Moscow: Fabrika detskoy knigi izd-va detskoy literatury TSK VLSKM, 1939. 44,  pp.: ill. 18.5x10.5 cm. In publisher’s wrappers. Very good, tiny tears of the spine, some notes on the back cover (pencil).
Extremely rare first edition. One of 7,000 copies.
The promotion of physical education and sports in the Soviet Union played a significant role in the formation of a healthy lifestyle. From the mid-1920s, parades of athletes and large-scale sports events that were periodically held in different regions across the country began to acquire increasing popularity. The well-known scriptwriters, directors, artists, and composers became actively involved in the organization of the athletic event. Symbolizing the enthusiasm, optimism, and ‘healthy spirit’ of the Soviet people, from 1931 physical culture parades were held annually in Moscow, Leningrad, and a number of other cities.
The present edition is dedicated to the All-Union Parade of Athletes that took place in Moscow’s Red Square on July 18, 1939 (in conjunction with the All-Union Day of Athlete). The event gathered over 40,000 athletes from the following Soviet republics: RSFSR, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Armenian, Turkmenian, Uzbek, Tadjik, Kazakh, and Kirgiz SSRs. Preparations for the parade began 6 months in advance: a brochure on drill was published for the parade participants and active information propaganda was carried out in the newspapers. In the VDNKh area, in the recreation area of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, a temporary sports town with stands for 60 thousand seats was built. Moscow’s Red Square was decorated by the famous Soviet constructivist artist Vladimir Stenberg (1899-1982) and B. Krasil’nikov. The parade was documented by the Soviet director Alexander Medvedkin (1900-1989) in a color movie Tsvetushchaya yunost’ [i.e. Blooming Youth] in 1939.
The edition opens with the order of the passage of the 50 columns of the All-Union parade of athletes for 1939. Almost every entry contains information about the number of participants, theme, column commander, commissar, and artists. Each listing is preceded by the flag of the column, which is especially important given that in most cases the banners changed on a yearly basis.
Themes of the participants varied from Youth into the Navy and All the Forces of Medicine at the Service of the Country’s Defense to For the Introduction of Paramilitary Sports. Among the artists were: G. Kibardin, N. Aizenberg, N. Men’shutin, I. Zaltsman, S. Grankov, A. Lozhkin, L, Orlov, etc. The program also includes brief descriptions of gymnastic exercises presented at the parade. The edition closes with the information on the parade commander (A. Kuznetsov), parade commissar (I. Frolov), head artist (G. Kibardin), head of gymnastics performances (M. Segal), march parade director (B. Yudin), combined orchestra conductor (S. Chernetskiy), and decorators of Red Square (V. Stenberg and B. Krasil’nikov). The parade also includes 3 black-and-white illustrations showing participants of the event.
The last parade of athletes before a 5 year-long gap was held in 1940. Sports parades on Red Square were terminated in 1945, twenty six years after the first parade took place.
Overall, an interesting document of one of the most important sports parades in the history of Soviet Union.
Vladimir Stenberg, together with Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova, was considered one of the leading representatives of the Soviet avant-garde art. Stenberg studied at the Stroganov Central School of Industrial Art in the departments of chasing, painting on enamel and porcelain, theater and decorative art under V. Yegorov, P. Kuznetsov, and A. Yanov. At different times, Vladimir engaged in the design of theatrical performances, festive decoration of the city, design of exhibitions. In the period from 1928-1962, the artist, along with his brother, Georgii Stenberg (1900-1933) was the chief designer of Red Square for the festive celebrations.