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The Holodomor [note 1] (Ukrainian: Голодомор) was a massive man-made famine in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, a constituent union republic of the Soviet Union, that took the lives of between 2 and 10 million people from 1932-1933. In 2008, the European Parliament recognized the Holodomor as a crime against humanity, citing the United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Some, such as the Swedish Communist Party and certain intellectuals, still deny that it ever happened. Some neo-Nazis, like The Daily Stormer website, take the opposite route and refer to it as the Holocaust that actually did happen. However, others, such as Richard Spencer deny that the Holodomor was a genocide.
After the October Revolution of 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 governance that introduced exciting new labor laws, such as the decree that anyone going out on strike would be shot, but this had been bad for the economy.
Realizing the economic situation after the war was shit, 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.
In came Stalin, who was a little less willing in that regard. He decided to scrap the New Economic Policy and forcibly collectivize the peasantry. This was in opposition to Lenin's thoughts on the matter, which encouraged voluntary collectivization, and was also opposed by the Left Opposition embodied by Trotsky.
Many Ukrainian peasants had owned their own land for some time. The more successful peasants ended up purchasing more land, more than their families could farm alone, and hired others to help grow the food. These peasants were known as the "Kulaks", and of course, as they were "exploiting" poorer workers, they were not exactly looked up to by Communists.
Stalin's zealous, forced collectivization efforts naturally led to disaster. As part of "de-Kulakization", Soviet authorities not only seized much of the farmland for collectivization, but harshly penalized any of the Kulaks who grew too much food, and the term "Kulak" shifted from "wealthy peasant who hired workers" to "any peasant with land". Many proletarian workers from the city who were inexperienced in dealing with agriculture were brought in to work the farms in place of the Kulaks. Note again that this was in opposition to Lenin's thoughts on the matter; he had encouraged voluntary collectivization as opposed to coerced collectivization of the rural peasantry. The resulting shortage of grain led to famine in the Ukraine, as well as other places in the USSR, but the Ukraine SSR was the most hard-hit by the disaster.
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 grand stupidity or genocidal design. As with an extreme functionalist view of the Holocaust or the 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. 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 intelligentsia. The country remains to this day the "breadbasket of Europe" — historians are suspicious as to why the agricultural engine of the USSR was the hardest hit in the context of broader food shortages from the Caucasus region to Siberia. At any rate, even if it was an economic fuckup, it still makes the Great Depression look like a minor soft-landing in comparison.
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.
A third, compromise point of view is that it was indeed genocide, but not an ethnic one (i.e. more akin to democide). Proponents of this school of thought point out that some other USSR regions were also affected by famine. In their view, Stalin engineered the disaster not to specifically target the Ukrainian nation, but rather to purge intelligentsia and peasantry in general (i.e. the most potentially dissident/conservative social groups).
The historian Robert Conquest, an arch anti-communist who at one point was paid to produce anti-Soviet "counter propaganda" by the British Government, held the view that the famine was not intentionally inflicted by Stalin, but "with resulting famine imminent, he could have prevented it, but put 'Soviet interest' other than feeding the starving first — thus consciously abetting it.":441 note 145 He did not believe that the famine could properly be termed a genocide.:xvi note 12
It is often regarded as the tankies' 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 Marxist-Leninists 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 tankies and other Marxist-Leninists. Examples:
- The Soviet Union always denied the famine had ever taken place.
- Walter Duranty, of the New York Times, wrote frantic denials of the event, denounced anyone who reported on it as a fascist and (simply because enough correspondents weren't there to challenge his record of the events) won a Pulitzer Prize. Today's Times editors still facepalm at the thing.
- 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 Chicago and New York.
- Canadian trade union activist Douglas Tottle put forth a conspiracy theory claiming that Nazi Germany 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 Commies believe 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!"
In the mid-2000s, Ukraine wanted to make it illegal to deny the Holodomor, along with the Holocaust.
As an excuse for antisemitism
“”So, my question to you is: Why have you never heard of Yagoda? And why do you never hear about the Communist Holocaust, that killed twice the number of Russian and Ukrainian Christians than alleged number of Jewish victims [killed by Hitler]? Why don't you see pictures of the victims, and the pictures of their murderers? My new book,
|—David Duke. Notice use of the word "alleged". The dog whistle is on a low frequency with this guy.|
Certain bigots such as neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers have accused Jews of deliberately not giving the Holodomor (as well as other genocides) enough attention in the media (as they supposedly run it) in order to focus solely on the Holocaust.[note 2] This didn't exactly come out of nowhere: Stalin had stacked the NKVD with Jews (consisting of over 30% of the force at its highest) to create a convenient scapegoat during the Great Purge, and, inadvertently, it seems to have been a factor as to why so many Ukrainians were later joining the SS in World War II (which was pretty ironic since the Nazis were anti-Slavic).
This also overlooks the fact that unlike the Holodomor, the Holocaust had the benefit of the occupation of the Allies who made sure to scrupulously document, photograph, and film as much of it as they could, as well as put as many perpetrators as they could find on the Nuremberg Trials (thus creating a lot more information to study). Plus, the Holodomor took place in Iron Curtain-esque secrecy (like Chernobyl) and it was nearly completely impossible for the West to see the true enormity of what was happening because of it, not to mention unlike the Nazis the Soviets could hire journalists and writers to cover up the Holodomor as well as being on the winning side. Furthermore it wasn't the only famine in the Soviet Union: a similar one occurred in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in the early 1930s and occurred as well among the kulaks.
Furthermore, contrary to what David Duke and some neo-Nazis claim, the Holodmor was not Communist/Bolshevik Jews murdering White/Slavic/Russian/Ukrainian/European Christians—most of the leading architects of the Holodomor were not Jewish (with the exceptions of Lazar Kaganovich, the aforementioned Genrik Yagoda, and possibly Mendel Khateyvich). Grigory Petrovsky and Vlas Chubar were ethnic Ukrainians (also ironic, given that the Holodomor targeted Ukrainians), Pavel Postyshev and Vyacheslav Molotov were ethnic Russians, Stanislav Kosior was ethnic Polish, and of course the big man himself Joseph Stalin was of Georgian descent. All of these mentioned individuals would be charged for committing the Holodomor by a Ukrainian court in 2010.
But who needs things like logic when you can just blame the Jews for everything?
- Holodomor – Famine in Ukraine, 1932-33, Boston University (List of essential Holodomor reading)
- https://ukrainegenocide.com/resources/ several resources about the Holodomor
- Conspiracy of Silence: a Holodomor Documentary made by the "Casual Historian"
- Means '(Mass) death from starvation', from Ukrainian holod (голод) 'hunger, famine, starvation' and mor (мор) 'mass death'
- Google Holocaust + Holodomor, you'll see.
- Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust pp xv By Miron Dolot Published by W. W. Norton & Company, 1985 ISBN 0-393-30416-7, ISBN 978-0-393-30416-9
- Richard Pipes Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, Vintage books, Random House Inc., New York, 1995, ISBN 0-394-50242-6, pages 232-236
- Ukraine issues joint declaration at the UN in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-1933, US-Ukraine Foundation
- Resolution of 23 October 2008 on the commemoration of the Holodomor, European Parliament.
- "Crisis in Ukraine 1932-1933" (Translated, clumsily, from Swedish.)
- Logan Yershov, Understanding Richard Spencer’s Holodomor Denial. Center for a Stateless Society, 18 May 2017.
- "The NEP and World Revolution" by Trotsky (1922)
- Ukrainian famine, 1932-1933, Rutgers University
- R.W. Davies and S.G. Wheatcroft, The Years Of Hunger. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
- "In a train a Communist denied to me that there was a famine. I flung into the spittoon a crust of bread I had been eating from my own supply. The peasant, my fellow-passenger, fished it out and ravenously ate it. I threw orange peel into the spittoon. The peasant again grabbed and devoured it. The Communist subsided." - Manchester Guardian, 1933
- Stalin's Pulitzer winner, Los Angeles Times
- 8,000 Ukrainians in New York City Protest Famine in Ukraine, The New York Times
- Tottle's book on the subject
- Crying Genocide: Use of Political Rhetoric in Russia and Ukraine, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- Israeli Media Reveals The Secret Behind Communism by David Duke, Youtube.
- Grappling With Holodomor, The Atlantic
- Kyiv court accuses Stalin leadership of organizing famine
- Yuschenko Praises Guilty Verdict Against Soviet Leaders For Famine