It is laid out in the thirteenth chapter of Gregory Freeze’s book, Russia A History, that Khrushchev was not the most likely successor to Stalin; However, he had a great attribute in his ability to relate to the common folk through his concern for popular welfare (409). Khrushchev, after taking power, implemented agricultural reforms specifically though the vast increase of corn cultivation.
Corn, as a fodder (food) crop, was Khrushchev’s proposed solution to the livestock problem, and so it was rampant across agricultural acreage. A particularly productive two years of harvest gave Khrushchev great praise for his “agricultural miracle” and brought corn to the tables of the Soviet Union. There were a surprising amount of newspaper articles about corn during this time, ones about recipes, it’s significance and even about how the youth got involved!
Unfortunately, the Corn Campaign’s success was not as long lived as Khrushchev or the people of the Soviet Union had hoped. Despite news articles emphasizing the importance of mechanization, the agricultural authorities disregarded the need for the creation of more effective methods of corn cultivation. Rather, they increased the acreage of corn cultivation without considering the climate and labor supply in those areas. I find this to be ironic because Khrushchev once got in trouble with Stalin over resisting his “demands for grain deliveries that ignored crop failure and famine” (Freeze 409-410). The cultivating seasons of 1962 proved deadly to the corn and hurt not only Soviet agriculture but also Khrushchev’s reputation.
Honestly, I chose this topic because of the images, but after actually looking into it I now see how it could lead into the question of assessing the “perils” vs. the “promises” of reform after Stalin in that what looked like a promising agricultural move actually brought peril to Soviet agriculture and to Khrushchev as a leader.
The Current Digest of the Russian Press [Minneapolis]. 1949. East View Information Services, dlib-eastview-com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/browse/publication/6765. Accessed 7 Apr. 2018.
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. 3rd ed., New York, Oxford UP, 2009.
Von Geldern, James. “Corn Campaign.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, WordPress, soviethistory.msu.edu/1961-2/corn-campaign/. Accessed 7 Apr. 2018.
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