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The collectivization `genocide'

During the eighties, the Right took up several themes that the Nazis had developed during the pyschological war against the Soviet Union. Since 1945, efforts to rehabilitate Nazism have generally started with affirmations such as `Stalinism was at least as barbaric as Nazism'. Ernst Nolte,  followed by Jürgen Habermas,  claimed in 1986 that the extermination of the kulaks by Stalin could be compared to the extermination of the Jews by Hitler! 

`Auschwitz is not primarily a result of traditional anti-semitism. It was in its core not merely a `genocide' but was above all a reaction born out of the anxiety of the annihilating occurrences of the Russian Revolution. This copy was far more irrational than the original.'


Stefan Merl,  ,,Ausrottung`` der Bourgeoisie und der Kulaken in Sowjetruss land? Geschichte und Gesellschaft 13 (1987), p. 368.

Hence the Nazis were tormented by the `anxiety' that the Stalinist crimes created; and the extermination of the Jews was a `reaction' to this `anxiety'. Hitler,  in his time, made similar declarations: the invasion of the Soviet Union was a `self-defence' measure against Judeo-Bolshevism. And some still wonder why fascism is rising in Germany.

The Soviet term, `liquidation of the kulaks as a class', indicates perfectly clearly that it is the capitalist exploitation organized by the kulaks that is to be eliminated and not the physical liquidation of the kulaks as persons. Playing with the word `liquidation', academic hacks such as Nolte  and Conquest  claim that the exiled kulaks were `exterminated'.

Stefan Merl,  a German researcher, describes the precarious conditions in which the first kulaks were expropriated and sent to Siberia, during the first wave of collectivization in January--March 1930.

`With the beginning of spring, the situation in the receiving camps aggravated. Epidemics were widespread, leaving many victims, particularly among the children. For this reason, all children were removed from the camps in April 1930 and sent back to their native villages. At that time, some 400,000 persons had already been deported to the North; until the summer of 1930, probably 20,000 to 40,000 persons died'.


Ibid. , p. 376.

Here, Merl  informs us that a great number of the `victims of the Stalinist terror during the collectivization' died because of epidemics and that the Party promptly reacted to protect children.

Merl  estimated that the fall 1930 transports `took place in less barbaric conditions'. The majority were sent to Siberia and Kazakhstan, `regions where there existed a considerable deficit of labor ....'


Merl,  op. cit. , p. 377.

During the years 1930--1935, the Soviet Union was short of labor, especially in newly developed regions. The régime tried to use all available forces. It is difficult to see why it would have `killed' men who had been working the land in Siberia or Kazakhstan for the previous year or two. Nevertheless, Merl  estimates that the 100,000 heads of family of the first category, sent to the Gulag system, are all dead. But the Party only placed 63,000 kulaks in the first category and only those guilty of terrorist and counter-revolutionary acts should be executed. Merl  continues:

`Another 100,000 persons probably lost their lives, at the beginning of 1930, due to expulsion from their houses, deportation towards the North and executions'. Then he adjusts the number by another 100,000 persons, `dead in the deportation regions at the end of the thirties'. Once again, no precision or indication.



Merl's  number of 300,000 dead is based on very approximate estimates and many of these deaths were the result of natural causes, old age and disease, and general conditions in the country.

Nevertheless, he is forced to defend these `weak' estimates when confronted by a crypto-fascist such as Conquest,  who `calculated' that 6,500,000 kulaks were `massacred' during the collectivization, 3,500,000 in the Siberian camps!


Robert Conquest,  The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 306. Stefan Merl,  Wie viele Opfer forderte die ,,Liquidierung der Kulaken als Klasse``? Geschichte und Gesellschaft 14 (1988), p. 534.

Conquest  is a major `authority' in the right wing. But Merl  noted that Conquest's  writings show a `frightening lack of criticism of sources'. Conquest  `uses writings from obscure émigrés taking up information transmitted by second or third hand .... Often, what he presents as `facts' are only verified by a single questionable source.'


Ibid. , p. 535.

`The number of victims put forward by Conquest  is more than double the number of deportees, according to his ``proof''.'


Ibid. , p. 537.

For a long time, writings by authors who are not Communists, such as Merl,  allowed one to refute Conquest's  gross slanders.

But in 1990, Zemskov  and Dugin,  two Soviet historians, published detailed statistics of the Fulag. Hence the exact figures are now available and they refute most of Conquest's  lies.

During the most violent period of the collectivization, in 1930--1931, the peasants expropriated 381,026 kulaks and sent their families to unplowed land to the East. These included 1,803,392 persons. As of 1 January 1932, there were 1,317,022 people in the new establishments. The difference is of 486,000. The disorganization helping, many of the deported were able to escape during the trip, which often took three months or more. (To give an idea, of the 1,317,022 settled, 207,010 were able to flee during the year 1932.)


Nicolas Werth,  `Goulag: les vrais chiffres'. L'Histoire 169 (September 1993), pp. 38--51. More details can be found in J. Arch Getty,  Gábor T. Rittersporn  and Viktor N. Zemskov.  Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-war Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence. The America Historical Review, October 1993, pp. 1017--1049.

Others, whose case was reviewed, were allowed to return home. An undetermined number, that we have estimated at 100,000, died during the travels, mainly because of epidemics. The considerable number of deaths during displacements must be seen in the context of that epoch: a weak administration, precarious living conditions for the entire population, sometimes chaotic class struggles among the peasant population overtaken by leftism. Of course, for each death during displacement, the Right affirms that the guilty party is the Party, is Stalin. But in fact the contrary is true. The Party's position is clearly stated in one of the numerous reports about this problem, this one dated 20 December 1931 by the person responsible for a work camp at Novossibirsk.

`The high mortality observed for convoys nos 18 to 23 coming from the North Caucasus --- 2,421 persons out of 10,086 upon departure --- can be explained by the following reasons:

`1. A negligent, criminal approach to the selection of deported contingents, among whom were many children, aged over 65 years of age and sick people;

`2. The non-respect of directives about the right for deportees to bring with them provisions for two months of transfer.

`3. The lack of clean water, which forced the deported to drink unclean water. Many are dead of dysentery and of other epidemics.'


Werth,  op. cit. , p. 44.

All these deaths are classed under the heading `Stalinist crimes'. But this report shows that two of the causes of death were linked to the non-respect of Party directives and the third had to do with the deplorable sanitary conditions and habits in the entire country.

Conquest  `calculated' that 3,500,000 kulaks were `exterminated' in the camps.


Conquest,  op. cit. , p. 306.

But the total number of dekulakized in the colonies never exceeded 1,317,022! And between 1932 and 1935, the number of departures exceeded by 299,389 the number of arrivals. From 1932 to the end of 1940, the exact number of deaths, essentially due to natural causes, was 389,521. And this number does not just include dekulakized, since after 1935 other categories were in the colonies as well.

What can one say about Conquest's  affirmation of 6,500,000 `massacred' kulaks during the different phases of the collectivization? Only part of the 63,000 first category counter-revolutionaries were executed. The number of dead during deportations, largely due to famine and epidemics, was approximately 100,000. Between 1932 and 1940, we can estimate that 200,000 kulaks died in the colonies of natural causes. The executions and these deaths took place during the greatest class struggle that the Russian countryside ever saw, a struggle that radically transformed a backward and primitive countryside. In this giant upheaval, 120 million peasants were pulled out of the Middle Ages, of illiteracy and obscurantism. It was the reactionary forces, who wanted to maintain exploitation and degrading and inhuman work and living conditions, who received the blows. Repressing the bourgeoisie and the reactionaries was absolutely necessary for collectivization to take place: only collective labor made socialist mechanization possible, thereby allowing the peasant masses to lead a free, proud and educated life.

Through their hatred of socialism, Western intellectuals spread Conquest's  absurd lies about 6,500,000 `exterminated' kulaks. They took up the defence of bourgeois democracy, of imperialist democracy. In Mozambique, Renamo, organized by the CIA and the security services of South Africa, has massacred and starved 900,000 villagers since 1980. The goal: prevent Mozambique from becoming an independent country with a socialist direction. In Mozambique, Western intellectuals did not need to invent cadavers, all they needed to do was write about imperialist barbarity. But these 900,000 deaths are a non-fact: no-one talks about them.

Unita, also openly financed and supported by the CIA and South Africa, killed more than one million Angolans during the civil war against the MPLA nationalist government. After having lost the 1992 elections, Savimbi,  the CIA man, took up his destructive war yet again.

`The Angolan tragedy threatens the life of 3 million people .... Savimbi  refused to accept the government's electoral victory of 129 seats against 91 and has plunged Angola yet again in a ferocious conflict that has taken another 100,000 lives (in the last twelve months).'


Time, 18 October 1993, European edition, p. 50. Translated from the French translation.

One hundred thousand Africans, of course, are nothing. How many Western intellectuals who still like to scream about the collectivization have simply not noticed that two million Mozambican and Angolan peasants were massacred by the West to prevent these countries from becoming truly independent and escaping from the clutches of international capital?


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Next: Collectivization and the Up: Collectivization Previous: `Colossal support'

Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995