fate of each child in his care.
Stalin holds the smallest child against his chest, while his focus is keenly on the elder boy who plays the violin for him. The youngest boy shows ambition to join the armed forces, wearing military garb and clutching a toy aeroplane in his right arm. The older boy wears a Pioneer scarf and will be a successful musician.
It is only the young girl, wearing traditional headdress, who is given no costume or prop to indicate her future vocation. Perhaps her gratitude and devotion are a sufficient contribution.
The caption of the poster, occupying the bottom third of the picture plane, reinforces this notion of gratitude, and is uncommon for its time in that it emphasises the thanks owed to the Party, as well as to Stalin.
The word ridnomu (and its Russian equivalent rodnomu) does not translate precisely in English. Used as a term of endearment, the word also connotes a kin or familial relationship with the person to whom it is applied.
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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