Dekulakization (Russian: раскулачивание, raskulachivanie; Ukrainian: розкуркулення, rozkurkulennia) was the Soviet campaign of political repressions, including arrests, deportations, and executions of millions of wealthy peasants and their families in the 1929–1932 period of the First five-year plan. To facilitate the expropriations of farmland, the Soviet government portrayed kulaks as class enemies of the USSR.
|Part of Collectivization in the Soviet Union|
|Classicide, mass murder, deportation, starvation|
|Deaths||700,000 - 5,000,000|
|Perpetrators||Secret police of the Soviet Union|
More than 1.8 milion peasants were deported in 1930–1931. The campaign had the stated purpose of fighting counter-revolution and of building socialism in the countryside. This policy, carried out simultaneously with collectivization in the Soviet Union, effectively brought all agriculture and all the peasants in Soviet Russia under state control.
A combination of dekulakization and collectivization led to mass starvation in many parts of the Soviet Union and the death of an estimated 11 million peasants in the period between 1929 and 1933, including 4 million deaths during the dekulakization campaign. The results soon became known outside the Soviet Union. In 1941, the American journalist H. R. Knickerbocker wrote: "It is a conservative estimate to say that some 5,000,000 [kulaks] ... died at once, or within a few years."
Dekulakization in 1917–1923Edit
In November 1917, at a meeting of delegates of the committees of poor peasants, Lenin announced a new policy to eliminate supposedly wealthy Soviet peasants, known as "kulaks": "If the kulaks remain untouched, if we don't defeat the freeloaders, the czar and the capitalist will inevitably return." In July 1918, "Committees of the Poor" were created to represent poor peasants, which played an important role in the struggle against the kulaks, and led the process of redistribution of confiscated lands and inventory, food surpluses from the kulaks. This launched the beginning of a great crusade against grain speculators and kulaks. Before being dismissed in December 1918, the Committees had confiscated 50 million hectares of kulak land.
Dekulakization under StalinEdit
Joseph Stalin announced the "liquidation of the kulaks as a class" on 27 December 1929. Stalin had said: "Now we have the opportunity to carry out a resolute offensive against the kulaks, break their resistance, eliminate them as a class and replace their production with the production of kolkhozes and sovkhozes." The Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party formalized the decision in a resolution titled "On measures for the elimination of kulak households in districts of comprehensive collectivization" on 30 January 1930. All kulaks were assigned to one of three categories:
- Those to be shot or imprisoned as decided by the local secret political police
- Those to be sent to Siberia, the North, the Urals or Kazakhstan, after confiscation of their property
- Those to be evicted from their houses and used in labor colonies within their own districts
Classicide of the KulaksEdit
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In February 1928, the "Pravda" newspaper for the first time published materials that claimed to expose the kulaks: they described widespread domination by the rich peasantry in the countryside and invasion by kulaks of communist party cells. Expropriation of grain stocks from kulaks and middle class peasants was called a "temporary emergency measure". Later, temporary emergency measures turned into a policy of "eliminating the kulaks as a class".
The party's appeal to the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class had been formulated by Stalin:
"In order to oust the kulaks as a class, the resistance of this class must be smashed in open battle and it must be deprived of the productive sources of its existence and development (free use of land, instruments of production, land-renting, right to hire labour, etc.). That is a turn towards the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class. Without it, talk about ousting the kulaks as a class is empty prattle, acceptable and profitable only to the Right deviators."
In 1928 the right opposition of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was still trying to support the prosperous peasantry and to soften the struggle against the kulaks. In particular, Alexei Rykov, criticizing the policy of dekulakization and "methods of war communism," declared that an attack on the kulaks should be carried out, but not by methods of so-called dekulakization. He argued against taking action against individual farming in the village, the productivity of which was two times lower than in European countries. He believed that the most important task of the party was the development of the individual farming of peasants with the help of the government.
Active measures to eliminate the well-to-do peasantry were welcomed by the poor, who feared that "the party set its course on the kulak." The party noted that "the poor continue to regard our policy in the countryside as a sharp turn from the poor to the middle peasant and the kulak," describing the perceived reaction of the poor to the "new course" of the Fourteenth Party Congress in 1925. Increasingly, the government noticed an open and resolute protest among the poor against the well-to-do middle peasants.
The growing discontent of the poor peasants was reinforced by the famine in the countryside. The Bolsheviks preferred to blame the "rural counterrevolution" of the kulaks, intending to aggravate the attitude of the people towards the party: "We must repulse the kulak ideology coming in the letters from the village. The main advantage of the kulak is bread embarrassments." Red Army peasants sent letters supporting anti-kulak ideology: "The kulaks are the furious enemies of socialism. We must destroy them, don't take them to the kolkhoz, you must take away their property, their inventory." The letter of the Red Army soldier of the 28th Artillery Regiment became widely known: "The last bread is taken away, the Red Army family is not considered. Although you are my dad, I do not believe you. I'm glad that you had a good lesson. Sell bread, carry surplus - this is my last word."
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