Nazi propaganda poster titled “The Stalin Constitution?” printed October 10, 1943.
The Nazis often used propaganda in occupied territories to secure the compliance and even support of local populations. In Ukraine and other occupied regions of the Soviet Union, the Nazis created propaganda that exploited preexisting discontent with the Soviet regime. They also tried to exploit preexisting anti-Jewish sentiment and sharpen divisions between Jews and non-Jews. One way of achieving this was by creating propaganda that emphasized a conspiracy theory called Judeo-Bolshevism. Judeo-Bolshevism blamed Jews for Communism. It was an idea that circulated throughout Europe and North America at the time and became a part of the Nazi worldview.
Based on the serial number in the bottom left corner of the poster, we know that the poster was printed in October 1943. By the fall of 1943, the Soviet Red Army had recaptured territory in eastern Ukraine and was advancing toward Kyiv. The poster is an example of how the Nazis used propaganda and the concept of Judeo-Bolshevism to shore up popular support in areas of Ukraine still under German control. The use of Judeo-Bolshevism in this context is particularly notable since the Nazis, along with their allies and collaborators, had already murdered the majority of Ukraine’s Jews by this time.
The text at the top of the poster reads: “The Stalin Constitution?” The illustration on the poster portrays a caricature of Josef Stalin, the dictator of the Soviet Union (USSR). He is sitting on a stack of books by communist theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and by Vladimir Lenin, the first Soviet leader. Stalin is portrayed writing the 1936 Soviet Constitution. This constitution de facto established totalitarian control over the Soviet Union by the All-Union Communist Party and the Party’s General Secretary, who at the time was Stalin himself. The constitution was commonly referred to in the Soviet Union as the “Stalin Constitution.”
On the poster, Stalin’s features reflect the stereotypical depiction of Jews in Nazi propaganda. The buttons at his shirt cuffs bear the Star of David, a symbol of Judaism and Jewish identity. A second Star of David appears on the bookmark that sticks out from one of the books. Stalin is depicted writing the constitution in the Hebrew alphabet. The oversized question mark after the phrase “Stalin Constitution” is used to question the authorship of the document. The Nazi message communicated on this poster is that Stalin’s regime is controlled by Jews. It further implies that Jews should be blamed for the abuses and wrongs committed by the Soviet regime.
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