Learn to do everything yourself!

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‘Learn to do everything yourself!’ (Poster by S. Datskevich, 1954)

How Soviet propaganda ‘taught’ people to raise children: here’s another fascinating piece by Russia Beyond the Headlines, marking International Children’s Day, which is celebrated in Russia and all the former eastern bloc countries on 1 June.

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‘Lessons in drawing, music and singing will increase a pupil’s culture without a doubt!’ (Poster by V.Govorkov, 1959.) Behind the boy, applauding his high marks, are the smiling portraits of composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, artist Ilya Repin and classical singer Feodor Chaliapin.

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‘Study hard!’ (Poster by M. Nesterova-Berzina, 1948.) I like this one because it could be a portrait of me at that age. Same hair style, same enthusiasm for school. I’d have been a success as a young Soviet citizen. In England I was probably thought a swot.

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‘Love books – a source of knowledge’ A.M. Gorky. (Poster by V. Suryaninov, 1952.) Presumably that’s Maxim Gorky himself, drawing one of his own books from the shelf. You can tell it’s him by the moustache and his patriotic Russian-style shirt. I can’t help thinking he looks a bit like Omar Sharif as Doctor Zhivago. That’s one work that would not have been on the bookshelf, having been banned from publication in the Soviet Union until 1988.

I wonder if these images and slogans really altered people’s behaviour.  I expect those striving to be good Communists would have taken these graphic messages to heart.

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