The Heroic Feat of Don Cossack Kuzma Kryuchkov During a Fight with German Cavalrymen


This print showing cavalry engaged in combat is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “A small patrol of six Cossacks crossed the Prussian border and unexpectedly stumbled upon enemy cavalry, consisting of 30 riders. Two of our Cossacks went to report to their superiors, and four stayed behind. The four were: Ostakhov, Shchegolkov, Ivankov and Kuzma Kryuchkov. They mounted their horses and rushed upon the Germans with loud war cries. Confusion stirred among the Prussians. They shouted: ‘Kashlany, kashla,’ which is what the Germans call the Russian Cossacks. All 30 riders fled in terror. On his frisky horse, Kuzma Kryuchkov rode in front of his companions and met an enemy unit far ahead. He stabbed the Germans with a spear, slashed them with a sword, and his horse trampled the enemy. Brave Cossack Kuzma Kryuchkov killed 11 enemy men all by himself, and the rest were killed by his comrades who arrived at the scene. Kuzma received 13 light wounds, but he quickly recovered and returned again to war. Kryuchkov was the first soldier to be awarded the Saint George's Cross during this war.” Lubok is a Russian word for popular prints created from woodcuts, engravings, etchings, or later, by using lithography. The prints were often characterized by simple, colorful graphics depicting a narrative, and could also include text. Lubok gained popularity in Russia beginning in the late 17th century. The prints, which often depicted narratives from a historical event, literature, or a religious tale, were used to make such stories accessible to illiterate people. These expressive prints had a wide range in tone, from humorous to instructive to sharp political and social commentary. The images were clear and easy to understand, and some of the pictures were serialized, predecessors of the modern comic strip. Prints could be reproduced inexpensively, and were thus a way for the masses to display art at home. Initially, this artistic style was not taken seriously by the upper classes, but by the end of the 19th century, lubok was so well-regarded that it inspired professional artists. During World War I, lubok informed Russians about events on the frontlines, bolstered morale, and served as propaganda against enemy combatants.

Publication Information

I. A. Morozov Chromolithography, Moscow


Title in Original Language

Геройский подвиг донского казака Кузьмы Крючкова во время схватки с немецкими кавалеристами

Type of Item

Last updated: June 9, 2015