Causes of the Holodomor Information

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The causes of the Holodomor, the famine that ravaged Soviet Ukraine during 1932 and 1933, resulting in the death of around 3–5 million people, are the subject of scholarly and political debate, such as the Holodomor genocide question. Some historians believe the famine was the unintended consequence of problems arising from Soviet agricultural collectivization implemented to support the program of rapid industrialization in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. Other historians believe policies were intentionally designed to cause the famine. [1] [2] [3] [4] Some of them suggest that the famine may fall under the definition of genocide that entered international law with the 1948 Genocide Convention. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Scholarly debate

Debate on the harvest

Encyclopædia Britannica says that there was no physical basis for famine in Ukraine, and that Soviet authorities set quotas for Ukraine at exceedingly high levels. [8]

According to historian Stephen Wheatcroft, "there were two bad harvests in 1931 and 1932, largely but not wholly a result of natural conditions", [9] within the Soviet Union; Wheatcroft estimates that the grain yield for the Soviet Union preceding the famine was a low harvest of between 55 and 60 million tons, [10]: xix–xxi  likely in part caused by damp weather and low traction power, [11] yet official statistics mistakenly (according to Wheatcroft and others) reported a yield of 68.9 million tons. [12] Mark Tauger has suggested an even lower harvest of 45 million tons based on data from 40% of collective farms which has been criticized by other scholars. [12] Wheatcroft suggested that anthropologic hazards such as various agrotechnological failures may have exacerbated the low harvest. [13] Tauger, in contrast, argues that human factors such as low traction power and an exhausted workforce were worse in 1933 than previous years yet that year there had been a higher harvest, so the cause of the low harvest was mostly due to various natural factors. [14]

Regional variation

Famine losses by region [15]
Oblast Total deaths
in thousands
1932–1934
Deaths per 1000
1932 1933 1934
Kyiv Oblast 1110.8 13.7 178.7 7
Kharkiv Oblast 1037.6 7.8 178.9 4.2
Vinnytsia Oblast 545.5 5.9 114.6 5.2
Dnipropetrovsk Oblast 368.4 5.4 91.6 4.7
Odesa Oblast 326.9 6.1 98.8 2.4
Chernihiv Oblast 254.2 6 75.7 11.9
Stalino Oblast 230.8 7 41.1 6.4
Tyraspol 68.3 9.6 102.4 8.1

The collectivization and high procurement quota explanation for the famine is somewhat called into question by the fact that the oblasts of Ukraine with the highest losses being Kyiv and Kharkiv which produced far lower amounts of grain than other sections of the country. [16] A potential explanation for this was that Kharkiv and Kyiv fulfilled and over fulfilled their grain procurements in 1930 which led to raions in these Oblasts having their procurement quotas doubled in 1931 compared to the national average increase in procurement rate of 9%, in fact while Kharkiv and Kyiv had their quotas increased the Odesa oblast and some raions of Dnipropetrovsk oblast had their procurement quotas decreased. [17] In addition according to Nataliia Levchuk of the Ptoukha Institute of Demography and Social Studies "the distribution of the largely increased 1931 grain quotas in Kharkiv and Kyiv oblasts by raion was very uneven and unjustified because it was done disproportionally to the percentage of wheat sown area and their potential grain capacity." [17]

Ethical evaluation of Soviet policy

According to Simon Payaslian, a tentative scholarly consensus classifies the Soviet famine (at least in Ukraine) as a genocide, [18] whereas John Archibald Getty states that the scholarly consensus classifies the Holodomor as a policy blunder that affected many nationalities, rather than some genocidal plan. [19] Scholars say that it remains a significant issue in modern politics and dispute whether Soviet policies would fall under the legal definition of genocide. [20] [21] Several scholars have disputed that the famine was a genocidal act by the Soviet government, including Stephen G. Wheatcroft, [22] R. W. Davies, [23] and Mark Tauger. [24] Getty says that the "overwhelming weight of opinion among scholars working in the new archives [...] is that the terrible famine of the 1930s was the result of Stalinist bungling and rigidity rather than some genocidal plan." [19] Wheatcroft says that the Soviet government's policies during the famine were criminal acts of fraud and manslaughter, though not outright murder or genocide. [25] [a] In regard to the Soviet state's reaction to this crisis, Wheatcroft comments: "The good harvest of 1930 led to the decisions to export substantial amounts of grain in 1931 and 1932. The Soviet leaders also assumed that the wholesale socialisation of livestock farming would lead to the rapid growth of meat and dairy production. These policies failed, and the Soviet leaders attributed the failure not to their own lack of realism but to the machinations of enemies. Peasant resistance was blamed on the kulaks, and the increased use of force on a large scale almost completely replaced attempts at persuasion." [9] Wheatcroft says that Soviet authorities refused to scale down grain procurements despite the low harvest, [22] and that "[Wheatcroft and his colleague's] work has confirmed – if confirmation were needed – that the grain campaign in 1932/33 was unprecedentedly harsh and repressive." [13] Joseph Stalin biographer Stephen Kotkin supports a similar view, stating that while "there is no question of Stalin's responsibility for the famine" and many deaths could have been prevented if not for the "insufficient" and counterproductive Soviet measures, there is no evidence for Stalin's intention to kill the Ukrainians deliberately. [26] While Mark Tauger considers the famine to be the result of natural factors stating that "the harsh 1932–1933 procurements only displaced the famine from urban areas" but the low harvest "made a famine inevitable." Ultimately concluding that it is difficult to accept the famine "as the result of the 1932 grain procurements and as a conscious act of genocide" he still concurs with Wheatcroft that "the regime was still responsible for the deprivation and suffering of the Soviet population in the early 1930s", and "if anything, these data show that the effects of [collectivization and forced industrialization] were worse than has been assumed." [27]

Deliberately engineered or continuation of civil war

Dekulakization

During the 1930s, the Soviet Union was led by Joseph Stalin, who sought to reshape Soviet society from New Economic Policy toward stricter economic planning. As the leader of the Soviet Union, he constructed a state whose policies have been blamed for millions of deaths. A campaign of political repression, including arrests, deportations, and executions of people proclaimed traitors engaged in sabotaging collectivism, often targeted for belonging to specific demographic groups rather than as individuals, occurred from 1929 to 1932. The bourgeois were labeled kulaks and were class enemies. More than 1.8 million peasants were deported in 1930–1931. [28] [29] [30] This policy was accomplished simultaneously with collectivization in the Soviet Union and effectively brought all agriculture in the Soviet Union under state control. The stated purpose of the campaign was to fight the counter-revolution and build socialism in the countryside. [31]

May 1926 illustration to the Soviet categories of peasants: bednyaks, or poor peasants; serednyaks, or mid-income peasants; and kulaks, the those that possessed capital and significant wealth those who had much larger farms than most Russian peasants

The "liquidation of the kulaks as a class" was announced by Stalin on 27 December 1929. [28] The decision was formalized in a resolution, "On measures for the elimination of kulak households in districts of comprehensive collectivization", on 30 January 1930. The kulaks were divided into three categories: those to be executed for treason or imprisoned as decided by the local secret political police; those to be exiled for treason to Siberia, the north, the Urals, or Kazakhstan, after determined to be traitors, the government's confiscation of their property occurred; and, those considered traitors or were guilty of terrorism were to be evicted from their houses and used in labour colonies within their own districts. [28]

Targeting of the Soviet Ukraine

Although famine, allegedly caused by collectivization, raged in many parts of the Soviet Union in 1932, special and particularly lethal policies, according to Yale historian Timothy Snyder in his book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010), were adopted in and largely limited to Ukraine at the end of 1932 and 1933. [32] Snyder lists seven crucial policies that applied only, or mainly, to Soviet Ukraine. He states: "Each of them may seem like an anodyne administrative measure, and each of them was certainly presented as such at the time, and yet each had to kill." [33] Among them are: [32]

  • From 18 November 1932, peasants from Ukraine were required to return extra grain they had previously earned for meeting their targets. State police and party brigades were sent into these regions to root out any food they could find.
  • Two days later, a law was passed forcing peasants who could not meet their grain quotas to surrender any livestock they had.
  • Eight days later, collective farms that failed to meet their quotas were placed on "blacklists" in which they were forced to surrender 15 times their quota. These farms were picked apart for any possible food by party activists. Blacklisted communes had no right to trade or to receive deliveries of any kind, and became death zones.
  • On 5 December 1932, Stalin's security chief presented the justification for terrorizing Ukrainian party officials to collect the grain. It was considered treason if anyone refused to do their part in grain requisitions for the state.
  • In November 1932, Ukraine was required to provide 1/3 of the grain collection of the entire Soviet Union. As Lazar Kaganovich put it, the Soviet state would fight "ferociously" to fulfill the plan.
  • In January 1933, Ukraine's borders were sealed in order to prevent Ukrainian peasants from fleeing to other republics. By the end of February 1933, approximately 190,000 Ukrainian peasants had been caught trying to flee Ukraine and were forced to return to their villages to starve.
  • The collection of grain continued even after the annual requisition target for 1932 was met in late January 1933. [32]

Lack of tractors and favored industries along with ethnic discrimination

According to some scholars, collectivization in the Soviet Union and lack of favored industries were primary contributors to famine mortality (52% of excess deaths), and some evidence shows there was discrimination against ethnic Ukrainians and Germans. [34] According to a Centre for Economic Policy Research paper published in 2021 by Andrei Markevich, Natalya Naumenko, and Nancy Qian, regions with higher Ukrainian population shares were struck harder with centrally planned policies corresponding to famine, and Ukrainian populated areas were given lower amounts of tractors which were correlated to a reduction in famine mortality, ultimately concluding that 92% of famine deaths in Ukraine alone along with 77% of famine deaths in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus combined can be explained by systematic bias against Ukrainians. [35]

Requisition quotas

Komsomol members seize "grain hidden by kulaks"

In the summer of 1930, the Soviet government had instituted a program of food requisitioning, ostensibly to increase grain exports. The same year Ukraine produced 27% of the Soviet harvest but provided 38% of the deliveries, and in 1931 it made 42% of the deliveries. Yet the Ukrainian harvest fell from 23.9 million tons to 18.3 million tons in 1931, but the previous year's quota of 7.7 million tons remained. Authorities were able to procure only 7.2 million tons, and in 1932 just 4.3 million tons of a reduced quota of 6.6 million tons. [36] Between January and mid April 1933 a factor contributing to a surge of deaths within certain region of Ukraine during the period was the relentless search for "hidden grain" by the confiscation of all food stuffs from certain households, which Joseph Stalin implicitly approved of through a telegram he sent on 1 January 1933 to the Ukrainian government reminding Ukrainian farmers of the severe penalties for not surrendering grain they may be hiding. [16] In his review of Anne Applebaum's book Mark Tauger gives a rough estimate of those affected by the search for hidden grain reserves: "In chapter 10 Applebaum describes the harsh searches that local personnel, often Ukrainian, imposed on villages, based on a Ukrainian memoir collection (222), and she presents many vivid anecdotes. Still she never explains how many people these actions affected. She cites a Ukrainian decree from November 1932 calling for 1100 brigades to be formed (229). If each of these 1100 brigades searched 100 households, and a peasant household had five people, then they took food from 550,000 people, out of 20 million, or about 2-3 percent." [37]

Confiscation of reserve funds

In order to make up for unfulfilled grain procurement quotas in Ukraine, reserves of grain were confiscated from three sources including, according to Oleh Wolowyna, "(a) grain set side for seed for the next harvest; (b) a grain fund for emergencies; (c) grain issued to collective farmers for previously completed work, which had to be returned if the collective farm did not fulfill its quota." [16]

Criminalization of gleaning

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they have been commercially harvested or from fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. Some ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of a welfare system. In the Soviet Union, people who gleaned and distributed food brought themselves under legal risk. The Law of Spikelets criminalised gleaning under penalty of death, or ten years of forced labour in exceptional circumstances.[ citation needed]

Some sources say there were several legislative acts adopted in order to force starvation in the Ukrainian SSR. On 7 August 1932, the Soviet government passed a law, "On the Safekeeping of Socialist Property", [38] that imposed penalties starting at a ten-year prison sentence and up to the death penalty for any theft of socialist property. [39] [40] [41] Stalin personally appended the stipulation: "People who encroach on socialist property should be considered enemies of the people."[ citation needed] Within the first five months of passage of the law, 54,645 individuals had been imprisoned under it, and 2,110 sentenced to death. The initial wording of the decree, "On fought with speculation", adopted 22 August 1932, led to common situations where minor acts such as bartering tobacco for bread were documented as punished by 5 years imprisonment. After 1934, by NKVD demand, the penalty for minor offenses was limited to a fine of 500 rubles or three months of correctional labor. [42]

The scope of this law, colloquially dubbed the " law of the wheat ears", [38] included even the smallest appropriation of grain by peasants for personal use. A little over a month later, the law was revised, as Politburo protocols revealed that secret decisions had later modified the original decree of 16 September 1932. The Politburo approved a measure that specifically exempted small-scale theft of socialist property from the death penalty, declaring that "organizations and groupings destroying state, social, and co-operate property in an organized manner by fires, explosions and mass destruction of property shall be sentenced to execution without trial", and listed a number of cases in which "kulaks, former traders, and other socially-alien persons" would be subject to the death penalty. "Working individual peasants and collective farmers" who stole kolkhoz property and grain would be sentenced to ten years; the death penalty would be imposed only for "systematic theft of grain, sugar beets, animals, etc." [43]

Soviet expectations for the 1932 grain crop were high because of Ukraine's bumper crop the previous year, which Soviet authorities believed were sustainable. When it became clear that the 1932 grain deliveries were not going to meet the expectations of the government, the decreased agricultural output was first blamed on the kulaks, and later on agents and spies of foreign intelligence services, "nationalists", " Petlurovites", and from 1937 on, Trotskyists. According to a report from the head of the Supreme Court, by 15 January 1933 as many as 103,000 people (more than 14 thousand in the Ukrainian SSR) had been sentenced under the provisions of the 7 August decree. Of the 79,000 whose sentences were known to the Supreme Court, 4,880 had been sentenced to death, 26,086 to ten years of imprisonment, and 48,094 to other punishments. [43]

On 8 November, Molotov and Stalin issued an order stating, "from today the dispatch of goods for the villages of all regions of Ukraine shall cease until kolkhozy and individual peasants begin to honestly and conscientiously fulfill their duty to the working class and the Red Army by delivering grain." [44] On 24 November, the Politburo ordered that all those sentenced to confinement of three years or more in Ukraine be deported to labor camps. It also simplified procedures for confirming death sentences in Ukraine. The Politburo also dispatched Balytsky to Ukraine for six months with the full powers of the OGPU. [45]

Blacklist system

A "black board" published in the newspaper Under the Flag of Lenin in January 1933. A "blacklist" identifying specific kolhozes and their punishment in Bashtanka Raion, Mykolayiv oblast, Ukraine.

In certain collective farms, villages, and raions (districts) the Soviets imposed a blacklist regime (the chorna doshka or " black board") consisting of economic sanctions and a blockade by OGPU units which led to complete extermination by starvation in many of them. This was formalized in 1932 by the 20 November decree "The Struggle against Kurkul Influence in Collective Farms". [46] The blacklist was applied with harsher methods to selected villages and kolkhozes that were considered to be "underperforming" in the grain collection procurement: "Immediate cessation of delivery of goods, complete suspension of cooperative and state trade in the villages, and removal of all available goods from cooperative and state stores. Full prohibition of collective farm trade for both collective farms and collective farmers, and for private farmers. Cessation of any sort of credit and demand for early repayment of credit and other financial obligations." [47] [48] Initially, such sanctions were applied to only six villages, but later they were applied to numerous rural settlements and districts. For peasants, who were not kolkhoz members and who were "underperforming" in the grain collection procurement, special measures were adopted. To reach the grain procurement quota amongst peasants, 1,100 brigades were organized, which consisted of activists, often from neighbouring villages, who had either already accomplished their grain procurement quota or were close to accomplishing it. In the end at least 400 collective farms were put on the "black board", more than half of them in Dnepropetrovsk alone. [49]

Since most of the goods supplied to the rural areas were commercial (fabrics, matches, fuels) and sometimes obtained by villagers from neighbouring cities or railway stations, sanctioned villages remained thus for a long period—as an example mentioned in the 6 December decree, the village of Kamyani Potoky was removed from blacklist on 17 October 1933, when they completed their plan for grain collection early. After January 1933, the blacklist regime was modified, with 100% plan execution no longer required. As mentioned in the 6 December Decree, the villages Liutenky and Havrylivka were removed from the black list after 88% and 70% plan completion, respectively. [50]

Measures were taken to persecute those withholding or bargaining grain. This was done frequently by requisition detachments, which raided farms to collect grain, and regardless of whether or not the peasants retained enough grain to feed themselves or enough seed left to plant the next harvest.[ citation needed] Some blacklisted areas [51] in Kharkiv could have death rates exceeding 40% [52] while in other areas such as Stalino blacklisting had no particular effect on mortality. [52]

Restrictions on freedom of movement

Some sources[ who?] state that Ukrainian SSR borders were sealed by the NKVD and the army in order to prevent starving peasants from travelling into territories where food was more available. Some researchers believe these measures extended to urban areas inside Ukrainian SSR. During the first five-year plan, urban population growth brought more than 10 million people from villages to cities; the number receiving food rations increased from 25 million in 1930 to 40 million in 1932. Food production declined and urban food supplies fell drastically. Reserves did not keep pace with ration requirements. Desertion of factories, combined with peasants' flight from collective farms, resulted in millions of people moving around the country. In response, the government revived the tsarist institution of internal passports at the end of 1932 [53]

The requisition of grains from wealthy peasants (kulaks) during the forced collectivization. 1933

Special barricades were set up by GPU units throughout the Soviet Union to prevent an exodus of peasants from hunger-stricken regions. During a single month in 1933, 219,460 people were either intercepted and escorted back or arrested and sentenced. [54] In Ukraine, these measures had the following results, according to the declassified documents: [55] [56] [57] [58] During the 11 days (23 January – 2 February) after the 22 January 1933 decree, 3,861 people were intercepted, of which 340 were arrested "for further recognition". During the same period, there were 16,773 people intercepted (907 of those not living in Ukraine) in trains and at railway stations on the whole Ukrainian territory; out of those, 1,610 people were arrested. These figures also included criminals. In the same document, the GPU states that 94,433 peasants had already left the Ukrainian territory during the period from 15 December 1932 to 2 January 1933 (data for 215 districts out of 484, and Moldavian ASRR). It has been estimated that there were some 150,000 excess deaths as a result of this policy, and one historian asserts that these deaths constitute a crime against humanity. [59] In contrast historian Stephen Kotkin argues that the sealing of the Ukrainian borders caused by the internal passport system was in order to prevent the spread of famine related diseases. [60]

The government introduced new identity papers and obligatory registration for citizens in December 1932. [54] Initially, the area of new identity papers and obligatory registration implementation was limited to Moscow, Leningrad (encircling 100 km), and Kharkiv (encircling 50 km), and the new measures were planned for implementation by June 1933. In Ukraine, introduction of the passport system was to be carried out by the end of 1933, with top priority given to its enforcement in Kharkiv, Kiev, and Odessa. [61]

Travel from Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus Kuban kray region was specifically forbidden by the directives of 22 January 1933 (signed by Molotov and Stalin) and of 23 January 1933 (joint directive Central Committee of the Communist Party and Sovnarkom). 16 February 1933, the same measures were applied to the Lower-Volga region. [62] After February, the directives stated that travel "for bread" from these areas was organized by enemies of the Soviet Union, with the purpose of agitation in northern areas of the Soviet Union against kolkhozes, but was not prevented. Therefore, railway tickets were to be sold only by ispolkom permits, and those who had already reached the north should be arrested. [63]

Information blockade

Some sources state[ who?] that the Soviet regime, by preventing news of the famine from reaching the outside world, prevented foreign sources from providing aid to alleviate the famine and associated hardships. Some say the same thing happened during the earlier 1921–23 famine in the Soviet Union. With regard to the earlier famine, some researchers comments that initial Soviet pleas for aid in early autumn 1921 were refused by European countries, and what aid was eventually provided did not come for four or five months, so the Soviet government may not have expected the outside world to be very helpful in this instance either.[ citation needed]

On 23 February 1933, the Politburo of Central Committee adopted a decree requiring foreign journalists to seek travel permits from the General Directorate of Militia before entering the affected areas. Also, the Soviet government denied initial reports of the famine but agreed with information about malnutrition, while preventing foreign journalists from travelling in the region. At the same time, there was no credible evidence of information blockade arrangements on a considerable number of foreign specialists, such as engineers, who worked at construction sites at Ukrainian territory.[ citation needed]

For example, Gareth Jones, one of David Lloyd George's private secretaries, spent several days in mid-March travelling to "all twenty villages, not only in Ukraine, but also in the black earth district, and in the Moscow region, and ... I slept in peasants' cottages, and did not immediately leave for the next village."[ citation needed] He reached the neighbouring rural area of Kharkiv (the capital of Soviet Ukraine), spent some days there, and despite seeing no dead people or animals himself, reported "that there was famine in the Soviet Union."[ citation needed]

On 23 August 1933, foreign correspondents were warned individually by the press section of the Foreign Office of the Soviet Union not to attempt to travel to the provinces or elsewhere in the Soviet Union without first obtaining formal permission. The Foreign Office of the Soviet Union, without explanation, refused permission to William H. Chamberlain, The Christian Science Monitor correspondent, to visit and observe the harvest in the principal agricultural regions of the North Caucasus and Ukraine. From May–July 1933, two other American correspondents were forbidden to make a trip to Ukraine. [64] Such restrictions were softened in September 1933.[ citation needed]

Scholars who have conducted research in declassified archives have reported "the Politburo and regional Party committees insisted that immediate and decisive action be taken in response to the famine such that 'conscientious farmers' not suffer, while district Party committees were instructed to supply every child with milk and decreed that those who failed to mobilize resources to feed the hungry or denied hospitalization to famine victims be prosecuted." [65]

By the end of 1933, based on data collected by undercover investigation and photos, the Bohemian- Austrian Cardinal Theodor Innitzer began an awareness-raising campaign in the West about the massive deaths by hunger and occasional cases of cannibalism that were occurring in Ukraine and the North Caucasus at that time. [66]

Refusal to provide aid

Street in Kharkiv, 1932

Some sources say that, despite the pleas for assistance and the acknowledged famine situation, the Moscow authorities refused to provide aid. For example, Snyder writes that Stalin had privately admitted that while there was famine in Soviet Ukraine, he did not grant the Ukrainian party leadership's request for food aid. [33] Some researchers state that aid was provided only during the summer.[ who?] The first reports regarding malnutrition and hunger in rural areas and towns (which were undersupplied through the recently introduced rationing system) to the Ukrainian GPU and oblast authorities are dated to mid-January 1933; however, the first food aid sent by Central Soviet authorities for the Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk regions 400 thousand poods (6,600 tonnes, 200 thousand poods or 3,300 tonnes for each) appeared as early as 7 February 1933. [67] Measures were introduced to localize these cases using locally available resources. While the numbers of such reports increased, the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine issued a decree on 8 February 1933, that urged every "hunger case" to be treated without delay and with a maximum mobilization of resources by kolkhozes, raions, towns, and oblasts. The decree set a seven-day term for food aid which was to be provided from "central sources". On 20 February 1933, the Dnipropetrovsk oblast received 1.2 million poods of food aid, Odessa received 800 thousand, and Kharkiv received 300 thousand. The Kiev oblast was allocated 6 million poods by 18 March The Ukrainian authorities also provided aid, but it was limited by available resources. In order to assist orphaned children, the Ukrainian GPU and People's Commissariat for Health created a special commission, which established a network of kindergartens where children could get food. Urban areas affected by food shortage adhered to a rationing system. On 20 March 1933, Stalin signed a decree which lowered the monthly milling levy in Ukraine by 14 thousand tons, which was to be redistributed as an additional bread supply "for students, small towns and small enterprises in large cities and specially in Kiev." However, food aid distribution was not managed effectively and was poorly redistributed by regional and local authorities.[ citation needed]

After the first wave of hunger in February and March, Ukrainian authorities met with a second wave of hunger and starvation in April and May, specifically in the Kiev and Kharkiv oblasts. The situation was aggravated by the extended winter.[ citation needed] Between February and June 1933, thirty-five Politburo decisions and Sovnarkom decrees authorized the issue of a total of 35.19 million poods (576,400 tonnes), [68] or more than half of total aid to Soviet agriculture as a whole. 1.1 million tonnes were provided by Central Soviet authorities in winter and spring 1933 — grain and seeds for Ukrainian SSR peasants, kolhozes and sovhozes. Such figures did not include grain and flour aid provided for the urban population and children, or aid from local sources. In Russia, Stalin personally authorized distribution of aid in answer to a request by Sholokhov, whose own district was stricken. [69] However, Stalin also later reprimanded Sholokhov for failing to recognize "sabotage" within his district. This was the only instance that a specific amount of aid was given to a specific district. [69] Other appeals were not successful, and many desperate pleas were cut back or rejected. [70]

Documents from Soviet archives indicate that the aid distribution was made selectively to the most affected areas, and during the spring months, such assistance was the goal of the relief effort. A special resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine for the Kiev Oblast, from 31 March 1933, ordered peasants to be hospitalized with either ailing or recovering patients. The resolution ordered improved nutrition within the limits of available resources so that they could be sent out into the fields to sow the new crop as soon as possible. [71] The food was dispensed according to special resolutions from government bodies, and additional food was given in the field where the laborers worked.[ citation needed]

The last CPSU Politburo decision about food aid to the whole of the Ukrainian SSR was issued on 13 June 1933. Separate orders about food aid for regions of Ukraine appeared by the end of June through early July 1933 for the Dnipropetrovsk, Vinnytsia and Kiev regions. For the kolkhozes of the Kharkiv region, assistance was provided by end of July 1933 (Politburo decision dated 20 July 1933). [72]

What aid was given was selectively distributed to preserve the collective farm system. Grain producing oblasts in Ukraine such as Dnipropetrovsk were given more aid at an earlier time than more severely affected regions like Kharkiv which produced less grain. [16] Joseph Stalin had quoted Vladimir Lenin during the famine declaring: " He who does not work, neither shall he eat." [73] This perspective is argued by Michael Ellman to have influenced official policy during the famine, with those deemed to be idlers being disfavored in aid distribution as compared to those deemed "conscientiously working collective farmers"; [73] in this vein, Olga Andriewsky states that Soviet archives indicate that the most productive workers were prioritized for receiving food aid. [74] Food rationing in Ukraine was determined by city categories (where one lived, with capitals and industrial centers being given preferential distribution), occupational categories (with industrial and railroad workers being prioritized over blue collar workers and intelligentsia), status in the family unit (with employed persons being entitled to higher rations than dependents and the elderly), and type of workplace in relation to industrialization (with those who worked in industrial endeavors near steel mills being preferred in distribution over those who worked in rural areas or in food). [75]

Export of grain and other food

After recognition of the famine situation in Ukraine during the drought and poor harvests, the Soviet government in Moscow continued to export grain rather than retain its crop to feed the people, [76] though at a lower rate than in previous years. [77] In 1930–31, there had been 5,832,000 metric tons of grains exported. In 1931–1932, grain exports declined to 4,786,000 metric tons. In 1932–1933, grain exports were just 1,607,000 metric tons, and in 1933–34, this further declined to 1,441,000 metric tons. [78] Officially published data [79] differed slightly:

Cereals (in tonnes)
  • 1930 – 4,846,024
  • 1931 – 5,182,835
  • 1932 – 1,819,114 (~750,000 during the first half of 1932; from late April ~157,000 tonnes of grain was also imported)
  • 1933 – 1,771,364 (~220,000 during the first half of 1933; [80] from late March grain was also imported) [81]
Only wheat (in tonnes)
  • 1930 – 2,530,953
  • 1931 – 2,498,958
  • 1932 – 550,917
  • 1933 – 748,248

In 1932, via Ukrainian commercial ports the following amounts were exported: 988,300 tons of grains and 16,500 tons of other types of cereals. In 1933, the totals were: 809,600 tons of grains, 2,600 tons of other cereals, 3,500 tons of meat, 400 tons of butter, and 2,500 tons of fish. Those same ports imported the following amounts: less than 67,200 tons of grains and cereals in 1932, and 8,600 tons of grains in 1933.[ citation needed] The following amounts were received from other Soviet ports: in 1932, 164,000 tons of grains, 7,300 tons of other cereals, 31,500 tons of[ clarification needed], and no more than 177,000 tons of meat and butter; in 1933, 230,000 tons of grains, 15,300 tons if other cereals, 100 tons of meat, 900 tons of butter, and 34,300 tons of fish.[ citation needed] Michael Ellman states that the 1932–1933 grain exports amounted to 1.8 million tonnes, which would have been enough to feed 5 million people for one year. [59]

Elimination of Ukrainian cultural elite

Some researchers[ who?] found that the famine of 1932–1933 followed the assault on Ukrainian national culture that started in 1928.[ citation needed] The events of 1932–1933 in Ukraine were seen by the Soviet Communist leaders as an instrument against Ukrainian self-determination. At the 12th Congress of the Communist Party of Ukraine (CP(b)U), Moscow-appointed leader Pavel Postyshev declared that "1933 was the year of the defeat of Ukrainian nationalist counter-revolution." [82] This defeat encompassed not just the physical extermination of a significant portion of the Ukrainian peasantry, but also the mass imprisonment or execution of Ukrainian intellectuals, writers, and artists.[ citation needed]

In Ukraine there was a widespread purge of communist party officials at all levels. According to Oleh Wolowyna 390 "anti-Soviet, counter-revolutionary insurgent and chauvinist" groups were eliminated resulting in 37,797 arrests, that lead to 719 executions, 8,003 people being sent to Gulag camps, and 2,728 being put into internal exile. [16] 120,000 individuals in Ukraine were reviewed in the first 10 months of 1933 in a top to bottom purge of the communist party resulting in 23% being eliminated as "class hostile" elements. [16] Pavel Postyshev was set in charge of placing people in the head of Machine-Tractor Stations in Ukraine which were responsible for purging "class hostile elements." [16] By the end of 1933 60% of the heads of village councils and raion committees in Ukraine were replaced with an additional 40,000 lower tier workers being purged. [16]

By the end of the 1930s, approximately four-fifths of the Ukrainian cultural elite had been eliminated. [83] Some, like Ukrainian writer Mykola Khvylovy, committed suicide. One of the leading Ukrainian Bolsheviks, Mykola Skrypnyk, who was in charge of the decade-long Ukrainization program that had been decisively brought to an end, shot himself in the summer of 1933 at the height of the purge of the CP(b)U. Whole academic organizations, such as the Bahaliy Institute of History and Culture, were shut down following the arrests.[ citation needed] Repression of the intelligentsia occurred in virtually all parts of the Soviet Union. [84] Despite the assault, education and publishing in the republic remained Ukrainianized for years afterward. In 1935–36, 83% of all school children in the Ukrainian SSR were taught in Ukrainian, with Ukrainians making up about 80% of the population. [85] In 1936, of 1830 newspapers, 1402 were in Ukrainian, as were 177 magazines, and in 1936, 69 thousand Ukrainian books were printed. [86]

The recent award-winning documentary Genocide Revealed (2011), [87] by Canadian-Ukrainian director Yurij Luhovy, presents evidence for the view that Stalin and his cohorts in the Communist regime (not necessarily the Russian people as a whole) deliberately targeted Ukrainians in the mass starvation of 1932–1933. Stalin's regime proceeded to eliminate the intelligentsia of Ukraine[ citation needed], to forcibly deport Ukrainian Kulaks who opposed its collectivization policies, and to orchestrate a deliberate mass starvation by hunger of Ukrainians, wherever they were found throughout the Soviet Empire. [88] This documentary reinforces the view that the Holodomor was indeed an act of genocide.[ citation needed]

Consequence of collectivization

While a complex task, it is possible to group some of the causes that contributed to the Holodomor. They have to be understood in the larger context of Stalin's "social revolution from above" that took place in the Soviet Union at the time. [89]

Agrotechnological failures

Historian Stephen G. Wheatcroft lists four problems Soviet authorities ignored that would hinder the advancement of agricultural technology and ultimately contributed to the famine: [13]

  • "Over-extension of the sown area" — Crops yields were reduced and likely some plant disease caused by the planting of future harvests across a wider area of land without rejuvenating soil leading to the reduction of fallow land.
  • "Decline in draught power" — the over extraction of grain lead to the loss of food for farm animals, which in turn reduced the effectiveness of agricultural operations.
  • "Quality of cultivation" — the planting and extracting of the harvest, along with ploughing was done in a poor manner due to inexperienced and demoralized workers and the aforementioned lack of draught power.
  • "The poor weather" — drought and other poor weather conditions were largely ignored by Soviet authorities who gambled on good weather and believed agricultural difficulties would be overcome.

Collectivization

Approaches to changing from individual farming to a collective type of agricultural production had existed since 1917, but for various reasons (lack of agricultural equipment, agronomy resources, etc.) were not implemented widely until 1925, when there was a more intensive effort by the agricultural sector to increase the number of agricultural cooperatives and bolster the effectiveness of already existing sovkhozes. In late 1927, after the XV Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, then known as the All-Union Communist Party ( bolsheviks), a significant impetus was given to the collectivization effort.[ citation needed]

In 1927, a drought shortened the harvest in southern areas of the Ukrainian SSR and North Caucasus. In 1927–1928, the winter tillage area was badly affected due to low snow levels. Despite seed aid from the State, many affected areas were not re-sown. The 1928 harvest was affected by drought in most of the grain producing areas of the Ukrainian SSR. Shortages in the harvest and difficulties with the supply system created difficulties with the food supply in urban areas and destabilized the food supply situation in the USSR in general. In order to alleviate the situation, a system of food rationing was initially implemented in Odessa in the second quarter of 1928, and later spread to Mariupol, Kherson, Kiev, Dniprelstan ( Dnipropetrovsk), and Kharkiv. At the beginning of 1929, a similar system was implemented throughout the Soviet Union. Despite the aid from the Soviet Ukrainian and Central governments, many southern rural areas registered occurrences of malnutrition and in some cases hunger and starvation (the affected areas and thus the amount of required food aid was under-counted by authorities). There was also a shortage of forage livestock. Most of Kolkhozes and recently refurnished sovkhozes went through these years with few losses, and some were even able to provide assistance to peasants in the more affected areas (seed and grain for food).[ citation needed]

Despite the intense state campaign, the collectivization, which was initially voluntary, was not popular amongst peasants: as of early 1929, only 5.6% of Ukrainian peasant households and 3.8% of arable land were collectivized. In early 1929, the methods employed by the specially empowered authority UkrKolhozcenter changed from a voluntary enrollment to an administrative one. By 1 October 1929, a plan for the creation of kolkhozes was "outperformed" by 239%. As a result, 8.8% of arable land was collectivized. [90]

The next major step toward "all-over collectivization" took place after an article was published by Stalin in Pravda in early November 1929.[ citation needed] While initiated by a 10 November–17 meeting of Communist Party Central Committee Twenty-Five Thousanders only trained at special short courses, the main driving force of collectivization and dekulakization in Ukraine became a "poor peasants committee" (komnezamy) and local village councils (silrady) where komnezams members had a voting majority.[ citation needed] The USSR Kolhozcenter issued the 10 December 1929, decree on collectivization of livestock within a three-month period (draft animals 100%, cattle 100%, pigs 80%, sheep and goats 60%). This drove many peasants to slaughter their livestock. By 1 January 1930, the percentage of collectivized households almost doubled to 16.4%.[ citation needed]

Despite the infamous 5 January 1930 decree, in which the deadline for the complete collectivization of the Ukrainian SSR was set for the period from the end of 1931 to spring 1932, the authorities decided to accelerate the completion of the campaign in autumn 1930. The high expectations of the plan were outperformed by local authorities even without the assistance of the 7,500 Twenty-Five Thousanders, [91] and by March, 70.9% of arable land and 62.8% of peasant households were collectivized. The dekulakization plan also "over-performed". The first stage of dekulakization lasted from second half of January until the beginning of March 1930. Such measures were applied to 309 out of 581 total districts of Ukrainian SSR, which accounted for 2,524,000 of 5,054,000 peasant households. As of 10 March, 61,897 peasants households (2.5%) were dekulakized, while in 1929, the percentage of dekulakized households was 1.4%. [92] Some of the peasants and "weak elements" were arrested and deported "to the north". Many arrested kulaks and "well-to-do" farmers resettled their families to the Urals and Central Asia. [93] The term kulak was ultimately applied to anybody resisting collectivization as many of the so-called kulaks were no more well-off than other peasants.[ citation needed]

The fast-track to collectivization incited numerous peasant revolts in Ukraine and in other parts of the Soviet Union. In response to the situation, Pravda published Stalin's article "Dizzy with success", which blamed overeager Party members and declared that "collective farms must not be established by force". [94] Soon, numerous orders and decrees were issued banning the use of force and administrative methods. Some of those dekulakized were declared to have been labeled mistakenly and received their property back, and some returned home. As a result, the collectivization process was rolled back. On 1 May 1933, 38.2% of Ukrainian SSR peasant households and 41.1% of arable land had been collectivized—by the end of August these numbers declined to 29.2% and 35.6% respectively.[ citation needed]

A second forced-voluntary collectivization campaign was initiated in the winter of 1931, with significant assistance of the so-called tug-brigades composed of kolkhoz udarniks. Many kulaks, along with their families, were deported from the Ukrainian SSR.[ citation needed] According to declassified data, around 300,000 peasants in Ukraine were affected by these policies in 1930–1931. Ukrainians composed 15% of the total 1.8 million kulaks relocated Soviet-wide. [95] Beginning in summer 1931, all further deportations were recommended to be administered only to individuals. [96] This second forced-voluntary collectivization campaign also caused a delay in sowing. During winter and spring 1930–1931, the Ukrainian agricultural authority Narkomzem issued several reports about the significant decline of livestock caused by poor treatment, the absence of forage, stables, and farms, and "kulak sabotage".[ citation needed]

According to the first five-year plan, Ukrainian agriculture was to switch from an exclusive orientation of grain to a more diverse output. This included not only an increase in sugar beet crops; other types of agricultural production were expected to be utilized by industry, including cotton, which was established in 1931. This plan anticipated a decrease in grain area and an increase of yield and area for other crops.[ citation needed] By 1 July 1931, 65.7% of Ukrainian SSR peasant households and 67.2% of arable land were reported as collectivized, while the main grain and sugar beet production areas were collectivized at levels of 80–90%. [97]

The decree of Central Committee of the Communist Party on 2 August 1931 clarified the all-over collectivization term—in order to be considered complete, the all-over collectivization did not have to reach 100%, but could not be less than 68-70% of peasants households and 75-80% of arable lands. According to the same decree, all-over collectivization was accomplished in the following areas: Northern Caucasus (Kuban), with 88% of households and 92% of arable lands collectivized; Ukraine (South), with 85% and 94% respectively; Ukraine (Right Bank), with 69% and 80%; and Moldavian ASRR (part of Ukrainian SRR), with 68% and 75%. [98] As of the beginning of October 1931, the collectivization of 68% of peasant households, and 72% of arable land was complete. [99]

Article from a Soviet newspaper with the first version of a plan for grain collections in 1932 for kolkhozes and peasants—5,831.3 thousand tons + sovkhozes 475,034 tons

The plan for the state grain collection in the Ukrainian SSR adopted for 1931 was over-optimistic—510 million poods (8.4 Tg). Drought, administrative distribution of the plan for kolkhozes, and the lack of relevant general management destabilized the situation. Significant amounts of grain remained unharvested. A significant percentage was lost during processing and transportation, or spoiled at elevators (wet grain). The total winter sowing area shrunk by ~2 million hectares. Livestock in kolkhozes remained without forage, which was collected under grain procurement. A similar occurrence happened with respect to seeds and wages awarded to kolhoz members. Grain collection continued until May 1932, but reached only 90% of the planned amounts. By the end of December 1931, the collection plan was 79% accomplished. Many kolkhozes from December 1931 onwards suffered from lack of food, resulting in an increased number of deaths caused by malnutrition, which were registered by OGPU in some areas (Moldavian SSR as a whole and several central rayons of Vinnytsia, Kiev, and North-East rayons of Odessa oblasts) [100] in winter, spring and early summer 1932. By 1932, the sowing campaign of the Ukrainian SSR was implemented with minimal drafht power, as most of the remaining horses were incapable of working, while the number of available agricultural tractors was too small to fill the gap.[ citation needed]

The government of the Ukrainian SSR tried to remedy the situation, but it had little success. Administrative and territorial reform (oblast creation) in February 1932 also added to the mismanagement. As a result, Moscow had more details about the seed situation than the Ukrainian authorities. In May 1932, in an effort to change the situation, the central Soviet Government provided 7.1 million poods of grain for food for Ukraine and dispatched an additional 700 agricultural tractors originally intended for other regions of the Soviet Union.[ citation needed]

By July, the total amount of aid provided from Central Soviet Authorities for food, sowing and forage for the agricultural sector totaled more than 17 million poods.[ citation needed] Speculative prices of food in the cooperative network (5–10 times more compared to neighbouring Soviet republics) brought significant peasant "travel for bread", while attempts to handle the situation had very limited success. The quota on carried-on foods provision was lifted by Stalin (at Kosior's request) at the end of May 1932. The July GPU reports for the first half of 1932 mentioned the "difficulties with food" in 127 out of 484 rayons and acknowledged the incompleteness of the information for the regions. The decree of Sovnarkom on "Kolkhoz Trade" issued in May fostered rumours amongst peasants that collectivization was rolled back again, as it had been in spring 1930. The number of peasants who abandoned kolkhozes significantly increased.[ citation needed] The government plans for the central grain collection in Ukraine was lowered by 18.1% compared to the 1931 plan. Collective farms were still expected to return 132,750 tons of grain, which had been provided in spring 1932 as aid. The grain collection plan for July 1932 was adopted to collect 19.5 million poods. The actual state of collection was disastrous, and by 31 July, only 3 million poods (compared to 21 million in 1931) were collected. As of 20 July, the harvested area was half the 1931 amount. The sovhozes had only sowed 16% of the defined area.[ citation needed]

Beginning in July 1932, the Ukrainian SSR met with difficulty in supplying the planned amount of food to the rationing system (implemented in early 1928) to supply extensively growing urban areas with food. This system almost became the sole source of food delivery to cities, while the alternatives, cooperative trade and black market trading, became too expensive and undersupplied to provide long-range assistance. By December 1932, due to faulty grain procurement, daily rationing for the rural population was limited to 100–600 grams of bread, with some group of rural citizens completely withdrawn from the rationing supply. [50] [100]

This disparity between agricultural goals and actual production grew later in the year. An expected 190 thousand tons of grain were to be exported, but by 27 August 1932, only 20 thousand tons were ready. Taking into account the situation with the harvest at right bank Ukraine, Stalin lowered procurement plan for the Ukrainian SSR by 40 million poods at the end of August 1932. [101] By 25 October, the plan for grain collection was lowered once again. Nevertheless, collection reached only 39% of the annually planned total. [102] A second lowering of goals subtracted 70 million poods but still demanded plan completion and 100% efficiency. Attempts to reach the new goals of production proved futile in late 1932. On 29 November, in order to complete the plan, Ukraine was to collect 94 million poods, 4.8 million of them from sovkhozes. On 2 January, targets were again lowered to 62.5 million poods. On 14 January, the targets were lowered even further to 33.1 million. At the same time, GPU of Ukraine reported hunger and starvation in the Kiev and Vinnytsia oblasts, and began implementing measures to remedy the situation. The total amount of grain collected by 5 February was only 255 million poods (compared to 440 million poods in 1931), while the numbers of "hunger and malnutrition cases" as registered by the GPU of Ukrainian SSR increased every day. [103]

Whilst the long-lasting effect of overall collectivization had an adverse effect on agricultural output everywhere, Ukraine had long been the most agriculturally productive area, providing over 50% of exported grain and 25% of total production of grain in the Russian Empire in 1913. Over 228,936 square kilometres (56,571,000 acres), 207,203 square kilometres (51,201,000 acres) were used for grain production, or 90.5% of total arable land. This degree of dependency on agriculture meant that the effects of a bad harvest could be almost unlimited. This had been long recognized, and while projections for agricultural production were adjusted, the shock of limited production could not be easily managed. While collections by the state were in turn limited, there were already clear stresses. The 1932 total Soviet harvest was to be 29.5 million tons[ vague] in state collections of grain out of 90.7 million tons in production. But the actual result was a disastrous 55–60 million tons in production. The state ended up collecting only 18.5 million tons in grain. [104] The total Soviet collections by the state were virtually the same in 1930 and 1931 at about 22.8 million tons. For 1932, they had been reduced significantly to 18.5 million tons, with even lower figure in Ukraine. These were the total estimated outcomes of the grain harvests: [104]

Peasants' reaction

Another potential factor contributing to the situation in spring 1933 was that the peasants' "incentive to work disappeared" when they worked at "large collective farms". [105] Soviet archival data for 1930–32 also support that conclusion. This is one of the factors for reducing the sowing area in 1932 and for significant losses during harvesting. [80] By December 1932, 725,000 hectares of grain in areas of Ukrainian SRR affected by famine remained uncollected in spring 1933. [106]

A second significant factor was "the massacre of cattle by peasants not wishing to sacrifice their property for nothing to the collective farm." [107] During winter and spring 1930–1931, the Ukrainian agricultural authority Narkomzem issued several reports about the significant decline of livestock and especially draft power caused by poor treatment, absence of forage, stables, and farms, and "kulak sabotage". [108]

Oleh Wolowyna comments that peasant resistance and the ensuing repression of said resistance was a critical factor for the famine in Ukraine and parts of Russia populated by national minorities like Germans and Ukrainians allegedly tainted by "fascism and bourgeois nationalism" according to Soviet authorities. [16]

Legislation provisions

Law "On the safekeeping of Socialist property" text 12 August 1932

On 7 August 1932, the Soviet government passed a law, "On the Safekeeping of Socialist Property", [38] that imposed penalties from a ten-year prison sentence up to the death penalty for any theft of socialist property. [39] [40] [41] Stalin personally appended the stipulation: "People who encroach on socialist property should be considered enemies of the people."[ citation needed] Within the first five months of passage of the law, 54,645 individuals had been imprisoned under it, and 2,110 sentenced to death. The initial wording of the decree, "On fought with speculation", adopted 22 August 1932 led to common situations where minor acts such as bartering tobacco for bread were documented as punished by 5 years imprisonment. After 1934, by NKVD demand, the penalty for minor offenses was limited to a fine of 500 rubles or three months of correctional labor. [42]

The scope of this law, colloquially dubbed the " law of the wheat ears", [38] included even the smallest appropriation of grain by peasants for personal use. In little over a month, the law was revised, as Politburo protocols revealed that secret decisions had later modified the original decree of 16 September 1932. The Politburo approved a measure that specifically exempted small-scale theft of socialist property from the death penalty, declaring that "organizations and groupings destroying state, social, and co-operate property in an organized manner by fires, explosions and mass destruction of property shall be sentenced to execution without trial", and listed a number of cases in which "kulaks, former traders and other socially-alien persons" would be subject to the death penalty. "Working individual peasants and collective farmers" who stole kolkhoz property and grain should be sentenced to ten years; the death penalty should be imposed only for "systematic theft of grain, sugar beets, animals, etc." [43]

Soviet expectations for the 1932 grain crop were high because of Ukraine's bumper crop the previous year, which Soviet authorities believed were sustainable. When it became clear that the 1932 grain deliveries were not going to meet the expectations of the government, the decreased agricultural output was blamed on the kulaks, and later to agents and spies of foreign Intelligence Services—"nationalists", " Petlurovites", and from 1937 on, Trotskyists. According to a report by the head of the Supreme Court, by 15 January 1933, as many as 103,000 people (more than 14,000 in the Ukrainian SSR) had been sentenced under the provisions of the 7 August decree. Of the 79,000 whose sentences were known to the Supreme Court, 4,880 had been sentenced to death, 26,086 to ten years' imprisonment, and 48,094 to other sentences. [43]

On 8 November, Molotov and Stalin issued an order stating "from today the dispatch of goods for the villages of all regions of Ukraine shall cease until kolkhozy and individual peasants begin to honestly and conscientiously fulfill their duty to the working class and the Red Army by delivering grain." [44] On 24 November, the Politburo instructed that all those sentenced to confinement of three years or more in Ukraine be deported to labor camps. It also simplified procedures for confirming death sentences in Ukraine. The Politburo also dispatched Balytsky to Ukraine for six months with the full powers of the OGPU. [45]

The existing practice of administrative punishment known as black board ( blacklist) by the November, 18 Decree of Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine was applied to a greater extent and with more harsh methods to selected villages and kolkhozes that were considered to be underperforming in the grain collection procurement: "Immediate cessation of delivery of goods, complete suspension of cooperative and state trade in the villages, and removal of all available goods from cooperative and state stores. Full prohibition of collective farm trade for both collective farms and collective farmers, and for private farmers. Cessation of any sort of credit and demand for early repayment of credit and other financial obligations." [47] [48] Initially, such sanctions were applied to only six villages, but later they were applied to numerous rural settlements and districts. For peasants who were not kolkhoz members and who were underperforming in the grain collection procurement, special measures were adopted. To "reach the grain procurement quota" amongst peasants, 1,100 brigades, consisting of activists (often from neighbouring villages) which had accomplished their grain procurement quota or were close to accomplishing it, were organized.[ citation needed]

Since most of goods supplied to the rural areas were commercial (fabrics, matches, fuels) and sometimes obtained by villagers from neighboured cities or railway stations, sanctioned villages remained so for a long period. As an example mentioned in the 6 December Decree, the village of Kamyani Potoky was removed from blacklist only on 17 October 1933, when they completed their plan for grain collection early. Beginning in January 1933, the black list regime was softened when 100% of plan execution was no longer demanded. The 6 December Decree stated that the villages Liutenky and Havrylivka were removed from the black list after reaching 88% and 70% plan completion respectively. [50] Measures were undertaken to persecute those withholding or bargaining grain. This was frequently done by requisition detachments, which raided farms to collect grain, and was done regardless of whether the peasants retained enough grain to feed themselves, or whether they had enough seed left to plant the next harvest.[ citation needed]

Procurement practice

In 1928, a by contract policy of procurement (contracts for the delivery of agricultural products) was implemented for kolkhozes and ordinary peasants alike (kulaks had a "firm" plan for procurement). Accordingly, from 1928 through January 1933, "grain production areas" were required to submit 1/3 to 1/4 of their estimated yield, while areas designated as grain were required to submit no more than 1/8 of their estimated yield. However, between autumn 1930 and spring 1932, local authorities tended to collect products from kolkhozes in amounts greater than the minimum required, in order to exceed the contracted target, in some cases by more than 200%. Especially harmful methods utilized in the by contract policy were counter-plan actions, which were additional collection plans implemented in already fulfilled contracts. Such counter-plan measures were strictly forbidden after the Spring of 1933 as "extremely harmful for kolkhoz development." [109]

In 1932, a "14 of yield" procurement quota for "grain production areas" of the Ukrainian SSR was planned for implementation. On 23 September 1932, a telegram signed by Molotov and Stalin noted that the harvest of 1932 was "satisfactory", according to estimates provided by the agricultural planning authorities, and therefore requests for seed for winter crops were refused, while total winter tillage acreage demands were increased. [110] Later, Stalin blamed the statistical and planning authorities for inaccurately estimating potential yields and thus a "Commissions for yield estimation" was created on 17 December 1932, by his order. [111] The 1932 harvest figures provided at the time were largely overestimated, and the actual difference between estimated and actual harvest was significant. Such unrealistic figures resulted in demand that was impossible to fulfil and greater grain procurement than was possible from late 1932 through 5 February 1933. [112]

Natural factors

Purely natural factors

Mark Tauger has suggested that drought, damp weather, and the flooding of fields by heavy rain diluted the harvest. [113] The proposal of harsh rain as a cause has been criticized as being contradictory to Stephen Wheatcroft's explanation of drought as a primary factor for the low harvest. [34] Other natural factors which reduced the harvest suggested by Tauger included endemic plant rust and swarms of insects. [113]

Mix between natural and human factors

According to Tauger warm and wet weather stimulated the growth of weeds which was insufficiently delt with due to lack of peasant work motivation and primitive agricultural technology. [113] Deep snow and excess crop yield caused by peasants postponing harvest work and leaving out ears on the field to be gleaned later as part of peasant resistance is argued by Tauger to have caused an infestation of mice which destroyed grain stores and ate animal fodder. [113]

Notes

  1. ^ "We may well ask whether having revolutionarily high expectations is a crime? Of course it is, if it leads to an increase in the level of deaths, as a result of insufficient care being taken to safeguard the lives of those put at risk when the high ambitions failed to be fulfilled, and especially when it was followed by a cover-up. The same goes for not adjusting policy to unfolding evidence of crisis. But these are crimes of manslaughter and fraud rather than of murder. How heinous are they in comparison, say, with shooting over 600,000 citizens wrongly identified as enemies in 1937–8, or in shooting 25,000 Poles identified as a security risk in 1940, when there was no doubt as to the outcome of the orders? The conventional view is that manslaughter is less heinous than cold blooded murder." [25]

References

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