In historiography, agricultural transformations started by G. M. Malenkov and N. S. Khrushchev are usually considered as having improved the situation of the peasantry and the level of production. The author assesses the effectiveness of these reforms with a microhistorical approach based on the study of the collective farm Bolshevik in the Pravdinsky district of the Kaliningrad Region — as typical for the region and the country. The research is based on the archives of this kolkhoz: collective farmers’, communist party members’ and managers’ meetings, annual reports, documents of the regional agricultural authorities. The article describes the main changes in the structure of agricultural production: reorganization of labor brigades, daily routines and machine-tractor stations, consolidation of the collective farm, etc. The author examines the state policy regarding personal subsidiary economies of collective farmers: on the one hand, there were new restrictions, on the other hand, resources of peasant economies improved the statistical indicators of the kolkhoz. The article focuses on administrative and economic ways for motivating peasants to work in the collective farm and shows their inconsistency in terms of increasing labor productivity. Annual statistical reports of the collective farm on animal husbandry and crop production show no sustainable growth of any indicators and only modest progress due to the extensive methods of development and exploitation of the collective farmers’ personal subsidiary economies. The author emphasizes the absence of any significant results from the 1950s reforms which did not affect the roots of the collective-farm system inefficiency.
The article considers the development and work of the volost peasant cells of the RCP (b) in 1918–1920 through the relationship between the state and the people. The article is based on the archival materials from the Central State Archive of the Kirov Region and the State Archive of the Social and Political History of the Udmurt Republic, and on the historical-genetic and historical-institutional approaches. The author also analyzed materials from the funds of the Vyatka Gubkom and the Vyatka, Glazov, Kotelnich, Malmyzh, Nolin, Orlov, Soviet, Urzhum and Yaran regional committees of the RCP (b), Provincial Commission on the Party History, Vyatka Province Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’ and Red Army Deputies, Yaransk Regional Committees of the Workers’, Peasants’ and Red Army Deputies Councils, Vyatka Regional Statistical Committee, and the personal fund of Vasily Georgievich Plenkov. The author examines the development and crisis of the volost peasant cells of the RCP (b) in the Vyatka Province in 1918–1920 in order to identify the features of the Vyatka peasantry in the early 20th century and peasants’ expectations from the new power; of the interaction between the Soviet power and peasants; of the crisis of volost cells and their transformation into power structures consisting of the employees of the Soviet volost institutions. The study revealed that on the eve of the 1917 Revolution, the Vyatka village community still existed though middle peasants prevailed. Peasants expected from the new government to solve primarily social-economic tasks: the lack of land, construction of road infrastructure, and social development. Bolsheviks only partially satisfied the peasants’ demands, which led to the strongest peasants’ dissatisfaction under the forced food policy and other political measures, and, thus, determined the crisis of volost cells in 1919–1920. The author argues that in the village dominated by communist peasants who wanted to develop their economy on the market basis, there was hardly any ground for the voluntary acceptance of communist ideas. Volost peasant cells were created as associations supporting the new government, but eventually either disintegrated or turned into the ‘party of power’.
The article considers the life and work of the great Russian and Soviet economist A. V. Chayanov in the watershed year of 1918. The article introduces into the scientific circulation a number of documents from the funds of the Russian State Archive of Economics and of the Department of Manuscripts of the Russian State Library. The author describes the work of Chayanov in the bodies of cooperation — cooperative publishing house, Council of the Central Association of Flax Growers, and Committee for the Protection of Art Treasures which was established at his suggestion by the decision of the cooperative congress. The author emphasizes the role of cooperation in the survival of the scientific and creative intelligentsia under the hunger, devastation and chaos after the outbreak of the Civil War. Among the few surviving documents of the Council of All-Russian Cooperative Congresses, the most interesting are the meetings of the publishing commission, which prove that in 1918, Chayanov was one of the most published authors. The Council of the Central Association of Flax Growers helped Chayanov to survive, although its position as a key member of the All-Russian Cooperative Congresses was greatly shaken. The article describes the work of Chayanov in the Committee for the Protection of Art Treasures. The author considers the creation, criticism and role in Chayanov’s biography of his two fiction works — History of Miusskaya Square (to the history of the University named after A. L. Shanyavsky) and History of a Barber’s Doll, or the Last Love of the Moscow Architect M. — and the ideology of Chayanov at the end of 1918, which helps to understand his psychological condition and the evolution of his worldview when searching for his place in the life of new Russia.
The article examines the life of Russian peasants in the steppe regions adjacent to Stalingrad and occupied by the German army at the time of the Stalingrad battle. The battle began in these regions in July–August 1942. In September, when the fighting moved into the city set on a narrow strip along the Volga River, the surrounding steppe was taken over by a more or less organized occupation regime. The occupation came to an end after the Soviet counterattack on November 19-23. While abundant literature has been devoted to the battle in the city, there is practically nothing on the life of peasants under occupation in the surrounding area. Relatively little has been written about the life of peasants during the Great Patriotic War. Studies of the occupation have focused on the western regions of the Soviet Union, where the occupation lasted for years. In the Volga Region, it lasted only for months. There was no occupation administration — only soldiers mostly preoccupied with daily fighting. The local population consisted primarily of the Don Cossacks who preserved Cossack traditions and retained sharp memories of collectivization. The article considers: (1) how the occupiers and the occupied negotiated such unusual conditions; (2) how traditional peasant values and behavioral norms were expressed; (3) how on occasion the occupiers defied their usual stereotypes. The study is based on the records of linguists, specifically dialectologists. Dialectology and oral history frequently use similar materials for different tasks. It is worth noting that the oral history began to develop in Russia only in the 1990s, while dialectology continues a tradition established in the 19th century. Especially in the study of the Russian peasantry, records made by dialectologists can be a valuable source for historians.
The article considers the impact of the Soviet state agrarian policy on the agricultural production in the Novosibirsk Region. In 1930s, the government was not far-sighted: for short-term gains (growth of production volumes) the long-term prospects were sacrificed. The ever-growing state plans for sowing and harvesting prevented the development of the rational agricultural system in Siberia. By the early 1940s, in most collective farms of the Novosibirsk Region, elementary agrotechnical rules were broken: fallow lands were reduced, deadlines for agricultural work were not kept, rules for crop rotation and seed production were ignored. Therefore, the long-term clogging and depletion of soils, among other factors, determined extremely low grain yields during the Great Patriotic War. In the prewar period, the state agrarian policy led to the rapid depletion of the agricultural production in the Novosibirsk Region. By 1941, the region was in a critical situation of an acute shortage of seeds, food, and livestock feed. In 1942, the Soviet government continued its blind sowing policy and obviously underestimated the negative impact of such a policy on production under the reduction in labor and inputs. Planning errors led to a sharp reduction in gross grain harvests from 1942. Until the end of the war, the Soviet agriculture was negatively affected by the short-sighted state policies that significantly reduced possibilities for the productive use of the local agricultural potential.
The article presents the results of the structural-dynamic analysis of the development of peasant (private) farms under the agricultural reform of 1991-2001 in the Central Black-Earth Region. The research is based on both published and unpublished sources—materials from the archives of the State Statistics Committee of the Russian Federation, data of the territorial statistical bodies, from statistical collections and regulatory legal acts. Statistical data is presented in tables and graphs. The study of the dynamics of the farms’ development in the period under study allowed the authors to identify general features of this process in the Central Black-Earth Region and its peculiarities in different areas of this region. The authors analyzed the number of farms, their average size, and the size of their land, and conclude that during the agrarian reform of 1991-2001, farmers of the Central Black-Earth Region were forced to fight for survival. Therefore, farms of extremely small size, in a poor financial situation and created by come-and-go people were eliminated; they made up a third of all farms. By 2001, the number of farmers had stabilized, there was a 1.5–2-fold increase in the area of farmers’ land and in the size of the average farm. Farmers who managed to pass the ‘test of strength’ found new opportunities for development.
The article considers a specific case of the peasant uprising in the large commercial settlement in the Kamyshinsky district of the Saratov Province at the initial stage of the Civil War in Russia. The author focuses on the investigative case against activists of the mass demonstration, and this source allowed to better identify the personal characteristics of the participants and activists of the uprising, describe their behavior during and after the outrage and defense strategies during the investigation. The personal features of the activists of the uprising, its course and development are considered based on the sources on the armed actions of the peasantry during the Civil War. The author argues that the most active participants of the armed struggle left their native places during uprisings. As a rule, there are no sources of biographical nature even in judicial and investigative materials, because personal data was poorly recorded by the representatives of political supervision. Therefore, the voice of activists is the most elusive, and the most active participants of peasant uprisings are poorly represented in the sources. Our ideas about the causes and dynamics of the peasant armed struggle are based mainly on the indirect and secondary evidence, which inevitably distorts the general picture and requires both archival and methodological searches.
The interview with the DSc (History), Professor V. V. Kondrashin presents the milestones of his biography in the historical context of the Russian science and politics in the 20th—21st century. This biographical reflection includes the events of childhood that awakened his interest in history, the difficulties in the academic career of a young man of the people, the historian’s survival under the social crisis of the 1990s. An important part of the interview is formed by Kondrashin’s memories of his teachers in school and university—V. V. Danilov and V. V. Kabanov, M. Levin and T. Shanin. Another significant part of the interview focuses on the most important issues of Kondrashin and his colleagues’ historical research, mainly the history of the Russian and Soviet countryside under revolutions and reforms of the 20th century (peasant wars, NEP, collectivization, World War II and the late Soviet period of agrarian history). The interview was not limited to the Russian historical context—Kondrashin mentions international scientific projects such as the study of the 1932-1933 famine in the USSR, and of the survival and development of the Soviet Union in the interaction with its close and distant neighboring countries. Kondrashin describes the cooperation of Russian scientists with their colleagues from Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Eastern Europe, France, England, USA, Japan and Australia. A special part of the interview presents his reflections on the ‘historian and power’ issue. Due to his active social position, Kondrashin was engaged in various social-political activities, including his work as a Senator of the Federation Council. The interview ends with a discussion of his scientific plans for the year of his sixtieth anniversary.
The article considers the development of the collective-farm trade in Krasnoyarsk under the Khrushchev’s reforms. Collective-farm markets played an important role in the Soviet society by improving the living standards of both urban and rural population of the Krasnoyarsk Region. On the one hand, such markets provided the urban population with agricultural food products; on the other hand, they provided the rural population with industrial products. Collective-farm markets were a way of rural urbanization; therefore, local authorities supported and developed collectivefarm trade in Krasnoyarsk, while Khrushchev’s reforms in agriculture had an opposite result. Failures of the virgin campaign, mistakes in the fodder provision and new taxes led to a sharp decline in agricultural production. The main blow to the collective-farm trade was the decree of March 6, 1956 “On the Statute of Agricultural Artel and Further Development of Collective Farmers’ Initiative in the Organization of Collective-Farm Production and Management of Artels’ which was the start of the struggle against homestead farms. Thus, despite the efforts of local authorities, the collective-farm trade was decreasing: in 1955, its share in the commodity turnover was 14,9%, in 1957—9,8%, and in 1966, it decreased by half compared to 1955.
The author considers the links between measures of the Stolypin agrarian reform and indicators of the Russian agricultural development based on various statistical data: statistics of yields (Central Statistical Committee), statistics of grain prices and land management (Main Directorate of Land Management and Agriculture), data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on peasant exits from the community, data from the survey of farms and allotments conducted by the GUZiZ in 1913. The author also uses data on the income from non-grain crops and animal husbandry, and on the cost of commercial outputs per unit of agricultural land on the eve of the First World War. Based on the analysis of statistics, the author refutes the idea that agriculture had passed the peak of progressive shifts before the reform and that the growth of agricultural production slowed down under the reform. The author reveals mistakes in the 1913 survey of yields, which makes its data invalid for studying the ratio of yields by farm type; uses the moving average method to smooth out annual fluctuations in the CSC statistics of yields; compares the indicators of the best five years before the reform with the indicators of the best five years of the reform to minimize the influence of weather fluctuations on the measurement of the grain production dynamics; calculates the shifts in yields of major crops; with the correlation analysis, identifies the relationship between shifts in yields and productivity for the selected periods under the Stolypin reform in 47 provinces of European Russia; studies the links of the reform with other indicators of the agrarian development; proves the significant positive links (mainly of medium strength and weak) between the peasant activity in the individualization of land tenure (exits from the community) and land use (farms on the allotments) under the reform, and the negative links between economic indicators and the development of group land management within the communal land tenure. Thus, the author insists that the previous historiographic statements about the absence of links between the reform and yields, and about the negative links between the registration of peasant land ownership and the increase in yields on allotments were not confirmed.