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Russia: 1924-1941 - The Collectivisation Of Agriculture

In GCSE History students will look at Russia in the first half of the 20th Century. One aspect studied is the collectivisation of agriculture in Russia under Stalin's rule.

Stalin decided that he would have to forcibly nationalise agriculture and food production in Russia, in order to feed the huge population, and to carry out Marx's ideas on state control and social equality. This process became one of Stalin's main achievements - the collectivisation of his country's agriculture.

Discover more about the collectivisation of farms under Stalin's rule in this quiz.

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  1. What proportion of the Soviet population lived on the land In 1928 (the year before the collectivisation programme began)?
    Russia was slower to experience the take off into an industrial society than, say, Germany, France or Great Britain. Stalin, however, was determined to reduce the agricultural labour force, and to send the surplus workers into the towns to help to implement his Five Year Plans
  2. What name was given to so-called "rich peasants", who were eliminated as a class in the course of collectivisation?
    Many peasants had done well since the freeing of the serfs in 1861 - by hard work, shrewd judgement, ambitious purchases and advantageous marriages. However, they had no place in Stalin's scheme of things, as he wanted to impose total state control over the land. The peasants were bound to resist this, and serious violence seemed likely
  3. Almost all collective farms were of one type: land and livestock were pooled, and these much larger units benefited from economics of scale, as peasants became wage labourers and no longer landowners. What was the Russian name given to this kind of farm?
    Stalin hoped that this new sort of farm would reduce production costs and lower prices. Part of the surplus could then be used to provide communal facilities like schools and clinics. Surplus employees could easily pick up jobs in the expanding towns and cities
  4. The "Chief Executive of Corrective Labour Camps" was set up to run institutions - mainly in Siberia - to punish those who resisted collectivisation. What acronym was used for this organisation?
    The densest network of these camps was along the Kolyma River in North East Siberia: an extremely remote area that enjoyed a very severe arctic climate. Being sent here was akin to a death sentence, for few of the inmates ever returned to European Russia
  5. Roughly how many prisoners were held in GULAG labour camps by 1931?
    It is difficult to estimate the numbers of prisoners, so the options above are approximate. Official Soviet figures may also be unreliable
  6. What name is given to the large Federated Republic of the Soviet Union (sometimes called the "bread basket of Europe"), which lies immediately north of the Black Sea coast and contained some of the best farmland in the USSR, as well as some of the country's key industrial installations?
    Lenin was anxious to keep this region as part of the USSR, partly for strategic reasons and partly because of its huge economic importance to the Soviet Union
  7. By which year was 98% of agricultural land collectivised?
    Famine and resistance to the collectives policy held the programme up to an extent after its initiation in 1929, but it was eventually carried out successfully
  8. Grain production was an important criterion by which to judge the success (or otherwise) of the policy. To what extent had grain production changed between 1928 (the latest pre-collectivisation year) and 1935 (when Stalin considered that he was over the worst)?
    Grain production was one of the principal barometers of agricultural success. Peasants did destroy much grain in the early stages of enforced collectivisation, but Stalin's response was savage. Yet famine, engendered partly by natural factors, partly by resistance on the part of peasants and partly by Stalin's ruthlessness, certainly played its part in slowing the rise in cereal production
  9. Stalin was keen that collective farms should benefit from Mechanical and Tractor Stations (MTSs). What was the main purpose of these?
    These stations served several farms each. Tractors and other equipment were expensive, and they also required frequent professional maintenance
  10. Stalin confided in 1944 to a foreign guest: "Collective farm policy was a terrible struggle...Ten millions...It was fearful. Four years it lasted. It was absolutely necessary..." To whom was he speaking?
    Some years after the most difficult years of collectivisation Stalin was prepared to speak frankly about the horrors of his farm policy. He and his visitor were alone - with an interpreter - enjoying a late night drink

Author: Edward Towne

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