Ukrainian Holocaust (The Holodomor)
This is a documentary about the worst genocide to ever happen in the history of the Earth. It was the brainchild of Joseph Stalin for the prevention of losing the Ukraine during its nationalist period during 1932-1933.
Will history repeat itself ?
The Famine-Genocide of 1932–33
Famine-Genocide of 1932–3 (Голодомор; Holodomor). The mass murder by Josef Stalin’s Soviet regime of millions of Ukrainian peasants. In recent years this national tragedy has become widely known as the Holodomor (from moryty holodom ‘to kill by means of starvation’). This tragic event was (1) a planned repression of the peasants of Soviet Ukraine for massively resisting the Stalinist state’s collectivization drive; (2) a deliberate offensive aimed at undermining, terrorizing, and neutralizing the nucleus and bulwark of the Ukrainian nation and recent Ukrainization efforts; and (3) the result of the forced export of grain, other foodstuffs, and livestock in exchange for the imported machinery the USSR required for the implementation of the Stalinist policy of rapid industrialization.
In 1932 Ukraine had an average grain harvest of 146.6 million centers (15.5 million centers more than in 1928), and there was no climatic danger of famine. Yet, because of onerous forced grain requisition quotas that the Bolshevik state imposed upon the Soviet Ukrainian rural population (see Grain procurement), the peasants already experienced hunger in the spring of 1932. The grain collections were brutally carried out by 112,000 special Bolshevik agents sent to Ukraine to extract grain by using terror against both collectivized and independent farmers. To minimize peasant opposition, on 7 August 1932 a law introduced the death penalty ‘for violating the sanctity of socialist property.’
By the end of 1932 Moscow’s food-collection plan, which far exceeded the actual harvest, was 72 percent fulfilled. The food-collection plan for 1932–3 was based on the total area of land that was to be seeded. In reality, less land was seeded than planned, and even less produced the expected crops. Consequently the rural population was left without any means of sustenance, yet the authorities did not organize any supplies to feed the villagers.
The Holodomor affected almost all parts of interwar Soviet Ukraine, but it grew to massive proportions in the republic’s southern and eastern oblasts. It also occurred in the territories bordering on the Ukrainian SSR that were populated mostly by Ukrainians, such as the Kuban and the Don region. Only an insignificant part of the population—the privileged rural Communist functionaries, who were served by a special distribution system—did not experience hunger.
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Behind Ukraine’s protest are memories of Moscow’s famine
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have protested in the streets over the past three weeks, culminating in the current occupation of government buildings and pitched battle with riot police in central Kiev. The ostensible trigger was the last-minute decision of President Viktor Yanukovich to back out of a trade agreement with the European Union, moving instead toward a deal with Russia and its Customs Union.
Ukrainian police in full riot gear encircled tents and barricades erected by anti-government protesters ahead of a court-imposed deadline for demonstrators to disperse. Protesters are angry at the government’s pivot towards Moscow. (Dec. 9)
Video: Tension increases in Kiev as riot police confront demonstrators
Commentators have framed the demonstrations in terms of competing economic interests, geopolitical intrigues, Russian-speaking eastern vs. Ukrainian-speaking western Ukraine, and Russian-Ukrainian relations. Yet these analyses don’t explain why so many Ukrainians are protesting this time. At the heart of their outrage is an emphatic rejection of what many Ukrainians see as Soviet-style rule. Explaining why they are in the streets, the protesters occasionally mention economics, but more often they say, “to live in a normal, civilized country,” “so that our children can live with human dignity,” or “to be free to travel, to work and to live our lives.”
The Soviet legacy of authoritarianism and terror is not so easily shed. The most devastating chapter was the Holodomor – the Famine of 1932-33, when Soviet authorities forcibly removed grain and foodstuffs from farmers, many who had resisted collectivization. Borders were closed to prevent people from seeking food beyond Ukraine. Many millions of Ukrainians were starved to death. Joseph Stalin launched an assault on Ukrainian cultural leaders as well, murdering and exiling thousands of artists, intellectuals, and clergy. The Holodomor was a demographic and cultural catastrophe for Ukraine, exacerbated by Soviet Russification policies.
Oksana Zabuzhko, one of Ukraine’s best-known writers, believes that today’s corrupt Ukrainian state is a direct consequence of the 1933 genocide, when the most ruthless prospered. “Those who stole the most during the Holodomor made out the best. And indeed, in independent Ukraine, those adept at stealing managed to take hold of the collective farm,” Ms. Zabuzhko told me. “That is, all of Ukraine, from which they’ve plundered, carrying the wealth back to ‘their own house.’ Our current leadership, the third generation, is not capable of having a different, state-centered ‘managerial’ mentality. And whether the house in question is a hut with a pigsty or an offshore account on the Cayman Islands is purely a quantitative, not a qualitative, difference.”
For three generations, to mention the word “famine” was taboo; the Soviets denied that the Holodomor had taken place until the end of the USSR. Only then did archives become accessible that illuminated its scope and intentionality.
Yet the administration of President Viktor Yanukovich is engaged in diminishing the significance of the Holodomor. This year, staff at the Institute of National Memory in Kiev produced a book, the central thesis of which echoes Soviet-era Cold War propaganda – that the Holodomor was conceived as a means to discredit the USSR. Similarly, Russia refuses to accept the Holodomor as a Ukrainian rather than a general Soviet tragedy, and leaked diplomatic documents have shown that Russian officials have threatened post-Soviet countries should they recognize the Holodomor as a genocide.
Fear, and in particular, fear before authority, is the most enduring impact of the Holodomor, according to psychiatrist Semyon Gluzman, president of the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association and former Soviet dissident. In an interview weeks before the protests, he said: “It lingers in the consciousness of our Ukrainian people, who are still not free.” It would take another generation, he added, for Ukrainians to be rid of it.
The first generation to come out of the shadows of the Holodomor has arrived. Born after the fall of the Soviet Union, they are as likely to have spent time in Paris or Munich as in Moscow. They differ from their parents in other ways. They are completely at home with social media, and they expect information to be shared, and shared quickly. When government forces beat peaceful protesters on Kiev’s maidan, or main square, authorities claimed that these special forces had been clearing out hooligans impeding the assembly of a huge Christmas tree (or rather, New Year tree, the term used since Soviet times). But video of the brutal assault was already on the internet for all to see. At least three websites are streaming live feeds as events in Kiev unfolded.
Whatever the short-term outcome of the protests, young Ukrainians will continue to press for change in their country. With a sense of identity informed by the tragedy of their country’s past, they are impatient for Ukraine to cast off its lingering Soviet ways. They see no reason why Moscow should determine their fate. They will not be satisfied until their country’s institutions guarantee democracy, rule of law, and human rights – which just happen to be criteria for joining the European Union.
Marta Baziuk is executive director of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium at the University of Alberta’s Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies.
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