“A Moral Victory for Soviet Russia”: International Communism and Cultural Diplomacy in the Context of the First Russian Art Exhibition in Berlin

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Research paper presented at the conference. Paper abstract:
The aim of the paper is to discuss the political, historical and cultural background of the First Russian Art Exhibition in Berlin. Soviet Russia had since summer 1921 struggled with a catastrophic famine in the Volga basin that had placed the entire Soviet regime under extreme pressure. In June 1921, an international call for famine relief was dispatched to the world which was answered by several humanitarian organisations. Besides these efforts, Lenin sent an appeal to the workers of the world where he appealed for their unconditional aid. The mandate to co-ordinate this global proletarian famine relief effort was given to the German communist Willi Münzenberg who transformed the initiative into the International Workers’ Relief organisation (Internationale Arbeiterhilfe) in Berlin. While the first months of the solidarity campaign were devoted to famine relief, it soon developed under the auspices of the Communist International into a global initiative to help reconstruct the blemished image of Soviet Russia and to engage the workers of the world to assist in the “building of socialism”. The initiative had from the start a clear cultural dimension as the solidarity drive was supported by several artists who were organised in an artists’ aid initiative (Künstlerhilfe) in Berlin. The idea to showcase Russian avantgarde art in Berlin was thus a natural development of these cultural connections. One must see the art exhibition as inherently entangled to the political and cultural connections being forged on different levels between Soviet Russia and Weimar Germany in the early 1920s. As the major Western powers had not yet diplomatically recognised Soviet Russia, a special relationship in the cultural, economic and military field developed between Soviet Russia and the Weimar Republic. The art exhibition in Berlin represented an extraordinary example of the cultural relations between the two countries and in the words of Münzenberg the exhibition promised in its time to form a significant “moral victory for Soviet Russia”.
Period15 okt. 2021
HändelsetitelInternational Conference: 100 Years of German-Russian Cultural Exchange: The First Russian Art Exhibition
Typ av evenemangKonferens
PlatsBerlin, Tyskland, BerlinVisa på karta