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Read, Watch and Listen

The Home Front 1

TASS Window 1115: 'A Sacred Duty', 22 December 1944. The leading Window for the Home Front theme on the website, this poster proclaims its message in the title.  The cavalry's ‘sacred duty’  is not so much a religious mission as an obligation to liberate fellow Russians and the common homeland. The poster combines traditional military equine painting with an all but cartoon approach to the rescued citizens, bottom right.

The Home Front 2

TASS Window 1039 'Fruit and Veg to the Front', 29 August 1944. This near idyllic scene was meant to encourage food production for the front line. It urges Russians at home to send their best produce for the 'soldier -heroes'. The image is sugary, backed up by the choice of  pastel colours, and reminiscent of 1930s painting in the name of socialist realism. It also implies the tough role taken on by women in the war effort. The orderly fields in the background reassuringly suggest that all is well on the collective farms despite the war devastation elsewhere.

The Home Front 3

TASS Window 1197, 'The Carpathian Mountains', 29 April 1945. Using the skills of landscape painting, this poster draws in the spectator to follow the heroic trek of the Red Army across the Carpathian Mountains in the winter of 1944-45. Their task was to confront the enemy forces by whatever means and continue to drive them out of Russia. The Carpathians may provide a barrier but nothing was insuperable to the Red Army. The verse recalls that Suvorov, a  famous general  under Catherine the Great and her son Paul, had not been daunted either by this epic crossing. As a barrier, the mountains also protect, and they remind Russian spectators of the beauty of their homeland.

The Home Front 4

TASS Window 934, 'Sister-Nurse', 12 March 1944. Among the most obviously religious images in the Windows, this poster brings to the onlooker the tender compassion of an icon of Mary and her son as she receives him from the cross ( a piéta). The  grey-blue colours  reflect the war content  but do not deny the religious source entirely, while the words speak of her blue eyes. This window celebrates another role of women in the war. They were not able to fight in the front line but provided many of the back-up services, particularly to the wounded. Russian losses in WWII ran into millions.

The Enemy 1

TASS WINDOW 1132, 'Force of Habit', 8 Jan 1945.When targeting the enemy,  the Windows change to satire. Almost always with a comic edge, but also hard-hitting and Russian morale-raising, the images  demonise the enemy and cut them down to size. This 'typical' German soldier is a  shabby looter returning home to be adored by his besotted parents.  His  sharp teeth echo his hobnail boots and signify his animal savagery. In the verse he is mocked for his Führer-like behaviour.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.