Viktor Govorkov, In the name of communism, 1951
Stalin and Lenin are juxtaposed as equals in Viktor Govorkov’s 1951 poster ‘In the name of communism’ which depicts the past and the present with realistic parallel scenes involving Lenin and Stalin.
Both men are planning the electrification of the nation on a map. In Lenin’s left hand is a book titled Plan for the electrification of the RSFSR, 1920.
Lenin was always strongly associated with electricity in propaganda campaigns aiming to electrify the nation using the slogan ‘Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country,’ which was originally a quotation from a 1930 speech by Lenin.
In the Soviet Union, lightbulbs were commonly referred to as ‘Ilich’s little lamps’ and Lenin was ceremonially thanked for delivering electricity to new communes.
During Stalin’s leadership, electrification remained strongly tied to Lenin, although Stalin was also associated with bringing power to the nation through massive industrial projects like the Dnieper Dam.
In Govorkov’s poster, Stalin holds his unlit pipe and a newspaper with the headline ‘World Victory’ in his left arm. On the table lies a book titled Electrification of the SSSR and he is marking out the Main Turkmen Canal.
Thus, Stalin is seen to be continuing the work begun by Lenin. Lenin’s plan extends across the entire Russian republic, while Stalin’s encompasses the whole of the Soviet Union.
Building of the Main Turkmen Canal in Turkmenistan began in late 1950, but was halted in 1953 after Stalin’s death. It was replaced by the construction of the 1300km long Qaraqum Canal further south in 1954.
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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