Bakwin, Dr. Harry and Dr. Ruth Morris Bakwin. Soviet Posters. Collection

"Proletariat Youth"
"Proletariat Youth," lithograph, 106.3 cm x 71 cm, undated

This collection contains nineteen Soviet political posters produced in the early 1930s, collected by the physicians Dr. Harry Bakwin and Dr. Ruth Morris Bakwin during two trips to the Soviet Union. Most of the posters promote the First Five Year Plan (1928-1932), a series of industrial targets designed by the Stalin regime to build up heavy industry in the Soviet Union. Thirteen posters are in Ukrainian, three are in Russian (Items 7, 10 and 11), one is in Ukrainian and Russian (Item 16) and one is missing its text but was produced in Moscow (Item 4). These Ukrainian posters are a unique resource, considering Ukraine was one of the most important sites of industrial development under the Five Year Plan.

The posters represent various aspects of the industrialization and militarization drive associated with this period, including the prioritization of heavy industry, labor productivity initiatives, military preparedness, collectivization of agriculture, and the mobilization of youth. Several posters deal with general themes in the communist worldview, such as the corruption and exploitation of workers by international bankers and capitalists, as well as important moments in Marxist history, including the 1871 Paris Commune and the 1917 October Revolution.

This collection includes two posters by Viktor Deni, one of the leading poster artists and political cartoonists of the period. Two posters contain verses written by Dem’yan Bednyi, a Bolshevik poet who frequently wrote agitprop (a Russian combination of “agitation” and “propaganda”) materials for the regime.

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The collection is open for research.