This poster is among the earliest in the Nottingham Collection and is remarkable in two ways: for its small size in comparison to the general run of the TASS Windows, and for its production method. It measures only 20.5cm x 22.5cm. The technique of production is different: it is a small whole item probably produced by silk screen printing. In this respect, it is unique in the collection as the work of a single artist.
The skeletal horse and the faulty cart are direct comments on the inadequacy of the German supply train. This ghostly caricature delivers a sense that the enemy is engaged in a dance of death.
The image refers to the circumstances of September 1943, which saw the first retreat of German forces from Ukraine. The Axis partners were beginning to fall by the wayside. In the image Italy and Hungary, the back wheels, are coming off the cart, and from the look of it Romania and Finland will soon follow.
The overburdened, skeletal horse reflected the poor state of horse transport on both sides of the conflict. By 1943 the loss of horses was huge. Germany and Russia were among the nations with the highest number of horses at the outbreak of WWII. Both deployed them extensively in their campaigns. They were still largely rural economies relying on the horse for transport and agriculture.
This item is the only window of this small size (20.5 x 22.5cm) in the Nottingham Collection. A silk screen printed reproduction, perhaps of an original large Window, it is, we suspect, an example of a small-scale poster which could be distributed by hand, and was inevitably highly vulnerable to loss or disposal.
It may have been an attempt to recapture the small-scale popularity of the popular print (lubok) and be meant for personal handling , display and distribution rather than full scale window showing. It is uncertain how many ‘flyers’ of this size were made.
In Bang goes my cart! Sokolov-Skalia uses his primary skill as a cartoonist, but is also edging towards the gruesome. This horse is skeletal, and his stark image is echoed in the rest of the picture with its dark shadows, pointing swords and vivid but restricted palette. No genial cartoon, this sinister image is designed to show the enemy is under close pursuit and may be starving.
The limited palette produces a powerful effect. The counterpointing of red from the swastika armband to the bayonets and to the red TASS name and number emphasise that it is the soviets who are pitted against the enemy. The fact that the driver is a caricature of Hitler turns this horse and cart into an emblem for the whole Axis operation.
Marshak updates and embellishes a popular saying, and in so doing gives it the war context seen in the poster. His verse suggests the Axis partners are unable to work together, as the wheels fall off the cart one after the other. His verse is a jokey comment on this spooky image.
The role of the verse or text in the windows is well illustrated in this example. Marshak’s narrative voice directs the viewer to rejoice at this spectacle and to stand behind the red guns and bayonets threatening Hitler as the driver.