Bread War

"Provide 10 percent of capital gains and capital consent to any use, at 20 percent, he becomes animated, with 50 percent positive is ready to break his head, at 100 percent, he defies all the laws of man, not at 300 per cent of the crime for which he is not dare to go, even under pain of the gallows. "

Thomas Dunning

Rarely a historian mentions today about the "bread strike" in 1927. This is an unpopular topic. After all, the NEP is considered to be an ideal future of Russia, the alternative to the ominous collectivization. Maybe he would put the country into the vanguard of the civilized world, but and would not lead to such victims, as Stalin's agricultural policy. Well, let's see how the NEP actually fed the country.

Look who's here!

For some reason, there is a perception that Nepman — is small shopkeeper. Let's think about whether it can be. In fact, during the Civil War, the authorities have failed to curb speculation. During this time, traders who have profited very well during the First World War, more rich, have adapted to the new system of government. Cheka them a little pinch, but no more than that — and the forces at the security officers were not the same, and other work enough.

And just after the war was again allowed private trade, the market flooded huge capital accumulated during both wars. Taxiing them is not small shopkeepers and large wholesalers, who had their own warehouses, mills, agents, producers, sales agents. Neither the tsarist government, nor the time they almost did not pursue the Bolshevik pursued, but failed. These wholesalers, jerks during impunity, fearlessly rushed to gamble with the state.

The state is obliged to care about the survival of the population — this requires national security. The Soviet government from the very beginning has undertaken to supply the city and partly poor peasants inexpensive bread (actually, not only bread, but in general cheap food, but we are, for clarity, let us speak only of bread). And immediately clashed on the grain market with the private trader. During the war, talked to him confiscation, and even a bullet — but the war ended.

Market functioned as Soviet Russia? The state bought grain from farmers at average prices, and cheap selling it to the public. A public procurement saddled private owner. He could always set the purchase prices slightly above the state, seize the bulk of marketable grain, and using the resulting shortage, sell it on the black market. Without profits, he did not stay in any case — and the more lack, the more profit. The private market had a material interest in the famine. Could the government to allow him such tricks? Funny question.

There are, however, in such cases the accumulated gear — throw the market a large mass of grain, to bring down the price and then buy it back. So the state will also benefit by selling bread is expensive and getting it back cheaper. But for this it must have provisions grain. A provision in Soviet Russia was not. All surpluses were exported — to buy at least the most essential industrial goods, as in the devastated country does not produce virtually nothing.

The state could not and raise procurement prices. Private grain trade consisted of two units: urban and rural, and Nepman fist. With an increase in procurement prices was obtained pumped into the pocket of the state budget rustic speculator, and if prices did not rise, the city has private owner-Nepman shot with the grain of the market, caused an artificial famine and reap huge profits. Capacity of the private market was so great that this simple mechanism of the year led to famine — with any crop, good, bad, all-time — anywhere!

And the beginning of the "bread of war."

1925: too clever by half

Can be considered as exemplary events 1925/1926 blanking of the season. This year the government has firmly decided to follow the market rules, while respecting the interests of low-power farms. It was going to force the workpiece, having bought before January 1, 70% by the State Planning Commission of bread instead of the usual 60-65%. There were several reasons:

— To deliver the goods to the European market before there will be cheap American grain and will fall;

— To increase the demand fall, thus increasing the prices for the benefit of low-power farms sell grain in the autumn for the payment of taxes;

— To reduce the autumn offer bread, reducing taxes and moving the deadline for payment for the winter to avoid the sharp fall in prices, again in the interest of low-power farms;

— To reduce the demand for spring and thus prices — again, in the interests of low-power farms and in opposition to private traders.

To ensure the blanks prepared commodity fund, and most importantly — it was decided to make every effort to keep from administrative methods. This year, everyone was promised market.

And the market has come — but not as much as expected. From the outset, things went awry. In the country, there are four categories of suppliers: the state planned, cooperative, unscheduled (ie, non-centralized state and cooperative organizations consuming regions) and private traders.

In the summer of State harvester made a mistake than once mangle the entire process. Russian grain to the first to react to the European market, it was decided in August, when the bread is not yet fully cleaned and threshed, increase purchase prices. This played into the hands of the poor do not, on the contrary, the most prosperous peasants, who had sweepers and laborers. They had to sell their bread is expensive, and because the payment of the tax for them is not a problem at the same time swept and industrial products, which delivered to the market in an amount, based on quite another buyer and the amount of money from other consumers. After that, satisfied, went out of the game.

A rather poor peasants who have received a deferral of taxes, in no hurry to take the bread, as traditionally believed autumn prices low, they had nowhere to hurry, industrial goods on sale were not observed, and the situation in the economy in September suffice. As a result, supply has fallen sharply, and prices, respectively, soared far above his plans. Export program is faltering, the offer of bread in the world market has increased, the high purchase prices threatened to do the export and did not profitable, and the government could not stand resurfaced mechanical adjustment than happily took advantage of unplanned collectors that did not have such restrictions. In some provinces, they got it for more than 40% of bread.

However, the administrative resources are far from exhausted. In November, the number of grain-producing areas began "transport war" with unscheduled loggers — were ordered to send their goods by rail to the last. And since cars have traditionally lacked the queue pushed back to the end of the harvesting campaign. Here and there you are: collectors from distant provinces stopped work, but those who get it close, began to export grain cartage — until the authorities have blocked this channel. As planned collectors still serving mainly export, the country, with quite a normal harvest, there is not enough bread. Private owner, of course, was leaked through all the limitations and rowed profit shovel.

Everything ends in January were set uniform prices paid for scheduled and unscheduled producers, and in some places they have spread and privateers.

The results of market experience were truly devastating. If the plan of the first quarter o
f blanks (July-September) was nearly executed in the second quarter instead of 376 million pounds managed to procure only 176 million, and the export of grain was delivered to the ports of almost a quarter of the required amount. The annual plan was reduced from 780 to 600 million pounds, and grain exports — from 350 to 143 million pounds. Due to a failed export program reduced the number of imported goods. All this led to the next jump in prices of manufactured goods and the increase of the "scissors" in prices of agricultural and industrial products, which hit primarily by low-power farms.

The only plus was the fact that the village remains a lot of bread, and the next procurement season was calm.

1927: "bread strike"

Even more devastating defeat suffered in the autumn of 1927 the state — and, most insulting, because of the policy. In the spring of the British authorities have taken a series of unprecedented attacks on the Soviet Union, including wrecking embassies in China and sales office in London. The Soviet government announced that the British are going to attack the Soviet Union, making London due to the world about their intentions. Fight, in general, no one was going, but … but the people-that did not know this!

The market reacted to the "military alert" so as he had: the shelves swept almost all the food, and, worse, selling grain to the state virtually ceased, and the black market prices skyrocketed. In October, the city began to hunger.

In normal states in such a situation come into special laws against speculation. In the USSR, for such cases existed 107th article of the Criminal Code. Dates on it given the ridiculous: To the absence of collusive merchants to three in his presence, but she assumed the confiscation of goods. And it began to be used en masse, while finding vast amounts of food. In January 1927, Economic Department of the OGPU report in the next bulletin:

"Ukrainian SSR. When arrests privateers in Cherkassy, Mariupol, May day, Kharkov and other regions of Ukraine identified a number of caches of bread, tucked away for speculative purposes. In Cherkassy, for example, it was found stashed 20,650 pounds. barley in Mariupol — 10,000 pounds. sunflower, PERVOMAJjSKIJj — 10,700 pounds. wheat and 3,000 pounds. sunflower, Kharkov — 1500 pounds. wheat, Pryluki — 3500 pounds. and Odessa — 1500 pounds. wheat flour …

Samara Province. Total for the province arrested 44 private hlebozagotovitelya … Repression immediately had the most beneficial effect on the provincial grain market … Particularly significant reduction in the price of wheat has a place in the market of Samara: Price to 2 rubles. 10 kopecks. dropped to 1 rub. 50 cop …

…Ural region. Due to the extreme speculation which developed on manufactured goods in the Urals region have been arrested and 70 private manufactory. Some of them have found their hidden reserves of manufacture up to 8,000 meters, and the finished dress — up to 1000 pieces. "

Only Tambov gubotdel reported: "The approximate size of the turnover in the current campaign arrested hlebozagotoviteley us determined to 15,000,000 rubles." Even with the price of the ruble and a half pounds of grain that means 10 million pounds, with gross yield of around Central Black Soil District in 450 million pounds of merchantability and, at best, no more than 20%. And that's just arrested speculators, and how much was not arrested?

The results at first turned out quite decent — prices fell, farmers have carried on grain procurement items. But then came to a standstill. The fact that grain stocks accumulated at two levels: in the cities on the caches, and in the villages, the kulaks. In urban caches security officers are well pogroms. But that does not mean that a major supplier country like that just take and give the items to the state. Corn on ssypnye items carried middle peasants, and fist, the owner of the main stocks of grain waiting favorable weather.

You've got to explain where fists were taking bread. Some part of it grown on their farms, but much more was obtained by buying grain from small farmers and rural Gesheft. What's interesting: the poor, the export of a pair of tens of tons of grain, the state found the prices are quite reasonable for themselves, while they are not satisfied with fists. In 1927, in Siberia, for example, the kulaks required higher procurement prices three times! You know what that means? This means that buyers of the village, too, did not give more pounds per ruble. And by buying grain from villagers on the cheap, they wanted to sell it at exorbitant prices to the state, as a low-power robbing the peasants, and the state budget. When leaving the city merchant market fists still not carried grain to the state ssypnye points, and stick to it with the same expectation — to wait for hunger and high prices, and they could find who sell. At the same time quietly died vnutriderevenskaya trade — the poor do not have the opportunity to pay a fist as much as he requested.

Could the government let this happen? In the 90 years — no problem: even at three, though ten times! But not in the 20's …

The Soviet government had extensive experience procurements. Back in civilian, during prohibition of free trade, to the holder of surplus grain used a simple mechanism: you do not want to supply grain at state prices, you give a gift, in order of forfeiture. Soviet Criminal Code also provided for the measure. More and cheaper to come …

Early in 1928, the 107th article of the Criminal Code applied to the massive to the kulaks. At first, they were offered to voluntarily surrender bread at state prices. If they refused, went from house to house, and then we took everything apart from the norm to feed and waste. In Siberia, for example, the average size of a farm confiscated surplus was 886 pounds (about 14.5 tons). Significantly, 25% of the confiscated grain immediately stood out the poor at subsidized prices or credit.

This year, somehow managed to overcome hunger, but there was no doubt that the situation will be repeated the following year. She repeated — and the following year, and then.

What to do?

Some interpret the application of Article 107, of course, exist, but it was clear that the "bread of the war" will be repeated each procurement season. Troops took off layer after layer of urban private traders, but they had served their time and taking out funny money stashed again took up the old. We fists confiscated concealed bread, but every year they hid it more sophisticated — buried in the pits, was placed on the poor man's barns were taken straight from the grind. And every year, again and again, private trade put the country on the brink of starvation. Troops could not solve the problem — it was necessary to change the very economy of the village.

From the "bread wars" in the first place did not even suffer citizens — the government still found the bread out to feed 20% of the urban population of the USSR. Suffered from famine the poor peasants, who also had to buy grain at exorbitant prices. They were trying to get the bread in the city — the result was a card system, which was administered the local government to protect the buyer from the influx of hungry villagers. The card system — not the result of collectivization, as commonly thought, it gave rise to market fun NEP.

"Bread War" put the already not they that had eaten their fill of farmers to the brink of extinction. Yet so it was impossible to pull the collectivization — to change the structure of production through "gradual and voluntary" associations, these people simply will not survive.

Collectivization would have changed the situation in the village a few years, making a fist of the largest in the small proprietor and de
priving it of the possibility to speculate bread. With the increase of the gross collection (even the small, poor and unorganized farms tend to give better yield and more profit per household than the sole management) theme of the black market would be closed, and the town died speculation itself, but would have to knuckle on the same basis take the grain to the state. All of this would have happened if it was possible to carry out collectivization peacefully, but things went differently. About it — in the next article.


The magazine "Expert"

writer-historian Elena Prudnikova

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