The Punitive Policy of Communist Authorities in Odesa Province at the Beginning of 1921: Causes and Effects
The paper examines the preconditions and consequences of the punitive policy of the communist authorities in Odesa province in early 1921. The reasons for such a policy were the failure to fulfil the surplus appropriation system plan for 1920 and, in general, the dissatisfaction of the peasants with the agrarian policy of that power. A significant change for the worse in the food security of the working class provoked the proliferation of anti-communist mood in its environment and demands for the resumption of free trade and tariffs on wages.
The food crisis was provoked not only by a significant non-fulfillment of the surplus food appropriation system (prodrozkladka) plan, but also by large amounts of grain removal outside the province, in particular, to Russia, which since 1918 was in a state of permanent hunger. In order to overcome the food crisis in the towns of Odesa province, as well as in Moscow and Petrograd, local authorities started a new campaign for the forced seizure of grain from the peasants in accordance with instructions of the central authorities of Kharkiv and Moscow. Foreseeing the resistance of the peasantry, the authorities simultaneously took measures to struggle with political banditry. Already traditionally, along with food-requisition detachments, with mobilized members of the CP(b)U and trade unions, the provincial revolutionary tribunals were sent to the counties. Due to the fact that the authorities lost the support of the working class, the task of grain seizure from peasants was entrusted to regular military units, which were also called to «fight against banditry», that is, with the armed resistance of the peasantry. For this purpose, among the soldiers of Red Army, a corresponding political work was carried out. As the result of such a punitive policy of communist authorities, there were numerous victims, some names of which became known thanks to the records of the meeting of the OPEC (Odesa Province Extraordinary Commission) Board and newspaper reports on the decisions of the assizes of the province military tribunal. During January-March 1921, the OPEC Board at its meetings decided to shoot down 60 people, of which 34 people gave their lives for accusing of political banditry, that is, they participated in the armed struggle and in other actions against Soviet, or rather communist authorities. That was the most tragic results of the punitive policy of the authorities.