Recently read a blog about the famine that struck Russia in 1918m during the communist revolution. This made me pause and reflect back on other stories I read about, during that time period nod before. 1918 was the year of the Spanish Flu pandemic. It was also the end of WWI. For the beginning of this story one must go back to 1850’s.
In 1850, Russia was ruled by a monarchy, Katherine was the ruler at this time. There were vast lands in Russia that were very arable. Katherine’s envoys went to Germany and offered free land to German farmers if they would settle in this land and farm it. The Germans agreed to the conditions, they would not be a part of Russian rule nor could they be conscripted into the military. On these conditions the Germans emigrated to Russia and began farming. The Germans became prosperous and had a great market for their products in Russia.
During the 1889’s the Czar’s came to power and deposed Queen Katherine. With the queen gone, the agreement with the Germans was ignored by the Czar’s. They began taxing them and conscripting their men as soldiers. No longer was there protection, the Germans began fleeing their lands and returning to their homes in Germany and many continued on to the Americas. The first great emigration from Russia had begun..
As these Germans began arriving in the New World, they continued their faming in new lands, North America into South America. In the United States, many little communities grew up around these new Russian/German settlers.
In Russia, the iron fists of the Czars were met with resistance by the Bolshevik’s. A revolutionary group, which was intent on overthrowing the Czars. Lenin and his communist minions joined the Bolsheviks’ and the communist revolution was underway.
During this upheaval in Russia, late 1800’s, early 1900’s, many young men were taken into the military to fight. The Germans for the most part had quit farming in Russia, then the closing of the young men, even took more farmers off the land. With farmers becoming scarce, foods became short supply. The revolution had killed so many, that finding people to work had become rare.
During this time period, WWI was destroying farmland in Europe and the farmers were at war. So food supplies for Russia in Europe had dried up. Food in Europe was a rare commodity.
Demand for food was growing. The price of wheat in the US was going skyrocket prices. Suddenly farmers were making money like bankers. With the high price of wheat, more ground was broken for farming and large mortgages were taken on the land for more equipment.
Lenin reached out to the US for help and met with some resistance, yet the DC politicians relented. Using a caveat of condemnations of the communist Lenin and his practices, relief food supplies were sent to Russia. This pushed the price of wheat even higher. By 1920, farming had begun again in Europe and Russia settled down. Yet during the famine in Russia, millions of people died.
The politics of war, revolution and controlling dictatorships’, had left a giant scar on the land. Farming that had been noble, suddenly was poverty flats. The price of wheat in the United States, had hit barrel bottom. No longer was there a market for wheat. Piles of overproduced wheat and other crops were stacking up on the land and going to rot. Many farmers were forced into bankruptcy and lost their farms.
The Germans that had fled Russia in the 1880’s were bitten by the Russians again, a few decades later.
It is amazing how interconnected, non related events can be.