The Bolshevik Party took hold in Russia in the fall of 1917. Under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was born in 1922. In these years of political upheaval and civil war, followed by the entrenchment of the Soviet social system under Joseph Stalin (1924–53), relations between the new Soviet Union and the United States were fluctuating and uncertain. The images of the United States produced in the Soviet Union often strongly criticized the American social and economic system, yet underlying these hostilities was an admiration for American industrial achievement and an aspiration to model Soviet advancements on, and then surpass, those of the West. In the United States, the first Red Scare, which took place during the second two decades of the 20th century, manifested Americans’ fear of creeping revolution—an anxiety that at times led to compromises in civil rights in an effort to contain the perceived threat. The 1930s brought with them some stability—or at least overt tensions and fear became more subdued—as the United States moved toward official diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union in 1933 and both nations economically rebalanced following World War I and the Great Depression.
Following the invasion of the USSR by Nazi Germany on June 22, 1941, the American-Soviet relationship underwent a significant shift. The Soviet Union began reaching out to its new allies—Great Britain and, though not yet involved in the war, the United States. The posters in this section reveal the fluctuations in the relationship between these two powers.
Nikolai Mikhailovich Kochergin. Capital and Co., 1920. Ne boltai! Collection.