Oksana Zhukova (Estonian University of Life Sciences)

“Forward to the Bright Future of Socialism!”: the Role of Images and Symbols in Promoting Collectivization in Soviet Ukraine

In every country state symbols such as the national flag, emblem, and national anthems represent the independence and sovereignty of the state. In the Soviet Union as well as in other autocratic states symbols also played an important role in propaganda, influencing peoples’ attitudes to the actions of the state at all levels. These symbols could also be found, together with powerful imagery in posters, on buildings, monuments and many other things visible and incorporated in the routine life the people. Ukraine has huge historical heritage of symbolism and propaganda from when the country was a major part of the USSR. After the creation of the USSR a political, socio-economic, cultural and spiritual experiment on the construction of a communist society, which in the case of Ukraine was unprecedented in scale and tragedy, began. The collectivization of the village is one of the most tragic pages in the history of Ukraine. As the most important grain-growing region of the country at the time its production was vital to feed the growing cities and industrialisation. The forced collectivisation led to starvation in the 1930s and millions of people died. In order to counter this most public information showed people another side of collectivization. Propaganda was used, such as posters and slogans, to persuade the peasants to join the collective farms and to promote the real or fictitious results of the workers, and, conversely, to attack people who did not want to believe in the «»bright future»» of the USSR and to denounce “kulaks” and “saboteurs”. Materials from archives and published sources show many examples of Ukrainian images and symbols of that time which shed a light on the way the collectivisation process was portrayed and promoted.

Full-text available here: DOI: 10.1051/SHSCONF/20196310003