Twenty-five-thousanders (Двадцатипятитысячники in Russian, or Dvadtsatipyatitysyachniki) was a made-up collective name for the frontline workers from big industrial cities of the USSR, who voluntarily left their homes for rural areas at the call of the CPSU in order to improve the performance of kolhozes during the agricultural collectivisation in the USSR in the early 1930.
In November of 1929, the plenum of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) issued a decree on sending 25,000 workers with sufficient organizational and political experience to the rural areas to work in kolhozes and Machine and Tractor Stations (MTS) (Машинно-тракторная станция (МТС), or Mashinno-traktornaya stantsiya). The decree found a broad response among the workers of the country. As a result, 27,519 people were selected from all over the USSR and sent to work in the kolhozes.
Social structure of 23,409 twenty-five-thousanders, who had personal files:
- Males – 92,3%, females – 7,7%
- Members of the CPSU – 69,9%
- Members of the Komsomol – 8,6%
- Members of the Metal Workers Union – approx. 16,000
- Individuals with no party affiliation – 21,5%
- Up to 5 years of work experience – 13%
- 5 to 12 years of work experience – 39%
- More than 12 years of work experience – 48%
In order to prepare the twenty-five-thousanders for work in the rural areas, the Soviets organized special courses. Some of them were sent to sovhozes for two or three months as interns. Most of the twenty-five-thousanders were sent directly to kolhozes in the principal cereal regions of the country, such as Ukraine, North Caucasus, Lower and Middle Volga, Black Earth Region and others.
The twenty-five-thousanders took part in creating new kolhozes and strengthening the weak ones, conducting political, educational and cultural work among the inhabitants of the rural areas. They assisted kolhozes in organizing stock, strengthening work discipline and establishing correct product distribution. Some of the twenty-five-thousanders were elected board members and chairmen of kolhozes.
The phenomenon of the twenty-five-thousanders was widely reflected in the Soviet literature. One of the most famous books on this subject was Virgin Soil Upturned (Поднятая целина in Russian, or Podnyataya tselina) by Mikhail Sholokhov.
See also: Virgin Lands Campaign