Holodomor is а genocide of the Ukrainian nation committed in 1932–1933. The leadership of the Soviet Union committed it in order to suppress Ukrainians and ultimately eliminate Ukrainian resistance to the regime, including efforts to build an independent Ukrainian state. In 2006, by the Law of Ukraine “On the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine”, the Holodomor was recognized as genocide of the Ukrainian nation. In 2010, the resolution of the Court of Appeal in Kyiv region proved the genocidal nature of the Holodomor and the intention of Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Postyshev, Chubar, Khatayevych, and Kosior to destroy a part of the Ukrainian nation. In 1932–1933, they killed millions of Ukrainians in the Ukrainian SSR and abroad, in the regions historically populated by Ukrainians: the Kuban, the North Caucasus, Lower Volga, and Kazakhstan.
In the middle 17th century, Ukraine was divided between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Moscow kingdom. Over the next two centuries, the Ukrainian nation did not have its own statehood; therefore. it was suffering through political, national, and cultural oppression. Russia pursued tough colonization of Left-Bank Ukraine. The powerful Russification, chauvinism and policy of identifying 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 the permanent liberation struggle. Only in 1918 they managed to create a Ukrainian state – the Ukrainian People’s Republic, which united Ukrainian territories.
In the 20th century, an independent Ukrainian state endured only a few years, struggling with constant encroachment and suffering from interference in the internal affairs of the country from outside. It did not manage to build a constructive foundation for 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 Kremlin actually controlled Ukraine.
Despite short periods of state building, the Ukrainian tradition used to have and still has deep historical roots, which reach the period of Kyivan Rus’. It united the nation and strengthened Ukrainian nationalism, and, contrary, contradicted the Leninist theory of socialism, which included the merging of nations. After the 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 to the 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 Ukrainian social, socio-political and socio-economic life, which affected the traditional village primarily. The Soviet authorities forcefully speared among Ukrainian people new customs and new rituals, however, they made them renounce their past and 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 with the collective farms of state property. Each farmer had a certain number of workdays, for working off of which they were paid for by natural products. However, mainly the totality of workdays was so miserable that denied the opportunity for the farmers to feed themselves and their families. Considering Ukrainian farmers’ strong sense of individualism, the collective farm policy system implementation in Ukraine received resistance. That is why villagers were forcefully dragged into collective farms by compulsion, terror and propaganda war with dissenters, whom the regime marked as “kulaks,” “bourgeois nationalists,” and “counter-revolutionaries,” and destroyed those people.
The policy of the Soviet regime provoked the Ukrainian people’s resistance. Historians have recorded about 4 thousand 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 farmers, combined with 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 Stalinist totalitarian regime carried out genocidal extermination of the Ukrainian farmers 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 farmers the basis of the national movement, hit the Ukrainian farmers as the bearer of Ukrainian traditions, culture and language. In 1932, an unrealistic implementation grain procurement plan, of 356 million poods of grain, was set for Ukraine. To approve the plan, Stalin’s closest associates, Kaganovich and Molotov, came to Kharkiv, who were well informed about the scale of the famine in the first half of 1932, Ukraine. The Genocide was organized and committed by the legalization of violence and mass murder of Ukrainians by government representatives. About 400 archival documents confirm this.
In the early 1930s, the policy of collectivization in Ukraine collapsed. Farmers massively abandoned farms and took their property back: livestock, stock, and earned grain. On August 7, 1932, to preserve farms and property in state hands, the regime adopted a repressive resolution known among the people as a “Law On Five Ears of Grain.”
According to the resolution of CEC and Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR “On Safekeeping Property of State Enterprises, Collective Farms and Cooperatives and Strengthening Public (Socialist) Property,” all the collective property equated to the state property and it was set a severe punishment for its theft. With a law like this, the state punished hungry farmers for collecting the crop leftovers from fields for ten years imprisonment with confiscation of property or execution. The law took away people’s right to have any food. According to the resolution, a specific group of people was organized to carry out searches among the population to forcefully withdraw the grain. Those searches were accompanied by terror and physical and psychological abuse of people.
The next genocidal decision was the establishment of food fines – the right of the state to take from farmers not only grain but all the food and property that could be sold or exchanged for food, which there 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 a specific repressive regime – the “black boards”. Including into the “black boards” meant physical food blockade of farms, villages, and districts: total removal of food, ban of trade and transportation of goods, and ban on leaving for farmers and the surrounding place by military units, GPU, police. In 1932 – 1933 the regime of “black boards” acted in 180 districts of the USSR (25% area). Such a repressive regime was used only in Ukraine and Kuban, in the areas where Ukrainians lived.
Kremlin created conditions of life designed to destroy the Ukrainian nation through the 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 the starving territory and forbade them to leave the Ukrainian SSR and Kuban to buy any bread. For any other administrative region of the USSR, such a decision was not applied.
The Stalinist regime declared famine in Ukraine as a non-existent phenomenon. That is why, they refused the assistance offered by many NGOs, including foreign Ukrainian communities and the International Red Cross.
In the spring of 1933, the mortality rate in Ukraine became catastrophic. The peak of Holodomor fell in June. Then the martyr’s death took away every day 28 thousand people, every hour – 1168 people, and 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 grain stocks, available in the centralized state reserves and large-scale food exports.The totalitarian regime’s actions confirm the intention to destroy part of the Ukrainian nation within the specified time limits.
The question of the number of human losses in Ukraine from Holodomor remains open. Most parts of researchers advocate the number of victims of over 7 million people in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and 3 million Ukrainians in other regions of the USSR: the Kuban, the Central Black Earth region, the Volga region and Kazakhstan.
Certain historical circumstances complicate the calculations and, even more so – establish the names of the killed. The communist totalitarian regime did everything possible to conceal the consequences of its crime. It was forbidden to record the real number of deaths. Today, secret lists of some village councils, with the list of those who died in 1932-1933, were discovered. These lists are twice the official data. It is quite clear that such cases were not isolated. There was a ban on recording the cause of death as “hunger”, so death certificates indicated “from typhus”, “exhaustion”, or “from old age”. In 1934, all the registry office books about death registration were transferred to a specific department of GPU. Ukrainians died out in families, villages, and the records were held not always. The level of unreported deaths is unknown, but it is clear that millions died. The rate of unreported deaths is unknown, but it is clear that millions died.
The Soviet Union convinced the international public “not to see” the mass murder of Ukrainians with the help of propaganda and bribery of individual journalists. However, there were publicists who wrote the truth. Reports of ambassadors and diplomats have been kept. The regime took measures to erase the memory of the killing of millions of Ukrainians but the memory of the people is indestructible. Moreover, with the independence of Ukraine, the ban on talking about the Holodomor was lifted.