Last month I visited my granny. She lives in a beautiful village with an interesting name Dobryja Hory (Biešankovičy district, Vitebsk Region). As usual I inquire the granny about some events in the history of my family. It is very important for me because I want to build my family tree.
This time I was inquiring about collectivization. Everybody knew about a dark side of collectivization. It was dekulakization. But was it true that all peasants (except administrative staff) were forced to cooperate in order to create kolkhozes? Did we have examples of voluntary memberships? I read a lot that peasants didn’t want collectivization. They killed their livestock rather than give them up to a common property. And a result of collectivization was famine.
My granny hadn’t been born when “kolkhozes” were created in her native Drozdy village, Biešankovičy district. But she listened to conversations about collectivization. And she said that it depended on assets. A lot of peasants were poor (the same about my great-grandfather and his family). This people didn’t have enough food for their families and “kolkhozes” were for them as a chance for the best future.
Were they lazy? Why didn’t they work hard to have enough property, I asked. They did, my granny said. It was true that almost all peasants had the same private plots of land after the Russian Revolution of 1917 — about 40 hectares per family. However, long-term productivity of lands was different. Peasants who were close to district and provincial authorities had got best plots and were becoming wealthier.
My granny told me stories when “kulaks” created gangs to grab others before ‘dekulakization’.
I saw that there were no black or white in the history, as usual.