If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

Starvation of the beginning of the 30th of 20th century in Kazakhstan: Crime and Punishment

Starvation of the beginning of the 30th of 20th century in Kazakhstan: Crime and Punishment - e-history.kz
(Material from the collection of materials of international scientific conference “Famine in Kazakhstan:The tragedy of the people and lessons of history”) released by Astana publishing house, 2012

07 January 2015

The history of Kazakhstan is extremely rich with events, changes and names of outstanding persons. But only few of them changed destinies of the country, the state and the people for centuries. Among of these events are: formation of Kazakh khanate in 15th century, years of great disaster and beginning of inclusion into Russia in the 18th century, establishment of the Soviet power in 1917–1918, scientific feats of                 Ch. Valikhanov, M.Auezov and K. Satpayev, proclamation of the state independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan on December 16, 1991 and determination of the new capital of the young and independent state.

In this chronicle of the incomplete system the Soviet period of National history takes a special place. 74 years of socialist construction in Kazakhstan incorporated the moment of victory and tragic pages of irreplaceable losses. We have many things to be proud of, as on a wave of the Bolshevism the Kazakh Soviet statehood had been revived, the economic, social and cultural appearance of the republic had been changed and the new intellectual potential of the people had been formed. Nobody has the right to deny the achievements of the Soviet Kazakhstan.

However, the socialist way of development was not always successful and victorious. The Kazakh people would complacently forgive all deformations and turns of ideas, the theory and practice of socialism if not two crimes of totalitarian regime which confronted people with a dilemma "to be or not to be". It was all about famine of 1931–1933 and political repression of 1937–1938.

3 million of Kazakhs died of starvation. The one sixth parts of nation forever left the historical homeland. In 1897, from 3, 5 million Kazakhs, which made 82% of the population, by 1939 were only 2.3 million. The population of the republic was felt by 38%. Incredible sufferings and wounds are not forgotten and bleed till nowadays.

The humanitarian disaster and the greatest tragedy of the Kazakh people of the beginning of the 30th was an objective consequence of the agrarian, personnel, national, cultural policy of Stalin and his surrounding, which was established in Kazakhstan by the protégé of the Kremlin F. Goloshekin. The professional revolutionary F. Goloschekin, having accepted a manual of Kazkraykom in 1925, first things first struck the intellectual elite of the Kazakh society. By his initiative the repression machine of system fell upon leaders and activists of Alash movement. At a boundary of the 20-30th A. Bokeykhan was deported from Kazakhstan, A. Baytursynov, M. Zhumabayev, M. Auyezov and other famous personalities appeared in prison, even the ideological communist S. Seyfullin got to disgrace. In a word, shock on persons of high mission and pride of the nation weakened immunity of self-defense of society.

The crusade also touched scientific and art creation of the Alash intellectuals, many pre-Soviet authors and their books were declare harmful, withdrawn from circulation that significantly impoverished spiritual and cultural life of the steppe. In this regards F. Goloschekin even created own theory. In 1930, at the 7th all Kazakh Party Conference, he declared: «The center of gravity lies on the fact that the faster our national economy would developed, the speed of its socialist construction, than the „gap“ which was formed between economic constructions and cultural will be moved apart». Nevertheless, "gap" between economy and culture remained subsequently. Their reason is behind the financing of welfare of infrastructure by the residual principle.

Corrupting of spiritual cultural values and reference points of the Kazakh society was added by establishment of a personal authority and Goloschekin’s diktat. Everybody was afraid of him. Rebellious people like S. Sadvokasov were openly pursued. If intrinsic lines and properties of the Soviet totalitarianism on the scale of the USSR were created by the end of the 20th, in Kazakhstan they fully worked with Goloschekin’s arrival to the power.

Partially this peculiar moment of the Kazakhstan history received lighting during operation of the 6th Plenum of Kazkraykom of All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) on July 10–16, 1933. "O. Isaev declared in the concluding remarks on plenum, for all that played the leading role and could not play it, being the Prime Minister, the active party worker, I cannot consider myself the single creator and all good and all bad that was in Kazakhstan for this period. It remained indisputable that the major role in our state was played by the first secretary of the organization of comrade Goloschekin, and from here the fault in a huge level, certainly, falls on it». Even more precisely Kuramysov — the second secretary of Kazkraykom of All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in case of Goloschekin. «What was the root of my errors? — he asked himself. The response was as follows: "Goloschekin was among the influential authorities. I did not have character to argue my point of view". Components of Goloshekin’s "authority" were colorfully described in S. Seyfullin’s poem "Kyzyl at" ("A red horse").

As one more reason of food crisis the Goloschekin theory "Small October" served. The new round of Sovietization of the Kazakh aul, gain of a role of Communist Party organizations, proliferation of communists from 32 thousand in 1926 to 101 thousand people in 1933 which are realized within "Small October" and command and administrative activities of a lzhebelsendy led to that the simple person was aloof from the power, the rights, elementary freedom, legally unprotected. The completing accord of "Small October" was the confiscation of bai-semi-feudal lords in 1928, which meant the beginning of corrupting of fundamentals of agrarian economy.

1929, the start for mass collective-farm movement was given. The reasonable, unrestrained race of collectivization provoked by the top management of the USSR within 4 years was poured out in terrible crimes against humanity. Its absurdity consists also that the apex of All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and state entered war against own people. So the great writer M. Sholokhov was absolutely right when in 1932 declared: "On farms there was a uniform war".

Methods of force collectivization were anywhere and everywhere identical. Their tragic results were defined by scales, cruelty and ethnic directivity in the specific region. The enormous sizes were accepted by a discrepancy between the plan of collectivization and its materials support, not to mention mentality of ethnos, its readiness for a settled way of life, collective housekeeping. Houses and homestead extensions were built hastily from the turf. As a result, instead of on the basis of collectivization to improve human life, absolutely reverse results turned out: sharp abbreviation of a livestock, ruin and wanders of Kazakhs. 

Nevertheless, the course on collectivization of agriculture and elimination of kulaks as class was proceeded. In December 1, 1931 in case of collectivization for 68,9 % across Kazakhstan settled Kazakh regions were collectivized for 72, 2% and semi-nomadic for 57, 6% in April 10, 1932, these indexes made respectively     64,3%, 68,8% and 54%. The animal husbandry as branch of agrarian stopped its existence. From 40 million heads of all types of cattle of 1929 there were for the beginning of 1933 only 4 million heads.

The steppe was enveloped by famine. In science different forms and statuses of hunger are known. The hunger flash-outs caused by droughts, floods and other temporary phenomena are implied by epidemic hunger. One more form of insufficiency of a supply — incomplete compliance of the actual consuming to the standard for caloric content. Extreme manifestation of a food problem — chronic starvation. Hunger of the beginning of the 30th belongs to chronic, the USSR caused by political and ideological adventure of the top management and Kazakhstan, ruthless corrupting of a traditional life support system of nomad, unfair distribution of the income, revelry of petty-bourgeois elements in the sphere of a country government and society.

Starvation of people raged in the Kazakh regions. In the Karatalsky region only in three Kazakh auls (villages) a half of the population perished in the winter of 1932. In the Karkaralinsky region in May, 1932, 5 there were 0, 4 thousand people and by their November there were only 15, 9 thousand people. In Balhash region out of 60 thousand people 36 thousand died and remained only 12 thousand Kazakhs. In search of food people ran to the cities of adjacent republics. According to incomplete date, by the beginning of 1933 in Central Volga there were — 40 thousand Kazakh people, in Kyrgyzstan — 100 thousand people and Western Siberia — 50 thousand people.

On arrival to Kazakhstan returnees were not faced with the better life. Local authorities were not ready to work in extremal situations. Only in one East Kazakhstan 142 thousand people left their houses, in the middle of May, 1932 over 78 thousand people came back. However, the regional plan of measures on arrangement of returnees was expected only 44 thousand people.

According to the archive documents, famine struck first of all the least protected and feeble part of the population — children, the future of the nation, and elders — the wells of popular wisdom and experience. So, in the village Red Aul that in 105 km from the city of Semipalatinsk, the children’s home was open on April 17, 1932.

As archive documents testify, hunger mowed first of all the least protected and feeble part of the population — children, the future of the nation and people of advanced and old age, wells of popular wisdom and experience. So, in the village the Red Aul that in 105 kilometers from the city of Semipalatinsk, the children’s home was open on April 17, 1932. The material conditions of children’s home did not promote protection of the disadvantaged at all. Here lines from the document: "About 1, 5 sq. meters of the area on average are the share of one child, but in some houses children are placed very much densely…Locations contain very dirty…Children defecate round the house, anywhere, near houses mass of old manure, the old clothes of died children, bones, etc. roll. All this decays and extends an improbable stench…Window leaves in houses are not present, stuffy, and in those houses where children beat out glasses, the cold penetrating wind walks, and children howl from cold".

The clothes to children were not given, a supply was delivered very badly and medical attendance had the formal character. Within the first month 172 children died and 129 students ran away.

People driven by hunger and lawlessness did not keep silence. Across all Kazakhstan national performances and letters addressed to Stalin, Kalinin and Molotov full of despair, the vote of perturbation was given by courageous people — T. Ryskulov, G. Musrepov, M. Gataulin, etc. Stalin and his surrounding, clearly understanding all malignancy of own criminal activities, the second five-years period entered with slightly corrected agrarian policy. In the spring of 1933 local party and Soviet organs received Stalin-Molotov’s instruction to restrict application of repressive measure concerning peasants. "The movement was caused by out achievement in the village, — it was emphasized in the instruction, — when we do not need the mass repressions, that touch not only fists, but also individualists and part of collective farmers". Gradually chronic famine was overcome. A collective-farm system won.

The Stalin model of production of agricultural products endured the terrible designer almost for four decades. The Soviet collective farms and state farms, being in a status of permanent crisis, did not solve food problems. The rural toiler deprived of the earth and property, the rights to dispose of a product of own work got used to work carelessly, at half strength, in half-hearts. The prestige of agricultural professions fell, the word "collective farmer" sounded as a synonym of backwardness, poverty, lameness. It is represented to us that the Soviet Union broke up partly because an agrarian sector of economy, the principles of its organization and control hopelessly lagged behind time calls. The situation was not rescued by neither mastering of a virgin soil, or a food program. Though responsible for hunger of the beginning of the 30th of the 20th century and mass loss of people left from a deserved penalty, the totalitarian system created by it did not avoid punishment. In other words, hunger and death of millions of period of collectivization did not take place completely as punishment they returned a boomerang and struck in 1991 a crushing blow on the murderer. In general, this is the total lessons of history, the essence of conceptual provision of the modern historical science.

H. Abzhanov
Professor, Doctor of Historical Science,
The director of Institute of History and Ethnology named after Ch. Valikhanov

Materials given by the Institute of History of State of MES of Kazakhstan