Food Appropriation Detachments

Food Appropriation Detachments

 

(prodotriady), detachments consisting mainly of workers, formed during the establishment of Soviet power and the Civil War of 1918–20 for the purpose of procuring and safeguarding grain and other foodstuffs.

The first food appropriation detachments were sent to the grain-growing provinces in November 1917 by the Petrograd and Moscow military and revolutionary committees. A decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee dated May 27, 1918, established workers’ detachments under local food-supply agencies. These detachments consisted of poor peasants and of volunteers supported by soviet and party organizations. Many detachments went armed into the countryside, forming a single Food Requisitioning Army (Prodarmiia) of the People’s Commissariat of Foodstuffs of the RSFSR. In addition, during August 1918 an All-Russian Central Military Provisions Bureau was established under the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions and the People’s Commissariat of Foodstuffs; local agencies of this bureau directed the food appropriation detachments that were not part of the Prodarmiia.

By the summer of 1918, when there was a crisis in food supply caused by the separation of Soviet Russia’s center from the grain-growing regions and by intensified kulak actions, the formation of food appropriation detachments and their dispatch to villages assumed massive proportions. During the summer of that year, detachments of workers and the poorest peasants were formed to procure, harvest, and requisition grain. Major labor unions, factory and plant committees, and district and city soviets were authorized to organize these detachments. Procurement was allowed only according to fixed prices and by means of requisitioning grain from saboteur kulaks. Half of the procured grain was placed at the disposal of the organization that had sent the detachment; the other half went into the reserves of the People’s Commissariat of Foodstuffs.

In November, 1918, the Prodarmiia numbered 42,000, and the detachments of the All-Russian Central Military Provisions Bureau numbered 30,000. With the introduction of the surplus food appropriation system (prodrazverstka) early in 1919, a number of decisions were adopted to intensify the work of the food appropriation detachments and of the Prodarmiia. In 1919 and 1920, the Prodarmia numbered between 35,000 and 62,000, while the All-Russian Central Military Provisions Bureau numbered more than 20,000. The food appropriation detachments also helped in gathering the harvest, in the political education of poor peasants, in the organization and work of the committees of the poor, in suppressing kulak sabotage of grain procurement, and in carrying out the appropriation of surplus food. With the establishment of the New Economic Policy in 1921, the food appropriation detachments were disbanded.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 36, pp. 316–17, 319, 357–64, 395–419, 430–32, 521–22; vol. 37, pp. 412–27; vol. 39, pp. 271–82.
“Iz istorii bor’by prodovol’stvennykh otriadov rabochikh za khleb i ukreplenie Sovetskoi vlasti (1918–1920 gg.).” Krasnyi arkhiv, 1938, vols. 4–5 (89–90).
Berkevich, A. B. Petrogradskie rabochie v bor’be za khleb, 1918–1920 gg. Leningrad, 1941.
Khleb i revoliutsiia: Prodovol’stvennaia polilika Kommunistkheskoi partii i Sovetskogopravitel’stva v 1917–1922 gg. Moscow, 1972.
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