Organization of collective farms in the USSR commenced after the XV Communist Party Congress where the decision was taken to widely promote collectivization in agriculture. The Congress set the plan for expanding and enlarging the network of collective and state farms, and issued strict instructions for the struggle for collectivization in agriculture. Collectivization in Karelia began in 1930, and collective farms were the main form of agricultural enterprise until the mid-1950s.
First collective farms in the Suojärvi District appeared in 1940, after the Winter War was over and part of Finnish land was annexed to the Soviet Union. As of January 1, 1941 there operated the following collective farms in the district: "Bolshevik" (vil. Muanto), "Voskhod" (vil. Vuottovaara), KIM (vil. Moisenvaara), Kirov's (vil. Hapaselkä), "Krasnyi boyets" (vil. Kotovaara), "Krasnyi mayak" (Leppäniemi rural council), "Krasnyi pogranichnik" (vil. Solonojärvi), Krupskaya's (vil. Loimola), Lenin's (vil. Leppäsyrjä), Papanin's (vil. Leppäniemi), Stalin's (vil. Ignoila). In the summer and autumn of 1940, a husbandry team which gathered the harvest in isolated Finnish farmsteads operated around villages Tolvajärvi and Korpiselkä.
In 1944, immediately as military actions ceased, organization of collective farms in the district recommenced. By May 15, 1945 there were 3 kolkhozes: Lenin's, "Krasnaya zvezda" and "Krasnyi boyets". By the early 1946, the number of collective farms in the district reached 12. Collective farms Kaganovich's (vil. Tolvajärvi) and "Druzhba" (vil. Kokkari) started operating in the summer of 1945.
People from the Ukrainian SSR, Tatar ASSR, Chuvash ASSR and other parts of the Soviet Union migrated into the Suojärvi District. The dynamics of migration into the district at large is shown in tab. 1, into collective farms - in tab 2. Over 1945-1948, a total of 5 484 persons migrated into the district, of which 1 733 were sent to collective farms.
Until December 1950, there had operated two collective farms in the territory under the Korpiselkä rural council: Kaganovich's and "Druzhba", whereupon they merged into one named "Krasnyi pogranichnik". The latter existed as an independent agricultural enterprise until the summer of 1955, when it merged with the Kalinin collective farm of the Leppäniemi rural council. Following the resolution of the Executive Committee of the Suojärvi District Council dated August 1, 1955 part of the "Krasnyi pogranichnik" farmland totaling 192.7 ha was given over to the Suojärvi logging enterprise (lespromkhoz) for subsidiary farming, and the rest of the land (3,281,19 ha) became part of state forest fund land.
On February 22, 1955 the Communist Party Central Committee and the Council of Ministers of the Karelian-Finnish SSR issued the decree "On expansion of collective farm economies, organization and expansion of subsidiary farms of industrial enterprises through the transfer of lands and public property from some collective farms of the Karelian-Finnish SSR". By 1960 already, collective farms throughout the republic (except for fishing farms) were reorganized into state farms.
The description of the population and economies of collective farms of the Korpiselkä rural council, Suojärvi District was made using materials from the Republic of Karelia National Archives (NA RK). Most information was gathered from the following funds: 1402 - "Suojärvi District Land Surveyor", 1923 - "Suojärvi District Land Department", 2340 - "Suojärvi State Statistical Inspectorate", 3278 - "Suojärvi District Agricultural Cooperatives".
Population of villages Tolvajärvi and Kokkari
People began settling in villages Tolvajärvi and Kokkari in 1945, after two collective farms were organized there: Kaganovich's and "Druzhba". According to records of January 1, 1946, Kaganovich kolkhoz comprised 37 persons (11 households), 20 of whom were able-bodied; "Druzhba" kolkhoz - 46 persons (24 households), 25 - able-bodied. Ethnically, "Druzhba" mainly comprised Tatars, Kaganovich kolkhoz - Russians and Ukrainians. Information about the dynamics of population in the collective farms is shown in tab. 3.
Fig. 1 illustrates the age and sex structure of the Korpiselkä rural council population (villages Tolvajärvi and Kokkari). The effect of military actions on the sex/age structure of the population is seen very clearly.
Land structure and husbandry
The structure of the "Druzhba" and Kaganovich collective farms' lands, as well as that of the "Krasnyi pogranichnik" farm changed many times. Areas under different crops varied over years. Also, the area of hayfields was gradually decreasing. Tab. 4 gives information about the land area under cereals and other crops, as well as about the yields. The areas of major farmland lots of the "Krasnyi pogranichnik" farm in 1953 are represented in tab. 5.
The overall structure of the "Krasnyi pogranichnik" lands and the structure of farmland within the village of Tolvajärvi in 1953 based on geodetic survey data are shown in tab. 6.
The fields were fertilised with manure and partly with peat. Cattle in the farm was however too few to produce sufficient amounts of organic fertilizers.
Either by negligence or because of the lack of manpower, farm operations were of poor quality. Thus, reports on the outcomes of the economic year 1947 read that "fertilizers (in the "Druzhba" and Kaganovich collective farms) were not fully utilized, and part of the manure remained in piles on land surface" (NA RK. F. 1923. Op. 1. Doc. 4/55. L. 8), and the Kaganovich farm "sowed oats over unploughed land so that all seeds remained on the surface" (ibid., L. 82).
Most of the livestock in the "Druzhba" and Kaganovich collective farms was cattle. After the "Krasnyi pogranichnik" farms was organized, livestock structure changed markedly: there appeared sheep and pigs, as well as hens.
Milk yields were very low. E.g., the plan for 1953 was 1500 litres of milk per cow, but the actual yield was 940 litres. Average egg laying in 1951 was 58.6 eggs per hen per year.
Hay was harvested from different plots, some of which were 20-40 km away from villages. Hayfields were largely bouldery. Hay meadows in flood plains were not very suitable for forage harvesting because of deteriorated drainage facilities and intensive overgrowing with scrub. One hectare yielded 600 to 1000 kg of hay. Silage was harvested alongside with hay. In some years (e.g. 1947), hay stores did not last through the stabling period.
In 1946, collective farmers had no livestock in their private subsidiary plots, and only one goat appeared in 1947. (NA RK. F. 2340. Op. 1. Doc. 1/5, L. 6; Doc. 2/7, L.7).
These statistics and other data prove that collective farming in the study area was economically inefficient due both to natural and socio-economic factors. Agricultural activities were hindered by the small size of land lots and their remoteness from the central farmstead, poor soil fertility, lack of machines, etc. Another weighty factor was that migrants from central parts of the USSR, often steppes and forest steppes, had no skills of farming in the taiga zone, maintaining drainage facilities, or doing other reclamation activities. The poor demographic situation of the post-war years could not but tell on the productivity of agriculture.
Population dynamics in collective farms
Areas and yields of major crops
Major farmland lots of the "Krasnyi pogranichnik" collective farm in 1953
Overall land structure
Livestock in collective farms under the Korpiselkä rural council
Expert: S. Potakhin
The material was earlier reported in the paper: Potakhin S.B. Population and economy of the Suojärvi District collective farms in the post-war period (case study of the Korpiselkä rural council) // Suojärvi District (Republic of Karelia): economy, resources, nature conservation. Petrozavodsk, 2000. P. 10-14. (in Russian)