Bor’ba za mir: Fakty i dokumenty v illiustratsiiakh i vyderzhkakh iz istorii bor’by Sovetskogo Soiuza za mir [i.e. The Struggle for Peace: Facts and Documents in Illustrations and Excerpts from the History of Soviet Struggle for Peace]
Moskva: Izogiz, 1932. Item #1506
255 pp.: ill. 27x20 cm. In original wrappers with letterpress design on front cover and photomontage on back cover; in modern folder and case reproducing the cover design. Covers and spine slightly rubbed and restored, with minor creases, numbers on pp. 3, 17, otherwise mint.
First and only edition. One of 9800 copies. The supervising designer was a notable photojournalist, Alexander Brodskii. The accompanying text was written by Boris Ilyin.
The book typifies the tendency of Soviet political propaganda to favor photomontage and caricature.
All montages, the cover and title page were designed by the artist Andrei Diderikhs (1884–1942). He is regarded as a “moderate leftist” who took part in the miscellaneous exhibition, “Treugol’nik-Venok-Stefanos” (1910), in which impressionist and abstract artworks were presented by artists of various movements. In the Soviet period, Diderikhs designed Leningrad street decorations during revolutionary celebrations, worked in Radlov’s “Young Theater” in 1928 to 1929, and the expert commission of Vneshtorg [the main organization for international trade]. He was twice arrested and released from prison in the 1920s.
For the front cover design, Diderikhs used rather simple yet impressive red block letters with shadows and placed them above a lattice background. Stretched across the whole wrapper, the lettering looks important and overwhelming, and reflective of its subject. The back cover photomontage shows a Red Army soldier guarding an industrial factory plant.
The decorated title page includes the same lettering and a photograph of a crowd carrying slogans about the world’s proletarian revolution as the only way to end all wars and live in peace. Both slogans are painted in red.
The book contains numerous full-page and double-page photomontages, as well as photographs and text. They promote a decade of Soviet peaceful policy, starting with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918) signed between the Bolshevik government of Russia and the German Empire, and workers’ demonstrations in Petrograd shortly before the October Revolution. Some double-page photomontages are devoted to the cruel and bloody interventions of the Allies during the Russian Civil War, and their collaboration with the White Movement. Fighting both, the Bolsheviks were positioned as the preservers of national independence, liberators of the proletariat and the only realistic bulwark against war initiated by the capitalists. Photomontages of White and Red posters are included for comparison. According to the text, an important moment in outrageous imperialism came when military action in China blocked a local revolution. The sharpest criticism is leveled at the League of Nations and the failure of its World Disarmament Conference in particular.
Apart from photo materials, the book comprises political caricatures by prominent masters of Soviet satire, Boris Efimov and Deni, whose works are dedicated to contemporary international affairs and disarmament.
Meanwhile, he Soviet Union itself was increasing its military forces “for defense” and “for the world’s proletarian revolution”. Branches of Osoaviakhim [The Society for the Assistance of Defense, Aircraft and Chemical Construction], supplying voluntary help to the Red Army, were spread widely across the country. They raised money for aircraft construction and supervised school clubs for military training. The edition includes a photograph of a womens’ squad of Osoaviakhim taking part in a parade, as well as a picture of an airplane paid for with money raised by the Don Osoaviakhim.
Just like many relevant political books of the 1920s and ’30s, this was edited by an official who was later murdered during the Great Purge. The executive editor of this book was Boris Malkin (1891–1938), a revolutionary and contributor to various cultural organizations connected to Soviet cinema and theater.
The only copy is located in Princeton University.