This brooch is made of glass (the red background) with an overlay of chrome. On the back there is a rather poor-quality pin, reminiscent of a safety pin. The brooch was probably made as a souvenir from the Paris Expo in 1937.
The Paris Expo was held between 25th May to 25th November 1937, just two years prior to the outbreak of WWII. Its theme was ‘Arts and technology in modern life’ and 45 countries were represented. Records show over 31 million visitors came during its six months existence. When the expo opened only two of the main pavilions had been completed, Germany and USSR. They were positioned on the site opposite each other.
The German pavilion is on the left and the USSR pavilion is directly opposite on the right, with the Eiffel Tower in between
The Soviet Union pavilion was designed by Boris Iofan, who was just 21 in 1937. He was a Russian Jew, born in Odessa (now in Ukraine), I’m sure the irony of his ethnic origins as his pavilion stood opposite Germany’s pavilion were not lost on Boris. He also designed the USSR 1939 Expo pavilion in New York. In 1970 he was awarded ‘People’s Architect of the USSR’ by Leonid Brezhnev. Vera Mukhina designed the large figurative sculpture which sat on top of the USSR pavilion and can be seen quite well in the brooch. The sculpture was entitled ‘Worker and Kolkhoz Woman’ representing a male worker and a female peasant, their hands together, thrusting a hammer and a sickle skyward. The sculpture was made of stainless steel and 80 feet high. It was relocated to Moscow after the Expo where it remained till 2003 when it was removed for restoration. It is now back in Moscow on the gates to the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy (abbreviated to VDNKh and in Russian ВДНХ).
The USSR pavilion designed by Boris Iofan with Vera Mukhina’s large sculpture on top
When Hitler heard the Germany pavilion would be opposite that of the USSR he wanted to withdraw. But Albert Speer, a member of the Nazi inner circle and Hitler’s favourite architect, convinced him to participate. In Speer’s design there was a tall tower crowned with an eagle and the swastika – the symbols of the Nazi state. It was to be a monument to “German pride and achievement” and at night, the pavilion was illuminated by floodlights. In front of the pavilion stood a sculpture by Josef Thorak depicting two enormous nude males, clasping hands and standing defiantly side by side. Speer later revealed in his autobiography he had a clandestine look at the plans for the Soviet pavilion, and had designed the German pavilion to outshine the USSR pavilion and convey Germany’s anti-communist beliefs.
What is the difference between a badge and a brooch? I attempted to explain what I feel are the differences in a blog I wrote back in 2015 ‘A Brooch or a Badge‘ .