11/1/1919 The Prodrazvyorstka: Soviet Russia steps up confiscation of food from the peasantry

The Red Army has had some successes against its enemies, but Soviet Russia’s situation is still precarious. White armies and their foreign allies threaten the Bolshevik zone from without, but a more insidious problem is the shortage of food. Much of Russia’s most productive agricultural areas are outside Soviet control, while the dislocation caused by war, revolution and now civil war has disrupted the production and distribution of food; as a result, the cities are increasingly going hungry. The urban centres are the heartland of the Bolshevik regime, so food shortages there pose a mortal threat to its survival.

The Bolsheviks have been confiscating the peasantry’s grain surpluses since last May, but now they go one step further, with Sovnarkom (the Soviet government) issuing a decree on prodrazvyorstka, or food apportionment. Instead of taking the farmers’ surpluses, food confiscation quotas are issued to each locality, with the quota to be seized from peasants whether they can afford to part with it or not. If the peasants’ own supplies of food are confiscated then they may starve, while famine may result if seed stocks are seized, but Lenin and his associates hope that the new grain levy will ensure that the cities at least remain adequately fed.

image source:

In search of an escaped Kulak, by Ivan Vladimirov (Wikipedia Commons)

3 thoughts on “11/1/1919 The Prodrazvyorstka: Soviet Russia steps up confiscation of food from the peasantry

  1. One cannot help but feel a sense of pity toward the peasant class in this period of Russian history. They led abysmal lives despite living in a period after the abolition of serfdom in 1861, forced to make continuous payments for their “freedom”. This plus the often quoted “backwardness” of Russia at the time would have further contributed to their state of affairs; substandard agricultural practices and an dilapidated railway system that failed to connect this sprawling land mass (especially after WW1).

    When Lenin and the Bolsheviks instituted “Prodrazyorstka”, I cannot feel surprised: it always felt to me that the peasants were merely useful tokens in Lenin’s larger game of chess.

    Like

    • My reading on Russian developments after the revolution suggests that the Bolsheviks always had it in for the peasantry and saw them as problematic and reactionary.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.