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Every year, on May 31, Kazakhstan marks the Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Repressions. The facts of famine and repressions in the first half of the 20th century are among the most tragic pages of the history of Kazakhstan.

As a result of repressions and famine, about half of the population of Kazakhstan died.

The first famine in Kazakhstan took away about a million people

The Bolshevik reforms and the adverse weather conditions which led to low harvest triggered the first famine in 1919-1921. In those years, more than 2.3 million people starved, and about a million people in the country could not survive this difficult period.

Famine-Genocide in 1932-1933

5.5 million — the total number of victims of political repressions

Such criminal actions, done by the Bolsheviks and then by Soviet authorities, could not but provoke the Kazakhs’ protests. To reduce the population resistance, the Soviet regime introduced the “red terror” policy. Repressions in Kazakhstan began in the 1920s, but they substantially grew in intensity during Stalin’s time.

During the Stalin period, the total number of victims of repressions amounted to about 5.5 million people. More than 640 thousand of them were executed by shooting. Another 2.3 million people were imprisoned. Over one million people died as a result of torture in labor camps during 1934-1954.

Kazakhstan experienced famine and repressions, suffering irreparable losses. These events will remain in people’s memory forever. Consequently, every year, on May 31, Kazakhstan holds commemorative ceremonies to honor the victims of political repressions.



Famine in the Steppe. The Collectivization of Agriculture and the Kazak Herdsmen, 1928-1934

Niccolò Pianciola and Susan Finnel

The Collectivization Drive in Kazakhstan

Martha Brill Olcott

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