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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Saddling the cow: The collectivization of agriculture in Poland, 1948–1956
by Elliott, Robin Gates, Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2007, 779; 3339917
Abstract (Summary)

The collectivization of agriculture was imposed upon the countries of the Soviet Bloc by Moscow at the Second Cominform Congress, which took place in Bucharest in 1948. It was one of many policies dictated by Stalin to align the political and economic systems, social structures, and cultural life of the countries of Eastern Europe with those of the Soviet Union. Collectivization was implemented with varying degrees of success throughout Eastern Europe during the first post-war decade. It was also implemented with varying degrees of success within Poland.

The purpose here is twofold: to describe the implementation of collectivization in three different provinces of Poland which typify the regional differences which emerged and, in so doing, to determine the factors which produced the differences. The three provinces studied are Cracow, Poznan, and Szczecin. The focus is on the dynamics of persuasion, coercion, compliance, and resistance—what actually transpired "down on the farm." The source materials used are the minutes of the meetings of the Executive Committee (Egzekutywa) of the provincial Party organization (Komitet Wojewódzki or KW) of the three provinces, which are part of the Provincial State Archives (Wojewódzkie Archiwum Państwowe or WAP).

Persuasion proved ineffective. Coercion was primarily economic (taxation in cash and kind) and produced mixed results. Because it also caused unacceptable collateral damage, the pattern of coercion became one of incremental retreat. Possible factors influencing compliance with collectivization examined are: regional characteristics, type of village, type of peasant, and Party membership. Resistance to collectivization was widespread, extending even to the Party members and government officials responsible for implementing it. Peasants remained unconvinced by persuasion; they developed coping strategies to withstand coercion and, if forced into collective farms, practiced passive resistance, with catastrophic economic results.

Collectivization was an unmitigated disaster; and Gomułka ended the policy of forced collectivization when he regained power in the fall of 1956. The primary factor explaining the regional differences in collectivization within Poland is the types of villages in each region studied. Some types of villages turned out to be easier to collectivize than others, and the reasons for this are explained.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kaminski, Andrzej S.
School: Georgetown University
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: European history, Modern history
Keywords: Agriculture, Collective farms, Land reform, Land tenure, Passive resistance, Peasantry, Poland, State farms
Publication Number: 3339917
ISBN: 978-0-549-93965-8
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