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The unique book about hunger in the Volga region. Review of the book: Poles of V. A. Hunger in the Volga region, 1919-1925: origin, features, consequences.


V.A. Polyakov. Hunger in the Volga region, 1919-1925: origin, features, consequences. Volgograd: Volgograd scientific publishing house, 2007. - 735 pages


The uniqueness of the book of V.A. Polyakov is caused by the fact that for the first time in a domestic historiography the hunger of the beginning of the 1920th became a subject of a special research. The subject this long time remained taboo, was suppressed. About the second (1932-1933) and the third (1946-1947) Soviet go-

fine disasters there were already researches - V.P. Danilova, I.E. Zelenina, V.F. Winters, V.V. Kondrashina, - in which is given impartial, in some way ruthless, assessment of the reasons of hunger. And about the first hunger it was bashfully held back, kept back or written casually not to mention that the true reasons usually were not specified, and the old ideologized versions about a terrible drought and consequences of world and Civil wars repeated.

And only now, more than 80 years later, there was a full-fledged research of the hungry tragedy which shook Russia and received strong between a national response. The voluminous monograph by Polyakov, the associate professor of the Volgograd State University, became result 17-letnesh laborious work of the historian. It is executed professionally. The subject historiography is perfectly written. Strikes richness of istochnikovy base most of which part is for the first time introduced for scientific use.

Russia since ancient times was the country rich. In royal times it supplied with bread a half of Europe. With coming to power of Bolsheviks the situation changed radically. The Soviet power doomed the rich country to permanent hunger strikes, the sad beginning which was put by severe famine in the Volga region which others will follow. In fact, Bolsheviks used hunger as a method of creation of socialism in the country country.

In the first part devoted to food difficulties and origin of hunger, Polyakov considered Lenin views of the system of the communistic power, bezrynochny economy and agrarian production as prerequisites of hungry disaster. From other positions he estimated the nature of socialist work with its leveling payment, but with material encouragement of the food workers withdrawing products from country masses. Convincingly showed disorder of the transport system, having allocated such essential factor what became isolation of regions up to isolation of certain areas the bans on transportations of products that aggravated starvation of the population, increased mortality for hunger. In details investigated process of the preparation and the course of the spring sowing campaign of 1921 which was called "great", but ended nedosevy, and in certain areas - a total failure. Described an arbitrariness of prodnalogovy policy which, according to it, had no differences from withdrawals of the period of a surplus-appropriation system, and therefore prodnalog, in fact, was the turned allotment. Prodnalog in total with other requisitions was much heavier than a former allotment.

At last, for the first time introduced for scientific use data on an amount of precipitation and that called into question former statements about exclusive dryness of 1921

The second part of the book covers the most tragic period, since summer of 1921 until the end of 1925. As the author convincingly shows, the help from the Soviet state, though was followed by pathos articles in newspapers about its success, it was inefficient. At the same time Bolsheviks counteracted representatives of the Russian emigrant public, trying to organize the help starving from abroad. In details peripetias of one-and-a-half-year cooperation of the Soviet authorities with the western public organizations from which the main part of the help fell on the government organization of the USA - the MACAW are considered. Materials about a contribution of Russian Orthodox Church to the organization of the help starving as donations of church values, and forcibly, through the violent confiscations which became Basic Element of godless actions of the Bolshevist mode are especially interesting.

As the author shows, solving in the fate of victims of hunger became the changes in taxation of the peasantry which took place in 1922-1924: trudguzhevy, all-civil and household taxes, trade collecting and also several natural taxes, were replaced with a unified agricultural tax with categories of productivity which established the authorities. For its payment by money peasants were forced to sell products, and then for the consumption to buy them at higher prices. In case of replacement of the tax measured in rye units, other cultures it quantitatively increased or assumed introduction of a rye, the taxpayer of bought. Devastating for the country budget became gold and grain loans, extortionate in fact monetary reform and additional collection of bread for needs of industrialization. Besides, on places everywhere entered different "otbyvochny" duties, "self-taxation" and "unauthorized taxes". All these withdrawals were aggravated by need to return seed loans. Position of the come-back refugees was especially depressing: to them the state of expense for the "help" rendered for journey to the permanent residence had to compensate. Prolonged a catastrophic situation and the fact that in the Volga region provinces, areas and the republics martial law conferring to the authorities wide powers for repressions remained or imposed.

Summing up the results of the drama research, the author draws the attention of readers that death of 6 million peasants holds a specific place in the history of Russia because it reduced by 4% total population of country, turned back growth of the general incidence in all age groups of the population and reduction of average life expectancy that weakened the country in general.

It is possible to consider that with a publication of the book of Polyakov the hunger historiography in the Soviet Russia took a complete form: three Soviet hungers - three tragic pages of the Russian history which captured tens of millions of people.

A.V. Sedoye

Ruth Davis
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