Download Reign of Lenin--Russian Civil War 1918-1920
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Reign of Lenin--Russian Civil War 1918-1920 Whites v. Reds v. Greens--Three sides The Russian Civil War had two main antagonists: The Reds, or Bolsheviks, and the Whites or anti-Communists. This war raged for two years and saw the defeat of the White armies and the deaths of millions. A third group was the Greens. These were peasants who mainly wanted to be left alone. They usually rebelled against either side for requisitioning food or conscripting men. In effect, they gave far more trouble to the Reds than the Whites. For that, they would pay dearly. Deteriorating Red Situation From the time the Bolsheviks seized power they were resisted by many groups. Peasants did not want to sell their crops for 1/3 of the actual value to the Bolsheviks and hid food rather than give it away. Workers in many regions were angry that working conditions did not improve under the Bolsheviks and began to go on strike. Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries encouraged these strikes as a way to get the Bolsheviks to change policies and allow the other socialists to have some power. Whites in South and West In addition the military situation was going fairly badly for the Bolsheviks. White armies in the South near the Crimea and Ukraine were gaining ground by following up on peasant and Cossack revolts. These armies were driving deeply into Russia and the situation was becoming critical. In the West, a White army cut the Trans-Siberian Railway and was driving toward Moscow. Again, paving the way were peasant uprisings and massive strikes against the Bolsheviks. War Communism To get the factories working again required drastic steps--steps created by Leon Trotsky. Trotsky created War Communism. Simply put, War Communism made workers part of the military. Not going to work was an act of desertion punishable by death. Working slowly was "sabotage." Peasants were required to supply food--this was called "requisitioning." Realizing that fulfilling quotas would necessarily mean their own starvation, peasants began massive uprisings and innumerable riots to protest requisitioning. Also inflaming matters was conscription into the Red Army. Peasants who had just survived WWI to get home to farm their land were to be forced back into the Army while their families starved. Faced with this choice, the peasants revolted and formed into armed groups the Reds called, "Greens." Red Terror To get food, the Chekas sent out detachments (200,000 men total) to get food and to put areas back under control. They were extraordinarily violent. Entire cities were razed to the ground and the entire town's population was murdered or deported. Thousands could be executed in a couple of days as punishment. Deportees were sent to concentration camps in the woods where dozens died everyday from disease, starvation, or exposure. The women were sometimes kept to "clean the barracks" of the Cheka--where they were raped at will. In many cases, the Cheka were not only very drunk when carrying out such policies, but in many areas, cocaine usage was rampant and often led to people being executed as entertainment for the Chekas. To control strikers, the Bolsheviks went after the "leaders" of the strikes. Blamed were the socialists in the Menshevik and Social Revolutionary parties. Many of them were arrested and held as hostages if strikes developed. In severe cases of strike thousands of strikers could be murdered by drowning to regain control of a region where the strike became general. Reign of Lenin--New Economic Policy These hideous measures against the peasants in the "Dirty War" threatened massive famine all over Russia. In March of 1921, Lenin approved the New Economic Policy (NEP). The NEP allowed a free market in agriculture and some industry. Arresting and shooting everyone had worked politically to regain control, but production was horrible. So, the Bolsheviks approved this return to "capitalism." Lenin justified this move as "one step back, two steps forward." However, the intense food requisitions of late 1920 had even taken much of the seeds for next year's crop. Plus, tremendous dislocation of peoples made it tough to get agriculture running again. Though a free market, the government still assessed enormous taxes on the peasants. However, if a crop was big enough, the peasants could grow enough for the Bolsheviks and have plenty left over to improve their own lot. The problem was that many peasant areas were barely under Soviet control and peasants battled with the Reds into 1922. The threatened famine, which forced even Lenin to change policy (at least to get food for the cities), began to hit in 1921. When it did, Lenin decided to use it to his advantage. Dominant People in Russian History 1917 – 1924 Nicholas II Since Nicolas II had taken full responsibility for the Russian Army, he was to blame for all the losses. The army had over 1,300,000 fatalities and over 4,200,000 wounded during the course of WWI. Nicholas was responsible for every death and every wounded person. The Army, the workers, and the businesses all started to revolt in their own way. They had had enough of Niki’s leadership and decided it was time for a new dictator. The people broke the windows of businesses and protested about the high prices of food. The soldiers were ordered to repress the protests but some decided that the peasants had a reasonable cause and advocated for them. Faced with the current crisis in Russia, the high command of the Russian Army suggested that Nicholas abdicate the throne for his own safety. Following the suggestion, Nicholas started looking for a successor. Not able to find one of his qualified supporters that were willing, Niki gave the throne to the provisional government. Prince Lvov After Nicholas abdicated the throne, Prince Lvov became the first leader of the provisional governments. Lvov was previously the president of the all-Russian Union of Zemstvos during WWI and at one time had been a deputy of the constitutional Democratic Party of the Duma. Lvov was a peaceful man, making it hard for him to cope with the violent situation going on in Russia. After his foreign minister resigned, Lvov formed the second Provisional Government. Lvov resigned due to his stance on WWI and the suppression of an uprising in Petrograd July 1917, which had become unpopular. Alexander Kerensky During the reign of Czar Nicholas II, Kerensky called for Nicholas' removal. Kerensky was not afraid of possible repercussions by the Czar, which could have cost him his life under the rule of different Czars. Kerensky was appointed to the position of Minister of Justice during the Provisional Governments of George Lvov. Kerensky immediately in-troduced such legislation as abolition of capital punishment, freedom of the press, and abolition of ethnic and religious discrimination. Kerensky later introduced Universal Suffrage. After Lvov’s resignation, Kerensky took over. Kerensky replaced General Alexei Brusilov with General Lavr Kornilov because of his leadership in the July Offen-sive. The two continually bumped heads and when Kornilov tried to overthrow Kerensky, he was unsuccessful. Kornilov lead troops to attempt to invade Petrograd but Kerensky dispatched the Red Guard and the Soviets to defend the city. Problems arose when these two groups who were loyal to the Bolsheviks were sent because the Bolshev-iks wanted to control Russia. Kornilov was never able to invade Petrograd. Kornilov made a conscious choice against invasion leading to his arrest. The Bolsheviks had their chance. The Bolsheviks sent in their army of more than 25,000. There weren't that many soldiers, but they attacked the right places. They took down the winter palace with many of Kerensky’s cabinet members. The Bolsheviks were now in control of Russia. Vladimir Lenin After Nicholas II abdicated his throne and the Provisional Governments were underway, Lenin saw his opportunity for power. Lenin decided it was time to return from exile. Lenin left Switzerland and received a hero’s welcome when he arrived in Petrograd. Lenin organized the Bolsheviks, attempting to overthrow the government of Lvov, but the uprising was unsuccessful. The government ordered Lenin's arrest for being an agent of the Germans. Lenin escaped to Finland before the government was able to arrest him. The Government then was under the control of Kerensky. During October 1917, Lenin returned to Petrograd and urged a revolt among his colleagues. Kerensky’s was weak after all; the government did not kill its competition when it had the chance. Leon Trotsky organized some government troops and was able to get some Naval forces. The Bolsheviks took over Petrograd on November 7. Kerensky realized that his government could not win against the Bolsheviks and took the liberty of escaping the country. The Bolsheviks controlled Russia and Lenin took control. Felix Dzerzhinsky Dzerzhinsky was a Russian Bolshevik Leader, Organizer, and most famously, the leader of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and sabotage or the Cheka. He would later head the Cheka successors OGPU and the GPU. Josef Stalin Stalin’s first job after the Bolshevik revolution was the Commissar of Nationalities. Stalin tended to like to exaggerate his influence in military roles. One such occasion occurred during the Armed Uprisings where he takes credit for the victory at Tsaritsyn, later called Stalin grad. Stalin does not deserve to take credit for this victory nor name the city after himself. Stalin's second position was on the Politburo (Political Bureau) which is the policy making branch of the parties central committee. Since there are only 5 members of the Bureau, that was an honor. But the greatest honor came in 1922, when the central committee elected Stalin as General Secretary. Stalin began to quietly plot events without Lenin’s knowledge starting around 1920. In addition to Stalin’s secrets, Lenin did not like Stalin’s growing power. Lenin wrote a note saying that Stalin was too rude to rule Russia and that he should not be the General Secretary. However, Stalin was never removed. The note was not discovered until after Lenin’s death where it was ignored. They believed in their new leader Stalin. Leon Trotsky Leon Trotsky was a key figure within the Russian Marxist and Revolutionary circles, and later in his life he became one the central leaders of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) until his banishment from the Politburo in 1926. Trotsky, the progeny of Russified Jews, was born in Kherson Oblast, Ukraine, under his original name, Lev Davidovich Bronstein. In school, Trotsky was recognized for his superior intellect. Trotsky began his political life in 1896, concurring with the Populist movement in Russia; he entered into the Mykolayiv Populist party and later, becoming influenced by the massive sweep of Marxist theories, abandoned the Mykolayiv Populist party and converted to Marxism. In 1897, while in Mykolayiv, Trotsky organized the Southern Russian Workers Union and was arrested and exiled to Siberia. In 1902 Trotsky escaped and fled to Europe, under the pseudonym Leon Trotsky, and joined Vladimir Lenin in the Russian Social Democrats, who bruited their revolutionary theories through their newspaper, Iskra (The Spark). Trotsky, while publishing the Iskra, became widely recognized by Lenin and other revolutionaries for his oracle brilliance and passion for the Social Democrats. Trotsky expressed his opposition to Lenin’s and the Bolshevik’s (majority) radical revolutionary ideas by siding with the Mensheviks (minority) in the Second Congress in 1903. During the 1905 Revolution, Trotsky was elected Chairman of the Saint Petersburg Soviet of Workers Deputies, and again was exiled to Siberia for revolutionary actions. After escaping from Siberia in 1907, Trotsky fled to New York City where he expressed his revolutionary theories and the absurdities of Russia’s government through a Russian Newspaper. Trotsky returned to Russia in 1917 to aid the February Revolution and take leadership of the left Social Democrats. After gaining great popularity from the left, he joined the Petrograd Soviets. Lenin and Trotsky began to express similar needs for the destruction of the Provisional Government. After being flattered and persuaded by Lenin, Trotsky joined the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party as its Chairman. During Lenin’s exile Trotsky, now the in charge of the Bolsheviks, set out to complete Lenin’s vision by directing the October Revolutions. Upon Lenin’s return a new Soviet government was erected, in which Trotsky became the Commissar of Foreign Affairs. Trotsky negotiated a peace treaty with Germany under the Treaty of BrestLitovsk in 1918 in order to insight a German revolution but because of difficulties only ended warfare between Russia and Germany. In order to sustain revolutionary activities he created and direct the Red Army, which allowed the soviets to win the Civil War, and create a massive Red Scare in Russia. Lenin’s stroke in 1922 created a race for power between the members of the Central Committee. Since Trotsky was only second to Lenin in the Politburo it made sense that he would replace Lenin as general of the Soviets, but his inability to out maneuver his three rivals, Stalin Zinovyez, and Kamenev lead to his banishment from the Politburo in 1926, upon the grounds of antiLeninist machinations to industrialize Russia. In 1928, Stalin, fearing the wide spread favoritism towards Trotsky, exiled Trotsky to Central Asia, and then again in 1929 from the USSR. Trotsky spent most of his time in Mexico savagely critiquing Stalinist Russia. As a result a Stalinist agent, who was sent into Mexico, mortally wounded Trotsky through his skull with an ice pick on August 20th, 1940. Reign of Lenin--"De-Cossackization" In Southern Russia (mostly Ukraine) were the people known as Cossacks. These frontiersmen historically did the dirty work for the Czars in return for large tracts of land and the right to carry arms. However, the Cossacks refused to answer requisitions for food if they chose not to, and sometimes forcibly drove out Bolsheviks who tried. Such was the behavior of some of the most independent-minded people in the world. Lenin and Dzerzhinsky decided this was enough and decided to destroy the Cossacks as "enemies of the people." After months of fighting, aerial bombardments and sometimes the use of poison gas, the Bolsheviks finally brought the region under control. Once under control, they began the policy of 'de-Cossackization." This meant that hundreds of thousands of Cossacks were deported to regions far from their homes. Many cities were burned to the ground. When the Bolsheviks were done, 80% of the Cossacks in the region were dead or deported. The area was resettled with Russians loyal to the Bolsheviks. However, all this violence had disrupted agriculture and ushered in a famine for those peasants who were not in the camps. Reign of Lenin--Famine of 1921-23 (Famine and crushing the Church) From 1921-1923 peasants were starving by the millions. However, for Lenin, this was all a good thing. Peasants stood in the way of progress and their deaths would force the survivors to take the Bolsheviks seriously. With this massive famine, Lenin wished to do nothing but let them starve. As the famine reached a dramatic level in autumn 1921, Lenin ordered increased taxes on food. He did not care for the suffering of the peasants (who made up 85% of the Russian population). However, several top intellectuals formed the Social Committee for the Fight against the Famine which was led the by the journalist Ekaterina Kuskova. Lenin refused to see them, saying he would use her name for public relations purposes, but she, "must not cause any damage." However, other Bolsheviks did sympathize with Kuskova and Lenin relented. In July of 1921, the party legalized the group that was allowed to use the Red Cross emblem and to raise food from sources abroad. In this effort, the group now called the All-Russian Committee for Aid to the Starving began its life-saving work. Even while being persecuted, the Orthodox Church cooperated in using all non-sacramental treasures to raise money to buy food from abroad. Aid poured into Russia from the Red Cross, Quakers, and the American Relief Association (ARA) headed by Herbert Hoover. Six days after getting Hoover's support and only a month after forming the group, Lenin disbanded the group and exiled all the members to cities in areas hardest hit by famine. He unleashed a tremendous press offensive against the group and later jailed or exiled out of Russia all the members. In its place Lenin formed a new group, the Central Commission for Help for the Hungry. This group was slow moving and horribly corrupt. When 30 million were starving the CCHH only helped 3 million and in irregular fashion. In contrast, Hoover's ARA, the Quakers and Red Cross fed 11 million people per day. Still, from 1921 to 1922 at least five million Russians died of starvation to Lenin's pleasure. In the midst of this disaster, Lenin used events as an opportunity to destroy the Orthodox Church. Lenin said, "With the help of all those starving people who are starting to eat each other, who are dying by the millions, and whose bodies litter the roadside all over the country, it is now and only now that we can--and therefore must-confiscate all church property with all the ruthless energy we can still muster. This is precisely the moment the masses will support us most fervently, and rise up against the…religious conspirators." Starvation and the elimination of the church would allow, "Electricity to replace God." Those who lived would marvel at the bright socialist future. In 1922 alone, the Bolsheviks killed 2,691 priests, 1,962 monks and 3,447 nuns. The leader of the Orthodox Church was put under surveillance and the Bishop of Petrograd was executed. The Bolsheviks confiscated all Church land and many of the greatest Orthodox Churches were converted into stables for cavalry horses. Crushing the Peasants 1920-1922 The "Dirty War" The two big causes of peasant resistance to the Bolsheviks were: 1) enforced conscription into the Red Army and 2) requisition of scarce food. The Bolsheviks became fearful of losing their base in the cities due to a lack of food from 1919 to 1922. There was precious little food available at all for the cities and this led to many food riots and attacks on Bolshevik officials. The problem was that there was food in the countryside, but it did not get to the cities. The Bolsheviks blamed this on hoarding by peasants and kulaks and on counterrevolutionary activity by the bourgeoisie and monarchist elements. Therefore, the Cheka were employed to get these elements out of the way of progress. The problem was that peasant revolts were widespread and numbered in the thousands. In 1920, Tambov province erupted in rebellion. By 1921 entire regions of Russia were out of Bolshevik control and in the hand of peasants and the Social Revolutionaries. Peasant armies of 50,000 appeared in Ukraine and in Cossack regions. The Red Army was hard pressed to put down these rebellions while also fighting the Whites. The situation got so out of control, that it seemed certain the Bolsheviks would lose. In 1921, Petrograd began a series of strikes led by Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries. Entire Red Army units refused to put down the strikes and the Bolsheviks were barely in control. Petrograd was on the verge of Revolution awaiting a spark. They were about to get it when the sailors at nearby Kronstadt Naval Base chose to join the strikers. Fortunately for the Bolsheviks, Lenin and Dzerzhinsky knew that swift and merciless action would save the day. The Chekas were moved into Petrograd and arrested 2,000 strikers and their leadership. Then they moved on Kronstadt. Thousands died in a ten-day assault that resulted in Bolshevik victory. Over 2,000 were executed after surrender and 6,500 were sent to concentration camps. 8,000 more escaped to Finland but came back when they were promised amnesty. However, upon arrival home all were thrown into concentration camps. By 1922, on 1,500 were still alive. To ensure a clean sweep, 2,500 civilians from Kronstadt were also thrown into concentration camps on the grounds that they stayed in the town during the rebellion. In the peasant areas, similar swift and brutal methods were employed. The Red Army and Chekas began swooping into peasant areas and taking hostages, shooting outright protestors and demanding to know the whereabouts of "bandits'--the Bolshevik word for the peasant rebels. The villagers rarely believed the Bolsheviks would kill the hostages and usually stalled. Then, the Chekas would murder 21 hostages before the throng. Soon, food and "bandits" would be discovered. If the town were particularly unruly, the entire village would be deported to slow death in the Siberian forest. This process was repeated dozens of times in villages all over Russia. In Tambov, prisoners were gassed, people were shot for not giving their names and the eldest son of any household was murdered if the family had a weapon, a member in the "bandits," or for protecting people who had guns or were "bandits." In addition, Cheka commanders employed poison gas in massive bombardments of forest areas to clear the forest of "bandits." Tambov was crushed and back under control. In Ukraine, the fighting was extreme. Using cannon, hundreds of machine guns and tens of thousands of men, the Ukrainians battled the Bolsheviks for months before finally losing. Entire towns were again wiped out, thousands were taken onto barges in rivers, tied-up and thrown into the water with stones around their necks. Particularly troublesome areas suffered almost complete deportation to Siberia. Actions like these saved the hides of the Bolsheviks who were able to regain control of the countryside and feed the cities. After the Bolsheviks got their food, it was the job of the peasants to survive on their own. It is estimated the Bolsheviks starved or murdered at least a million people in the war against the peasants. Stalin’s Rule Reign of Stalin--Five Year Plans First Five Year Plan The five year plan was created in 1928 to expedite the industrialization of Russia and increase production of coal, steel and iron. Citing the growth and power other industrialized countries had achieved; Stalin created the five year plan in order to catch up with the rest of the industrialized world. The plan attempted to make the USSR self-sufficient by a state takeover of all firms and businesses. Each business or factory was required to meet a quota through a system called collectivization. During the first five year plan dams, railroads, canals, mines and factories were built. Most of the structures were built using prison labor, which was economical as the prisoners had no choice. If prison workers ever ran out, Stalin could always go and arrest more people in order to expedite the construction. Stalin's terror tactics were implemented to not only strike fear in the hearts of men but as a virtually free form of labor. Workers were forced to work not only out of fright but would lose housing and food rations if unemployed. Stalin created a web of forced labor in order to expedite industrialization and make sure nothing fouled up his five year plan. However the tangled web he wove caused dissatisfaction among workers and in some cases slowed down production instead of increasing it. Modernization in agriculture was created by collective farms. The collective farms forced peasants to work on farms and hand over most of the crop to the government. The peasants had to live off whatever meager payment meted out to them by the government or feed on what was left of the crop. The "kulaks", rich peasants created by Land Reforms in 1906, were destroyed as a middle class from starvation or death. The Kulaks instead of the government imposed death chose to destroy their farms to rebel against the Soviet Union requisitioning their crops. Due to the extreme tactics used by Stalin, agricultural production failed to increase and instead, fell more than 10%. Second Five Year Plan The second five year plan created in 1932 aimed to triple coal, iron and steel output. The success of the second five year plan put an end to food rationing and the USSR became a major world economic power. There was a minor increase in the availability of consumer goods although due to increased output and minor problems in the collectivization the quality remained poor. Third Five Year Plan The third five year plan (1938-1941) focused on the USSR and it's role in World War Two; due to the problems in mobilizing troops in World War One a special effort was made to ensure that Russia's transportation systems was running and efficient. Railways were extended and the output of army equipment was increased. The plan allowed the USSR to hold their ground during the Nazi invasion and be self sufficient after the war, however in order to increase production, quotas were increased as well causing more purges and disillusionment with the government. Although successful at times the five year plans were largely unsuccessful because of the extreme militaristic tactics used to increase production. Instead of finding a better solution to expediting the industrialization of the Soviet Union, Stalin implemented more five year plans, the plans continued until the fall of the Soviet Union. The Great Purge/The Great Terror Joseph Stalin changed his name each of the six times he escaped from being arrested or exiled. One of the names he used was Stalin, Russian for "steel." This "man of steel" created a complete dictatorship and autonomy in Russia during his time of rule. In order to eliminate all competition, Stalin carried out a purge of the Red Army as well as a purge of the communist party in the 1930's. Stalin sent police throughout Russia to requisition food and put areas back under control. The police were extremely violent, executing thousands in a couple of days. A grave containing 10,000 bodies of Soviets who were shot between 1937 and 1938 was found in Vinnytsia during World War 2. Entire cities were destroyed and the people of the town murdered or deported to concentration camps. Many died of disease, starvation, or exposure. All "enemies of the people" were killed. Stalin claiming he had evidence that a military coup was being planned, carried out a general purge of the army to remove the only group who had the power to overthrow him. He removed many high-ranking officers, about 70,000 men in the officer corps. Even though Stalin was removing many those that could be successful in opposing him, he was weakening the leadership of the Red Army. The Morale of the army was already low from reluctance of soldiers to follow Stalin's policies of Collectivization. The added blow of lost leaders further diminished its power, creating an army that was unprepared for World War 2. Stalin not only eliminated opposition from those opposed to Bolshevism, but those within the Bolshevik party that would potentially oppose his leadership. The police initially used against opponents of Bolshevism, but Stalin began to use the police against Bolshevik party resulted in the elimination of 850,000 members, about 36% of the membership. Stalin terrorized Russia with a massive amount of arrests and executions, as well as some show trials. Stalin's police targeted kulaks, members of the anti-Bolshevik armies, priests, and immigrants of Galicia. However, huge members of average citizens were killed because random arrests were also made. This instilled in the people of Russia a fear of the police and recognition of their power. Stalin wanted to create a feeling of insecurity in his people, and wanted them to feel dependent on him. Many of those killed for espionage or treason were not given a trial. Instead they were tortured and their families threatened until they confessed to a crime. Interrogators asked those they tortured, so-called "traitors," who recruited them and who they recruited. These forced recriminations perpetuated the killing of the interrogators, implicating more people in their list of "enemies of the people." Many women were raped. Millions of innocent civilians were killed or sent to labor camps in the freezing woods of Siberia to die. In 1938 the number of victims forced into concentration camps rose to its maximum of an estimated 8-10 million. Stalin put fear in the heart of every Soviet including his wife. Stalin's second wife, Nadezhda Allilueva committed suicide after criticizing her husband's policy of collectivization and treatment of the peasants. Stalin ruled as the dictator of the Soviet Union until his death in 1953. Reign of Stalin--Collectivization and the "Kulaks" Peasants defeat Collectivization In late 1929, the list of regions to be collectivized was created. Three types of kulaks were identified: 1) "Counterrevolutionaries" to be sent to GPU camps or shot if resist in any way. 2) "Arch exploiters" to be deported to remote regions and 3) "Loyal" kulaks to be deported to barren land outside the Kolkhozy or collective farms. This process was done by Communist party members sent to a village and given a few poor peasants to "dekulakize" the area of kulaks not already on GPU lists. Kulaks were then robbed of their goods their farms seized. The dekulakization brigades ran rampant and were terribly abusive. Virtually any activity in the last several years, from "excessively going to church," or even the sale of a pig, was enough to be classified as a "kulak." This process quickly devolved into simple looting. The peasants began protesting in early 1930 and expanded quickly. There were 402 revolts in January and in March there were 6,500. In March, 1930 Stalin wrote an article called, "Dizzy with Success" that said local bosses had been "dizzy with success" at collectivizing and had abused their powers. Five million peasants left the Kolkhozy in the next four weeks. In 800 occasions, troop had to put down revolts and demonstrations as hundreds of Communist officials were killed or wounded by angry peasants. Unrest slowed after March. However, 2.5 million peasants took part in revolts that year involving 14,000 separate incidents. The peasants demanded that churches be reopened, the Kolkhozy be disbanded and an end to Bolshevik rule. Entire districts of Ukraine actually escaped from Soviet control. Though the tide was rolled back it was at a terrific cost. In one part of Ukraine alone, 15,000 people were arrested. By the end of the year the GPU sentenced over 20,000 people to death through courts alone. Expelling the Kulaks and "Abandonment in deportation" Over 60,000 kulaks from the first category were "taken out of circulation" in a matter of weeks. By the end of 1931, more than 1.8 million kulaks were now in the labor camp system. The tragedy was that many were deported to the middle of nowhere, without food, tools or shelter, and simply abandoned on the bare ground. One camp was to have 1400 buildings for the prisoners, however only seven existed when several thousand prisoners showed up. In many places, cannibalism commenced within only a few day of arrival when it was clear no food would arrive and people were dying by the dozens every day. Hundreds of thousands died in this process. Moscow criticized the directors of these "colonies," not for cruelty, but for losing valuable labor. Women were sometimes kept as sex slaves by the administrators of the camps. One camp director told a prisoner, "If we wanted to, we could liquidate all of you. If we were to do so, the GPU would promptly send us another hundred thousand just like you." Eventually, the idea of creating "colonies" in uninhabitable places was abandoned, and the deportees were sent to more conventional mining, lumbering or other operations where they worked alongside free people. Over time, the distinction of free vs. prisoner went away and remote regions simply had a larger population bolstered by the deportees.