Propaganda material distributed by the “League of Godless”

Propaganda material distributed by the “League of Godless”

Religion was equaled with backwardness and illiteracy.

 

This material first emphasized their so-called Anti-Religious Evenings where they provided lectures and performances.

The walls were decorated with posters depicting slogans as “Religion is a Fraud” and “I don’t go to Church on Easter”. The general opinion was that “religion severely retards the foundation of a socialist society”. The lectures were interspersed with games, ballet and dancing.
On the evening before Easter the artistic part was well rehearsed, so as to attract as big an audience as possible and to entertain and keep said audience, because the traditional Easter festivities took place at exactly the same time, and the latter time-honoured tradition still was a strong attracting force for most Russians, including some comrades.
Soon it was concluded that a lecture about the socialist project they were about to realize did not suffice as alternative, and that the people present, voluntarily and otherwise, would concoct a clever ruse so they could still be able to attend the traditional Easter celibration:

“Church Holidays”

“Easter Eve 1928”

The peculiarities of the events that happened on Easter Eve 1928 in the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow are well known.
The “Union of Food Workers and Trade Clerks” had reserved all places in the theatre for its members, the opera to be performed on Easter Eve itself was “Boris Godounov” (Mussorgsky).
Shortly before the start of the play, there is suddenly announced by the staff that instead of the promised play, another would be performed: “Prince Igor” (Borodin) which is much shorter in duration.

The actors all visibly rushed through the play, and it was not even 22.30h when the curtains dropped.

At midnight all the actors and a large part of the audience were present in the church for the traditional Easter celibration, to great frustration and shame of the “League of Godless” leadership.

Anti-religious mockery campaigns
The Anti-Shrove Tuesday Parades became notorious, they were held as part of the equally distasteful Anti-Easter and Anti-Christmascampaigns. I use the word distasteful referring to the practices applied by the Youth League (Komsomol), who generously delivered actors for the Mockery Processions, where they sung obscene and blasphemous songs, while mocking religious ceremonials in public.
Masked people roamed the streets, satirical and grotesque impressions of Orthodox popes, Roman Catholic priests, Jewish rabbis, Islamic mullahs, Sjamans from Siberia, the Roman Pope, etc… and statues, large puppets, imagery, and large banners were decorated with huge bottles of vodka and obscene suggestions of an explicit nature.
The general population was furious, and numerous violent confrontations with a strongly indignant majority made sure the League quickly distanced itself from these methods.
A new, and very effective method of propaganda was devised: the anti-religious movie, the cinema!

 

Godless Moving Picture Film
Movie theatres were rapidly constructed and emerged like mushrooms everywhere. Because of its novelity and the fascination of the people by “moving pictures”, the projector became the new weapon of the League propagandist. Groups armed with projecting equipment, films and large tents spread all over the country. The movie theatres are loved by the general population, this provided the “Godless” militant with a means of spreading propaganda to the most distant corners of the Soviet lands.
A simple do-it-yourself procedure appeared in the Anti-Easter edition of Besboshnik u Stanka (april 1927, p 20), where it is detailed how to make projector slides yourself with black/white small format plates and Chinese ink (see the following picture).

From left to right: God the Father of the Christians, Jehova of the Jews, Allah of the Muslims next row: together with their formost practitioners

From left to right: God the Father of the Christians, Jehova of the Jews, Allah of the Muslims
next row: together with their formost practitioners

source: Besboshnik u Stanka 1927, IV, 20

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About Olivier Corveleyn

I'm a 35 years old biochemist from Belgium with a particular interest in Russian culture, history and politics, and general slavic culture and history. This blog is intended to put the Russian Godless Movement and its main media outlet, the journal безбожник, bezbozhnik (godless) and several others in its wake which existed during the interbellum period, in an objective historical perspective. Currently I must use mostly secondary sources as the journals are difficult to locate. The blog is a work-in-progress which I mostly put together during the little free time I have. I'll try to make it not too chaotic and keep it more or less structured. Also, English is not my first language, so forgive me any grammar and spelling mistakes in advance.
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