New Studies in Russian and Soviet Labour History
Edited By Donald Filtzer, Wendy Z. Goldman, Gijs Kessler and Simon Pirani
Part II: Workers and Work: Coercion and Incentives
Part >> Workers and Work: Coercion and Incentives 8=6EI:G Taiga Conditions: Kulak Special Settlers, Commandants, and Soviet Industry Lynne Viola The commandant’s power was unlimited in the taiga conditions of those times. I.S. Olifier, former special settler “I remember that, when the women were working and began to cry and the tears began pouring out, [they] would sing one of the couplets from the s exile years: ‘Sick of cold barracks, sick of bed bugs, sick of working in the Urals’ forests’.” This was one of Olifier’s childhood memories from his early life as a special settler in the Urals. He was twelve years old and watched as his mother and the other women worked day and night while the commandant stalked the village on horseback, whip in hand. Olifier and his family had been forcibly expropriated and expelled from their village as part of the Communist Party’s policy of the “liquidation of the kulak as a class” which accompanied the collectivization of agriculture during the First Five-Year Plan. Carried out mainly in and , the policy, known as “dekulakization”, aimed ostensibly to eliminate what the Communist Party considered to be the rural class enemy – the “kulak”, theoretically the prosperous peasantry, but in practice all manner of peas- ants, ranging from regime critics to sources of traditional village leader- ship. The policy, in effect, was both violent and arbitrary, “decapitating” the village’s leadership, weakening authority structures, and making the village more vulnerable to the incursions of the state. Dekulakization consisted...
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