In the early 1930’s, the Soviet Union created a policy in an attempt to increase the food supply. Stalin was convinced an agricultural collectivization that forces farmers to give up their private land, equipment and livestock, and join state owned, factory-like collective farms would not only feed the industrial workers in the cities but could also provide a substantial amount of grain to be sold abroad, with the money used to finance his industrialization plans. The policy turned out to be devastating as it helped spawn one of the biggest famines in history.
The most affected areas included Ukraine, Northern Caucasus, Kazakhstan, the South Urals, and West Siberia. The famine was extremely bad in Ukraine, and became known as the Holodomor, which many historians felt was an actual genocide, carried out by Joseph Stalin and comparable to the Holocaust.
|Holodomor - Death by starvation|
The root cause of the Holodomor is a subject of scholarly debate. Some scholars have argued that the Soviet policies that caused the famine may have been designed as an attack on the rise of Ukrainian nationalism, and therefore fall under the legal definition of genocide. Therefore the Holodomor is also known as the "terror-famine in Ukraine" and "famine-genocide in Ukraine". Others, however, conclude that the Holodomor was a consequence of the economic problems associated with radical economic changes implemented during the period of Soviet industrialization.
As of March 2008, Ukraine and nineteen other governments have recognized the actions of the Soviet government as an act of genocide. The joint statement at the United Nations in 2003 has defined the famine as the result of cruel actions and policies of the totalitarian regime that caused the deaths of millions of Ukrainians, Russians, Kazakhs and other nationalities in the USSR. On 23 October 2008 the European Parliament adopted a resolution that recognized the Holodomor as a crime against humanity.
The term first appeared in print on July 18, 1988 in an article by Ukrainian writer Oleksiy Musiyenko. The origins of the word Holodomor come from the Ukrainian words holod, ‘hunger’, and mor, ‘plague’, possibly from the expression moryty holodom, ‘to inflict death by hunger’. The Ukrainian verb "moryty" (морити) means "to poison somebody, drive to exhaustion or to torment somebody". The perfect form of the verb "moryty" is "zamoryty" — "kill or drive to death by hunger, exhausting work". The neologism “Holodomor” is given in the modern, two-volume dictionary of the Ukrainian language as "artificial hunger, organised in vast scale by the criminal regime against the country's population." Sometimes the expression is translated into English as "murder by hunger or starvation."
Scope and duration
|Holodomor - Death by starvation | Photograph by|
Gareth Jones, 1933
The first reports of mass malnutrition and deaths from starvation emerged from 2 urban area of Uman - by the time Vinnytsya and Kiev oblasts dated by beginning of January 1933. By mid-January 1933 there were reports about mass “difficulties” with food in urban areas that had been undersupplied through the rationing system and deaths from starvation among people who were withdrawn from rationing supply according to Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine Decree December 1932. By the beginning of February 1933, according to received reports from local authorities and Ukrainian GPU, the most affected area was listed as Dnipropetrovsk Oblast which also suffered from epidemics of typhus and malaria. Odessa and Kiev oblasts were second and third respectively. By mid-March, most reports originated from Kiev Oblast.
By mid-April 1933, the Kharkiv Oblast reached the top of the most affected list, while Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa, Vinnytsya, Donetsk oblasts and Moldavian SSR followed it. Last reports about mass deaths from starvation dated mid-May through the beginning of June 1933 originated from raions in Kiev and Kharkiv oblasts. The “less affected” list noted the Chernihiv Oblast and northern parts of Kiev and Vinnytsia oblasts. According to the Central Committee of the CP(b) of Ukraine Decree as of February 8 1933, no hunger cases should have remained untreated, and all local authorities were directly obliged to submit reports about numbers suffering from hunger, the reasons for hunger, number of deaths from hunger, food aid provided from local sources and centrally provided food aid required. Parallel reporting and food assistance were managed by the GPU of the Ukrainian SSR. Many regional reports and most of the central summary reports are available from present-day central and regional Ukrainian archives. There is documentary evidence of widespread cannibalism during the Holodomor. The Soviet regime of the time even printed posters declaring: "To eat your own children is a barbarian act."
Cause of Holodomor - deliberately engineered
A campaign of political repressions, including arrests, deportations, and executions of millions of the better-off peasants and their families, occurred from 1929-1932. The richer peasants were labeled kulaks and considered class enemies. More than 1.8 million peasants were deported in 1930-1931. The stated purpose of the campaign was to fight the counter-revolution and build socialism in the countryside. This policy was accomplished simultaneously with collectivization in the Soviet Union and effectively brought all agriculture in the Soviet Union under state control.
The "liquidation of the kulaks as a class" was announced by Stalin on December 27, 1929. The decision was formalized in a resolution "On measures for the elimination of kulak households in districts of comprehensive collectivisation" on January 30, 1930. The kulaks were divided to three categories: (I) to be shot or imprisoned as decided by the local secret political police; (II) to be sent to Siberia, North, the Urals or Kazakhstan, after confiscation of their property; or (III) to be evicted from their houses and used in labour colonies within their own districts.
The combination of the elimination of kulaks, collectivization, and other repressive policies contributed to mass starvation in many parts of the Soviet Union and the death of at least 14.5 million peasants in 1930-1937.
Sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica say that no physical basis for famine existed in Ukraine. Soviet authorities set requisition quotas for Ukraine at an impossibly high level. The famine was caused by the food requisition actions carried out by the Soviet authorities. However, the government plans for central grain collection in Ukraine were lowered by 18.1%, in comparison to the 1931 plan. Still, collective farms were expected to return 132,750 tons of grain, the amount that had been provided in spring 1932 as aid. The grain collection plan for July 1932 was adopted to collect 19.5 million poods. The actual state of collection was disastrous, and by July 31 only 3 million poods (compared to 21 million in 1931) were collected. the total amount of grain collected by February 5 1933 was only 255 million poods (compared to 440 million poods in 1931 .)
Some sources claim that there were several legislative acts adopted in order to force starvation in the Ukrainian SSR. On August 7, 1932, the Soviet government passed a law "On the Safekeeping of Socialist Property" that imposed from a ten year prison sentence up to the death penalty for any theft of socialist property. Stalin personally appended the stipulation: "People who encroach on socialist property should be considered enemies of the people. Within the first five months of passage of the law, 54,645 individuals had been imprisoned under it and 2,110 sentenced to death. The initial wording of the Decree "On fought with speculation” adopted August 22, 1932 lead to common situations where minor acts such as bartering tobacco for bread were documented as punished by 5 years imprisonment.; After 1934, by NKVD demand, the penalty for minor offenses was limited to a fine of 500 rubles or 3 month of correctional labor.
The scope of this law, colloquially dubbed the "law of the wheat ears," included even the smallest appropriation of grain by peasants for personal use. In little over a month, the law was revised, as Politburo protocols revealed that secret decisions had later modified the original decree of September 16, 1932. The Politburo approved a measure that specifically exempted small-scale theft of socialist property from the death penalty declaring that "organizations and groupings destroying state, social, and co-operate property in an organized manner by fires, explosions and mass destruction of property shall be sentenced to execution without trial", and listed a number of cases in which "kulaks, former traders and other socially-alien persons" would be subject to the death penalty. "Working individual peasants and collective farmers" who stole kolkhoz property and grain should be sentenced to ten years; the death penalty should be imposed only for "systematic theft of grain, sugar beets, animals, etc."
|Holodomor - Death by starvation|
Soviet expectations for the 1932 grain crop were high because of Ukraine's bumper crop the previous year, which Soviet authorities believed were sustainable. When it became clear that the 1932 grain deliveries were not going to meet the expectations of the government, the decreased agricultural output was blamed on the "kulaks", and later to agents and spies of foreign Intelligence Services - "nationalists", and "Petlurovites" and from 1937 on trotskyists. According to a report of the head of the Supreme Court, by January 15, 1933 as many as 103,000 people (more than 14 thousand in the Ukrainian SSR) had been sentenced under the provisions of the August 7 decree. Of the 79,000 whose sentences were known to the Supreme Court, 4,880 had been sentenced to death, 26,086 to ten years' imprisonment and 48,094 to other sentences.
On November 8, Molotov and Stalin issued an order stating "from today the dispatch of goods for the villages of all regions of Ukraine shall cease until kolkhozy and individual peasants begin to honestly and conscientiously fulfill their duty to the working class and the Red Army by delivering grain."
On November 24, the Politburo instructed that all those sentenced to confinement of three years or more in Ukraine be deported to labor camps. It also simplified procedures for confirming death sentences in Ukraine. The Politburo also dispatched Balytsky to Ukraine for six months with the full powers of the OGPU.
Refusal to provide aid for starved
Some sources claims that despite the pleas for assistance and acknowledged famine situation the Moscow authorities refuse to provide aid, some researchers state that aid was provided only at summer. The first reports regarding malnutrition and hunger in rural areas and towns (which were under supplied through recently introduced rationing system) to the Ukrainian GPU and Oblast authorities are dated to mid-January 1933. However, first food aid Decisions by Central Soviet authorities for Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk regions in amount of 0.4 million poods (200 thousand for each) appeared as early as February 7, 1933.
Measures were introduced to localize these cases using locally available resources. While the numbers of such reports increased the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine issued a Decree on February 8, 1933 that urged every “hunger case” to be treated without delay and with maximum mobilization of own resources of kolkhozes, raions, towns, and oblasts”. The decree set a 7 days term for food aid which was to be provided from “central sources”. On February 20, 1933 the Dnipropetrovsk oblast received 1.2 million of pounds of food aid, Odessa – 0.8 million, Kharkiv – 0.3 million accordingly. The Kiev oblast by March 18 was allocated 6 million poods. The Ukrainian authorities also provide the aid but it was limited to resources available. In order to assist orphaned children the Ukrainian GPU and People's Commissariat of Health created a special commission; establishing a kindergartens network where children could get food, specially directed for him from Central Ukrainian and Soviet authorities.
Urban areas affected by food shortage adhered to a rationing system. On March 20, 1933 Stalin signed a Decree which lowered the monthly milling levy in Ukraine by 14 thousand tons, which was to be redistributed as an additional bread supply “for students, small towns and small enterprises in large cities and specially in Kiev”. However, food aid distribution was not managed effectively and was poorly redistributed by regional and local authorities.
|The windows of the empty food places decorated only by pictures of Stalin and other Muscovite rulers. | Source|
After the first wave of hunger in February-March, Ukrainian authorities met with a second wave of hunger and starvation in April-May – specifically in Kiev and Kharkiv oblasts. The situation was aggravated by the delayed winter.
Between February and June 1933, thirty-five Politburo decisions and Sovnarkom decrees authorized the issue of a total of 35.19 million poods (576,400 tonnes) or more than half of total aid to Soviet agriculture as a whole. 1.1 million ton were provided by Central Soviet authorities in the winter-spring 1933 - of grain for food, seeds and forage for Ukrainian SSR peasants, kolhozes and sovhozes. Such figures did not include grain and flour aid provided for the urban population, children and aid from local sources. In Russia Stalin personally authorized distribution of aid in answer to a request by Sholokhov, whose own district was stricken. However, Stalin also later reprimanded Sholokhov for failing to recognize "sabotage" within his district. This was the only instance that a specific amount of aid was given to a specific district.Other appeals were not successful and many desperate pleas were cut back or rejected.
|Hungry and neglected children. the so-called 'Besprisornyje' | Source|
Documents from Soviet archives indicate that the aid distribution was made selectively to the most affected areas and from the spring months such assistance was the goal of the relief effort at sowing time. A special resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine for the Kiev Oblast, from March 31, 1933, ordered peasants to be hospitalized into either ailing or recovering patients. The resolution ordered improved nutrition within the limits of available resources so that they could be sent out into the fields to sow the new crop as soon as possible. The food was dispensed according to special resolutions from government bodies, and additional food was given in the field where the laborers worked.
Last CPSU Politburo decision about food aid to whole Ukrainian SSR issued June 13, 1933, however separate orders about food aid for regions of Ukraine appeared by end of June - early July 1933– for Dnipropetrovska, Vinnitska ans Kyivska regions. For Kharkivska region’s kolkhozes assistance were provided by end of July 1933 (Politburo decision dated July 20, 1933).
By the end of 1933, millions of people had starved to death or had otherwise died unnaturally in Ukraine, as well as in other Soviet republics. The total estimate of the famine victims Soviet-wide is given as 6-7 million or 6-8 million. The Soviet Union long denied that the famine had ever taken place, and the NKVD (and later KGB) archives on the Holodomor period opened very slowly. The exact number of the victims remains unknown and is probably impossible to estimate even within a margin of error of a hundred thousand. Numbers as high as seven to ten million are sometimes given in the media and a number as high as ten or even twenty million is sometimes cited in political speeches.
One reason for estimate variance is that some assess the number of people who died within the 1933 borders of Ukraine; while others are based on deaths within current borders of Ukraine. Other estimates are based on deaths of Ukrainians in the Soviet Union. Some estimates use a very simple methodology based percentage of deaths that was reported in one area and applying the percentage to the entire country. Others use more sophisticated techniques that involves analyzing the demographic statistics based on various archival data. Some question the accuracy of Soviet censuses since they may have been doctored to support Soviet propaganda. Other estimates come from recorded discussion between world leaders like Churchill and Stalin. For example the estimate of ten million deaths, which is attributed to Soviet official sources, could be based on a misinterpretation of the memoirs of Winston Churchill who gave an account of his conversation with Stalin that took place on August 16, 1942. In that conversation,Stalin gave Churchill his estimates of the number of "kulaks" who were repressed for resisting collectivization as 10 million, in all of the Soviet Union, rather than only in Ukraine. When using this number, Stalin implied that it included not only those who lost their lives, but also forcibly deported.
|Map of depopulation of Ukraine and southern Russia, 1929-33. Territories in white were not part of the USSR during the famine | Source|
The map was created according to the datas of the localities affected by the Holodomor and extrapolated to the post-WW2 USSR borders and administrative divisions. For example, in the Moldavian SSR, only Transnistria have been affected by the Holodomor. In the Odessa Oblast, the Bugeac was not affected by the Holodomor. Both regions were the parts of Romania at this time. A number of difficulties exist when attempting to estimate casualty rates. Some estimates include the death toll from political repression including those who died in the Gulag, while others refer only to those who starved to death. In addition, many of the estimates are based on different time periods. Thus, a definitive number of deaths continues to be a source of great debate.
The results based on scientific methods obtained prior to the opening of former Soviet archives also varied widely but the range was narrower: for example, 2.5 million (Volodymyr Kubiyovych),4.8 million (Vasyl Hryshko)and 5 million (Robert Conquest).
One modern calculation that uses demographic data including that available from recently opened Soviet archives narrows the losses to about 3.2 million or, allowing for the lack of precise data, 3 million to 3.5 million.
The Soviet archives show that excess deaths in Ukraine in 1932-1933 numbered 1.54 million. In 1932-1933, there were a combined 1.2 million cases of typhus and 500,000 cases of typhoid fever. All major types of disease, apart from cancer, tend to increase during famine as a result of undernourishment lowering resistance and generating unsanitary conditions; thus these deaths resulted primarily from lowered resistance rather than starvation per se. In the years 1932–34, the largest rate of increase was recorded for typhus, which is spread by lice. In conditions of harvest failure and increased poverty, the number of lice is likely to increase, and the herding of refugees at railway stations, on trains and elsewhere facilitates their spread. In 1933, the number of recorded cases was twenty times the 1929 level. The number of cases per head of population recorded in Ukraine in 1933 was already considerably higher than in the USSR as a whole. But by June 1933, incidence in Ukraine had increased to nearly ten times the January level and was higher than in the rest of the USSR taken as a whole.
However, the number of the recorded excess deaths extracted from the birth/death statistics from the Soviet archives is self-contradictory and cannot be fully relied upon because the data fails to add up to the differences between the results of the 1927 Census and the 1937 Census.
Stanislav Kulchytsky summarized the natural population change. The declassified Soviet statistics show a decrease of 538,000 people in the population of Soviet Ukraine between 1926 census (28,925,976) and 1937 census (28,388,000). The number of births and deaths (in thousands) according to the declassified records are given in the table (right).
|Besides a flowering landscape the notice: 'the burial of corpses is categorically forbidden here! | Source|
According to the correction for officially non-accounted child mortality in 1933 by 150,000 calculated by Sergei Maksudov, the number of births for 1933 should be increased from 471,000 to 621,000. Assuming the natural mortality rates in 1933 to be equal to the average annual mortality rate in 1927-1930 (524,000 per year) a natural population growth for 1933 would have been 97,000, which is five times less than this number in the past years (1927-1930). From the corrected birth rate and the estimated natural death rate for 1933 as well as from the official data for other years the natural population growth from 1927 to 1936 gives 4.043 million while the census data showed a decrease of 538,000. The sum of the two numbers gives an estimated total demographic loss of 4.581 million people. A major hurdle in estimating the human losses due to famine is the need to take into account the numbers involved in migration (including forced resettlement). According to the Soviet statistics, the migration balance for the population in Ukraine for 1927 - 1936 period was a loss of 1.343 million people. Even at the time when the data was taken, the Soviet statistical institutions acknowledged that its precision was worse than the data for the natural population change. Still, with the correction for this number, the total number of death in Ukraine due to unnatural causes for the given ten years was 3.238 million, and taking into account the lack of precision, especially of the migration estimate, the human toll is estimated between 3 million and 3.5 million.
In addition to the direct losses from unnatural deaths, the indirect losses due to the decrease of the birth rate should be taken into account in consideration in estimating of the demographic consequences of the Famine for Ukraine. For instance, the natural population growth in 1927 was 662,000, while in 1933 it was 97,000, in 1934 it was 88,000. The combination of direct and indirect losses from Holodomor gives 4.469 million, of which 3.238 million (or more realistically 3 to 3.5 million) is the number of the direct deaths according to this estimate.
A 2002 study by Vallin et al. utilizing some similar primary sources to Kulchytsky, and performing an analysis with more sophisticated demographic tools with forward projection of expected growth from the 1926 census and backward projection from the 1939 census estimate the amount of direct deaths for 1933 as 2.582 million. This number of deaths does not reflect the total demographic loss for Ukraine from these events as the fall of the birth rate during crisis and the out-migration contribute to the latter as well. The total population shortfall from the expected value between 1926 and 1939 estimated by Vallin amounted to 4.566 million. Of this number, 1.057 million is attributed to birth deficit, 930,000 to forced out-migration, and 2.582 million to excess mortality and voluntary out-migration. With the latter assumed to be negligible this estimate gives the number of deaths as the result of the 1933 famine about 2.2 million. According to this study the life expectancy for those born in 1933 sharply fell to 10.8 years for females and to 7.3 years for males and remained abnormally low for 1934 but, as commonly expected for the post-crisis peaked in 1935–36.
According to estimates about 81.3% of the famine victims in Ukrainian SRR were ethnic Ukrainians, 4.5% Russians, 1.4% Jews and 1.1% were Poles. Many Belarusians, Hungarians, Volga Germans and other nationalities became victims as well. The Ukrainian rural population was the hardest hit by the Holodomor. Since the peasantry constituted a demographic backbone of the Ukrainian nation, the tragedy deeply affected the Ukrainians for many years.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the overall number of Ukrainians who died from 1932-1933 famine is estimated as about four to five million out of six to eight million people who died in the Soviet Union as a whole.
Was the Holodomor a genocide?
Robert Conquest claimed that the famine of 1932–33 was a deliberate act of mass murder, if not genocide committed as part of Joseph Stalin's collectivization program in the Soviet Union. In 2006, the Security Service of Ukraine declassified more than 5 thousand pages of Holodomor archives. These documents suggest that the Soviet regime singled out Ukraine by not giving it the same humanitarian aid given to regions outside it. Some scholars say that Conquest's book on the famine is replete with errors and inconsistencies and that it deserves to be considered an example of Cold War lack of objectivity.
|The corpses in the streets of the Charkov at the beginning arouse the sympathy of the famished. | Source|
R.W. Davies and Stephen G. Wheatcroft have interacted with Conquest and note that he no longer considers the famine "deliberate". Conquest—and, by extension, Davies and Wheatcroft—believe that, had industrialization been abandoned, the famine would have been "prevented" (Conquest), or at least significantly alleviated.
...we regard the policy of rapid industrialization as an underlying cause of the agricultural troubles of the early 1930s, and we do not believe that the Chinese or NEP versions of industrialization were viable in Soviet national and international circumstances.
They see the leadership under Stalin as making significant errors in planning for the industrialization of agriculture.
|Also this corpse still excites attention. | Source|
Davies and Wheatcroft also cite an unpublished letter by Robert Conquest:
Our view of Stalin and the famine is close to that of Robert Conquest, who would earlier have been considered the champion of the argument that Stalin had intentionally caused the famine and had acted in a genocidal manner. In 2003, Dr Conquest wrote to us explaining that he does not hold the view that "Stalin purposely incited the 1933 famine. No. What I argue is that with resulting famine imminent, he could have prevented it, but put ‘Soviet interest’ other than feeding the starving first—thus consciously abetting it".
This retraction by Conquest is also noted by Kulchytsky.
Some historians maintain that the famine was an unintentional consequence of collectivization, and that the associated resistance to it by the Ukrainian peasantry exacerbated an already-poor harvest. Some researchers state that while the term Ukrainian Genocide is often used in application to the event, technically, the use of the term "genocide" is inapplicable.
|The sympathy shrinks! | Source|
The statistical distribution of famine's victims among the ethnicities closely reflects the ethnic distribution of the rural population of Ukraine Moldavian, Polish, German and Bulgarian population that mostly resided in the rural communities of Ukraine suffered in the same proportion as the rural Ukrainian population. While ethnic Russians in Ukraine lived mostly in urban areas and the cities were affected little by the famine, the rural Russian population was affected the same way as the rural population of any other ethnicity.
University of West Virginia professor Dr Mark Tauger claims that any analysis that asserts that the harvests of 1931 and 1932 were not extraordinarily low and that the famine was a political measure intentionally imposed through excessive procurements is based on an insufficient source base and an uncritical approach to the official sources.
|The corpses of the starving lie in the road-side, the passers-by no longer pay them attention. | Source|
Author James Mace was one of the first to claim that the famine constituted genocide. But scholars believe that Mace's work debased the field of Russian studies.
Professor Michael Ellman of the University of Amsterdam concludes that, according to a relaxed definition of the term, the famine of 1932-33 may constitute genocide. He bases this on the actions (two of commission and one of omission: exporting grain - 1.8 million tonnes - during the mass starvation, preventing migration from famine afflicted areas and making no effort to secure grain assistance from abroad) and the attitude (that many of those starving to death were "counterrevolutionaries," "idlers" or "thieves" who fully deserved their fate) of the Stalinist regime in 1932-33. He asks:
“Throughout his career as a Soviet leader, from Tsaritsyn (1918) to the ‘Doctors' plot’ (1953), he used violence (arrests, shootings, deportations) to achieve his political goals. Is it really plausible to suppose that with these perceptions, convictions, words, actions, plans, and record, Stalin would have abstained from an efficient, cost-saving method (i.e. starvation) of repressing ‘counterrevolutionaries’ (or ‘anti-Soviet elements’) and liquidating ‘idlers’?”
More recently a 1953 speech by the "father of the [UN] Genocide Convention," Dr Raphael Lemkin, offers his view on whether the Great Famine was an act of genocide. Lemkin described "the destruction of the Ukrainian nation" as the "classic example of genocide," for "...the Ukrainian is not and never has been a Russian. His culture, his temperament, his language, his religion, are all different...to eliminate (Ukrainian) nationalism...the Ukrainian peasantry was sacrificed...a famine was necessary for the Soviet and so they got one to order...if the Soviet program succeeds completely, if the intelligentsia, the priest, and the peasant can be eliminated [then] Ukraine will be as dead as if every Ukrainian were killed, for it will have lost that part of it which has kept and developed its culture, its beliefs, its common ideas, which have guided it and given it a soul, which, in short, made it a nation...This is not simply a case of mass murder. It is a case of genocide, of the destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation."
|A starving child, about whom nobody worries|
Denial of the Holodomor
Denial of the Holodomor is the assertion that the 1932-1933 Holodomor in Soviet Ukraine did not occur.This denial and suppression was made in official Soviet propaganda and was supported by some Western journalists and intellectuals.
Denial of the famine by Soviet authorities, including President Mikhail Kalinin and Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, was immediate and continued into the 1980s. The Soviet party line was echoed at the time of the famine by some prominent Western journalists, including Walter Duranty and Louis Fischer. The denial of the famine was a highly successful and well orchestrated disinformation campaign by the Soviet government . Stalin "had achieved the impossible: he had silenced all the talk of hunger... Millions were dying, but the nation hymned the praises of collectivization", said historian and writer Edvard Radzinsky. That was the first major instance of Soviet authorities adopting Hitler's Big Lie propaganda technique to sway world opinion, to be followed by similar campaigns over the Moscow Trials and denial of the Gulag labor camp system, according to Robert Conquest.
On November 28, 2006, Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed a law recognizing the 1932–1933 Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. The voting figures were as follows: supporting the bill were BYuT—118 deputies, NSNU—79 deputies, Socialists—30 deputies, 4 independent deputies, and the Party of Regions—2 deputies (200 deputies did not cast a vote). The Communist Party of Ukraine voted against the bill. In all, 233 deputies supported the bill—a minimum of 226 votes were required for it to be passed.
A draft law "On Amendments to the Criminal and the Procedural Criminal Codes of Ukraine" was submitted by President Viktor Yushchenko for consideration by the Ukrainian Parliament. The draft law envisages prosecution for public denial of the Holodomor Famine of 1932–1933 in Ukraine as a fact of genocide of the Ukrainian people, and of the Holocaust as the fact of genocide of the Jewish people. The draft law foresees that public denial as well as production and dissemination of materials denying the above shall be punished by a fine of 100 to 300 untaxed minimum salaries, or imprisonment of up to two years.
Holodomor in modern politics
The famine remains a politically-charged topic; hence, heated debates are likely to continue for a long time. Until around 1990, the debates were largely between the so called "denial camp" who refused to recognize the very existence of the famine or stated that it was caused by natural reasons (such as a poor harvest), scholars who accepted reports of famine but saw it as a policy blunder followed by the botched relief effort, and scholars who alleged that it was intentional and specifically anti-Ukrainian or even an act of genocide against the Ukrainians as a nation.
Nowadays, scholars agree that the famine affected millions. While it is also accepted that the famine affected other nationalities in addition to Ukrainians, the debate is still ongoing as to whether or not the Holodomor qualifies as an act of genocide, since the facts that the famine itself took place and that it was unnatural are not disputed. As far as the possible effect of the natural causes, the debate is restricted to whether the poor harvest or post-traumatic stress played any role at all and to what degree the Soviet actions were caused by the country's economic and military needs as viewed by the Soviet leadership.
In 2007, President Viktor Yushchenko declared he wants "a new law criminalising Holodomor denial," while Communist Party head Petro Symonenko said he "does not believe there was any deliberate starvation at all," and accused Yushchenko of "using the famine to stir up hatred." Few in Ukraine share Symonenko's interpretation of history and the number of Ukrainians who deny the famine or view it as caused by natural reasons is steadily falling.
On November 10, 2003 at the United Nations twenty-five countries including Russia, Ukraine and United States signed a joint statement on the seventieth anniversary of the Holodomor with the following preamble:
In the former Soviet Union millions of men, women and children fell victims to the cruel actions and policies of the totalitarian regime. The Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine (Holodomor), which took from 7 million to 10 million innocent lives and became a national tragedy for the Ukrainian people. In this regard we note activities in observance of the seventieth anniversary of this Famine, in particular organized by the Government of Ukraine.
Honouring the seventieth anniversary of the Ukrainian tragedy, we also commemorate the memory of millions of Russians, Kazakhs and representatives of other nationalities who died of starvation in the Volga River region, Northern Caucasus, Kazakhstan and in other parts of the former Soviet Union, as a result of civil war and forced collectivization, leaving deep scars in the consciousness of future generations.
One of the biggest arguments is that the famine was preceded by the onslaught on the Ukrainian national culture, a common historical detail preceding many centralized actions directed against the nations as a whole. Nation-wide, the political repression of 1937 (The Great Purge) under the guidance of Nikolay Yezhov were known for their ferocity and ruthlessness, but Lev Kopelev wrote, "In Ukraine 1937 began in 1933", referring to the comparatively early beginning of the Soviet crackdown in Ukraine.
While the famine was well documented at the time, its reality has been disputed for ideological reasons, for instance by the Soviet government and its spokespeople (as well as apologists for the Soviet regime), by others due to being deliberately misled by the Soviet government (such as George Bernard Shaw), and, in at least one case, Walter Duranty, for personal gain.
An example of a late-era Holodomor objector is Canadian journalist Douglas Tottle, author of Fraud, Famine and Fascism: The Ukrainian Genocide Myth from Hitler to Harvard (published by Moscow-based Soviet publisher Progress Publishers in 1987). Tottle claims that while there were severe economic hardships in Ukraine, the idea of the Holodomor was fabricated as propaganda by Nazi Germany and William Randolph Hearst to justify a German invasion.
|Holodomor Monument in Calgary, Canada|
In 2006, the Holodomor Remembrance Day took place on November 25. President Viktor Yushchenko directed, in decree No. 868/2006, that a minute of silence should be observed at 4 o'clock in the afternoon on that Saturday. The document specified that flags in Ukraine should fly at half-staff as a sign of mourning. In addition, the decree directed that entertainment events are to be restricted and television and radio programming adjusted accordingly.
In 2007, the 74th anniversary of the Holodomor was commemorated in Kiev for three days on the Maidan Nezalezhnosti. As part of the three day event, from November 23-25th, video testimonies of the communist regime's crimes in Ukraine, and documentaries by famous domestic and foreign film directors are being shown. Additionally, experts and scholars gave lectures on the topic. Additionally, on November 23, 2007, the National Bank of Ukraine issued a set of two commemorative coins remembering the Holodomor.
Looking at these pictures only one thing comes to mind "The Holocaust" but Stalin managed to kill more people in one year than Hitler in 5 years, by using only famine!
And still there are people who want to glorify this dictator. Where are their consciences?