A political poster from the Bolsheviks which literally translated
means: "Electrification and Counter-Revolution" and makes no
sense out of historical context. At this point in time the first
Soviet government was pushing for and promising the public
the availability of electricity throughout the country. The implied
meaning is that "light" shed by the completion of such a huge
task would help find counter-revolutionaries. The usual group
of potential suspects includes an officer from the Imperial White
Guard, a high-ranking clergyman from the Russian Orthodox
Church, a "wealthy" merchant/capitalist and in the center, a
spy/saboteur - commonly depicted as a thin German complete
with stereotypical monocle and the attire of a member of the
foreign service or possibly an ambassador.
The OUN was most noticeable and problematic for the Soviets in the decades immediately following WWII, as were a number of other independence groups formed in parts of Mongolia and the newly annexed Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. In fact, the Lviv Oblast (something like "county" or "parish" in English) and the city of Lviv was a bastion of continuous ill will toward Soviet rule. The city was once part of Poland but after WWII became a permanent part of western-most Ukraine. As a border region that had ties to Poland and Germany in addition to Ukraine many people got tastes for other governments varying from Imperial to Nazi and of course Communism. The city was a regular source of irritation for the KGB and its predecessor the Ministry of State Security (MGB) since it spawned anti-Soviet groups including members of the ranks of the most organized of them, the OUN. Because of this ongoing problem with the local public opinion, the KGB established one of its most notorious regional offices in Lviv. Serving as an agent there was either a punishment or a chance to gain notoriety and move up the ranks faster than in other parts of the USSR, and which situation it was depended on the individual officer and why he (very few women were actually KGB agents - despite various spy novel authors' fantasies) was assigned to that location. The security services and the border guard were always closely linked if not under the same agency name and this is understandable given the unstable nature of borderlands and the thought processes of people who have been rapidly shifted from one regime to another and the division of loyalties that results.
The pictures below show close-ups of the embroidery work on a flag from a prominent Ukrainian rebel-supporting group ostensibly from a group called the DUN or Druzhnnik or "friends"/"supporters" of the Ukrainian Nationalists. This flag was likely made during the early part of the Soviet involvement in WWII. Germany had been a potential ally of the Ukrainian people against the Soviets as early as the initial series of revolutions in 1917 when German troops were sent in support of members of the White Guard and other imperialists who wanted to maintain the status quo as far as the Russian Empire and the leadership thereof. (See http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1917armyrevolt&Year=1917 for more information on the White Guard and the initial revolutions.)
In the photos above and below, some of the especially intricate details of this obviously handmade flag are more visible than from a distance. Besides the unusually long-fibered construction of the velvet, sheets of silk and the embroidery discussed above were sewn together in this weighty example of what one might expect was a form of public announcement about the group and where their sympathies lay - a potentially life-threatening gamble depending on who saw the flag. The national colors of dark blue over a gold field are the dominant colors and have since been restored on the current Ukrainian flag.
|"I'm...a British, French, American, Japonese, Italian, German and some|
other kind of spy probably..." [trans]. This drawing was reportedly
done by an inmate of a gulag depicting members of the current
security service (possibly Smersh, probbably NKVD) obtaining a
"confession"from an arrested individual. This drawing and others below
are from abook Drawings from the Gulag by Danzig Baldaev.*
The prisoners at the top of the hierarchy in gulags dispensed their form of "justice" based on the orders of the guards and on the whims of the the gangs of "thieves by law" and could be capricious at best.
Another fate faced some people rather than being publically branded an “enemy of the people” for various reasons including being “saved” by influential Communist Party members who were either friends or family. One of the most common ways to make someone “disappear” other than by execution or gulag was to have them committed indefinitely to insane asylums. The theory was that if someone objected to the party line, then he or she must not be thinking correctly. The type of person sentenced to this sort of fate varied, but more often than not, this is where an artist, musician or writer might spend his or her life at least while Stalin remained in control of the Soviet Union. A very large number of people were either released from whichever sort of prison they found themselves in as a result of Stalin's paranoia or were "posthumously rehabilitated" - which meant that even though they had died in captivity, their families were not held to blame and their names were restored to good standing. This happened, of course, after Stalin's death during the subsequent reforms to the system. In order to prevent obvious discrepancies between the Communist Party dogma and the repatriation of accused and sentenced "enemies of the people," the task of freeing political prisoners was not a swift one. It crawled along and continued until well after the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.