The Collectivization of Agriculture in Communist Eastern Europe

The Collectivization of Agriculture in Communist Eastern Europe: Comparison and Entanglements

Constantin Iordachi
Arnd Bauerkämper
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 570
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  • Book Info
    The Collectivization of Agriculture in Communist Eastern Europe
    Book Description:

    This book explores the interrelated campaigns of agricultural collectivization in the USSR and in the communist dictatorships established in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe. Despite the profound, long-term societal impact of collectivization, the subject has remained relatively underresearched. The volume combines detailed studies of collectivization in individual Eastern European states with issueoriented comparative perspectives at regional level. Based on novel primary sources, it proposes a reappraisal of the theoretical underpinnings and research agenda of studies on collectivization in Eastern Europe.The contributions provide up-to-date overviews of recent research in the field and promote new approaches to the topic, combining historical comparisons with studies of transnational transfers and entanglements.

    eISBN: 978-963-386-048-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VII)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. VIII-VIII)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. IX-X)
  5. Introduction
    • The Collectivization of Agriculture in Eastern Europe: Entanglements and Transnational Comparisons
      (pp. 3-46)
      Arnd Bauerkämper and Constantin Iordachi

      The sweeping economic and sociopolitical changes set into motion by the collapse of communist dictatorships and the end of the Cold War have significantly transformed Eastern European societies. In the last two decades, numerous scholars in various disciplines have attempted to understand the nature of these changes and assess the societal impact of Eastern European integration into European and Euro-Atlantic security and sociopolitical organizations. These research efforts have mostly focused on the transformation of legal-political systems, on mechanisms of elite (re)production, and on processes of privatization and restructuring of property relations. Much less attention has been devoted to changes in...

  6. I. The Interwar Soviet Model and its Post-1945 Application in the Newly Annexed Territories
    • Collectivization in the Soviet Union: Specificities and Modalities
      (pp. 49-78)
      Lynne Viola

      The collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union was an integral component of Stalin’s First Five-Year Plan (1928–32). Wholesale collectivization began in the winter of 1929–1930. The pivotal years in collectivization were 1930 and 1931, when the state made its greatest strides to force Soviet peasants into collective farms and to eliminate the so-calledkulaks.¹ Some 125 million individual peasant households were absorbed into around 200,000 collective farms. Thirty thousand peasants were executed askulaksand close to two million peasants were subject to expropriation and internal exile.² Collectivization was implemented mainly by urban cadres with the use...

    • The Collectivization of Agriculture in the Baltic Soviet Republics, 1944–1953
      (pp. 79-110)
      David Feest

      Two analytical questions are of outstanding importance concerning the history of the collectivization in the Baltic Soviet Republics: first, why was agriculture not collectivized immediately after the incorporation of the Baltic states into the Soviet Union in July 1940 or after the region’s reconquest in 1944; second, why was collectivization implemented so hastily in 1948–1949. These issues cannot be understood without taking into account the organizational problems Soviet leaders faced when attempting to assert dominance over the three Baltic republics, as well as the ideological vocabulary that was used to conceptualize these problems and the ways in which this...

  7. II. Land Collectivization in Central Europe
    • The Collectivization of Agriculture in Poland: Causes of Defeat
      (pp. 113-146)
      Dariusz Jarosz

      The collectivization of Polish rural society and agriculture from 1948 to 1956 has recently been the subject of numerous new studies based on sources inaccessible to researchers before 1989.¹ Thanks to these studies, we now have a better understanding of how agricultural policy was shaped and modified during the period in which production cooperatives—calledspółdzielnie produkcyjne, the Polish counterparts of Soviet collective farms—were organized. Although our understanding of peasant attitudes and resistance toward collectivization policies has advanced considerably, the attitudes and behavior of those who were subject to direct collectivization pressure still warrants additional research.

      Compared to similar...

    • Ideology and Asymmetrical Entanglements: Collectivization in the German Democratic Republic
      (pp. 147-180)
      Jens Schöne

      March 15, 1953 was just like any other Sunday in the German Democratic Republic: theFree Farmer, a weekly paper distributed by the Society of Farmers (VdgB) was published. But this particular issue focused entirely on one extraordinary event: the death of Josef Wissarionowitsch Stalin. The head of the Ministry and Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the absolute leader of the Soviet Union had died only ten days before, at the age of 74. A tangible sadness—obligatory for some, sincere for others—had settled over the entire Eastern Bloc. This heartfelt emotion was expressed...

    • Collectivization in Czechoslovakia in Comparative Perspective, 1949–1960
      (pp. 181-210)
      Jan Rychlík

      This paper provides a general survey of the agricultural collectivization process in Czechoslovakia, which took place between 1949 and 1960, in an attempt to explain the political and economical motivation behind this campaign and its long-term consequences. To fully understand the process of collectivization, it is necessary to explain property relations and economic realities in Czechoslovak agriculture prior to the beginning of the collectivization campaign, and to also explore the evolution of the socialist collectivized agriculture after 1960. Chronologically, the long and arduous process of collectivization can be divided into five main stages: the preparatory period (1945–1949); the first...

    • The Forced Collectivization of Agriculture in Hungary, 1948–1961
      (pp. 211-248)
      József Ö. Kovács

      Despite the Hungarian Communist Party’s repressive anti-peasant policies and the suppression of the 1956 Revolution, more than three quarters of the Hungarian peasantry refused to join the collective system until the forced collectivization campaign from the end of 1958 until early 1961.² Although this fact alone is important—as it involved more than 1.2 million peasants—this essay looks more closely at the social and structural factors that shaped the experience of collectivization in Hungary. Specifically, it addresses the following questions: How traumatic was the social experience of collectivization? What structural changes did it generate with respect to proprietorship, agricultural...

  8. III. Land Collectivization in Southeastern Europe
    • The Collectivization of Agriculture in Romania, 1949–1962
      (pp. 251-292)
      Constantin Iordachi and Dorin Dobrincu

      The collectivization of agriculture in Romania (1949–1962) was one of the longest and most arduous campaigns of social engineering in the countryside launched in post-1945 Eastern Europe, involving a war against the peasantry lasting more than 13 years. The length of this campaign was caused by a number of structural as well as contingent social and political factors. In 1945, Romania was the second most populous country (after Poland) in Eastern Europe, with 18 million inhabitants. Despite the relative success of the sustained efforts of industrialization conducted mostly since the mid-1930s, Romania had one of the largest agricultural sectors...

    • Collectivization in Yugoslavia: Rethinking Regional and National Interests
      (pp. 293-328)
      Melissa K. Bokovoy

      With the acceptance of individual peasant production and land ownership in 1953, the Yugoslav Communists (Communist Party of Yugoslavia, CPY) ended the long struggle for control of the countryside and the hearts and minds of the Yugoslav peasants. The CPY’s Commission for the Village admitted the party’s collectivization program had failed, and wrote to the Central Committee, “we have lost the peasantry, now they will never trust us again.” Vladimir Dedijer, Tito’s official biographer, acknowledged defeat, but argued it was a defeat of Stalinist ideology rather than a failure of the CPY’s policies. That ideology had dictated that the socialization...

    • Collectivization and Social Change in Bulgaria, 1940s–1950s
      (pp. 329-368)
      Mihail Gruev

      In September 1944, the Soviet army occupied Bulgaria, a middle-sized Balkan country with 111,000 square km of territory and a population of about seven million inhabitants (after the return of the territories formerly under Bulgarian control in Macedonia and Thrace to Yugoslavia and Greece, respectively). At that time, Bulgaria was among the most “underdeveloped” European economies with a predominantly agrarian structure.

      Thecoup d’étatof September 9, 1944, coordinated with the Soviet advance, was designed as a new coalitional government of the so-calledOtechestven front(Fatherland Front—FF), which included the dominant communists, the left wings of the Agrarian Union...

    • “Any Other Road Leads Only to the Restoration of Capitalism in the Countryside:” Land Collectivization in Albania
      (pp. 369-398)
      Örjan Sjöberg

      After splitting with Moscow in 1961, Albania’s communist party, the Albanian Party of Labor (APL),³ proclaimed that its model of socialism was unique to the Eastern Bloc. This was indeed true, at least with respect to how rural areas and agricultural production were organized. Although collectivization in its earliest phases mirrored campaigns in other Soviet satellites,⁴ the Albanian program soon took on an innovative character—or so the party claimed—which was expected to developed into a full-fledged state farming system before long. Only then, the official line suggested, socialism would be firmly established in the countryside. At this point,...

  9. IV. Axes of Differentiation:: Center and Periphery, “Class Struggle,” Social and Ethnic Cleavages
    • Collectivization as Social Practice: Historical Narratives and Competing Memories as Sources of Agency in the Collectivization Campaign in the GDR
      (pp. 401-432)
      Arnd Bauerkämper

      The transformation of agriculture and rural society in the GDR in the 1950s was initiated “from above” by the leadership of the Socialist Unity Party (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands), or SED. At the same time, however, the process was implemented, interpreted and appropriated by various regional and local actors who either rejected collectivization or adapted to it and attempted to integrate the system into their ideologies. Often these reactions overlapped as much as the modes of conduct—from compliance to outright opposition. Individual and collective agency therefore served as either social or cultural resources supporting collectivization or became barriers to the...

    • The Appropriation and Modification of the “Soviet Model” of Collectivization: The Case of Hungary
      (pp. 433-466)
      Zsuzsanna Varga

      As Cold War conflict intensified toward the end of the 1940s, the efforts to Sovietize Central and Eastern Europe were accelerated, resulting in the large-scale implementation of the Stalinist social, political, and economic model.² Despite key differences in the timing and the methods applied in each country, the supremacy of this model was not disputed until Stalin’s death.³ Although criticism of Stalinism first surfaced after his death in 1953, the actual turning point was the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in February 1956, when Khrushchev delivered his landmark speech denouncing the cult of Stalinism.⁴ The...

    • Collectivization at the Grass Roots Level: State Planning and Popular Reactions in Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, and the GDR, 1948–1960
      (pp. 467-496)
      Gregory R. Witkowski

      At the end of the Second World War, communist parties throughout Eastern Europe sought to transform the agricultural system by implementing collectivization of agricultural land. State planners and party functionaries proceeded from the notion that massive change could be engendered through the rationalization of production and the elimination of village opposition. Communist plans for the countryside centered primarily on the policy of collectivization, which sought to replace traditional village elites and apply industrial standards to agricultural production—in short, to transform the social and political relationships in the countryside. This essay analyzes the results of this planning and its implementation,...

    • Eastern European Collectivization Campaigns Compared, 1945–1962
      (pp. 497-534)
      Nigel Swain

      This contribution represents the culmination of more than three decades of research into the collectivization of agriculture in Eastern Europe and its demise.¹ It is based on my doctoral research into Hungarian collectivization, intermittent monitoring of rural issues in Hungary in the 1980s,² information about the collectivization process that emerged from research projects that I led in the 1990s investigating decollectivization in 54 Eastern European villages, and extensive reading of the secondary literature, including the recent publication by Constantin Iordachi and Dorin Dobrincu on Romania, as well as contributions to this volume.³

      In my youthful naivety I claimed many “unique”...

  10. V. Appendix
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 559-559)