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Behind the Propaganda Poster: The Story of International Women's Day

Posters like this one thanking women workers for their service to the creation of a Socialist utopia weren’t just lip-service. From its founding days, the Soviet Union recognised the power of women. After-all, they were the ones who kickstarted the Russian Revolution. 

Bread and Peace

On the 8th of March 1917, female factory workers in Petrograd - now called Saint Petersburg - held a mass strike. Their demands were simple: peace and bread. A worsening economy and repeated failures on the battlefields of World War I meant both peace and bread were in short supply. Word of the protest quickly spread from factory to factory, and became an insurrection. 

Czar Nicholas had survived a revolution in 1905. This time, he didn’t have the support of the Russian people. He ordered soldiers to suppress the protests. Many refused and joined the protesters instead. Less than a week later, he abdicated his throne to his brother, who refused to accept it.

Margaret Bourke-White’s photograph of agricultural workers in the fields of the Soviet Union, 1941

Recognising Women’s Role in the Russian Revolution

After the czar’s abdication, the new Communist state became the first government of a major power to grant women the right to vote. Lenin took it one step further and declared March 8th Women's Day, and an official Soviet holiday.

The Russian revolution was the catalyst for the celebration of women internationally. Other countries began to celebrate their own Women’s Day, and in 1975, the United Nations declared March 8th International Women’s Day. Eager to disassociate the holiday from its Socialist origins, the UN assembly noted that it was to be observed “on any day of the year by member states, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.” Shop our Women themed posters below or explore the collection here.

A Rock-Style Tragedy | Lithuania | 1989£250.00
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Further Reading

art

Soviet Intourist Travel Posters - How the USSR Used Art & Propaganda to Drive Tourism

Intourist held a monopoly on tourism in the USSR. As the only tourism agency in the Soviet Union, Intourist was responsible for attracting and accommodating all tourists. Like every other industry or ideal in the USSR, Intourist used propaganda to advance its agenda. Posters targeted western audiences. They portrayed the Soviet Union as a glamorous and exotic land rather than a country of labourers and peasants.

art

The Definitive History of the Soviet Propaganda Poster

The Soviet Union used propaganda as a vehicle to disseminate communist ideology, promote the goals of the Communist Party and their own world view. After the Russian Revolution in 1918, the transformation of the Russian Empire into a socialist utopia required the retelling of history, the present and the future. Soviet propaganda posters have always kept pace with the times, and their legacy is intertwined with the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.

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Art Factory: The Rise of Soviet Safety Posters in the Workplace

The industrialisation of the Soviet economy was Stalin’s top priority. By his own admittance, the Soviet Union is “fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or we shall be crushed.” A modern, industrial USSR would have economic independence from capitalist countries. Industrialisation meant the fundamental transformation of the Soviet Union from a predominantly agricultural economy into a leading industrial one.

culture

The OG of Photoshop: The Fabrication of Photographs in Stalin’s Soviet Surveillance State

It’s 1922, and a photograph of Stalin and Lenin sitting side-by-side appears in every newspaper across the Soviet Union. But everything wasn’t as it seemed. The photograph was a fake. It’s thought this photograph was the first time that Stalin used photo technicians to create a new reality, his version of reality.

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