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HARVEST OF SORROW: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine by Robert Conquest

HARVEST OF SORROW: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine


Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1986
ISBN: 0195040546
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press

A documentary history of one of the great tragedies of our century, the attempt by Stalin to collectivize all of Soviet agriculture and to rid the Ukraine of any ounce of nationalism, which resulted in the death by murder and starvation of several millions of Russians in the period between 1929 and 1933. Conquest, who wrote the definitive book, The Great Terror, on Stalin's mass purges of the 1930's, puts the same measure of meticulousness into his effort to write the first true history of the collectivization and famine of that time. In giving the political background, Conquest shows this tragedy to have been the climax of what Stalin called ""the revolution from above."" The peasantry of the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian nation had always been seen by Stalin as enemies. By ""dekulakization,"" which sent millions of peasants to the Arctic and sure death, and collectivization, which effectively abolished private property, step one was in place. It remained for Stalin to inflict the famine on the already collectivized peasants by setting grain quotas for them far above what was possible. This resulted in the state confiscating almost all home-grown food, leaving the peasants starving. Peasants who balked were accused of nationalism (these were all Ukrainians) and duly punished, i.e., killed. Conquest writes, ""What occurred was all part of the normal political experience of the senior members of today's ruling group in the Kremlin. And the system then established in the countryside is part of the Soviet order as it exists today. Nor have the methods employed to create it been repudiated."" Gory history that throws much light on a seminal time in Soviet rule.