Following the loss of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad, Axis forces suffered a series of devastating setbacks in 1943. The German expeditionary force in Libya and Tunisia was defeated in May, and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was replaced in late July by Prime Minister Pietro Badoglio, who subsequently dissolved the National Fascist Party, signed an armistice with the Allies, and declared war on Germany. The Battle of Kursk, waged in July and August and ending in a decisive Soviet victory, would be the last major German offensive operation in the Soviet Union.

On February 18, 1943, at the Berlin Sportpalast, German Minister of Propaganda and Enlightenment Joseph Goebbels announced strict austerity measures at home, urgently maintaining that Germany had a “historic responsibility” to prevent Bolshevism from spreading across Europe. The mood among Soviet artists, by contrast, was tangibly optimistic. A poster designed at the end of the year by Viktor Deni depicts a heroic Red Army soldier sweeping out German detritus with a broom made of bayonets, confidently indicating that the days of occupation were numbered.

Kukryniksy. There Was a Shout Near Orel and it Echoed in Rome, August 2, 1943. Ne boltai! Collection, 0778.

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