Soviet Propaganda Photography 1944–1985

State Archives' exhibition hall

The exhibition by Estonian Film Archives reflects the Soviet propaganda through press photography, moving image and sound recordings. The exhibited material covers the time from the invasion of Soviet troops in January 1944 to the year 1984 when the Soviet Union was headed by Mikhail Gorbachev and the period of perestroika and glasnost began.

The photographs in questions have reached Estonian Film Archives mostly from newspaper and magazine editorials and from the Estonian Information Agency (ETA).

During the Soviet period, the most interesting images were selected from the editorial collections of printed publications and the Estonian Information Agency. These images were determined to have an archival value and are now stored in the Film Archives. ETA photo archive, consisting of 38 503 negative images, came to Film Archive after liquidation of ETA photo department in 1999.

During the Soviet period, the signatures and comments appeared in press were the basis for describing the photographs. The photographs presented in the exhibition include signatures prepared in this period, mostly unaltered.

In addition to photographs, the exhibition includes a selection of Soviet-era cinema newsreel films and a sound fragment (belongs to the sound archive of Film Archives) from the speech that Leonid Ylyich Brezhnev held in 1982 in Baku. Cinema newsreel Soviet Estonia have been all deposited with the Film Archive. Of these, some have been selected from the deep Stalinist period, from the years 1948–1949, and some from a bit later stagnation time in the years 1978–1983.

Through audiovisual documents, we try to communicate examples of the advocacy of Soviet power, which concerned every area and age group in the society. The current propaganda was disingenuous. None of the areas did escape the politicisation. Despite the disconsolate reality, the shortages and fear atmosphere both in countryside and in cities, the propaganda showed the heroic worker and kolkhoznitsa and happy Soviet children.

Propaganda photo illustrates expressively the political situation. The periods of Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev can be distinguished – in this sense, the exhibition really portrays faithfully observable era as one could capture only whatever the great stage directors had prepared.

The exhibition offers the possibility to view and analyse the mechanisms, forms and presentation methods of Soviet propaganda from the distance, as well as evaluate its impacts and consequences.

3 October 2011, at 15:00


3 October 2011 – 31 December 2011


State Archives' exhibition hall


Maneeži 2, Tallinn




Aigi Bremse