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.
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.