At first cooperation as a voluntary union of farmers contributed to the development of the agricultural sector, market relations and village entrepreneurship, it also protected the rights of small manufacturers. On the territory of Western Ukraine the cooperation movement became a significant means of counterbalancing Polonization, Romanization, and Magyarization of the Ukrainian nation, it also set up the base for social transformations in villages. After the appearance of “kolkhozes” the Stalin repressive machine used the cooperative form of agriculture as an effective means to establish totalitarian society. Collectivization was conducted using the Stalin methods mainly with the help of terror, artificially stirred up hatred and it was an effective means to Sovietize Ukraine.
Collectivization of a Western Ukrainian village in the 1940s – beginning of the 1950s.
In the 1940s – the beginning of the 1950s, the Soviet government tried to establish the same order that was existing on the other territories of the Ukrainian SSR. One of the most effective means of Sovietization of the region was collectivization. It was conducted with the help of terror and artificially stirred up social hatred. During collectivization total control of communist regime over agricultural sector was established, the balance in the development of industry and agriculture was disturbed, agricultural manufacture stopped developing, the most qualified and hardworking farmers were physically destroyed. Collectivization was conducted by the party, Soviet and state officials from the eastern regions of the Ukrainian SSR and Russia.
Ukrainian researcher Mykhaylo Senkiv singles out three main stages of collectivization of villages in Western Ukraine:
First years of the establishing of the Soviet regime (1940 – the first half of 1941) and its renewal (1944-1946), when political ground for collectivization was set up and separate “kolkhozes” appeared;
Transition to social collectivization, beginning of massive estrangement of a peasant from his property, resorting to terror against national liberation movement, and first and foremost, launch of the deportation policy (1947-1948);
Completion of country-wide collectivization campaign, establishing of the regime of “kolkhozes”, transformation of a farmer-owner into a modern slave, destruction of socio-economic base of national liberation movement (1947-1952).
The majority of “kolkhozes” appeared on the base of folwarks, and their members were hired laborers and the poorest part of peasantry. Poor people and peasant workers under the influence of Soviet propaganda were seeking in “kolkhozes” the way out of poverty. They were the first to join “kolkhozes”. At the same time Soviet propaganda was spreading slogans like “Kolkhoz is the only way to prosperity”, “Kulak – a bitter enemy of a hardworking farmer”, which stirred up social hatred. Soviet propaganda was praising benefits of the “kolkhoz” system, often using examples of some top performers. But the real situation did not correspond to Soviet agitation. According to the data of M. Senkiv, in the end of 1940 276 “kolkhozes” were set up in Western regions, 21, 3 thousand farms united around them. Farmers were not effective in their work; amount of state supply often covered all harvest. Level of material support of “kolkhoz” was insignificant. The majority of peasants did not support the idea of collectivization. A farmer felt himself like he was the owner of his territory and he did not want to give it away to communal property. Also, pre-war collectivization, Famine in Eastern Ukraine in 1946-1947, resistance of the OUN-UPA strengthened the desire of farmers not to join “kolkhozes”.
On May 18th, 1946, the Supreme Court of the USSR approved the Forth 5-year plan and set the course for country-wide collectivization campaign. In 1946-1950 in Western regions of Ukraine industrialization, collectivization, and cultural revolution were planned in order to destroy private property and small-scale production.
On June 20th, 1947, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Bolsheviks of Ukraine and the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR demanded from Western regions to “catch up in their political and cultural development with eastern regions”. The plan was by the end of 1947 to renew functioning of those “kolkhozes” that existed before the war. Collectivization was accelerated under the slogan of fighting with kulaks. Thus, in 1944 on the territory of Western Ukraine there were 38 “kolkhozes”, in 1946 there were 107 of them and in autumn 1947 over one thousand “kolkhozes” were set up.
According to the official data on August 1st, 1947, in Western regions of Ukraine there were 16 374 the so-called “kulak farms”. At the same time the economic pressure from the state on farms was increased due to the rise in tax.
Peasantry was fighting with the pressure coming from the state by joining the UPA formations. Underground forces of the OUN and UPA supported peasants in their struggle against collectivization. According to the data of the Ukrainian researcher P.Mirchuk, in autumn 1947 due to the actions of the UPA subdivisions, 500 thousand people avoided forced deportation to Siberia. Agrarian program of the OUN-UPA: confiscation of a large-scale landownership, handover of the land to peasants, right for private property, development of free entrepreneurship and cooperation corresponded to the interests of peasantry. Other than that the UPA and underground forces of the OUN conducted large-scale propaganda work in order to stir up resistance of peasantry to the collectivization in Ukraine. Due to the efforts of the UPA the network of underground publishing houses appeared in Ukraine, where thousands of anti-communist leaflets and brochures were published.
The speed of collectivization varied depending on the intensity of the Resistance movement on this or that territory. As a response to resistance the government organized special groups – MDB - who conducted repressions against people. Peasants were driven out of hamlets, they were deported to remote regions of the USSR: the first wave of deportation took place in October 1947, the second one – in the end of 1948 during transition to country-wide collectivization campaign, the third one – in 1949, when all “kulaks” were deported.
After all main forces of the UPA and underground forces of the OUN were destroyed in 1947-1948, a new wave of setting up the “kolkhozes” in Western Ukrainian villages has started. Using the methods of administrative pressure and social demagogy councils, seminars, conferences, and lectures concerning the collectivization of the village were conducted. Radio, films, mass media were encouraging the society to have “socialistic competitions” for pre-term completion of country-wide collectivization campaign.
On March 30-31, 1949, at the interregional council in Lviv, M.Khrushchev demanded to finish collectivization in Lviv, Stanislav, Ternopil, and Rivne regions by the end of 1949. Those peasants who did not support the idea of collectivization were considered to be “Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists” and “kulaks”. By the beginning of the 1950s the country-wide collectivization was almost completed, hundreds of thousands peasants were deported.
On the territory of Western Ukraine the government established absolute control of the state over peasantry; development of agriculture on this territory was unified with central and eastern regions of the Ukrainian SSR; armed Resistance movement was deprived of any support. The results of collectivization were felt during many years afterwards.