The problem of establishing the exact number of victims of mass killings in the world is quite widespread. Especially with regard to the crimes that were hidden and denied for a long time. Ukraine still does not have a single position on the number of human losses from the Holodomor of 1932-1933. Most Ukrainian scholars of Ukrainian genocide are inclined to data of at least 7 million victims within the administrative territory of the Ukrainian SSR.
The President of Ukraine, urging the world community to recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide of Ukrainians in autumn 2017, defined the losses of Ukraine from 7 to 10 million people. Instead, the Institute of Demography and Social Studies named after M. Ptukha of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, as well as some historians in Ukraine and abroad, insist on the number of the number of Holodomor victims of 3.9 million people and call it the final one.
Such statements cause surprise, because since 2009, when the Institute of Demography conducted an examination of a criminal case on the crime of genocide – the Holodomor of 1932-1933, and identified this figure of losses, science didn’t stop to develop.
The differences in views on the scale of the victims of genocide were not resolved at the International Science and Practical Conference devoted to this topic, which took place shortly before the Holodomor Memorial Day on November 18, 2017. A group of Ukrainian scholars who deeply research state archives and NGO “Memorial” named after Vasyl Stus decided to give a press conference in order to inform the public about the situation around the calculations of the scale of Holodomor victims and on attempts of demographers and individual historians to preserve a hypothetical assessment of the Holodomor in the amount of 3.9 million people in the scientific community and public consciousness.
The press conference was held on January 9, 2018 in Ukrinform, with participation of Olesia Stasiuk, Director General of the National Museum “Holodomor Victims Memorial”, Bohdan Morklianyk, First Deputy Chairman of the “Memorial” named after Vasyl Stus, Yurii Balaniuk, Deputy Chairman of the NGO “Memorial” named after Vasyl Stus, Doctor of Historical Sciences and Head of the Association of Researchers of Holodomors in Ukraine Vasyl Marochko (Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor Volodymyr Sergiychuk (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, member of NGO “Memorial” named after Vasyl Stus), Doctor of Law, Professor Volodymyr Vasylenko (National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”). President of the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation Mykola Kocherga (Chicago, USA) also attended the press conference.
Participants of the press conference drew attention to the selective use of documentary sources by demographers, what does not take into account all the historical circumstances of the genocide of Ukrainians in 1932-1933. Professor Volodymyr Sergiychuk noted that for unknown reasons demographers did not use archival documents regarding the population of the SSRR as of January 1, 1932, and provided other archival documents indicating the falsification of official Soviet statistics. In addition, the scientist named at least 13 unexplored problems that were not included in the definition of demographic losses, in particular, with regard to Ukrainians who had fled and fired by Soviet authorities at the borders of the Ukrainian SSR. He pointed out that these things were emphasized in 2016 during the International Scientific and Practical Conference “Holodomor of 1932-1933: the loss of the Ukrainian nation,” but this information was ignored by demographers.
Participants of the press conference drew attention to the selective use of documentary sources by demographers, what does not take into account all the historical circumstances of the genocide of Ukrainians in 1932-1933. Professor Volodymyr Sergiychuk noted that for unknown reasons demographers did not use archival documents regarding the population of the USRR as of January 1, 1932, and he provided other archival documents indicating the falsification of official Soviet statistics. In addition, the scientist named at least 13 unexplored problems that were not included in the definition of demographic losses, in particular, with regard to Ukrainians who had fled and had been shot by Soviet authorities at the borders of the Ukrainian SSR. He pointed out that these things were emphasized in 2016 during the International Scientific and Practical Conference “Holodomor of 1932-1933: the loss of the Ukrainian nation”, but this information was ignored by demographers.
The author of many books on the Holodomor, repressed by the Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court, as well as a new large-scale work – the Holodomor Encyclopedia – Vasyl Marochko reported about the disregard by the staff of the Institute of Demography and Social Studies named after M. Ptukha of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine of not only indisputable documents stored in the state archives and already introduced to the scientific circulation, but also the studies of his predecessors A. Khomenko, M. Ptuha, other demographers, who even in the 1920s and before the Holodomor itself developed forecasts of the demographic situation in Ukraine and paid for it not only with freedom but also with life.
Olesya Stasyuk listed the documents, which witness not only about full awareness of the Holodomor organizers about criminality of their actions, but also about the steps taken to conceal the crime of manslaughter and distortion of statistics.
Among them there is the report of the chairman of the The State Political Directorate of the Ukrainian SSR Vsevolod Balytskii on March 22, 1933, on the issuance of the order to the heads of the regional branches of The State Political Directorate to inform about the deaths from starvation only the first secretaries of the regional commissions and only orally. In addition, Olesia Stasiuk, on concrete examples, uncovered the falsification of Soviet statistics in terms of diminishing mortality and, therefore, the impossibility of using it to establish the actual number of victims. This is evidenced by the facts presented, on the one hand, in the personal letter of the Head of the Kharkiv Regional Department of the The State Political Directorate Kantselson to Balitskii from 05.06.1933, and on the other hand – in the martyrology of the National Book of Memory of the Holodomor victims of the Poltava region in the Novosanzhar district. Kantselson reported about 3,000 people who died in the area as a result of the famine during the 3 months of 1933, with mortality, according to his words, rising and getting such proportions that a number of village councils stopped registration. In the martyrologists of the National Book of Holodomor victims of the Poltava region, the compilers indicated that 2,169 dead people were identified in the Novosanzhar district, 1913 personalities were identified. And this data is for 2 years – 1932-1933. Hiding information about the real scale of the crime was not difficult, because in 1934 the population records were subordinated to the State Political Directorate , and the books of death registration of 1932-1933 were removed from the village councils and transferred to special departments of district executive committees. Do we have the right to talk about the final figure of the Holodomor victims of 3.9 million, which is based on false statistics? – a question was stated by O. Stasiuk.
Doctor of Law Volodymyr Vasylenko stressed the need to resume the criminal investigation of the crime of genocide in 1932-1933 on the territory of Ukraine, this time with regard to its executors, with the further adoption of a new court order. He also drew attention to the fact that although not the number killed but the intention and fact of committing this crime is important to determine the fact of genocide, this does not eliminate the need for establishment the number of its victims. Professor Vasylenko said that the issue of determining the amount of human losses of Ukraine from the Holodomor is, firstly, our moral duty towards innocent victims. Secondly, it is a question of dignity, self-respect of the Ukrainian nation, the state of Ukraine. The situation was created when archival documents point to the terrible extent of the genocide of Ukrainians, but according to some researchers, Ukraine cannot talk about it, in order not to exceed the victims’ number of other known genocides. The quantitative characteristics of the losses in 3.9 million people are translated by the mass media and lobbied in the West. The association with the Soviet Holodomor denial arises, but now in the format of diminution of the scale of losses, for which one can expect the diminishing of the value of the crime.
The National Museum “Holodomor Victims’ Memorial”, in collaboration with a number of state scientific institutions with the support of the Holodomor-Genocide Foundation (Chicago, USA), held two scientific conferences devoted to finding solutions to the problem of Holodomor losses, – emphasized Mykola Kocherha. The definition of scientifically based figures is possible under the conditions of cooperation between historians, demographers, lawyers, medical experts, civil society. Cooperation, which should be based on mutual respect, transparency and awareness of Ukraine, will yield results and unity in this matter. Mykola Kocherha called for the creation of a state interagency working group for studying archival documents and scientific substantiation of the scale of the Holodomor.