Robert Kindler’s seminal work is a comprehensive and unsettling account of the Soviet campaign to forcefully sedentarize and collectivize the Kazakh clans. Viewing the nomadic life as unproductive, and their lands unused and untilled, Stalin and his inner circle pursued a campaign of violence and subjugation, rather than attempting any dialog or cultural assimilation. The results were catastrophic, as the conflict and an ensuing famine (1931-1933) caused the death of nearly one-third of the Kazakh population. Hundreds of thousands of nomads became refugees and a nomadic culture and social order were essentially destroyed in less than five years.
Kindler provides an in-depth analysis of Soviet rule, economic and political motivations, and the role of remote and local Soviet officials and Kazakhs during the crisis. This is the first English-language translation of an important and harrowing history, largely unknown to Western audiences prior to Kindler’s study.
The translation of this work was funded by Geisteswissenschaften International – Translation Funding for Work in the Humanities and Social Sciences from Germany, a joint initiative of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the German Federal Foreign Office, the collecting society VG WORT and the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association).
Praise for the German edition An outstanding contribution to the literature on the Kazakh famine. It is based on prolific research in dozens of archives and on an excellent grasp of recent Kazakh, Russian, and western scholarship.
marks a rare moment of maturity for Central Asian studies, combining deep archival research with earlier findings by historians... to paint a harrowing picture.
Kindler’s book sheds important light on the way Stalinism functioned practically at both high and humble levels and hints at important parallels between events in Kazakhstan and elsewhere in the Soviet Union during collectivization. It represents an important perspective and a major contribution to our understanding of the famine.
Robert Kindler is a research associate in East European history at Humboldt University of Berlin. He is the recipient of the 2015 Geisteswissenschaften International Award and the Doctoral Thesis Award of the Institute of History at Humboldt University, Berlin.