Unit 15: Era of World Wars / Soviet Union
Famine in Soviet Ukraine
From "Circular on Hunger." As reproduced in The Road to Terror, trans. Benjamin Sher, ed. J. Arch Getty and Oleg Naumov (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), 69.


The collectivization program launched in Stalin's "revolution" aimed at forcing peasants throughout the Soviet Union onto large, state-run farms. Once these collective farms had been established, the planning of harvests and grain quotas could be controlled more easily from the center. Ultimately, Stalin needed grain from the farms to export abroad for the hard currency necessary for his industrialization program. The result in Ukraine was famine on a massive scale. In this party circular, Soviet officials blamed this famine on kulaks, or so-called rich peasants, and claimed that peasants throughout the country, particularly kulaks, were pretending to be hungry in an effort to ruin Stalin's program.

3 September 1933



Reports of new tactics practiced by the kulaks involving the organization of hunger protests in certain places in the North Caucasus, the Ukraine, and the Lower Volga have reached the Central Control Commission from local Control Commissions and Workers'-Peasants' Inspectorates.

While reports from certain localities of individual incidents of hunger among the peasants have been verified, cases of feigning hunger and starvation have been noted in spite of hidden and buried reserves of food provisions. This represents a new maneuver on the part of the kulaks in their campaign to undermine the gathering of seeds and spring sowing.

The Central Control Commission of the VKP(b) [Communist Party] proposes:

1) That each report of cases of hunger among the kolkhoz [collective farm] members be investigated and that, where a case of feigning hunger is brought to light, the perpetrators are to be considered counterrevolutionary elements, and that necessary measures be taken against them.

Decisive measures are to be taken against the organizers of such protests. In addition, it is necessary that this maneuver on the part of the class enemy be exposed in the presence of the members of a given kolkhoz.

2) That, at the same time, a warning be issued against a possible bureaucratic attitude, here and there, to a real absence of food provisions in certain kolkhozy of certain districts suffering from harvest failure, and that help should be organized to provide foodstuffs from available territorial reserves to kolkhozy and kolkhoz members who are in real need.

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