This was certainly one of the darker events put on by the Princess Dashkova Russian Centre during Innovative Learning Week, but it was enthralling and engaging all the same. Professor Evgeny Dobrenko, Head of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield and distinguished author on Russian history, presented a lecture on what seemed to be the most unconventional of subjects: the violence and hatred which could be found in Soviet propaganda during the Second World War.Encompassing paintings, poems, films and posters, Professor Dobrenko’s presentation offered a chilling insight into the visual and literary representation of the horrific violence and brutality which existed during the German invasion of Russia. The aim of the Soviet propaganda was clear: to shock and scare the Russian people into developing a blind hatred for their German oppressors.
It was definitely not an event for the faint at heart – within ten minutes the room was looking in horror and disgust at a harrowing picture of a semi-naked female corpse, the result of a Nazi execution.
Next a video of a passionate performance of an epic poem which demanded, in no uncertain terms, that Russian men kill every German they might come across. It is no surprise that after the war the Soviet government hid away such brutal propaganda, but now it gives an uncompromising insight into the harsh realities of the war.
There was no respite from the blood and violence as we were shown examples of the famous Soviet wartime propaganda posters, featuring grieving mothers and tortured children calling on the people of Russia to save them from Nazi evil.
Now, over 60 years since the event, it is hard to appreciate what people went through during the war – especially so far away from the ‘spirit of the home front’ which is so celebrated in the UK.
‘Art of Hatred’ really brought home the atrocities of WWII, no doubt leaving all in attendance feeling extremely lucky to be living in age of relative peace and security.
Samuel Wilson (History)