Skip to main content

The 1932 Harvest and the Famine of 1933

  • Mark B. Tauger (a1)

Western and even Soviet publications have described the 1933 famine in the Soviet Union as “man-made” or “artificial.” The Stalinist leadership is presented as having imposed harsh procurement quotas on Ukraine and regions inhabited by other groups, such as Kuban’ Cossacks and Volga Germans, in order to suppress nationalism and to overcome opposition to collectivization. Proponents of this interpretation argue, using official Soviet statistics, that the 1932 grain harvest, especially in Ukraine, was not abnormally low and would have fed the population. Robert Conquest, for example, has referred to a Soviet study of drought to show that conditions were far better in 1932 than they were in 1936, a “non-famine year.” James Mace, the main author of a U.S. Congress investigation of the Ukraine famine, cites “post-Stalinist” statistics to show that this harvest was larger than those of 1931 or 1934 and refers to later Soviet historiography describing 1931 as a worse year than 1932 because of drought. On this basis he argues that the 1932 harvest would not have produced mass starvation.

Hide All

I would like to thank the International Research and Exchanges Board and the Social Science Research Council for research support and R. W. Davies, Robert Edelman, J. Arch Getty, John Hatch, Eric Monkkonen, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, Hans Rogger, Eva Segert-Tauger, Kenneth Sokoloff, and Albion Urdank for suggestions and assistance.

1. The literature on the famine is large; the main works are discussed in Commission on the Ukraine Famine, Investigation of the Ukrainian Famine 1932-1933: Report To Congress (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1988). For conclusions cited, see Conquest, Robert, Harvest of Sorrow (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 264265, 222, and Investigation, 69-70. Other works, especially by scholars of Ukrainian origin, make similar arguments; see, for example, Roman Serbyn and Bohdan Krawchenko, eds., Famine in Ukraine 1932-1933 (Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, 1986).

2. Investigation, 191. In the early 1980s Soviet yields averaged 1.5 metric tons (15 centners) a hectare; FAO Production Yearbook (Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, 1985), 39, table 15, 107ff (my calculations).

3. S. O. Pidhainy et al., eds., The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book (Detroit: Globe, 1955), 489, 531, 547; one editor did argue that the harvest was very low, 435. Stalin, I. V., Sochineniia, 13 vols. (Moscow: Gospolitizdat, 1949-1953) 13:216 . A severe drought struck Siberia, the Volga basin and the Urals in 1931.

4. For examples of the genocide thesis, see Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, 323-330; Pidhainy, Black Deeds, 29-119, 433 ff.; and Investigation, chap. 1. The famine is increasingly being presented as a genocide comparable to the Holocaust; see for example Mace's article on the famine in Charny, Israel W., ed., Toward the Understanding and Prevention of Genocide: Proceedings of the International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1984), 6783 .

5. This interpretation of the famine has been questioned for uncritical use of evidence and bias: R. W. Davies, review of Harvest of Sorrow in Detente 9/10 (1987): 44-45, and Stephan Merl, “Entfachte Stalin die Hungersnot von 1932-1933 zur Ausloeschung des ukrainischen Nationalismus?” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 37, 4(1989): 569-590.

6. See Stalin, Sochineniia 13:320.

7. See, for example, Jasny, Naum, The Collectivized Agriculture of the Soviet Union (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1949), 539 ; D. Gale Johnson and Arcadius Kahan, “Soviet Agriculture: Structure and Growth,” in Comparisons of the United States and Soviet Economies, Joint Economic Committee of the Congress of the United States, 3 pts (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1960), part 1: 231; Iurii A. Moshkov, Zernovaia problema v gody sploshnoi kollektivizatsii (Moscow: Moscow University Press, 1966), 231 [table]; Wheatcroft, S.G., “A Reevaluation of Soviet Agricultural Production in the 1920s and 1930s,” The Soviet Rural Economy, ed. Stuart, Robert C. (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Allenheld, 1983), 42 ; and Holland Hunter, “Soviet Agriculture with and without Collectivization, 1928-1940,” Slavic Review 47 (Summer 1988): 205. All of these scholars’ estimates range between 62 million tons and 68 million tons and diverge little from official Soviet figures. Many investigators, from Soviet scholars to Ukrainian émigrés, have accepted the Soviet figures as given: Pidhainy, Black Deeds, 63-64; Moshe Lewin, “Taking Grain: Soviet Policies of Agricultural Procurements Before the War,” in The Making of the Soviet System (New York: Pantheon, 1985), 166; Istoriia Krest'ianstva SSSR: Istoriia Sovetskogo Krest'ianstva, 5 vols. (Moscow: Nauka, 1986) 2:260; Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, 222; Investigation, 70.

8. The biological yield system was introduced by a 17 December 1932 decree of the Council of People's Commissars (SNK) that established a network of interraion commissions, subordinate to regional commissions and a central state commission (TsGK) under SNK, to estimate the yield. The interraion commissions would harvest selected square meters in a sampling of kolkhozy and on the basis of these data project local yields, which would serve as the basis for regional and all-union yield estimates and procurement quotas. Deductions for losses of up to 10 percent were allowed until 1939. Since grain losses averaged at least 25 percent of the biological crop, this method overestimated the harvest at least 15 percent. Nikita Khrushchev abolished the system. See M. A. Vyltsan, Ukreplenie material'no-tekhnicheskoi bazy kolkhoznogo stroia vo vtoroi piatiletke (1933-1937) (Moscow: Akademiia Nauk, 1959), 119-122, and idem, “Metody ischisleniia proizvodstva zerna v 1933-1940 gg.,” Ezhegodnik po agrarnoi istorii vostochnoi Evropy 1965 (Moscow, 1970), 478-481; I. E. Zelenin, “Osnovnye pokazateli sel'skokhoziaistvenogo proizvodstva v 1928-1935 gg.” in Ezhegodnikpo agrarnoi, 465-466.

9. See R. W. Davies, The Socialist Offensive, vol. 1, The Collectivization of Soviet Agriculture, 1929-1930 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), 65-68; Wheatcroft, “Reevaluation,” 37-38. See also the article by V. V. Osinskii, head of the Central State Commission, on the need for accurate statistics, Izvestiia, 9 March 1932, 3.

10. The 6 May decree is in KPSS v rezoliutsiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 15 vols. (Moscow: Izd-vo politicheskoi literatury, 1983-1987) 5:366-369; kolkhoz and peasant trade at cooperative prices had been legalized in October 1931. On the preliminary plan, see Moshkov, Zernovaia problema, 201. Subsequent decrees are covered in S. M. Gorelik, A.I. Malkis, Sovetskaia Torgovlia: Ocherki teorii i praktiki torgovii v SSSR (Moscow and Leningrad: Gosudarstvennoe sotsial'noekonomicheskoe izd-vo, 1933), 125, and John T. Whitman, “The Kolkhoz Market,” Soviet Studies 7 (April 1956): 387.

11. See Moshkov, Zernovaia problema, 195-197; Davies, R. W., “Models of the Economic System in Soviet Practice, 1926-1936,” L Industrialisation de l'URSS dans les années trente, ed. Bettelheim, Charles (Paris: Éditions de l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales, 1982), 1730 , and Davies, R. W., “The Socialist Market: A Debate in Soviet Industry,” Slavic Review 43 (Summer 1984): 202 . Soon after the May decree Valerian Kuibyshev essentially equated procurements and kolkhoz trade as sources of supply, see quotation in Moshkov, Zernovaia problema, 200. In October, Lazar Kaganovich stated that “the central task is to organize and expand soviet kolkhoz trade as the most important lever in improving workers’ supply and further consolidating the link between village and town“; G. la. Neiman, Puti razvitiia Sovetskoi torgovli (Moscow: Sotsekgiz, 1934), 83. For local officials’ views, see, for example, the July speech by agriculture commissar la. A. Iakovlev in Voprosy organizatsii sotsialisticheskogo sel'skogo khoziaistva (Moscow: Sel'khozgiz, 1936), 389-390. For foreign views, see “Neo-NEP?” Osteuropa, July 1932, 567ff.

12. Mace's quotation is in Investigation, 72; for Conquest, see Harvest of Sorrow, 175, 222. The decree legalized only free market prices, since kolkhoz trade had been legalized previously. For the Ukrainian Party Conference resolution accepting the May quota, see Istoriia kolektivizatsii sil's'kogo hospodarstva Ukrainskoi RSR, 3 vols. (Kiev: Naukova Dumka, 1971) 2:611.

13. Proekt vtorogo piatiletnego plana, 2 vols. (Moscow: Partizdat, 1934) 1:370; Barsov, A. A., Batons stoimostnykh obmenov mezhdu gorodom i derevnei (Moscow: Nauka, 1969), table facing 112.

14. The commission's quota reduction was published in the local press; see Kolkhoznaia pravda [Rostov-on-Don], 7 November 1932, 2. For the Khar'kov commission, see N. I. Tkach, “Borot'ba partiynykh orhanizatsiy Ukrainy za pidnesennia kolhospnoho vyrobnytstva v period mizh XVII i XVIII z'izdamy VKP (b) (1934-1938 rr.),” Z istorii sotsialistychnoho i komunistychnoho budivnytsva na Ukraini (1934-1961) (Kiev. Vyd-vo Akademii Nauk Ukr. RSR, 1963), 5, which stated that the quota for Ukraine was lowered three times, in all by 138 million puds. On the special commissions, see S. V. Kul'chys'kyy, “Do otsinky stanovishcha v sil's'komu hospodarstvi USSR,” Ukrainskyi istorichnyi zhurnal, 1988, no. 3: 23-24, and Vyltsan et al., Kollektivizatsiia sel'skogo khoziaistva SSSR: Puty, Formy, Dostizheniia (Moscow: Kolos, 1981), 274. A commission was also sent to Saratov in the Lower Volga, but I found no quota reduction published in two newspapers from that region (Sovetskaia derevnia for 1932, Povolzh'skaia pravda for 1933).

15. See A. A. Barsov, Balans, 99-105, and idem, “Sel'skoe khoziaistvo i istochniki sotsialistichekogo nakopleniia v gody pervoi piatiletki (1928-1932), Istoriia SSSR 1968 (no. 3): 71

16. On 1933, see Investigation, xviii; on 1934, Bohdan Krawchenko, “The Man-Made Famine of 1932-1933 and Collectivization in Soviet Ukraine,” in Serbyn and Krawchenko, Famine in Ukraine, 21. Ukrainian rural population decreased from 23.67 million in 1926 to 19.76 million in 1939, and peak migration to cities, more than 8 million people, took place during 1931-1932; see Lorimer, Frank, The Population of the Soviet Union (Geneva: League of Nations, 1946), 150, 158. According to Roman Serbyn, “The Famine of 1921-1923: A Model for 1932-1933?”, in Famine in Ukraine, ed. Serbyn and Krawchenko, 152, the average Ukrainian consumed 17.6 puds of grain annually (288 kg); 12 puds (196 kg) was considered a survival ration.

17. On famine deaths, see V. R Danilov, “Diskussiia v zapadnoi presse o golode 1932-1933 gg. i ‘demograficheskoi katastrofe’ 30-40-kh v SSSR,” Voprosy Istorii 1988 (no. 3): 116-121, and R. W. Davies, review of Harvest of Sorrow, 44-45. Recently published Soviet census data show famine deaths to have been considerably below the high figures cited: V. V. Tsaplin, “Statistika zhertv Stalinizma v 30-e gody,” Voprosy Istorii 1989 (no. 4): 178; Stephen Wheatcroft, “More Light on the Scale of Repression and Excess Mortality in the Soviet Union in the 1930s,” Soviet Studies 42 (April 1990): 355-367; Alec Nove, “How Many Victims in the 1930s?” Soviet Studies 42 (April 1990): 369-373. Grain released in December 1934 as food, fodder, and seed loans—69 million puds (1.14 million tons)—would not alter this conclusion; Spravochnik Partiinogo Rabotnika 9 (Moscow, 1935), 212.

18. Jasny, Collectivized Agriculture, 539-540, 551-556. Daniel Brower, “Collectivized Agriculture in Smolensk: The Party, the Peasantry, and the Crisis of 1932,” Russian Review 32 (April 1977), 162n21. Brower mistakenly describes the official figures as Moshe Lewin's estimates. Mark Tol'ts, “Skol'ko zhe nas togda bylo?” Ogonek 1987 (no. 51). In a later issue, however, Sergei Diachenko used the official figure to claim again that the crop did not cause the famine, “Strashnyi Mesiats,” Ogonek, August 1989, 24. S. G. Wheatcroft, R. W. Davies, J. M. Cooper, “Soviet Industrialization Reconsidered: Some Preliminary Conclusions about Economic Development between 1926 and 1941,” Economic History Review (2nd ser.) 39, 2 (1986): 282-283.

19. Atkinson, Dorothy, The End of the Russian Land Commune, 1905-1930 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1983), 193 . Osinskii, the head of the Central State Commission for Harvest Yields and responsible for implementing the biological yield system, had been associated with plans made at the end of, war communism to institute extensive state control of agricultural production; see Malle, Silvana, The Economic Organization of War Communism, 1918-1921 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 446448 . On the changes in the system, see Materials for a Balance of the Soviet National Economy 1928-1930, ed. S. G. Wheatcroft and R. W. Davies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 294. Arcadius Kahan, “Soviet Statistics of Agricultural Output,” Soviet Agricultural and Peasant Affairs, ed. Roy D. Laird (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1963), 141. The threshing data were to be used to evaluate the productivity of kolkhozniki and thereby the value of their remuneration in workdays; see Izvestiia, 11 February 1932, 3.

20. Zelenin, “Osnovnye pokazateli,” 464; see also Wheatcroft and Davies, eds., Materials, 294. Moshkov, Zernovaia problema, 226, table following 230. On these two divergent estimates, see also Davies, Collectivization of Soviet Agriculture, 348-350. On these organizational and motivational difficulties see Davies, , The Soviet Collective Farm (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), 139140 , and 1.1. Slyn'ko, Sotsialistychna perebudova i tekhnichna rekonstruktsiia sel's'kogo hospodarstva Ukrainy (1927-1932 rr.) (Kiev: Vyd-vo Akademii Nauk Ukr. RSR, 1961), 260. Sotsialisticheskoe zemledelie, 27 August 1931, 1; 167 million centners is slightly more than one billion puds. No Soviet or western study that I have seen mentions this article or the data it contains. On the steady decline in urban food supplies, see John Barber, “The Standard of Living of Soviet Industrial Workers, 1928-1941,” L'Industrialisation de l'URSS, ed. Bettelheim, 110-113, and below.

21. Schiller's description of categories of statistics is in The Foreign Office and the Famine: British Documents on Ukraine and the Great Famine of 1932-1933 (Kingston, Ontario, and Vestal, New York: Limestone, 1988), 71. The quotation is from Schiller, Otto, Die Landwirtschaftspolitik der Sowjets und ihre Ergibnisse (Berlin: Reichsnaehstandsverlag, 1943), 118119 .

22. The head of the agriculture department of the statistical administration, with whom Schiller spoke in summer 1932, predicted a slightly larger harvest in 1932 than in 1931, with lower harvests in Ukraine and the northern Caucasus and larger ones in the Volga, Central Blackearth region, and Urals. This prediction's close correspondence to the official published figures could be seen as further evidence that the latter were based on preharvest estimates (Foreign Office and the Famine, 167).

23. Slyn'ko, Sotsialistychna perebudova, 287; the estimate is 845.4 million puds, made by Ukrainian Zernotrest and Traktorotsentr.

24. Holubnychy, Vsevolod, “Prychyny holodu 1932-33 roku,” Vpered (Munich) 1958 (no. 10): 67 ; English translation in Meta, 2 (1979): 22-25, from which citation is taken.

25. Holubnychy argued that after the 1932-1933 grain procurement campaign, only 83 kilograms of grain remained for each person in the rural population of Ukraine. If we accept Holubnychy's estimates of 4.5 million peasant households in Ukraine at the beginning of 1933 and of a 40 percent reduction in the harvest from 14 million tons to 8.4 million tons, of which 4.7 million were procured, then 3.7 million tons would have remained, and the average household would have had 813 kilograms, or 162 for each person in the average household size of 5.

26. Danilov, V. P., “Kollektivizatsiia: kak eto bylo,” Stranitsy istorii KPSS: Fakty, Problemy, Uroki, ed. Kuptsov, V. I. (Moscow: Vysshaia shkola, 1988), 341 ; originally in Pravda, 16 September 1988. Emphasis in quotation is mine. Grigorii Khanin, Vasilii Seliunin, “Lukavaia tsifra,” Novyi mir 1987, no. 2: 189. Kul'chyts'kyy, “Do otsinky,” 24, citing Ukrainian state archives.

27. See Ezhov, A. I., “Gosudarstvennaia statistika, ee razvitie i organizatsiia,” in Istoriia Sovetskoi Gosudarstvennoi Statistiki: Sbornik statei, ed. Ezhov, A. I. et al. (Moscow: Gos. statisticheskoe izd-vo, 1960), 62 .

28. For the 1930 model statute, see Kollektivizatsiia sel'skogo khoziaistva: Vazhneishie postanovleniia Komunisticheskoi partii i Sovetskogo pravitel'stva, 1927-1935 (Moscow: Akademia nauk, 1957), 282-287. V. I. Zvavich, “Materialy razrabotki godovykh otchetov kolkhozov za 1932-1937 gg. kak istochnik po istorii sovetskogo krest'ianstva” (Kand. diss., Moscow State University, 1978), 32, 37-38. On problems in the MTS, see Miller, Robert F., One Hundred Thousand Tractors (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), and Thorniley, Daniel, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Rural Communist Party, 1927-1939 (London: Macmillan, 1988).

29. See Zvavich, “Materialy razrabotki,” 40-41, and idem, “Godovye otchety kolkhozov i ikh znachenie kak massovogo istoricheskogo istochnika,” Massovye istochniki po sotsial’ no-ekonomicheskoi istorii sovetskogo obshchestva, ed. I. D. Koval'chenko et al. (Moscow: Moscow University Press, 1979), 325, 342. Summary tables of the 1932 kolkhoz annual reports can be found in an Agriculture Commissariat (NKZ) archive file: Tablitsy dannykh o sostoianii kolkhozov v 1932 g., sostavlennye po materialam godovykh otchetov, TsGANKh SSSR fond 7483, opis 3, delo 4456. The dynamic studies are in a statistical handbook in the Central Statistical Administration archive: Dinamika khoziaistvennogo sostoianiia kolkhozov za 1932 i 1933 g., TsGANKh SSSR fond 1562, opis 77, delo 70. This handbook, an internal publication stamped with the phrase ne podlezhil’ oglasheniiu, may be one of the high-level statistical sources to which Schiller referred. Data from the dynamic studies were published in a disguised manner during the 1930s. On this source see Zelenin, I. E., “Dinamicheskie obsledovaniia kolkhozov za 1933-1934,” Istochnikovedenie istorii sovetskogo obshchestva, ed. Chugaev, D. A. et al., 4 vols. (Moscow: Nauka, 1968) 2:339341 .

Another TsUNKhU internal handbook, Kolkhozy v 1932 g., employed annual report data (see Zelenin, “Dinamicheskie obsledovaniia“). Danilov cited kolkhoz grain yields from this source in his contribution to Istoriia Sovetskogo krest'ianstva, 2:256. These data are inconsistent when those for the Soviet Union and the Russian republic and those for specific regions are compared: Its aggregate figures for the Soviet Union and the Russian republic correspond to the high official aggregate figures, while regional figures correspond to the lower NKZ archival data (see table 9). To test the relation between aggregate and regional figures from this source, a weighted average yield for the Soviet Union can be calculated from its regional yields and official figures for kolkhoz grain sown areas. Data for regions not included in the published TsUNKhU materials were filled in with the official figures; the weighted average should thus be above what it might have been if the (ordinarily lower) annual report figures from those areas were available. By this calculation, the regional yields from Kolkhozy v 1932 g. imply an average kolkhoz grain yield for the Soviet Union of 5.65 centners, well below the aggregate figure of 6.8 centners published with them, but in the same range as the NKZ data (see table 10). The difference between the 5.65 average and the NKZ archival average of 5.4 in part reflects the upward bias of official harvest figures used for regions not included in the published data.

30. On underharvesting in contemporary Soviet agriculture, see Medvedev, Zhores, Soviet Agriculture (New York: Norton, 1987), 291292 . Even in the United States, sowings were often abandoned during the 1930s; see United States Department of Agriculture, Yearbook of Agriculture, 1935 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1935), 351352 .

31. The four regions for which data were underestimated, according to available data, were the Tatar ASSR, Uzbekistan, and western Siberia and the Northern kraia.

32. The claim that the authorities made no concessions is a standard theme of the argument; see for example Investigation, passim.; and Pidhainy et al., eds., BlackDeeds, 2, pt. 3.

33. Sel'skoe khoziaistvo ot VI k VII s”ezd Sovetov (Moscow: NKZ, 1935), 33. This handbook presented biological yield harvest estimates for 1933, which could lead one to think that these tables reflect the difference between the biological figure for 1933 and the alleged barn yield for 1932. The handbook, however, consistently distinguishes between gross and barn yields and employs the former to refer to biological yield estimates; see, for example, 22.

34. Moshkov, Zernovaia problema, 211-212; Ogonek 1987 (no. 51); for Sul'kovskii's article, Pravda 22 August 1933, 2.

35. On peasant migration see Kul'chits'kii, 15, and Istoriia Sovetskogo krest'ianstva 2:196-198. On the food crisis, see Fainsod, Merle, Smolensk under Soviet Rule (New York: Random, 1963), 259264 . This region is often cited as an example of the weakness of Soviet authority in the countryside: see Arch Getty, J., Origins of the Great Purges (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), and Roberta Manning, “Government in the Soviet Countryside in the Stalinist Thirties: The Case of Belyi Raion,” Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies no. 301 (Pittsburgh, Penn.: University of Pittsburgh Center for Russian and East European Studies, 1983). T. K. Chugunov, Derevnia na Golgofe (Munich: izdanie avtora, 1968), 118-125. Pidhainy et al., eds., BlackDeeds 2:665-666.

36. I. E. Zelenin, “Zernovye sovkhozy Dona i Severnogo Kavkaza v gody vtoroi piatiletki (1933-1937),” Istoriia SSSR 1958 (no. 2): 51. Slyn'ko, Sotsialistychna perebudova, 298; for sovkhoz production and distribution of total production among branches, see Sel'skoe khoziaistvo SSSR: Ezhegodnik 1935 (Moscow: Selkhozgiz, 1936), 270-272.

37. Sel'skoe khoziaistvo ot VI k VII s”ezd Sovetov, 65. Slyn'ko, Sotsialistychna perebudova, 298.

38. Sovkhoz harvests were calculated on the basis of grain balances, but it is not clear how, and when, such balances would have been calculated; Wheatcroft and Davies, eds., Materials, 294. It seems likely that a system that would have increased procurement quotas, such as the preharvest estimate, would have been used in sovkhozy.

39. The chaotic and politically charged conditions of 1932 may have prevented collection of grain production data for all sectors. The biological yield system may have been introduced in 1933 to provide central authorities with more complete and reliable production information. Wheatcroft has suggested a similar interpretation; “Reevaluation of Soviet Agricultural Production,” 38.

40. These claims are questionable not only because of the considerable evidence that the crop was poor, but also because they imply that the peasants worked conscientiously on the harvest. I am preparing a monograph that will address these issues, among others.

41. Zelenin, I. E., “Politotdely MTS (1933-1934 gg.),” Istoricheskie zapiski 76 (1965):47 .

42. Harvard University, Russian Research Center, Project on the Soviet Social System, “A” schedules: personal life history documents (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1951), case no. 379, 20-21. Karevskii, F. A., Sotsial'noe preobrazovanie sel'skogo khoziaistva Srednego Povolzh'ia (Kuibyshev: Kuibyshev State University, 1975), 145146 ; Alekseev, Mikhail, “Seiatel’ i khranitel',” Nash Sovremennik, 1972 (no. 9): 96 , and his autobiographical novel, Drachuny (Moscow, 1982), set in a Volga village during the famine. United Kingdom Public Record Office, Foreign Office (hereafter PRO FO) 371 N 746 113/38, 31 January 1933; Foreign Office and the Famine, 42. Cairns was sent by the British Empire Marketing Board to evaluate Soviet grain production prospects; his long reports, recently published in Foreign Office and the Famine, are extremely valuable sources on agriculture and rural conditions in the early 1930s.

43. See, for example, commentary in PRO FO 371/16335 N3060/1179/38, which notes that although more grain was taken from the peasants in 1931 than in 1930, “the provisioning of the towns (though not in Moscow) seems to have deteriorated.” Other sources, however, show Moscow was not immune to shortages; see below.

44. Lorimer, Population of the Soviet Union, 150. Moshkov, Zernovaia problema, 126, 129, 134; Neiman, G. Ia., Vnutrennaia torgovlia SSSR (Moscow: Sotsekgiz, 1935), 176 .

45. Moshkov, Zernovaia problema, 127-134; Davies, Collectivization of Soviet Agriculture 1:361. PRO FO 371 16322 N3057/38/38 4 May 1932, notes from Cairns; N4398/38/38 18 July 1932, dispatch by Ambassador Esmond Ovey. Foreign Office and the Famine, 31 -32, 39-40, 52, 105-112, 122, Pidhainy et al., eds., Black Deeds 2:332.

46. Gordon, Manya, Workers before and after Lenin (New York: Dutton, 1941), 151152 ; Filtzer, Donald, Soviet Workers and Stalinist Industrialization (Armonk, N.Y.: Sharpe, 1986), chap. 2. Anne Rassweiler, The Generation of Power (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 152-153. Soviet estimates of population movement are given in PRO FO 371 19454 N4110/45/38. Andre Liebich, “Russian Mensheviks and the Famine,” in Famine in Ukraine, 101-102; Liebich argues that the 1933 famine was urban as well as rural; the collection was designed to show that the famine was focused on Ukrainian peasants. The internal passport system was imposed in a series of decrees issued in December 1932 and early 1933.

47. Hindus, Maurice, The Great Offensive (New York: Smith and Haas, 1933), 2324 ; Liebich, “Russian Mensheviks,” 101-102; see Pidhainy et al., eds., Black Deeds 2:332, on shortages in Kiev. The British dispatch is in Foreign Office and the Famine, 255-257. For additional reports from the opposition and foreign press see Kuromiya, Hiroaki, Stalin's Industrial Revolution: Politics and Workers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 304 .

48. Neiman, Vnutrennaia torgovlia SSSR, 258; A. N. Malafeev, Istoriia tsenoobrazovaniia v SSSR (1917-1963) (Moscow: Mysl', 1964), 172, 193-195. On the attempt to lower prices by market competition, see Kuromiya, , Stalin's Industrial Revolution, 304305 , and Malafeev, Istoriia tsenoobrazovaniia, 195.

49. M. Maksudov, “Geografiia goloda 1933 goda,” SSSR: Vnutrennie protivorechiia, 1983 (no. 7): 5-17; idem, “Ukraine's Demographic Losses 1927-1938,” in Famine in Ukraine, 27-43. See also the map based on Maksudov's study in Foreign Office and the Famine, facing lxiv. Diachenko, “Strashnyi Mesiats,” 24; and Kul'chyts'kyy, “Do otsinky,” 15, give substantially identical lists of regions affected by famine.

50. Nicolaevsky, Boris, Power and the Soviet Elite (New York: Praeger, 1965), 28 ; Shimotomai, Nobuo, “A Note on The Kuban Affair (1932-1933),” Acta Slavica Iaponica 1 (1983): 3956 .

51. On the curtailment of exports, see Dohan, Michael, “The Economic Origins of Soviet Autarky 1927/28-1934,” Slavic Review 35 (December 1976): 625626 ; Kasianenko, V.I., Kak byla zavoevana tekhniko-ekonomicheskaia samostoiatel'nost’ SSSR (Moscow: Mysl', 1964), 180 . Kul'chyts'kyy, “Do otsinky,” 23, writes that exports ceased in the second half of 1932; the source he cites for this, Vneshnaia Torgovlia SSSR za 1918-1940: Statisticheskii Obzor (Moscow, 1961), 144, consists exclusively of statistical tables and provides no support for this claim. It is possible that he meant exports from Ukraine. Export statistics for 1930-1933 are in Vneshnaia Torgovlia, 144; R. W. Davies kindly provided me with semiannual export totals from the monthly Vneshniaia torgovlia Soiuza SSR.

52. According to the commercial counselor of the British Embassy in Moscow, writing in late 1931, “failure [by the Soviet government] to meet its obligations would certainly bring disaster in its train. Not only would further credits cease, but all future exports, all Soviet shipping entering foreign ports, all Soviet property already in foreign countries would be liable to seizure to cover sums due. Admission of insolvency would endanger the achievement of all aspirations based on the five-year plan and might indeed imperil the existence of the government itself” (PRO FO 371 15607 N7648/167/38, 6-7). German Chancellor Bruening told a British diplomat in Berlin in early 1932 that if the Soviets “did not meet their bills in some form or other, their credit would be destroyed for good and all” (PRO FO 371 16327 N456/158/38). Dohan notes that the country's major creditors began to reduce their credit offerings to the Soviet Union in 1931-1932, despite Soviet efforts to pay, “Origins of Economic Autarky,” 630. On the western response to the famine, see Carynnyk, Marco, “Blind Eye to Murder: Britain, the United States and the Ukrainian Famine of 1933,” Famine in Ukraine, ed. Serbyn, and Krawchenko, , 109138 , and the introduction to Foreign Office and the Famine, xvii-lxii

53. See Pravda, 25 February 1933, 1, for the seed loan decree; Kul'chyts'kyy, “Do otsinky,” 24-25 for the additional relief provided in Ukraine, and Povolzhskaia pravda, 21 March 1933, on seed aid to the Lower Volga territory. Both Conquest and Mace acknowledge that some measures were taken (Harvest of Sorrow, 262; Investigation, 65). Conquest (Harvest of Sorrow, 241) claims that this aid was not made available until later, after the famine had taken its toll, but Kul'chyts'kyy shows (“Do otsinky,” 24), citing Ukrainian archives, that the food aid was actually released by telegraphed order before the decree authorizing it was issued. For the 1931 and 1934 transference of grain, see the Central Committee decrees in Izvestiia, 17 February 1932, and the 26 December 1934 decree in Spravochnik partiinogo rabotnika 9:212, and also Moshkov, Zernovaia problema, 188, and Slyn'ko, Sotsialistychna perebudova, 293. On the crop failure of 1936, see Manning, “Government in the Soviet Countryside,” 4: the regime curbed food and fodder exports at the beginning of 1937.

54. Conquest minimizes the effect of exports on the famine, Harvest of Sorrow, 265.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Slavic Review
  • ISSN: 0037-6779
  • EISSN: 2325-7784
  • URL: /core/journals/slavic-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed