Nothing to lose but their chains

Drawing by convict Osip Nussbaum, 18 year old, professional artist. Convicted of embezzlement and forgery

Lenin in the Czarist court. Drawing by convict Andrei Evdokimov, 34 year old, former court’s clerk. Convicted of murdering his wife

Drawing by convict P. Mikhailenko, 28 year old, peasant. Convicted for 5 years of murder committed for profit.

Lenin in the prison. Drawing by convict Konyukhov

Lenin abolishing the prisons. Drawing by convict Mark Larionov, 27 year old. Convicted of four counts of theft, for the last time of two years of prison. A turner by profession

Lenin takes the handcuffs off the prisoners’ hands. Drawing by convict Mark Larionov (see above)

The instructive drawings which saw in the leader of the Soviet people their fellow sufferer and accomplice on the one hand, and prospective liberator on the other hand, have been cited by Lobgott Pipzam from the 1925 volume of the journal Суд идет!, “Court is in session”. More precisely, this publication was the literary supplement of the prestigious journal Народный суд, “People’s Court” in the 1920s, until at an uncertain date it was omitted from it forever. The reason of its abolition is unclear, but perhaps similar articles regularly balancing on the edge between seriousness and absurdity played their role in it, including the forensic reports published every week with a poker face by Mikhail Zoshchenko, the master of Russian satire and black humor which, although describing real cases, by way of their presentation were capable of undermining the prestige of the body.

Fathers and sons

In the People’s Court in Bogorodsk recently ended the proceedings on the suit presented by Citizeness Myasnaya against factory worker Smolyakov. Citizeness Myasnaya considered Smolyakov the father of her child, and required of him child support. As a proof, she produced ten witnesses. Nevertheless, Worker Smolyakov did not recognize his paternity. “True”, he says, “I have indeed lived together with this citizeness. But the kid does not look like me. Look at his little nose which is so different from mine, and his little face is much more similar to Witness Milovanov, over there.” Witness Milovanov, butcher and merchant is flailing as a sign of protest, and he does not recognize his paternity either. But one of the witnesses says before the court: “We cannot know who the father of the child is. But we only saw the merchant with the citizeness in the nettle.” The merchant flails again to protest. Thus, two fathers of the same child are standing before the Court. The case becomes cloudy. Finally, the Court delivers a Salomon’s judgment. In the 236th issue of the Bogorodsk newspaper “The Worker’s Voice” the following judgment is published: “We oblige Citizen Milovanov to pay monthly 15 rubels. We declare Citizen Smolyakov as his accomplice, but as a worker, we acquit him of paying until the change of merchant Milovanov’s social status.” The judgment is fair and acute. But why was it necessary to stigmatize the child in this way? For he was classified as originating from the merchants’ class. What can he do like this when he grows up? They should have at least registered the name of the accomplice-father in the birth extract.”

Nowadays the true intentions cannot be defined any more. For it was precisely in the 1920s that the popular graphics seeking its new place and voice produced so many items of Lenin’s cult which today work absolutely well as satirical works.

“Our Statue of Liberty Plan. In our humble hope all the health-minded proletariat of America will contribute to its realization.” From the 1924 volume of the journal Смехач

2 comentarios:

xopxe dijo...

re: the last picture, Смехач sounds like a satiric magazine, from the title.

languagehat dijo...

Fascinating! But "Lenin abolishing the prisons" should be "Lenin destroying a prison."