USSR Implements NEP

Munich Druing the Putch

OTje Communist regime was forced to make compromises to keep the Soviet economy functioning and feed the population. Soviet leader Vladamir Lenin implemented New Economic Policy. It also implemented the Agrarian Law to allow small farmers to continue to work their land. None of that was enough to avert a famine that killed hundreds of thousands.

The defeat of the White Russians did not end the opposition to the Bolsheviks in the newly formed Soviet Union. In various parts of the former Russian Empire, opposition continued. Slowly, however, the Red Army defeated all of the forces that continued to oppose it. While the Soviet government had prevailed on the military front, economically, the new communist government's policies had disastrous effects. The economy as a whole ground to a halt, and the Soviet Union, which had inherited the rich agriculture, suddenly found itself unable to feed its population.

Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin understood that he would have to make ideological compromises to keep the country running and maintain control by the Communist Party. In March of 1921, he announced the New Economic Policy (NEP). Under the policy, small shops could be once again established, and individuals could engage in International Trade. The new economic policy allowed the USSR to begin trading once again with other countries. The state stopped confiscating all agricultural produce that peasants grew, instead taxing them for 50% of it, allowing them to sell the balance. Lenin passed the Agrarian Law on March 21st; under it, small farmers would keep their lands for nine years. Lenin wrote in Pravda on May 6th, we cannot prevent capitalism's progress, but we can try to develop Russian State capitalism.

These actions were not enough to avert a famine that developed in the Soviet Union. The Times published this account.

"With the fields burnt dry and showing only here and there a few stalks of corn, the wretched men and women and children are making desperate attempts to support life like the beasts of the field eating grass, dry leaves, and weeds, making a cake of acorn flower, eating bones of animals ground to a powder, devouring at times even offal. Panic seizes them, and they flee in hundreds from their villages, nailing up their doors and sometimes in a fit of wild despair, setting their deserted dwelling on fire.

The Russians turned to the United States and the world community for help. The American Relief Administration was established, and Herbert Hoover was made responsible for distributing supplies. He worked closely with Dr. Fridjof Nansen a Norwegian who was the League of Nations Commissioner of Refugees. Food came from the United States and countries throughout Europe, but it was not enough to stop hundreds of thousands from dying from starvation.