Archive for December 23, 2008

Diana’s Grandparents Solved their Famine Problem

I. Introduction.

Nowadays young people think less about an elder generation, especially about their difficult periods in life, when they were not so far from death… I have heard and read a lot of stories about different types of difficulties from my relatives and from magazines. Also, there are movies about people’s lives at diverse situations. Many people even do not know about hard times, which are connected with The Great Patriotic War.  Kazakhstan’s famine after and during WWII was a great problem for many people but my grandparents found a solution by getting products from their own garden and own cattle.

II. Kazakhstan before World War II.

Before the Second World War in Kazakhstan, as a part of USSR, a situation was not still and stable. Because after establishing Bolshevism, there appeared waves of repressions. From setting up the Soviet government, concentration camps were being created, where ideological enemies of Bolshevism were sent. The main place was The GULAG, where a lot of innocent people died. “A huge number of investigators were employed to provide the “evidence” to cast victims into the GULAG”, Davies (2004). Most of them were people from the intelligence class. All, according to Tolts (2006), about 110 thousands of people were sent to these camps.

Many Kazakh people in auls did not even know about the situation in the whole country of USSR. They were living in their houses, as they had lived before.  Inhabitants of auls could not communicate with cities and towns; it took a lot of time. From different sources they rarely got news from even the nearest towns. Maybe in other data it was not so bad position, but everything was told to me by my grandmother’s sister. Her name is Sara, she was born in 1937, but as she heard from her parents it was not hard to live before World War II. In that time they had enough food to live well.  They had a lot of lambs, about five cows, several horses. Also, in their place was where they could grow their own vegetables. My Great grandfather took care of everything about that.

III. Kazakhstan during World War II.

22nd of June 1941 Fascist Germany invaded into USSR’s territory. In that seriously hard time, Kazakhstan became an industrial center of Front. Every fifth man was sent to the Front, to fight. It was a debt before each country, to protect it from different enemies. Two young ladies wanted to fight for their country instead of a brother or father, because one of them had no male person in her family.  This girl was Hero of USSR, Manshuk Mametova. There were a lot of excellent persons, from Kazakhstan, who could become a Hero! To fight, people needed food, to get more power everyone understood current situation and tried to help as they could… There was organization “everything for the Front”. They collected everything that people owned. My great grandfather was called to fight in 1942…from this time my grandfather thought about his children and said goodbye.

IV. Effects of World War II.

Few people know that “cost of the 1941–45 war to the Soviet Union was a population loss of 26–27 million people” Hayanes (2003). Economy of the Country decreased, but it was tried to be recovered, “Two other factors in the Soviet economic recovery were also partly a result of her role in the Second World War”, Pethybridge (1983).  Starvation became another problem, which had been caused by war, even though this problem was not spread out all over the World. Because of famine, citizens became sick; shortage of vitamins, different illnesses started to spread out. It was not a great famine as was in 1932-1933, when millions of people died, “the number of famine deaths in Ukraine was 3.2 million”, Ellman (2007).


People in auls lost their cattle, they did not eat well. More often they were eating different porridges. As my grandparent aunt said, she with her little sister (my grandmother) with their mother were left alone. They were needed in men’s help, but there was not anyone who could. And because of that many women started to do men’s job. They had just one cow, which was the breadwinner for them, but one day this cow died, fell into well. After that, they approximately did not eat good, useful meal.  

To feed a young generation, women grew different types of vegetables, who had meat; they tried to share with it.

IV. Conclusion

 In conclusion, even in such hard times, when everything was done for country, when people were sharing with their last things for the Front, people did not die from famine because they had an enormous desire to live and find any ways to feed children. They believed that each citizen of USSR must help to save their Homeland.  Who could not do such things, they simply died.


Davies, R. W. (2004). Book review. (Paul R. Gregory and Valery Lazarev, (2004). The economics of Forced Labor: The Soviet Gulag. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, xviii _ 212 pp.)

Ellman, M. (2007). Stalin and the Soviet famine of 1932 – 33 revisited. EuropeAsia Studies, 59(4), 663 – 693.

Hamzina, S. (2008). Personal interview.

Hayanes, M. (2003). Counting Soviet deaths in the great Patriotic War: a note. EuropeAsia Studies, 55(2), 303-309.

Pethybridge, R. (1983).  Post – War reconstruction. Soviet Union. History Today, 29-32.

Tolts, M. (2006), Ethnic composition of Kazakhstan on the eve of the Second World War: Re-evaluation of the 1939 Soviet census results. Central – Asian Survey  25(1-2), 143-14.

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