Food Shortages, Hunger, and Famines in the USSR, 1928-33


  • Nicolas Werth Institut d'histoire du temps présent, Centre national de la recherche scientifique



This paper examines policies implemented in stages from 1928 and the multi-causal phenomena that resulted in the deaths of some 6.5 to 7 million people, the majority in Ukraine and the Kuban as well as Kazakhstan, during the man-made Soviet famines of the early 1930s. These famines took on distinctively separate trajectories after the autumn of 1932 when Stalin singled out Ukraine, the largest grain-producing region of the USSR. The Kazakh famine resulted from the devastation of the traditional nomadic Kazakh economy in a misguided effort to make that region a main source of meat for the Soviet Union. Other regions—notably the Middle Volga and Central Chernozem Regions—also suffered. These events were largely driven by Soviet attempts to make the countryside a domestic colony that would provide food resources for the country’s accelerated industrialization. This is particularly evident in the manner Soviet authorities rationed and distributed food.