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Russia: Collectivisation enabled political transformation as much as modernisation

USSR 1917-41 Historical Analysis




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In the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic's repression, gulags, collectivisation and Five-Year Plans are beginning to tally the human toll that will always be associated with Stalin's rule.

In January 1924, the world learnt that Lenin, the founder of the Soviet State died. Around his coffin stood the members of his government who with him had carried out the communist revolution in Russia. Which of them was to take his place? It was to be the head of the Communist party Secretary. At this time, the outside world knew nothing of him. His real name was Joesph Dzhugashvili but he chose to be known as Stalin: The Man of Steel. This is the story of how this man turned Russia in to a world power.


Examines two areas of the industrial revolution in Russia - industrialization which would transform the nation's economy, and agricultural collectivization. This film considers the effects of Stalin's first five year plan on Russian life and the challenge it presented to all the nations of the free world.

This film "Victory of Collectivization" dates to 1935.

It is a Soviet documentary portraying the aftermath of the collectivization, which was begun in 1927, 8 years later. The film lauds the new methods of organization of agricultural labor – collective farms (kolkhozes), centered around the newly-created Machine-tractor-stations (see below) and shows various types of agricultural machinery in use during this period – notably the Caterpillar harvester, Fordson tractors and the first domestically-designed and manufactured Soviet tractor – the S-60. Portrayed are also the Soviet udarniks Pasha Angelina, Maria Demchenko, Konstantin Borin.

The movie ends on the results of the plenary meeting of the 2nd all-Union assembly of the agricultural workers in 1935. 0:20​ "Onwards to take agriculture by storm!"

0:35​ - 0:40​ Holt-Caterpillar harvesters (or Soviet copies). This a Soviet tractor produced at the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant between 1933 and 1937. It was based on the American Caterpillar Sixty tractor and was mostly produced for the Red Army, which used them extensively to haul artillery, as the tractor was heavily built and had a powerful engine.

0:46​ C-60 "Stalinets" Caterpillar diesel-based Soviet tractor

0:51​ Shipping the C-60 tractors by railway

0:55​ to 1:22​ Shots of the Soviet rural inhabitants (non-doctored/non-Potemkin Village-style)

1:23​ to 1:43​ People riding Fordson and Fordson-Putilovets tractors (Soviet licensed copy of the American Fordson)

2:01​ to 2:04​ - Shot of a North Caucasus village kolkhoz «  Ostrogorka/Zavety Il'icha  » in the Ostrogorka poselok (village) near Zheleznovodsk, Kinzhal (Dagger) mount in the background, before its planned demolition in 1981. Retouched or doctored shots.

2:41​ to 2:47​ Pasha (Praskovia) Angelina, the first female tractor-operator, head of the first all-female tractor platoon, and the symbol of the «  new stakhanovite worker  » of the collectivization period.

2:49​ to 2:55​ Maria Demchenko, «  zveno  » (5-people team) manager, a stakhanovite beats harvester

2:57​ to 3:10​ harvester operator and stakhanovite Konstantin Borin

3:30​ Shot of a Soviet newspaper showing some of the old spelling of the words, pre-1956 spelling reform

3:32​ Second all-Union assembly of the agricultural workers 1935

3:47​ Possibly G. Baikov, head of the «  Yangi-Turmysh  » kolkhoz of the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Republic

4:11​ to 4:13​ more Holt-Caterpillar harvesters

4:31​ «  by the end of the 5-year plan (1932) 93% of the individual farms merged to become kolkhozes. That meant success and the victory of collectivization in the country.  »


The machine tractor station (MTS) was a state enterprise for ownership and maintenance of agricultural machinery that were used in kolkhozy. Each MTS was responsible for around 40 kolkhozy. The first ever MTS was organized in the Odessa Oblast (Shevchenkivska MTS). MTSs were introduced in 1928 as a shared resource of scarce agricultural machinery and technical personnel. The main units of an MTS were tractor brigades and automobile brigades, which performed the corresponding agricultural work. It was paid with the share of the agricultural product called natural payment. Over time, MTSs became an instrument of transferring the agricultural production from kolkhozy to the sovkhozy of the state. 75,000 tractors had been supplied by MTSs to Soviet collective farms by 1932, and in 1933 the natural payment constituted about 20% of the product and continued to grow. They existed as independent inter-kolkhoz service until 1958, when the machinery was transferred to the farms, and MTS transformed into machinery service stations (Russian: ремонтно-техническая станция, РТС), which were still known under the old name for longer time. In 1972 they were further renamed into Regional Association "Selkhoztekhnika". In post-Soviet Russia some economists expressed ideas about the revival of MTSs to help small independent farmers.

The kulaks were a class of wealthy peasants who had been powerful members of their communities in the years before the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the aftermath of the communist victory the kulaks were portrayed as capitalist class enemies of the new socialist state from whom surplus grain was requisitioned. The introduction of Lenin’s New Economic Policy in 1921 saw the abandonment of forced requisitioning in favour of allowing individuals to sell their surplus for profit in return for paying high taxes. The NEP was abandoned under Stalin, who accused the kulaks of hoarding grain to exploit price rises. In response he introduced forced agricultural collectivisation, which prompted some peasants to burn their crops and barns and kill their animals rather than surrender their property to the collective farms. Angered by this active resistance to collectivisation, on 27 December 1929 Stalin called for the ‘liquidation of the kulaks as a class’ as part of an official policy of dekulakisation. By the end of the following month the Politburo had formalised Stalin’s decree and begun preparations for mass political repressions. Over the next three years kulaks were categorised into different groups, leading to millions of people being arrested, deported, or executed by the secret police, and their property confiscated. Together, collectivisation and dekulakisation were significant factors in causing the Soviet famine of 1932–33 that resulted in the deaths.

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Population statistics suppressed or hidden during the 1930s are now emerging from the archives of the former Soviet Union. Of foremost importance is the 1937 census, the results of which are now available.


States use repression to enforce obedience, but repression—especially if it is violent, massive, and indiscriminate—often incites opposition. Why does repression have such disparate effects? We address this question by studying the political legacy of Stalin’s coercive agricultural policy and collective punishment campaign in Ukraine, whichled tothe death by starvation of over three million people in 1932–34.



Describes the Pitelinskii uprising in Riazan, Russia in February 1930. Factors leading to peasant rebellion; Details of the collectivization drive in 1929-1930; Effectiveness of sel'sovet in preventing rebellion in several villages.


Why study the collectivization process once again when it was undone with the restoration of private land ownership and therefore apparently proved outdated by history? This article argues that it is precisely this reintroduction of private property which shows the proceedings of collectivization in a new light and allows fresh insights into the role of violence for social change.

Spartacus Education

Collectivization of Agriculture.

In 1926 Joseph Stalin formed an alliance with Nikolay BukharinMikhail Tomsky and Alexei Rykov, on the right of the party, who wanted an expansion of the New Economic Policy that had been introduced several years earlier. Farmers were allowed to sell food on the open market and were allowed to employ people to work for them. Those farmers who expanded the size of their farms became known as kulaks.