Volodymyr Sergiychuk’s Article “Paralysis of Historical Memory: Why the Bundestag Did Not Recognize the Holodomor as Genocide of the Ukrainian Nation”

23 November 2020

What the Bundestag did not hear

Under German law, important issues are submitted to the Bundestag if they garner 50,000 votes in favor. Thanks to the efforts of the local Ukrainian community, the petition initiated in December 2018 to recognize the Holodomor of 1932–1933 as genocide of Ukrainian nation collected more than 73,000 signatures. However, the Secretary of State of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Michael Roth, stated that his country would not adopt such an act, given that this tragedy took place before the adoption of the relevant UN Convention in 1948…

At the same time, the respected government official did not mention that on March 17, 1982, his country recognized as an act of genocide the extermination of Gypsies during World War II, on August 16, 2004—the African Guerrero and Namo (Hottentots) tribes in 1904–1907, on April 23, 2015—Armenians, and June 2, 2016—Assyrians in the First World War. Of course, not only does Germany recognize the genocide of Jews during World War II, but it is also responsible for these events.

In the end, according to the transcript of the petition committee meeting, Mr. Roth managed to draw his line without much effort, as no one in the debate could clearly point to the signs of genocide in the then Bolshevik government’s deliberate actions to destroy Ukrainians during the Holodomor of 1932–1933. field to do with general phrases about any crime, including Stalinism, is not accepted.

Instead of emotional appeals to members of the Bundestag, it would be better to read the letter of the then resident of the Altenau colony Emilia Freier to the wife of the German consul, in which she expressed a desire to “advertise how we, the poor Germans, are oppressed. We will starve to death. We had a very good harvest last year. If only they gave us what we have earned, but they do not give it in order for us to die. Dear consul’s wife, imagine that we haven’t seen any meat or fat for a whole year. We have been living like this for a long time, during the entire existence of the Soviet government, and we are still being pressured by taxes and meat-giving to the state.”

Unfortunately, there was no historian or lawyer at the meeting who would convince the Bundestag deputies of the need to support the petition on the specific facts of such conscious actions of the Bolshevik authorities, because what they did to the hungry in Ukraine, taking everything from them on Stalin’s personal instructions. edible for the alleged sabotage of unbearable grain supplies, just falls under the signs of genocide, which threatens the destruction of the nation or part of it, which for the Ukrainians is the peasantry.

The German deputies had to be informed about how in Ukraine the hungry German colonists, who received material aid from their historical homeland, were forced by the Soviet security services not only to transfer these funds to the fund of the International Proletariat, but also to write protests to Hitler (“We are full, we do not need your handouts…”).

In particular, Emilia Freier’s letter stated: “I would like to inform you with all desire that we, the poor Germans, the people in dire need, have no right to receive material support from abroad. On the contrary, we must abandon it altogether. If someone accepts something and does not send it back, they are subject to a fine or arrest. These red bastards take it for granted and are strengthened by it. That’s why I want to inform you about this, which you probably already know. I want you to send my appeal abroad and publish it in Rundschau, stating that we are not allowed to transfer any pfennigs. If we, the dying, do not have the right to accept this support, then this red bastard should not receive it either, because they are strengthening on it. “

“We don’t need bread…”

There is no doubt that the information from the report of USSR GPU V. Balytsky from May 22, 1934, would have impressed those present. The report stated that, “1. The arrests of active organizers of ‘Hitler’s aid’ and fascist agents were held. 85 persons have been arrested yet, mainly pastors, sectarian preachers, kisters, church activists, kulaks, etc. About 60 more people are scheduled to be arrested. 2. Through the agents, decomposition work was organized among collective farmers and individuals, aimed at giving up ‘Hitler’s aid.’ 3. Regional party organizations shall be periodically informed in order to take appropriate measures.”

In fact, those who did not abey this pressure, like the resident of Hrintal village of Starokaranskyi district of Donetsk region Vasyl Neb, were imprisoned for 7 years. And according to the decision of traika of NKVD of onetsk region, Ivan Klassen, the inhabitant of Romanivka village of Dzerzhynsk district of Donets region, was shot on March 3, 1938, for the fact that “in 1931–1933, he asked for help and received money from German aid committee and the USA” and repeatedly talked among the collective farm workers that “there is no need to geve the bread to the state when we are starving.”

Therefore, the German marks accumulated in this way (Hitler himself handed over a thousand of his own savings) by the Soviet punitive authorities at the suggestion of Stalin’s closest ally Lazar Kaganovich were immediately used by the USSR for subversive activities against Germany. And the hungry Germans, especially children, were dying meanwhile. I think many current German deputies would be interested to know why from September 1, 1933, the number of primary classes in the national German schools of the then Kyiv region was reduced by twelve.

This, as they say, did not seem enough to the Ukrainian Bolsheviks, so the secretaries of the Central Committee of the CP(B)U Pavlo Postyshev and Panas Lyubchenko on June 3, 1934 sent a special dispatch addressed to Stalin, asking for “additional measures by the Central Committee of the CPSU(b). namely:

1. To take measures if not to stop, then to decisively limit the obviously provocative sending of money, which have the character of an open political fascist campaign.

2. Through the intervention of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, prohibit all kinds of visits by consular representatives to villages to distribute aid and conduct provocative work. To arrest for counter-revolutionary work the consular representatives who may do this after the warning.

3. To take measures along the line of Torgsin to stop accepting fascist aid money transfers for realization by their branches.”

Isn’t this a deliberate action of the authorities aimed to deprive hungry people of food, especially provided as humanitarian aid?

Fortunately, the German state then had such representatives in Ukraine as Consul General in Kharkiv Karl Walter, Consuls in Kyiv Andor Henke and Consul in Odesa Friedrich Roth. From the beginning of 1932, they reported to Berlin about the “terrible situation” in Ukrainian villages, where “people are swollen with hunger.” Thus, the Consul General of Germany in Kharkiv Walter wrote to Berlin on June 16, 1933 that “the catastrophe of famine affected the whole of Ukraine… According to one German colonist, in the Ekaterina-Khoprovsky collective farm, about 130 families died out of 160. In the village of Stepanivka, where 80 families lived, 220 people died. “

Therefore, these diplomats raised the issue of providing aid to the Germans of Ukraine, sending letters to their Foreign Ministry from hungry compatriots, and, at their own risk, delivering the transfers received from Germany for the hungry. And their efforts to disseminate the truth about the Holodomor were strongly supported by the Ukrainian community in Germany, as well as European public figures. In particular, the Secretary General of the European Commission of Nationalities Ammende took a principled position on this issue, not only mentioning it in his introductory speech at the IX Forum of this organization in October 1933 in Bern, but also out of the agenda giving the floor to Ukrainian delegate Milena Rudnytska. Her speech on the horrors of the famine in Ukraine was a significant addition to the secret reports of the mentioned diplomats, called on the German government and all people of good will to save the Ukrainian countryside.

It should be emphasized that Hitler ordered: Ukrainians, Poles, Swedes, Greeks, Bulgarians, if found in German colonies, are also to receive assistance — so that they do not stel the food, which is typical for hungry people.

Kazakhs escaped the fate of Ukrainians

Unfortunately, no one at the meeting of the petition committee could explain how the Holodomor in Ukraine differs from the Kazakh one. And this is a very important point that would help German deputies realize the cynicism of the Kremlin’s crime: taking cattle from the Kazakhs, they did not forbid them to move to the surrounding regions of Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, where they could get a job and thus escape starvation.

However, the hungry Ukrainians were expelled from the territories of neighboring Russia and Belarus as early as the summer of 1932, so that they “by their whining,” in Stalin’s words, would not spoil the local collective farms. First of all, it touched hungry Ukrainian children, whom the police caught at railway stations and forcibly sent to the USSR, explaining the reason for this action by their alleged ignorance of the Russian language. And on January 22, 1933, when the authorities took everything edible from the villagers’ barns, including handfuls of millet hidden in the cradles, talin and Molotov signed a directive banning the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) and the Soviet People’s Commissar from leaving the USSR and Kuban (where three-quarters of population were Ukrainian).

Tickets to Russia and Belarus were banned, so thousands of exhausted bread walkers died at railway stations near their homes, being hooked to large pits nearby and littered with land without any registration. I do not think that the German deputies would fail to see any signs of genocide in this, but no one told them about this.

The members of the Bundestag were not informed about Moscow’s decision to stop Ukrainization in the North Caucasus on December 14, 1932, under the pretext of non-fulfillment of grain procurement plans. This way, the newspapers, radio broadcasts, documents and studying in Ukrainian language were forbidden for more than 3 million of native inhabitants of this region. The next day, a similar decision was applied to Slobozhanshchina, the Volga region, Kazakhstan, Siberia, Central Asia and the Far East, leaving almost 7 million Ukrainians in the Russian Federation alone deprived of their natural rights and doomed to widespread Russification, which soon happened.

The resettlement of hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Russian hinterland and Belarus to the extinct villages of the present-day Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odesa, and Kirovohrad oblasts was also aimed at this. For them, food resources were given and the district newsparers in Riussian were printed. Russian classes were opened for their children.

These materials should have been prepared by members of the German-Ukrainian Commission of Historians (about which Ukraina Moloda wrote on October 21, 2020. — Ed.), which was created to study and disseminate information about the complex and tragic pages of our common history in both countries. However, its  members actually resigned from their duties, as officially stated by the Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany Andriy Melnyk. But he question here is different— who delegated the historians who not only never studied this tragedy of the Ukrainian nation, which then included 400 thousand German colonists, but also do not recognize the Holodomor of 1932–1933 as genocide.

Yes, at that time Germany had information about the Holodomor in Ukraine and tried to stop the trouble by organizing all possible assistance to its compatriots and their exhausted neighbors, despite the warnings of its own ambassador to the USSR Dirksen, who on April 18, 1933 offered his government to stop propaganda “Because it, they say,” could harm the Germans in the USSR. “

Germany then listened to its consul in Odesa, Friedrich Roth, and now listenes to Foreign Secretary Michael Roth who says that the federal government does not consider it “appropriate” to give an international legal assessment of the Holodomor as a fact of genocide.

Where and what threatens the Germans today?

Or maybe the paralysis of historical memory has changed the perception of reality by German diplomats over the years, so they have become too cautious?


Published in Ukraina Moloda.