The Defeat of the Germans on the River Bzura


This print showing the defeat of Germans at the river Bzura is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “In three previous battles, the defeated German army was unable to conduct a full and broad offensive against our invincible army along the front line at ​​the river Bzura. The Germans were limited to separate attacks, and as a result, their hordes remained on the left bank of the Bzura. The sacrifices made by the Germans on the Bzura are enormous, but on some days, thousands of fresh corpses of the bloody Kaiser's hordes flood the banks of this now historic river. At first our troops allowed the Germans to cross the river, but then with a swift attack, defeated the squad that had just crossed. Several times whole German regiments tried to cross the river, but each time they were pushed back into the water while a significant number of prisoners were taken on our side of the river. After these attempts the Germans retreated, and our troops began the offensive with indestructible force. We have already made important progress on the entire front.” 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.

Last updated: June 9, 2015