"Battle with famine" : Soviet relief and the Tatar Republic 1921-1922

Mizelle, Peter Christopher, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Geraci, Robert, Department of History, University of Virginia
Rossman, Jeffrey, Department of History, University of Virginia
Kassof, Brian, Department of History, University of Virginia
Lynch, Allen, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

This disseration looks at center-periphery relations through the lens of the Soviet relief campaign during the famine of 1921-1922. Despite its enormous shortcomings, the aid program allowed Moscow to achieve its goal of reviving agriculture in the crippled Volga region and marked a first step in the center's consolidation of power over the Volga provinces. The center's control over the railways, communication channels, and the media afforded the central authorities considerable leverage to pursue its agenda. At the same time, Moscow gained influence as the sole arbiter of which provinces would be considered "famine-stricken" and thus eligible for tax breaks and outside assistance. By dividing the country into two camps--the supposedly "prosperous" provinces and the famine region--the center was able to create a false dichotomy of "haves" and "have-nots" and then exploit the divisions between them. Those policies reinforced Moscow's traditional predominance over all aspects of economic and political life in the periphery.

The interplay of centrifugal and centripetal forces was particularly evident in the case of the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (TASSR), where issues of nationality made the dividing line between center and periphery more distinct. The rule of the Left communists under Sakhibgrarei Said--Galiev-particularly its unstinting support for the Moscow line during its year in power, 1920-1921--was perhaps the most important factor in the rapid development of famine in the Tatar Republic. This view was apparently shared by the majority of Party members in the TASSR, as seen in their decision to remove Said-Galiev from office in the summer of 1921. Blaming the leftists for causing the famine and their failure to react decisively to the crisis, the new Rightist government aggressively promoted its relief efforts despite a paucity of resources and a lack of central support.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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