The Motherland calls! [1941]

The Motherland calls! [1941]

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The Motherland calls! by Irakli Toidze (1902–1985).

This is undoubtedly the most significant graphical work of the twentieth century Russia. It was created in July 1941 during the first days of Great Patriotic War between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union. Since then the poster has been printed millions of times becoming the ultimate symbol of Russian liberation fight. It also influenced many aspects of Soviet life, inspiring artists and sculptors to design memorials like 'The Motherland' – an 85 meter 8 000 ton sculpture.

The document in Motherland’s hand is the Soviet military oath (1939-1947). Every soldier had to swear allegiance to the nation, Soviet Motherland and Workers’ and Peasants’ Government.

The poster was created by Irakli Toidze on the spot. After hearing radio-announcement his wife Tamara rushed into the studio, crying out “War!” Irakli asked her to freeze and stay still. Her distinctive posture is now on the poster. Joseph Stalin immediately ordered printing of 5 thousand of copies and sent them to every commandant’s office and recruiting station in the Soviet Union.

The impact of the poster was significant. This is the mother of every soldier standing in front of the bayonet wall, ready to lead her children into the liberating battle. Soldiers were holding cards with 'The Motherland' in their chest pockets along with the photos of their families and their Communist Party Membership cards. When retreating, they often took the posters with them, protecting from the enemy like military flags. After the War this poster was frequently displayed in official places near images of Lenin and Stalin.

Title The Motherland calls!
Author Irakli Toidze (1902–1985)
Year 1941
City Moscow
29 x 41 cm
11 1/2 x 16 1/8 in
Paper weight 170 gsm
Printing method Offset