The posters build unrelentingly heroic images of the soldiers, not unlike the propaganda of other countries engaged in WWII. Here this group of stalwarts still stand in the summer of 1945, statue-like, to defend the country. Post-war they were venerated, so the statue format also operates as a memorial and implies the great respect accorded them. A statue also signals that the war is over.
This poster comes from the days after the official end of the war, in order to celebrate the heroic contribution of the Russian armed forces and to signal their return home. However, this poster also reminds the viewer of the estimate eight and a half million who would not be returning. After the war, Stalin insisted that culture focus on the war as an achievement of officers, not soldiers.
The square-jawed faces, the imposing height and solid grouping of the soldiers belong to socialist realism. These are the heroes to inspire the march to the utopian future. This poster may also indicate an official return to public art as opposed to the war-themed posters up to this point. It may be seen as a reassertion of the pre-war, Stalinist-driven cultural and political agendas.
Echoes of the ways saints and others are grouped in religious pictures are found here. Objects (rifles) and insignia (uniforms and different caps) define who these people are. The draping of the clothing, especially of the central soldier, and the background of purest blue suggest attempts to capture the power of religious art.
See also You Have Returned Life To Us.
Solov’ev concentrated on military themes in the posters. He completed his training as an artist in 1930. The new policies in Russian culture began to be discussed in 1932, culminating in the establishment of socialist realism in 1934. His work here, almost despite itself, refers to earlier religious traditions.
Like the image, Lebedev-Kumach’s verse reaches toward a new post-war politics. This was not just a Russian victory but one which united the efforts of all Slavs.