Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

There is no topic significant for the life of a Soviet citizen that would not be affected by the art of propaganda. There is no question that the social poster
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would not answer. Motherhood and childbearing are no less important issues than literacy and political education. Children are the future of communism, and what can be the future if absolutely wild morals were common in the issues of medicine and infant care in a young socialist state?

The woman was now in two forms. Now she has become a full-fledged member of society, got rid of "kitchen slavery", unloaded cars and fought along with a man. But due to the most natural circumstances, only she can be a mother. A number of posters and leaflets were supposed to help Komsomol members get used to the new role, and most importantly, succeed in all areas.

Mother and child: rules of survival


With the advent of Soviet power, the first thing that attention was paid to the issue of raising children was health, which means everything was important from the moment of conception: a woman’s behavior during pregnancy and childbirth, elementary care and feeding a baby. The first posters on the topic of children are extremely clear and useful information that has helped many save the lives of their offspring. Glazed pictures of exemplary pioneers in an atmosphere of wars and coups d'état were unthinkable so far.

Regarding the care of the newborn, the Russian peasantry and ordinary working families had a very dark idea, often associated with prejudice and superstition. Some of the acts that midwives performed led to the death of the mother and child. Travelers in Russia at the end of the 19th century described the enormous infant and maternal mortality, the cause of which was first of all - unsanitary conditions and malnutrition.

Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1923

The slogans on the posters read: "More air and sun!" “Nurseries and counseling will provide us with reasonable care” “We are happiest when mothers feed us”, “Down with social diseases: syphilis, tuberculosis and alcoholism”, etc.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

Oddly enough, the problem of breastfeeding was a burning concern for ordinary peasants, although it would seem that it could be more natural for people close to the ground. But to feed the baby with mother’s milk meant a waste of time and affection, and this tear-working woman could not afford. Milk replaced the horn with bread slurry, and thanks to this archaic form of artificial feeding, the law of evolution worked perfectly: only the strongest survived. But even they did not all grow to adulthood. On the way, they were awaited by terrifying unsanitary conditions and the lack of any adequate medical care. Breastfeeding has become a vibrant and popular topic of the Soviet poster
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in both before and after the war.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1925
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
P. Dove, A. Chernov. “Breastfeed.” 1947

The goal of the Soviet government is to develop a new state and educate new people - strong, healthy and, as required by the doctrine, efficient. The woman’s new lifestyle encouraged her not only to be literate, but also to leave “wild morals” in the past, using advanced methods not only in the factory, but also in the bathroom.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

The villagers did not need any professional knowledge, they needed to explain the elementary norms, thanks to which the mother and child could not only survive, but also live a full life as much as possible. World War II, Revolution, mass famine, collectivization and industrialization of the Stalinist years mowed down many people, the first of which was the weakest link - children.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1923 A. Komarov "A rally of children."

The 1920s and 1930s are a time when posters actively demonstrated their desire to help and support mothers. Bright, large, and most importantly familiar to everyone, the images inspired confidence. Women on posters often smiled, and in such works one can still feel the naturalness and aesthetics inherent in bourgeois art. With all of politicization and an active struggle against any ideologically incorrect manifestations, posters of the 1920s and 1930s are living faces and a true atmosphere.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

Women's and children's consultations were created on collective farms, where a pregnant woman could turn to, where her condition was monitored, and in the future her child was also observed.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

There was a lot of visual material that helps in the life of a young mother: how to cook the first lure, monitor weight, protect from dangers.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster


Where to put a child: visual aid


Propaganda called for giving birth and bringing up, but the first decades of Soviet power were the years of total orphanage and vagrancy. Created by the “Fund them. VI Lenin to assist street children "could not cope with the task. The number of street children, orphans, and children subjected to violence and beating in families grew, even despite the relatively "well-fed" years of the NEP.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

The public organization “Friend of Children” comes forward with bold and new slogans that urge not to hit children, avoid physical punishment, and issue a number of social posters. As an alternative, artists suggest taking a child, taking him to school, kindergarten or nursery. In the style of Mayakovsky, the artist A. Fedorov schematically and clearly depicted the past and future of a modern child: a father with rods, a mother in despondency, and on the other hand - a support hand “Friend of Children”, pioneers who are always ready to help.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1926 A. Fedorov. "Down with the beating and punishment of children in the family!"

Hunger, poverty and insecurity in the future forces women to continue to get rid of pregnancies or abandon newborns. Officially, abortions were allowed, but in fact, already in the second half of the 1920s there were a number of severe restrictions. In 1936, artificial termination of pregnancy was prohibited by law and became criminally punishable. Abortion, meanwhile, has become a significant part of the shadow economy, the cause of infertility and death. The warnings of Soviet citizens against clandestine hazardous activities that are circulated in consultations, in fact, left no choice for a woman. Several pictures in the Russian style tell a sad story about illegal abortion. Images of the type of "comics" were popular due to their narrative and simplicity.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

An ideal Soviet woman, a city dweller, and even more so a peasant woman had to work on a par with a man and combine this with motherhood (and breastfeeding!). A nursery was called upon to facilitate this task, where the baby could be given almost from birth.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

For the mother, this was really something new and incomprehensible, and the need to take the child to the institution was perceived as hostile or suspicious. Therefore, a series of wonderful posters was created demonstrating the benefit and need of a day nursery for society and a baby who spends time with nannies and peers, rather than being bored at home.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

Idealization is a universal and win-win method, which helped to rebuild the traditional consciousness, motivated women to work and hand over children in the care of the state in a situation of complete absence of an alternative. Smiling teachers, flowering trees, healthy and cheerful babies - all this was to inspire and give strength to a new lifestyle. However, the memories of contemporaries sometimes tell of terrible pictures, scenes of violence, rudeness and total submission in such institutions. However, for many Soviet children, kindergartens and schools were the only place of salvation under the general devastation, where they could eat and get an education.


“Pioneer is growing bold and not afraid of difficulties”: post-war poster
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The war changed the minds of people, changed the face of the country and gave even clearer guidelines, which the proletarians constantly pointed to. This was actively promoted by the new art style, recognized as the only true one before the war, and which served one purpose - propaganda.

A series of posters is created and dedicated to children, mothers and the family as a whole. But if earlier the artists did not hesitate to depict unpleasant things: a crying child, an angry father, a desperate woman, then in the post-war world, the era of communism has already begun on the plane of the poster
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, and a “bright future”.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

A woman surrounded by children is not just a mother, but a symbol. This image is taken for the allegorical image of the motherland. And it was in 1944 that the title of “mother of a heroine”, a large woman, was approved. A tax on childlessness is introduced, a state interest in the birth of new people is demonstrated: the past war mowed down millions.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1944 N. Vatolina. "Glory to the mother heroine!"

A new wave of orphanhood swept the USSR. But here, artists, as true representatives of socialist realism
Realism (from late Latin reālis — “real”) is considered to be the beginning in the development of modern art. In a strict sense, “realism” is an art movement that faithfully and objectively reproduces reality in all its details, regardless of how beautiful are the objects in the picture. Read more
, are directed forward, into the future and show the already accomplished victory of communism and happy complete families.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster

Much more attention has been paid to education and children's leisure. The propaganda artists care not just about school life and good grades, but about getting used to work. Labor is the basis, the basis of happiness, not only in public but also in personal life.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1957 G. Shubina

The emphasis is on physical labor.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1957 S. Nizova

And, of course, if such attention was paid to endurance, patience and hard work, then one could not miss such an important topic as health, which had to be protected from the very first minutes of a person’s life. These are already familiar calls for breastfeeding children, leading a healthy lifestyle and playing sports actively. On the famous poster
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"If you want to be healthy - be tempered!" the image of father as a strong and cheerful man appears infrequently for a children's theme.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1950 V. Koretsky, V. Gritsevich "If you want to be healthy - be tempered!"

Soviet exemplary schoolchild is exclusively a pioneer. A red tie around the neck is a symbol of all kinds of virtues. Propaganda responded to each positive or negative action of the child with artistic moralizing. Laziness was contrasted with industriousness, strength with weaknesses, honesty with lies, friendship with betrayal. This is an ideal world of an ideal future that has filled the walls of schools, kindergartens, clubs, clinics, cultural houses, etc.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1955 S. Nizovaya. "Do not dare"

The late 1950s and 1960s: a new style and new challenges


On November 23, 1955, by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR “On the abolition of the prohibition of abortion”, artificial termination of pregnancy was again legalized. The ban on pain of criminal liability only led to a decrease in the birth rate and high female mortality due to clandestine abortions. But despite legalization, it was necessary to submit this procedure from a negative point of view, as an action that would deprive a woman of the health and happiness of motherhood.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1961 A. Dobrov. "And I wanted to have an abortion ..."
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1957 G.E. Roshenburg.

In the 1960s, the style changed dramatically. The ease and graphicness that has been lost over the years of canonical art appears. The heavy image of the mother heroine is now replaced by a slender soaring woman. The artist has enough light strokes and silhouettes to encourage the family not to be limited to one child.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1968 V. Stepanov. "One child is good, two is better!"

Especially piercing and at the same time attractive is the image of the mother on the poster
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of Galina Shubina. The woman is really beautiful and fragile, which the strong Komsomol members lacked a decade ago. Sincere emotions, disappointment in the misconduct of the son, but also hope for him are read in her huge eyes. At the same time, a wonderful detail is the boy’s big, red ears of shame, which reduce the “degree” of the seriousness of the moment, bringing humor and kindness.
Motherhood and childhood in the Soviet poster
1965 G. Shubin "Never lie!"

The image of mother and child on the Soviet poster
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is the broadest, all-encompassing topic that raises a variety of issues from elementary to philosophical. This is the basis on which the health of the nation rested, and therefore the future of the USSR, the moral component and new spiritual guidelines, inspired in exchange for the traditional ideology, lost in 1917.

The good goal of propaganda posters is to nurture a generation that is strong and responsible for their actions, often taking crude propaganda forms that led to fear, a desire to meet standards, and simply to be “like everyone else”. Childhood and motherhood is a vast and fertile ground for any kind of propaganda, and pressure on mothers has been and remains the most effective way to influence.

Author: Lyudmila Lebedeva