Unknown artist, Printing should grow by leaps and bounds, this is the sharpest and the strongest weapon of our party. Stalin., 1950
This charming Uzbek poster was published in Tashkent by Uzbek Poligraf in a small edition of 3000 in 1950.
Its publication coincides with an increasing impetus for literacy and secondary and vocational training for professional specialisation in Uzbekistan from 1950 onward.
Literacy at a primary level had been steadily growing since the 1920s and rapidly accelerated after about 1932.
From 1946, Uzbekistan embarked on a massive cultural program of language and literary training in the Uzbek language – 46% of the books published were textbooks or children’s books (see William Kenneth Medlin, William Marion Cave, Finley Carpentier, Education and Development in Central Asia: A Case Study on Social Change in Uzbekistan, 1971).
In this poster, publishing is seen as a means of disseminating propaganda and spreading the values, beliefs and ideology of the Communist Party. The poster shows several generations of Uzbeks, possibly all one family, reading a variety of newspapers that are specifically aimed at their demographic.
The white-haired gentleman reads Eastern Pravda, a serious newspaper pitched at an educated reader. Stalin and Lenin are portrayed on the cover in profile in a similar manner to their appearances on banners in posters. Stalin, in military collar, is the man of action. Lenin, in white collar and tie, is the man of words. Lenin now sits in Stalin’s shadow.
The greying gentleman on his left reads Red Uzbekistan with a visionary Stalin in military uniform on the cover.
The married couple discuss a copy of Young Leninist together, the woman wearing traditional Uzbek headgear, a suit jacket, and a medal – most likely an award for Communist labour.
The young blond woman reads the Uzbek Komsomol newspaper while the children read Lenin’s Spark.
The poster caption, ‘Printing should grow by leaps and bounds, this is the sharpest and the strongest weapon of our party’, is a quote from Stalin, taken from a final word on the organisational report of the Central Committee at the XII Congress of the RCP (b) 19 April 1923.
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.