The triumphant header announces a string of Baltic towns taken by the Russians. It was designed to bolster the belief in Russian progress. The image sets us in a German town, but the verse makes clear that Berlin is the goal, and it is bound to fall to the Russian forces.
What is a liberating force here in 1945 was a colonising force on the eve of war. The Baltic states were annexed by USSR in 1939-40. They were returned to the USSR after the war ended in 1945.
By March 1945 Russian troops had driven German forces back to the Baltic Sea, and were able to penetrate deep into the German occupied territory of the Baltic States. The names of the streets the shops are now in German, a telling marker for the poster-viewing Russian population. This poster represents an important stage on the way to Berlin and victory.
Showing German soldiers ambushed in German occupied territory was eye catching and morale boosting. For a German soldier on the run, see TASS 1021.
The tiny German soldiers here are on the brink of cartoonish as they are scattered. But the artist resists gratuitous caricature, maintaining the spirit of his overall realistic painting style. These German soldiers are terrified, and clearly had not been alert to the possibility of sudden attack, cavalry-style. The poster format encourages the blend of styles seen here.
Przhetslavskii is exercising his skill at drawing and painting horses. He places these war horses in a German occupied town. The German soldiers are down right and left in the poster. They are in surprised disarray as the Russian on his white charger gallops through, leaping over a barricade.
The artist was clearly adept at drawing people on a small scale in a number of different poses, and attaching the necessary detail. The range of reaction among the five soldiers is on the edge of comic, but it reflects the theme of disorder and unreadiness among the German troops.
This image is a colonising one, reclaiming the Baltic States for Russia. The determined character of Mashistov’s verse, though, is at odds with the picture. The verse is about Russian strength retaking Berlin. The disorder among the soldiers is a comforting sign, but the real target is Hitler in his ‘lair’ in Berlin.