The history of the Holodomor
Holodomor – is а genocide of Ukrainian nation in 1932-1933. It was committed by leadership of the Soviet Union with the aim of making Ukrainians obedient and the ultimate elimination of Ukrainian opposition regime including efforts to build an independent from Moscow Ukrainian State. In 2006 by the Law of Ukraine “About the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine” Holodomor was recognized as genocide against Ukrainian people. In 2010, by the resolution of Court of Appeal in Kyiv region was proved the genocidal nature of Holodomor, the intention of Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Postyshev, Chubar, Khatayevych, Kosior to destroy a part of the Ukrainian nation. In 1932 – 1933 were killed more than 7 million people in the Ukrainian SSR and 3 million of Ukrainians abroad in the regions which were historically populated by Ukrainian: Kuban, the North Caucasus, Lower Volga and Kazakhstan.
After separation of Ukraine in the middle of the XVIIth century between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Moscow kingdom over the next two centuries the Ukrainian nation did not have its own statehood, because of what were suffering through political, national, cultural oppression. Russia pursued a tough colonization of Left-Bank Ukraine. The powerful Russification, chauvinism and policy of identification Ukrainians to Russian people (identification of Ukraine as part of Russia – Malorosia) did not destroy Ukrainian national consciousness. Ukrainians felt their difference from the Russians very sharply, and for centuries continued permanent liberation struggle. And only in 1918 they managed to create a Ukrainian state – the Ukrainian People’s Republic and unite Ukrainian territories.
In the XXth century an independent Ukrainian state endured only a few years, struggling with constant encroachment and interference in the internal affairs of the country from outside. It did not manage lay the constructive foundation of its independence and strengthen it in the world. After the third occupation of Ukrainian lands, which belonged to the Russian Empire, the Russian Bolsheviks established Soviet power by force using the puppet government.
On December 30, 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established, which included the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Union treaty called for full equality of republics, but Ukraine was actually controlled by Kremlin.
Despite short periods of state building, the Ukrainian tradition was and still has deep historical roots which reach the period of Kievan Rus’. It united the nation and strengthened Ukrainian nationalism and contrary, thou contradicted the Leninist theory of socialism, which included the merging of nations. After Russian Bolsheviks occupied the territory of Ukraine, they felt it very keenly. Lenin defined the national movement and issues of national sovereignty as a phenomenon of bourgeois character with which the Bolsheviks were fighting. The Ukrainian entity was a great hindrance for existence of the USSR in the format in which the Soviet leadership saw it.
With the approval of the Communist regime there were significant changes in social, socio-political and socio-economic life of Ukraine, which affected primarily the traditional village. The Soviet authorities forcefully speared among Ukrainian people new customs and new rituals, however, made them renounce their past, forget their origins. The Ukrainization policy was stopped. The attack on Ukrainians’ spiritual life began.
In 1928, the Soviet leadership announced a policy of collectivization, by combining individual private farms in the collective farms of state property. Each farmer had a certain number of workdays, for working off of which he or she was paid for by natural product. However, mostly the totality of workdays was so miserable that denied the opportunity for farmer to feed him and his family. Considering the strong sense of individualism of Ukrainian farmers, the policy of collective farm system implementation in Ukraine received the resistance. That is why villagers were forcefully dragged into collective farms by compulsion, terror and propaganda war with dissenters, on whom the regime hung the label “kulaks”, “bourgeois nationalists”, “counter-revolutionaries” and destroyed those people.
The policy of the Soviet regime provoked resistance of Ukrainian people. Historians have recorded about 4 thousand of farmers’ mass demonstrations in the early 1930s against collectivization, tax policy, robbery, terror and violence done by authorities.
A sense of national identity of Ukrainian peasant, combined with his mental individualism contradicted the ideology of the Soviet Union. That was the basis of Ukrainian nationalism and was a threat to the unity and the very existence of the USSR. That is why the object of genocide crime was the Ukrainian nation, to weaken which the Stalin’s totalitarian regime carried out genocidal extermination of Ukrainian peasantry as the prevalent part of the nation and the source of its spiritual and material strength.
The danger of riots and rebellions for the existence of the USSR was well aware in Kremlin by Stalin and his associates. Not wanting to lose Ukraine, the Soviet regime created a plan to exterminate the Ukrainian nation, which was disguised as grain procurement plans to the state. It was about the complete removal of all stocks of grain and other food and property confiscation as penalties for failure of grain procurement plan. After Ukraine was turned into the territory of famine, the regime cut off all the ways to salvation. Only Ukrainian and Kuban’ farmers were forbidden to travel to cities in Russia and Belarus. 22,4 million people were physically locked within the territory of the Holodomor.
Stalin, who considered peasantry as the basis of the national movement, hit the Ukrainian peasantry as the carrier of Ukrainian traditions, culture and language. In 1932 for Ukraine was set an unrealistic for implementation grain procurement plan of 356 mln. poods of grain. For approval of the plan to Kharkiv came the closest associates of Stalin – Kaganovich and Molotov, who were well informed about the height of the famine in the first half of 1932 in Ukraine. The Genocide was organized and committed by legalization of violence and mass murder of Ukrainians by government representatives. About 400 archival documents are confirming this.
In the early 1930s the policy of collectivization in Ukraine collapsed. Peasants massively abandoned farms and took their property back: livestock, stock, earned corn. To preserve farms and property in hands of state, on August 7, 1932 the regime adopted a repressive resolution, which was known among the people as a “law of spikelets.”
According to resolution of CEC and Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR “About protection of property of state enterprises, collective farms and cooperatives and strengthening social (socialist) ownership” all the collective property equated to the state property and for its theft was set a severe punishment. With a law like this the state punished hungry peasants for harvesting the crop leftovers from fields for 10 years imprisonment with confiscation of property or execution. In fact, the law took away people’s right for having any food. According to resolution was organized a special group of people who carried out searches among the population in order to forcefully withdraw the grain. Those searches were accompanied by terror, physical and psychological abuse of people.
The next genocidal decision was establishing of food fines – the right of the state to take from peasants not only grain, but all the food and property that could be sold or exchanged for food, which wasn’t in any other Soviet republic. To strengthen the famine in Ukraine the Politburo of the CC CP (B), under the pressure of Molotov, on November 18, 1932 adopted a resolution which introduced specific repressive regime – the “blackboards”. Including into the “blackboards” meant physical food blockade of farms, villages, districts: total removal of food, ban of trade and transportation of goods, ban on leaving for peasants and the surrounding of place by military units, GPU, police. In 1932 – 1933 the regime of “blackboards” acted in 180 districts of the USSR (25% area). Such a repressive regime was used only in Ukraine and Kuban, in areas where Ukrainians lived.
Kremlin created conditions of life made to destroy the Ukrainian nation by complete withdrawal of all food supplies. Resolution of the CP ECP (b) and the People’s Commissars of the USSR from January 22, 1933, signed by Stalin and Molotov blocked Ukrainians inside starving territory, forbade them to leave the Ukrainian SSR and Kuban to buy any bread. For any other administrative region of USSR such decision was not applied.
The Stalinist regime declared famine in Ukraine as non-existent phenomenon, and that’s why refused the assistance offered by many NGOs, including foreign Ukrainian communities and the International Red Cross.
On spring 1933 the mortality rate in Ukraine became catastrophic. The peak of Holodomor fell on June. Then the martyr death took away every day 28 thousand people, every hour – 1168 people, every minute – 20 people. At that time Moscow gave Ukraine seed (for sowing) and food loans. In case when food reached villages, it was provided mainly in form of catering and only to those collective farmers who were still able to work and live in field conditions.
That all was carried out with large stocks of grain available in centralized state reserves and large-scale food exports. These actions confirm the intention of Soviet leadership to destroy a part of Ukrainian nation within certain time limits.
The question about quantity of human losses in Ukraine from Holodomor remains open. Most part of researchers advocate the number of victims over 7 million people in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and 3 million of Ukrainians in other regions of the USSR: the Kuban, the Central Black Earth region, the Volga region and Kazakhstan.
Certain historical circumstances made calculations complicated, and even more complicated – to establish the names of those who were killed. The Soviet government did everything possible to hide the consequences of their crime. On places, it was forbidden to record the actual number of deaths. These days the secret list of some village councils with list of deaths in 1932-1933 revealed. These lists are twice higher than the official data. It is totally clear that such cases were not rare. There was a ban to record as the cause of death “hunger”, that is why in the death acts list noted “from typhoid”, “exhaustion”, “of old age.” In 1934 all the registry office books about deaths registration were transferred to a special department of GPU. Ukrainians died out in families, villages, and not always the records were held. The level of unreported deaths is unknown, but it is clear that millions died.
The Soviet Union convinced the international community “not to see” the mass murder of Ukrainians by means of propaganda, bribes of certain journalists. However, there were journalists who wrote the truth, the reports of ambassadors and diplomats are preserved. The regime took some steps to erase the memory about the murder of more than 7 million of Ukrainians. But the memory of the people is invincible, and with the formation of Ukraine’s independence the ban to talk about the Holodomor was thwarted.