А Battle Near Borzhimov


This print showing an intense close-combat battle surrounding a large artillery gun near Borzymów, Poland is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Starting December 20, the enemy launched a strong offensive along the Borzhimov-Bolimov line, concentrating considerable forces on the right bank of the Ravka River. In a series of attacks, the Germans tried to dislodge our troops from their positions. On the night of December 20, after fierce and persistent artillery firing throughout the day, dense columns of Germans attacked our trenches with bayonets. Our guns fired, sweeping away entire rows of the enemy and covering the battlefield with corpses. Despite heavy losses, the Germans persistently moved forward, supported by reserves. The moment arrived when we had to respond with hand-to-hand fighting. Our regiments, despite the advantage of the enemy forces, left the trenches and moved toward the enemy. A fierce fight ensued, which lasted for about an hour. German artillery and machine guns rattled continuously, merging into one general roar. Like steel lava, our regiments moved forward. The enemy did not expect to meet with such strong resistance, and began to retreat.” This picture, like many others in the collection, was printed in the Moscow printing house of Ivan Sytin (1851–1934). By the 1880s, Sytin was the most popular and successful publisher of lubok pictures in Russia. He also published cheap popular books for workers and peasants, textbooks, and literature for children. The quality of this print is much better than many images from other printing houses—more colors and shades are neatly matched and more small details are available for the viewer. 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. During World War I, lubok informed Russians about events on the frontlines, bolstered morale, and served as propaganda against enemy combatants.

Last updated: July 23, 2015