The caption reads:
WE NEED HEALTHY SAILORS
Along with their formal studies, sailors of the Black Sea Red Fleet pay a lot of attention to sport. In the photo – A ‘swallow dive’.
It is very much an avant-garde photograph with the unusual angle, the juxtaposition of movement with static elements, the straight and angular human constructions contrasting with the subtle contours of the human beings and light and shadow. The subject of a sporting moment is very close to the heart of the new society: The people should be fit and beautiful, ready for the challenge of construction of socialism. The photographer is not credited.
This issue follows up the story of the German Communist, Max Hoelz, from Prozhektor No. 32. He and many fellow Communists were all released from prison in Germany under a special amnesty. Hoelz then went to the USSR and died ‘in a boating accident’ in 1933.
The main story is about the prison where Hoelz had been detained in Germany – Sonnenburg. The prison was closed in 1930 but reopened in 1933 as a concentration camp. The article, in somewhat bizarre fashion and in far too much detail, explains that the surrounding fields are fertilised with human waste from the prison.
Hoelz himself wrote a article for this issue (on page 3)
In keeping with the sporting theme established on the cover, there are photographs and commentary on the establishment of new athletics records. Once again the photographer is not credited.
Leningrad Proletkult Theatre
There is also an article, with very good photographs, (below, right) about the Proletkult Leningrad workers’ theatre. It states:
‘This is an interesting, young theatre not only because of its actors but also because of its self-styled social content. This is the theatre whose actors until three years ago were rolling metal, standing at machines or driving wagons. In reality, they have not moved too far away from that life. They just transferred it to the stage, fixing it in scenic images, accentuating its typical features, those in service of social attention……’
The Proletkult theatre ran as a separate organisation to the Leningrad TRAM (young workers’ theatre), which was directly under the supervision of Narkompros – the Ministry of Enlightenment. For more about Proletkult in general, please click here.
General Information about PROZHEKTOR magazine
Along with Ogonek (1923- ) and Krasnaya Niva (1923–31), Prozhektor (Searchlight) (1923–35) was one of the new ‘Thin illustrated magazines’ appearing after the Civil War in the USSR. The leading editor was Nikolai Bukharin, who was editor of Pravda until his removal in 1929. Prozhektor was a supplement to Pravda. At its inception it was the only colour journal in the country. It published ‘newsworthy’ in-depth articles, stories, poems, literary criticism, etc. – a broad subject range. A new edition was on sale once a week but then difficulties in 1930 due to the ‘shortage of paper in the USSR’ meant that it appeared less frequently. This signalled the start of Stalin’s ever-tighter grip on every aspect of Soviet life. By that time, Bukharin was under suspicion. Later Prozhektor appeared twice per month. Prozhektor is an excellent view of the cultural tendencies of the time – striking avant-garde photographic images interlaced with subjective political aspiration. It’s stark visual and direct journalistic approaches make it an invaluable relic of its era. Of the three editors of this edition, Bukharin, Slepkov and Schmidt, two (Bukharin and Schmidt) were shot after Stalin’s orders, in 1938 and 1950 respectively. What happened to Slepkov (his name means ‘son of the blind man’) is so far unknown to us. We have more items available concerning Bukharin – an article in Ogonek and the official volume of his trial transcript.