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The Holodomor was a massive famine in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, a constituent union republic of the Soviet Union that took the lives of between 7 and 10 million people. Some communists, like the Swedish Communist Party, still deny that it ever happened.
After the October Revolution in 1917 brought a communist government to power in Russia, and the fighting of the Russian Civil War had stopped, Vladimir Lenin had a tough decision to make. During the Civil War he had followed a form of communism that introduced exciting new labor laws, such as the decree that anyone going out on strike would be shot, but this had been rather bad for the economy.
So, bowing slightly to reality, Lenin introduced the "New Economic Policy", in which capitalism and private property was allowed on a small scale while the government kept control of the larger industries. Specifically, the farmers of the USSR, from the peasants working small holdings to the kulaks who held larger farms, were able to keep their farms running as usual.
But then in came Stalin, who was a little less willing in that regard. He decided to scrap the New Economic Policy and shove the agricultural situation closer to Marx's ideal, by collectivizing all the farms; never mind that the peasants themselves considered this an effective return to serfdom.
This entailed reclassifying the kulaks as "class-traitors" because their farms were a little too big, and stopping the kulaks from farming while concurrently importing for farm work large numbers of industrial workers (the so-called "twenty-five-thousanders") who knew squat about agriculture.
Naturally, removing competent farmers and replacing them with utter incompetents, not to mention the continued disregard for basic laws of economics, caused a massive disruption in grain production. This hit the Ukrainian SSR extremely hard; it certainly did not help matters that there was already a nasty drought going on and that the Soviet Union had criminalized gleaning (the removal of leftover crops from a field after the harvest), which was a source of food for many poorer people in the area, and also demanded that an amount of grain equal to approximately seven times that year's yield be sent to the government.
 Blunder or murder?
Rather than the fact of the famine or the numbers who died, what is in serious dispute is whether it was the result of ideologically induced incompetence or genocidal design. As with the extreme functionalist view of the Holocaust or the 1957-1960 Great Leap Forward, the claim that the Soviet leaders were not responsible gives them a convenient "out" to deny responsibility.
It could be that Stalin just made an economic blunder, trusting in the Gospel of MarxTM far too much for his own good. But there have been some nastier motives suggested. Ukrainian nationalism was something of a subversive political force at that time, and some maintain that he cunningly engineered the entire famine to punish the Ukrainian nationalists for the subversion.
This is the view taken by the Ukrainian parliament, which has classified the Holodomor as a genocide. The United Nations declared their agreement with this in 2003, and the European Union followed in 2008.
It is often regarded as the communists' very own Holocaust (although the Cultural Revolution in China and the reign of Pol Pot in Cambodia run close seconds). It is sometimes pointed out that communists (or at least those who do not denounce the Soviet Union, although Stalin did make the mess by moving closer to Marx's vision for agriculture) shatter a bevy of irony meters should they criticize the Nazis for the Holocaust.
There is another parallel of the Holodomor with the Holocaust: widespread denial of the Holodomor among communists. Examples:
- The Soviet Union always completely denied the famine had ever taken place.
- Walter Duranty, of the New York Times, wrote frantic denials of the event and denounced anyone who reported on it as a fascist.
- When in the latter months of 1933 Ukrainian-Americans scheduled protests of the ongoing famine, the U.S. Communist Party sent out thugs to disrupt their marches in New York and Chicago.
- Canadian trade-union activist Douglas Tottle put forth a conspiracy theory claiming that the Nazis and people at the Hearst Corporation made up the entire story about the Holodomor. His work inspired a number of other writers to say the same thing, and the Swedish Communist Party believes him.
A lot more communists denied the Holodomor before 1956, when Stalin's successor Nikita Khrushchev caused a mass exodus from communist parties all over the world by giving his "Secret Speech," essentially screaming in people's faces, "wake up and smell the corpses, Stalin was a liar!"
Ukraine wants to make it illegal to deny the Holodomor, along with the Holocaust.
 See also
- ↑ http://www.artukraine.com/famineart/ukr_un_decl.htm
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Crisis in Ukraine 1932-33. Translated, clumsily, from Swedish.
- ↑ Tony Cliff on Marx and collective farming vs. individual farming.
- ↑ http://books.google.com/books?id=L9pcTIEP1OQC&pg=PA195
- ↑ Tottle's book on the subject
- ↑ http://www.nrcu.gov.ua/index.php?id=148&listid=56782