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Seminar 3

Transforming Russia: the ‘Revolution from above’

  • Was collectivisation really necessary?
  • How did the peasants react to dekulakisation and collectivisation?
  • Was the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1934 a genocide? [debate]
  • To what extent was the “revolution from above” also a “cultural revolution”?




Stalin, J.V., ‘Dizzy with Success’, in J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 12, pp. 197-205.

‘On the results of the last 10 years and the prospects for the USSR’s economic construction. Resolution of the USSR Central Executive Committee, 20 October 1927 [translation by Francis King]’, in K.U. Chernenko and M.S. Smirtyukov (compilers), Resheniya partii I pravitel’stva po khozyaystvennym voprosam, vol. 1, 1917 – 1928 (Moscow, 1967).

Letter from Feige to Sergo Ordzhonikidze, 9. April 1932 (including Memorandum of the regional health inspector Dr. Kiselev’.

Selection of documents from Siegelbaum, Lewis and Andrei Sokolov, Stalinism as a way of Life: A Narrative in Documents, abridged version (New Haven, London, 2004). Documents 3, 9, 23, 26

Essential Reading

Millar, J.R. and A. Nove, ‘A debate on collectivization: was Stalin really necessary?’ In Ward, The Stalinist Dictatorship, pp. 143-166.

Ellman, Michael, 'Stalin and the Soviet Famine of 1932-33 Revisited', Europe-Asia-Studies, 59 (2007), pp. 663-693 you can access the article through the library catalogue (see also other articles on the famine in Europe-Asia Studies) and check out

Siegelbaum, Lewis, 'Building Stalinism, 1929-1941', in Freeze (ed.), Russia: A History, pp. 291-318

Viola, Lynne, et al., The War Against the Peasantry, 1927–1930: The Tragedy of the Soviet Countryside, vol. 1 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005), [Chapter 6: Dizzy with Success: 2 March 1930 - 1 July 1930], pp. 264-318

Recommended Reading

Priestland, David, Stalinism and the Politics of Mobilization: Ideas, Power, and Terror in Inter-War Russia (Oxford, 2007), pp. 189-243 [Chapter 3: Mobilization and 'Class Struggle', 1928-1930]

Graziosi, Andrea, 'The Soviet 1931-1933 Famines and the Ukrainian Holodomor: Is a new interpretation possible, and what would its consequences be?' Harvard Ukrainian Studies, 27 (2004-5), pp. 97-115

Further Reading

Davies, R.W., ‘Stalin as economic policy-maker: Soviet agriculture, 1931-1936’, in: Davies/Harris, Stalin, pp. 121-139.

Davies, R.W. and Stephen G. Wheatcroft, The Years of Hunger: The Soviet Agriculture 1931-1933 [= The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia 5] (London, 2004).

Davies, R.W., M.B. Tauger and S.G. Wheatcroft, ‘Stalin, Grain Stocks and the Famine of 1932-3’, in Read, The Stalin Years, pp. 86-101.

Fitzpatrick, Sheila, Stalin’s Peasants (New York, 1994).

Lewin, Moshe, ‘Society, state, and ideology during the First Five-Year Plan’, in Ward, The Stalinist Dictatorship, pp. 166-201

R.W. Davies, The Socialist offensive [= The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia I] (London, Basingstoke, 1980) [especially Chapter 11: ‘Conclusions’, pp. 397-416].

Suny, The Soviet Experiment, pp. 217 – 232 [= Chapter 9: ‘The Stalin Revolution’] Or the chapter on the period 1928 - 1932 in any other good History of the Soviet Union, see wk. 1: Kenez, Read, Service, Freeze (ed.), etc.

Viola, Lynne, Peasant Rebels under Stalin (New York, 1996).

Viola, Lynne, 'Бабьи Бунты and peasant women's protest during collectivization', in Ward, The Stalinist Dictatorship, pp. 213-231.