Farming in the Post - W.W.II Romania

As Shown by its Stamps

"You cannot escape death and kolkhoz" G. Gheorgiu-Dej *

     In 1907 Romania, a underdeveloped country, has known an uprising of a part of its peasantry against the poverty but also of some xenophobic propaganda. The stamp below in the middle was issued in a set celebrating the birth anniversary of the most important Romanian dramatist Ion Luca Caragiale. The two stamps show a page of his book "1907 - From Spring to Fall" and the well known painting "1907" of the Romanian painter Octav Bancila (1872 - 1944), Sc. 814. The same painting was shown on a stamp issued in May 1967, Scott 1923. The Romanian government has bloodily repressed this also bloody uprising, but in 1920, thanks also to collaboration of big land owners, it has operated a  large reform and put an important part of poor peasantry in possession of land. Thanks to a new dynamic due to a certain freedom to act, the farming has progressed.

     The situation radically changed after the W.W.II. Romania was practically occupied by the USSR, that imposed its own (pro-communist, then later entirely communist) government and the unique party system). To "celebrate" the new rulers of the country, Romanian post has issued many stamps with Lenin (first on Jan. 21, 1949, not shown) and one with Stalin, as perforated and imperforated varieties (see above on the right, Sc. 718, Stalin's 70th birth anniversary). Stalin's portrait is shown because the Romanian government will step by step implement the strategy that Stalin implemented in the Soviet Union, in order to "socialize" the agriculture of his country and to make the farmers, like all other social strata, dependent on the communist state.

    The first act of the communist government in the farming domain was the agrarian reform law of March 23, 1945. The big land owners (most of them having fled the country) were expropriated and their land was distributed to peasantry. The reform was much less extensive than the reform of 1920, but was presented as the final solution of the agrarian problem. Above one can see on the miniature sheet the Prime Minister Petru Groza personally distributing new property documents (sheet issued in June 1946, Mi. Block 31).

This measure won for a short time new sympathizers and voters for the new government. As usually after such reforms, a famine shortly followed (see above the "Help to Starving" sheet). 

     The second act started in 1949, under the ruling of the First Secretary of the Romanian Workers Party, Gheorghe Gheorghiu Dej (see above the stamp, Sc. 1822, and associated sheet). The communist party officials, using the forces of the Securitate (Secret Police) and of the army, started by imposing to the majority of farmers the joining of the so called collective farms (named "kolkhoz" in USSR). The farmers were practically deprived of their land and cattle, and were obliged to work together in these newunits. The recalcitrant who refused to join the collective farms were crudely repressed. The opposition of the peasantry was so important  that the government hasn't dared to issue stamps on this event till 1951/1952.

     I show above several stamps from the Five Year Plan set, issued by the Romanian Popular Republic in 1952. The Plan started in 1951 and it failed, like many other similar plans started in other communist countries. But not all of its actions failed, unfortunately. For example on the green 7 Lei stamp (above, the first on the row) one can read: "In 1955 the socialist sector will prevail in the agriculture." 
   Other two stamps of the Five Year Plan set of 1952 are also quite interesting. The red 3 Lei value show an armed soldier and is labeled: "The army of the R.P.R. (Romanian Popular Republic) defends our peaceful work." One can ask what has it to do with a Five year plan, but if you have read below about the collectivization, you will understand the real role of the army. On the dark green 30 Lei stamp one can read: "In the 5 years there will be afforested 32 times more than in 1940." Normally one could expect that equal periods of time are taken in a comparison, because only one year could be not representative enough.

    The stamp above, on the left, issued in 1956 and labeled "5 years from the founding of collective farms, 1951 - 1956", is one of the most interesting in the Romanian post - post W.W.II philately. It was issued the July 23, 1956 and it was withdrawn after only a few days. The authors of the stamps have obviously taken the provisions of the Five Years Plan of 1951 as the starting point of collectivization, and not the earlier decision of the Communist party, that actually started the collectivization of agriculture. On October 18, 1956 the stamp was replaced by a new one, with the exactly the same design (shown above on the right, Sc. 1107a), that is labeled "7 years from the founding of collective farm, 1949 - 1956." 

    On April 27, 1959 the post issued a set of 8 values, commemorating Ten Years of collective farming (Sc. 1269 - 1277.) The set is uninteresting, but some stamps display interesting labels, like Breed Fowls of Good Race, The Collective Farm "The Way to Abundance", More Milk, etc. One can understand also from this slogans that the collective farms continued to miserably perform in Romania, like in all other countries that applied the same system The most of production during those years actually came not from them but from the small individual parcels near farmers houses, that the peasantry could freely work during their spare time.

    On April 27, 1962. was issued a set of theree stamps (many thanks to Tom from UK for the scans), celebrating the Full Collectivization of the agriculture. This was the third act, the goal of the socialization of the whole Romanian farming being thus attained. The great result of this action will be that Romania, an important exporter of cereals before the W.W.II, will be forced to import them to feed its population.

   The sheet shown above was issued on June 29, 1982, Sc. 3076. Logically enough, it celebrates the 20th anniversary of the full collectivization of the farming in Romania. But it shows also the beginning of the forth and final farming act of the communist regime - the so called modernization of villages. The idea came from the secretary seneral of the Communist Party and Romania's president, Nicolae Ceausescu, shown above, on the right, on a stamp dedicated to his 70th birth anniversary (1987, Scott 3503) and 55 years of "revolutionary activity". He appears also on the stamp issued in 1986, Sc. 3379, dedicated to 65 years passed since the founding of the Romanian communist party. Just to note that Ceausescu was then 3 years old, this being just another expression of Ceausescu's personality cult, a country wide movement orchestrated by himself.

Ceausescu decided to move by force the peasantry into blocks of flats, and to destroy the individual houses, to better control the rural population. The opposition that came from many villages (and less from governments) of Western Europe, twinned by the Operation Romanian Villages to Romanian ones in order to save them, slowed down a bit this last plan of the collectivization of the farming life. The fall of the Communism in 1989 put an end to this long destructive period of the Romanian farming.

The last stamp on the farming's collectivization, that celebrates the 25 years since it was fully imposed, was issued in 1987, Sc. 3436 (above, in the middle).

(*) From a speech of the then leader of the Romanian communists shortly before the end of the collectivization of agriculture (source: The Tismaneanu Report).

Link: Opération Villages roumains

Published: 07/08/01. Revised: 12/16/2018
Copyright 2001 - 2018 by Victor Manta, Switzerland. 
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