Four Stalinist Propaganda Booklets from the Partizdat, 1932

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Four 1932 propaganda booklets published by the Party Press (Партийное издательство) in Moscow to disseminate the spirit and directives of Stalin’s Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Заветы Ленина (Lenin’s Wishes) reproduces the text of Stalin’s speech given at the Second Congress of Soviets in January 1924 immediately following Lenin’s death, a speech which appeared in the January 30 1924 issue of Pravda along with those of Kalinin, Krupskaia, Zinov’ev, and Bukharin. The refrain around which the speech is organized: “уходя от нас, товарищ Ленин завещал нам…” (as he was leaving us, it was Comrade Lenin’s will that we …) has interesting resonances in hindsight, inviting as it does comparison with Lenin’s “Political Will” or “Political Testament” (Политическое завещание) read at the XIII Party Congress in May 1924 but never divulged to any wider public. In this document Lenin expressed grave misgivings about Stalin’s character and the immense personal power he wielded, and ultimately suggested that he was unfit to hold the office of General Secretary.

Stalin’s speech is reprinted in this 1932 booklet accompanied by photomontage and other graphic elements which reinforce an image of Stalin as the legitimate heir to and failthful executor of Lenin’s mission – the successorship from which Stalin was meant to derive an unimpeachable political and moral authority.

Two versions of the title Новая обстановка – новые задачи хозяйственного строительства (New reality – new imperatives for building industry) reproduce a speech given by Stalin at an executive meeting (“на совещании хозяйственников”) June 23 1931, in which he discusses the economic principles and mores of the new industrialized and collectivized Soviet society being summoned into existence by the first five year plan. The speech, divided into six sections, presents something akin to a set of guiding principles for those in charge of various agricultural and industrial enterprises, to help them, one must imagine, confront the challenges of managing a worker population traumatized by the atrocities of forced collectivization and break-neck industrialization, and terrified by the executions and deportations of the excessively productive and prosperous “kulaks” and the underproducing “saboteurs”.

The fourth booklet, Дело чести дело славы дело доблести и героиства (Honor, glory, valor and heroism), identifies itself as “a letter from the workers and engineering and technical staff of the Comrade Stalin Automotive Plant in Moscow to all the workers and collective farmers of the USSR” (письмо рабочих, работниц, инженерно-технического персонала московского автомобильного завода имени т. Сталина ко всем рабочим, работницам, колхозникам и колхозницам СССР). Here the authors appear to be expounding elements of Stalin’s orthodox interpretation of the laws of Marxism-Leninism for practical implementation by the new Soviet state. The main focus is the distinction between capitalist and socialist competition (конкуренция and соревнование respectively), the former being a malignant imbalance where one party’s gain is the other’s loss and viceversa, and the latter – a clean economic engine whose benefits accrue to society as a whole.

All four booklets are illustrated and feature liberal use of the photomontage technique popularized by artists such as Alexander Rodchenko, Boris Ignatovich, and Dmitrii Debabov. The artists are not identified in the booklets themselves. Two of the booklets give the following publication information:

Оформлена 1-й бригадой по массовой книге. З. Амусьев, Г. Гладшева, Э. Гунтов, И. Кричевский, Л. Элькин – Новая обстановка – новые задачи хозяйственного строительства – first version (32 pp.)
(Formatting by the 1st Brigade for Books for the Masses. Z. Amus’ev, G. Gladsheva, E. Guntov, I. Krichevksii, L. El’kin – New reality – new imperatives for building industry – first version (32 pp.)

Фотомонтажи и макет Храповицкого и Столь
Техред Д.П. Юха
Снимки издания Союзфото, часть из выставки Дубинского ‘Шесть условий побед’ – Новая обстановка – новые задачи хозяйственного строительства – second version (40 pp.)
(Photomontage and layout – Khrapovitskii and Stol’. Technical editing – D.P. Iukha. Photographs from Soiuzfoto, some of them from Dubinskii’s exhibition “Six conditions for victory” – New reality – new imperatives for building industry – second version (40 pp.)

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