The decision by the Soviet leadership to force the Soviet peasantry into collective and state farms between 1929 and 1932 was executed at a terrible price. More than half the farm animals in the country were killed by peasants refusing to surrender their livestock. The human cost was far more horrible: almost a million peasant households, perhaps as many as 7 million people, were deported to Siberia and Central Asia, where many perished. Moreover, 5–7 million died in famines that followed collectivization in the early 1930s. The total human cost to the peasantry may have reached 10 million dead. It was the greatest peace- time human tragedy in European history, and one remarkably poorly reported at the time.
   The OGPU played a critical role in the execution of Joseph Stalin’s agricultural policy. The OGPU and Red Army military units put down thousands of peasant revolts, 6,528 in March 1928 alone. To control peasant villages, the security service recruited informants, arrested, tried, and executed rebels, and opened hundreds of new gulag and exile communities. According to the Soviet archives, in 1929–1932 almost 900,000 people were arrested for counterrevolutionary crimes, and more than 10,000 were executed. Under the law of “seven-eights,” so called because it was passed on 7 August 1932, more than 54,000 peasants were convicted and more than 5,400 were shot for gleaning more than five shocks of wheat from collective farm fields. As in the Pavlik Morozov case, some people informed on their own parents.
   During the great Ukrainian famine of 1932–1933, the OGPU and military units stripped peasant households of grain so that the Soviet Union could continue to export it. OGPU troops prevented peasants from fleeing starving villages; peasants who had reached cities were forcibly escorted back to their villages, where they starved. According to one survivor, it was “Auschwitz without the ovens.” The prisoners and the exiles arrested by the OGPU were the basis of the Soviet penal camp empire. Thousands of former peasants were set to work building railroads, lumbering, and mining for gold. Thousands perished building the Belomor Canal. Collectivization had another important impact on the security service: the need to monitor and punish the rural population and to expand the gulag system meant that the security service had to expand rapidly. The OGPU had become by 1934 a major player in Soviet politics at every level, from Stalin’s Politburo to the collectivized village.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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