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Soviet propaganda poster stating Down with kulaks in kolkhozes!
Location Soviet Union
Date 1917-1932?
Attack type
Classicide,[1] Mass murder, Deportation, Starvation
Deaths 5,000,000[2]
Perpetrators Secret police of the Soviet Union

Dekulakization (Russian: раскулачивание, raskulachivanie, Ukrainian: розкуркулення, rozkurkulennia) was the Soviet campaign of political repressions, including arrests, deportations, and executions of millions of the better-off peasants and their families in 1929–1932. The Soviet authorities labeled the richer peasants 'kulaks' and portrayed them as class enemies.

More than 1.8 million peasants were deported in 1930–1931.[3][4][5] 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.[3] 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."[2]

Dekulakization in 1917–1923

In November 1918 at a meeting of delegates of the committees of poor peasants, Lenin announced a new policy to eliminate the kulaks: "If the kulaks remain untouched, if we don't defeat the freeloaders, the czar and the capitalist will inevitably return".[6] In July, 1918, the committees of poor peasants were created, which played an important role in the struggle against the kulaks, 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.[7] Before being dismissed in December, 1918, “the Committees of the Poor” had confiscated 50 million hectares of kulak land.[8]

Dekulakization under Stalin

Joseph Stalin announced the "liquidation of the kulaks as a class" on 27 December 1929.[3] 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."[9] The Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party formalized the decision in a resolution "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:[3]

  1. to be shot or imprisoned as decided by the local secret political police
  2. to be sent to Siberia, the North, the Urals or Kazakhstan, after confiscation of their property
  3. to be evicted from their houses and used in labour colonies within their own districts

An OGPU secret-police functionary, Yefim Yevdokimov (1891–1939), played a major role in organizing and supervising the round-up of peasants and the mass executions.

Classicide of the Kulaks


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.[10] Expropriation of grain stocks from kulaks and middle class peasants was called "temporary emergency measures". Later, temporary emergency measures turned into a policy of "eliminating the kulaks as a class".[10]

The party's appeal to the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class had been formulated by Stalin:[11]

"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, 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.[12]

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."[citation needed] 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 XIV Party Congress in 1925. Increasingly, the governance noticed an open and resolute protest among the poor against the well-to-do and apex part of the middle peasants.[13]

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." [14][15]

See also


  1. Jacques Semelin, Stanley (INT) Hoffman. Purify and Destroy: The Political Uses of Massacre and Genocide. New York, New York, USA: Columbia University Press, 2007. Pp. 37.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Knickerbocker, H.R. (1941). Is Tomorrow Hitler's? 200 Questions On the Battle of Mankind. Reynal & Hitchcock. pp. 133–134.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Robert Conquest (1986) The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505180-7.
  4. Nicolas Werth, Karel Bartošek, Jean-Louis Panné, Jean-Louis Margolin, Andrzej Paczkowski, Stéphane Courtois, The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, Harvard University Press, 1999, hardcover, 858 pages, ISBN 0-674-07608-7
  5. Lynne Viola The Unknown Gulag. The Lost World of Stalin's Special Settlements Oxford University Press 2007, hardback, 320 pages ISBN 978-0-19-518769-4 ISBN 0195187695
  6. А.Арутюнов «Досье Ленина без ретуши. Документы. Факты. Свидетельства.», Москва: Вече, 1999
  7. Ленин В. И. Полн. собр. сочинений. Т. 36. С. 361—363; Т. 37. С. 144.
  8. Краткий курс истории ВКП(б) (1938 год) // Репринтное воспроизведение стабильного издания 30-40-х годов. Москва, изд. «Писатель», 1997 г.
  9. Stalin, a biography by Robert Service, page 266
  10. 10.0 10.1 Л. Д. Троцкий «Материалы о революции. Преданная революция. Что такое СССР и куда он идет»
  11. И. В. Сталин «К вопросу о ликвидации кулачества как класса»
  12. Н. В. Валентинов, Ю. Г. Фельштинский «Наследники Ленина»
  13. РГВА, ф. 4, оп. 1, д. 107, л. 215. Цит. по: Чуркин В. Ф. Самоидентификация крестьянства на переломном этапе своей истории. // История государства и права, 2006, N 7
  14. В. Ф. Чуркин, кандидат исторических наук. «Самоидентификация крестьянства на переломном этапе своей истории» // «История государства и права», 2006, N 7)
  15. Красный воин (МВО). 1930. 13 февраля, 14 мая.