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The Enemy 2

TASS WINDOW 985, 'The Hour Approaches', 26 May 1944. There are many caricatures of Hitler in the posters: he is animalised ( here he is octopus-like with animal claws), he is tortured, on the run, never in control. In this Window, he is viciously impaled, mimicking his own swastika insignia. The colours are designed to attract the eye, and the verse underlines his inability to escape his coming doom.

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The Enemy 3

TASS WINDOW 1001, 'The Liberation of Rome', 21 June 1944. Catching the enemy without their trousers on really cuts them down to size. Beneath a miraculously blue Italian sky and  a toothy, grinning sun, Hitler and Mussolini hurtle down the stairs of a grand monument to flee the liberating forces. A sight for sore eyes indeed, and the verse sardonically comments that Rome is now finished and all roads lead to Berlin.

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The Enemy 4

TASS WINDOW 1027, 'Two Vessels', 24 July 1944. This Window celebrates the retaking of Minsk in July 1944 from the Enemy occupying forces. The victory lends power to the Soviet rifle butt mercilessly pounding soldier prisoners in an army helmet.  Bathos takes over from satire: an empty vessel now, Hitler remains in Berlin, alone with the hungry, scavenging mice. Two or more images with a narrative link are seen a number of times in the Windows. Such  a format derives from the Civil War ROSTA posters developed, among others, by Maiakovskii as graphic artist and poet in Petrograd.

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The Story 1

TASS WINDOW 1027, 'Two Vessels', 24 July 1944. This Window celebrates the retaking of Minsk in July 1944 from the Enemy occupying forces. The victory lends power to the Soviet rifle butt mercilessly pounding soldier prisoners in an army helmet.  Bathos takes over from satire: an empty vessel now, Hitler remains in Berlin, alone with the hungry, scavenging mice. Two or more images with a narrative link are seen a number of times in the Windows. Such  a format derives from the Civil War ROSTA posters developed, among others, by Maiakovskii as graphic artist and poet in Petrograd.

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The Story 2

TASS WINDOW 817, 'The Devil Take My Cart',"5 September, 1943. Horses figure in different guises in the Windows; here the enemy horse is a skeleton and his cart is on the point of collapse. The dimensions of this Window are small, only 20cm x 22cm, and the technique is different, more akin to silk screen printing. It may be that this is a small size Window made for distribution by hand, especially to soldiers at the front. The horse played a substantial role in both the Russian and German war machines. Many millions of horses perished.

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The Story 3

Vivian de De Sola Pinto  1895-1969. Pinto was Professor of English at the University of Nottingham, 1938-1961. He  also had an interest in languages and other cultures, including Russian. He volunteered for war service. Nothing is certain, but he appears to have been involved in secret and/or diplomatic missions, during which he acquired, or he may have been presented with, his collection of Windows and printed posters. On his death in 1969 Pinto left his collection to the University of Nottingham  along with his library. The Windows were folded and becoming fragile, and their true significance as war art was only gradually realised. 

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The Story 4

TASS Window 1211, 'We'll destroy the hydra!', 5 May 1945. Created on the brink of victory, the image shows the destruction of the enemy in the form of a mythical monster, the many-headed hydra. This window formed the poster for the 2008-09 exhibition at the University of Nottingham. It was a turning point for the war posters collection. The Windows were too large and fragile to be publicly shown, so the items which were to be exhibited were conserved and digitised. This decision made the  development of the current, new website possible. Currently 47 posters and prints from a total of 166 are now digitally available

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Conservation 2

Specialist repairs have to be done, including the infilling of holes, and replacing glue where the original squares have worked loose. The large size of the posters (some are 2 m x 1.5 m) makes display difficult, and any  handling has to be kept to a minimum to avoid further damage

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Digitisation

Image showing photographer at work. Before the digitisation process can begin, a Window has to be photographed, no easy matter with fragile artefacts of this size. Then work is undertaken on a computer to produce the required digitisation. Virtual repairs to the posters can take place at this stage. However, after much discussion it was agreed that the digitisation should reflect the actual present state of the posters, rather than enhance their colours or condition.

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Team Work

TASS WINDOW 903, 'Two Faces', 12 February 1944. This project depended on a skilled, interdisciplinary team of web technologists, a conservator, a photographer/ digitiser, archivists, and academic researchers. Sometimes, different members were at odds over strategy towards these marvellous artefacts. However, consensus was always eventually reached. This Window captured Russian feelings towards Finland. Striving to become independent of USSR, Finland joined with the Germans, showing them a conciliatory lamb-like face, and baring her teeth towards Russia.

The team liked the implied humour and  the loggerheaded state in this poster. The image became an ironic metaphor for the immense collaborative work towards this first stage of the windowsonwar resource, launched in March 2013.   Discussion, conservation, digitisation and research go on.....

© University of Nottingham

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