19 June 2018

The name of the famous journalist Anne Applebaum is widely known in Ukraine. A few months ago, President of our country Petro Poroshenko met with her, the Antonovych Foundation Omelan & Tatiana Inc. from the United States marked Anne Applebaum with a prize for the book «Red Famine. Stalin’s War on Ukraine». As soon as this book was published, Professor Stanislav Kulchytsky responded immediately to it on the pages of «The Day» (newspaper) with a praiseworthy review.


Surely, it is good that a representative of the Western world so closely interested in one of the biggest tragedies of humanity, and therefore will bring the truth about it to millions of people in different places. Moreover, as the author admits, «a host of other Ukrainian historians offered suggestions and let me borrow their books or unpublished articles». On the part of the author, the involvement of Ukrainian researchers in the implementation of their project is fully justified. Ukrainian scholars really have access to the Ukrainian archives, so they could give her invaluable evidence of this crime of the Bolshevik authorities that has been carefully concealed for many decades. Unfortunately, we will not see anything new from archival repositories in Anne Applebaum’s book. The book does not mention collections of documents or publications about which she did not wish to write, or it was unknown to her assistants, or her consultants deliberately hid it from her.


In particular, when she writes about the loss of our people during the Holodomor of 1932-1933, the author refers to the testimonies of German diplomats about the Holodomor. She did not say that it was they who, on the basis of confidential conversations with high-ranking representatives of the GPU, indicated from 7 to 10 million victims of Holodomor. She notes: «President Yushchenko is one of many prominent figures who sometimes cite casualty figures for the Holodomor that are too high. Although the Ukrainian scholarly community is now coalescing, with some exceptions, around a number just below 4 million deaths».


Mrs. Applebaum, as a well-known researcher, was not interested in these «few exceptions», but completely entrusted to the consultants of the book. For example, Andrea Graziosi, the professor from Naples, who «even helped to make a preliminary plan and acted as chief assistant for the whole time that I was working on a book». The famous Italian professor believes that the losses from the Holodomor of 1932-1933 were 3.5 million people, without familiarizing with the original documents of the Ukrainian archives. The author of «Red Famine», her assistants and advisers agree with this opinion. It leads to such an accident: Anne Epplebaum places at the beginning of her book a map of the Holodomor of 1932-1933, where losses are estimated at 545,200 people in the Vinnytsia region, but according to Professor Ilya Shulga’s experiments, 1.634.093 people were killed during this two hungry years. As for the Kyiv region, the author estimated that 1,489,700 people died for 1932 – 1933 years, but now we know about 1,110,800 people, who were killed during this period in the territory of Kyiv region. In addition, this figure still needs to be added to those losses, which are not recorded in 1677 monthly reports of village councils of the Kyiv region in 1933. For example, the failure of the 20 village councils to provide monthly population reports in July did not include at least 679 deaths for Pogrebishchensky District. Confirmation that the reporting data from places was incomplete may serve a document on the verification of registration of deaths in the Skvirsky and Volodarsky districts, which took place in the winter of 1933. In particular, the memorandum by the Deputy People’s Commissar of Health of the UkrSSR Harmandaryan to the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the CP(b)U Kosior of June 6, 1933 states: «It is undoubted that the number of deceased persons should be considerably reduced, as inspections and research of local material indicating much larger numbers. According to the reported data in the Skvirsky district from 1.01 to 1.03, 802 people died, while the death penalty was detected 1773 at 15.01, in Volodarsky district 742 deaths were reported at 1.03, whereas in reality, more than 3,000 people died by that time». 


It means that mortality is undervalued in the first case in the eight times, and in the second case at least in the four times!

Unfortunately, such a pattern was observed in all regions of Ukraine. In particular, the practice of untimely accounting of the deceased people was very widespread. For example, in the Usatovka village (Bilyaivsky district of the Odessa region), deaths were often registered only in a few weeks. In many areas, there were not enough forms to issue a certificate of death for those whom there is declared to the village council. All of this is witnessed in the Ukrainian archives, where the primary documents of the civil registry offices were preserved.


For example, in the village councils of Pervomaysky district (present Mykolaiv region), which clearly pointed to hunger as the main cause of the death of many of their fellow villagers, they used the forms of birth certificates, marriages and divorces, and even ordinary scraps of paper for the final document in the life of each person. Therefore, many village councils wrote to the district authorities of the Ukrainian SSR such appeals, as did the leaders of the Peryorsky district of the Vinnytsia region: they were asked to «send a book of death records because we really needed it».


It was not always the district authorities could help the cause, so we should not be surprised that in many village councils the registration of the dead was stopped already in the spring of 1933 due to the lack of appropriate forms, and no information was recorded for many months until the beginning of 1934.


We must acknowledge the absolutely unsatisfactory state of registration of civil status records in 1933, as a result of which a significant proportion of deaths are not taken into account by public authorities. At the same time, no one recorded the deaths of those wandering children who became victims of cannibals, travelers for bread to Russia and Belarus, where they died and buried unknown to us. The testimonies of Belarusians about it often ended with such clarifications: «Ukrainians asked to eat, and then they were quietly dying». Nobody can count the executed people by Soviet border guards on the Dniester and Zbruch Rivers or in the  marshes, as well as those who were thrown into huge mass graves near the railway stations, when they were still alive pushed from trains that traveled to Russia. I believe that we need to investigate the losses from the Holodomor-Genocide in 13 directions, after which we will have the right to speak about the final figures of losses.

These are «some exceptions», which Mrs. Applebaum does not write about.


Ann Applebaum is grateful for Harvard’s «Holodomor’s Map» project. During the presentation of its project at the University of California in October 2017, it was clarified that the initial data was taken from the population by the census of 1926, then the questioner was asked: and how was counted the people who were born from 1926 to 1932, since the natural increase during this time reached almost 4 million, and changes in the boundaries of the districts that occurred in the early 1932 and 1934? The answer was diverted to the American professor Oleg Volovyn, but he kept silent. By the way, Mrs. Applebaum is also grateful for the help from Oleg Volovyn.


For some reason, this book does not mention the activities of the International Commission of Lawyers, which was initiated by the World Congress of Free Ukrainians in 1983 on the proposal of Canadian lawyer Volodymyr-Yuriy Danyliv. There are held two meetings in Brussels and New York in 1988. Professors of International and Criminal Law, among them Cavi Oliver (USA), Ricardo Leuven (Argentina), John Hamfree (Canada), Jacob Sundberg (Sweden), Guy Draper (Great Britain), Jov Virgoven (Belgium) and Georges Levasser (France), who managed on the basis of published materials and testimonies of witnesses who spoke in these processes, draw conclusions about the artificial nature of the Holodomor of 1932-1933.

As a cause of the Holodomor, «the majority of the Commission identified cases such as: (a) charging grain taxes; (b) collectivization; (c) an action against the kulaks; and (d) anti-national action».


In the opinion of the best lawyers of the world, headed by Swedish professor of Law Jacob Sundberg, it was emphasized: «The authority of the Soviet Union is responsible for the starvation, and there is no doubt that the famine existed and further spread as a consequence of measures taken by the authorities.


These authorities, as identified by the majority of the Commission, over the course of ten months created a terrible shortage of food products in Ukraine. However, regardless of the role played by local authorities in translating measures into action, it is clear to the majority of the Commission that the central authority is responsible on this action».


With regard to the number of victims of the Holodomor, the International Commission of Lawyers, having received no document from Moscow, but only relying on the census of 1926 and 1939 (not knowing, of course, that the census of 1939 was falsified by Moscow) came to the conclusion that «at a minimum 4.5 million people» were killed in Ukraine during 1932-1933.


Only one document was handed over by Moscow to the members of the International Commission of Lawyers. This was a petition from Kyiv scientists from October 14, 1988, stating that «an investigation conducted by the commission is unlikely to be attributed to legal action. It is rather political in nature and complicity in a purposeful ideological action. Such actions are incompatible with the principles of objective research and are unlikely to manifest the truth. Therefore, they can not but cause distrust and protest». Among protesters against the activities of the International Lawyers Commission in 1988 was one of the current consultants of Anne Applebaum, so in her book, apparently for that reason, there was no mention of the courage of seven well-known lawyers in the world to consider the lawsuit of the Ukrainian diaspora against the crimes of the Kremlin.


As a result, we are convinced that in our country, the Holodomor Research and Education Consortiums (HREC in Ukraine), publishes a book in which the Holodomor of 1932-1933 is not recognized as a genocide, because « The Ukrainian famine was not an attempt to eliminate every single living Ukrainian; It was also halted, in the summer of 1933, well before it could devastate the entire nation». A. Applebaum  quotes the basic provision of the Genocide Convention, which state «genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such». The author of the «Red Famine» believes that millions of Ukrainian peasants killed by the famine are not part of the Ukrainian nation, against which the authorities launched a deadly war. She writes that «The history of Ukraine is not a tragedy. Millions of people were murdered, but the nation remains on the map».

Glory to God, the Nazis also failed to destroy all Jews, and they, in the efforts of Raphael Lemkin, recognized the crime of genocide over them. The Lawyer of PolishJewish descent Raphael Lemkin, who studied at the University of Lviv, also clearly pointed to the signs of the genocide of Ukrainians during the Holodomor of 1932-1933.


For some reason, it did not notice by Anne Applebaum, also like the fact that the Law on the Holodomor of 1932-1933 was adopted in Ukraine, which recognizes it as the genocide of Ukrainian people.

However, Ms. Applebaum will surprise the reader not only those facts. The book represents the history of Ukraine in her vision, not on the basis of the research of prominent historians. The first thing that surprises is the confusion of the author with the history of Ukrainian statehood.


Initially, Anne Applebaum notes that «after the proclamation of independence on January 22, 1918, the twenty-eight-year-old secretary general of the international affairs of the Ukrainian republic, Oleksander Shulhyn … gained the actual recognition of his state by all major European countries, including France, Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, Turkey and even Soviet Russia. In December, the United States sent its diplomat to open a consulate in Kyiv». In the following statements Anne Applebaum changes her mind: «only at the end of the twentieth century, for the first time in its history Ukraine has become a sovereign state and it was recognized by all over the world».

In her opinion, Kievan Rus is «almost mythologized state, descendants of which are Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians».


Definitely, we must thank all the foreigners who defend the rights of our people, especially this is important during the recent Russian war against Ukraine. However, it does not mean that they have to falsify our history, and not to speak the rigorous truth.


Volodymyr Serhiychuk, Professor of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv