Collectivisation Taken from www.activehistory.co.uk
Why did Stalin want to introduce collectivisation? • To solve the food shortage - grain production levels would increase • To raise the money for industrialisation – grain surpluses could be sold abroad. • To destroy political rivals – in 1928 he had destroyed the Trotskyists but only with the support of Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky. By swinging back to the Left he could isolate them.
What obstacles faced Stalin in this regard? • USSR covered 22 million square kilometres • Farming methods were primitive and inefficient • Peasants are traditionally very independent and resist interference • The Kulaks owned 90% of Russia’s most fertile land • Bolsheviks are urban in background and do not understand these complexities
What was the essential difference between the ‘Kolkhoz’ and the ‘Sovkhoz’? • Kolkhoz = Collective farms – conglomeration of smaller farms; peasants given a share of the surplus production after state had taken its share • Sovkhoz = State farms – brand new model farms created in the wilderness; peasants paid a wage by the state
What benefits did Stalin think the Kolkhoz would bring to the Soviet economy? • “Economies of scale” – cheaper and increased output following from increased efficiency and specialisation of labour and produce – therefore cheaper prices. • What benefits did he claim the Kolkhoz would bring to the peasants? • Schools, hospitals, nurseries • Why did the Kulaks nevertheless resist the move towards collectivisation? • It would spell an end to their independence.
When was enforced collectivisation finally put into practice? • Oxley – the 1927 Party Congress had set an objective of 20% of farmers to be collectivised by 1933; in December 1929 the Central Committee changed this objective to the complete collectivization of the more important regions by the end of 1930 and everywhere else by the end of 1932.
How was collectivisation carried out? • 25,000 Police and red Army units confiscated grain and livestock to feed the towns and cities. • Villages were given quotas of Kulaks to surrender to the authorities. • Motor Tractor Stations (MTS) were set up all over the country so that the collectives could hire machinery and have their grain collected. • By March 1930 almost 60% of all farms had been collectivised.
What was the reaction of the Kulaks? • Sold their grain off cheaply, slaughtered their animals, destroyed their tools and burned down their own houses. Livestock levels were not to recover to 1928 levels until 1953! • What was Stalin’s response? • He decided to “Liquidate the Kulaks as a class” in January 1930 (i.e. only a month after the programme started!).
• Your opinion: Which of these two statements do you agree with most? Explain your answer.(a) “Stalin’s policy was politically motivated. The severity of his measures were deliberately designed to provoke the Kulaks and the Bukharin faction so he could have an excuse to crush them once and for all” (b) “Stalin’s policy was economically motivated. He desperately needed food for the cities and to raise revenue for industrialisation and this explains the severity of his measures”
In 1930 Stalin decided to ‘Liquidate the Kulaks as a class’. To this end, he divided them into three groups, each of which was to be treated differently.
What evidence is there that by 1930 the process of collectivisation had got out of control? • One family was deported because it owned a cow and a half • Many died on the way to Siberia • Common slogan was “Moscow does not believe in tears”
How did Stalin attempt to explain the excesses of collectivisation in his ‘Dizzy with success’ article of March 1930? • He blamed over-enthusiastic party officials and called for them to be removed from their posts. • The total number of collectivised farms quickly fell from 60% to 20% by the end of the year.
How did he then moderate the policy for the rest of that year? • He offered a concession to the peasants – each could cultivate a small area of their own and to keep a few animals. • This “Mini-NEP” lasted until the end of the year, when collectivisation was pursued with renewed vigour. • By 1931 almost half of the peasantry were collectivised again. • The following year saw a terrible famine.