Poster Plakat A Collection of Posters from the Soviet Union and its Satellite Nations

Technical data is often printed on the margins of Soviet posters. Within the poster's data are abbreviations and portmanteaus devised from letters used in the titles of institutions, machinery or political jargon once spoken in Soviet popular culture. The following examples were documented from a sample of posters in the Poster Plakat Collection. Thanks to Susan Pezzino, MA and Yevgeny Fedotkin, PhD for translating many of the terms on this page. Click on each term seen below to open its expanded definition.


AGITPROPOTDEL

// АГИТПРОПОТДЕЛ // Агитационно-пропагандистский отдел Центрального Комитета ВКП(б) // Agitatsionno-propagandistskii otdel tsentral'nogo komiteta VKP(b) // Agitation and Propaganda Department of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)

The Ninth Party Congress created the Agitation and Propaganda Department in September 1920.  With this creation, Bolshevik propaganda, central to political and everyday life, became "a surrogate reality" that reached beyond just informing citizens.  The Department developed theatre that staged political spectacles; the living newspaper was used on the street whereby actors read newspapers aloud to groups of citizens. Spontaneous readings later culminated into organized agitprop brigades that traveled to towns.  Another offering of Agitpropotdel was the Agitpunkt, a center often attached to a factory or institution offering workers a library, game room, chessboards, and in some cases, infant-sleeping areas.  The agitpunkt was also used in election seasons to inform citizens about campaign issues and the candidates running for the Communist Party. During the New Economic Policy era, Agitpropotdel had over thirty sub-departments for the press, science, schools, cinema, the arts, theater, literature, publishing houses and more. For example, Gosizdat, the State Publishing House, maintained its own agitation-propaganda department.Above all, Agitpropotdel's main directive was to monitor opinions of non-Bolshevik sources while developing Bolshevik views nationally and internationally. By the late 1920s, no Soviet citizen could become an editor, manager or writer of foreign news at any official Communist Party organ without approval by Agitpropotdel. It was also in charge of propaganda used by international Communist parties, and it directed Soviet radio propaganda around the world in various languages. After 1966, Agitpropotdel was re-named the Department of Propaganda, and prior to the collapse of the USSR, it was called the Ideology Department.

AKhR

// АХР // Ассоциация художников революции // Assotsiatsiia khudozhnikov revolutsii // Association of Artists of the Revolution, see AKhRR
AKhRR // АХРР // Ассоциация художников революционной россии // Assotsiatsiia khudozhnikov revolutsii rossii / Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia

AKhRR, the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia, (later the Association of Artists of the Revolution, or AKhR) was founded in 1922 as an independent arts organization. AkhRR was "committed to 'the life of the Red Army', the workers, the peasants, the revolutionaries, the heroes of labor". This commitment was clear at the Association's second exhibit (June-July 1922, Moscow) where its membership exhibited artwork depicting the life of the Red Army. While AKhRR obtained funding from Narkompros (People's Commissariat for Education) and it received strong backing from Kliment Voroshilov, head of the Red Army, its early years were nonetheless characterized by a generally independent voice, free from influences within the Communist Party or from state-mandated artistic policies.  By the mid-1920s, AKhRR developed publishing, printing and bureaus of exhibition and information. Their structure was so unique; no other artistic association in the USSR had such far-reaching and influential pull. During the mid-1920s, AKhRR artists began to split from within and disputes increased between young, proletarian-influenced artists who sought direction in mural art and propaganda agitation over the older members who favored classical, epic-like genres. Artists once loyal to the Association formed separate groups and membership suffered. The mid-1920s was also a period when the Communist Party of the Soviet Union contemplated making a formal artistic policy in line with the nation's political ideology.  This policy eventually became known as Socialist Realism. AKhRR's fate was sealed once the policy was enacted and the Association closed in 1932. Former Association leaders went on to create the Union of Soviet Artists, (Soyuz Sovetskikh Khudozhnikov, SSKh) bringing with them the fundamental principles of AKhRR's manifesto. 

DETGIZ

// ДЕТГИЗ // Детское Государственное Издательство // Detskoe Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo // Children's State Book Publishing House

Founded in 1933 following a consolidation of children's publishing entities, The State children's publishing house maintained offices both Moscow and Leningrad.  Detgiz published all children's literature in the USSR, with the exception of scholastic materials. It was tasked with creating books for children that were innovative in form and content while being instructive and faithful to works of fiction it reproduced.  Output at Detgiz was enormous. In 1960, its press ran 627 books in an aggregate printing of 124,326,000, as well as turning out books in 57 languages of the USSR and another 20 foreign language titles sent abroad. In 1991 the publishing house was divided into a Moscow department, Detskaya Literatura, and the Saint Petersburg department, Lyceum. 

FABZAUCh

// ФАБЗАУЧ // Фабрично-заводское ученичество // Fabrichno-zavodskoe uchenichestvo // Factory-Plant Apprenticeship

Factory apprenticeship schools were vocational schools that had existed in the Russian Empire, but in the 1920s and 1930s, the schools were re-named factory-plant apprenticeships.  By the 1940s, the name was changed to "professional institute" (PU) during the post-war period.  Reorganization of Soviet educational system in the early 1960s saw that these schools were renamed "lyceums".

GLAVPOLIGRAFIZDAT

// ГЛАВПОЛИГРАФИЗДАТ // Главное управление по делам полиграфической промышленности, издательств и книжной торговли // Glavnoe upravlenie po delam poligraficheskoi promyshlennosti, izdatel'stv i knizhnoi torgovli // Main Directorate of Printing Plants, Publishing Houses and Book Trade

In 1949, by a directive from the Council of Ministers of the USSR, management of the book and printing trades was placed under the auspices of Glavpoligrafizdat and remained there until about 1953. Its offices and plant were located in Leningrad. All OGIZ operations were transferred to Glavpoligrafizdat in 1949.  See OGIZ, for information about its history.

GOSIZDAT

// ГОСИЗДАТ // Государственное издательство // Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo // State Publishing House

Established in 1919 as the State Publishing House to provide a centralized plan for the myriad of private book publishers and printers that existed after the Russian Revolution.  Gosizdat absorbed the Soviet publishing houses of Krasnaya nov, Priboi, Zemlya i fabrika, and others. Gosizdat began as a contract-printer but it also printed its own titles. These were chiefly dedicated to agitation and the military.  Posters were printed and published by Gosizdat, and in 1920 it printed 3.2 million copies of seventy-five separate posters. It served as the supervisory administration of work produced by independent, local publishing houses in the post-revolution period while controlling access to materials and enforcing political censorship of the printed word. When decentralization was permitted during the New Economic Policy (from 1921 to 1928), Gosizdat increased its output to include fiction, children's literature, scientific texts, propaganda, Russian literature and school texts. Gosizdat was the foundation of a centralized publishing monopoly, the Association of State Publishing Houses, or OGIZ. It was abolished as a state publishing house in 1930 after reorganization. See OGIZ, for more information.  

GOSPLANIZDAT

// ГОСПЛАНИЗДАТ // Государственное издательство Госплана // Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo Gosplana // Gosplan State Publishing House // Государственное издательство плановой и учетно-статистической литературы Госплана // Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo planovoi i uchetno-statisticheskoi literatury Gosplana // Gosplan State Publishing House Of Planning And Accounting-Statistical Literature // Государственное плановое издательство // Gosudarstvennoe planovoe izdatel'stvo // State Planning Publishing House // Государственное издательство экономической, плановой и учетно-статистической литературы // Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo economicheskoi, planovoi i uchetno-statisticheskoi literatury // State Publishing House Of Economic, Planning And Accounting-Statistical Literature

The Council of People's Commissars of Soviet Russia established a state planning commission, Gosplan, in 1921. The commission instituted and operated a unified, planned program for the Soviet economy that in turn, coordinated the plans and outlooks of various state-run economic departments. Gosplan had a central committee that handled the planned economy as well as the economic objectives of the Communist Party and Soviet Government. Every five years, the government developed plans for operation and these are referred to as the Five-Year Plans. Gosplan also had its own publishing department. Over the years, this was referred to as: Gosplan State Publishing House (1938-1939); Gosplan State Publishing House of Planning and Accounting-Statistical Literature (1939-1946); State Planning Publishing House (1946-1948) and the State Publishing House of Economic, Planning and Accounting-Statistical Literature (1948---1951). 

GSNKh

// ГCНX // Губернский Совет народного хозяйства // Gubernskii sovet narodnogo khozaiistva // Provincial Council of National Economy

The Provincial Economic Council of National Economy, or Gubsovnarkhoz, was created in 1917 to replace Tsarist-era elected councils or zemstvos.  GSNKh was the local, province-supported council of the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy (VSNKh) that oversaw the USSR's economic industrial management.  During the Russian Civil War, the GSNKh managed industry and supply committees for the Bolsheviks.  It also had its own supply, distribution, production, and labor protection departments.

GLAVLIT

// ГЛАВЛИТ // Главное управление по делам литературы и издательств Народного комиссариата просвещения РСФСР // Glavnoe upravlenie po delam literatury i izdatel'stv Narodnogo komisariata prosvesshcheniia RSFSR // Main Administration for Literature and Publishing of the People's Commissariat for Education RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic)

Censorship over the Soviet media was carried out under the agency Glavlit. Founded in 1922, it dictated ultimate editorial authority over printed materials as well as other forms of communication. The agency ceased operations in 1991.

GUBLIT

// ГУБЛИТ // Губернский отдел литературы и издательств // Gubernskii otdel literatury i isdatel'stv // Provincial Department of Literature and Publishing Houses

Gublit was the provincial office of Glavlit, (Glavnoe upravlenie po delam literatury i izdatel'stv narodnogo komisariata prosvesshcheniia RSFSR), the Main administration for literature and publishing of the People's Commissariat for Education of the RSFSR founded in 1922. Gublit offices were censorship administrations in the provinces and party committees oversaw each administration.  Gublit is also referred to in English-language publications as the Regional Office of Literary Affairs.  

IZOGIZ

// ИзоГиз // Государственное издательство изобразительного искусства // Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo izobrazitel'nogo iskusstva // State Publishing House of Fine Arts

IZOGIZ was the fine arts section of OGIZ (Association of the state book and magazine publishers) that was established in 1930 to centralize all publishing in the Soviet Union. Posters, art magazines and artistic books were placed under the IZOGIZ banner of OGIZ. In 1963, a reorganization in publishing meant that IZOGIZ was re-named Sovetskii khudozhnik, "Soviet Artist".

LATGOSIZDAT

// ЛАТГОСИЗДАТ // Латвийское Государственное Издательство // Latviiskoe gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo // Latvian State Publishing House

Latgosizdat is the successor name of VAPP that existed from 1946-1964. For more information, see the entry for VAPP on this page. 

NARKOMPROS

// НАРКОМПРОС // Народный комиссариат просвещения // Narodnyi komissariat prosveshcheniia // People's Commissariat Of Enlightenment

The People's Commissariat of Enlightenment was responsible for education and culture in the USSR. It had a separate Department of Fine Arts (Otdel Izobrazitelnykh Iskusstv--IZO) responsible for the public arts. Narkompros existed from 1917 until 1946 when it was renamed the Ministry of Education. 

OGIZ

// ОГИЗ // Объединение государственных книжно-журнальных издательств // Ob"edinenie gosudarstvennykh knizhno-zhurnal'nykh izdaltel'stv // Association of State Book-Magazine Publishing Houses

Ogiz was established in 1930 to centralize all publishing in the Soviet Union. It managed the publishing industry through a program of centralized planning, financing, procurement and technical guidance, in addition to handling the marketing of printed materials and training manuals.  Overseeing the work of Ogiz was Gosizdat, the State Publishing House of the USSR-- see Gosizdat entry on this page.

POLIGRAFKNIGA

// ПОЛИГРАФКНИГА // Книжно-журнальный полиграфический трест // Кnizhno-zhurnal'nyi poligraficheskii trest // Book and Magazine Printing Houses Trust

In 1921, the Soviet Union consolidated the most productive printing houses into state-owned trusts in order to centralize book and periodical printing. Poligrafkniga managed most elements of the printing industry from production to sales. It also operated as a contract printer with publishers (chiefly the ones state-owned) so they would use printing houses operating under the Poligrafkniga banner.

ROSTA

// РОСТА // Российское телеграфное агентство // Rossiiskoe telegrafnoe agentstvo // Russian Telegraph Agency

The Telegraph Agency had artist collectives in Moscow, Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and in other cities around the USSR that produced a unique type of poster that combined the functions of a newspaper, a magazine and an information bulletin. These posters were called Okna ROSTA or, Rosta window posters. The Moscow branch alone produced over two million posters during the Russian Civil War.

RVTs

// РВЦ // Разрешается военной цензурой // Razreshaetsia voennoi tsenzuroi // Permitted by military censorship

On December 23, 1918, a censorship department for military secrecy was created within the Revolutionary Military Council. Notice was sent to editors and publishers ordering them to submit to the council their written materials prior to publication when the “information of a military nature was communicated.” Materials such as books and posters were affixed with a stamp or included a line of text indicating the material was “permitted by military censorship” or, RVTs in abbreviated format.

SIBLET

// СИБЛЕТ // Sibirskoe otdelenne obshchestva druzbei vozdushnogo flota RSFSR // Сибирское отделение Общества друзей воздушного флота РСФСР // Siberian Branch of the Society of Friends of the Air Fleet of the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic)

The Siberian branch existed from 1923-1925.

SVB

// СВБ // Союз воинствующих безбожников // Soiuz voinstvuiushchikh bezbozhnikov // League of Militant Godless

This entity was formed in Moscow in 1924 as the "Moscow Society of the Godless" (SVB).  In 1929 the name was changed to the "League of Militant Godless". Among its goals were antireligious education and ensuring "genuine godlessness" was observed and propagated throughout the USSR.  Copious antireligious propaganda were produced by the League via books, journals, pamphlets and posters. Their newspaper was Bezbozhnik (Godless).  Membership peaked to over five million in 1931-32, a time when the League propagated the violent anti-clergy purges before World War II. SVB existed until the early 1940s when Stalin closed the operations to ease anti-religious activity by the Soviet Government in order to shift public attention to the war effort.  

TSENTRIZDAT

// ЦЕНТРИЗДАТ// Центральное государственное издательство tsentral'noe gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo // Central Government Publishing House

This publishing house was established in 1924 by the People's Commissariat of the RSFSR on Nationalities to consolidate the Eastern Central Publishing and Western Central Publishing divisions into one entity. Tsentrizdat focused on publishing works of literature, political, scientific and educational information in the national languages of the USSR.  This meant that it had offices and book factories (principally typography departments) in the Soviet republics and autonomous regions. When the USSR centralized its printing and publishing industries, Tsentrizdat was dissolved in 1931 and was merged into Ogiz. See the Ogiz entry on this page.

VAPP

VAPP /// ВAПП // Главное управление издательств и полиграфической // Glavnoe upravlenie izdatel'stv i poligraficheskoi / Department of State Book Publishers and Polygraphic Enterprises

Until World War II, Latvia had thriving industries for publishing and printing. In 1940, the largest publishing house Liesma (Flame) in the country was nationalized as a state-run entity called VAPP (Department of State Book Publishers and Polygraphic Enterprises). In Latvian VAPP is Valsts Apgādniecības un Poligrāfijas uzņēmumu Pārvaldes. From 1946-1964, VAPP was named Latgosizdat. For more information, see LATGOSIZDAT on this page.

VKhUTEMAS

// ВХУТЕМАС // Высшие художественно-технические мастерские // Vyshie khudozhestvenno-tekhnicheskie masterskie // Higher Artistic Technical Studios

Vkhutemas was an art and technical school created in 1920 in Moscow. A merger of two schools formed Vkhutemas: the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and the Stroganov School of Applied Arts.  Vkhutemas taught architecture but intertwined the discipline with industrial and technical design, textiles, sculpture and painting courses.  In 1926-27, reorganization changed the Studio's title to "Institute" and it became known by its portmanteau, VKhuTEIN.  Rife with inner-departmental conflicts and squeezed by pressure from Soviet politicians, the institute closed in 1930.  Faculty and students were dispersed into at least six other schools in the Soviet Union.