Name for a wealthier peasant in the Soviet Union who was treated as a class enemy
In pre-revolutionary Russia, kulak ​(‘fist’ in Russian) meant a wealthy peasant. During the Stalinist era this became a negative political concept. In the course of collectivisation at the end of the 1920s, an ideology about ‘a class of kulaks’ who were hostile to the proletariat, was adopted in the Soviet Union. Its aim was to weaken the village community by inciting social tensions and hostility. The mass persecutions against the kulaks started from 1930. The same approach was exercised in post-war Soviet Estonia. In 1947, a kulak’s household’ was defined, which included farms that had used a paid workforce during or after the German occupation, or made a profit from renting land or agricultural machinery. People running such farms were decreed as kulaks by the decision of local authorities, and had to pay higher taxes. A special documentation of their farms was drawn up, and used in 1949 in determining families for deportations within the state security apparatus. The March deportation in 1949 proceeded to “terminate the kulaks as a class”, and most people labelled as kulaks – about 2870 families – were deported to Siberia. The ideological battle with kulaks continued in the early 1950s. This included a campaign of ‘discovering’ kulaks and forcing them out of collective farms, and slowly subsided in the somewhat more liberal system following Stalin’s death in 1953.

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