“You Do Not Lament the Loss of the Hair of One Who Has Been Beheaded.”

“You Do Not Lament the Loss of the Hair of One Who Has Been Beheaded.”

“Now, the expropriation of the kulaks in the regions of solid collectivization is no longer just an administrative measure. Now, the expropriation of the kulaks is an integral part of the formation and development of the collective farms. Consequently now it is ridiculous and foolish to discourse on the expropriation of the kulaks. You do not lament the loss of the hair of one who has been beheaded. – Stalin, December 27, 1929.

Welcome to my newest blogpost! This time, I will be discussing the objectives and consequences of mass collectivization among the Russian peasants during the “Great Turn” and the “Five Year Plan,” and in particular “Dekulakization.” This indeed was a heartbreaking time for most peasants.

Now, what exactly is a Kulak? And why did Stalin so desperately want to get rid of them? A Kulak was a wealthier or prosperous peasant that was capable of owning a large farm. However, because Stalin was against any kind of form of capitalism, he naturally wanted to eliminate any peasant who was a little wealthier that his fellow comrades.

During the “Five Year Plan,” Stalin’s objective was to effectively extract grain, and build sufficient food stocks for the red army. To achieve this goal, Stalin organized a mass collectivization of peasant farms against their will. As already mentioned, though, the Kulaks were in the way. They had to be eliminated since they threatened Soviet power within peasant villages, and in addition to that, their strict plan of collectivization. Some peasants protested and rioted, while others sold their property to avoid the consequences of being a Kulak. Peasants that spoke against collectivization were driven away, and harassed. And so, the Soviets eliminated all kind of opposition against collectivization, serving as an example to all other peasants.

“Throw the Kulaks out of the Kolkhozes!”

This was of the posters used during the 5 Year Plan. We see the act of collectivization among the peasants. In this picture, the red Soviet in the middle is promoting the elimination of Kulaks.

“The kulaks are most bestial, brutal and savage exploiters, who in the history of other countries have time and again restored the power of the landlords, tsars, priests and capitalists.”

This image is yet another poster that promotes the elimination of Kulaks. We see a Kulak being forced from a collective farm by the ‘strong hand’ of Soviet power. I think it is interesting they portray a Kulak as fat, or even obese- as if he were too greedy for his own good.

On January 5th, 1930, the Central Committee called to collectivize 20 percent of land that they saw fit for the “5 Year Plan.” Kulaks were either deported to labor camps, resettled, or even executed. Those that did not belong to collectivization were simply expropriated. Although I am specifically talking about peasants during this time, I also want to mention that this type of “social cleansing” was not just happening on farms. At the same time, authorities, clergy, and nobility in Leningrad were deported as “parasites.” Families started living in communal apartments and shared a kitchen, bathroom, and toilet. To be honest, only those people and peasants who did not own anything of their own actually benefitted from the new system.

So, what were the consequences of this entire collectivization? Basically, the requisition of grain and other resources stirred quite some violence between Soviets and peasants. Collectivization had negative effects on peasants, their crops, and livestock. Starvation was a major issue because of crop failure, shortages of grain, and the slaughter of livestock. On top of that, a big famine broke out. Around 5 million lives were lost during this time. Many peasants actually gave up their farms and went to cities to avoid starvation.

All in all, the collectivization period during the “5 Year Plan” was brutal. It’s hard to picture something like this going on in our Western society today. I think that today, too many Americans and Europeans look back at the 20th century and label the Soviet Union as this enormous, communist entity that almost started a nuclear war. However, we often fail to look behind the scenes and actually observe what happened to civilians, peasants, and ordinary people in the Soviet Union. It turns out, most people actually did not have the right to form an opinion, neither did they play a role in the decision making of their own lives, yet alone in the political decisions of their country.

Here are the sources I used for my blogpost:

“Collectivization.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/collectivization/. Accessed 21 Mar 2019.

“Famine.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1921-2/famine-of-1921-22/. Accessed 21 Mar 2019.

“Kulak.” Enclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/kulak. Accessed 21 Mar 2019.

Figes, Orlando. “The War Against Kulaks.” Section 10:Revolution From Above, http://www.orlandofiges.info/section10_RevolutionfromAbove/TheWaragainsttheKulaks.php. Accessed 21 Mar 2019.

“Stalin of the Liquidation of the Kulak.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History,http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/collectivization/collectivization-texts/stalin-on-the-liquidation-of-the-kulak/. Accessed 21 Mar 2019.

Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. Oxford University Press, 3rd Edition. Chapter 11.

This post earned a red star for Comrade’s Corner on the Class Website

12 thoughts on ““You Do Not Lament the Loss of the Hair of One Who Has Been Beheaded.”

  1. I really liked your blog! The information was presented in a very accessible way and was easy to follow, like when the terms ‘collectivization’ and ‘Kulak’ were defined. The pictures you included look very cool too, and I think the title is very appropriate for the content; it immediately grabbed my attention as I was looking through posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog. It was really insightful and I liked how you defined all the terms that you would be utilizing. Your style of writing is also very good and kept me reading the entire time. Your perspective on Russian collectivization is interesting and I enjoyed reading. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Lara! This is a great post, I’m so glad that you found those posters! They really show the importance of this part of the Five Year Plan. “Brutal” is also a great one-word summary of the process of collectivization.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Laura, I think your use of political posters was a perfect touch to this post. I also thought the quote by Stalin at the beginning of the article was a great addition to your post, not to mention horrifying!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree – that Stalin quote really gets your attention! I also agree about how effectively you’ve used the political posters. Plus, you found some wonderful sources for this post, which is written in an engaging style that makes people want to dig in.
      Any thoughts on how the famine (remember this is the early 30s, not the famine(s) of the Civil war) played out differently in different areas? Ukraine vs. Kazakhstan, for example? And if collectivization was such a disaster, why do it? Why was this economic transition and upheaval so central to efforts to “overcome backwardness”?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your feedback, Dr. Nelson! Like we discussed in class, I think that the cases of Ukraine and Kazakhstan were even more brutal. The Kazakhs, for example, were Nomads, and had to completely change their lifestyle. To answer your question about why collectivization was a disaster, I think that the intentions were different than the outcomes. Collectivization was so important to overcome backwardness because all parts of the state had to become a part of the Soviet Union, including peasantry.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I really like your voicing and good title choice. I think where you comment how only the lowest class benefited from this was sort of the point in a way. It definitely hurt many, but also helped many at the same time going for equality and that classless society.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your paper pairs nicely into my own post this week. My paper was about the state trying to enforce the work-week schedule and the elimination of the weekend being days of rest and of religion. There is a 1943 book by Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek called “The Road to Serfdom” and in his book, he describes that it tends to be central planning and state control of the economy that creates totalitarian forms of governments. I think the steps that Stalin made in the ways of controlling the market, created the over-control government image that most American view the USSR.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s