Stalin's Peasants

Stalin's Peasants : Resistance and Survival in the Russian Village After Collectivization

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The collectivization of Russian farms was the cornerstone of Soviet agricultural policy during the 1930s. This study about Soviet forced collectivization and its impact on the Russian village, explores the dramatic transformation of peasant life caused by collectivization. It is based on new and unknown material from recently-opened Soviet archives. The author analyzes the peasants' strategies of resistance and survival in the state-inflicted drama of the collectivized village. He shows the real people behind the facade of the Soviet propaganda account of the happy "Potemkin village". The regime's own strategy involved humiliation and violence towards the peasants. Fitzpatrick's study relates the traumatic experiences of this long-suffering more

Product details

  • Hardback | 406 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 33.02mm | 703.06g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 019506982X
  • 9780195069822

About Sheila Fitzpatrick

About the Author: Sheila Fitzpatrick is Professor of History at the University of Chicago. She is the author or editor of numerous books including The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia (1992).show more

Review Text

Scholarly and poignant account of conditions in Russia's collective farms in the 30's. In an attempt to obtain ever higher grain quotas and stamp out private enterprise, Stalin forced millions of peasants into the collective farm (kolkhoz) system - with catastrophic effects in both human and economic terms. Drawing on recently opened Soviet archives, including reports of the secret police, and her own vast reading of the newspapers of rural Russia, Fitzpatrick pieces together the picture of how collectivization worked in the lives of local communities and individuals. We learn the various ways in which people reacted to the closing of the churches and the liquidation of the more prosperous peasant class (the kulaks), how peasants were cajoled into the kolkhoz and the effects of expulsion from it, how the officials behaved, how the roles of women varied, how local handicrafts came to be replaced by factory products, and much more. We meet heroes of Soviet labor (udarniks and stakhaovites) like Sasha Angelina, who promised Stalin she would plough 1,200 hectares with her tractor, and combine operator Maria Demchenko, whose photograph with Stalin in 1936 entitled "The Flowering Soviet Ukraine" became one of the notable icons of the period. The author describes the almost religious cult of Stalin and the idealized "Potemkin Village," but she shows that in reality the peasants hated Stalin and considered collectivization a second serfdom: those who could not depart for the cities hoped for deliverance by a counter-revolution or even foreign invasion. Fitzpatrick makes her account vivid with quotations of first-person experiences, but she resists the temptation to oversimplify the issues. A glossary explains Soviet terms and acronyms. Highly detailed - a must for students of Soviet, or social, history. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

51 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 35% (18)
4 27% (14)
3 22% (11)
2 10% (5)
1 6% (3)
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