Libmonster ID: U.S.-1481

Historical science in the USSR. Reviews: J. S. GROSUL, I. G. BUDAK. ESSAYS ON THE HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY OF BESSARABIA (1861-1905)

Author: L. G. BESKROVNY, A. A. SHEVYAKOV

Chisinau. "Kartya Moldovenyaskaia". 1972. 604 pp. The print run is 1000. Price 2 rubles. 94 kopecks.

Joint research by corresponding members Academy of Sciences of the USSR Ya. S. Grosula and akad. I. G. Budaka, Academy of Sciences of the Moldavian SSR, is devoted to the analysis of deep processes of economic and socio-political development of Bessarabia. The reviewed work is a continuation of their earlier monograph on the same topic, which covers the period from the annexation of the region to Russia in 1812 to the bourgeois reforms of the 60s-70s of the XIX century .1

The period considered in the book is characterized by a variety of social and political processes. The authors set themselves the task to study the main patterns of socio-economic development of pre-revolutionary Bessarabia, to reveal in this regard the progressive significance of its entry into the multinational Russian state. The importance of studying the social and economic processes that took place here in the second half of the 19th century is due to the fact that this period lay, as V. I. Lenin pointed out, between two turning points in Russian history, between the reform of 1861 and the revolution of 1905 . 2 A thorough analysis of the development of capitalist relations in Bessarabia allowed the authors to social and political transformations in the region. While tracing the general patterns of capitalist development in Bessarabia, the authors also tried (and largely succeeded) to show their specific features.

The monograph uses a huge amount of factual material drawn from 47 collections of the state archives of Moscow, Leningrad, Chisinau, Kiev, Odessa, as well as from the State Historical Archive of Romania. Published sources (codes of laws, statistical collections, official reports, periodicals) and monographic studies are also widely used. The authors summarized numerous data on the population growth of Bessarabia during the period from 1861 to 1905, and determined its social structure at the end of the XIX century. They analyze the special conditions of economic development of the region in the system of the Russian Empire during the post-reform period, taking into account its border position and the desire of the tsarist government to use this circumstance to strengthen its influence in the Balkans. The "Essays" reveal the specifics of the evolution of the economic life of the region, which consisted, in particular, in the fact that as a result of bourgeois reforms, relatively fewer feudal remnants remained here than in most other provinces of Russia, and thus opened up broader prospects for the development of capitalist relations.


1 Ya. S. Grosul, I. G. Budak, Essays on the history of the national economy of Bessarabia (1812-1861). Kishinev. 1967.

2 See V. I. Lenin. PSS. Vol. 20, p. 38.

page 151


In the previous works of Moldovan historians, this aspect of the history of Bessarabia was not properly covered.

The authors revealed the features of the economic development of certain regions of the region, comparing it with the general level of economic development in Russia. This method provided an in-depth consideration of the problems posed. The book examines the little-studied question of the socio-economic state of those regions of southern Bessarabia that were temporarily separated from Russia in 1856-1878. On the basis of domestic and foreign (Romanian) materials, the authors convincingly showed the difficult economic situation of these regions at that time. They emphasize that "the rejection of southern Bessarabia in 1856 and the displacement of Russia from the mouths of the Danube negatively affected the economic development" of not only Southern, but also Northern Bessarabia: the unity of the local market was disrupted; the export of grain through the Danube ports of Ismail, Kilia, and Reni was almost completely stopped. The stagnation in trade has led to a reduction in the production of grain and other agricultural products. This is evidenced by the facts presented in the book. So, the Berlin newspaper "Die Presse" on April 13, 1876 wrote about Southern Bessarabia: "The last 20 years (the period of the Romanian occupation. - Auth. they did not prove anything, except that this part of the land under the control of the Romanians became impoverished and economically moved back." The difficult situation of Southern Bessarabia within Romania was also recognized by the deputy of the Romanian National Assembly A. Varnali in the newspaper "Romanul" of July 15, 1875: "All the cities of Bessarabia are in decline, trade is stagnant... Bessarabia has been overtaken by the height of misfortune, and it is unlikely that anyone will be able to correct this evil in order to save it from the abyss into which the indifference of our rulers has thrown it" (p.114). Unfavorable conditions for the economy of Southern Bessarabia were eliminated only in 1878 with its return to the Russian state. This once again underlines the progressive significance of the annexation of Bessarabia to Russia. To what the authors have said, we can add that after the signing of the Treaty of San Stefano, the Romanian rulers tried to protest the return of Southern Bessarabia to Russia and organized the collection of signatures for a petition to leave the region as part of Romania, but failed completely. Residents of Southern Bessarabia-Moldovans, Ukrainians, Russians, and Bulgarians-resolutely refused to sign the petition and expressed their desire to become Russian subjects .3

Much attention is paid to the development of agriculture and the question of the establishment of capitalism in the countryside. The range of aspects of this problem studied by the authors (the evolution of land ownership, the use of hired labor and machinery in agriculture, etc.) is very wide. The "Essays" describe the state of the most important branches of agriculture - grain production, viticulture and winemaking, horticulture, tobacco growing, horticulture and animal husbandry. After 1861, the process of stratification of the peasantry went on in the Bessarabian countryside, and the agrarian proletariat and bourgeoisie were formed. According to the authors, these processes were faster in Bessarabia than in other regions of Russia. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the rural proletariat (with or without small allotments of land) was estimated by J. S. Grosul and I. G. Budak to make up about 50% of the total peasantry (p.226). The proportion of the proletariat and semi-proletariat in the Bessarabian countryside was higher than in many provinces of Central Russia. It is not by chance that V. I. Lenin referred to this region as one of those areas where capitalism has developed relatively more noticeably. 4 .

According to the authors, at the end of the 19th century, the number of hired workers in Bessarabia varied depending on the harvest, from 25 thousand to 100 thousand people per year (p. 247). The book reveals the reasons that caused the need for the widespread use of freelance labor in the region. Analyzing the development of agriculture, the authors found that if in Bessarabia arable land occupied up to 38% of convenient land by the beginning of 1860, then by 1905 its share had grown to 70%. The gross grain harvest from the 60s to the 90s of the XIX century increased almost 4 times (p. 291). By the end of the 19th century. Bessarabia played an important role in grain exports and became one of Russia's main areas of viticulture and winemaking, tobacco growing and horticulture. According to the authors, in 1890-1900 it accounted for 45-50% of the country's wine production (p. 356). At the same time, in Bessarabia, as in Russia as a whole, in the post-reform period, landownership was preserved. By the beginning of this century in the region of 1.4 thousand landowners owned 860 thousand.


3 CVIA, f. VUA (c), op. 1, dd. 16 and 18.

4 See V. I. Lenin. PSS. Vol. 3, pp. 196, 200.

page 152


desyatins of land, and 285 thousand peasant households - 1.8 million desyatins (pp. 146, 147, 163).

Industry, as the authors show, occupied an insignificant place in the economy of Bessarabia. Domestic industry, handicrafts, and manufacturing began to be replaced by factory-type enterprises only by the end of the time under study. In general, industry developed more slowly than agriculture, it was poorly equipped in technical terms and was mainly subordinated to the tasks of processing agricultural products. But despite the insignificant volume of production, it played a significant role in the socio-political development of Bessarabia, being the basis for the formation of the proletariat here.

Y. S. Grosul and I. G. Budak reveal the role of the all-Russian market and foreign trade in the development of the region. Based on Lenin's thesis that the development of the main branch of the economy of Bessarabia in the post - reform period - agriculture-depended primarily on relations with the all-Russian market and abroad , 5 the authors comprehensively considered this problem. However, it should still be noted that the return of Southern Bessarabia once again turned Russia into a Danube state, and this gave it the opportunity to increase trade with European countries and exert greater economic and political influence on European affairs.

The book contains a large number of tables that give special weight to the judgments and conclusions of the authors. One can only regret that it is not equipped with maps and diagrams, so necessary for analyzing the digital data presented in the "Essays".

With the publication of a new work by J. S. Grosula and I. G. Budak, Soviet historiography was enriched with another major study on the history of the Moldovan people.


5 See ibid., p. 252.


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G. BESKROVNY, A. A. SHEVYAKOV, Historical science in the USSR. Reviews: J. S. GROSUL, I. G. BUDAK. ESSAYS ON THE HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY OF BESSARABIA (1861-1905) // New-York: Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.COM). Updated: 12.06.2024. URL: https://libmonster.com/m/articles/view/Historical-science-in-the-USSR-Reviews-J-S-GROSUL-I-G-BUDAK-ESSAYS-ON-THE-HISTORY-OF-THE-NATIONAL-ECONOMY-OF-BESSARABIA-1861-1905 (date of access: 24.07.2024).

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