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Published October 11, 2022 Updated December 22, 2022

Anti-Fascist cards, 1943

Satirical Anti-Fascist cards designed in 1943 by Ivan Ivanovich Kharkevich.

1943 Russia Ivanovich Kharkevich Political Satire Wartime Add to Collection
Anti-Fascist cards designed in 1943 by Ivan Ivanovich Kharkevich

The satirical sketches for this pack were originally designed in 1943 by war artist Ivan Ivanovich Kharkevich (1913-2007) but they were never printed as a pack as events on the Front moved too quickly for the cards to be published. This pack of 36 cards and 1 joker was finally published in 2003, on the 60th anniversary of the original designs, by the Museum Reserve, the Breakthrough of the Siege of Leningrad. These propaganda cards were to be thrown from planes amidst the German troops, with each intended to serve as a pass for any soldiers who chose to surrender and be taken prisoner. The actual designs contrast the triumph of the German army in 1941 with the catastrophe of 1943, and the objects of the satire were the leaders of Nazi Germany, the generals and, on the aces, the banks and industrial corporations which financed Hitler. Cards contain text in both German and Russian. The reverse of the cards exhorts soldiers to “Overthrow Hitler and there will be peace” and “Hand yourself into captivity and you will be spared”. Also included in this pack is a card showing a diorama of the breakthrough of the Siege of Leningrad.

The Court Cards - shown each way: the triumph of the German army in 1941 vs the catastrophe of 1943

The 4 Aces - the banks and industrial corporations which financed Hitler

Anti-Fascist cards designed in 1943 by Ivan Ivanovich Kharkevich

The numeral cards

Anti-Fascist cards designed in 1943 by Ivan Ivanovich Kharkevich

Above: Anti-Fascist cards designed by Ivan Ivanovich Kharkevich, Russia, 1943.

Note: there are three known Anti-Fascist packs. Perhaps the best known is the one published in 1942 and shown here

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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