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Propaganda during Soviet times came in poster form. Some messages stirred patriotism in the fight against Adolf Hitler’s invading forces, while others slammed illiteracy and laziness.
They also bashed the greed associated with capitalism:
Soviet propaganda poster depicts capitalism in 1923. Photo by Photo12/UIG via Getty Images
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 1917, which overturned the tsars and led to the Soviet Union. Posters at the time showed positive images of workers and the promise of a new future.
“Let us bring in a rich harvest of new territory!” says a Soviet propaganda poster by Oleg Mikhailovich Sawostjuk in 1927. Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images
The posters also shamed the lazy worker:
“We smite the lazy workers,” says a 1931 propaganda poster that was found in the collection of the Russian State Library in Moscow. Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images
And urged support for the Red Army and socialism:
A Soviet recruitment poster from the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917 says, “You! Have you signed up with the volunteers?” Photo by Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images
After the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks instituted a literacy campaign:
A propaganda poster from 1920 by A. Radakov says, “The illiterate is like a blind man.” Photo by Photo12/UIG via Getty Images
Another inspirational poster promoted healthy exercise:
Propaganda poster from 1930 by Alexandre Deineka says, “Kolkhosians, let’s do some exercise!” Photo by Photo12/UIG via Getty Images
During World War II, as German forces battled to take control of Moscow, posters depicted Soviet forces putting the squeeze on Hitler:
Propaganda poster by Koukrynisky says, “Napoleon was wiped out, Hitler will be wiped out” in 1941 during World War II. Photo by Photo12/UIG via Getty Images
“The Motherland Is Calling,” says a World War II Soviet military recruitment poster by Irakly Toidze featuring Mother Russia holding out the Red Army Oath of Allegiance in 1941. Photo by Laski Diffusion/Getty Images
As the Space Race raged between the USSR and United States in the 1950s and 1960s, images showed high-flying patriotism:
The Space Race was a 20th century competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the United States. Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images
The Soviet Union was the first to launch a satellite, Sputnik 1, and a human into space, Yuri Gagarin. With Apollo 11, the U.S. landed the first humans on the moon in 1969. Crews from the two countries now work together aboard the International Space Station.
Editor’s Note: The PBS NewsHour is airing a series this week called Inside Putin’s Russia. Tuesday’s installment describes how propaganda is used in Russia today.
Larisa Epatko produced multimedia web features and broadcast reports with a focus on foreign affairs for the PBS NewsHour. She has reported in places such as Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Haiti, Sudan, Western Sahara, Guantanamo Bay, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Turkey, Germany and Ireland.
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