Sunday, September 30, 2007

Still on duty

Our forces are innumerable
V. Koretsky, 1941

Victor Koretsky is the author of this poster. He is one of the most noted Soviet poster artists. His trademark technique was combination of black and white photos with pencil graphics and bright gouache fillings. This highly impressive technique was also quite practical in printing.

This poster was created in 1941, when the German forces were rapidly moving on the Soviet territory to capture Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev according to the “Barbarossa” Operation devised by Hitler’s generals. The situation was critical so all resources had to be combined to stop the offensive.

The poster was aimed at strengthening of morale of the citizens and soldiers, as the news they were hearing on the radio at that time were mostly cheerless.

In the foreground there is a soviet soldier – a private or most likely a partisan as his uniform is not buttoned up and he has got a beard. In his hand he is holding a 7.62 mm Mosin-Nagant magazine rifle, which was a standard issue weapon to Soviet troops due to its sturdiness and manufacturability. The man’s stare is full of determination and courage, but it’s the monument in the background which gives the poster gravity.

This is the monument which commemorates the deeds of trader Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky, who were heroes of the Polish-Muscovite War (1605–1618). In 1611 Minin organized a fund collection among the people of Nizhniy Novgorod and together with Prince Pozharsky led the militia to Moscow kicking out the Poles.

It was Minin’s personal cunning and charisma which allowed him to unite Russians in order to free the country from invaders. And like always it was no holds barred event: all citizens were to give away one third of their property, otherwise all the belongings were confiscated and people with their families became bond slaves. Reportedly Minin gave all he had.

Minin’s words were: “We’d like to help the Moscow State, so no property should be spared, nothing should be spared – sell houses, pledge wives and children, and bless the one, who’s going to fight for the saint Orthodox church and would lead us!”

Minin and Pozharsky monument was set up in Moscow in 1818. Now it is situated on the Red Square right near the most beautiful Saint Basil's Cathedral (see it on Google Maps). On the pedestal there are words: “To citizen Minin and Prince Pozharsky. Grateful Russia. 1818”. And Russia is grateful indeed as even 300 years after his life Minin did not resign from being an inspirer for those protecting the country.