‘The Future Belongs to Us!’ Children in Soviet and German Propaganda Photographs Published in USSR in Construction and N.S. Frauen-Warte, 1930–1939
Published inJYU dissertations
© The Author & University of Jyväskylä
The Soviet Union and the Third Reich are often seen in a strikingly visual way, for example, through symbols such as the Soviet hammer and sickle and the Nazi swastika. But how exactly was visual material, especially photographs, used to propagate the ideals of those states in the 1930s? The present dissertation analyses how children were represented in the photographs of two illustrated periodicals, Soviet propaganda magazine SSSR na Stroike (USSR in Construction in English speaking countries) and German women’s magazine N.S. Frauen-Warte, and why they were represented in such manner. The first issues of the magazines were published at the beginning of the 1930s, and the last ones came out during the Second World War. In the dissertation, I apply visual quantitative content analysis to categorise the large corpus of photographs of children published in the magazines. After that, I select smaller amount of photographs to examine in depth. In the stage of closer analysis, I apply the representation theory of cultural theorist Stuart Hall. Central concepts and ideas of my research are visual culture, propaganda, totalitarian aesthetics and comparative and transnational history. There were definite similarities but also striking differences in the child related imagery in the two magazines. The children were used to visualise – and also to construct – Socialist or National Socialist idyll. They were also featured in photographs presenting achievements in different fields, for example industry, housing and nutrition. Moreover, Stalin and Hitler often posed with children in the photographs. By doing so, the leaders presented themselves as creators of the future. The children were symbols of the forthcoming new era. The past was often presented in a bad light, both in USSR in Construction and N.S. Frauen-Warte. In the Third Reich, however, a more distant, mythical past was idealised, and the imagined families of this distant past were often reconstructed in N.S. Frauen-Warte as families of the future. In USSR in Construction, modern Soviet families were presented as ideal versions of the greater family of all Soviet peoples. In both magazines, photographic representations of children suggested that dreams of a better life would come to fruition in the near future. ...
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