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Part I
Chapter 2

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

Stalinist Rule in the Ukraine
by Hryhory Kostiuk

published in the U. S. A. by
Frederick A. Praeger, Inc.
New York

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Part I
Chapter 4

Part One
Stalinist Centralism and the Ukraine

 p10  Chapter III

The Collapse of Agriculture

The implementation of Stalin's grandiose plans led to open conflict between the peasantry and the regime. The Ukrainian peasants' resistance to collectivization was expressed not only in passive protest against the grain collections, in sabotaging the five-year plan effort, in wrecking machinery, slaughtering cattle, and in flight from the villages to the cities. It often took the form of open revolt against the Soviet state. Many such spontaneous rebellions occurred in various parts of the country during the first stage of collectivization. Evidence of this may be found in Soviet and emigre sources.

One such rebellion took place in the Proskuriv district and in other areas in the Moldavian Autonomous Republic. According to an eye‑witness account,

At first the militia was sent to pacify the enraged peasants. Mounted militia moved into the villages of Zoslava and Slavuta. However, in a day or two, only a few of the entire detachment of militia men had escaped alive. The others had been killed by the peasants. The movement spread to Pohonny, Antonin, and other regions of the Shepetivka district. The peasants killed the government representatives, they seized the property which had been taken away from them and in some villages, especially in the region of Antonin, they even proclaimed a new "soviet government without Communists." A small GPU detachment, sent to relieve the militia, was also decimated. The chief of the GPU in the Shepetivka district reported to the Party that in this area there was a spontaneous anti-kolkhoz uprising, headed by inexperienced leaders, and that the regular army units could easily locate and suppress it.1

Similar peasant rebellions broke out in the Drabove2 and Holo-Prystan districts in Kherson province,3 and in the provinces of Kamyanets-Podolsk and Vinnitsa.4 In the province of Chernigov (Horodno, Tupychiv and Snov districts) the peasant risings had the support of the 21st Chernigov regiment, and were crushed only after major concentrations of the GPU and regular army troops were dispatched against them.5 Other revolts occurred in the district of Tarashcha6 in  p11 Volhynia and in Mykhailivka, Pereshchepyna,7 and Pavlograd districts of Dnepropetrovsk province.8

Resistance to collectivization was widespread in other republics and areas of the USSR, especially in Kuban, the North Caucasus, Georgia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Some evidence on peasant rebellions in the North Caucasus is contained in Avtorkhanov's The Reign of Stalin.

The official records of the Party also mention the peasant revolts in the Ukraine. Speaking at the March plenum of the Central Committee of the All‑Union CP(b) in 1937,9 Stalin, recalling the year 1930, said: "It was one of the most dangerous periods in the life of our Party." An even more open admission of peasant resistance is contained in the short history:

As a result of errors committed by the Party organizations . . . there appeared in the second half of February 1930 dangerous symptoms of serious peasant discontent. In some places the kulaks and their agents succeeded in provoking the peasants to direct anti-Soviet demonstrations.10

The Short History does not describe just how these anti-Soviet demonstrations were crushed. However, thousands of former Soviet citizens who are now in the West can confirm from their experience the brutal methods of mass terror used against the peasants during collectivization. And the fact that this quotation with the phrases "dangerous symptoms of serious peasant discontent" and "direct anti-Soviet demonstrations" appears at all in the short history, the anonymous author of which usually attempts to pass over such things in silence, clearly indicates how widespread and how violent resistance was. Often it was only the NKVD troops and the regular Red Army who saved the Soviet regime from being overthrown by mass rebellions of the hungry, tortured, and ferocious peasants, determined to drive the government officials from the countryside. The effect of this reign of  p12 terror11 on the Ukrainian peasants was terrifying. The most usual reprisal against the more active participants in the resistance was execution on the spot; less active participants were given long sentences in concentration camps, while of the rest of the population, women and children, the aged and the sick, hundreds of thousands were deported to distant, unpopulated regions in the North of the USSR,12 and there the majority of them perished. Not until these draconic measures had been applied would the Ukrainian villages submit to collectivization.

The Author's Notes:

1 Vysochenko, op. cit., p8.

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2 Solovey, "Holhota Ukrainy" (The Calvary of the Ukraine), Ukrainsky holos (Ukrainian Voice), Winnipeg, January 23, 1952.

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3 Yuriy Horlis-Horsky, Ave Dictator, Lvov, 1941, p31.

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4 S. Pidhayny, Ukrainska intelligentsiya na Solovkakh (Ukrainian Intellectuals on the Solovky), Prometey, 1947.

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5 Skuybida, op. cit.; Solovey, "Holhota Ukrainy," Ukrainsky holos, January 30, 1952.

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6 B. K. "1930‑33 na Tarashchanshchyni" (The Years 1930‑33 in the Tarashcha Area), Novy shlyakh (The New Path), Winnipeg, August 18, 1948.

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7 D. Solovey, op. cit.

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8 The author of this study met one of the participants in the revolt, Ivan Mykhaylovych Prykhodko, in the Vorkuta concentration camp in 1936‑40. He was eighteen years old when the rebellion broke out. He was sentenced to ten years forced labor for his participation in the revolt. The rebellion took place in the spring of 1930, during the worst of the terror in the villages. Headed by a Red Army lieutenant who happened to be on leave from the army and whose parents were placed on the list of those to be liquidated, the revolt spread like lightning to other villages. Many government officials, members of "towing brigades," contact men, informers and others were killed by the enraged peasants. The revolt was finally crushed by the army, which was supported by tanks and armor as well as by planes. The rebels, armed with axes, pitchforks, revolvers and other homemade weapons, surrendered after a fierce battle which lasted for five days. Their leader, the Red Army lieutenant, was killed in battle. Many other peasants were executed following their surrender. All those who had any connection with the uprising, together with their families, were deported for ten years.

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9 "O nedostatkakh partiinoi raboty i merakh likvidatsii trotskistkikh i inykh dvurushnikov; doklad tov. Stalina na plenume TsK VKP(b) 3 marta 1937 goda" (Concerning the Shortcomings of Party Activity and Measures for Liquidating the Trotskyite and Other Double-Dealers. Report by Comrade Stalin at the Plenum of the CC of the All‑Union CP(b) on March 3, 1937), Pravda, March 27, 1937. Stalin's concluding speech at the plenum was printed in Pravda, April 1, 1937.

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10 Short History of the CPSU, p294.

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11 The forced nature of collectivization is best attested in the secret directive to all organs of the GPU, the Court and the Procurator, signed by Stalin and Molotov on May 8, 1933. This document, seized by the German army in Smolensk, was published in Sotsialistichesky vestnik, New York and Paris, February-March, 1955, pp50‑52.

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12 Fedir Rogiles, "Z nahody 17 richya znyshchennya stanytsi Poltavskoi" (On the Seventeenth Anniversary of the Destruction of the Poltavska Settlement), Vilna Kuban (The Free Kuban), Toronto, No. 2, December 1949.

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