Marching through the Ukraine was not very pleasant in the coming Winter of 1929. Corporal Feofan Karpov heard the mud squelch under his boots, each step feeling heavier then the last. He kept marching though, as any good soldier would. Feofan doubted he was the best soldier in the Red Army, but he was certainly giving the state everything he had.
The Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifle slung over his back he moved along on the left side of the four man row. Every two rows was a Corporal, and this continued for ten rows making up the VII Red Army Division’s fifth platoon. Kliment Pavlyuchenko was in front of Feofan and Viktor Kraminov was behind him. In the distance the small collective farm laid. Second Lieutenant Nikolay Maksimovich, the commanding officer of the platoon, every so often would shout out for someone to stay in formation, or to tow the line. Karpov doubted anyone had done such a thing, and the Lieutenant was just letting his voice be heard.
A grain shortage was spreading through the Soviet Union. Faced with the collapse of the agricultural sector, a decision was made at a plenum of the Central Committee in November, 1929 to embark on a nationwide program of collectivization. Collectivization sought to modernize Soviet agriculture, consolidating the land into parcels that could be farmed by modern equipment using the latest scientific methods of agriculture. Stalin in the army newspapers said, "Our country will, in some three years time, have become one of the richest granaries, if not the richest, in the whole world."
Karpov smiled at such thoughts. His days as the bright academic scholar was over he suspected, after he Viktor and Kliment spoke to a few groups explaining their vision of Stalinism, they where then shipped off to serve the Soviet Union. Feofan was fine with it, after all it would be bourgeois to live off ones words and not serve the people.
At collective farm 102, the platoon spread out to circle it. Lt. Maksimovich walked beside him, “Corporal Karpov get three men and accompany me to speak with these citizens.”
“Yes Comrade Lieutenant,” Karpov followed behind his commanding officer picking men out as he passed. The bodies of dead livestock covered the single road leading to the farm. Karpov sneered at that, they wanted to be paid for their surplus stock. Instead of giving for the state they sought to take from it.
“Who is in charge?” Maksimovich said to the group of fifty odd farmer standing by the central building.
“I am…Comrade Vikalo.” A thin elderly man said. He had a large black eye, and looked about biting his lower lip.
“Comrade Karpov speak with this man, I will look about the buildings.” The Lieutenant said. Karpov walked to Vikalo and smiled.
“Hello Comrade. What has occurred here?” Feofan looked to the farmers, some held picks. He suspected a few of them had killed the livestock.
“They…uh…. I requested the monthly tallies for livestock, and grain. Then those kulaks came and began killing the animals. I tried to stop them but….” Vikalo smiled meekly his eye covered with a bruise.
“You did all you could Comrade.” Karpov said. He waited for the Lieutenant to return. Maksimovich tromped over a fierce look on his face. “Karpov I want the men to arrest all of these men. The charge is violation of General Secretary Stalin’s decree.”
The march back was easier, the thoughts of a warm stove, and possibly hot food made every one in the unit move a little faster. In front of the platoon was twenty men and women who were accused of slaughtering Soviet livestock, and reactionary behavior. At the barracks the three friends sat on there bunks, Feofan cleaning his shoes, Kliment looking at a letter from home, and Viktor dancing about the room to a record of Lidiya Ruslanova. The other men laughed at his antics, clapping and cheering as he dipped his invisible partner low. Feofan looked up and laughed as another soldier tried to cut in, but Viktor puffed out his chest and put an end to it. The soldier stepped back in mock fear, leaving Viktor to continue his dance.
Sergeant Pilko walked in staring at Viktor dancing but shook his head with a smile, “Corporal’s Karpov, Pavlyuchenko, and Kraminov report to the commandants office in ten minutes.”
The three men stood up straight, saluting, “yes Comrade Sergeant.”
“Oh and Kraminov?” Pilko turned to face Viktor.
“Yes Comrade Sergeant?” Viktor despite himself gave his most disarming smile.
“You are a horrid dancer.” The barracks roared with laughter, Viktor held his invisible partners hand passing it to the Sergeant. “She is not my type anyways.”