Unidentified artist, The Spirit of the Great Lenin and His Victorious Banner Inspires Us Now in the Patriotic War As it Did 23 Years Ago. Stalin, 1941
Attempts to associate the crisis situation of the Great Patriotic War (Second World War) with the days of the October Revolution and the Civil War are made explicit in a 1941 poster by an unidentified artist, ‘“The spirit of the great Lenin and his victorious banner inspires us now in the Patriotic War as it did 23 years ago.” Stalin’
The poster shows a tank flying a banner with a Stalin portrait, racing off to battle, accompanied by the ghostly red shadow of a civil war tank flying the banner of Lenin.
The soldier holding the banner also holds open the hatch of the tank, which resembles a shield and his figure is suggestive of the bogatyr, the warrior of ancient Rus.
The text of the poster is taken from Stalin’s speech on the 24th anniversary of the October Revolution in 1941 and makes the link between the two situations explicit.
It is not just the situations of crisis that are paralleled in this poster but also, by extension, the role of the leader in resolving the crisis and inspiring the nation to a just victory.
Stalin reminds the population of the year 1918, the first anniversary of the October Revolution, when many parts of the country, including the Urals, Siberia and the Far East, were in enemy hands and there were shortages of food and arms. The Red Army was just being created.
Stalin points out that in 1941 the nation is in much better circumstances, with an army, a navy, raw materials, industry and food, and with allies against the Germans. He not only calls on the spirit of Lenin, but also of great figures from the past, including Aleksandr Nevskii, Dmitri Donskoi, Kusma Minin, Dmitri Pozharskii, Aleksandr Suvorov, and Mikhail Kutozov.
The poster was published in Moscow and Leningrad in an edition of 10,000 on the 26th of November, 1941, within weeks of the famous speech.
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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