Soviet Postcards, Part 7: Pravda Publishing

(Last Updated On June 18, 2022)

Most people conversant in world affairs is aware of the Soviet newspaper Pravda (“Truth” in Russian), but many may not have realized that it was a publishing and printing enterprise generally. In the late 1950s and 1960s, it issued an extensive series of photographic postcards featuring children presumably depicting the joys of Soviet life. Therefore, I offer five images for your consideration here.

The first two are photographs by A. Stanovova. I like the first one especially because the girl seems to epitomize light-hearted girlishness which is kind of iconic for this site. It’s title translates to “Friends”.

A. Stanovova - Друзья. (1962)

A. Stanovova – Друзья. (1962)

The second was issued earlier and translates to “Before the New Year”. Notice the careful avoidance of the word Christmas even though that seems to be holiday being portrayed. One of our readers offers an excellent explanation for this peculiar cultural development, so please read the comment at the end of this post for more details.

A. Stanovova - Перед Новым годом. (1958)

A. Stanovova – Перед Новым годом. (1958)

The next photo by Dmitri Baltermants is titled “Reconciled”.

Edit: I have made some slight adjustments to the name of the photographer.  Ron’s use of Dm. Baltermantsa was not incorrect, but the photographer, an important photojournalist in Soviet Russia, is generally recognized in the Anglo world under the name Baltermants.  Here is the Wikipedia page on him. -Pip

Dmitri Baltermants – Помирились… (1962)

I had at first thought the artist and caption was in Serbian (they use a Cyrillic alphabet also) as the title does not make much sense translated into Russian. The artist is L. Borodulina and the caption translates as “Tuzik, beg!”.  Again, one of our readers cleared up the confusion which you can read below.

L. Borodulina - Тузик, служи! (1962)

L. Borodulina – Тузик, служи! (1962)

The last is by V. Tyukkelya depicting these naked children clearly having fun. The caption is a Russian exclamation and does not translate perfectly, but something like “All Right!” or “Yahoo!” is about right.

V. Tyukkelya - Хорошо!(1958)

V. Tyukkelya – Хорошо! (1958)

7 thoughts on “Soviet Postcards, Part 7: Pravda Publishing

  1. Note that the Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, so Christmas is celebrated on January the 7th according to our Gregorian calendar.
    In 1647 the English puritans banned the Christmas celebration, which they considered as “a popish festival with no biblical justification”, and a time of wasteful and immoral behavior; this provoked a massive revolt. The ban was ended with the royal restoration in 1660. The celebration was also outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681.

  2. In the Soviet Union people didn’t celebrate Christmas, because it was banned by atheist state in 1929. But people still decorated trees and made presents for their children, so in the thirties the government decided that New Year should be celebrated as a state holiday instead of Christmas, and started to carry out New Year’s parties for children in Kremlin and in every school and kindergarten with some non-religious attributes of Christmas, such as decorated tree, gifts, Ded Moroz. That’s why in Russia we celebrate New Year in the way westerners celebrate Christmas, and Christmas is no more than one of the religious holidays for us. Although after the collapse of the Soviet Union no one prohibits to celebrate Christmas, New Year still remains main winter holiday for Russians. So, these girls actually prepared to New Year, not Christmas.

    As for the caption of the photo with Tuzik, it is in Russian and translates as “Tuzik, beg!” or literally “Tuzik, serve!”, maybe because dog sitting on its hind legs looks somewhat similar to a soldier standing in a row or waiter standing beside a table.

    • Thank you Vasya for your helpful clarifications. I would prefer to have a staff of cultural experts to consult with but sometimes there are practical time limitations and so I do my best to publish what I can.
      I was aware that the Soviet Union was officially an atheist state but didn’t want to go too deeply into that as I am not an expert. Many educated people are familiar with Karl Marx’s declaration that religion is the opiate of the masses. When institutions–in this case, the Soviet State–bans something that is an ingrained cultural custom, they usually have to adapt it to be ideologically acceptable. The Soviet case is a more recent example, but people should realize that is exactly what happened in Christianity. The various popular pagan festivals that we now call Christmas, Easter, Halloween and the Mass were assimilated into early Catholic and Orthodox Christianity once it became the only religion sanctioned by the state in the 5th Century. The Church (as with the Soviet State) had to face reality that they could not simply obliterate the pleasurable customs that gave people a sense of stability and comfort. Those iconic ritual symbols are still with us today–Christmas tree, Easter bunny, bread (grain) and wine of the Mass, and now, evergreen trees for New Year’s in the former Soviet Union.
      Regarding Tuzik, I got a curious translation online: “Acey, and serve!”. As an American, I had never heard begging referred to as “serving” so I never made the connection. And I suppose as someone might name their dog Ace and refer to him as “Acey”, that translation makes more sense now. Speaking of translating–and I will get more into this in a later post–I am looking for people willing to help with translating issues in the many languages of the world. I am in particular need of Japanese translators as I will be posting a lot of material in that language soon and would like to offer more depth using the information printed in the books. -Ron

    • I don’t speak Russian, but couldn’t “serve” be in the sense of “serve me”, or “obey”? As in she wants the dog to sit up on its hind legs, so she calls “Tuzik, serve!”

      • The point is that connotations of words in different languages evolve differently. “Serve” clearly is in the sense of “obey” and so would be a sensible command for a dog. That is why it is nice that a native can give us a clearer sense of the meaning. Speculation about any double meanings will have to fall to those who have studied the language.

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