Poster »Help Russia«, 1921

Crayon lithograph (transfer), Kn 170 A I

Käthe Kollwitz, Poster »Help Russia«, 1921, crayon lithograph (transfer), Kn 170 A I, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln
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I am collaborating with the communists in the struggle against the dreadful starvation in Russia. As a result, I have again been drawn into the political sphere against my will. I have made a poster showing a man who is about to break down and hands stretching out to help him. It is good – thank God.«
Käthe Kollwitz, Diaries, September 1921

The long, extreme drought in 1921 led to a famine in the lower Volga region that threatened the life of 25 to 30 million people. As a consequence, the Russian government appealed to the international public.

Käthe Kollwitz’ poster was an important contribution for the International Famine Relief. A letter to her son Hans from August 1921 reveals how important it was for her to work for the suffering people despite not wishing to be politically co-opted:

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I have after all become involved in the communist Aid programme for Russia. If I was really able to help, maybe with a poster, I would gladly do so.«
Käthe Kollwitz, Letters to her Son, August 1921

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