Dear Sergo [Ordzhonikidze], I'm writing you from Novosibirsk. I have driven around several
Dear Sergo [Ordzhonikidze],
I'm writing you from Novosibirsk. I have driven around
several collective farms [kolkhozes] and consider it necessary to
inform you about a few items. I was in various kolkhozes--not
productive and relatively unproductive ones, but everywhere there
was only one sight--that of a huge shortage of seed, famine, and
extreme emaciation of livestock.
In the kolkhozes which I observed I attempted to learn how
much the livestock had diminished in comparison with the years
1927-28. It turns out that kolkhoz Ziuzia has 507 milch cows at
present while there were 2000 in '28; kolkhoz Ust'-Tandovskii
collectively and individually has 203 head, earlier they had more
than 600; kolkhoz Kruglo-Ozernyi at present has 418 head of beef
cattle and 50 held by kolkhozniks, in 1928 there were 1800 head;
kolkhoz Goldoba collectively and individually has 275 head, in
1929 there were 1000 plus head, this kolkhoz now has 350 sheep,
in 1929 there were 1500. Approximately the same correlations
were found also in the kolkhozes Ol'gino and Novo-Spasski.
The raion which I visited (Barabinskii) is known for its butter
export, but even in the other raions of Western Siberia the decline
of livestock farming during this period is not much smaller.
These are facts that I myself checked, and on this basis I think
that the data in the general census recently carried out by Gosplan
significantly embellish the real picture.
The situation of the kolkhoz livestock farms is a bad one,
primarily because of lack of feed. Milk production has reached
extremely low levels of 1, 2 or 3 liters per day instead of the 5-7
liters normal for this region in a high-yield year [crossed out: "as
noted by kolkhozniks and individual farmers"]. The poor condition
of the livestock cannot be blamed on poor care or poor labor
organization since in most of the kolkhozes I visited, the situation
in terms of care and labor organization, relatively speaking, is not
bad (although it could be much better), but in any case it is im-
measurably better than in the butter-producing state farms
[sovkhozes] of the raion, which I also visited.
And so, undoubtedly, if the collectivized livestock is
sufficiently fed every year, we can increase greatly the yield of
commodity production, but this still does not remedy the situation,
in that the sovkhozes and kolkhozes will not be able to meet the
needs of the country for meat and butter in the next 2-3 years, and
I think it is now necessary, when the socialistic sector of the
villages has been strengthened, to speed up the growth of livestock
farming in the private households of the kolkhozniks and individual
farmers. The resolution of the Central Committee forbidding
collectivization of the last cow is somewhat of a plus in this regard,
but this is not the main issue. The main issue is the fact that
almost all of the kolkhoznik's livestock is contracted and removed.
This livestock consists of the last cows and last sheep. In addition,
when this livestock is contracted, the kolkhoznik and individual
farmer slaughter off the rest. As a result, in the villages where I
have observed this situation, not more than 20-30% of the
kolkhozniks have one cow each and a few sheep, but as a rule, the
kolkhoznik and individual farmer not only do not raise livestock,
but they try to get rid of or slaughter those they do own.
If this situation continues, then in my opinion, next year the
shortage of meat, leather, and fats will be greater than this year.
The regional [Party] workers firmly believe that the sovkhozes
and the com-modity farms of the kolkhozes will be able to supply
the nation already this year with the necessary production and
express the idea that private ownership of livestock by the
kolkhozniks should cease.
I think we should undertake all measures to increase private
ownership of livestock by the kolkhoznik or else there is no way
out of the present periodic shortage of products.
The second item concerns the sowing campaign. The
situation is such that there is not enough seed in the kolkhozes.
There is no way that we will be able to fulfill the plan for grain
production, and the shortfall in the krai will probably be 15-20
percent. Besides this, horses are quite emaciated, a significant
number of them have already died, and in addition, the people do
not have provisions. And so the spring planting will occur in
exceptionally tight circumstances, but I figure that with the right
or-ganization of seed distribution within the krai and among the
kolkhozes we can achieve such a level that the gross yield in 1932
will rise above not only the gross yield of last year, but even that
of the high-yield year of 1930.
How can we accomplish this? Here is the situation: all
kolkhozes have been given a plan for sowing. [crossed out: Some
areas were given state subsidies in order to carry out this plan. As
a result] some kolkhozes have enough or nearly enough seed
(including the state subsidy), but other kolkhozes have barely any
seed. Since the planting will be carried out according to plan, one
group of kolkhozes will sow all fields, but another group with less
seed will be faced with a large underfulfillment of the sowing plan.
How does this relate to crop capacity? The point is that in these
circumstances fields which may yield an extremely insignificant
harvest will be sown in the first group of kolkhozes; that is, not
only the fallow and autumn fields will be sown, but if the plan is
followed blindly even the salt-marshes, on which absolutely nothing
grows, will be sown (as was done last year); whereas fallow and
autumn fields in the second group of kolkhozes which that readied
last year and have proven to be productive will remain unsown.
In order to prevent this situation it is necessary to change the
existing plan, but no one wants to do this, even though they
understand perfectly well that it is imperative to review the plan.
The situation I discovered in the kolkhozes that I observed last year
was that at least 30% of all the sown fields were sown by the
kolkhozes at too late a date, merely to carry out the sowing plan
(this is one of the reasons for the crop failure); on the other hand,
fields known to produce a less than decent harvest were sown, also
merely to carry out the plan. This year the same episode will be
repeated if instructions on behalf of the Central Committee are not
be issued accordingly--in a time of acute seed deficiency a
significant amount of seed will be wasted on worthless land, the
sowing will occur at a time when the land is already drying out,
that is, when it is too late to sow, but the fallow and autumn fields
of the second group of kolkhozes will remain underutilized. These
conditions guarantee a meager harvest, and in some places
complete crop failure, only because a plan was given based on a
forecast of spring planting, consisting of as many favorable
qualifying indicators as possible, not considering that the fall
harvest will result in extremely unfavorable qualitative results.
And so I come to my second conclusion--that the Central
Committee give the order to all regional organizations (as soon as
possible, there is little time left before the spring planting)
depending on the conditions of each raion and kolkhoz, that the
plan be changed in such a way as to produce the best qualitative
results. For this it is imperative to conduct a review from the
standpoint of 1) sowing all prepared fields (fallow and autumn
fields) without exception; 2) redistribution of seed among the
kolkhozes in the time remaining before the planting date so that
the planting be completed within 15 days, and under no
circumstances more than 17 days; 3) and finally, that the
improvement of fallow land be stipulated for 1933.
In fulfilling these conditions, given average or especially
favorable climatic conditions, the gross yield, and consequently,
even the commodity output of bread may yield not less but even
more than in 1930, even if the sown area declines. But in addition,
I believe that in reality the sown area will not decline because last
year and the year before all agricultural agencies and Party
organizations pushed madly for quantitative indicators, the planting
season was extremely lengthy, they sowed worthless land and, as a
rule, only lands that were suitable and were sown at the correct
time were productive. If in following this course (to conceal the
actual nature of things with quantitative indicators) we
immediately start and propose to review the plan from the
standpoint of achieving the best qualitative indicators [crossed out:
results] (taking into account the seed shortage), then we can reach
the necessary results.
Third issue--the peasant's attitude.
Their attitude is utterly bad in light of the famine and the fact
that they are losing their last cows through contracting--as a result
the kolkhoznik has neither bread nor milk. I saw all this with my
own eyes and am not exaggerating. People are starving, living on
food substitutes, they grow weaker, and naturally, under such
circumstances, their mood is hostile. I have not seen such an
attitude as is now found in the villages, due to famine and the loss
of the last cows and sheep through contrac-ting, in a long time. I
will inform you of the facts that substantiate this when we meet.
Upon arriving in Moscow, I will try to see Stalin and inform him,
or if he cannot spare the time, I will write him a letter.
It seems that you told me in 1926-27 (in Morozovka), when
the opposition was making quite furious attacks on the Central
Committee that Stalin sees farther than the rest of you. This is
undoubtedly so and was substantiated during the period from 1923
on and especially since the establishment of the five-year plan. But
in order for him to see beyond everyone, one must, with absolute
objectivity, relate to him those facts which are based on reality. I
will attempt to do this upon my arrival in Moscow, and I will tell
him what I have seen with my own eyes. Maybe I am drawing
incorrect conclusions, but I acquainted myself thoroughly with the
factual situation and it seems to me that it is utterly imperative that
Stalin take up this matter. This sounds like those arguments the
German Social Democrats made in Marx's lifetime, saying, "I know
the factual situation, but let "papa" Marx draw the conclusion." I
have nothing new to say besides what I have already related, and I
will just repeat what the German Social Democrats used to say:
"Let 'papa' Stalin draw the conclusions, and I will describe the
factual situation as it is."
Take care. Feigin
19/9 April 32
At the same time I am sending you the doctor's statement on
the famine in peasant families and in turn I corroborate that I
observed a similar situation.
TO THE HEAD OF THE WESTERN SIBERIA REGIONAL BOARD OF
HEALTH Comrade TRAKMAN.
Copy to POKROV REGIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE ALL-UNION
COMMUNIST PARTY (Bosheviks), REGIONAL EXECUTIVE
COMMITTEE and RUSSIAN COMMUNIST LEAGUE
On the instructions of the Regional Committee of the All-
Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) issued to Kiselev on 24 March
1932 on the subject of finding hunger-caused illness, several
families of the Kartsovskii village soviet were observed and the
following was found: as stated by soviet chairman Comrade
Sukhanov and secretary of the First Party Organization Comrade
Medvedev, a series of written and oral statements from the
kolkhozniks of this village, that they and their families suffer from
starvation, were received.
The statements were made by the following people:
Gorokhova Mariia, Pautova Malan'ia, Rogozina Irina, Logacheva
Ustin'ia, and others. The soviet chairman, the secretary of the First
Party Organization and other communists substantiate the fact that
the kolkhozniks use animals that have died as food.
Together with the soviet chairman and other citizens I visited
the quarters of the above-mentioned kolkhozniks and also as per
my wish I observed a series of homes besides the aforementioned in
order to be convinced that the worst family cases were not chosen
as an example.
From my observation of 20 homes in first and second Karpov,
I found only in one home, that of a Red Army veteran, a relative
condition of nourishment, some flour and bread, but the rest
subsist on food substitutes. Almost in every home either children
or mothers were ill, undoubtably due to starvation, since their faces
and entire bodies were swollen.
An especially horrible picture of the following families:
1) The family of Konstantin Sidel'nikov who had gone to trade his
wife's remaining shirts, skirts, and scarves for bread. The wife lay
ill, having given birth 5 days earlier, and 4 very small children as
pale as wax with swollen cheeks sat at the filthy table like
marmots, and with spoons ate, from a common cup, hot water into
which had been added from a bottle a white liquid of questionable
taste and sour smell, which turned out to be skim milk (the result
of passing milk through a separator). Konstantin Sidel'nikov and
his wife are excellent kolkhozniks--prime workers, ex-perienced
2) IAkov Sidel'nikov has 2 children and elderly parents, both
70, living in one room, but they eat separately; that is, the elderly
obtain their own food substitutes with their savings; the son, IAkov
Sidel'nikov, with his own; they hide their food substitutes from
each other outside (I have attached examples of these food
substitutes to this memorandum). The elderly in tears ask: "Doctor,
give us death!"
3) Filipp Borodin has earned 650 work-days, has a wife and 5
children ranging from one-and-a-half to nine years of age. The
wife lies ill on the oven, 3 children sit on the oven, they are as pale
as wax with swollen faces, the one-and-a-half year old sits pale by
the window, swollen, the 9 year old lies ill on the earthen floor
covered with rags, and Filipp Borodin himself sits on a bench and
continuously smokes cigarettes made of repulsively pungent
tobacco, cries like a babe, asks death for his children. In tears he
asks Comrade Sukhanov: "Give us at least 1 kilo of potatoes, give
us at least 1 liter of milk, after all, I worked all summer and even
now I work unceasingly (now he takes care of the bulls and in the
summer he tends the grazing cows).
According the the statement by Comrade Sukhanov and the
brigadier of the kolkhoz "Red Partisan," Borodin was a non-
Borodin does not even have food substitutes for nourishment,
two days ago he and his family ate two sickly piglets thrown out of
the common farmyard. In the Borodin home there is unbelievable
filth, dampness, and stench, mixed with the smell of tobacco.
Borodin swears at the children: "The devils don't die, I wish I didn't
have to look at you!" Having objectively investigated the condition
of Borodin himself I ascertain that he (Borodin) is starting to slip
into psychosis due to starvation, which can lead to his eating his
My inspection of the series of families took place at the dinner
hour, where they use those same food substitutes which they eat
with hot water, but in several homes (2) on the table there were
gnawed bones from a sickly horse. According to the explanations
of the kolkhozniks, they themselves prepare food in the following
manner: they grind sunflower stems, flax and hemp seeds, chaff,
dreg, colza, goosefoot, and dried potato peelings, and they bake flat
cakes. Of the food substitutes listed above, the oily seeds are
nutritious, which are healthy in combined foods since they contain
vitamins, by themselves the vegetable oils do not contain vitamins
and by not com-bining them with other food products of more
equal nourishment and caloric value they are found to be toxic and
will harm the body. Based on: General Course on Hygiene by
Prof. G. V. Khotopin, p. 301-4--_.
The homes are filthy, the area around the homes is polluted
by human waste, by diarrhea caused by these substitutes. People
walk around like shadows, silent, vacant; empty homes with
boarded-up windows (about 500 homeowners have left their homes
in Karpov village for destinations unknown); one rarely sees an
animal on the street (apparently the last ones have been eaten).
In the entire village of 1000 yards I found only 2 chickens and
a rooster. Occasionally one meets an emaciated dog.
The impression is that Karpov village seems to be hit by
anbiosis (hibernation, a freeze, falling asleep).
The livestock is free to feed on thatched roofs of homes and
In reporting the above-related to the Pokrov Regional
Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks),
Regional Executive Committee, Russian Com-munist League, and to
you, as the regional health inspector and doctor of the Pokrov
region, I beg of you to undertake immediate measures to help the
starving and to notify me of the practical measures taken.
March 25, 1932 Regional health inspector--doctor--KISELEV
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank