Stalin’s collectivisation policy was designed to help out Russia’s economic situation. Stalin needed to increase his grain production for exports so as to increase vital currency influx, so that Stalin could set about his modernisation of industry. He set about with an agricultural policy to set up collective farms where a fixed percentage of produce would have to be handed over to the government. He also wanted to get rid of the Kulaks who would be very much against this idea.
Before Stalin Lenin had introduced the NEP, where farms were kept private and a fixed amount of produce had to be given to the government and any surplus produced was kept by the peasants. This encouraged the farmers to work harder so as to have more for themselves. However with Russia’s ever increasing population farmland had to be divided giving smaller and smaller farms. This is why Stalin chose to set up collective farms. The NEP was a success, and the grain production did increase, but did not reach total recovery from before the revolutions and war, it maintained a steady input though.
As was predicted the Kulaks hated the collectivisation idea and set about slaughtering their animals rather than give them up to the collectivisation, eating as much meat as they possibly could. Between 1929 and 39 over half the countries amount of cattle was slaughtered, 100 million sheep and goats were slaughtered along with 16 out of 34 million horses.
Starvation was suffered greatly throughout Russia especially in the Ukraine. Many people died each day, people became so desperate that dogs were eaten; cannibalism was even reported in some instances. It was estimated that around 15 million people died between the years of ’29 and ’33 as a result of Stalin’s collectivisation policy.
If people failed to co-operate with the new policies they were often beaten black and blue, in some instances killed. Stalin was very strict, hoping terror would make the people work. Trainloads of peasants were carted off to the icy north and deserts to labour camps, where they would be forced to work for many, many years. Many never returned.
With the collectivization people were never sure of enough food as the army had priority. It meant that the peasants owned nothing, and that food was given out regardless of amount of work, each person in a family would get an amount of bread. However the collectivisations did mean that the problem of population increase reducing farm size was solved and that now children were being given an education and things like fire stations and bridges were put into place.
We know that in the years of collectivisation grain output increased and by 1940 were back at the level as it was pre 1914. However because of the massive slaughter, cattle, sheep and horses production stayed low. Pigs however were easy to bring back up as they give birth to litters it was easier to bring back the levels of pigs.
In conclusion Stalin did manage to bring back up the grain production bringing in vital money. Stalin’s collectivisation policy had benefited Russia as a whole; however it came at a dear price. Many cattle and such farm animals were lost because farmers were unwilling to give them up to collectivisation. Meaning that farm animal production stayed low. Millions of Russians lives were also lost during this time due to starvation. Which makes us question whether or not it was worth it?