Victims of Forced Collectivization

Victims of Forced Collectivization

COLLECTIVIZATION

The Slovak villages were affected by forced hand over of their land into the UCFs. The peasants and farmers, who refused to hand over the land willingly, were intimidated and persecuted in various ways.

One of the areas, where the cruelty of the communist authority was felt very significantly, was agriculture and its collectivization, which destroyed traditional village structures. The Soviet kolkhozes, where the most drastic forms of forced collectivization were used, were set as blueprints for establishing jednotné roľnícke družstvo (United Collective Farm) in Czechoslovakia. The tragedy of farmers began after the 9th congress of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia where President Klement Gottwald proclaimed: „There will be no socialism, without transition of the village to socialism“.

The Law No. 69/1949 on the United Collective Farms came into effect on 23 February 1949. The law declared an objective of beneficial development of agricultural farming and removal of an alleged splintered farming activity in agriculture which was a legacy of the past. The law also advised that the UCFs should be created on a voluntary basis, which was in contradiction with on-going practice.

The communist officials were tasked with the persuasion of the farmers, who were promised many advantages and benefits by the members of the commissions of the National Committees, should they join the UCFs, however if the farmers did not accept them, they were persecuted. The Slovak villages were affected by forced hand over of their land into the UCFs. The peasants and farmers, who refused to hand over the land willingly, were intimidated and persecuted in various ways.

One of the indirect forms of liquidation was setting unreal contingents, which were constantly increased, and led to bankruptcy of „solo“ farmers. Another form consisted of confiscation of agricultural machines in favour of state machine-tractor stations (16 391 tractors, 20 365 threshers, 20 365 auto-binders in total, in addition to many other machines), confiscation of farm animals, farm inventory and removal of food certificates.

Together with the aforementioned penalties, there was also the constant increase of contingents which could not be met by farmers. As a result such „regressive“ farming became a pretext for enforcement of more repressive measures. To not meet the supply became the most effective and most common reason for punishing farmers by the harshest ways possible, such as financial penalties, imprisonment, recruitment into the Auxiliary Technical Battalions, Forced Labour Camps or eviction of whole families – so called – kulaks.

The organized eviction of Slovak farming families, so-called „Action K“(kulak), developed in full from November 1952. In Slovakia, 22 124 farmers were officially classified as „kulaks“. The list were created by County and District National Committees, with an instruction to find at least 1 such farmer in each village. Such „kulak” families were absolved of their assets and many were forcibly displaced from their native village to remote, oftentimes to the opposite end of the country. They were then assigned to menial jobs, with their children thrown out of schools or prohibited from studying.

The organized eviction of Slovak farming families, so-called „Action K“(kulak), developed in full from November 1952.

This was the fate that met, for example, Karol Noskovič from Viničné. He was sentenced to 5 years of prison, forfeiture of property, 50 000 Crown fee and was banned from living in Bratislava county. He served his sentence in Jáchymov. The fate of Jozef Ševčík from Chorvátsky Grob was even more tragic. He was sentenced for alleged sabotage to 12 years of prison, most of which he served in Jáchymov, the last 2 in Leopoldov where he died 2 weeks before his release.)

Gradually, the communist regime was successful in disposing of fundamental principles of agriculturalism, private ownership and the entire social class of privately run farmers. The establishment of UCFs in practice meant expropriation of land by way of pressure tactics. In the 1950s the forced collectivization affected the largest part of the population of Slovakia, approximately 470 000 families, that were also persecuted for following generations.

It was only in the year 1989 that many persecuted families have been redeemed. The land, sometimes only its part, was returned to the original owners as part of restitutions. No one was sentenced for forced collectivization yet. However, the testimonies of witnesses are to this day a memento of one of the many forms of persecution and injustice, committed by the communist regime.

Sources: Dobiáš, Rudolf: Komunizmus na Slovensku v rokoch 1948-1989, in: Akcie, zločiny a obete Štátnej bezpečnosti a Pohraničnej stráže v rokoch 1945-1989
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