April 21, 2014

1943. Stalin's Cult of Personality

Stalin the Father
A 1950 Soviet propaganda poster with the caption "Under the leadership of Great Stalin — Forward to Communism!" (source)
The parentheses indicate text that did not pass Soviet censors for military security or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

May 2, 1943

The May 1st anniversary pictures of Stalin printed in Russian newspapers portray him as a kindly looking man with his usual ("life with father") mustache and a twinkle in his eye.

The good humor of his holiday order of the day seems to be reflected in these pictures. And incidentally they are pencil drawings, not photographs. Comparing these drawings with others printed throughout the past four or five years, you can notice certain very definite changes. The streaks of grey in his mustache and hair are more prominent. And Stalin has gained a little weight (He will never be a fat man, but you can spot the beginning of a double chin)—and it's not altogether unattractive in a man his age.

Josef Stalin was 64 years old last December 21. His last public appearance before the Moscow Soviet was on November 7 on the 25th anniversary of the October Revolution. At that time he was as active and energetic a man ten years his junior.

This week all over the Soviet Union, pictures of Josef Stalin are being displayed on every factory and office building in the country. It means that this week his picture is getting larger display and his name on more banners and posters and that he is getting more personal publicity than any man has ever received.

(Stalin's personal life is his own affair. He is portrayed to the Russian people as something between a stern father and a friendly brother. No foreign correspondent has interviewed him since Ralph Ingersoll had an off the record talk with Stalin. Consequently we reporters here in Moscow have had little chance to write any first person impressions of one of the world's greatest men.)

However the diplomats, including the American and British ambassadors, who see Premier Stalin quite regularly report that he still maintains the personal charm that has won ever person who has met him.

And Stalin has not yet made a public appearance in his new uniform which he is entitled to wear as new supreme commander in the chief of Russia's armed forces. He also can wear the Marshal's star at the throat of his tunic—a platinum job with a dozen big diamonds in it.

But the latest pictures appearing today still show Stalin wearing what is semi-officially known as "a semi-military tunic." His dress is still as simple as that of any peasant. The betting among the American correspondents is three to one that Stalin will not put on his new uniform ever.

But Stalin is unpredictable and some of the boys are putting these bets on paper for future collection. Personally I'm not having any.