Creating the Future by Preserving the Memory

May 31 – a day of memory of one of the most tragic pages of the history of Kazakhstan – mass political repressions and the terrible famine, which caused the death of millions of people. In memory of the numerous victims in our country many events are held, exhibitions are opened in museums, flowers are laid on memorials, new data is published. We do this not only out of respect for the memory of the victims of repressions and famine, but also to ensure that those terrible days will never happen again.

All revolutions take place on a wave of populist promises of “everything and at once,” in order to achieve the goal, revolutionaries promise every conceivable and unthinkable good. However, the hangover can be brutal, and the larger the upheaval, the harder the payback for naive credulity. The October Revolution came on the wave of Bolshevik slogans “Factories to the workers, land to the peasants. Even Soviet scholars recognized the fact that it was possible to reach the level of economic and especially industrial development of the pre-revolutionary period of 1913 only by the end of the 1930s. And the price was terrifying. The endless struggle against dissent, the “law of the three spikelets”, and the deadlines for being late for work were nothing like the tales of workers owning factories and peasants owning land. And after the decree on the elimination of unreliable elements, entire strata of people, such as merchants, Cossacks, prosperous peasantry, managers of industrial enterprises and even many prominent revolutionaries were liquidated. The revolution devoured its children as well.

Kazakhstan – a victim of terror

All of Kazakhstan turned into a kind of a huge prison, because for the years of repression in the camps created in the territory of our country over 5 million people were exiled. And, according to other data, the total number of those convicted greatly exceeds this figure. But it does not mean that only people were exiled to Kazakhstan. In the republic itself during the period from 1921 to 1954 100 thousand people were condemned, and 25 thousand of them were sentenced to the highest measure of punishment – shooting.

By the end of the 20s the state hysteria had reached its limit. In 1928 mass arrests of former figures of “Alash Orda”, first of all such prominent leaders as M. Dulatov, M. Zhumabayev, J. Aymauytov began.

As in the territory of the whole Soviet Union, in Kazakhstan the NKVD deployed vigorous activity. There were “revealed” 183 different structures, with a total of 3,720 “agents”. In 33 years from 1920 till 1953 about 110 thousand people were subjected to political repressions; about 18% of all Kazakh party organization were declared enemies of the people.

In 1937-1938 A. Bokeykhanov, A. Baitursunov, M. Dulatuly, A. Yermekov, H. Dosmukhameduly and many other prominent figures were accused of nationalism and espionage. At the peak of the scale of repressions in 1937 in Kazakhstan the number of those arrested reached 105 thousand people, of whom some 22 thousand were sentenced to execution. Such number of repressed caused irreparable harm to our small by population republic in demographic and intellectual potential.


In early 1930s Kazakhstan lived through one of the most tragic pages in its history – the Great Famine of 1932-1933. Despite the fact that the famine in Kazakhstan is considered part of the country-wide famine, which in this period covered the entire USSR due to the policy of forced collectivization, the Kazakh people suffered from hunger like no other…

The famine of 1932-1933 is sometimes referred to as “Goloshchekin’s”, in 1925-1927 the famous Bolshevik leader F. I. Goloshchekin held the so-called “Little October” in the Kazakh region. People were deprived of their cattle, property and sent under police escort to “settling points” where people simply died without livelihood. By 1933 about one tenth of 40 million cattle were left.

As a result of famine that befell the republic in 1932-1933 Kazakh people suffered heavy losses. Kazakhs lost 2 million 400 thousand people from starvation and related epidemics, as well as constantly high mortality rate, which was 49% of the total number of Kazakhs in those years.

Trying to escape the hard fate, many Kazakh families tried to migrate from the territory of the republic. From the beginning of 1930 to the middle of 1931 alone, almost 300 thousand households migrated from the territory of Kazakhstan. Most of the population who fled from the Soviet power moved to the territory of China, Iran and Afghanistan. In total, 1.3 million people migrated outside the republic during the years of famine, 670,000 of them irrevocably.

The famine of 1932-1933 ruined Kazakhstan and led to unprecedented victims and irreparable losses. And remembering those years, every resident of Kazakhstan should imagine the scale of this tragedy and its consequences for the history of his or her country.

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