Chapter Overview


  • Stalin forced collectivization at an incredibly rapid pace
  • This caused chaos, suffering, and misery in agriculture
  • At the end of the first wave of collectivization, he appeared to relent and called collectivization to a halt
  • The following year, he restarted the program with increased intensity
  • By 1932, collectivization had resulted in an enormous drop in agricultural production and created a famine (millions died)
  • However, Stalin secured the surplus food he needed to feed the industrial workforce to pay for industrialization
  • First Five-Year Plan demanded more rapid industrialization, setting high targets for industry to achieve
    • In agriculture, this called for collectivization: 15% of peasant households were to be collectivized
  • January, 1930 Stalin announced that 25% of grain-producing areas were to be collectivized by the end of the year
  • Most party members assumed that collectivization would be carried out on a voluntary basis and they hadn't anticipated the speed at which it was going to take place

Types of collectives


  • 3 main types of a collective farm: toz, sovkhoz, and kolkhoz
    • toz: peasants owed their own land but shared machinery
    • sovkhoz: owned and run by the state. peasants who worked here were paid a regular wage (run similar to a factory)
    • kolkhoz: all land was held in common and run by an elected committee. 50-100 households put together to form a kolkhoz. under the direction of committee, peasants farmed the land as one unit. each household were allowed to own a private lot of up to one acre.
  • Original aim of collectivization was to create more sovkhozes, but the kolkhoz became more popular to Communists in the collectivization process of 1930's

Why did communists think collectivization was the solution to the USSR's agricultural problems?


  1. Larger units of land farmed more efficiently through use of mechanization. Machinery was supplied by the state through machine and tractor stations (MTS). experts taught peasants how to farm in more modern ways, which would result in higher food production.
  2. Mechanized agriculture required fewer peasants to work the land so there was more labor for new industries
  3. So much easier for state to procure the grain it needed for cities and for export
  4. Collectivization was socialist solution for agriculture. Socialist state could not be built when majority of population were private landholders who sold their products to market. Collectivization would socialize the peasantry because they would be transported together to the fields to work where they would learn to work together co-cooperatively and to live communally.

Why was collectivization carried out so rapidly?


  • As virginia stated above the Soviet Union wanted to industrialize but under NEP the peasants were not selling their grain.
  • Stalin suggested collectivizing the farm system and requisitioning grain from the peasants. This way the soviets would get the grain they needed to sell to other countries and to feed their industrial workers.
  • Bukharin and the right wing of the party were worried that Stalin's methods would lead to the return of war communism, so they continued with the NEP until 1929.
  • In the year of 29 their continued to be a large grain shortage and there was a war scare occurring.
  • The war scare made people understand that they needed to industrialize as soon as possible and the failure of the NEP meant that the only way to successfully industrialize was to collectivize the peasants.
  • The party then decided to side with Stalin and he began collectivizing the farming system.

A plan of a collective farm.

MTS stations (Machine and Tractor stations): Where all the peasants got their shiny working tractors in exchange for 20% of their produce for the use of the tractors. The secret police also had a station inside of all the MTS stations so that they could monitor the peasants and make sure they were acting like good communists.
Communal Building
Private Plots: peasants own plot of land where they kept their own pigs, chickens, vegetables etc.
Food Processing plant
All of these buildings were in the town part of the collectives.

Relationship between the collective farms and towns.

  • The number one priority on collectives was to meet the grain quotas. If the peasants met the quota then they were able to sell any surplus at the local market where they could buy other surplus goods such as butter, eggs etc. Remember that the peasants were not being paid for their work because they were in a communist system. So basically they got very little out of their labor.

How was collectivization carried out?

"Force Terror and propaganda were the main methods employed in carrying out collectivization."

First step: Blame someone for past troubles.

  • Stalin choose to blame the kulaks for the past troubles he had with the peasants. He stated that they were an enemy of the state and decided to round up all the Kulaks who were wealthy peasants and to kill them or ship them to Siberia.
  • There were many reasons for "dekulakization". One of the main reasons was to scare the poor and middle class peasants into joining the collectives because they might be scared of the kulaks or scared of being identified as one. Another reason was so Stalin could gain all the property, animals, and equipment that the Kulaks had been using. This way Stalin could get the land and supplies he needed for the collectives to work properly.

Second step: Get a group of 25 thousand well qualified volunteers to expedite the process.

  • Peasants weren't exactly happy about dekulakization or moving into collectives so Stalin created a group of 25,000 urban volunteers to find Kulaks, dekulakize/ make them disappear, force the remaining peasants onto collectives and to show the peasants how to farm and work on a collective.
  • The volunteers had no clue how to farm but they were very good at spotting Kulaks, deporting them, and then confiscating all of their property and equipment as the basis for new collectives.
  • Quotas were set for the number of Kulaks that were supposed to be found, causing the process to go full speed ahead. Up to 10 million kulaks were shipped to Siberia by the end of collectivization and that's not counting those that were killed.
  • The volunteers also were supposed to get all the peasants that were not kulaks and persuade them to sign a register demanding to be collectivized.

Third step: Propaganda

  • Stalin started a massive propaganda campaign encouraging people to join collectives. There was also a similar campaign against the Kulaks in order to encourage more people to denounce their friends and neighbors as kulaks.

Unfortunately the peasants didn't like dekulakization or being forced to live on collectives:(

Peasant Resistance

  • Peasants bitterly resisted collectization despite mass deportations.
  • Peasants resisted using the following methods:
    • Riots, armed resistance, destruction of crops, tools, houses, organizing raids to capture animals and food that had been collectivized, and women's revolts.
    • The largest form of resistance was to slaughter animals and eat or sell their meat instead of giving it to the collectives.

Basically the peasants bitterly hated collectivization and dekulakization

End of Montana's work

What impact did collectivization have on the peasants?



•State collected enough grain to fuel industry and exports to finance industrialization, but severe drop in grain production due to the chaos and upheaval of collectivization
•Activists had little knowledge of agriculture or skills to run collectives, no animals to plow, not enough tractors
•Large drought in USSR during 1931, famine appeared in spring 1932, especially after harvest
•Killed millions of peasants from 1931 to 1934, scale of human suffering enormous
•Collectivization had become the weapon to break peasant resistance and to deal with peasant question
•Demanded more grain from Ukraine than available, brutal requisitioning gangs sent to obtain all hidden grain
•Condemned hundreds of thousands to starvation, raided grain dumps – killed and deported
•Despite widespread famine, communist government determined to continue export
•Law of 7 August 1932 ( Law of 7/8) prescribed ten year sentence for stealing socialized property
•Death sentence later used, punished for stealing before quota fulfilled

Basically, the direct result of the upheaval caused by collectivization was purging of peasants with best farming skills (dekulakization), poor organization of collective farms, lack of machinery/fertilizers, and resistance of peasants. The government continued to take excessive amounts of grain and export it to pay for industrialization despite human suffering.

Agriculture after 1934:

•At the end of 1934, majority of peasants in collectives and rooting out individual peasant land holdings
•Grain production began to recover, met quotas but didn’t fully recover until 1953, grain procurement remained high
•Problem of lack of incentive for peasants who passively wouldn’t perform
•Private plots on collective became very important for them to sell own products for profits

Essentially, collectivization met the needs of the USSR in terms of economic development under industrialization, but it caused great human suffering of the peasant population.

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