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From Communism to Anti-Communism

 | 
Andre Liebich
, 
Svetlana Yakimovich

Anti-communism in the Cold War

Dictionnaire soviétique illustré

Joël Kotek

Texte intégral

The first page reads in French: “Dictionnaire soviétique illustré” –[“Illustrated Soviet Dictionary”]. The second page reads: “Tracteur” –[“Tractor”]. The third page reads: ”Entraînement sportif” – [“Sports training”]. The fourth page reads: “Voyages de noces” – [“Honeymoon”]; “A suivre” – [“To be continued”]. Black and white leaflet, printed by Paix et Liberté [s.d.]; 5 x 19.5 cm.

1This caricature underlines the profound contradictions of the Soviet state. The Soviet Union might well present itself as the pacifist country par excellence. It was, nevertheless, one of the most war-like and militarist states. The themes of peace, then that of disarmament, was always a key and recurrent subject of Soviet propaganda from the Decree on Peace in 1917 to Mikhail Gorbachev’s ”Zero” option in 1987. Here, the contrast between Soviet vocabulary and reality is vividly emphasized: a tractor is, in fact, a tank; sports training is military drill; and a honeymoon consists of planes dropping bombs. The graphic aspect of the caricature appears to have been inspired by Hergé’s (pseudonym of Georges Remi) Tintin au Pays des Soviets, his 1930 comic strip lampoon emphasizing the illusory quality of Soviet progress.

2The theme of peace was at the heart of Stalinist propaganda. Immediately after the end of the Second World War, Soviet power made pacifism the very foundation of its ideology. Under the halo of its victory over Nazism, the Soviet Union presented itself as the champion and standard bearer of the struggle against militarism, obviously tied to capitalism. In 1947, the Zhdanov Doctrine, named after Stalin’s close companion, Andrei Zhdanov, discerned two camps: the war camp led by the United States and the peace camp led by the Soviet Union. Pacifist propaganda would organize itself around the exploitation of nuclear war to denounce American imperialist warmongers. Throughout the Cold War Communists would conduct vast agitation and propaganda campaigns on behalf of pacifism intended to show the intrinsically pacific nature of the camp led by the USSR. Obviously, in reality things looked different. Stalin, whose armies occupied Central and Eastern Europe, continued to reinforce the Red Army and to encourage local conflicts, such as the war in Korea, even as he promoted vigorously atomic research for military ends. It is this which the caricature here satirizes.

Bibliographie

Dominique Desanti, Les Staliniens, Paris : Fayard, 1975.

Table des illustrations

Légende The first page reads in French: “Dictionnaire soviétique illustré” –[“Illustrated Soviet Dictionary”]. The second page reads: “Tracteur” –[“Tractor”]. The third page reads: ”Entraînement sportif” – [“Sports training”]. The fourth page reads: “Voyages de noces” – [“Honeymoon”]; “A suivre” – [“To be continued”]. Black and white leaflet, printed by Paix et Liberté [s.d.]; 5 x 19.5 cm.
URL http://books.openedition.org/iheid/docannexe/image/6654/img-1.jpg
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