A Collection of War Posters from the Telegraphic Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS),1943-1945

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection comprises two series, one being a group of 129 stencilled posters from the TASSWindows and the second consisting of 37 printed posters. They cover the period June 1943 to May1945.

The TASS posters represent an incomplete run from TASS no. 641 to no. 1300, spanning the periodJune 1943 to June 1945. The distinctive character of this phase in the war effort was evident in theposter art of the time, reflecting the expectation - following the capitulation of the German armyat Stalingrad in February 1943 and other reverses - that the Germans would be defeated.

Liberation, reconstruction and the forthcoming tasks of peacetime were major issues of thisperiod, and expressed in the posters through the following themes: the inevitable defeat of Germany;the progress of the Soviet army's victories; allied solidarity; Nazi atrocities; the liberation ofnations; the heroic Soviet people; the neutrals' collaboration with Germany.

The printed posters (MS 281/2) record only a small selection of Soviet production during the war,but are significant for their inclusion of examples of the late work of Viktor Deny, as well asyounger distinguished poster artists such as Irakly Toidze, Viktor Ivanov and Boris Koretsky. Theyrelate to the same phase of the war as the TASS Windows, running from March 1943 to February1945.

Administrative / Biographical History

Following the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, the organisational committee of theUnion of Soviet Artists established the TASS Window collective to produce propaganda poster to aidthe Soviet war effort. In this they followed the example set by artists of the ROSTA Windows posters(so called because they often appeared in the empty shop windows of the day) of the Civil Warperiod, 1918-21.

TASS (Telegraphic Agency of the Soviet Union), like ROSTA before it, was the official Soviettelegraphic agency. It became associated with the Soviet propaganda effort as it was able to able toprovide poster artists with the latest news from the Front, allowing them to respond, often withinhours, to major events.

The TASS Windows were both satirical and heroic, the theme being agreed with the leader of thecollective. They were large, stencilled, brightly coloured, and hand painted, and by 1943 wereproduced in runs of up to 1000, or in even greater numbers when the content was considered to beparticularly important to publicise. Often they were accompanied by a didactic text or lengthypoem.

New posters appeared almost daily, becoming something of a chronicle of the war. They referred togeneral issues as well as incidents of the immediate moment as they arose in the press. The physicaldisplay of the posters meant that inevitably the majority did not survive, although they were widelydistributed to the front, to army units, factories and collective farms.

About 129 artists from various backgrounds contributed to the TASS Windows, including painterssuch as P.P.Sokolov-Skalya, A.P Bubnov, P.M. Shukhmin, M.V. Mal'tsev and F.V. Antonov. Similarly,more than 70 poets and writers contributed to the texts, in short and witty verses and slogans. Over1500 different designs were produced in this series up to August 1945.

Arrangement

Posters are divided into TASS Windows and printed posters and within these categories arrangedprimarily in chronological order. The TASS Windows bear original poster numbers.

Conditions Governing Access

ACCESS: Accessible to all registered readers. Pleasenote that most of the posters are very large and difficult to handle. This, and their fragility,means that researchers are be expected to use the published microfilm copies in the first instance.

LANGUAGE: Russian

Other Finding Aids

NOTE: Copyright on all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

  • In the Reading Room, University of Nottingham Library:Printed Catalogue to item level, 101 pp
  • At the National Register of Archives, London:Printed Catalogue, 101 pp

Conditions Governing Use

REPROGRAPHIC: Photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposesonly, depending on the condition of the originals.

COPYRIGHT: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advancein writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk).

Custodial History

The collection was given to the Library of the University of Nottingham in 1961.

Bibliography

  • The posters have been published in microform with an accompanying book providing the fullcatalogue and an introductory essay: 'Soviet War Posters c. 1940-1945. The TASS Poster Series fromthe , University of Nottingham' (Adam Matthew Publications, 1992).