Stalin’s and Mao’s Famines: Similarities and Differences


  • Andrea Graziosi National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes, Rome



This essay addresses the similarities and differences between the cluster of Soviet famines in 1931-33 and the great Chinese famine of 1958-1962. The similarities include: Ideology; planning; the dynamics of the famines; the relationship among harvest, state procurements and peasant behaviour; the role of local cadres; life and death in the villages; the situation in the cities vis-à-vis the countryside, and the production of an official lie for the outside world. Differences involve the following: Dekulakization; peasant resistance and anti-peasant mass violence; communes versus sovkhozes and kolkhozes; common mess halls; small peasant holdings; famine and nationality; mortality peaks; the role of the party and that of Mao versus Stalin’s; the way out of the crises, and the legacies of these two famines; memory; sources and historiography.


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