The Battle of Przemyśl


This print showing a clash between Austrian and Russian troops is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “The battle, which began on October 1 between our troops and the Austrians on the Galician front, continued with great tenacity on October 4, 5, and 6. The Austrians conducted a particularly intense attack along the front line of Sanok/Stare Miasto-Stryi, south of Przemyśl. Bayonets were used often. On the night of October 4 to October 5, in the vicinity of Stare Miasto, the Austrians took the offensive five times, getting closer to our troops. At 7:00 a.m. on October 5, our troops, allowing the Austrians to approach as close as approximately 200 steps, suddenly loosed heavy fire from rifles, machine guns, and howitzers. The Austrians faltered. They tried to hide in trenches, but our troops launched a counterattack. Shouting 'Hurrahs,' we overthrew the enemy with our bayonets. The Austrians suffered heavy losses. We took an entire battalion prisoner, including 15 officers and six machine guns.” 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