Establishment of food dictatorship

Establishment of food dictatorship

By the beginning of May 1918, the problem of food supply to cities, especially those related to large industrial centers: the North-West and Central regions, the Urals, had sharply emerged. Orientation of the industry to fulfill military orders led to a reduction in the production of civilian products and to its price hike. The peasantry in these conditions reduced the surrender of grain to the state at fixed prices, the principle of which was established as early as 1915, since the free prices were much higher. The "sacking" flourished when city dwellers exchanged food for money or valuable goods in villages for their own consumption or for sale on the market. The Soviet government regarded them as speculators and legally pursued. The decrease in the supply of bread from the countryside, together with the occupation of grain-producing Ukraine by Germany caused a sharp drop in centralized grain procurement: in December 1917, the figures were 136,000 tons, in January 1918, 46,000 tons, in April-38,000 tons.

In March 1918, the Soviet government attempted to solve the food problem by establishing trade with the village. However, this policy failed because of the shortage of the civilian goods fund and the weakness of the local government, which was supposed to control this process. The famine that became reality in the cities forced the Bolsheviks to intensify measures of a non-economic nature, called the food dictatorship.

May 9 was approved, and on May 13 the decree "On granting the People's Commissar of Food extraordinary powers to fight the rural bourgeoisie, harboring grain and speculating them, came into effect". The document confirmed the inviolability of the grain monopoly of the state and firm prices for bread. The "ruthless struggle against grain speculators-sacks" was announced. Owners who had an excess of bread, but did not take it to the points of exile or used for brewing, were declared enemies of the people. The formation of the Food Army began, in charge of which was to conduct agitation work, protect food supplies, provide assistance to local organs of the Soviet government, etc. By November 1918, there were more than 29,000 people in the industry army, and by October 1919 there were already 45, 5 thousand.  Industry army ceased to exist only with the transition to the NEP.

On May 27, the Decree "On the Reorganization of the People's Commissariat of Food and Local Food Bodies" came into force. In particular, he assumed the formation of special food detachments under the local bodies "out of conscious" workers. Their task was defined as "the organization of the working peasantry against the kulaks". The number of detachments grew with each month and by November 1918 amounted to 72 thousand people. They were dissolved only at the end of the Civil War. The committees of the peasant poor, established on 11 June, also became the conductors of the food policy of the Bolsheviks on the ground. However, by the end of the year they were merged with the Soviets, which to a certain extent was recognition by the Bolsheviks of the non-viability of this institution.

Emergency measures led to an increase in grain collections. If during the grain procurement campaign of 1916-1917 in the country 320 million poods of grain were procured, and in the campaign of 1917-1918 managed to collect only 50 million poods, then in the period 1918-1919 the collection amounted to 107.9 million poods of bread, cereals and grain forage; in the period 1919-1920 - 212.5 million poods; in the period 1920-1921 - 367 million poods.

The collection contains collections of decrees of the Soviet government on the organization of food supply and distribution; scientific editions of the late 10's and early 20's, which reflect the main directions and results of the food policy of the Bolsheviks, as well as general issues of organizing the central distribution of food products; archival materials that reveal the activities of the People's Commissariat of Food; photographs of the leaders of the Soviet state and the People's Commissars of Food, who conducted the policy of food dictatorship.

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