The Village and the Class War

The Village and the Class War: Anti-Kulak Campaign in Estonia 1944-49

Anu Mai Kõll
Volume: 2
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 298
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  • Book Info
    The Village and the Class War
    Book Description:

    This volume represents a significant advance in understanding post-war Baltic history. It explores what happened in rural society when a wave of persecution was launched in the Estonian countryside after the Second World War in connection with collectivization. It also answers questions about the reactions of Communist Party representatives, local councils, the farm population, the accused, and the not-yet accused.

    eISBN: 978-615-5225-51-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VIII)
  3. List of Tables and Graphs
    (pp. IX-X)
  4. List of Photographs
    (pp. XI-XII)
  5. Preface
    (pp. 1-2)
    Anu Mai Kõll
  6. Chapter 1 The Land Question in Estonia
    (pp. 3-36)

    Estonia is situated on the south-eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. Baltic German barons have dominated most of its history as rulers of the indigenous enserfed peasantry from the time of the eastern crusades in the twelfth century on. Until the late nineteenth century, local rule was feudal in character; this did not end completely until the aristocracy finally lost power through national independence and democratisation in 1919. The feudal estates as the nuclei of society belonged to differing empires and states through the political turbulence of both the medieval and modern eras. The multiethnic Russian empire was most persistent,...

  7. Chapter 2 Soviet Repression as a Special Case of State Violence
    (pp. 37-70)

    Mass violence conducted by states has been a plague of the twentieth century. Attempts to explain it have generated a large number of studies—Holocaust studies most prominently—but also studies of communist atrocities. In the case of communist countries, and the Soviet Union in particular, there has been a continuing discussion on the role of violence in the society. Some historians emphasise the totalitarian character of Soviet society and maintain that violence was its main characteristic, inherent in the state-sponsored ideology. A majority holds that violence is best understood as a crucial, but not exclusive, part of the attempt...

  8. Chapter 3 The Anti-kulak Campaign
    (pp. 71-112)

    On 23 March 1948, the village soviet in the hamlet Metsküla★ met to uncover kulaks. The village is situated at a crossroads, and the landscape is undulating and fertile. At the point where roads crossed, stood a large barn housing a creamery, where milk from the neighbouring farms was collected, with living quarters at one end. The village soviet had been created early on as a lower echelon of the township Executive Committee. Jaak K.★ was chairman of the village soviet, 58 years of age and born nearby, the owner of a small farm. He was already a veteran, having...

  9. Chapter 4 Inventing Kulaks
    (pp. 113-158)

    Leida B¹ was included on the list of kulaks already in the first round as kulaks were listed in September 1947. She was the sole adult of her household, a woman 34 years of age with two sons, ages 5 and 7. The farm was small, 24 hectares in all; it was not one of the older farms. Leida B called herself a settler; in her appeal against the kulak declaration she wrote that her family had earlier rented the farm, but had received full rights of usage in 1945.² The family had a sizable number of livestock: two horses,...

  10. Chapter 5 Participation at the Local Level
    (pp. 159-200)

    The anti-kulak campaign was in its nature specifically characteristic of Soviet society and must be understood with a reference to the Marxist theory of class struggle. Local people receiving orders to single out kulak families were supposed to apply class criteria and class analysis to the task. While this would be a difficult task for a trained social scientist, for untrained and unprepared rural residents the task must have seemed incomprehensible. Still, it was crucial that it should be carried out by them, the “people”, labelled as the poor and middle peasantry of Viljandi County. They were to be the...

  11. Chapter 6 Epilogue of March 1949
    (pp. 201-230)

    The deportations sent a shock wave through society on many levels. On one hand, an intentional message was being sent. This violent act meant that there had been enough talk; the time for discussions was ended. It also sent the signal that further resistance would not be tolerated. The dependence of the deportation squads on the kulak lists compiled in the villages and townships implicated large parts of the local council system and thus acquaintances and neighbours of the victimised families. There were local officials present at the act of deportations. They were used as guides to the targeted households,...

  12. Chapter 7 The Grammar of Terror
    (pp. 231-260)

    This local study tells the story of how the so-called kulaks were persecuted in a modestly prosperous agricultural community in Estonia after the war. The documents left by decision makers too often form the picture we get of a historical process. Where there is no freedom of expression this is practically the only accessible point of view. It is the responsibility of historians to look beyond such documents to understand what happened when decisions were implemented, affecting people’s lives.

    New aspects emerge as a consequence of the change of perspective. One of these is the openness of the anti-kulak campaign...

  13. Appendixes
    (pp. 261-272)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-280)
  15. Index
    (pp. 281-284)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-285)