On the preparation of the international project "Famine in the USSR: 1929 - 1934 years"
Preparation of a series of collection of documents on the topic «Famine in the USSR: 1929–1934» has begun by the initiative of the Federal Agency of Russia. The archival institutions of the Republic of Belarus and the Republic of Kazakhstan joined to this process.
The editorial board consisted of prominent historians, demographers, heads of state archival institutions of countries participating in the project, the director of the largest archives, documents which have been published in the serial publication.
Currently, the editorial board is led by the head of Federal Archival Agency, Doctor of Historical Sciences, A. Artizov. The Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor v. Kondrashin is the managing editor of the project.
By the efforts of historians and archivists of three countries assembled a unique set of information sources on the project, the vast majority among of which are documents declassified in recent years.
Nowadays at the International Fund «Democratia» («Democracy»), have been released more than 25 pages out of 61 and 2 volumes of documental series.
The scientific turnover has already been introduced in 1326 new documents on the history of the most terrible tragedies of the Stalin era — hunger of 30s. There is preparation of the 3rd volume, the output of which is expected out in 2013.
The editorial board set chronological and geographical scope of the project determined by a series of tasks:
1) To show in the dynamic development the reasons of the famine¸ its rise, culmination and the output of the USSR from it;
2) The territory of the USSR, where was famine;
3) The policy of the organization and its grain export volumes in 1930–1934;
4) The reaction of Stalin’s Politburo, Party and government bodies at the situation in the country and control the situation;
5) Assistance of the Center to republics and the areas covered by the famine;
6) Demographic and socio-economic consequences of the famine;
7) The reaction of the world community on the famine in the USSR.
Feature of this project is to expand chronological frame of the study with a view to display all the causes of hunger, which was already observed in 1929 as a result of forced collectivization and forced grain procurement. Serious food difficulties were observed in the past. However, in 1929 after the final victory of the Stalinists in the fight for power in the USSR and approval of policy of violence against the peasantry in the country started to spread food difficulties, where famine began in the grain-growing areas of the country, especially in the territory of the RSFSR.
The first volume of the series is in 2 books. It covers events from 1929 to July 1932 — the period of famine in all grain-growing regions of the USSR (especially in the North Caucasus, the Ukraine, the Lower and Middle Volga, Central Black Earth region, the Kazakh ASSR, the Tatar ASSR, the Bashkir ASSR, the Ural region, some areas of Western Siberia and Belarus.)
The first volume of the series in 2 books covers, so events from 1929 to July 1932 — the period of hunger in all grain-growing regions of the USSR (especially in the North Caucasus, the Ukraine, the Lower and Middle Volga, Central Black Earth region, the Kazakh ASSR, the Tatar ASSR, the Bashkir ASSR, the Ural region, some areas of Western Siberia, Belarus).
At the April Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) 1929, the problem of grain procurement was finally connected with the beginning of industrialization of the country. Agriculture was the main source of industrialization. In actual financial embargo against the Soviet Union at the turn of 1929–1930, bread was elected as the chief raw resource as the fastest means of obtaining currency. From 1929 the process of a sharp rise in grain procurement plans had begun, and grain procurements themselves took was the war with the peasantry.
After the decision of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) and SNK about the collectivization and measures to help the state building collective farms in the country to ensure that the movement takes place in the field of grain procurement genuine Bolshevik tempo in order to export grain and used the money to purchase the necessary equipment for the construction of industrial plants. Stalin personally wrote to Molotov in August 1930 about the need to raise the rate of removal of daily bread from 1.5 million pounds to 3–5 million pounds minimum. He explains that «otherwise there is a risk to remain without our new metallurgical and engineering plants (Automobile, Chelyabinsk plant and so on).
Staling himself sent all the negative points of organization of grain procurement and planting seasons to the secretaries of the Committee of the CPSU (b). Thus, in February 1932, Stalin wrote to the First Secretary of the Kazakh Regional Committee of the F. Goloshekin: «Your region is the most backward in terms of seed collection. Everywhere people successfully collect seeds, except your region. Central Committee needs to take urgent action to collect the seeds, arrange fracture and report on action taken». F. Goloshchekin tried to argue with Stalin. On May 1932, he wrote: «Implementation of the Central Committee resolution from May 26 about the preparation of harvest 1 million pounds bread under extremely stressful state of food in the villages is impossible. I think it is possible to fight for blank of 6 thousand tons». Stalin, however, insists on maintaining the established plan for Kazakhstan in 1 million pounds of bread. The same situation was observed in other grain-growing regions.
During the grain procurement campaign was highlighted their unique feature: the collective donated bread is much better than individual farmers. The state learned to cover the disadvantages of individual farmers with «counter-plan» collective farms — the result of the «wise» policy became fodder deficit and massive die-off of livestock, as well as the lack of farmers’ seed for sowing. Ultimately, the campaign 1931/1932 from the grain-growing areas of the USSR was disconnected everything that could everything that could be taken for public use. Defaulters had to give all the property including food stocks.
Thus, all prerequisites for the start of mass starvation have been prepared.
At the beginning of the grain procurement campaign in 1932 began the crisis: a summary of the OGPU Center informed about the facts of the collapse of the collective farms, the peasants fleeing from there, premature harvesting of grain, massive theft of bread.
Farms, which instead of to become the beacons of agricultural production, actually hung on the neck of the state. They deceived it in the reporting and demanded assistance.
The compilers were able to show the specific reasons for the difficulties of food and hunger in rural and urban areas in the 30s via the documents published in the first volume. First of all, it’s the wrong planning of mandatory public procurement of agricultural production by collective and state farms and individual farms, as well as gross violations of agriculture planting and harvesting. Grain procurement plans were calculated by the governing bodies in the administrative order on the basis of reports from the field about the size of cultivated areas in the districts and the average yield in them for several years.
However, according to sources, there was mass registry of crops. In allocation of tasks for grain procurement the local authorities acted «randomly» regardless of the actual planting and yields. Particularly, the system of grain procurement had negatively affected on the individual sectors of the agrarian economy. To increase the force of entry the individual farmers they had excessive tasks that they could not perform and as a result they did not have seeds. In 1930, many of them were forced to cut crops.
For Stalin’s the reasons for the difficulties in the village consisted primarily in anti-state behavior of the peasantry, with whom he was forced to fight a war and the inability of local Party and Soviet bureaucracy to work with the peasants.
Grain procurement crisis grew on the background of decreasing food security of cities and the different categories of the population not engaged in agriculture.
The second volume of the project covers the period from the second half of 1932 and the first half of 1933. This period is the culmination of the tragedy.
During the 1932–1933, particular strong famine was in the Ukraine, the North Caucasus and the Volga region, played a key role in the export of grain and bread ensuring industrial centers. Their share in grain procurements in 1931 in the Soviet Union was 60%. Along with them the greatest hunger manifested was in Kazakhstan. According to v. Kondrashin the reason for this was the result of forced collectivization, held in KASSR in a very short time, with all its negative consequences. By the early autumn of 1931 in the country, there were 78 areas out of 122, where collectivization was covered from 70 to 100%. Callous policy of socialization of livestock in animal collective, settling nomadic population and inflated plans livestock procurement led to the destruction of livestock of the country. By February 1932, 87% of farmers’ economy, 51.8% of individual farmers lost their livestock.
Such commissions have also been sent to the North Caucasus, headed by the Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) L. Kaganovich and Lower Volga headed by the Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) P. Postyshev. L. Commission Kaganovich criticized the Bureau of the North Caucasian Regional Committee of the CPSU (b), and invited «for sabotaging the grain procurement» bring 3–5 Kuban Cossack villages on the «black list» with the deprivation of their manufactured goods, the prohibition of collective farm trade in them, cleaning the party and Komsomol apparatus. A specific program for the deployment in the North Caucasus repression against saboteurs, individual farmers who refused to planting and land; rural Communists squander bread was adopted by the Bureau of Caucasian Regional Committee of the CPSU (b) November 2, 1932. Shooting and cleaning of personnel began in the North Caucasus region.
Published documents show a single mechanism of repression in the grain-growing regions of the USSR in late 1932 — early 1933, for example, in Kazakhstan, for theft of cattle in the state farms and the mass slaughter «on the self-supply» of thieves were sentenced to death. The same measure was used in the Russian regions for «theft and sabotage» grain procurement. Thousands of peasant families were sent for this «sabotage» from Ukraine, Lower Volga and North Caucasus in January 1933.
To the greatest extent under repression for non-grain procurement plans were independent farmers. In 1933, grain procurement plans prepared individual farmers who did not have crops. For failure to comply with their plans they were dekulakized (Soviet campaign of political repression, including arrests, deportation and execution) evicted and deprived estates.
One of the factors of deaths from starvation in the grain-growing regions of the Stalinist leadership activities became irregular migration of the rural population. In response to the fight of peasants from famine region a directive of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) and SNK on January 22, 1933 the leadership of Ukraine, Northern Caucasus, Lower and Middle Volga, Central Black Earth region, Belarus, Western Region was directed to the major cities and regions.
Along with Ukraine, the North Caucasus and Lower Volga, Kazakhstan, a member of an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation had severe famine situation. Farmers and individual farmers throughout Kazakhstan were dying of starvation, epidemics of typhus and scurvy. Kazakhs kept moving. There was a fact of cannibalism. In Kazakhstan particularly acute situation was the problem dealing with homeless children. May 19, 1933, the government allocated Kazakh ASSR additional 26.4 million of rubles to fight against epidemic diseased and diet. Also 3 million rubles were addressed to child homelessness. In addition Kazakhstan was provided with significant grain and other resources, moreover on favorable basis compare to other regions of the Soviet Union — free and without interest.
At the official level, the famine in the Soviet Union was not recognized. Published series of papers say that Europe knew about the famine. However, according to the pragmatic goals purchase Soviet bread at discount prices, thereby dividing the Stalinist regime of moral responsibility to the Soviet people.
Author’s project team believes that the publication of a series of «Famine in the USSR 1929–1934» will help reveal the historical truth and understand the modern society of the past. We hope that the upcoming currently the third volume of the series will expand our knowledge of the demographic and socio-economic impacts of hunger, helps you learn the truth about the international response to the famine in the Soviet Union, will specify the number of victims of this terrible tragedy. Our efforts should unite, not divide nations. In our opinion the Stalinist famine is not an act of genocide against one or other peoples of the USSR in the 30s. It was the policy of war against the peasants, who did not want to leave voluntarily from their land and give the state virtually free results of their work. During the 1930–1933, in total, more than 12 million tons of cereal crops were shipped from the Soviet Union to Europe. The proceeds from the sales of their money amounted to 442 million 109 thousand rubles (20%) of the total revenue for export. These funds have become the basis of the forced industrialization of the USSR and claimed millions of lives of our compatriots.
Director of the Russian archive of economy
Material provided by the Institute of History of State CS of MES of Kazakhstan
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