Famine of 1946-1947

Remember Those Who Starve! A Russian poster from 1921.

Remember Those Who Starve! A Russian poster from 1921.

Famine was a subject in Russian history that was not surprising or new for it’s citizens. Although out of the three famines that occurred in Russian history we know the least about the last one, the famine of 1946-1947 is still an important piece of the history during this time.

As Freeze notes in his text, the war was devastating to Russia in all aspects of life. The war destroyed 1,700 towns, 70,000 villages, 3,000 factories, and 65,000 kilometers of railway. That was only the aftermath of the war however, and the famine was still yet to come.

The conditions of the famine were caused by drought, the effects of which were exacerbated by the devastation caused by the war. Not only that, but the grain harvests were significantly lower that normal and the amount of able-bodied workers had decreased from either the soldiers decision to not go back to the farm or from the casualties of war which dramatically increased population in men.

There was an estimated 2 million people that died from the famine of 1946-1947 which is a very high number after the devastation that occurred to the population during the war. The mortality rate peaked in the summer of 1947 and the famine contributed to a mass exodus from the countryside to the cities. Although it wasn’t the biggest famine that occurred in Russian history, I think it is still one that was traumatic considering the timing right after the war and was just another setback for the Russian’s as they tried to recover from the various events of past decades.



Freeze, Gregory L. “Chapter 12,  The Great Fatherland War and Late Stalinism.” Russia: A History. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. 363. Print.

Seventeen Moments in Soviet History – http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1936stakhanov&Year=1936&navi=byYear

3 comments for “Famine of 1946-1947

  1. Connor Balzer
    21 October, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I also found the famine of 1946 – 1947 to be be an intriguing topic. I had trouble understanding how a country that had such a huge focus on agriculture right up though the early 1900’s could run into problems like this. I think you did a good job of pointing out some of the causes of the famine, namely the drought and war, which begins to explain how a famine of this magnitude could occur in Russia. I think in addition to this, Russia’s desperate struggle to escape their backwardness and catch up to the west resulted in a significant push away from agriculture which led to problems when food shortages began to develop as the country had greatly distanced itself from the agricultural prowess it once had. This accompanied by the false scientific claims of people like Trofim Lysenko and the backing of these claims by Stalin, really set Russia on a course for the widespread famine that occurred. There is a good article on Lysenko and his ideas in 17 moments in Russian History (http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1947lysenko&Year=1947)

  2. Kyle
    22 October, 2013 at 1:28 am

    This famine seems like the perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. War and drought surely ravaged the country side. It forces you to sympathize with the Russian people living at that time.

  3. 23 October, 2013 at 3:42 am

    “Perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances” sums it up beautifully. Well done!

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