Natasha Naumenko will tell you the drought was intermittent and not severe enough by itself to cause the Soviet Famine.
There was more at play, she will tell you.
It is Natasha’s conviction that the victims were institutionally starved of incentive and initiative as well as food.
She writes, “…I show that in the short run collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union contributed to the 1932-1933 famine that killed seven to ten million people.”
The Soviet state owned the fields and the crops. In many ways it owned the peasants who worked them. (Orwell’s “Animal Farm” was inspired by these deprivations.)
Russian armies were damned by a lack of technology in the First World War which led Stalin to insist on diverting the harvests to finance industrialization.
Some historians classify the confiscations in Ukraine as an act of genocide. The Law of Spikelets (meaning handfuls of grain) punished peasants for gleaning leftovers from their own fields. Identity cards were introduced to stop the frantic exodus from the countryside.
Natasha is a Ph.D. candidate in Economic History at Northwestern University. The work on her thesis takes her to Moscow regularly.
She was raised in Novosibirsk, Siberia and earned her masters at the first private Russian university established post-Communism, the New Economic School. Her goal is a professorship in the U.S. or Europe.