Great Famine of 1931-1933 in Kazakhstan: A Contemporary’s Reminiscences Cover Image

Great Famine of 1931-1933 in Kazakhstan: A Contemporary’s Reminiscences
Great Famine of 1931-1933 in Kazakhstan: A Contemporary’s Reminiscences

Author(s): Nazira Nurtazina
Subject(s): History
Published by: Slavic Research Center

Summary/Abstract: The famine that occurred in Kazakhstan in the early 1930s because of grain and meat procurement campaigns, collectivization, and forced sedentarization is a tragic page in Soviet history, and a number of scholars have written on this subject since the perestroika period.1 The causes and consequences of the famine have been much studied, although researchers’ opinions differ on various issues, especially on the scale of the victims. Meanwhile, the famine is still remembered by the older generations of Kazakhs, and it is important to study their memories and experiences while they are still with us. In this section, we publish the reminiscences of Nŭrziya Qajïbaeva (Kazhibaeva), who witnessed the famine in Eastern Kazakhstan when she was around six years old. Although she did not experience extreme famine herself, she witnessed the severe liv¬ing conditions of that period with her own eyes and through her husband’s accounts. The description of her temporary emigration to China (Xinjiang) is of special interest. For her community, this was a second-time emigration, as her father’s family went to Xinjiang during the revolt of 1916, and came back to Kazakhstan after losing all their livestock and many family members. In 1933, the emigration of her family was more successful, as they carefully chose the route for crossing the border, received help from the Kazakhs who went to China before them (they emigrated in a later phase of the famine) as well as local Uyghurs, and were able to exchange their ornaments for food. However, they soon returned; they did not perceive Chinese Xinjiang to be their “home,” despite its sizable Kazakh population.

  • Issue Year: 2012
  • Issue No: 32
  • Page Range: 105-129
  • Page Count: 25
  • Language: English