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OKNA-TASS poster collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS2276

Scope and Contents

This collection contains four OKNA-TASS propaganda cartoons, each consisting of at least two individual posters and separate pieces with dates and captions, that were produced in the Soviet Union between December 1941 and January 1942. The posters are hand painted from stencils created by artists in the Moscow TASS Windows studio.

Some OKNA-TASS posters in this collection are attributed to two artists--Pavel Sokolov-Skalya and S. Kostin--and some text is credited to Mikhail Shulman. On the reverse of each item a numbering system is written in pencil. The numbers are included in the folder level description, though they do not match other published numbering sytems for the OKNA-TASS poster series.

The posters depict major events during the German Army's advance into the Soviet Union during the winter of 1941-42 and offer scathing portrayals of Hitler, Goebbels, and German generals. The first cartoon shows Hitler in retreat from the cities of Rostov, Tikhvin, and Elets, which his army occupied before harsh winter conditions and the counterattacks of the Red Army forced them from the cities. The second shows Hitler viewing Moscow through binoculars and gleefully noting how close it seems; in the final frame he is running away from a Red Army bayonet. In the third cartoon, Hitler holds a memo from the German Information Bureau telling citizens that German losses on the Eastern front are nonsense--but the next frame shows him from the rear, standing in a grotesque pool of blood and bodies labeled "6,000,000 Lost." The fourth cartoon depicts New Year's Eve on Wilhelmstrasse (the location of the German government administration), with officials including Hitler and Goebbels.

Dates

  • 1941 December-1942 January

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

The Russian Telegraph Agency (Rosta) was the state news agency in the Soviet Union (1918-35). After the creation of the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) in 1925, it remained the news agency of Soviet Russia. "Rosta Windows," or Satirical Rosta Windows, were stencil-replicated propaganda posters created by artists and poets within the Rosta system in 1919-21. They were designed to encourage patriotism and support for the war effort and to communicate recent developments to citizens.

During World War II, this approach was reproduced as TASS Windows (OKNA-TASS). The TASS Windows Studio began production in June 1941, with many well known Soviet graphic artists and poets working together to create poster images and text that reflected the most recent news from the Soviet Information Bureau. American photographer Margaret Bourke-White visited the Moscow "poster factory" on Kuznetsky Most Street and described it as "a twenty-four-hour beehive of many of the best writers, poets, artists, and caricaturists in the country." Although inconsistencies in numbering make it difficult to say with certainty how many designs were produced, the posters are numbered through no. 1485, which was produced in June 1945.

The designs featured graphical simplicity suitable for viewing from distance and often used lubok (woodcut) style sequences of pictures, similar to modern comics. The posters were not printed, but rather painted by hand with cutout stencils made from cardboard by a team of mostly female artists who could each turn out hundreds of posters a day. In Moscow, citizens saw a fresh poster every day. Once the required number of posters was painted in Moscow, the stencils were sent to another city and thus put in circulation throughout the Soviet Union. More complex posters were also issued monthly, as were filmed versions of the posters that could be projected onto screens and walls in hospitals, factories, and on the war front.

Extent

2.25 Linear Feet (9 map folders)

Language

Russian

Overview

This collection contains four OKNA-TASS propaganda cartoons, each consisting of at least two individual posters and separate pieces with dates and captions, that were produced in the Soviet Union between December 1941 and January 1942. The posters are hand painted from stencils created by artists in the Moscow TASS Windows Studio.

Arrangement

Posters are arranged in chronological order.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site, and may require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The acquisition data for this collection is unknown.

Informational Sources

Bourke-White, Margaret. Shooting the Russian War. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1942.

Soviet Art in Wartime. Washington, DC: Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 1943.

Trudi, vol. 8, 1965, pp. 167-316.

Creator

Title
Guide to the OKNA-TASS poster collection, 1941-1942
Status
Completed
Author
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Date
2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

Contact:
2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America