From the correspondence between M.A.Sholokhov and I.V. Stalin. April 4 ‐ May 6, 1933

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From the correspondence between M.A.Sholokhov and I.V. Stalin. April 4 ‐ May 6, 1933

A source: The tragedy of the Soviet village. Collectivization and dispossession. Documents and materials Volume 3. End of 1930 ‐ 1933. Moscow ROSSPEN 2000. Pp. 717‐720

Archive: RGASPI. F. 558. Op. 11.D. 827. L. 1‐22. Script; Questions of history, 1994, No. 3. P. 14‐16, 22.

No. 317

M.A.Sholokhov ‐ I.V. Stalin

April 4, 1933

Stanitsa Veshenskaya

... Now about the methods that were used in all collective farms of the region according to the instructions of Ovchinnikov and under the direct supervision of Sharapov. The eviction from the house and the sale of property was carried out in the simplest way: the collective farmer received a control figure for the delivery of bread, say, 10 centners. For failure to deliver, he was expelled from the collective farm, all his debts were taken into account, including the arbitrarily established loss ratio incurred by the collective farm in previous years, and all payments were presented as to an individual farmer. Moreover, according to the amount of payments, the property of the collective farmer was assessed; was regarded in such a way that it was exactly enough to pay off the debt. For example, a house could be bought for 60 ‐ 80 rubles, and such a trifle as a fur coat or felt boots was bought literally for a pittance ...

It was officially and strictly forbidden to the rest of the collective farmers to let the evicted people into their homes to spend the night or warm up. They were supposed to live in sheds, in cellars, in the streets, in gardens. The population was warned: whoever lets the evicted family in will be evicted with the family. And they were evicted only because some collective farmer, touched by the roar of freezing children, let his evicted neighbor warm up. 1090 families in 20‐degree frost lived on the street day in and day out. During the day, like shadows, they wandered around their closed houses, and at night they sought refuge from the cold in sheds, in chaffs. But according to the law established by the regional committee, they were not allowed to spend the night there either! The chairmen of the village councils and the secretaries of the cells sent patrols through the streets, which rummaged through the sheds and drove the families of the collective farmers thrown out of their homes into the streets.

I saw something that cannot be forgotten to death: the hut, Volokhovskoe of the Lebyazhensky collective farm at night, in a fierce wind, in the cold, when even the dogs are hiding from the cold, families thrown out of their houses burned bonfires on the alleys and sat near the fire. Children were wrapped in rags and placed on the ground thawed from the fire. A continuous childish cry stood over the alleys. Is it really possible to mock people like that?

It seemed to me that this was one of Ovchinnikovʹs excesses, but in late January or early February, the secretary of the regional committee Zimin came to Veshenskaya. On the way to Veshenskaya, he spent two hours at the Chukarinsky collective farm and spoke at the bureau of the RK about the progress of grain procurements in this collective farm. The first question he asked the secretary of the Chukarinskaya cell who was present at the bureau: ʺHow many people have been evicted from your houses?ʺ ʺForty‐eight householdsʺ. ʺWhere do they sleep?ʺ The secretary of the cell laughed, then replied that they would spend the night, they say, wherever they had to. Zimin said to him: ʺBut they should not spend the night with relatives, not indoors, but on the street!ʺ

After that, we took an even steeper line across the area. And the evicted began to freeze. A woman with a baby was evicted from the Bazkovsky collective farm. All night she walked around the farm and asked to be allowed in with the child to warm up. They were not allowed in, fearing that they themselves would be evicted. In the morning the child froze to death in his motherʹs arms. The mother herself was frostbitten. This woman was evicted by a party candidate ‐ an employee of the Bazkovsky collective farm. After the child froze to death, he was quietly sent to prison. I was planted for the ʺbendʺ. For what was they imprisoned? And, if they planted it correctly, then why does Comrade Zimin remain free?

The number of frozen people has not been established, since no one was interested in this statistics and is not interested in the same way that no one is interested in the number of people who died of hunger. One thing is indisputable: a huge number of adults and ʺflowers of lifeʺ after two months of wintering on the street, after spending the night in the snow will leave this life along with the last snow. And those who survive will be half‐skinned.

But eviction is not the most important thing. Here is a list of the ways in which 593 tons of bread were obtained:

1.  Mass beatings of collective farmers and individual farmers.

2.  Planting ʺin the coldʺ. ʺIs there a pit?ʺ ‐ ʺNoʺ. ‐ ʺGo, sit in the barn!ʺ The collective farmer is stripped to his underwear and put barefoot in a barn or shed. The time of action is January, February, often whole brigades were planted in barns.

3.  In the Vaschaev collective farm, collective farmers were doused with kerosene on the legs and hem of their skirts, lit, and then extinguished: “Tell me where the pit is! Iʹll set it on fire again! ʺ On the same collective farm, the person being interrogated was put in a pit, buried halfway and the interrogation continued.

4.  In the Napolovo collective farm, the authorized RK, a candidate member of the RK Bureau, Plotkin, during interrogation, forced him to sit on a red‐hot couch. The planted man shouted that he could not sit, it was hot, then water was poured from a mug under him, and then he was taken out into the frost and locked up in a barn. From the barn back to the stove and interrogated again. He (Plotkin) forced one individual peasant to shoot himself. He gave a revolver in his hands and ordered: ʺShoot, but no ‐ Iʹll shoot you!ʺ He began to pull the trigger (not knowing that the revolver was discharged), and when the firing pin clicked, he fainted.

5.  At the Varvara collective farm, cell secretary Anikeev at a brigade meeting forced the entire brigade (men and women, smokers and nonsmokers) to smoke makhorka, and then threw a pod of red pepper (mustard) on the hot stove and did not order to leave the premises. The same Anikeev and a number of workers of the propaganda column, whose commander was a candidate for membership in the Bureau of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nashinsky, during interrogations at the headquarters of the column, forced the collective farmers to drink huge quantities of water mixed with bacon, wheat and kerosene.

6.  In the Lebyazhensky collective farm they were put against the wall and fired past the head of the interrogated from shotguns.

7.  In the same place: rolled up in a row and trampled underfoot.

8.  In the Arkhipov collective farm, two collective farmers, Fomin and Krasnov, after a night interrogation were taken out three kilometers to the steppe, stripped naked in the snow and let go, ordered to run to the farm at a trot.

9.  In the Chukarinsky collective farm, the secretary of the cell, Bogomolov, picked up 8 people, demobilized Red Army men, with whom he came to the collective farmer ‐ suspected of theft ‐ in the yard (at night), after a short interrogation, took them to the threshing floor or to the levada, built his brigade and commanded ʺfireʺ at the tied collective farmer. If the one who was terrified by the staging of the execution did not admit, then, beating him, they threw him into a sleigh, took him out to the steppe, beat him along the way with rifle butts, and, after taking him out to the steppe, set him up and repeated the procedure preceding the execution.

9.                   1 * In the Kruzhilinsky collective farm, the authorized RK Kovtun at a meeting of the 6th brigade asks the collective farmer: ʺWhere did you bury the bread?ʺ ‐ ʺI didnʹt bury it, comrade!ʺ ‐ “Didnʹt you bury it? Oh, well, stick out your tongue! Stop like that! ʺ Sixty adult people, Soviet citizens, by order of the commissioner, take turns sticking out their tongues and stand like this, drooling, while the commissioner delivers an incriminating speech for an hour. The same thing was done by Kovtun in the 7th and 8th brigades; with the only difference that in those brigades he, in addition to sticking out his tongues, forced him to kneel down.

10.                In the Zatonsk collective farm, an agitation column worker beat the interrogated with a saber. On the same collective farm, they mocked the families of the Red Army soldiers, opening the roofs of houses, destroying the stoves, forcing women to cohabit.

11.                In the Solontsovsky collective farm, a human corpse was brought into the room of the Komsode, put it on the table, and in the same room the collective farmers were interrogated, threatening to be shot.

12.                In the Verkhne‐Chirsky collective farm, the shop assistants put the interrogated barefoot on a hot stove, and then beat and took them out, barefoot, into the cold.

13.                In the Kolundaevskoye collective farm, the farmers were forced to run in the snow for three hours. The frostbitten ones were brought to the Bazkovsky hospital.

14.                In the same place: the interrogated collective farmer was put on a stool on his head, covered with a fur coat from above, beaten and interrogated.

15.                In the Bazkovsky collective farm, during interrogation, they undressed, the half‐naked were released home, half‐way back, and so several times.

16.                Authorized RO of the OGPU Yakovlev with the operational group held a meeting in the Verkhne‐Chirsky collective farm. The school was stupefied. They were not ordered to undress. Nearby had a ʺcoolʺ room, where they were taken out of the meeting for ʺindividual treatment.ʺ Those who held the meeting took turns, there were 5 of them, but the collective farmers were the same ... The meeting lasted more than a day without interruption.

These examples can be endlessly multiplied. These are not isolated cases of bends, this is a ʺmethodʺ of grain procurement legalized on a regional scale. I either heard about these facts from the communists, or from the collective farmers themselves, who experienced all these ʺmethodsʺ on themselves and then came to me with requests ʺto write about it in the newspaper.ʺ

Do you remember, Iosif Vissarionovich, Korolenkoʹs essay ʺIn a calm village?ʺ So, this kind of ʺdisappearanceʺ was done not over three peasants suspected of stealing from the kulak, but over tens of thousands of collective farmers. And, as you can see, with a richer use of technical means and with greater sophistication.

A similar story took place in the Verkhne‐Don region, where the same Ovchinnikov, who was the ideological inspirer of these terrible bullying that took place in our country in 1933, was a special representative.

... It is impossible to pass over in silence what was happening in the Veshensky and Verkhne‐Don districts for three months. Only hope for you. Sorry for the verbosity of the letter. I decided that it would be better to write to you than to create the last book of Virgin Soil Upturned on such material.

With regards Sholokhov


I. V. Stalin ‐ M. A. Sholokhov

May 6, 1933

Dear Comrade Sholokhov!

Both of your letters have been received as you know. The help that was requested has already been provided.

To investigate the case, Comrade Shkiryatov will come to you, in the Veshensky district, to whom ‐ I beg you ‐ to help.

This is true. But thatʹs not all, Comrade Sholokhov. The point is that your letters make a somewhat one‐sided impression. I would like to write you a few words about this.

I thanked you for the letters, as they expose the sore of our party‐Soviet work, reveal how sometimes our workers, wishing to bridle the enemy, accidentally hit friends and sink to sadism. But this does not mean that I agree with you in everything. You see one side; you see not bad. But this is only one side of the matter. In order not to be mistaken in politics (your letters are not fiction, but solid politics), you need to review, you must be able to see the other side. And the other side is that the respected grain growers of your region (and not only your region) carried out ʺItalianʺ (sabotage!) And were not averse to leaving the workers, the Red Army ‐ without bread. The fact that the sabotage was quiet and outwardly harmless (no blood) does not change the fact that the respected grain growers, in fact, waged a ʺquietʺ war against the Soviet regime. War to attrition, dear comrade.

Of course, this circumstance in no way can justify the outrages that were committed, as you assure us, by our workers. And those responsible for these outrages must be duly punished. But it is still clear as daylight that respected farmers are not such harmless people as it might seem from afar.

Well, all the best and shake your hand.

Yours I. Stalin

1 * Numbering was broken by Sholokhov. ‐ (Approx.ed.)