Russia's War with the Germans. The Heroic Feat of Lieutenant Smirnov


This print showing cavalry racing into a lake is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “During the bloody fighting at the Masurian Lakes, a battery, commanded by Lieutenant Smirnov, was surrounded by German troops. The only way out was into the lake. Not wanting to be captured, the battery, on the order of Smirnov, gripped the caissons and pushed them into the lake, thereby not allowing the enemy to take possession of any of our guns. Smirnov and the rest of the battery died a glorious death of heroes.” 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

A. V. Krylov & C. Printing and Lithographic Firm, Moscow


Title in Original Language

Война России с немцами. Геройский подвиг поручика Смирнова

Type of Item

Last updated: November 14, 2017