Soviet Union, 1944. Quarto (31 × 22 cm). Original gray buckram with gilt lettering to front board; 99 leaves of ink manuscript text and fifty-five watercolor images, all but three in full color, some full-page and behind translucent calque. Eighteen watercolor vignettes and initials, and five pencil portraits of the authors. Boards lightly rubbed; small loss to head of spine; ink inventory numbers to endpapers; occasional light finger-soiling; else very good.
Unique manuscript almanach of war-themed poetry, lavishly illustrated with watercolor drawings, many of them full-page, and dedicated to the heroes of the Red Army on its twenty-sixth anniversary. Published in February 1944, the volume contains verse by various lieutenants of the Red Army, stationed with the 25th reserve regiment, among them M. Ostanin, S. Solov'ev, L. Sysin, S. Kulabuchov, V. Shchetinin, and I. Kolesnikov. A two-page preface praises the "political significance" of channeling the creative impulses and "holy hate" for the fascist enemy of the "intelligentsiia among the officers" toward literary and artistic works. A number of images are copies of famous motifs, but the majority are the creation of the artists. Conceived as a kind of patriotic presentation album, probably intended for a very high-ranking officer of the Red Army. The watercolor illustrations include two full-page portraits of Stalin and Mayakovsky, the text of the Soviet Hymn in a decorative frame, and five of the authors are depicted in pencil portraits, with short biographical texts. They show soldiers passing dead civilian victims on their way into battle, dead Red Army soldiers in the field, soldiers entertaining themselves around a fire, Kiev in flames, and many other touching scenes. The poems include "A meeting with Vladimir Mayakovsky," "The Ballad of Sniper Nechugovsky," "A Farewell Song," "Letter to a German Woman," and many other genres. We were unable to locate further information on this officer's regiment, which was most likely stationed in the Russian North-West or on the Baltic Front. Unique and unrecorded (not in KVK, OCLC; not held by the Russian State and National Libraries). Book ID: 50108