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Collectivization and Propaganda in Stalin's Soviet Union


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An interactive DBQ by Clarice Terry explores Stalin's and his use of propaganda. A chapter excerpt from Exploring History Vol IV.

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Collectivization and Propaganda in Stalin's Soviet Union

  2. 2. Ukrainian peasants of the Russian Empire photographed in 1915, pre- collectivization. In 1929, farming in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) changed forever. For centuries peasants had worked the land in the mir, overseen by village councils and religious authorities. Families would be assigned, by these authorities, to work certain strips of land. Very rarely did this system of agriculture produce more than the village needed, but each family usually had enough to survive. The Bolshevik takeover of the Soviet government, led by Vladimir Lenin, after the 1917 October Revolution precipitated the change away from the agricultural system of the mir. Long held traditions in Russia and the surrounding nations, former imperial possessions turned Soviet republics, began to fall away. The royal family had been murdered, and a centuries long system of monarchy abolished. The Bolsheviks attacked the Russian Orthodox Church, the religious tradition shared by most in the former Russian Empire, taking away its money, its buildings, its church bells, and ridiculing its clergymen. The country that had relied on its rural population to drive the economy began to focus on urbanization, industry, and a new proletarian work force. As urban industrial work became the priority for the new Soviet government, rural agricultural work became a target for scrutiny and reform. Rural agriculture was seen as a mere means to provide resources to the new industries and urban workforce, not 64
  3. 3. This Soviet propaganda poster reads “Above the Banner of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin!” In Soviet propaganda, the people are often depicted exalting the images of these four men who were credited as the architects of the Soviet Socialist system. as an equal part of the Communist project. Thus, the Soviet collectivization policy was drafted and implemented full scale in 1929. There are two major perspectives on the success of the policy and its implementation that must be considered in any study of Soviet collectivization of agriculture. The first is that of the Soviet government, led by Josef Stalin at the time of collectivization. In fact, collectivization represented a major facet of his First Five Year Plan, a plan that that laid out steps for the USSR to achieve economic success. The Soviet government saw collectivization as a way to tear down class distinctions in the countryside, to impose equality between wealthier and poorer peasants, and as a way to educate the peasants in the Communist system of production. The strips of land in the mir were replaced with large kolkhozy, where farmers shared their land, their livestock, their tools, and their new government issue tractors. 65
  4. 4. A group of peasants, pre- collectivization stands with their livestock. They are waiting to show their animals at a livestock exhibition. The second perspective is that of those who experienced collectivization the most directly; the peasants of the Soviet Union. The peasant reaction was mixed, with some seeing collectivization as an opportunity to become more educated and successful, and others seeing it as an intrusion. They felt confused about why changes were needed, why traditions needed to be forgotten and replaced. Peasants engaged in protests, attacks on government officials, and outright sabotage against the kolkhozy. The following documents will inform both perspectives, through government propaganda, statistics, and peasant accounts. The task laid out for you is the task of any historian presented with this knowledge and the following documents: come to an evidence-based conclusion about the success of collectivization. You will also speak to the larger question of the relationship between power and reality: Can power, in this case the Soviet government, create reality for the population it resides over? 66
  5. 5. THE FIRST TRACTOR BY VLADIMIR KRIKHATSKY Guiding Questions: 1. What do you notice about the image: people, objects, activities going on? 
 2. How are the peasants reacting to their new tractor? 3. From your previous observations, what do you think the painter, Krikhatsky, was trying to say about In the Soviet Union, artists were hired by the government to create content that emphasized communist principles. This genre came to be known as socialist realism. Krikhatsky was an early social realist artist who painted before the genre became highly stylized.
  6. 6. Soviet propaganda posters were common sights for Soviet citizens. This is an example of one from the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan. It reads, "Strengthen working discipline in the collective farms.” 68 Soviet Collectivization Poster: Uzbekistan, 1933 Guiding Questions 1. What are the people in red doing? How are they working? 2. What are the people in black doing? How are they working? Are they working or are they doing something else? 3. What is this image trying
  7. 7. An Excerpt from“Dizzy with Success,” by Josef Stalin This is an excerpt from the beginning of an article by Josef Stalin, the leader of the Soviet government. It was originally published in the Soviet newspaper Pravda in 1930. 69 The Soviet government's successes in the sphere of the collective-farm movement are now being spoken of by everyone. Even our enemies are forced to admit that the successes are substantial. And they really are very great. It is a fact that by February 20 of this year 50 per cent of the peasant farms throughout the U.S.S.R. had been collectivised. That means that by February 1930, we had over fulfilled the five-year plan of collectivisation by more than 100 per cent. It is a fact that on February 28 of this year the collective farms had already succeeded in stocking upwards of 36,000,000 centers, i.e., about 220,000,000 puds, seed for the spring sowing, which is more than 90 per cent of the plan. It must be admitted that the accumulation of 220,000,000 puds of seed by the collective farms alone - after the successful fulfillment of the grain-procurement plan - is a tremendous achievement. What does all this show? That a radical turn of the countryside towards socialism may be considered as already achieved. Guiding Questions: 1.What are Stalin’s claims about collectivization? What is his evidence for these claims? 2. If you read this article as
  8. 8. Statistics from the Soviet government on the pace of collectivization in the Soviet Union. GALLERY 7.1 Pace of Collectivization in the Soviet Union Guiding Questions 1.What can these statistics tell us about the success of collectivization in the USSR? 2. How do these statistics either
  9. 9. Markoff, a professor who wrote for a Paris-based journal called "The Russian Economic Bulletin," created this map of the Soviet Union in 1933 as part of an article revealing the effects of the famine that occurred between 1932 and 1933. The darker the shading, the worse the effects of the famine. Collectivization is often blamed for the famine. 71 Famine in the Soviet Union, Excerpts from article by A. Markoff, “Famine in the USSR” The « Russian Economic Bulletin 7 » has collected much information which shows indisputably that Soviet Russia is in the grip of a severe famine. This information is drawn from various sources. I. Numerous letters received from Russians in the U. R. S. S. The « Bulletin » has many such, and their genuineness cannot be disputed. They come from various regions, but they tell the same story of the raging of an unprecedented famine. They permit the fixation of the principal districts affected, and they reveal the localities where cannibalism has been the horrible consequence. A former commander of the Red Army wrote from the Northern Caucasus to relatives in France, the letter being dated May 16, in these Guiding Questions: 1. What do these documents suggest about the success of collectivization? 2. Did all people experience the effects of collectivization the same way? 3. Why would the Soviet government omit discussion of this in their public discussions about and representations of collectivization?
  10. 10. 72 Account of Collective Farms from Two Soviet Refugees, 1950 In the 1950s, Harvard University initiated a project to interview Soviet refugees who came to the United States after WWII. This is known as the Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System. The following pages present documents from this project, specifically, two interviews with former Soviet citizens. The first document is the account of a refugee who lived in Russia at the time of collectivization. The second is an account from a refugee who lived in Azerbaijan at the time of collectivization. Guiding Questions: 1. How do these accounts of collectivization differ from each other? How are they similar? 2. How do these accounts differ from the propaganda published by the Soviet government? 3. According to these accounts, was collectivization a success for the people who lived it?
  11. 11. Comment on Collectivization INTERACTIVE 7.1 Interview One: A Russian Soviet Refugee
  12. 12. Comment on collectivization INTERACTIVE 7.2 Interview: An Azeri Soviet Refugee
  13. 13. Final Task: Using the documents available, it is time for you to tell the true story of collectivization in the Soviet Union. Create a piece of “people’s propaganda,” in the socialist realist style. This can be visual, written, or in another format that best fits your strengths and the story you would like to tell about the realities of the kolkozy.
  14. 14. Where to find Clarice Terry Twitter: @clarice_terry LinkedIn: 76 In doing this project I have be impacted as both an educator and a content creator. As an educator, this project has helped me think about ways to better engage students and make them the historians. By providing students the tools, in this case the documents that inform a subject, and scaffolded questions that encourage historical thinking behaviors, students can take on that role of expert. I also began to think more about the verbs of student learning, about what students would actually do with the information they are gathering. Too often students are asked to take on heaps of content knowledge without being provided a purpose for it. This process, in the end, was a true testament to the power of project based learning–there is so much value in providing students the opportunity to create. In the process they build, as I myself did through this eBook creation project, both deep content knowledge and skills. As a content creator, I found the design process really enjoyable. From the proposal in Google Slides, to a Google Site, to the final format of the eBook I really developed a lesson that was both educational and interactive. I began to think about how things would look to the person, the student, using them and how the format would either encourage or discourage users. I see myself creating more educational content, in eBooks, on Google Sites, or on other platforms that lend themselves to high quality design and functionality. Reflection:
  15. 15. References Sources are placed in the order in which they 1. Alchevskaya with peasants of Alekseevka village. Mikhaylovskaya volost. Slavyanoserbsk uyezd. Early 20th century. File:Alchevskaya_with_peasants_of_Alekseevka_village._Mikha ylovskaya_volost._Slavyanoserbsk_uyezd.jpg. 2. Image from page 78 of “The Religion of Russia. A study of the Orthodox Church in Russia from the point of view of the Church in England” (1915). internetarchivebookimages/14597691708/. 3. Sowjetisches Propaganda-Poster 1933: Marx, Engels, Lenin und Stalin (Halte den Banner von Marx, Engels, Lenin und Stalin hoch!) |Source= [ Datei:Marx,_Engels,_Lenin,_Stalin_(1933).jpg 4. A group of peasants to the cows near the livestock pavilion Mologa county agricultural and handicraft exhibitions in 1912. File:A_group_of_peasants_to_the_cows_near_the_livestock_pa vilion_Mologa_county_agricultural_and_handicraft_exhibitions_ in_1912.JPG. 5. The First Tractor by Vladimir Krikhatsky. https:// media/ 6. "Strengthen working discipline in collective farms" – Soviet propaganda poster issued in Uzbekistan, 1933. https:// media/File: %E2%80%9CStrengthen_working_discipline_in_collective_far ms%E2%80%9D_%E2%80%93_Uzbek,_Tashkent,_1933_(Mar djani).jpg. 7. Joseph Stalin, Secretary-general of the Communist party of Soviet Union. PP/?sid=04527fcb3fe2491008a95cf7f4932297. 8. A page of the Pravda Newspaper issued on 29 May, 1919. 9. “Dizzy with Success.” Josef Stalin. a.k.harrington/dizzy.html 10. Children are digging up frozen potatoes in the field of a collective farm. Udachne village, Donec’k oblast. https:// File:Children_are_digging_up_frozen_potatoes_in_the_field_of_ a_collective_farm._Udachne_village,_Donec%E2%80%99k_obl ast._1933.jpg 11. Statistics on the Pace of Collectivization.http:// 12. Stamp of USSR 1940. File:Stamp_of_USSR_1940.jpg. 13.Soviet famine of 1932–33. A. Markoff. Areas of most disastrous famine marked with black. Collectivization_in_the_Soviet_Union#/media/ File:Famine_en_URSS_1933.jpg
  16. 16. Exploring History Vol IV University of Portland Students
 Peter Pappas, Editor
  17. 17. References Continued 14. “Famine in USSR.” A.Markoff. FamineInUssr/FamineInUssr_djvu.txt. 15. H. S. Bender Papers. Biography Project Photographs. HM4-083. Box 2 Folder 1 Photo 32. Mennonite Church USA Archives - Goshen. Goshen, Indiana. photos/mennonitechurchusa-archives/9314078845/. 16. Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System. Schedule B, Vol. 24, Case 213 (interviewer K.G.). Widener Library, Harvard University, page 29. drs:5618908$29i. 17. Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System. Schedule B, Vol. 7, Case 89 (interviewer M.L.). Widener Library, Harvard University, page 5. drs:5434480$5i. 18. Forester Family. Ivan Kulikov. wiki/File:Ivan_Kulikov_Forester_family_1909.jpg. 19. Image from page 386 of “Russia.” Dobson, George Grove, Henry M Stewart, Hugh, 1884-1934Haenen, F.https:// 14579006859/. 20. Image from page 115 of "Russia then and now, 1892-1917; my mission to Russia during the famine of 1891-1892, with data bearing upon Russia of to-day" (1917).Reeves, Francis B. (Francis Brewster). internetarchivebookimages/14597426568/. 21. Image from page 111 of "Russia then and now, 1892-1917; my mission to Russia during the famine of 1891-1892, with data bearing upon Russia of to-day" (1917). Reeves, Francis B. (Francis Brewster). internetarchivebookimages/14780926691/.
  18. 18. This eBook is a collaborative project of Peter Pappas 
 and his Fall 2016 Social Studies Methods Class 
 School of Education ~ University of Portland, Portland Ore. Graduate and undergraduate level pre-service teachers were assigned the task of developing an engaging research question, researching supportive documents and curating them into a DBQ suitable for middle or high school students. For more on this class, visit the course blog EdMethods 
 For more on this book project and work flow tap here.
 Chapters in chronological order 1. Mysterious Bronze Age Collapse by Sam Hicks 2. From Revolution to Government by Valerie Schiller 3. Imagination, Innovation & Space Exploration by Molly Pettit 4. The Real Romanovs by Kelly Marx 5. World War I: The Human Cost of Total War by Anna Harrington 6. Collectivization and Propaganda in Stalin’s Soviet Union by Clarice Terry 7. Holy Propaganda Batman! by Karina Ramirez Velazquez 8. The Nicaraguan Literacy Crusade by Scott Hearron EXPLORING HISTORY: VOL IV i Engaging questions and historic documents empower students to be the historian in the classroom.
  19. 19. Peter Pappas, editor 
 School of Education ~ University of Portland His popular blog, Copy/Paste features downloads of his instructional resources, projects and publications. Follow him at Twitter @edteck. His other multi-touch eBooks are available at here. © Peter Pappas and his students, 2016 The authors take copyright infringement seriously. If any copyright holder has been inadvertently or unintentionally overlooked, the publisher will be pleased to remove the said material from this book at the very first opportunity. ii Cover design by Anna Harrington Cover image: Timeless Books
 By Lin Kristensen from New Jersey, USA 
 [CC BY 2.] 
 via Wikimedia Commons