Stalin's shadow over the October Revolution

Stalin's shadow over the October Revolution

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Title: Celebrations of the thirtieth anniversary of the Russian revolution of 1917

Author : KHALDEÏ Evgueni (1917 - 1997)

Creation date : 1947

Date shown: 1947

Technique and other indications: photography

Storage location: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin) website

Contact copyright: © BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Voller Ernst / BPK

Picture reference: 16-516314 / 16209

Celebrations of the thirtieth anniversary of the Russian revolution of 1917

© BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Voller Ernst / BPK

Publication date: April 2019

Historical context

Communism triumphant

The artists made the more or less early choice to support the regime. During the war, he covered many fronts and took the famous shot of the red flag planted on the roof of the Reichstag in Berlin. Reporter at the Potsdam conference and the Nuremberg trials, his career was brutally interrupted in 1948 during the "anti-cosmopolitan" campaign which suddenly reversed the official policy towards the Jews from anti-anti-Semitism to anti-Semitism. State.

In 1947, it was with relief that the Stalinist regime celebrated with great fanfare the thirtieth anniversary of the October Revolution. During these "thirty terrible" (Alain Blum), the population benefited from unprecedented access to education and culture, took advantage of the exclusion of the old elites to build quick careers. While not everyone adheres to the single ideology or pretends to support it, the regime also has its supporters, its enthusiasts - especially among the particularly supervised and pampered youth.

Image Analysis

The art of the living painting

The living painting takes place in Moscow, no doubt at the Bolshoi, on November 7, 1947. The experienced photographer Khaldeï has stepped back as far as possible in order to bring into the framework the majestic scene organized for the flagship of the future German democratic republic ( 1949). Stalin, seated in the box of honor, is presented with his own stately statue, immaculately white, featured in the middle of the composition. This has a part drawn on the backdrop, with the skyline of the Soviet capital seen from the Kremlin. The painted part continues on stage with a mass of around 200 extras forming a double painting. Basically, they are only wearing clothes, probably red and yellow, which draw the bottom of the traditional wreath adorning the Soviet flag. On the front of the stage are privileged the national costumes which do duplication. On the one hand, they enter into the representation of the fifteen components of the Soviet empire which is part of the iconography associated with the Soviet flag; on the other hand, these men and women forming the Lenin-Stalin choir perform "popular" songs and dances in which the Slavic musical folklore dear to Stalin is mingled with words to the glory of the Soviet Union and its leader.

Interpretation

In the east, frozen history

Since 1944 it has been heard: the war will be won, and it was the Soviets who shot down the Nazi hydra. The propaganda willfully ignores the contribution of the Allies, whose Loan-Lease (1941) supported the population and the army at arm's length with funds, food aid and military equipment. The Soviets refused to allow the Marshall Plan to extend its benefits in Eastern Europe, and the regime's number two, Andrei Zhdanov, responded to the Truman doctrine by returning to the repression of the 1930s. Scientists and artists were subjected to very harsh self-criticism campaigns. If the Comintern had been abolished in 1943 as a sign of detente towards the Allies, in 1947 the Cominform was born, which served as a transmission belt for the Soviet line in the countries of the Socialist Bloc and within the European Communist parties. The Soviet Union is at the head of an empire that transcends its new frontiers, the Russian people are the Soviet "first among brothers", and Stalin, more than ever, is an omnipresent and untouchable icon. Posters, paintings, films taking it as their subject are a necessary part of the career of artists; photography also plays a major role in the dissemination of its image, frozen in an eternal youth, which gives everyone that the Guide has the gift of ubiquity. It was not until the brief thaw of the 1960s and especially the Glasnost of the 1980s that its role in mass repression or the initial defeats of the war was denounced.

  • Communism
  • photography
  • Potsdam conference
  • Russian revolution
  • Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, says)
  • Russia
  • Nazism
  • Moscow
  • Bolshoi
  • Stalin (Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, said)
  • Marshall plan
  • Comintern
  • Cominform
  • Truman doctrine
  • Truman (Harry)
  • Zhdanov (Andrei)
  • personality cult

Bibliography

Yves Cohen, The Century of Chiefs. A transnational history of command and authority (1890-1940), Paris, Amsterdam Editions, 2013.Oleg Khlevniouk, Stalin, Paris, Gallimard, 2017.Nicolas Werth, Terror and disarray. Stalin and his system, Paris, Perrin, 2007.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Stalin's shadow over the October Revolution"


Video: The Revolution That Shaped Russia. National Geographic