Printer Friendly


Let's go home. It smells like murder here. (Poidem domoi, zdes' pakhnet ubiistvom.)-- wife of the sel'sovet chairman in Zabelino, 16 March 1930

On the night of 27 January 1930, Avanesov, a member of a collectivization brigade, raped a peasant woman in the village of Malye Mochily in Pitelinskii district, Riazan county. Her husband returned home to find Avanesov hiding in their cellar. According to the OGPU (Ob" edinennoe gosudarstvennoe politicheskoe upravlenie, the security police) report on the incident a "massive scandal resulted which compromised the whole brigade." [1] The brigade, however, was in fact already compromised by its tendency to indulge in "tactless activites". Brigade members, for example, demonstrated a penchant for firing off their guns in the middle of the night. And the local peasants had used these nocturnal gunshots as an excuse to stop attending meetings on collectivization. The incident in Malye Mochily set the scene for a rebellion against collectivization that would encompass more than twenty of the villages of the Pitelinskii district. The revolt raged openly for six days, and simmered for months, involving thousands of p easants.

The Communist Party launched a massive campaign to collectivize the peasantry in the winter of 1929-1930. Industrial workers and urban activists were sent en masse to the countryside to aid local parry and soviet officials in the business of collectivization. [2] In Moscow region, the zealous regional party first secretary, K.Ia. Bauman, directed collectivization, pushing Riazan especially hard to be a model and challenge to other districts in the race for the rapid collectivization of his region. [3] Perhaps even more than elsewhere in the Russian Republic, the implementation of wholesale collectivization in the Moscow region led to massive "excesses" (or peregiby, to use a Soviet euphemism). It also led to a peasant rebellion of major significance in Riazan's Pitelinskii district. [4]

The Pitelinskii Uprising

Pitelinskii district is located about one hundred miles due east of the city of Riazan, which in turn is located 125 miles southeast of Moscow. In 1929, Riazan province (guberniia) had a population of almost two million people. In 1930, the province became a county (okrug) within the newly formed Moscow region (oblast'). Riazan county was subdivided into smaller administrative units or districts (raions). Pitelinskii district was one of the smaller of Riazan's twentyseven districts. It was about 934 square kilometers in size, with one village or rural soviet (sel'sovet) located every thirty-two square kilometers on average. [5] The district was characterized by a fairly high population density: 22,976 men and 26,593 women lived in Pitelinskii district, virtually all classified as rural inhabitants, rather than migrant workers or town dwellers. [6]

From January, the relationship between collectivizers and the local peasantry in Pitelinskii district was tense as events moved relentlessly toward a violent confrontation. On 22 February, peasants from across the Pitelinskii district began to gather on the few narrow streets of the village of Veriaevo, Early in the day, rumors circulated to the effect that the collectivization brigade and the sel'sovet were "gathering cattle to slaughter and ship to Moscow." [7] Over the course of the day, more and more peasants filled the village streets. One version of events later claimed that brigade members had seized cattle to be redistributed to poor peasants. The gathered cattle escaped, and when the brigade members went chasing after the beasts a crowd gathered to watch the spectacle. [8] A second version of events claimed that the problems in Veriaevo occurred due to the "tactless conduct" of the plenipotentiaries involved in collectivization work. Furthermore, the unrest did not involve cattle, but rather the coll ection of seed grain. Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that the brigade and sel'sovet members were indeed "tactless." They went from door to door in the villages of the district and emptied the barns, most belonging to "middle" peasants, of all remaining grain. [9] Thirty of these middle peasants were then fined for not contributing to the grain reserve collection. Brigade members and sel'sovet officials combed the homes of villagers in their relentless search for hidden grain, even breaking open the locked trunks in which peasant families kept their most treasured possessions. The collectivizers seized not only seed grain reserved for the next planting, but baked bread which they often took by force. When women resisted, the brigade members dragged them around by their braids., [10] According to an OGPU report, the local sel'sovet told peasants that they had twenty-four hours to turn over their grain. Those who failed to do so were subject to fines and searches. Locks were broken on storehouses wh ich were then "picked clean" (vygrebalo vse do chista). The report went on to note that livestock was collectivized without adequate preparation, and with no thought given to shelter or fodder. Moreover, during dekulakization, a significant number of middle peasants and the families of Red Army soldiers (sectors of the rural population who should officially have been safe from seizure) were stripped of virtually everything and left standing quite literally in their underclothes. [11]

By 22 February, the villagers of Veriaevo had had enough, and chased the collectivizers out of the village. The collectivizers ran toward the neighboring village of Grid mo. But the peasants of Veriaevo rang the church bells to alert their Gridino neighbors, leading to the gathering of a massive crowd in Gridino as well. Part of the Veriaevo crowd chased after the fleeing collectivizers, while the remaining villagers destroyed the barn in which the confiscated seed grain had been stored. The crowd then broke the windows at the local sel'sovet and smashed whatever they could find in the building. They seized property which had been stripped from peasants labeled as kulaks and dispossessed, returning it to its owners. The crowd then proceeded to beat the sel'sovet chairman and the wife of a party member for good measure. The disturbance lasted until five or six in the evening.

Meanwhile, in the village of Gridino, the church bells summoned a crowd twice the size of the one gathered in Veriaevo. The crowd beat one brigade member severely and chased the remaining members of the collectivization brigade on to the village of Pavlovka. Both villages settled down toward evening. But throughout the night, small groups of local peasants patrolled Veriaevo. In fact, for days the peasants of Veriaevo staffed checkpoints and barricades and refused to allow officials into the village until they had agreed to address the issues of the violations, excesses, and scandalous behavior (bezobrazie) of the brigade and sel'sovet members. Whenever officials approached the village, the church bells in Veriaevo rang our and the peasants of Gridino came running., [12] Peasants in the surrounding villages expressed their solidarity with Veriaevo and Gridino. Already on the evening of 22 February, for example, in the village of Andreevka located about 5 miles from Gridino, a crowd marched through the village holding a black flag., [13]

With rebellion threatening the entire district, an armed detachment to deal with the unrest was formed in the neighboring district of Sasovo, comprised of members of the railway security forces and the Sasovo militia. The force was dispatched to Pitelinskii district under the leadership of the secretary of the district party committee, Vasil'chenko, and the chairman of the district soviet executive committee, Subbotin. On the morning of the 23rd, the detachment arrived in Veriaevo, which was calm. Within moments of the detachment's arrival, however, a crowd of women gathered. When three of the officers decided to look for the local cooperative store to find food, the women blocked their path. The officers responded by firing five shots into the air. With that, the church bells rang out, and a part of the crowd rushed toward the shots. The remaining peasants demanded that the detachment lay down its weapons or leave the village immediately. The secretary of the party committee and the chairman of the district soviet executive committee took fright and quickly retreated to Gridino. In Gridino, the bells had already summoned a crowd which attempted to detain the retreating officials, stopping their horses and throwing sticks at them. The detachment then withdrew to the district center of Pitelino. In response to the bells of the villages of Veriaevo and Gridino, a crowd of several thousand peasants coalesced in Veriaevo from at least ten surrounding villages, including Maleevka, Andreevka, Ferm, Mikhailovka, Dmitrievka, Pavlovka, Seniukhino, and Lubonos. According to an OGPU report, the Veriaevo priest had played an active role in the unrest, shouting, "stand up for the orthodox faith!" from the church steps., [14] Unfortunately the documents do not detail how this enormous crowd was dispersed, although more troops were dispatched and stationed in Pitelino. The OGPU sent 150 specially trained officers to the area. [15]

On 23 February, at 11 p.m, villagers called a general meeting in Gridino which was attended by more than three hundred people, mainly women. At the meeting, the women demanded that the chairman of the district soviet executive committee Subbotin, and his assistants, Ol'khin and Kosyrev, be put on trial in the next forty-eight hours. [16] The women threatened to hang these officials on meat hooks if they fell into their hands. They also demanded the return of their recently socialized grain reserves, noting that the grain was simply rotting in its current storage conditions. At the end of the meeting, the villagers resolved to elect a new sel'sovet immediately and to launch an investigation into the excesses of the collectivization drive., [17] It is worth noting that the villagers themselves recognized the pivotal role of the sel'sovet and sought reelections in order to promote and protect their interests.

For the next few days, the villagers set about undoing collectivization. On the night of 23 February, in the village of Ferm, a group of women warned the former head of the district soviet executive committee that they intended to take back their grain reserves. At midnight, a crowd of one hundred strong, including peasants from the neighboring villages of Rusanovka and Sukhusha, arrived to seize the grain reserves. At the same time, in the village of Stanishche, a crowd of women destroyed the communal holding pen for collectivized cattle and beat the local agronomist, while in the village of Obukhova, peasants rallied to prevent the dispossession and dekulakization of one of their neighbors., [18]

On 24 February, in the village of Pet, a crowd of over four hundred peasants repossessed one hundred dairy cows, redistributing them to their former owners along with 130 out of 180 confiscated horses., [19] The crowd went to the sel'sovet and asked that the grain reserves be removed from the church, which was being used to store the collectivized grain. [20] In the same village, at 11:00 a.m. on 26 February, there was a meeting of poor peasants. Seventy women gathered from the villages of Veriaevo, Stanishche, Kamenka, and Gogolka and stormed the meeting, demanding that the church be reopened and grain reserves redistributed. The women were persuaded to disperse, but vowed that they would "return in the morning to take the grain reserves by force and settle up with the members of the collectivization brigade.,, [21]

On the morning of 25 February, the Gridino peasants looted the home of the collective farm chairman Kosyrev whom they had already demanded be put on trial for his part in the excesses. [22] On the same day, a group of women in the village of Nesterovo took back the cows which had been taken from kulak families and returned them. To emphasize their point, they broke a window at the home of a sel'sovet member. [23] The women of Znamenko also reclaimed confiscated cattle, [24] while the village schoolchildren tore up posters and portraits of soviet leaders. [25] According to an OGPU report, on the night of 25 February, a group "kulaks" from Gridino, Vyskoe, Veriaevo, Pavlovka, Rusalovka, and Nesterovo supposedly met secretly to plan an uprising. At this illegal meeting, villagers called for the destruction of the sel'sovet, the redistribution of the seed grain, and the reinstatement of voting rights for all peasants. According to the report, the group also called for a slaughter of local and visiting soviet and party workers. [26]

At noon on 26 February in the village of Potap'ev, a group of women gathered near the cooperative store. Armed with fence posts, they headed to the sel'sovet, where they demanded the return of their grain reserves. Brigade workers convinced the crowd to disperse. On 27 February, the unrest turned deadly. OGPU officers arrived in Potap'ev to investigate and root out the "anti-soviet elements" allegedly behind the unrest. Upon discovering that the OGPU had arrived, the church bell was sounded and peasants thronged to the se1'sovet where the OGPU force was preparing its investigation. The crowd dispersed when the agents fired into the air, but quickly reconvened. At this point, the OGPU agents fired into the crowd, wounding one man and killing a woman. [27] The bells rang out once more and the crowd then swelled with peasants from the surrounding villages armed with clubs. A platoon arrived and ordered the crowd to disperse but to no avail. The platoon was ordered to divide the crowd in half. There was a struggl e, but when the platoon fired into the air, the crowd dispersed. In the confusion, another peasant was killed and another wounded. On the same day, OGPU agents were forced out of the villages of Vysokoe and Znamenko. [28]

For days, peasants milled about the village streets in the February cold. In Veriaevo, the crowd called out: "We welcome soviet power without collective farms, grain collections, and local communists." [29] It was not until March that the regime began to gain the upper hand on events, instituting a repressive clampdown on the district. In all, 333 people were arrested in connection with the Pitelinskii uprising. Of this number, 247 were recorded as middle peasants and nine as poor peasants, suggesting a significant amount of solidarity across "class lines" in the village. [30] The aftershocks of the uprising continued through March, as the OGPU asked for reinforcements in the area. On 21 March, in Pitelino village, the poor peasants demanded immediate monetary payment for work done on the collective farm, a free share of the harvest, the opening of churches, and the return of their local priest who had been arrested by the OGPU. The report claimed that "in the evenings the whole population gathers to talk abo ut the past and about collective farm life." [31] And in every district, rumors swirled about claiming that on Holy Thursday (velikii chetverg, na strastnoi nedele) there would again be an uprising like the February rebellion. March was also marked by repeated attempts on the part of the Pitelinskii peasants to prevent the deportation of kulaks from their district. [32]

At the same time, the unrest in Pitelinskii contributed to a massive exodus from the collective farms. The exodus was more pronounced in Pitelinskii district than in any other district in the county. [33] In a report of 20 February, Pitelinskii district was said to be one hundred percent collectivized. [34] Yet by April, the percent of collectivized farms in Pitelinskii had fallen to six. [35] The OGPU complained incessantly about the negative impact of the Pitelinskii uprising on the surrounding districts where it had created a "tense" mood among the peasants and empowered the perceived enemies of collectivization, supporting their hope that "soon soviet power will fall." [36]

Through April and May, struggles raged over the designation of collective farm land. There were bitter clashes between those few peasants who remained on the collective farms and the rest of the peasantry. In Veriaevo on 20 May, the collective farm member A.P. Klimov was approached by a relative, I.V. Klimov, who said to him, "You took the best land from us, land on which we had already planted millet. You left us without kasha. We will not forget this. It would be better for you to leave the collective farm. Others will follow you." [37]

In June 1930, OCPU reports told of a "grain crisis" in the district. [38] A report of 22 June stated that "a whole host of villages" in Pitelinskii district, among them Veriaevo and Pet, "are experiencing a massive shortage of grain. Peasants are going to the sel'sovet and begging for bread, even if just to feed their children." On 3 June, the peasants of Stanishche expected that the peasants of Veriaevo would raid the starch factory in Pet. The report went on to predict that peasants would soon begin to take back their grain from the collection points. [39]

Local officials were scapegoated for the course of events in Pitelinskii district. At a May 1930 trial of those accused of using excessive or illegal force in the course of collectivization, the chairman of the district soviet executive committee, Subbotin, received a sentence of five years in a corrective labor camp; his assistant Ol'kin, the people's court judge (narsud) Rodin, and the head the district OGPU, Iurkov, received three years; the district party committee secretary, Vasil'chenko, received a sentence of six months hard labour; and the chairman of the Veriaevo sel'sovet, Aleshin, and several other local level Veriaevo officials were fired. [40]

The Official Story of the Pitelinskii Uprising

Based on the OGPU reports and telegrams sent from the troubled districts in the heady days of the February rebellion, a portrait emerges of a fairly spontaneous peasant rebellion that spread like a fire from village to village. The reports suggest that the rebellion was caused by the "tactless behavior" of those responsible for collectivizing agriculture in the district and that the rebellion was supported and engaged in by almost all of the region's peasants. Support crossed class lines and was rooted in the desire, on the part of the local peasantry, to address the "excesses" of the collectivizers and to protect their political and economic interests.

A slightly different story, one that appeared nowhere in the OGPU reports, surfaced at a late February meeting of Riazan district party secretaries. The secretary of the Pitelinskii district party committee blamed the agitation in Veriaevo on a former deputy to the tsarist state duma who had a "two story house" and who, in fact, the secretary claimed, was such a large landholder that he was practically the equivalent of a noble landowner (pomeshchik). This former deputy supposedly conducted agitation among the peasants after being dekulakized. According to the district party secretary, the trouble began when loyal poor peasants showed local officials that there was grain buried in the forest. When the grain was brought to the grain collection point, the wealthy peasant who had hidden it demanded that it be returned. When it was not returned, the peasant began to spread rumors that there would be house searches for grain. Spurred on by the rumors, peasants seized the expropriated horses of the dekulakized and returned them to their former owners. [41] By retelling the story in this way the district party secretary downplayed the events in Pitelino, blaming them all on acceptable, traditional enemies--the "pomeshchik" and the "kulak"--when in fact the uprising involved almost all of the inhabitants of the unruly villages. What is interesting here is the way in which history was being rewritten practically as it happened. In fact, by the time the report on the Pitelinskii uprising reached the center, kulaks were blamed entirely for the unrest. [42]

Another account of the riot was written in 1957 by A.N. Ianin, a former party worker, who witnessed the events in the district. While Ianin wrote of a rebellion which he claimed occurred in early March, his recollection was likely a kind of stylized montage of the February events. His account is an interesting and problematic view of the events. Although it was written twenty-seven years after the uprising, Ianin's account is significant precisely because it captures the essence of the official Stalinist depiction of peasants and peasant rebellion.

Ianin claimed that the trouble began when the secretary of the Pitelinskii district party committee was replaced by one Fediaev "who was considered a talentless worker even in the volost' (district)." According to Ianin's recollection, the new chairman of the district soviet executive committee was a "mediocre" member of the local police, one Subbotin, who had been transferred to Pitelino from Shatsk--in other words, both incompetent and an outsider. And the volost worker Ol'kin, "a man little acquainted with agriculture," was named the chief of the district land department (RAIZO). [43] This "troika"

began to throw its weight around [khoziainichat'] in Pitelinskii district. Without any preparatory work among the population [the troika] began to lead wholesale collectivization there, where they did not permit a common meeting ground, embittered the population, and provoked an open uprising against Soviet power." [44]

Ianin maintained that the dissatisfaction which the troika produced in the population was further exploited by a group of "conspirators" consisting of the "kulak" Os'kin, "who was a former member of the tsarist state duma;" [45] the "kulaks" Papkin and Miagkov; the local priest from Veriaevo; a white guard officer and former "emissary of Antonov" who was hiding to avoid persecution; and "some kind of 'woman-kulak' (zhenshchina-kulachka) with a criminal past." [46] This list of the guilty implicated in the events at Pitelinskii district offered a virtual catalogue of recognizable and acceptable enemies of the Soviet state. Ianin left no stone unturned as he unmasked those behind the extraordinary events: political-economic enemies (the kulaks); political-historic enemies (white guards and emissaries of Antonov all rolled into a unique hybrid); former tsarist officials (members of the tsarist duma); religious enemies (the local priest); wayward women; recidivist criminals; and gypsies. Ianin made a point of men tioning that one of the villages was a "gypsy village." [47] Further, demonstrating a literary flair with just a hint of the supernatural, Ianin added a host of more traditional characters to the mix:

In these villages there appeared mysterious wanderers (stranniki), informants (informatory), soothsayers (predskazateli) spouting the most unimaginable nonsense (nesusvetnaia chepukha), spreading wild rumours, gossip (spletni) that women and children would be socialized.... [48]

According to Ianin, February was marked by "rabid" agitation among the population against the collective farm and against collectivization in general.

Ianin dated the Pitelinskii riot as taking place at the beginning of March. According to Ianin, a crowd of two or three thousand peasants gathered from eleven villages. The crowd was made up "mostly of women," armed with clubs, axes, pitchforks, and firearms and carrying icons and banners. Drawn by the ringing of the church bells of Veriaevo, the women walked to Gridino singing "God save the Tsar" (Bozhe, tsaria khrani). In Gridino, the size of the crowd grew "at lightening speed" as it prepared to march on Pitelino to demand the "freeing of the arrested priests." Ianin adds that "in fact" the crowd intended to capture and take over the district center and commit a "pogrom," exterminate (istrebit') communists, and slaughter (perebit') "all of the soviet workers it despised." [49]

According to Ianin, the procession and the riotous demonstrators were led by a "woman-kulak" (zhenshchina-kulachka):

From one pocket of the skirt of this Pitelinskaia Alena-bogatyr stuck out a pistol, from the other pocket, another pistol; in her waistband, bullets, like the most authentic bandit-robber. [50]

This mythical woman does not appear in any of the OGPU reports. But she is a fascinating character: a relic of the past, the untamed women of the Soviet 1920s who was tamed in both fiction and reality by Ianin's time. [51] There is certainly a mocking tone in Ianin's prose as he recalls the masculine role of this "Alena-bogatyr" of Pitelinksii district, the bogatyr being the male hero of early Russian folklore.

In Ianin's account, a local police constable (militsioner) and an agronomist from the district went to meet the crowd. They were met with cries of "Beat them!" Further, he noted:

And after this, the dense striking of stakes was heard, the crash of craniums, and the militsioner and agronomist were no more. They were killed by the mutineers, who continued on their way to sweep away all that they hated in their path. [52]

Ianin writes that the mutineers intended to surround Pitelino and take it by storm, but they were confronted by a detachment of three hundred Red Army soldiers from Sasovo led by the chairman of the county soviet executive committee, Shtrodakh, and the secretary of the county party committee, Gilinskii. According to Ianin, Shtrodakh "rudely" asked the crowd, with his revolver in hand:

"Why are you rioting (buntuete)? You don't like the collective farms?" To which members of the crowd responded with, "And you come here with your gun to terrify us and drag us into the collective? ... (sic) We won't go! ... (sic) Down with the collective farm! Down with the kommuna!....

In Ianin's account, the Alena-bogatyr then began to taunt Shtrodakh:

"Here is your collective farm! Have a look!" the woman-kulak-mutineer declared impudently and without shame, lording it over everyone, [and] suddenly raising her skirt showing Shtrodakh her naked body amidst an explosion of laughter and mocking whoops from the crowd of like-minded villagers. Shtrodakh could not control himself in the face of her impudence and shamelessness, and he shot his revolver at the mutineer who was insulting him and killed her. [53]

This action inflamed the crowd. Only repeated volleys from the detachment finally dispersed the crowd which then attacked the collective farm, taking back grain and cattle and destroying account books. "Three collective farm chairmen and several collective farm members, communists, and komsomol members were killed." [54] If Shtrodakh did indeed shoot and kill a peasant woman engaged in a traditionally effective, peaceful, harmless, and age-old tactic of protest, the "moral" violation of the peasant community by outsiders was even further reinforced by his actions.

Ianin's account, written almost thirty years after the Pitelino events, continued the reconstruction of the Pitelinskii rebellion already initiated at the February meeting of the district party secretaries. With graphic gusto, he detailed the acceptable explanations for a (in his eyes) gratuitously violent peasant revolt. He depicted a backward, ignorant peasant mass easily led astray by outside agitators and the archetypal enemies of Soviet power: backward and untamed peasant women; over-zealous and corrupt local officials, the scapegoats portrayed as dizzy with success; kulaks and tsarist remnants. But is there more behind and beyond the official version of events? Do the events at Pitelino contribute something to our understanding of the Soviet countryside at the time of the great break? The issues involved range from the role of rumor and tradition to the particular involvement of established village officials, perhaps the key element in explaining the unusual extent of rebellion.

Understanding Pitelinskii

From 1928 to the fall of 1929, a crisis situation had developed in Riazan. The crisis was rooted in forced grain requisitioning and grain shortages as well as increasingly heated and united peasant opposition to state grain, tax, and rationing policies. In May 1929, the head of the county OGPU, Remizov, conducted an "emergency tour" of Riazan. He reported that there was a reawakening of kulak and religious counterrevolution in the countryside. He noted that peasant protest, ostensibly over the closing of churches and usually involving significant numbers of women and sel'sovet members, inevitably developed into heated criticism of state policy. At these gatherings, peasants complained repeatedly about the shortage of bread, high taxes, and the export of grain. Protest often resulted in demands for the "communists" to leave the village. [55]

The OGPU reports claim that poor peasants feared that state policy would lead to starvation and as a consequence had little faith in the regime. [56] The tax policy that was supposed to boost and engender class war in the countryside in the previous two years had not been successful. [57] It would have been more palatable to the center if the OGPU had discovered that opposition in the countryside was coming only from wealthy peasants and especially from the regime's ideological scapegoat, the kulak. Yet the reports quite candidly reflect the degree to which the countryside was still a place of complex and local loyalties and conflicts. One report noted that even though the poor in the village were "barbarically exploited" by the kulak, they continued to support and respect wealthy peasants. [58] The Riazan peasantry was not prepared economically or ideologically for the shift to collectivized agriculture. Although there were clearly tensions and social divisions in the village, these differences were submerge d in the face of a greater threat from the outside. [59]

In Riazan, peasants resisted collectivization in a myriad of ways that were similar to peasant methods elsewhere. [60] Families initiated fictional partitions of land and property. [61] They slaughtered their livestock. In early January, in Pitelinskii district, for example, there was a mass slaughter of small livestock such as sheep and younger animals. The local peasants were reported to say: "We'll go to the collective farm but without our livestock. It's all the same. We die of hunger." [62] Fearing they would be labeled kulaks, people also fled their homes and villages. [63] There were 150 such cases recorded by the OGPU by the end of February 1930. [64] A number of Riazan peasants even engaged in a hunger strike to protest collectivization. [65] Women refused to let the members of the collectivization brigades talk about the collectivization process. [66] Peasants spoke of the arrival of the collective farm as the coming of the Antichrist where all would be branded with the mark of the devil. [67] There were acts of terrorism, arson, and beatings of brigade and collective farm members. [68] Between 1 February and 14 March, there were twenty-six registered cases of "terrorist acts" in Riazan. [69] Threats and calls to action lamenting the fate of the peasant were glued to fences and walls. [70] These anonymous writings called for a return to the "old life" [71] and threatened those "who drink the blood of the peasant." [72] The OGPU knew of at least 36 such postings in February and early March. [73] There was also mass unrest, usually consisting of crowds of one hundred to one thousand peasants which gathered to harass the collectivization brigades and to undo collectivization. [74] There were 34 recorded occurrences of such unrest in Riazan in February and the first half of March. [75] Typically, during "mass unrest," women reclaimed collectivized cattle and redistributed them to their original owners. And when, at the end of February, the collective farms were declared "established," women refused to let t he collectivized horses plow the fields. But by the end of February, peasant households were already signing out of the collective farms en masse. They were further emboldened by Stalin's "Dizzy With Success" speech of 2 March 1930. [76]

The theme of peasant resistance has become prominent in discussions of collectivization. [77] The extent of this resistance and the variety of its forms are impressive. The most overtly threatening form of resistance was, of course, the violent uprising which involved hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of peasants. Yet not all peasants rebelled, raising the question not of why peasants engaged in mass rebellion but why in fact so many did not. [78] There were more than 6,350 villages in the province of Riazan, yet there were only thirty-four cases of "mass unrest" involving approximately 175 (or three percent) of Riazan villages and none was of the scale of the uprising in the Pitelinskii district. How can a rebellion like Pitelinskii be explained and what light does the explanation shed on the dynamics of peasant-state relations during the first collectivization drive?

Although official transcripts laid the blame on incompetent officials, backward women, kulaks, and other class enemies, the earliest reports of the Pitelinskii unrest, the daily svodki from the OGPU, quite accurately described a situation in which all villagers, regardless of social and economic conditions, united in their struggles against the collectivization brigade and the sel'sovet. In this regard, the unrest in Pitelinskii mirrored peasant unrest elsewhere in the Soviet Union. This was the case in regard to other features of the rebellion as well.

Rumors, for example, were immensely important in the events in Pitelinskii districts. The rumor which allegedly sparked the rebellion was that the plenipotentiaries were "gathering cattle to slaughter and ship to Moscow." The rumor suggests that peasants were aware to some degree of their colonial relationship to Moscow and actively resented it. The rumors about cattle encouraged peasants to come together in protest. Further, the rumors described by Ianin capture and encapsulate the greatest fears of both peasants and state. The peasants feared that women and children would become communal property and the state feared a "slaughter" of its representatives. Or perhaps both sides claimed that this is what they feared in order to justify extreme actions. Rumors about the role of accepted and traditional enemies and their place in the unrest began to shape the historical record by the end of February 1930.

Peasant women were at the forefront of protest in Pitelinskii just as they were across the rest of the Soviet Union during collectivization. Peasant men and women took advantage of the traditional view of women as less threatening and less politically responsible than men. Men were much more likely to be arrested for protest than women and tended to stay on the sidelines unless the women were threatened. Only then could peasant men step in on the grounds that they were defending their womenfolk. [79]

The graphic symbolism of peasant protest must have frightened the authorities, as peasants used and inverted the regime's own tactics and language. [80] Pitelinskii peasants paraded under black or white flags and defiantly challenged the regime by setting up barricades and demanding that all who entered show their documents--something that was becoming an everyday part of Soviet life. Pitelinskii peasants demanded the return of the "old ways," of tradition, the church, and the priest, explicitly rejecting the new Soviet order. The children's reaction to the posters of the great leaders further suggests that peasants knew that responsibility ran all the way to the top in the destruction of their communities. Traditional features of Soviet power became the subjects and the objects of peasant protest. The red flag parades of communist festival were replaced by the back flag of anarchy and the white flag of opposition. The requisite Soviet posters were torn from the walls and shredded by children, who like women, could not be held responsible for their actions.

What the events on Pitelino capture vividly is the high degree of solidarity among the villages of the district. Over and over the villagers worked together, uniting against the outsiders over and above any rivalries that may have existed prior to the rebellion. Village church bells constantly warned neighboring villages of danger or of collectivizing activity and brought their inhabitants rushing to confront the collectivizers. Messengers skied between villages with news of the events in Gridino and Veraievo. [81] Peasants from more than twenty villages called meetings amongst themselves, made plans, and issued demands.

There were a host of common experiences for the peasantry across the Soviet Union during the first collectivization drive. Yet violent uprisings were relatively uncommon. What exactly sparked violent unrest? The most obvious explanation would be the most commonly accepted one: the degree of excess engaged in by the collectivizers. And there was certainly much variation in the behavior of collectivization brigades. Even within Riazan itself OGPU reports lamented that the brigade in Mikhailovskii district "cries with the population" and socializes with them. [82] The brigades in Pitelino, however, violated the moral economy of the villages in the district both in a moral and economic sense. In Pitelino, peasants were pushed beyond the line of subsistence as their last grain was removed from their barns and trunks and even baked bread seized from their homes. But just as importantly the peasantry was morally violated. A brigade member raped a local woman in Malye Mochily [83] and the detachment sent by the state killed at least two Pitelino peasants. The outsiders used unjustified, traditional village punishment against local villagers like dragging women around by their braids.

The chairman of the county soviet executive committee may have shot and killed a woman for lifting her skirt. The final and perhaps most important factor was that local officials and in particular members of the sel'sovet cooperated with the brigades and participated in the excesses. It is the active and violent cooperation and participation of sel'sovet members in the excesses in Pitelino that are most important in explaining why violent rebellion occurred here. The organization that was typically of the village, the sel'sovet, turned on the village.

Sel'sovet officials accompanied the collectivizers as they went door to door taking the peasants' last seeds of grain. Peasants were incensed that it was the Sel'sovet which demanded that all grain be turned over within 24 hours. When property was destroyed and windows broken, it was the sel'sovet or homes of sel'sovet members that were targeted. Sel'sovet officials were physically attacked. What angered peasants most was that their own local government had betrayed them, when it should have protected them. The first official action recommended by the protesting peasants was the dissolution of the existing sel'sovet and its reconstitution with peasants who would better serve local interests.

Interestingly enough, the role of the sel'sovet in the Pitelinskii uprising contradicts the prevailing view of the sel'sovet during collectivization. Much of the scholarship on collectivization claims that the sel'sovet was weak and ineffectual. [84] In fact, the most repetitive feature of the OGPU reports on collectivization and peasant resistance nationwide is the constant complaint that the village soviets acted as a "brake" on the collectivization process. This "foot dragging" of the sel'sovet may very well offer a clue as to why more villages did not erupt in rebellion across the Soviet Union during the first wave of collectivization in 1929 and 1930.

In Riazan, there was one sel'sovet for every four villages. [85] Peasants interacted with the sel'sovet and certainly were keenly aware of its existence if only because it was central in the 1920s to the process of tax assessment and collection, a constant headache for all concerned. Beyond tax issues, as the regime "turned its face to the countryside" in the mid-1920s, there was an increasing realization that the social composition of the sel'sovet did not ensure that they were staffed with the most staunch supporters of the Soviet government. The regime held new elections to the sel'sovet in an attempt to ensure that village government would be made up of more reliable members. Tax and election campaigns brought the regime into closer contact with the village, forcing peasants at least to be aware of the sel'sovet and its theoretical role in the countryside.

The role of the sel'sovet in the 1920s and during the first collectivization drive is pivotal and worthy of further consideration as we attempt to refine our understanding of village and state. Despite the regime's attempts to change the composition of the sel'sovets, the majority of the sel'sovets remained "of the village"-that is, sel'sovet members were villagers themselves, had personal relationships with the peasants of the surrounding villages, and often made decisions based in custom and tradition rather than in central ordinance or instruction.

In fact much of the lower state apparatus was "suspect" as being more of the village and the region than of the state. Consider the head jailer of the Kasimovskii district, denounced in an OGPU report, who brought vodka for his prisoners, delivered notes among them on the progress of their cases, and took several home to spend nights at his house. [86] This kind of non-standardized informality of the old order was what the regime faced on the local level and what the regime believed it had to overthrow in the name of modernization, standardization, and progress. This traditional order was not always benevolent or gentle, but it was an order that existed and even developed and strengthened in the countryside in the 1920s.

Many village soviets were staffed by wealthy peasants with strong patronage networks. These individuals used their positions to protect as best they could family and circles of friends and allies. [87] Before the first collectivization drive, sel'sovet chairmen helped fellow peasants avoid grain requisitioning. In some cases, sel'sovet chairmen issued permission to village members to acquire grain "necessary for their own personal use." [88] In October 1929, a report on the grain requisitioning campaign stated: "Almost all village soviets up to this time have made no independent attempts to implement measures decreed by the Central Committee in Moscow and the Council of Peoples Commissars against the kulak section of the village; they [sel'sovets] do not use the rights granted to them." [89]

The OGPU reports are replete with laments about the "khvostism" or "backwardness" ("khvost," literally means "tail") of the local governmental structure and of the sel'sovets in particular. [90] By December 1929, OGPU reports were complaining that the "aktiv," that is those who were in theory active supporters of Soviet power such as sel'sovet chairmen, local police officers, and local party members, were speaking out against collectivization. Increasingly, members of the sei'sover refused to turn over their grain. [91] Moreover, according to the OGPU, members of the sel'sovets were sympathetic to the plight of the class enemy:

Many of the lower party and soviet organs deal poorly with the crimes of the kulak class. Inventories of property which should be done because of the willful hoarding of grain, in the majority of cases, are never realized and the property is not sold. Kulaks are given breaks and extensions. [92]

In the same report the OGPU complained that sel'sovet members supported their relatives, who were kulaks, accepted bribes in return for assistance, lowered grain requisitioning norms levied on local kulaks, and spread grain procurement obligations out among middle and poor peasants. [93] Members of the sel'sovet in the village of Vysokoe, Shatskii district, were explicit about their relationship to the countryside: "These are our people and if we apply the control figures [for grain quotas] in their entirety, then the peasants will tear us to pieces." [94] Of course the OGPU presented these examples as evidence of anti-soviet behavior when in fact most cases simply reveal the common workings and existing power structure of the pre-collectivizarion village. The examples suggest that the sel'sovets were very much of the village and as a result were in fact a serious brake on collectivization.

As late as February 1930, the OGPU complained that the majority of sel'sovets continued to deter peasants from joining the collectives and that both local party members and sel'sovet members were slaughtering their own livestock. [95] For example, six members of the Berezovskii sel'sovet refused to enter the collective farm. Two of these sel'sovet members, Voronko and Bazanov, spoke out against collectivization at every meeting, calling it "barshchina" (a direct reference to labor obligations under serfdom) and violence (nasilie). [96] Makarov, a member of the sel'sovet of the village of Velikii Studenets located in the Sasovo district, joined the collective farm but at each meeting spoke out against it, calling it a "whore house" (publichnyi dom). He urged his fellow villagers not to enter the collective farm, telling them that the collective farm meant "hunger and ruin." The OGPU agent's conclusion was that: "As a result of his activities more than half of the households in the village did not enter the col lective farm." [97]

Sel'sovet chairmen represented a voice of reason, complaining over and over that targets for collectivization and requisitioning were too high and impossible to enforce. They continued to assign quotas in customary ways, by "eater," that is by the number of members of a given household, instead of by class. [98] A 1 March report from the Riazan county prosecutor lamented that a whole host of sel'sovets "violate the class line" in this way. [99]

In fact sel'sovet chairmen were in the most difficult situation imaginable, caught in a vice between the weight of the mass of the peasantry on one hand and the weight of the regime on the other. Their position was precarious and dangerous as they were often the sole representatives of Soviet power on site, and at best torn between regime and village. On 16 March 1930, at 11:00 p.m., a meeting of the village activists was called to discuss collectivization in the village of Zabelino, Sarevskii district. Practically the whole village appeared outside the meeting. Cries of "We have no kulaks here. Sign us all out of the collective farm. Or else we will not let you out of the sel'sovet alive," rang out from the crowd of protestors. The wife of the sel'sovet chairman, perhaps taking the side of the crowd or perhaps simply fearing for her husband's life, said to him: "Let's go home, it smells like murder here." But the chairman refused to leave the scene and instead struck her. Villagers in the crowd began to yell , "Down with the collective farm! The brigade members write about us to the OGPU!" The crowd demanded the right to leave the collective farm. Finally, the chairman of the sel'sovet gave the list of those who had signed up for the collective farm to the gathered peasants. They signed out of the collective and woke all of the sleeping members of the village so they could sign out too. Among the [126] households signed up for the collective, [110] signed Out. [100] Here, the chairman of the sel'sovet attempted to serve as a state representative and enforce state policy only so far and then took it upon himself to act in a way he believed would redress the situation. His wife's graphic admonition captures the ugly and tense dangers at the village level during the first drive.

Like rural party members, the sel'sovet staff believed at this early stage that they had a voice in the general power structure of the state and that they could reason, negotiate, and act in prudent ways with impunity. The sel'sovets were pivotal during the first collectivization drive partly because of the role the regime now expected them to play. As the most basic grassroots element of the state structure, they were expected to be the hubs of collectivizing activity, and in some cases they did facilitate OGPU and brigade work. More often, however, members of the sel'sovet were a very vocal and crucial source of opposition at the village level. Disloyalty within state organs made the regime very nervous, while at the village level it empowered the peasantry.

On February 21, in the village of Nekliudovo, Kasimovskii district, a candidate member of the party, Mileshkin, together with a member of the sel'sovet , Ivantsov, asked a villager to write a positive recommendation (otzyv) for an accused kulak arrested for hostile agitation against the collective farm. Both Mileshkin and Ivantsov signed the letter and it was circulated around the village. The OGPU reported that, "Seeing the signature of the party member and a member of the sel'sovet, the majority of the peasants signed the recommendation" [101] In the village of Zabelino, the chairman of the sel'sovet signed into the collective farm himself, but advised other peasants not to sign up. He told them: "Don't sign up for the collective farm. If we don't have eighty households who want to enter the collective farm then we will be saved from it." The OGPU claimed that due to the sel'sovet chairman's actions, collective farms in the area grew very slowly. [102]

Peasants used the state's expectations against the state itself. If party and sel'sovet members were supposed to be examples, then peasants would follow the examples when it suited them. When the brigade members in one village began to insist upon full entry into the collective farm, local villagers said to them: "There you have Sedel'nikov, a party man. He is not entering the collective farm, and there is no way we are entering either." [103]

The regime underestimated the degree to which the sel'sovets were "of the village." There was massive turnover in sel'sovet membership as peasants endeavored to quit their posts or were purged as the regime scrambled to fill the sel'sovets with loyalists. The se1'sovet was a kind of bridge between peasant and state through the 1920s, a bridge that was largely dismantled during the first collectivization drive. [104]

In Pitelinskii district, however, the sel'sovet was not "of the village" and had likely been staffed by outsiders in a recent, unscheduled election, of the kind that were taking place all over the Soviet Union in late 1929 and early 1930. Members of the sel'sovet assisted the collectivization brigade and participated in the excesses. Sel'sovet members smashed locks and confiscated not only grain, but flour and even baked bread. They participated in dekulakization which took place at night without the participation of the "masses," [105] meaning without even a show of democracy. In Pitelinskii, sel'sovet members did not soften the blow of collectivization by dragging their feet or assigning grain quotas according to custom. They allied with the outsiders. This alliance was a key factor in the rebellion.


Studies of peasant unrest have identified the factors that prod peasants to rebel. James Scott has argued that peasants rebel when they are pushed beyond the line of subsistence, when the "moral economy" of the village is violated. [106] Yet many villages were pushed beyond the line of subsistence in the Soviet Union during the first collectivization drive, yet relatively few of them rebelled. While the line of subsistence criterion is crucial to explaining the rebellion in Pitelinskii, the complicity of the local sel'sovet, as it went to the aid of the detested outsiders sent in to collectivize the villages of Pitelinskii district, remains a central factor underlying the rebellion.

In the Pitelinskii district, village level officials violated the moral economy as well as pushing peasants beyond the line of subsistence. If these factors explain why the rebellion occurred, then the irony is that the regime was saved from more rebellions like the one in Pitelinskii by the one feature of the village that the OGPU complained most bitterly about--the way in which sel'sovets acted as a brake on the collectivization process by refusing to cooperate, by allowing peasants to avoid the collectives, by helping wealthy peasants to disguise their wealth, by dividing grain requisitioning demands by "eater" as opposed to class, by providing false documents, and by accepting any kind of excuses to alleviate state policies. These tactics stopped peasants from taking to the street and engaging in open confrontation with armed forces. Such sel'sovet members were weeded out over time as the regime gained a stranglehold on the countryside, but at this crucial juncture they may very well have saved the soviet regime by softening the collectivization onslaught. The resistance of the sel'sovets prevented a total shattering of the moral economy of the peasant. The foot dragging village soviets held their villages together but ironically may have sacrificed them to the state and to the collective farm in the long term.

It was a tribute to the effectiveness of the sel'sovet that so many villages did not erupt into rebellion. Many sel'sovet members tried to continue to moderate between peasant and state while the state tried through repeated and unscheduled elections to make them reliable conduits of state power. Only then would the state's hold on the peasantry be assured. The behaviour of the sel'sovety drove home to the regime the degree to which the state needed to restructure and strengthen the rural administration if it was going to capture the peasantry. The first collectivization drive was the climax of the first stage of a process already engaged by the policies of high taxation and grain requisitioning. As one village priest astutely articulated to his flock: "They have dragged you into a bag. All they have to do is tie the knot." [107]


(1.) Quotation is from Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Riazanskai oblasti (further, GARO), f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, 1.295 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 20 February 1930). See also 1.251 (OGPU Spetssvodka, 14 February 1930); and 1.281 (OGPU, Telegrams, 4-21 February 1930).

(2.) For information on the recruitment drive and collectivization in general see Lynne Viola, The Best Sons of the Fatherland: Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet Collectivization (New York, 1987).

(3.) For more on Bauman and his attitude to collectivization in Riazan, see R.W. Davies, The Socialist Offensive. The Collectivization of Soviet Agriculture 1929-1930 (Cambridge, MA, 1980), pp. 113, 215, 262-263; and V.P. Danilov, R.T. Manning, and L. Viola, eds., Tragediia Sovetskoi derevni: Kollektivizatsiia i raskulachivanie. Dokumenty i materialy, 1927-1939 (Moscow, 2000), vol. 2, pp. 385-7.

(4.) The rebellion was also the factual inspiration for the rebellion in Boris Mozhaev's Muzhiki i baby (Moskva, 1988)

(5.) The sel'sovet was the lowest level of the state administrative structure. The Russian word, sel'sovet, is used throughout the paper, rather than a translation, because of the key role of the sel'sovet in the argument developed here. The literal translation, "village soviet," is misleading since not every village had a sel'sovet, but the other standard translation, rural soviet, somewhat undermines the importance of the institution because it makes it sound remote and disconnected from the village.

(6.) Statisticheskii spravochnik po Riazanskomu okrugu zo. 1927-28-29 (Riazan', 1930), pp. 2-3. The male/female discrepancy can be attributed to losses in World War I and the Civil War, and to an exodus of migrant labour from the region.

(7.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, 1. 404 (OGPU, Opersvodka, 25 February 1930).

(8.) Ibid., II. 286-286 ob. (OGPU, Telegram, 23 February 1930).

(9.) Ibid., lI. 286-286 ob., 398. (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 24 February 1930). The peasantry was divided by state doctrine into poor (bednialc), middle (seredniak), and wealthy (kutak) households. Only the wealthy peasants were officially targeted for persecution and "dekulakization." In reality the labels were used fluidly to punish resistance.

(10.) Ibid., II. 403-404 (OGPU, Opersvodka No. 6, 25 February 1930). See Steven L. Hoch, Serfdom and Social Control in Russia (Chicago, 1986), p. 175, for a reference to estate workers using this same punishment against women in the days of serfdom.

(11.) FSB f. 2, op. 8, d. 40, 1. 97. Documents shown to me by Lynne Viola collected for the project Tragediia sovetskoi derevni.

(12.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 404, 406 (OGPU, Opersvodka, 25 February 1930). It is interesting to note the striking similarities as well as some of the differences between this unrest and the post-emancipation unrest explored by Daniel Field in the village of Bezdna in 1861. In a telegram from the local governor of Kazan to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the governor wrote: "Pomeshchiki and officials are not being touched, but Bezdna is surrounded by peasants on horseback, who don't allow anyone in; yesterday there were already more an 2,000 eople in Bezdna."(p. 38) In another, different and noteworthy telegram to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Kazan governor reported that: "The peasant women have been sent Out of the village."(p. 40) Daniel Field, RebeLs in the Name of the Tsar (London, 1989). As we know, women played a crucial role in resisting collectivization. See Lynne Viola, "Bab'i Bunty and Peasant Women's Protest During Collectivization," Russian Review, vol. 45, no. 1 (1986): 23-42.

(13.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, 1. 407. (OGPU, Telegram, 23 February, 1930)

(14.) FSB f. 2, op. 8, d. 40,1. 97. Documents shown to me by Lynne Viola collected for the project Tragediia sovetskoi derevni.

(15.) Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arkhiv (hereafter RGVA), f. 33987, op. 3, d. 332,1. 81. (Doklad of the commander of the Moscow okrug military forces to K.E. Voroshilov, 2 March, 1930) published in Tragediia sovetskoi derevni, p. 279.

(16.) Ol'khin was head of the RAIZO (district land department), and Kosyrev was chairman of the local collective farm.

(17.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, 1. 426 (OGPU, Telegram, 26 February 1930).

(18.) Ibid., I. 425.

(19.) Ibid., II. 426, 404-3.

(20.) Ibid., II. 425-6.

(21.) Ibid., I. 429.

(22.) Ibid., I. 98.

(23.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 426, 428 (OGPU, Telegram, 26 February 1930).

(24.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 439-440 (OGPU, Opersvodka, 3 March 1930).

(25.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, I. 429. (OGPU, Telegram, 26 February 1930).

(26.) FSB, f. 2, op. 8., d. 40, I. 98. Documents shown to me by Lynne Viola collected for the project Tragediia sovetskoi derevni. The section in italics was underlined by the OGPU.

(27.) The report added that she was the wife of a church elder, perhaps as an attempt to justify her murder.

(28.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, I. 440 (OGPU, Opersvodka, 3 March 1930). Interestingly enough, there was no further mention of this incident in the OGPU reports.

(29.) FSB f. 2, op. 8., d. 40, I. 97. Documents shown to me by Lynne Viola collected for the project Tragediia sovetskoi derevni.

(30.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, I. 441 (OGPU, Opersvodka, 3 March 1930); and 1. 486 (OGPU, Opersvodka, 9 March 1930).

(31.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, I. 887 (OGPU, Zapiski, 20 May, 1930).

(32.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 617-617 ob. (OGPU, Informsvodka, March 1930). (Quotation from Ibid., I. 887).

(33.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 342-344, 528. Peasants poured out of the collective farms, and not only in Pitelinskii district (OGPU, Informsvodka, February 1930), but in neighbouring districts as well (OGPU, Informsvodka, February 1930).

(34.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d, 5, I. 290 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 2-3 February 1930).

(35.) GARO, f. 2, op. 1, d. 66, I. 124 (Ispolkom, Statistiki, May 1930).

(36.) The OGPU feared the spread and impact of the Pitelinskii rebellion on neighbouring districts. See GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, I. 379 (OGPL1, Spetssvodka, March, 1930). About mass exodus, see II. 357-358 (OGPU, Opersvodka, 9 March 1930). About the impact of unrest in Pirelinskii and Ranenburg as important factors creating a tense mood among peasants in other areas, see I. 329 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 27 February 1930).

(37.) Ibid., I. 887.

(38.) I only found this kind of report for Pitelinskii district, suggesting it was the only district in Riazan to experience such a crisis as early as June.

(39.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 4, I. 260 (OGPU, Zapiski, 22 June, 1930).

(40.) A.N. Ianin, "Vtoroe kulatskoe vosstanie I ego likvidarsiia, "Minuvshee, vol. 4 (1988), p. 303, n. 5.

(41.) GARO, f. 2, op. 1, d. 216, II.35-36 (Protocols of the meeting of the district party committee secretaries of Riazan, 26 February 1930). An editorial note in Minuvshee claimed that there was no such Duma member in the first Duma, although there was a Nikita Grigor'evich Osichkin from Tambov in the second Duma. Ibid., pp. 298-304.

(42.) FSB, f. 2, op. 8, d. 40, 1. 87. Documents shown to me by Lynne Viola collected for the project Tragediia sovetskoi derevni.

(43.) lanin, "Vroroe kulatskoe vossranie," p. 298.

(44.) Ibid., p. 299.

(45.) See n.41 above.

(46.) Ianin, "Vtoroe kulatskoe vosstanie," p. 298.

(47.) Ibid, p. 299. For a similar example of blaming outside, traditional enemies for peasant rebellion, see E.J. Hobsbawn and Georges Rude, Captain Swing (London, 1969), pp. 239-250.

(48.) Ianin, "Vroroe kulatskoe vossranie," p. 299.

(49.) Ibid., pp. 299-300.

(50.) Ibid., p. 300.

(51.) See Thomas Lahusen, "Socialist Realism Revisited: Or the Reader's Searching Melancholy," The South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol. 90, No. 1 (winter, 1991): 102-103.

(52.) Ianin, "Vtoroe kularskoe vosstanie," p. 300.

(53.) Ibid.

(54.) Ibid., p.301.

(55.) GARO, f. 2, op. 1, d. 15, II. 53-57 (OGPLI, Letter, 18 May 1929); and f. 2, op. 1, d. 15, II. 32-36 (OGPLJ, Obzor, 21 May 1929).

(56.) Ibid., II. 31-35.

(57.) See James Hughes, Stalinism in a Russian Province (London, 1996). Hughes argues that the "social influence" policy, as he dubs it, actually worked to some degree. See especially pp. 69, 202-209.

(58.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 149, 151 (OGPU, Zapiski, 16 December 1929). There were still a few scattered reports of poor peasant support for dekulakization in February of 1930, but they were few and far between. See GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5,1. 288 (OGPU, Opersvodka, 20 February 1930).

(59.) Here I agree with Teodor Shanin, The Awkward Class (Oxford, 1972), pp. 196-197.

(60.) As the first big push for collectivization got underway, Riazan peasants engaged in types of protest which have been detailed in existing studies of collectivization. Because e catalogue of resistance has already been explored elsewhere, I touch on it only briefly here to show the degree to which the behavior of Riazan peasants fits into the common patterns of protest to collectivization, before moving on to focus on an aspect of resistance to collectivization which I think has been overlooked in the existing literature. See Lynne Viola, Peasant Rebels Under Stalin: Collectivization and the Culture of Peasant Resistance (New York, 1996); Sheila Fitzpatrick, Stalin's Peasants: Resistance and Survival in the Russian Village After Collectivization (New York, 1994); and Hughes, Stalinism.

(61.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5,1. 126 (OGPU, Obzor, 16 December 1929).

(62.) Ibid., 1. 191 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 5 January 1930).

(63.) Ibid., II. 309-310 (OGPU, Zapiski, 11 February 1930) and I. 411(OGPU, Opersvodka, 25 February 1930).

(64.) Ibid., 1.411.

(65.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 4,1. 20 (OGPU, Spetsdoneseniia, 9 February 1930).

(66.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, 1. 295 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 20 February, 1930).

(67.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5,1. 189 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 5 January 1930); GARO, f. 2, op. 1, d. ll. 74-75 (Informsvodka, 14 March 1930) and GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5,11. 341-2 and 1. 348. (Informsvodka, 14 March, 1930)

(68.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5,1. 204 (Party svodka, January, 1930), and 1. 279 (OGPU, Telegrams, 4-21 February 1930).

(69.) Ibid., 1. 568.

(70.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5,11. 475-476 (Ispolkom, Informsvodka, February 1930).

(71.) Ibid.; 1. 286 oh. (OGPU, Telegrams, 22-26 February 1930).

(72.) GARO, f. 5, op. 4, d. 4, 1. 153 (OGPU, Telegram, 13 March, 1930); GARO, f 5, op. 2, d. 5, 1. 571 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 14 March 1930); GARO, f 5, op. 2, d. 5 1. 584 OGPU, Telegram, 22 March 1930).

(73.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5,1. 568 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 14 March, 1930).

(74.) Ibid.; and GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, 11. 506-7 (OGPU, Opersvodka, 13 March, 1930).

(75.) Ibid., 1. 568 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 14 March 1930).

(76.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5,11. 562-573 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 14 March 1930).

(77.) See the works by V.P. Danilov and S.A. Krasil'nikov, eds., Spetspereselentsy v Zapadnoi Sibirii, 4 vols (Novosibirsk, 1992-1998); Davies, The Socialist Offensive; Fittzpatrick, Stalin's Peasants; Hughes, Stalinism; Viola, Best Sons; idem., Peasant Rebels; and Lynne Viola, Sergei Zhuravlev, Tracy McDonald, and Andrei Mel'nik, eds., Riazanskaia derevnia v 1929-1930 gg. Khronika golovokruzheniia. Dokumenty i materialy (Moskva, 1998).

(78.) One historian who looks at peasant response to collectivization acknowledges the challenge: "The uneven distribution of protest, the reason why riots erupt in one village and not in others, is an intractable problem." (Hughes, Stalinism, p. 94.) It is curious that one of the most rebellious villages in Hughes's study is called Riazan. It would be fascinating to discover whether or not these peasants resettled from Riazan. In fact the village of the Siberian Riazan was the headquarters for a revolt that spread to seventeen villages in just over two weeks. See Hughes, Stalinism, pp. 178-1 79.

(79.) See Viola, "Bab'i Bunty," pp. 23-42.

(80.) GARO, f. 2, op. 1, d., 1. 45. The villagers of Zakharevskii district sang to the tune of the Intenationale: "spasi, gospodi, liudi tvoi" ("save, lord, your people").

(81.) RGVA f. 33987, op. 3, d. 332,1. 81. Published in Tragediia sovetskoi derevni, p. 279.

(82.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 4, 1. 260. (OGPU, Zapiski, 22 June, 1930).

(83.) Hughes claims that rape was a common weapon in Siberia. James Hughes, Stalinism in a Russian Province (London, 1996), p. 191. There are only a few such references in the Riazan materials.

(84.) See Moshe Lewin, Russian Peasants and Soviet Power (New York, 1975); D.J. Male, Russian Peasant Organization Before Collectivization (Cambridge, 1971); Y. Taniuchi, The Village Gathering in Russia in the Mid-1920s (Birmingham, 1968). Viola observed that the sel'sovets were unreliable during the collectivization campaign. See Best Sons, pp. 21-22.

(85.) Male, Russian Peasant, p. 93.

(86.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, I. 168 (OOPU, Spetssvodka, 1 January, 1930).

(87.) GARO, f. 4, op. 3, d. 11, II. 258-262 (OGPU, Spectssvodka, 28 June 1929); GARO, f. 4, op. 3, d. 11, II. 114-117 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 7 August, 1929).

(88.) Ibid., I. 108.

(89.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, I. 57 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 25 October 1929).

(90.) GARO, f. 2, op. 1, d. 216, II. 35-36 (Protocols of the meeting of the party district committee secretaries of Riazan, 26-27 February 1930); GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 393-4 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, No. 7/7, 24 February 1930); ibid., II. 545-555.

(91.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 80-83 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 26 November 1929).

(92.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, 1. 10 (OGPU, Obzor, August-December 1929).

(93.) Ibid.; and GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 162-168 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 1 January 1930). See also the bizarre letter from a worker in Baku in GARO, f.. 2, op. 1, d. 306,11.301-301 ob., about the "unlawful behavior of his family village's sel'sovet chairman who slaughtered his animals before entering the collective farm and warned his brother to sell his horse quickly because 'no matter what, they would be dragged into the collective farm.

(94.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, I. 162 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 1 January 1930).

(95.) GARO, f. 4, op. 2, d. 5, II. 302-306 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 16 February 1930).

(96.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 392-3 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 24 February 1930).

(97.) Ibid.

(98.) The Zabelinskii sel'sovet collected oats at 10 pounds "per eater" and flax at 3 pounds per eater. The Iarnovskii sel'sovet collected grain of all kinds "by eater" (po edokam), the same from the kulaks as from the bedniaks. In both cases, the sel'sovet members implicated were tried for violating the class line. GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 434-435 ob. (Report from the Riazan county prosecutor, 1 March, 1930).

(99.) Ibid.

(100.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, I. 607 (OGPU, Opersvodka, March, 1930). See also Y. Druzhnikov, Informer 001 (New Brunswick, 1997), for an excellent illustration of the precarious position of sel'sovet chairman in the person of Pavel Morozov's father.

(101.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, II. 393-6 (OGPU, Spetssvodka, 24 February 1930). Similar examples were given for other villages and districts.

(102.) Ibid.

(103.) Ibid.

(104.) To be fair to Male, he does suggest the sel'sovet may have played this role but he does not explore the possibility. See Male, Russian Peasant Organisation, p.114.

(105.) GARO, f. 5, op. 2, d. 5, 1. 436 (Report from the Riazan county prosecutor, 1 March, 1930).

(106.) James Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant (New Haven, 1976).

(107.) GARO, f. 2, op. 1, d. 213, 1. 75. (Notes of the party information officer (partiinformator) of Erakhturskii district, T. Nekliudov to the Riazan okruzhkom. No earlier than 11 February, 1930)
COPYRIGHT 2001 Journal of Social History
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:McDonald, Tracy
Publication:Journal of Social History
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Sep 22, 2001

Related Articles
Communities of Grain: Rural Rebellion in Comparative Perspective.
Agrarian rebellion and defense of community: meaning and collective violence in late colonial and independence-era Mexico.
Peasant Metropolis: Social Identities in Moscow, 1929-1941.
Peasant Rebels Under Stalin: Collectivization and the Culture of Peasant Resistance.
Crime, Cultural Conflict, and Justice in Rural Russia, 1856-1914.
Shaping peasant political discourse during the new economic policy: the newspaper krest'ianskaia gazeta and the case of "vladimir ia".

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters