There’s nothing like a bit of contrast and historical perspective to make you reevaluate what's going on in the world now. Many people, especially those living in the West, still have very little understanding of what everyday life was like behind the Iron Curtain. That’s where the ‘Soviet Visuals’ social media project comes in. It collects and shares historical photos, propaganda posters, illustrations, and architectural images from the USSR in order to give people a better understanding of the Soviet and post-Soviet eras.

If you’re fans of history and old-timey photography, dear Pandas, then this is the article for you. Remember to upvote your fave pics as you scroll down. And if you grew up in the former USSR, let us know in the comments what life was really like back then. The good, the bad, the ugly—don’t skip out on the details.

Bored Panda spoke to the founder of the aesthetic time capsule that is the 'Soviet Visuals' project, Varia Bortsova. She was kind enough to answer our questions. "I always really enjoyed rummaging through old family VHS tapes and magazine cutouts, and starting a Twitter account became a way to share these findings with the world," she told us. "Over time, more and more people started to contribute their own visuals and it evolved into a real community. I started the project on my own but now have two awesome researchers on board who help source new archive content daily and process user submissions."

We were interested to hear Varia's thoughts about why 'Soviet Visuals' became so successful. "A couple of reasons, I think. Soviet Visuals content feeds an appetite for vintage aesthetics: from design, to fashion, to architecture, to music. A lot of what was produced behind the Iron Curtain was actually exceptionally creative (despite, or sometimes due to the various ideological constraints)," she said. Scroll down for the full interview.

More info: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | SovietVisuals.com | Shop | Book

#1

Post-Soviet Visual. Photo By Tatyana Rodionova

Post-Soviet Visual. Photo By Tatyana Rodionova

Soviet Visuals Report

KM
Community Member
6 months ago

it honestly took me a moment to notice the furbaby)

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"The stereotype tends to be that 'Soviet = gray,' but it is truly anything but, and going down the Soviet content rabbit hole can be a rewarding and addictive experience," Varia told Bored Panda.

"There is an infinite amount of humor and beauty to discover. And on a separate level, the historical propaganda visuals are highly topical in today's world—people make connections to what is happening today in politics, in international relations, in society... It's fascinating to look back and see certain parallels. For example, Soviet vaccine campaign posters have been a particular hit in recent months," she noted that history tends to repeat itself.

#2

“We Are Not Raising Our Sons For War!" Soviet Poster, 1957

“We Are Not Raising Our Sons For War!" Soviet Poster, 1957

Soviet Visuals Report

HarriMissesScotland
Community Member
6 months ago

It is multi-national, and they look so happy!

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#3

Azerbaijani Wedding, USSR, 1965

Azerbaijani Wedding, USSR, 1965

Soviet Visuals Report

Serial pacifist
Community Member
6 months ago

Powerful

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"Soviet Visuals is a time capsule of the past. It is most definitely not about promoting the Soviet regime or even justifying its existence. I think the overwhelming majority of our followers understand that. That said, someone on the internet will always feel insulted: in our case, the ratio of complaints is roughly 50/50 between 'you are not pro-Soviet enough' and 'you are not 'anti-Soviet enough'. For me, this means that we are in the right place," the founder of 'Soviet Visuals' explained a bit about the online community.

Since launching the project, Varia has published a book, founded a small online store, and written up the entire history of 'Soviet Visuals.'

#4

Soviet Postcard, 1955

Soviet Postcard, 1955

Soviet Visuals Report

N G
Community Member
6 months ago

Only the kitten on the left is Russian. The other one is his Czech mate

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#5

School Pencil Case, USSR, 1970s

School Pencil Case, USSR, 1970s

Soviet Visuals Report

Mermaid Elle-Jaye
Community Member
6 months ago

I wish I know how to use an abacus

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#6

Belka The Space Dog Upon Returning From Her Cosmic Voyage. USSR, August 1960

Belka The Space Dog Upon Returning From Her Cosmic Voyage. USSR, August 1960

Soviet Visuals Report

Cecilia Herrera
Community Member
6 months ago

I'm glad she survived the trip. How many other "volunteers" were not so lucky?

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The ‘Soviet Visuals’ project is very popular on Facebook, with over 824.7k followers waiting for the newest updates. The page has over a third of a million followers on Twitter, as well as a further quarter of a million on Instagram.

The brutalist architecture, avant-garde art, and quirky photos all draw in quite a crowd. The project has fans all over the world, including from inside the former USSR, as well as elsewhere. ‘Soviet Visuals’ calls itself the “internet's largest social archive of visuals from across the former USSR.”

#7

Pictures Of A Russian Meteorologist Who Spent 30 Years At An Arctic Meteorology Base. By Evgenia Arbugaeva

Pictures Of A Russian Meteorologist Who Spent 30 Years At An Arctic Meteorology Base. By Evgenia Arbugaeva

Soviet Visuals Report

Tassenküchlein168
Community Member
6 months ago

My dream job! Where can I apply?

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#8

Children In Sleeping Bags Are Being Taken To Have Their Mid-Day Nap, 1930s, Ussr

Children In Sleeping Bags Are Being Taken To Have Their Mid-Day Nap, 1930s, Ussr

Soviet Visuals Report

CatGirl
Community Member
6 months ago

?WHY CAN'T I DO THIS AT WORK???

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#9

"Down With CPSU". Soviet Punks During The August 1991 Coup In Moscow

"Down With CPSU". Soviet Punks During The August 1991 Coup In Moscow

Soviet Visuals Report

Vorknkx
Community Member
6 months ago

And keep in mind that being a punk was pretty risky back in the Soviet days... so it took a lot of courage to dress like this.

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The Soviet Union has its roots in the 1917 Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War. The USSR was formed in 1922 and was controlled, on all levels, by the Communist Party until eventually collapsing in 1991.

At the height of its power, the USSR encompassed 15 republics: Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Anyone who’s opened up a history book likely knows the extent of repressions that many living in these republics faced on their way to independence. The USSR has a legacy of violence that cannot be erased.

#10

Soviet Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev Was In Space When The Soviet Union Fell Apart In 1991. Unable To Return Home, He Had To Stay In Space Until Further Notice. The Cosmonaut Eventually Returned Back To Earth After 10 Months In Orbit - To A Very Different Nation. Photo By Volkov/Tass

Soviet Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev Was In Space When The Soviet Union Fell Apart In 1991. Unable To Return Home, He Had To Stay In Space Until Further Notice. The Cosmonaut Eventually Returned Back To Earth After 10 Months In Orbit - To A Very Different Nation. Photo By Volkov/Tass

Soviet Visuals Report

MiriPanda
Community Member
6 months ago

Good lord, how must that have felt... "stay in space until further notice" (or forever...?)

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#11

Spring In Yakutsk, 1967

Spring In Yakutsk, 1967

Soviet Visuals Report

T Simmons
Community Member
6 months ago

What the heck must winter be like?

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#12

Post-Soviet Visual. "The Return" Painting By Georgy Kurasov, Russia, 2005

Post-Soviet Visual. "The Return" Painting By Georgy Kurasov, Russia, 2005

Soviet Visuals Report

HarriMissesScotland
Community Member
6 months ago

I love the angularity and jewel tones. And the doggo!

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TikTok star Alyssa, who lives in the US, but is half Russian and half Ukrainian explained to Bored Panda that many outsiders are awestruck by how direct Russians are in how they communicate.

“In my experience, Americans who visit Russia are surprised at how directly Russians communicate. Russians say what they mean and don’t go out of their way to cushion your feelings the way that Americans are trained to do. Russians tend to value ‘honesty’ over ‘niceness,'” she said, adding that one way to bridge any culture gap is through food. “Lots and lots of food. Burgers and borsch.”

#13

Post-Soviet Visual. Meanwhile In The Moscow Metro

Post-Soviet Visual. Meanwhile In The Moscow Metro

Soviet Visuals Report

Hannah Edwards
Community Member
6 months ago

They look amazing. If I wore this I’d be a thing of horror…..with broken ankles.

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#14

May Day Celebration. Photo By Ilya Pavlyuk, Lviv, Ukrainian SSR, 1968

May Day Celebration. Photo By Ilya Pavlyuk, Lviv, Ukrainian SSR, 1968

Soviet Visuals Report

Rissie
Community Member
6 months ago

It was a very joyous day.

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#15

Soviet Linguist, Epigrapher And Ethnographer Yuri Knorozov, Who Is Particularly Renowned For The Pivotal Role His Research Played In The Decipherment Of The Maya Script, The Writing System Used By The Pre-Columbian Maya Civilization Of Mesoamerica, 1971

Soviet Linguist, Epigrapher And Ethnographer Yuri Knorozov, Who Is Particularly Renowned For The Pivotal Role His Research Played In The Decipherment Of The Maya Script, The Writing System Used By The Pre-Columbian Maya Civilization Of Mesoamerica, 1971

Soviet Visuals Report

Mermaid Elle-Jaye
Community Member
6 months ago

Grumpy cats spiritual ancestor ‘grumpy man’.

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Meanwhile, the moderators running the ‘A Normal Day in Russia’ subreddit shared with us that there is a constant challenge when it comes to stereotypes. Russian culture is often seen as one-dimensional in some parts of the world.

"We are trying to steer away from negative content and try to highlight the actual normal day in Russia, the beauty of the country, and the people who live there," they said.

"Russian people are direct, they will not hide their feelings and they will tell you what's on their mind, without sugarcoating. Yet, they will welcome you with open arms and treat you as part of the family.”

#16

Babies Sleep Well In The Air In A Light Frost. Nursery №155. Dzerzhinsky District Of Moscow. Photographer Dmitry Baltermantz. 1958

Babies Sleep Well In The Air In A Light Frost. Nursery №155. Dzerzhinsky District Of Moscow. Photographer Dmitry Baltermantz. 1958

Soviet Visuals Report

Hannah Edwards
Community Member
6 months ago

Snug as a bug in a potential defectors apartment.

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#17

"8 March-International Women's Day" Soviet Postcard, 1961

"8 March-International Women's Day" Soviet Postcard, 1961

Soviet Visuals Report

Fat Harry
Community Member
6 months ago

Say what you want about the failings of the USSR, but you can't imagine the USA having a propaganda poster featuring positive images of black people in 1961.

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#18

Belka And Strelka, Soviet Space Dogs. Photo By Yuri Krivonosov, 1960

Belka And Strelka, Soviet Space Dogs. Photo By Yuri Krivonosov, 1960

Soviet Visuals Report

HarriMissesScotland
Community Member
6 months ago

look into my eyes. now you know what space looks like.

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Some internet users have an overly romantic, naive, and unrealistic view of what living in the Soviet era was like. "If we go back in time where socialism or communism were at their prime, we can see that the top of the head of the system was corrupted and that resulted with the fall of the system," Angel, the founder of 'Humans of Capitalism,' told Bored Panda previously.

In their view, developing technologies might bring about "automated communism where machines will produce, deliver, and take care of food supply, clothing, health."

#19

Soviet Swimmer Maria Havrish Congratulates Her Rival Elena Kovalenko, Who Defeated Her In The Breaststroke Competition At The Spartakiad Of The Peoples Of The USSR In Moscow, 1956

Soviet Swimmer Maria Havrish Congratulates Her Rival Elena Kovalenko, Who Defeated Her In The Breaststroke Competition At The Spartakiad Of The Peoples Of The USSR In Moscow, 1956

Soviet Visuals Report

Nika De Beer
Community Member
6 months ago

For a country who was anti-gay i see a lot of same-sex kissing lol

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#20

Kievskaya Metro Station. Photo By Dean Conger, Moscow, USSR, 1964

Kievskaya Metro Station. Photo By Dean Conger, Moscow, USSR, 1964

Soviet Visuals Report

I Liquored On
Community Member
6 months ago

I will never forget the Moscow Metro. I rode it every day for a few weeks while visiting the city. Huge and beautiful.

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#21

Ice Swimmers In Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, 1960s

Ice Swimmers In Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, 1960s

Soviet Visuals Report

Aran Lindvail
Community Member
6 months ago

I'm freezing just looking at this.

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They said that this kind of mass automation could be an extension of what is happening right now and could lead to even more major layoffs.

“The idea of getting free food, water, health, clothing, is nice and, in reality, if we take a closer look at the current system we can see that more people are let off and replaced by machines. For example, we can see that McDonald's workers are fired and they have been replaced with machines that work on touch or by sound and they take orders, forward orders to the employees, etc." According to them, the main question to answer would be who would manage and maintain these automated processes.

#22

Bread On Sale In A Supermarket. Photo By Chris Niedenthal, Sofia, People's Republic Of Bulgaria, 1985

Bread On Sale In A Supermarket. Photo By Chris Niedenthal, Sofia, People's Republic Of Bulgaria, 1985

Soviet Visuals Report

Gaby Almodovar
Community Member
6 months ago

Propaganda photo. Never was so much bread in a market. Bread and other basic food, like milk, eggs, margarine and so on, was sold in ticket-systems on per person/quotas. People usually were staying hours in queue not just in USSR, but also in post-soviet countries, like Bulgaria.

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#23

The Remains Of A Concrete Apartment Building In Kirovsky, A Former Fisherman Village In Kamchatka Which Was Abandoned In 1964

The Remains Of A Concrete Apartment Building In Kirovsky, A Former Fisherman Village In Kamchatka Which Was Abandoned In 1964

Soviet Visuals Report

Lee Macro
Community Member
6 months ago

I thought it was the Sandcrawler from Star Wars

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#24

Snow Drifts In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Photo By Yuri Sadovnikov, USSR, 1968

Snow Drifts In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Photo By Yuri Sadovnikov, USSR, 1968

Soviet Visuals Report

Shelp
Community Member
6 months ago

Is that a traffic light?? HOW MUCH SNOW IS THERE EXACTLY??

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#25

"My Grandma With Her Classmates. Lori Region, Armenia, 1966-1967"

"My Grandma With Her Classmates. Lori Region, Armenia, 1966-1967"

Soviet Visuals Report

HarriMissesScotland
Community Member
6 months ago

The hills are alive with the sound of........

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#26

Soviet Postcard, 1956

Soviet Postcard, 1956

Soviet Visuals Report

Cecilia Herrera
Community Member
6 months ago

Kittens phoning for a cat food delivery. So cute.

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#27

Soviet Cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin And Gherman Titov In Their Flight Suits And Helmets, In A Bus Heading Toward The Vostok 1 Launch Site In Baykonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, USSR, On 12 April 1961. Gagarin Was Soon To Become Famous As The First Man In Space

Soviet Cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin And Gherman Titov In Their Flight Suits And Helmets, In A Bus Heading Toward The Vostok 1 Launch Site In Baykonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, USSR, On 12 April 1961. Gagarin Was Soon To Become Famous As The First Man In Space

Soviet Visuals Report

Nasta Klein
Community Member
6 months ago

Very courageous

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#28

Young Pioneers In Defense Drill. Photo By Viktor Bulla, Leningrad, USSR, 1937

Young Pioneers In Defense Drill. Photo By Viktor Bulla, Leningrad, USSR, 1937

Soviet Visuals Report

HarriMissesScotland
Community Member
6 months ago

A nightmare from Dr. Who. Are you my daddy?

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See Also on Bored Panda
#29

"Architect" Soviet Construction Kit For Children, 1980s

"Architect" Soviet Construction Kit For Children, 1980s

Soviet Visuals Report

Hannah Edwards
Community Member
6 months ago

Very utilitarian.

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#30

Boy Standing In Front Of Fallen Statue Of Lenin. Photo By Dario Mitidieri, Ethiopia, 1991

Boy Standing In Front Of Fallen Statue Of Lenin. Photo By Dario Mitidieri, Ethiopia, 1991

Soviet Visuals Report

Hannah Edwards
Community Member
6 months ago

Apparently Ethiopia had a brief Marxist-Leninist government, in case you were wondering.

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#31

Leonid Brezhnev And Erich Honecker. Photo By Helmuth Lohmann, Berlin, GDR, 1979

Leonid Brezhnev And Erich Honecker. Photo By Helmuth Lohmann, Berlin, GDR, 1979

Soviet Visuals Report

ShadowLand 🇨🇦
Community Member
6 months ago (edited)

For clarity: "The socialist fraternal kiss was a special form of greeting between socialist leaders. The act demonstrated the special connection that exists between socialist countries, consisting of an embrace, along with a series of three kisses on alternate cheeks. In rare cases, when the two leaders considered themselves exceptionally close, the kisses were given on the mouth rather than on the cheeks." Wikipedia

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#32

Dutch Fashion Models Sonja Bakker And Femke Van De Bosch In Moscow. Photo By Paul Huf, USSR 1965

Dutch Fashion Models Sonja Bakker And Femke Van De Bosch In Moscow. Photo By Paul Huf, USSR 1965

Soviet Visuals Report

Daria Z
Community Member
6 months ago

Aww my favorite style! I want these outfits 😍

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#33

Baby Yoda Is Just Capitalist Cheburashka. May The 4th Be With You!

Baby Yoda Is Just Capitalist Cheburashka. May The 4th Be With You!

Soviet Visuals Report

Panda Kicki
Community Member
6 months ago

Oh, that.little guy was popular in Sweden in the 70-s. He had a crocodile buddy and they was called Drutten and Gena here.

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#34

Amanauz Hotel Abandoned During Construction, Dombay, USSR, 1985

Amanauz Hotel Abandoned During Construction, Dombay, USSR, 1985

Soviet Visuals Report

Rhea.S🤍
Community Member
6 months ago

Then the bees moved in

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#35

Post-Soviet Visual. Fish Sellers In The Market Of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia, March 1993

Post-Soviet Visual. Fish Sellers In The Market Of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia, March 1993

Soviet Visuals Report

Hannah Edwards
Community Member
6 months ago

Very glam for selling fish!

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#36

Vacationers Sunbathing On The Coast Of The Gulf Of Riga In Jurmala. Photo By Yakov Berliner, Latvian SSR, 1975

Vacationers Sunbathing On The Coast Of The Gulf Of Riga In Jurmala. Photo By Yakov Berliner, Latvian SSR, 1975

Soviet Visuals Report

Nika De Beer
Community Member
6 months ago

This loooks very uncomfortable

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#37

Self-Made New Year Robot Costume, USSR, 1964

Self-Made New Year Robot Costume, USSR, 1964

Soviet Visuals Report

Olga Dremina
Community Member
6 months ago

Sweet space-age

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#38

Post-Soviet Visual

Post-Soviet Visual

Soviet Visuals Report

MagicalUnicorn
Community Member
6 months ago

poor čeburaška!

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See Also on Bored Panda
#39

World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov (Right) Holds Demo Game At The Sports Festival Dedicated To The XVIII Komsomol Congress. Photo By Vladimir Rodionov, USSR, 24 April 1978

World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov (Right) Holds Demo Game At The Sports Festival Dedicated To The XVIII Komsomol Congress. Photo By Vladimir Rodionov, USSR, 24 April 1978

Soviet Visuals Report

Tassenküchlein168
Community Member
6 months ago

"Find the odd one!"

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#40

"The Face Of Imperialism" Soviet Belarusian Poster, 1967

"The Face Of Imperialism" Soviet Belarusian Poster, 1967

Soviet Visuals Report

Dead Panda
Community Member
6 months ago

Now Putin is that guy. Sad how things turn.

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Note: this post originally had 120 images. It’s been shortened to the top 40 images based on user votes.