The Commissar Vanishes offers a chilling look at how one man – Joseph Stalin – manipulated the science of photography to advance his own political career and . Robert talks with author David King, an expert on Soviet photography who has just written a book called “The Commissar Vanishes. Courtesy of our good chum Randy comes this absolutely chilling photo gallery of manipulated images from Soviet Russia. The images above.

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On Stalin’s orders, purged rivals were airbrushed from group portraits, and crowd scenes were altered to depict even greater legions of the faithful. Liberal and monarchist forces, loosely organized into the White Armyimmediately went to war against the Bolsheviks’ Red Army. Those expunged from Soviet public memory were also removed from private images.

A pictorial chronology of the Soviet Union focusing on the alteration of photographs and artwork.

I agree to receive the Index on Censorship weekly newsletter, monthly events newsletter and periodic campaign updates via email. This book is in large format which allows for close examination of the photographic materials. He occasionally makes rather snarky asides about some of the art work, which I found a bit odd.

In the summer issue of Index on Censorship magazinewhich focuses on the legacy of the Russian Revolution deputy editor Jemimah Steinfeld writes:. You wanna read a scary book? Along with his books, Ordinary Citizens a book of photographs of innocent people about to be killed during Stalin’s purges and his monumental “Red Star over Russia” a pictorial history and commentary on the USSR from the Revolution to the death of Stalinhe presents the results of decades of research in archives and private libraries all over the world, particularly for material about Trotsky who was effectively erased from Soviet history by the Stalinists.

Trotsky not important in Revolution.

Want to Read saving…. Aug 20, Dave rated it it was amazing Shelves: The death of millions is a statistic. Indeed, a few years ago, a graphics software advert reproduced that picture with a caption which went something like: Either The Commissar Vanishes was mentioned in the acknowledgements of the book, or it got me curious to see what the library had, but that is how I encountered this title, and I am glad I did.


Long before the advent of Photoshop, technicians in Russia manipulated photos so much that they became outright lies. Standing at center is Alexander Malchenko. The photo was later altered and both were removed by censors.

Commisssr book was filled with images, some just showing the defacing that happened during Stalin’s reign to blot out individual that now had become enemies of the people. The comnissar was then changed to read, “Struggle for your rights”, and a flag that was a solid color before was changed to read, “Down with the monarchy — long live the Republic!

David Aaronovitch argues in the summer issue of Index on Censorship magazine that historical drama can also be manipulative when it ignores details of the past. Absorbing and informative, but also relentlessly depressing due to the subject matter. Anthem republics Emblem republics Flag republics.

When the time is right, I hope he bequeaths his entire collection to a museum or library I can get to someday. There is an entire room at the Tate Modern museum in London dedicated to just a fraction of the material collected by David King over the years.

Although commissaf Bolsheviks looked to this mystical image of the party in order to legitimise their rule, it should not be thought that this was necessarily cynical or even conscious on their part, at least at first. This book is worth it alone for the many painstakingly sourced before and after shots of each censored picture.

Particularly when it explains how this censorship was carried out not just by party officials, but even by individual citizens who rushed to comprehensively obliterate cherished close family members from privately held photo albums and publications, as soon vannishes those family members fell out of favour with the leadership o This book is worth it alone for the many painstakingly sourced before and after shots of each censored picture.


Cpmmissar Soviet Union and the Space Race, Stalin did not do so much in the early stages of the Russian Revolution, so as compensation he purged everyone else in Russian History and he replaced them.

He was also among the first members of the Politburo. More and more people disappear as the historical narrative changes. The background of the original image includes a store that says in Russian, “Watches, gold and silver”.

Mar 17, Plethora rated it really liked it Shelves: In one famous image, several Par The Commissar Vanishes offers a chilling look at how one man – Joseph Stalin – vanisshes the science of photography commisasr advance his own political career and to erase memories off his victims.

Commissar Vanishes : NPR

Antill, Peter; Dennis, Peter. I cannot recommend it too highly. Under Yezhov, the purges reached their height, with roughly half of the Soviet political and military establishment being imprisoned or shot, along with hundreds of thousands of others, suspected of disloyalty or ” wrecking. Stalin did not do so much in the early stages of the Russian Revolution, so as compensation he purged everyone else in Or, “The Coffee Table Photography book from Hell”.

Censorship of images in the Soviet Union

The photos are altered as the people in them fall out of favor. Unfortunately, they weren’t just retouching photos to remove a few wrinkles, smallpox scars, or extra pounds – they were using it to wipe people who fell out of favor out of history.

Vanisjes 28, Tom rated it liked it Shelves: Abdulkhakim Ismailovwho is supporting the flag-bearer in the photo, had a wristwatch on each arm, indicating he had been looting.