Although ostensibly a victory poster, there is a chilling aspect to this image. No doubt the spectacle of a dying enemy had long been awaited, and was bound to be a cause for celebration, but it is an animal in the form of a bird which suffers most here. There is little link beyond the swastika to the demise of the enemy. This eagle has not been shot, but has been impaled while still alive and left to die.
Designed to celebrate the Allied victory over fascism, this window shows the three flags of the three key nations, the USSR, the USA and Great Britain. It dates from May 1945. Germany had surrendered on 8th May. The Soviet parade on Victory avenue is celebrated in TASS window 1236.
The three flags may pierce the German eagle but hard bargaining among the Allies over the fate of Germany and Eastern Europe was still to come.
For the reasons given in other sections this poster, rather than drawing on existing roots, moves on to a new and distinctive approach in its depiction of the enemy. It may still be linked to the animal kingdom, but the use of a real eagle dying has a rather shocking effect.
In the choice of caption there is a step towards the language and imagery of international political aggression. It may be a foretaste of the re-establishment of earlier negative policies with regard to the West about to emerge in the post-war USSR.
This poster produces a very different effect from the victory window 1236 from approximately the same time. S.N. Kostin, the artist, still celebrates the Allied victory through the bright colours of the waving flags in the top half, contrasted to the dun-coloured tones below. This eagle, though, is real. No longer a bestialisation of a recognisable German enemy leader, it clutches only a swastika to signify its allegiance.
There is a cruel aspect to this depiction of death. The position of the bird’s head suggests real suffering. There is very little from caricature in this image. There may just be a hint of it in the slightly too bright of the yellow used on the eagle’s claws and beak?
It was the satire, the tongue-in-cheek humour which made any level of cruelty condonable before. However, Kostin’s other work (see TASS Window 903, for example) seems to lack the cartoon’s or caricature’s level of fun. His images reflect more the horror and cruelty of war.
The caption is unacknowledged. It lets loose the language of intense political opposition, that became common in the style used against the USSR's perceived enemies in the Cold War. The Russians also referred to Germans as fascists for decades after the war.