Famine of 1921-1923 in Zaporizhzhia Gubernia: Peculiarities and Demographic Consequences

Keywords: famine of 1921-1923 in Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia gubernia, food policy of the RCP(B), terror, drought


The purpose of the study is to identify the peculiarities and demographic consequences of the famine of 1921-1923 in Zaporizhzhia gubernia.

The scientific novelty of the research paper is in the identification of factors and circumstances that caused the mass famine of 1921-1923 in Zaporizhzhia gubernia and the determination of its regional features. The first attempt is also made to find out the demographic consequences of the famine in the gubernia and Melitopol povit.

Conclusions. The research paper provides evidence that the total harvest in Soviet Ukraine was sufficient to prevent mass famine. However, the food tax introduced by the 10th Congress of the RCP(b) was just as unbearable for the Ukrainian peasant as the requisitioning of agricultural products (prodrozkladka). The subsequent drought and crop failure caused mass famine, primarily in the South of Ukraine. But the forced requisitioning of grain continued, while the famine in the republic was blacked out. Instead, the Kremlin requested world assistance and took care of feeding the starving Volga region. Only in January 1922 did the Bilshovyk authorities of Ukraine recognize the famine and appeal for help. However, food tax collection in the starving gubernias of Ukraine continued until July 1922. At the same time, an armed blockade was set up to prevent the starving people from escaping. The authorities confiscated food in the republic and exported 70.5 million poods of grain to Russia in 1921-1922.

The peculiarity of the famine in Zaporizhzhia region was that the gubernia became the scene of fierce battles between the Red Army and the troops of P. Wrangel and the Makhnovists. ‘Red’ troops looted and terrorized Makhnovists’ villages, using famine as a weapon against the rebels. That factor, along with prodrozkladka, insufficient sowing, winterkilling of crops, and drought, turned Zaporizhzhia region into the epicenter of famine already in the winter of 1920-21. The grain procurement plan for 1921, introduced by the Narkomprod of the RSFSR, exceeded the harvest in the region. Due to repeated drought, insufficient sowing, and grain harvesting for export, the famine in Ukraine reached its peak in the spring of 1922 and lasted until the 1923 harvest.

It is estimated that the mortality rate in Zaporizhzhia gubernia from starvation and concomitant diseases was the highest in the republic and amounted to over 200 thousand people. The Bilshovyk famine terror in Ukraine achieved several goals at once: to feed the population of Russia and its army, to support industry, to suppress peasant rebellions, and to obtain currency from the West. The insufficient study of the issue and the need for further research to make society aware of Russia’s systematic crimes in Ukraine, one of which was the artificial famine of 1921-1923, are revealed.


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How to Cite
Hudz, V., Krasko, N., & Romanenko, Y. (2024). Famine of 1921-1923 in Zaporizhzhia Gubernia: Peculiarities and Demographic Consequences. Eminak: Scientific Quarterly Journal, (4(44), 105-124. https://doi.org/10.33782/eminak2023.4(44).678
Modern History