1920 / 44
Original 1944 Polish propaganda poster ‘Bolshevik Freedom’. Design: signature in the lower right corner – unread, 1920.
The poster was issued by the Propaganda Department of the Ministry of Military Affairs. The first edition was created during the Polish-Bolshevik war in 1920. In 1944 it was published again – by German propaganda. The poster proved to be an ideal design for the Germans, who sought to instil fear of the Bolsheviks in the General Government during World War II. The poster depicts Lev Trotsky the Russian revolutionary, social democrat and communist – then People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs. Trotsky, stylised as a devil with Semitic features, sits naked on a pile of skulls. He holds a bloody knife in one hand and a pistol in the other. Behind him leans a laughing death. In the background, Bolshevik soldiers are killing more victims. In the background we can see an Orthodox church and a burning city.
In the lower right corner there is a signature. However, it has not been deciphered.
Both editions – the one from 1920 and the one from 1944 are unique items of the highest museum class. Single copies can be found in the collections of such institutions as the Museum of Independence in Warsaw, the National Library, or the Jagiellonian Library. It is significant that the two posters issued in lithographic technique differ slightly from each other. In the first edition, in the bottom right corner there was a board with bulleted accusations against the Bolsheviks:
“The Bolsheviks promised: We will give you peace, we will give you freedom, we will give you land, work and bread
They deceived despicably: They unleashed war, instead of freedom they gave a fist, instead of land they gave requisitions, instead of work they gave misery, instead of bread they gave hunger”.
In the second edition this board was removed, the colours were saturated, and an arrow-shaped sash was added at the bottom with the inscription “POLSKI PLAKAT Z 1920 ROKU”.
Condition: poster after professional conservation