This poster proclaims
that harvesting the land is as important for the war effort as winning
battles. The message comes to life in the images of the hard working
fighter and peasant. The rifle carried by the fighter (probably
a German-made Karabiner 98k) and the sickle used by the peasant
intersect near the center of the scene, underscoring the need for
their joint effort.
The outbreak of the Spanish
Civil War in July 1936 was followed by economic upheaval. In the
area of agriculture, most of the grain-producing areas of the country
were soon controlled by the Nationalists. On the loyalist side,
revolutionary takeover of much of the land produced irregular results,
and often made it difficult to supply the large cities and the front.
Many peasants abandoned their land, and refugees from the advancing
rebel army crowded into urban areas. The ensuing food shortage was
made worse by problems in the distribution of foodstuffs. It was
this situation that caused the government and other organizations
to put out messages like the one in this poster. The poster was
issued by the Ministry of Public Instruction, one of the most active
agencies in the production of propaganda during the war. The ministry
issued many of its posters in Madrid between early September and
early November 1936.
The type of cap worn
by the fighter in this poster, with a short tassel hanging in front,
became a symbol of the popular militias during the first months
of the war. The rolled-up sleeves of the same figure serve to emphasize
the informal nature of his outfit. The portrayal of what appears
to be a member of a militia (and not of the regular army) in a poster
issued by the government reflects the lack of homogeneity and organization
in the republican forces in the early part of the war.
Hardly anything is known
of Jesús Helguera, the author of this poster. During 1936,
he worked in the production of propaganda for the government in
Madrid. Later, he worked with the youth organization Juventudes
Socialistas Unificadas in Barcelona. The fact that his name
is not otherwise recorded suggests that he may have come from the
advertising arts, where there was little room for name recognition.
The dynamic poses of the militiaman and the peasant in this scene,
and the suggestion of a narrative sequence that stems from the use
of different colors in the juxtaposed figures, is reminiscent of
images used in billboards.