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YIVO Folder 239 -- Report by I.M. Berger on his inspection of Jewish
colonies in the Guliaipole (Huliaypole) district, Ekaterinoslav province,
November 3, 1924. Also general statistics on the Jewish settlements in the
Ekaterinoslav region. 20pp. 1925-1925


Report about trip to city of Ekaterinoslav and colonies of Guliaipole district in the period November 24 – December 3 1924.

            The purpose of this trip was a) to inspect state of business of zoning of new land parcels for new Jewish settlements in Ekaterinoslav guberniya b) invite water supply engineer of guberniya, Sakovich, to inspect state of drilled wells in Novo-Zlatopol and Guliaipole, and options of repair  of such, c) check inventory of tractors in Guliaipole region [at this time administrative structure of USSR was not finalized yet. Author uses old, pre-revolutionary word “Guberniya” for major administrative unit, but new word “rayon” – region – for lesser unit, what used to be called “uyesd”] and organize shipment of tractors to Crimea, d) find out why payments have not been collected from cooperatives and how to fix this situation.  

 

            Zoning of new land parcels. Data about this is stored in Ekaterinoslav GZU [my guess: this Russian acronym is for Main Land Management], so I turned to them. As it is known, NKZ [Russian acronym, my guess: People Commissariat of Agriculture] ordered to parcel 2000 diesiatina [1 diesiatina = 1.093 hectare] in Zaporozhe okrug [post-revolution administrative unit, probably larger than rayon] and 4000 in Krivorozhe okrug. So far only preliminary researches have been performed. Situation and size of proposed parcels are shown on attached maps and comments. All those materials are subject to check in the field, and revision, and confirmation first by Okrug Land Zoning Council, then by Ekaterinoslav Council. After confirmation by Guberniya Council material will be sent to NKZ, and only after revision and confirmation by NKZ it will be possible to start survey and zoning works. I found that revision in the field in okrugs, especially in Krivorozhe, has not been finished yet.  It become known among other things that some parcels are already occupied by new coming peasants-settlers, others, like e.g. 800 diesiatina in colony Ingulets, is being used by German colonists who would like to trade it for parcel at railroad station Gieykovka, but this trade cannot be made, because parcel at Gieykovka is already occupied.

            I found out from correspondence that local surveyors apply more effort to search for land in Jewish colonies above limits of area-per-worker rate, than to search for free land. They do so in assumption that finding such over-limits may help to decrease total amount of land of Collective Fund, 6000 diesiatina, subject to parcel. On my request comrade Gora promised to remind OZU [Russian acronym, my guess: Land Management of okrug] about necessity to hasten up works and call meetings about surveys. It looks like distribution of land parcels will begin not earlier than spring. It is desirable that NKZ demand speedy delivery of materials relating to this matter and at the same time have explained that 6000 diesiatina has to be parceled and distributed regardless of land currently in use in Jewish colonies.

 

            Inspection of new drilled water wells. Chef Engineer-ameliorator of guberniya,  V. K. Sakovich , with whom S. E. Lubarsky has had talked before, agreed to go to colonies with me. We went to Guliaipole first, then to Novodarovka and from there to Novo-Zlatopol. In Guliaipole drilled well reached depth of 20 sazhen [1 sazhen = 2.134 meter] Test pumping gave output about 400 buckets of water per hour. Local Executive Committee [meaning: of local Soviet, i.e. Council] finds it satisfactory. Well is not being in use for now, because the pump is under repair. Engineer Sakovich already had some materials relating to drilled wells, mainly geological data. I complemented it with detailed report of Stanulevich about progress of work and report of professor Luchitsky to People Commissariat of Agriculture about local geology and depth of water-rich layers of ground in this area. V. K. Sakovich collected data in all locations about drilled wells, mainly by questioning workers and associates of Stanulevich, who did drilling. While doing this he asked questions about all details of work, encountered difficulties, ways to overcome them, etc. At the same time he asked local long time inhabitants about earlier attempts to drill wells. Their testimonials did not support data of Luchitsky’s report about stratum of granite at depth 42-48 sazhen. They told that about 20 years ago drilling was performed in Novo-Zlatopol to the depth of 63 sazhen, and no granite was found. 

            Drilling works were stopped at Novodarovka at depth 31 sazhen, in Novo-Zlatopol at 37 sazhen because of impossibility to get through semi-liquid stratum of ground. On the basis of collected data engineer Sakovich assumes that drill technician was not familiar with techniques of drilling through such strata of ground and did not know what to do when he encountered them. In general he thinks that work without preliminary careful study of local conditions and lack of leadership of an experienced hydro-engineer were main causes of failure. He expressed confidence about possibility of finishing work manually, without  drilling equipment, within short time. He is going to submit report about his research and proposed budget for necessary works. It deems very desirable to finish as soon as possible these wells and provide local population with so much necessary water and stop undesirable talks about wasted labor and money of colonists. (Agricultural partnership [kind of predecessor of collective farm] spent about 1600 rubel for both wells, and transported water and coal. ) 

            Use of tractors and shipment of tractors to Crimea. While inspecting tractors and organizing shipment of them to Crimea, I had to participate in filling out of questionnaires about use of tractors that were sent to partnerships long ago, but still were not ready. Combined table below includes data, broken down by partnerships, about size of fields belabored with tractors, number of work days and days off, prices of fuel, costs of repair and labor of mechanics, and about participation of local population, Joint, and partnerships in those expenses, and average price of plough of one diesiatina. [“a. p.” stands for “agricultural partnership”, prices shown in rubel/kopek, 1 rubel=100 kopek]

 

Data about use of tractors.

N

Question

Priyutin a. p.

Novo-Zlatopol

a. p.

Zelenopol a.p.

1

Number of used tractors

4

5

Before 15/VIII – 6, after 15/VIII - 3

2

When work started

20/VII

18/V

18/V

3

When work ended

7/IX

31/X

24/X

4

How many diesiatina belabored

176

660

555 with plow, 195 with disk plow

5

Number of work days

112

563

No data available

6

Number of days off

80

470

7

Reasons of not working

Holidays, repair, lack of fuel

same

8

Price of fuel

881.65

2679.99

1802.92

9

Maintenance of tractors

500.82

1644.26

1197.06

10

Costs of repair

47.35

61.25

195.54

11

Transport of fuel and water

Provided by units for which work was performed

563

380.39

12

Security

18.55

549.41

73.40

13

Other expenses

41.68

74.38

290.44

14

Cost of work per diesiatina

8.46

8.44

6.35

15

Came in advance from population

414.50

1853

150

16

Loan from Joint

200

950

2390.02

17

Spent by partnerships

1115.05

1618.03

2390.02

18

Debt to Oil Syndicate

420.69

1618.03

1000

      

Notes:

1.      Expenses do not include payments to Joint for rent of tractors.

2.      Cost of use of disk plow has been assumed  as 1/3 of costs of regular plow.      

 

As can be seen from the table above, belaboring of 1 diesiatina using tractors costs: in Novo-Zlatopol – 8.44, in Priyutin – 8.46, in Zelenopol – 6.35. I have to reiterate here what I stated already in my report about use of tractors in Krivorozhe okrug: experiment with partnerships renting tractors has to be recognized as a success. Taking under consideration that supply [with fuel] and maintenance of tractors was new business to them, as a matter of fact, training of sort, and some unnecessary expenses were incurred as a result of frequent tractors time-downs, excessive mechanics labor compensation, and many management mistakes, it can be stated with confidence that in the future tractor belaboring of 1 diesiatina, including rent payment to Joint, will be less than seven rubel, and in no case will go any higher.  When population recognizes advantages of use of tractors in comparison to use of horses, this price has to be considered as very reasonable. Our estimate of costs of use of tractors is being supported by information from Crimean collectives, where use of tractor with local, not hired, mechanic, costs 4-4.50 per diesiatina.

 

            Inspection of tractors found:

15 tractors Waterloo Boy , 2 Cletrac, 17 plows with 2 and 3 shares, 13 disk harrows , 87 steel barrels, 1 Dodge pickup track, 5 tarpaulins and various tools and spare parts listed separately. By the time of my arrival all tractors, except 3, and other equipment were in Novo-Zlatopol, 3 tractors were in Sladkovodnaya, and steel barrels were dispersed among different colonies. 

            As soon as it became known that tractors will be shipped to Crimea management of partnerships and representatives of new-coming colonists started to plea with me insistently to leave with them at least a few tractors. They pointed out to me lack of work animals, and recognized by population importance of use of tractors. Managements of partnerships called special meetings and put in writing resolutions to support their pleas. Having foreseen such pleas, even before my departure from Kharkov [capital of Ukraine at that time], we, in agreement with comrade S.E. Lubarsky decided to make available for the next year 2 tractors to each of 3 partnerships. In accordance with this decision I left for Novo-Zlatopol, Priyutin, and Zelenopol partnerships 2 tractors, 2 plows, 2 harrows (1 to Priyutin), 8 barrels to each and necessary tools. At the same time it was explained to partnerships that they will have to rent tractors, and rental agreement yet has to be developed, that they will have to take care about fuel, repair and maintenance of tractors by themselves, spare parts they will buy from Joint, if Joint will have them, by invoice price [not exactly clear what he meant by that]. For the time being, until signing of rental agreement, I took from them receipts for tractor equipment left to them.

            During my time in that area there was impassable mud. (From Guliaipole to colony Priyutnaya, 25 versta, [1 versta = 1.067 kilometer] we slogged by four-wheel cart from early morning to late at night. ) Because of this reason moving tractors to railroad station (33 versta) had to be postponed until roads become passable. I visited railroad station master and clarified with him questions about flatbeds, way to load tractors etc. and gave instructions to instructor [low rank in party bureaucracy ] Beloglazov. Because of impassable roads, tractor destined to collective Ahdus still has not been shipped and will be shipped along with the other tractors. Tractors will be transported on open flatbeds. There will be accompanying personnel, at least 3 persons, one of them will be instructor Beloglazov, another – tractor mechanic from Ahdus, who is presently in Novo-Zlatopol, and the third one has to be found.

 

Following is distribution of tractors and equipment presently in Guliaipole rayon.

               

Left in place:

1.      To Novo-Zlatopl partnership:

2 tractors, 2 plows, 2 sets of disk harrows, 8 barrels, tools and spare parts listed           separately.

2.      To Priyutin partnership:

2 tractors, 2 plows, 1 set of disk harrows, 8 barrels, tools and spare parts listed  separately.

3.      To Zelenopol partnership:

2 tractors, 2 plows, 2 sets of disk harrows, 8 barrels, tools and spare parts listed separately.

Destined to Crimea:

4.      To collective Ahdus, railway station Biyuk-Onlar:

1 tractor, 1 plow, 1 set of disk harrows, 5 barrels, tools and spare parts listed separately.

5.      To collective Mishmar, railway station Taganash:

8 tractors Waterloo Boy, 2 tractors Cletrac, 1 Dodge pickup track, 8 plows with 3 shares, 2 plows with 2 shares, 7 sets of disk harrows, 62 barrels, 5 tarpaulins,    tools and spare parts listed separately.

Note: during time of writing of this report, the telegram from instructor Beloglazov was received, confirming that all tractors and equipment safely reached railway station.

 

Debts of partnerships, and reasons why debts are not paid.

 

Following are amounts of debt of partnerships:

[left column under “Including” included two acronyms. One, I guessed, means “Jewish Cooperative Organization”, and was international, another – in Russian, “Transportation and Repair Management of Okrug” ]

 

Partnership

Total amount

Including

Amount due to Joint by fall 1924

Assigned to pay

JCO and ORTU

Joint

Novo-Zlatopol and Priyutin

42743.15

15963.71

26779.44

9194.32

994.32

Zelenopol

30192.98

14272.58

15920.40

5954.40

454.40

 

Taking under consideration bad crop of this year, Joint minimized payments due this fall to minimum not higher than 10% of total debt, but partnerships have not paid  even these small amounts. Books of partnerships show some payments received, in total about 10%, but it is mostly money equivalent of transportation labor performed by indebted individuals, credited to their accounts. Bad crop and poor condition of population are the reasons why they do not pay. Partnerships take measures to collect debts from “habitually not paying debtors” , but such are few. Consequences of bad crop turned out to be much worse than it was imagined before. Official data of local Soviets show crop of this year [per diesiatina]:

Barley – 8 Pud [1 pud = 16 kilogram],

Rye – 12 pud,

Spring wheat – 18 pud,

Winter wheat – 22 pud.

 

Inability of population to pay showed itself already at the time of introduction of General Agricultural Taxation. Same data relating to the first tax collection period, the most favorable for collection, showed that 36% of all amount due was collected, second period – 27%; at the same time well-to-do households have paid 90% of their taxes for all 4 periods. So, total income for now is less than 18% of tax amount due. In view of all that it is easy to understand why payments due to Joint, JCO and ORTU do not come in, and how little is hope to get them before next crop. But gravity of situation is not limited to this only. In some colonies, especially those served by Zelenopol partnership, rises  problem of food supply. Lack of seed stock for spring sow is painful. Agronomist of JCO Chelemsky who visited colonies with me, proposed to partnerships to turn money, coming in as due to this organization, for purchase of seed stock, promising to increase seed stock loan, if this item of 1925 year budget is approved in Paris.  Should be noted with satisfaction increase of ploughed for autumn sow area. In colonies of Priyutin Soviet this area reached 760 diesiatina. Despite bad weather seeded area has been increased. There is concern about damage caused by Hessen fly [insect pest].

            Survey works started in Novo-Zlatopol and Priyutin colonies could be finished this year, should there was enough money. About 2500 rubel is needed for area 5000 diesiatina. JCO allocated 750 rubel.

            Going back to question of debts to Joint, I cannot dismiss opinions  that I had to hear at board meetings of Zelenopol partnership. Some board members are sure that 2/3 of loans granted to partnership by Joint and JCO for purchase of live stock is hopeless. They stated that partnerships only distributed live stock and equipment to colonies, within colonies distribution was conducted with participation of … [unreadable acronym] As a result horses were given not only to just weak households, but to absolutely nonproductive ones (widows, artisans etc.), to people not related to agriculture and living in colonies by accident. They told me about case when a horse was given to a tailor Volotsky, who works in Kharkov as a member of union “Sewing Industry”. His wife lives in colony, but does not work in the field, but hires this horse out. She got a cow, too. People like this not only cannot pay loans back, they cannot pay back even interest. Partnerships consider debts like this as burden on their balance and suggest to discuss reduction of debt.

            Among others, in Zelenopol occurred such episode. From two widows [here some words has been lost in manuscript]… partnership demanded payment of debt under threat of confiscation of property. Widows offered to return cows for the price for which they were bought initially from partnership, i.e. 115 rubel a head. Such a deal would mean significant loss for partnership. After long negotiations cows were estimated as worth 70 rubel a head, and later sold by partnership for 40 rubel a head.   

            I explained to partnerships in relation to that that some cases of insolvency, caused by bad crop of this year and low prices of live stock, should be not generalized, that many households, whom partnerships see as hopelessly bankrupt, might do better next year, and it is premature to talk about forgiving of debts.

            It has to be noted that Boards of partnerships in Novo-Zlatopol and Priyutnaya  perform well (it is regrettable that comrade Vaisman is somewhat excessively involved in trade activity at the expense of direct tasks of partnership ). Board of Zelenopol is somewhat less efficient.

            In all partnerships I saw published lately report JCO about activities of this organization. Reading it briefly I found that it is a copy of joint report of Joint and JCO, composed by S.E. Lubarsky. In this copy amounts of expenses are decreased to what JCO spent. Participation of Joint is mentioned in chapters dedicated to professional education and credit help, but not in chapter about agriculture. Wouldn’t it be a useful thing, should Joint too publish report about its activity?

 

            Schools in colonies. Joint allocated limited amounts of money for repair of school buildings (in Mezhirich – 200, in Krasnoselka – 250). I was instructed to check how these money were spent. At the same time I had an opportunity to check condition of school buildings and how schools work in other colonies. It can be illustrated by following table.

 

N

Colony

State of the building

Total number of  kids of school age

Number of of kids attending to school

Number of teachers

Number of kids out of school

1

Gorkaya

Windows with glass, cracks in the walls, stoves are broken, roof is leaking.

78

none

none

78

2

Priytin

Building has been repaired

75

47

1

28

3

Novodarovka

Half of the building has been repaired.

112

40

1

72

4

Roskoshnaya

Repair has not been finished

56

45

1

11

5

Mezhirich

Building has been repaired

56

56

1

none

6

Veselaya

School has been destroyed

26

none

none

26

7

Krasnoselka

Building has been repaired

48

48

1

none

8

Novo-Zlatopol

Building has been repaired

148

90

2

58

Totals:

599

326

7

273

  

Medical help. Local population complains all the time about total absence of medical help. Of epidemical illnesses malaria wreaks havoc this year. In some colonies more than 40% of population is sick. Before February 1 1924 in Novo-Zlatopol existed out-patient clinic with pharmacy, with one doctor, financed by Oblast Jewish Comity. This facility served neighboring colonies too. From February 1 until June 1, after financing stopped, facility continued miserable existence being supported with limited local money; then, because of bad crop and absence of money, the facility was closed.

            I was told about many cases of sad consequences of illnesses among helpless colonists. Same situation exists in colonies of Herson  and Krivorozhe, where existing hospitals and out-patient clinics are about to be closed. In Novo-Zlatopol furniture and instruments of medical facility has been preserved, and facility can be reopened should financing in amount of 6 chervonets per month be available. [chervonets – currency backed by gold, introduced in 1922 for foreign trade in form of paper banknote, and in 1923 as gold coin having 7.74 gram of gold, same as pre-revolutionary 10 rubel coin, also called chervonets] 

            It is strange that medical commission of Joint, whose task, by mandate of its contributors, is to help impoverished Jewish people, so far did not show any interest to situation in colonies, anyway, did nothing so far, but at the same time gives a lot of support to various institutions of People Commissariat  of Health in cities.

            Cheese plants. During my visit cheese plants did not work, because cows did not lactate, being about to calve. Partnerships refer approvingly about work of technician  from “Organization of Local Farmers” who, as he was doing before, does maintenance. Construction of new stone-built well equipped basement for storage of cheese has been finished In Novo-Zlatopol as addition to the building of partnership. Ice storage has been built by the side of it. Partnership went high over initial budget with this project (1600 rubel) and this too strained their finances. At the present time more than 200 pud of cheese is stored in the basement. Partnership intents to keep it until market price goes higher. Partnerships sell cheese mostly to Yuzovka and Mariupol and prefer not to send it to Kharkov, because of low prices there at present time.

            In Zelenopol cheese plant has been repaired and everything is ready for resumption of work after cows calve. Cheese collected there partnership had lately to give over to Ukrainian Investment Bank as compensation for purchased on credit fuel and lubricants. Mater of fact is that the partnership did not buy fuel from Oil Syndicate, but resorted to costly mediation of Ukrainian Investment Bank and gave promissory notes that have to be paid for now. Because of this the partnership could not use option of payment postponement, like those who bought fuel directly from Oil Syndicate.

            Re-settlers.  In 5 listed below colonies exist 6 collectives of re-settlers, who settled down here in the spring and summer of this year. [a small piece of manuscript lost here]

            Joint supplied these collectives with tractors, JCO granted them loans (21 chervonets per member), mainly, for building.

 

Next table contains data about number of members, mouth-to-feed, area to plough for spring and winter and live stock.

 

N

Colony

Collective

Members

Mouth-to-feed

Area for winter sow

Area for spring sow

Horses

Cows

1

Krasnoselka

“Energiya” [Russian “Energy”]

55

260

53

130

18

5

2

Krasnoselka

“Name of Kamenev”

22

180

70

70

8

5

3

Sladkovodnaya

“Progress” [Russian “Progress”]

15

102

12

35

3

5

4

Zelenopole

“Novy Pahar” [Russian ”New Plowman”]

11

58

11

45

5

1

5

Novo-Zlatopol

Data needs to be checked

6

Mezhirech

 

 I had no enough time to inspect these collectives in detail. This time it was not even on my task list. Some of re-settlers were absent from colonies, e. g., all males from New Plowman went for winter to Stalino (Yuzovka) with horses for work. From other collectives many went back home to liquidate property there and to prepare to move families that are still there. From brief observations and talks with re-settlers I got an impression that vast majority of them are industrious, energetic, full of spirit of initiative, despite poverty and harsh living conditions. In this respect they look much better in comparison with local colonists, some of them, after bad crop of this year, impressed with melancholy and pessimism. Among other things, re-settlers are very interested in all kinds of modernization of agriculture. So, foreseeing going away of hay-fields in the future, they plan to plant ryegrass, millet,  or sorghum. They hope to get loans from Joint and JCO for building, purchase of tools, seeds and food. Question is: will this necessary for pioneers spirit last, if their hopes do not materialize.

 

I. Berger.


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