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When the collectivization was in full force in the early 1930s, a dark period of famine started that continued to haunt Isaak and his family.  The disowned farmers were literally forced to work for the collective farm from morning till night, even on Sundays, and were paid only with bread grain, feed for the family cow, cooking oil, straw and other items the State deemed necessary to sustain life.  The workers in the Colony quickly became uninterested, lacking motivation, completely disheartened, malnourished and unhappy.  Work on the farms was still done poorly and much of the crops perished in the fields while the village died of starvation.  Any grain removed from the field the authorities stripped from the hands of those who grew it.  The stolen grain was poured on the west end of Gnadenfeld’s southern main road, as was done in every village, and armed guards were placed around the piles.  They let the grain rot there to show the strength of the State.  It was a way of telling the farmers no one could eat except through the generosity of the government.  This cruel maneuver gave Isaak a particularly bad taste in his mouth.  Even that night he did everything in his  power to avoid the area of Gnadenfeld where their grain was rotting.  It made him feel extremely angry yet helpless.

Gnadenfeld Cow

Gnadenfeld Cow

New restrictions to the villager’s lives continued to be enforced.  While each home had land in the back of their house, attempting to grow grain or food in this garden for personal use beyond that which the State deemed necessary was punished with up to ten years of forced labor.  The cattle and the livestock of the farmers was collected, each farmer being allowed to keep one or two cows at their house.  All the other animals were kept in newly built barns that held a very large number of animals.  The existing stables and barns built near every home were torn down, and every piece of lumber, brick and even nails were forcibly saved to build these huge barns for the collective.  In Gnadenfeld, these structures were on the eastern end of town outside of the tree wind-break. Such a large collective of animals created diseases that spread throughout the entire herd and their animals were constantly weak, sick or dying.