and March 1930, the number of peasant holdings brought into the
collective farms increased from 4 million to 14 million. Over half
of the total peasant hold holds had been collectivized in five months.
And in the countryside the peasants fought back with 'sawed-off
shotgun, the axe, the dagger, the knife.' At the same time, they
destroyed their livestock rather than let if fall into the hands
of the State.
last serious pretense that persuasion, or even economic pressure,
was to be the method of enforcing the Party will on the peasantry
has disappeared. Pure force, a frontal assault, was the chosen
method. Without serious preparation or planning on the economic
side, the Party was launched into a civil war in the rural areas.
It as the first great crisis of the Stalin regime, and it marks
the beginning of a whole new era of terror.
On 5 January 1930 the Central Committee issued a decision, switching
from the original plan of collectivizing 20 percent of the sown
area during the Five-Year Plan to the complete collectivization
of the more important regions by the autumn of 1930 or at the
very latest the autumn of 1931, and in other areas by the autumn
of 1931 or at the very latest the autumn of 1932. In one way
or another, everything got out of hand, and in a few weeks the
Party had been carried to the brink of disaster.
Kalinin, Ordzhonikidze, and other members of the Politburo visited
the provinces and seem to have reported realistically about the
disaster. But Statlin is said not to have bothered to obtain Politburo
permission for his key article 'Dizziness With Success' published
in Pravada on 2 March 1930. The article put most of the blame on
excesses committed by local party workers, and this, it is said,
came as a shock to local enthusiasts. It was followed on 14 March
by a condemnation of "distortions" of the Party line in the application
of compulsion to the peasantry---which, the statement said, was
a Leftist deviation which could only help to strengthen right-wing
elements in the Party. Bauman, who had replaced Uglanov as First
Secretary in Moscow and candidate member of the Politburo, was now
made a scapegoat on charges of Left deviation, removed from his
post, and sent to a lesser position in Central Asia.
Defeat has been accepted. The peasants left the kolkhozes. Stalin's
policy lay in ruins.
In any other political system, this would have been the moment for
the opposition to stand forward. They had been proved right. And
support for the Rightist leadership sprang up spontaneously in Party
branches all of the country. Among the people as a whole, they were
of course stronger still. But to this vast potential support, Bukharin,
Tomsky and Rykov gave no lead. On the contrary, they went out of
their way to say that to come out against 'the Party,' especially
with the support of peasants, was unthinkable. So Stalin's policy
defeat was accompanied by a political victory. Tomsky was removed
from the Politburo in July 1930, and Rykov in December. Henceforth,
it was purely Stalinist.
The Rightist leaders regarded Stalin's leadership as catastrophic
and hoped for his fall (Summer, 1930), but advised their closest
adherents to wait in patience for a change in the Party mood. Bukharin
favored working up a general support of the idea of a change without
any direct organized struggle for the time being. He is described
as having counseled the younger oppositionists to rely on the masses,
who must sooner or later realize the fatal consequences of the Stalin
line. Patience would be necessary. So he accepted defeat in the
vague hope of some improvement later on.
The Trotskyists voiced a similar hope for a change. Ivan Smirmov,
a 'capitulator,' now considered, 'In view of the incapacity of the
present leadership to get out of the economic and political deadlock,
the conviction about the need to change the leadership of the Party
Stalin, though retreating, had not given up his plans for collectivization.
He now proposed to bring it into being over a longer period----by
means just as inhuman but not so ill-prepared. Everywhere in the
countryside, the Party, faced with a hostile peasantry, regrouped
and prepared further desperate action.
The peasants remaining in the villages were now subjected to demands
for amounts of grain which they were unable to produce. in 1932
and 1933, the Ukraine, the North Caucasus, and the Lower Volga suffered
a terrible famine. There was enough grain, but it was taken away
to the last kilogram. As recent Soviet accounts put it, 'this famine
was organized by Stalin quite consciously and according to the plan.'
The main weight of the assault was against the Ukraine, and the
(then) Ukrainian-speaking areas of the Kuban, in the North Caucasus.
It was combined with a devastating attack on the Ukrainian intelligentsia
and the Ukrainian Party itself. In fact, the campaign may be said
to resemble the 'laying waste' of hostile subject territories practiced
by Jenghiz Khan and other figures of the past.
But is was not until 1988 that, on this as on other aspects of Stalinism,
full accounting of the impact, the method, and the motives appeared
in Soviet publications. The deaths in the terror-famine cannot have
been lower than 6 to 7 million. The death toll among the peasantry
over the whole period 1930 to 1933 is given in the recent Soviet
literature as around 10 million---higher than the dead of all the
belligerents put together in the First World War. That is, it was
all on a scale as large as that of the subsequent "Great Terror."
These events are not the subject of this book, except insofar as
they are a part of the preparation for the full scale Stalinist
regime. (The present writer has in fact dealt with the 1930-1933
terror in THE HARVEST OF SORROW; indeed, in a sense, the two books
form a sequence on Stalinism in the 1930's).
There seems little doubt that the main issue was simply crushing
the peasantry, and the Ukrainians, at any cost. One high official
told a Ukrainian who later defected that the 1933 harvest 'was a
test of our strength and their endurance. It took a famine to show
them who is master here. It has cost millions of lives, but the
collective farm system is here to stay. We have won the war, 'In
fact, we find that mass terror was now already in existence in the
countryside, and thousands of police and Party officials has received
the most ruthless operational experience."
Book 1, The Purge
Roots of Terror
by Robert Conquest;
Century Hutchinson Ltd., London, 1990