Wizeus > Religious Affairs
| Video Links
| Putin Files
Penguin Books | 2017 | Anne Applebaum
Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine
[... 362-page pdf
1 The Ukrainian Revolution, 1917
2 Rebellion, 1919
3 Famine and Truce, the 1920s
4 The Double Crisis, 1927–9
5 Collectivization: Revolution in
the Countryside, 1930
6 Rebellion, 1930
7 Collectivization Fails, 1931–2
8 Famine Decisions, 1932:
Requisitions, Blacklists and Borders
Famine Decisions, 1932: The End of Ukrainization
10 Famine Decisions, 1932: The Searches and
11 Starvation: Spring and Summer, 1933
12 Survival: Spring and Summer, 1933
14 The Cover-Up
15 The Holodomor in History and Memory
The numbered links above from 1 to 15 lead to a Penguin Books logo that
preceeds the chapter in question.]
Book Review by Will Zuzak:
- "At least 5 million people perished of hunger between 1931 and 1934
all across the Soviet Union. Among them were more than 3.9 million
[This is substantially less than the figure quoted by
Nikita Khrushchev of 12 million with the majority of the deaths in
Ukraine. It is also less than the figures attributed to Stalin, Walter
Duranty and a host of other prominent politicians and knowledgeable
people of that era. It is also substantially less than the figure of 7
to 10 million Ukrainian deaths quoted for decades within the Ukrainian
- "For that reason, a
separate discussion of the
as a ‘genocide’ -- as
Lemkin’s Ukrainian connections and influences -- forms part of the
epilogue to this book."
[I (and the rest of the Ukrainian-Canadian
community) were unaware of Lemkin's 1953 speech to the Ukrainian
community in New York concerning the genocidal nature of the 1932-1933
famine until it was "re-discovered" by Roman Serbyn circa 2008(?).]
Applebaum explains how the colonial rulers of Poland and the Russian
Empire (Muscovy) refused to acknowledge the distinctiveness of the
Ukrainian nation -- but the Poles do remember the Bohdan Khmelnytsky
rebellion circa 1654 and the Russians do remember that of Ivan Mazepa
- "As Ukraine was a colony of
Poland, and then Russia
Austria-Hungary, Ukraine’s major
-- as Trotsky once observed -- became centres of colonial
control, islands of Russian, Polish or Jewish culture
a sea of Ukrainian peasantry."
- "By 1917 only one-fifth of the inhabitants of Kyiv spoke Ukrainian.."
"When both the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires collapsed,
unexpectedly, in 1917 and 1918 respectively, many Ukrainians thought
they would finally be able to establish a state."
The Ukrainian Revolution, 1917
01Apr2017 march in Kyiv; Mykhailo Hrushevsky elected chairman of
Central Rada; three "universals" declaring an independent Ukrainian
National Republic; but ...
- "By the end
of 1917 all the military powers of the
including the brand-new Red Army, the White Armies of the old
regime, and troops from
Austria, were making plans
occupy Ukraine. To different degrees, each of them
attack Ukrainian nationalists, Ukrainian nationalism and even the
Ukrainian language along with Ukrainian land."
(Bolshevik) anti-Ukrainian government in Kyiv; replaced by
German-supported Pavlo Skoropadsky; replaced by Symon Petliura on
14Dec1918; second Bolshevik invasion in early 1919; but were expelled
in August 1919.
- "By the end of 1919 the national movement, launched with so much
energy and hope, was in disarray."
"By 1919, Lenin’s telegram -- ‘For God’s sake, use all energy and all
revolutionary measures to send grain, grain and more grain!!!’ -- had
become the single most important description of Bolshevik attitudes and
practice in Ukraine."
Alexander Shlikhter, designated to collect
grain, defined 3 peasant categories from richest to poorest-- kulaks
(kurkuls), seredniaks, bedniaks -- and hired the bedniaks to confiscate
land, property and grain from the kulaks.
Applebaum highlights the careers of two self-proclaimed Otamans
(warlords) to demonstrates the chaos engulfing Ukraine during 1919 --
anarchist Nestor Makhno from Zaporizhia in southeastern Ukraine and
Cossack (Kozak) Matvii Hryhoriev to whom Symon Petliura granted the
title "Otaman of Zaporizhia, Oleksandriia, Kherson and Tavryda". Both
commanded sizeable peasant armies and both kept switching sides between
the Bolsheviks, Skoropadski, Denikin, Petliura. There philosophy was a
"complete mishmash of ideas -- nationalist, anarchist, socialist,
communist -- that probably reflected quite accurately the feelings of
Ukrainian peasants who had already watched several armies tramp across
- "Makhno and Hryhoriev fought the Red Army, the
White Army, the Directory -- and eventually one another. A meeting of
rebel forces turned into a shootout in July 1919 after Makhno’s deputy
pulled a gun on Hryhoriev, murdering him
with several aides."
- "All told, Kyiv changed hands more than a dozen times in 1919 alone."
Applebaum describes in some detail atrocities commited against the
Mennonite and Jewish communities. Both Hryhoriev and Denikin openly
referred to 'Jewish' Bolsheviks, such that atrocities against Jews by
their soldiers were commonplace. Although Petliura had incorporated
Jews in his government and discouraged atrocities against Jews, he had
little control of his soldiers.
Although soldiers of the Red Army (Bolsheviks) are also reputed to have
committed atrocities against Jews, Yoram Sheftel (defence lawyer for
John Demjanjuk at the 1987 Jerusalem show trial) is skeptical of this
claim. In a personal conversation, he related that his father, who had
been an officer in the Red Army during this period, stated that the
language of communication amongst the Red Army officers was Yiddish.
They only used Russian (and later Ukrainian) to communicate with the
rank-and-file soldiers. (After becoming disillusioned with the
Communist experiment, his father emigrated to Israel in 1923.)]
Applebaum concludes the chapter with a brief reference to the alliance
between Polish national leader, Josef Pilsudski, and Petliura to defeat
- " On 7 May, 1920, Piłsudski’s army occupied Kyiv,"
13 June, 1920, the Red Army forced Polish troops to retreat. By early
August it was just outside Warsaw. Piłsudski pushed them back,
following a battle remembered later as the ‘Miracle on the Vistula’.
Polish troops again advanced into Ukraine, but ultimately failed to
create an independent Ukrainian state.
However, she does not
mention that after the defeat of the Bolsheviks with the help of
Petliura's forces, many Ukrainian soldiers were interned in Poland and
that later Pilsudski's regime instituted an anti-Ukrainian policy.
Neither does she refer to the anti-Ukrainian atrocities perpetrated by
Polish soldiers associated with the French-equipped "Haller's
Army" in 1917. (Strangely, the Wikipedia link omits reference
to these events.):
Pavlo Humeniuk (1903.10.28 - 2000.11.06) and his son, Peter
were good friends of my wife and me in Montreal during the 1980-90s. In
a short 38-page Ukrainian-language book of memoirs, the elder Humeniuk
recounts his boyhood experiences in his native village, Vyshnivchyk,
Lviv Oblast, Ukraine. On page 9 of his memoirs, he describes the year
1917 and, in particular, the torture-murder of over 300 boys from
Vyshnivchyk and surrounding villages comprising the fledgling Ukrainian
army called "Sichovi Striltsi". In translation:
"When Haller's Army arrived, they killed over 300 of our boys." ...
"... our boys went to the front and no one returned."
"I went to take a look and they were all lying there, killed by the
Poles". .. "The brains were flowing out of every head. They were
" We barely found a pair of old horses with a wagon and transported
them to the village for a whole three days, while other people dug
graves and laid them cross-wise, so that they would not lay on top of
later in the 1990s, the Humeniuk's helped finance the construction of a
"memorial" in their memory and participated in a memorial service.
Humeniuk further describes how the various occupiers discriminated
against Ukrainians: "Our people die from Poles, Moscali (Russians),
Hungarians, Romanians." When the Poles came to power, Ukrainians were
not allowed to buy land, were arrested for political activity, etc.]
Famine and Truce, the 1920s
1921-22 famine in Ukraine and Soviet Union; acknowledged by Soviet
authorities; ARA of Herbert Hoover; 26 million in Russia and 7.5
million in Ukraine affected;
- NEP, Ukrainization; Shumskyi, Skrypnyk, Khvylovyi
- Hrushevsky returns to Ukraine
- Vsevolod Balytsky (Cheka/GPU/OGPU/NKVD)
The Double Crisis, 1927-9
- Grain shortages again in 1927
- Soviet espionage rings revealed in Poland, Turkey,China, France,
Genrigh Yagoda of "The OGPU ended all this activity with a blunt decree
on 19 January, 1928(?): anyone who refused to sell grain to the state
at the agreed price would be arrested and tried. With that order the
New Economic Policy effectively came to an end."
- Stalin concluded that collectivization was the only solution to the
grain problem lreading to the 1928 "Five-Year Plan".
Balytsky and Kaganovich had been preparing a crackdown since 1927;
Shakhty case in spring of 1928; SVU trial in spring of 1930, which
targeted intellectuals and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
- Between 1929 and 1934, three more nationalist conspiracies were
least 23,000 people died directly of hunger in the scarcely remembered
smaller famine of 1928–9, and
80,000 died from disease
knock-on effects of starvation.
- In 1928, Molotov accused the Ukrainian Communist Party of lacking
"elementary discipline"; a purge followed.
Collectivization: Revolution in the Countryside, 1930
- Miron Dolot's village in December 1929
- Collectivization promoted by Stalin
- "Twenty_Five Thousanders" were working-class urban aktivists sent from
cities to impose collectivization
- Lev Kopelev (from educated Jewish family in Kyiv) was a "true
believer" in 1929; arrested and sent to Gulag in 1945.
Harangued, threatened, dispossessed, tortured villagers to join
collectives; made alliance with criminals and poor peasants against
- "Some 10 million peasants entered the Soviet industrial workforce in
the years 1928–32; many, perhaps most, were forced or persuaded to do
so by collectivization and de-kulakization."
- Many escaped to the Donbas to work in the coal mines, where there was
a shortage of workers.
When I was in Montreal in the 1980-90s, Mykhailo Lazorenko related how
his father managed to slip by the border guards into Russia and bring
back several sacks of grain. However, back in his village, this grain
was stolen by other starving vullagers and he was obliged to escape to
the Donbas with his starving family, live in a cave dug into the side
of a hill and survive by digging coal.]
- "Between 1930 and 1933 over 2 million peasants were exiled to
Siberia, northern Russia, Central Asia and other underpopulated regions
of the Soviet Union, where they lived as ‘special exiles’, forbidden to
leave their designated villages."
- This "slave" labour was sent to Solovetsky islands, White Sea canal,
Virkuta coal mines, Kolyma goldmines, Norilsk nickel mines, etc.
- Also targeted were churches, priests and parashioners; the kobzars
(minstrels) with their musical instruments (kobza and bandura).
- "But the methods used to collectivize the peasants destroyed the
ethical structure of the countryside as well as the economic order."
- "In just a few short months during the winter of 1929–30 the Soviet
state carried out a second revolution in
the countryside, for many
more profound and more
shocking than the original Bolshevik
- "The result was rapid, massive, sometimes chaotic and often violent
- "At different stages the rebellion took different forms."
- Farmers slaughteed their cattle for meat, rather than give it to the
- 02Mar1930, Stalin published an article in Pravda blaming the
excesses on overzealous local officials.
- This "Dizzy with Success" article backfired, as the peasants
redoubled their efforts to regain their cattle and land.
- The "resistance" became more organized.
- "By the end of March 1930 the OGPU had recorded 2,000
‘mass’ protests, the majority
of which were exclusively
female, in Ukraine alone."
- "Soviet documents from 1930 record 13,794 ‘incidents
of terror’ and 13,754
‘mass protests’, of which
the largest number took
place in Ukraine and were caused, in the OGPU’s own view, by
collectivization and de-kulakization."
- 05Apr2017 rebellion in Osadchi killed several dozen government
figures, but were eventually overcome by a well armed 200-man OGPU
unit. 300 people were detained, 210 convcted, 27 executed.
Collectivization Fails, 1931-2
- "Nevertheless, the summer of 1930 seemed, from the perspective of
Moscow, to mark a moment of victory."
- "Convinced that collectivization was now on the path to success, the
Kremlin made what would turn out to be a disastrous and callous
decision: to increase the export of grain, as well as of other food
products, out of the Soviet Union in exchange for hard currency."
- In 1931, due to drought, bad planning,, chaos, etc."the official
harvest total for 1931–2 would eventually come to 69.5 million tonnes,
instead of the 83 million-plus expected."
- In December 1931 Molotov
and Stalin ordered Kosior to force Ukraine "to meet the grain
requirements as planned", even though it was obviously impossible.
In the spring of 1932: "Mass confiscations occurred all across the
USSR. In Ukraine they took on an almost fanatical intensity."
March 1932, Odessa oblast, Zynovivskyi raion, Kozyrivka village "half
the inhabitants had died of hunger"; only 100 of 365
left.; in Tarasivka only 200 of 400 households left.
- Despite pleas from Ukrainian Bolshevik officials for food aid
relaxation of confiscations, Stalin refused.
On 02Jul1932, Stalin wrote to Molotov and Kaganovich: "Pay more
serious attention to Ukraine. Chubar’s deterioration and opportunistic
nature, Kosior’s rotten diplomacy ... and a criminally reckless
approach to affairs will lose Ukraine in the end."
- As a result of
Stalin's "5 stalks of wheat" edict on 07Aug1932, 4,500 people were shot
and over 100,000 sent to the Gulag by the end of 1932,
ordered Kaganovich to take full responsibility for the Ukrainian
Communist Party and transfered Balytsky back to Ukraine to head
Ukrainian secret police
Famine Decisions, 1932: Requisitions, Blacklists and Borders
- On 09Nov1932, Nadezhda Sergeevna Alliluyeva, Stalin's wife, shot
herself with a small pistol.She had been opposed to collectivization
and the famine in Ukraine.
- Many senior Bolsheviks, including Klement Voroshilov and Semyon
Budyonny, witnessed the famine conditions and informed Stalin.
Although Bukharin recanted his anti-collectivization views,
Martemyan Ryutin (a Moscow party boss) did not. With a dozen other
dissidents, he wrote a stinging condemnation (later called Ryutin's
Platform) of Stalin's policies, as well as a shorter 'Appeal to all
Party Members', which were circulated in Moscow, Kharkiv and other
cities.When Stalin found out about it in September 1932, 21 people were
arrested and executed, including Ryutin, his wife and 2 sons.
- Instead of relenting, "Stalin began using stark language about
Ukraine as well as the North Caucasus, the Russian province that was
- In November and December 1932, "the Soviet
leadership, aided by their cowed Ukrainian counterparts, launched a
famine within the famine, a disaster specifically targeted at Ukraine
- This extreme famine period is now called the
Holodomor, which succeeded destroying the "Ukrainian
movement" as Stalin intended.
- On 18Nov1932,
directive to requisition all grain: "grain reserves, seed reserves,
animal fodder and, ominously, daily food supplies."
- On 24Dec1932, "the Ukrainian Communist Party gave up trying to
- 01Jan1933 telegram from Stalin to Kharkiv ordering enforcement of
07Aug1932 decree on 'theft of state property'.
- Villages that failed to meet quotas were put on "blacklists" that
were published in newspapers.
least seventy-nine districts were entirely blacklisted, and 174
districts were partially blacklisted, nearly half of the total in the
- In "the Kuban, the historically Cossack and
majority Ukrainian-speaking province of the North Caucasus" the
Bolshevik leadership "duly published a
blacklist of fifteen Cossack
Blacklisted districts were banned "from purchasing any manufactured
or industrial goods" and later also "kerosene, salt and
Still later, they "could no longer legally trade grain, seeds, flour or
bread in any form at all".
- Example of Horodyshche near Debaltseve (in presently Russian-occupied
- Balytsky of Ukrainian OGPU reported that between 15Dec1932
and 02Feb1933 "95,000 peasants had left their homes".
- Some people were crossing the border in seach of food in Russia.
"Interestingly enough, beyond Kharkiv where the Russian territory
starts there was no hunger."
- In 1932 a group of Belarsian workers wrote a letter to the Ukrainian
shameful, when you look at these wandering, starving Ukrainians, and
when you ask, why don’t they stay at work, they answer that there
aren’t any seeds to sow and there’s nothing to do at their collective
farms and the supplies are bad ... a fact is a fact, millions of people
are wandering naked, starving in the woods, stations, towns and farms
of Belarus, begging for a piece of bread."
- Many people left by train, others by ship. Some tried to cross by
foot into Poland.
- "In January 1933, Stalin and Molotov simply closed the borders of
"Between 22 and 30 January 1933, Genrikh Yagoda, the OGPU’s boss, told
Stalin and Molotov that his men had caught 24,961 people trying to
cross the borders, of whom two-thirds came from Ukraine and almost all
the rest from the North Caucasus."
[W.Z. As I have written elsewhere:]
On Jan. 22, 1933, Josef
Stalin issued his infamous decree to seal the borders of Ukraine to
prevent starving peasants from entering Belarus or Russia in search of
food -- thus ensuring the deaths by starvation of some 10 million
Famine Decisions, 1932: The End of Ukrainization
"Just as it was publicly publishing the new decrees on food requisition
and blacklists, the Politburo also issued, on 14 and 15 December 
respectively, two secret decrees that explicitly blamed Ukrainization
for the requisitions failure."
- The first degree targeted Ukraine
and the Kuban region and the second decree targeted the rest of the
USSR, where Ukrainians resided.
PURGING THE UKRAINIAN PARTY
"Stalin had sent Balytsky back to run the secret police in Ukraine" and
"Pavlo Postyshev, a former Kharkiv party boss, ... functioned as
Stalin’s direct emissary, a kind of governor-general of Ukraine."
he launched a new
wave of investigations,
prosecutions and arrests of the low-level Ukrainian Communist Party
members who had dared to protest."
- "The secret police arrested 14,230 people [Party members] in November
1932 alone, ..."
"They were said to have been influenced by Makhno, Petliura, the SVU,
by class-hostile elements, kulaks, or some other past revolutionary
PURGING THE NATIONAL MOVEMENT: ‘THE EXECUTED RENAISSANCE’
"But the orders linking Ukrainization to grain requisition also marked
the end of the Ukrainian national movement in the Soviet Union."
"The OGPU finally arrested Hrushevsky in the spring of 1931 while he
was on a trip to Moscow. They brought him to Ukraine, where Balytsky
personally decided to send Ukraine’s greatest historian into exile
rather than to prison. The OGPU returned him to Russia, and told him to
stay there. Soon afterwards the authorities organized three public
debates designed to delegitimize his work altogether. These ‘show
trials’ were staged with great pomp and circumstance in three
buildings associated with the national movement: the Kyiv opera house,
the former Central Rada building and the Academy of Sciences. They
‘unmasked’ Hrushevsky as an active enemy agent, a ‘Ukrainian bourgeois
nationalist and fascist allegedly working toward the separation of
Ukraine from the USSR and its subjugation by the capitalist West’. His
name disappeared from public life, and he never returned to Ukraine. He
died under what many still believe to be suspicious circumstances in
the Caucasian resort town of Kislovodsk in 1934."
Ms. Applebaum then summarizes a similar attacks on Mykola
Skrypnyk (1872.01.25 - 1933.07.07) and Mykola
Khvylovy (1893.12.13 - 1933.05.13), who shot themselves, as
well as Oleksander
(1890.12.02 - 1946.09.18), who was arrested in May 1933, sentenced to
10 years in the Gulags and died mysteriously en route to Kyiv from
- "Some 4,000 Ukrainian teachers were named as
‘class-hostile enemies’. Out of twenty-nine directors of pedagogical
institutes, eighteen were dismissed."
- "After the Skrypnyk affair,
every one switched back to Russian fearing that otherwise they would be
labeled a Ukrainian nationalist."
- "A similar wave of repression washed over the Church."
- Many historical buildings in Kyiv were demolished; historians and
- "In other words, the extermination of the intellectual class was
accompanied by the extermination of their words and ideas."
"Finally, the new cultural establishment attacked the Ukrainian
language itself, starting with Skrypnyk’s dictionary, ..."
Famine Decisions, 1932: The Searches and the Searchers
Ms. Applebaum notes that Ukrainians were familiar with "violent
expropriators" from 1918 to 1931, but they became exceptionally cruel
- "In the winter of 1932–3 they were back again, but their
behaviour had changed."
"Nevertheless, a remarkably consistent oral history record shows a
sharp change in activists’ behaviour on the eve of the Holodomor."
- The searchers had long metal rods to probe for grain and any other
"Thousands of witnesses have described how they were used to search
ovens, beds, cradles, walls, trunks, chimneys, attics, roofs and
cellars; to pry behind icons, in barrels, in hollow
trunks, in doghouses, down wells and beneath piles of garbage."
- "The activists took other kinds of livestock too, including pigs and
poultry, and sometimes dogs and cats."
"With each passing day, demands became angrier, the language ruder: Why
haven’t you disappeared yet? Why haven’t you dropped dead yet? Why are you alive at all?"
"In practice, the brigades in the autumn of 1932 and winter of 1933
were almost always composites. As in 1930, they often included members
from ... the local party leadership and the provincial government, the
Komsomol, the civil service, the secret police." ... "... there were at
least one or two outsiders ... ."
"But the vast majority of members of the brigades that searched
villages for food in 1932–3 were not outsiders. ... they were the
neighbours of the people whose food they stole: local collective farm
bosses, members of the village council, teachers and doctors, civil
servants, Komsomol leaders, former members of the ‘poor peasants’
committees’ from 1919, former participants in de-kulakization."
Ms. Applebaum refers to the testimony of Lev Kopelev to explain how
these "activists" brainwashed themselves to perpetrate their inhuman
- "Whether they were locals or outsiders, all those who carried out
orders to confiscate food did so with a sense of impunity."
Applebaum concludes the chapter with the "curious story of Andrii
Richytskyi", who was arrested in November 1933 for being too
brutal. Although he argued in his March 1934 trial that he had acted as
he was instucted to, he was sentenced to death.
- "He and the other
brigade members had good reason to believe that the party leadership,
at the very highest levels, sanctioned extreme cruelty and supported
the removal of food and possessions from the peasantry."
The memoirs of Pavlo
Makohon in both English and Ukrainian (archived on this
website) describe the evolution of the Holodomor from a personal
Starvation: Spring and Summer. 1933
- In this grisly chapter Ms. Applebaum describes the stages of
deterioration as starvation leads to death:
(1) the body consumes its stores of glucose, (2) the body
consumes its own fats, (3) the body consumes its own proteins. The skin
becomes thin and translucent; the belly becomes distended and filled
with the liquid of disintegrating cells.
- The extreme hunger leads
to personality changes -- loss of morals, anti-social behaviour,
thievery, murder, insanity and even cannibalism.
- Lethargy sets in before death.
- Ms. Applebaum has gathered 123 reference footnotes of horrible examples in this
Survival: Spring and Summer, 1933
- In this chapter, Ms. Applebaum relates stories of how some people
managed to survive.
To survive people ate anything and everything -- "horses, dogs, cats,
rats, ants, turtles"; "frogs and toads"; "squirrels,
bird's eggs"; "bark, moss, acorns, leaves, dandelions,
orach"; "crows, pigeons, sparrows".
- "In hundreds of oral
testimonies peasants explain their survival with a single sentence: ‘We
were saved by our cow.'" -- although few had this luxury.
- In cities, the favoured proletarian workers survived mostly on ration
- "In practice, some 40 per cent of the Ukrainian population therefore
received about 80 per cent of the food supplies."
Kyiv in 1932, Andrew Cairns, a Canadian agricultural expert" reported
"third category workers who received 125 rubles per month, plus 200
grams of bread a day"; "A ‘second category’ worker got 525 grams of
bread each day, and 180 rubles per month"; "heavy, warm, soggy bread
being sold for 10 rubles per loaf, and a little pork fat at 12 rubles
"Those best able to help the starving were
relatives, parents or children who had jobs inside the system. Petro
Shelest, who much later became First Secretary of the Ukrainian
Communist Party, wrote a memoir of those years -- it began as a diary
-- which was finally published by his family in 2004. ... His aid
rescued her [his mother] from starvation in Kharkiv province."
- Children were often abandoned in orphanages or sent to relatives in
The Torgsin hard currency shops, first
in 1930, were originally meant for foreigners who could not
legally own rubles.
- "In November 1932 the Soviet Politburo decreed that the shops could
purchase silver as well as gold."
- Starving peasants brought in and exchanged their valuables for food.
"Following the Torgsin’s high turnover in 1932 -- in that year the
shops brought in 21 tonnes of gold, one and a half times the amount
mined by Soviet industry -- the state greedily set the 1933 target at
more than double that number."
- Citing the research of Oleh Wolowyna and other demographers, Anne
Applebaum comes up with the following death figures for the Holodomor:
- "3.9 million excess deaths, or direct losses, and 0.6 million lost
births, or indirect losses."
- Life expectancy calculations for children born in 1933 were 8 years
for females and 5 years for males.
- "These extreme statistics reflect, simply, the very high death rates
in that year of children."
- "The new statistical methods ... applied to Russia ... show that
overall the famine touched Russia far less than Ukraine, with an
overall 3 per cent ‘excess deaths’ in rural Russia, as against 14.9 per
cent in rural Ukraine."
- The regions most affected in Russia were "the Volga German region,
the Saratov region, Krasnodar and the North Caucasus".
These fatality figures are substantially less than the figures
of 7 to 10 million quoted for decades and the figure of 12
million with the majority in Ukraine cited by Nikita Krushchev. A
recent publication by Volodymyr
Serhiychuk claims that the Wolowyna demographers
underestimated the death toll.]
- "Death rates went up in January , and then kept increasing
through the spring. But instead of ending abruptly that summer, the
tragedy slowly dwindled. ‘Excess deaths’ continued throughout the rest
of 1933 and 1934."
- On 18Oct1933 the Soviet Politburo approved a reduction of
Ukraine's required contribution for 1934 by 415,000
tonnes and a few weeks later by another 500,000 tonnes.
- "Stalin personally edited [Kosior's] speech in order to strengthen
it: ‘in some republics of the USSR, in particular in Ukraine, the main
threat is now Ukrainian nationalism that allies with imperialist
- At the January 1934 Seventeenth Party Congress (remembered
as the Congress of Victors), Postyshev (as the senior Ukrainian
The CP(B)U [Ukrainian
Communist Party] did not take into account all the distinctive
characteristics of the class struggle
in Ukraine and the peculiarities of the internal situation in the
What are those characteristics? ...
The first characteristic is that in Ukraine the class enemy masks his
activity against socialist construction with the
nationalist banner and chauvinist slogans.
The second characteristic is that the Ukrainian kulak underwent a
lengthy schooling in struggle against Soviet power,
for in Ukraine the civil war was especially fierce and lengthy, given
that political banditry was in control of Ukraine for an
especially long period.
The third characteristic is
that splinter groups of
organizations and parties
Ukraine more than elsewhere, being attracted to Ukraine on account of
its proximity to western borders.
The fourth characteristic is that Ukraine proves to be an object of
attraction to various interventionist centres and finds
itself under their especially diligent observation.
And, finally, the fifth characteristic is that the deviationists in the
CP(B)U in all-Party questions usually allied and
continue to ally themselves with the nationalist elements in their
ranks, with the deviationists on the nationality question ...
Unfortunately, the CP(B)U did not draw all those conclusions in full
measure. There lies the explanation of its errors
and failures both in agriculture and in carrying out Leninist
nationality policy in Ukraine ...
- Although requisitions of vegetables stopped, collectivization
accelerated as 151,700 terrified families joined the collectives in the
spring of 1934 and another 51,800 in the autumn.
- The first phase of the project to repopulate the devestated Ukrainian
countryside started in the autumn of 1933 with 117,00 Russian peasants
(21,000 households) from Russia and Belarus followed by another 20,000
in January/February 1934. But the new settlers were
disappointed by the conditions and many left by the spring of 1935.
- Further resettlement efforts were carried out in 1935 and 1936.
- "Slow-motion movement of Russians into a depopulated Ukraine, and
into depleted Ukrainian republican institutions, [continued] in
subsequent years and decades."
- "In 1933 alone the Soviet Communist Party sent thousands of political
cadres, at all levels of the hierarchy, to Ukraine from Russia. By
January 1934 only four of the twelve members of the Ukrainian Communist
Party Politburo were Ukrainians."
- The cleansing of Ukrainians continued during the Great Terror of
- "Khrushchev himself famously remembered in his memoir that in 1937–8
the Ukrainian Communist Party was ‘purged spotless’."
- "Between 1959 and 1970 over a million Russians migrated to Ukraine"
follwed by many more in the 1970s and 1980s.
- "By the 1970s and 1980s the idea of a mass Ukrainian national
movement seemed not just dead but buried."
- "In the official, Soviet world the Ukrainian famine, like the broader
Soviet famine, did not exist."
- "The organized denial of the famine began early, before the worst
starvation had even begun."
- Red Army soldiers from Ukraine did not receive any letters from home
- "The taboo on speaking of the famine in public affected medical
- In the 1937 census: "The total population figure of the USSR came to
162 million -- meaning that (for those who expected 170 million) some
eight million people were ‘missing’."
- Stalin abolished the 1937 census and had the census-takers shot. In
the 1939 census the concocted numbers had been raised to the 170
million number as required.
- Although suppressed within the Soviet Union, news of the famine had
spread around the world via various routes.
- ethnic German letters to relatives in Germany, the United States and
- ethnic Ukrainian politicians in Polish parliament and
Ukrainian-language press in Poland
- Ukrainian National Council (May 1933) streeet protests in Winnipeg,
with letter to President Roosevelt
- Action committeees in Brussels, Prague, Bucharest, Geneva, Paris,
London and Sofia
- Catholic Church Pope Pious XI published 2 letters in Vatican newspaper
- Cardinal Innitzer, Archbishop of Vienna, denounced famine conditions
and later received 24 pictures of famine conditions from Austrian
engineer Alexander Wienerberger in Kharkiv
Reference #40 provides a link to 15 photographs at
of which were published in Dr. Ewald Ammende, Muss
Russland hungern? in
Ms. Applebaum does not refer to Dr. Ammende's English-language book
titled Human Life in
Russia in the text of her own book, excerpts
of which have been archived on this website.
also provides a reference to the German-language memoir of Mr
Wienerberger published in 1939.]
- Diplomats resident in Ukraine and elsewhere -- Sergio Gradenigo
(Italian counsul in Kharkiv), German counsul in Odessa, Gustav Hilger
(German diplomat in Moscow), Stanislaw Kosnicki (Polish consul in
Kyiv),William Strang (British embassy), Lawrence Collier (British
"British diplomats, on the other hand, had no trouble believing the
worst stories they heard. They had a whole network of informants,
including the Canadian agricultural expert Andrew Cairns, who travelled
through Ukraine and the North Caucasus in 1932 on behalf of the Empire
Excerpts of the extensive report by Andrew
Cairns taken from the book The
Foreign Office and the Famine by
Marco Carynnyk et al has been archived on this website.]
People who visited Ukraine, but denied the existence of famine included:
- Beatrice and Sidney Webb, British socialites
- George Bernard Shaw, accompanied by British MP Nancy Astor
- Edouard Herriot, French Radical politician and former prime minister
Stalin had more difficulty controlling foreign journalists and
reporters. He failed with a few, but succeeded with most others:
Rhea Clyman (Canadian) a journalist based in Moscow, toured the
northern Gulags, drove through Ukraine in 1932 and was deported as a
A link to a video
presentation by Jars Balan on Rhea Clyman is available on
Walter Duranty, New York Times correspondent in Moscow, is infamous
for denying that millions of people were dying of famine in his
articles; whereas privately he spoke of 10 million deaths.
Eugene Lyons, Moscow correspondent for United Press, later claimed that
everyone was acutely aware of the famine, but kept silent.
- "Everyone knew – yet no one mentioned it."
Gareth Jones (Welsh) was one of the few who refused to keep silent. On
10Mar1933, he took a train form Moscow toward Kharkiv, got off the
train about 40 miles north of Kharkiv and walked through several
Ukrainian villages talking with the peasants about famine conditions.
Unfortunately, his articles were denied by Walter Duranty and not
supported by the rest of the press corps in Moscow.
- "Later, Lyons,
Chamberlin and others expressed regret that they had not fought harder
against [Duranty]. But at the time nobody came to Jones’s defence, not
At the very beginning (bottom) of my Holodomor page,
there are a series of articles highlighting the Gareth Jones story.
There are many other references to Gareth Jones throughout my website.]
Applebaum concludes the chapter with the U.S. recognition of the Soviet
Union on 16Nov1933 followed by a lavish banquet at the Waldorf Astoria
featuring Soviet Foreign Minister, Maxim Litvinov, and Walter Duranty.
The Holodomor in History and Memory
this chapter, Anne Applebaum postulates how the memory of the Holodomor
of 1932-33 was retained within Ukrainian society despite suppression of
its discussion by the Soviet state. She concludes that it was mostly
due to oral transmission from survivor to children to grandchildren to
- "The official silence gave them almost a
secret power. From 1933 onwards such stories became an alternative
narrative, an emotionally powerful ‘true history’ of the famine, an
oral tradition that grew and developed alongside the official denials."
official silence was broken by Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union on
22Jun1941. The Germans took every opportunity to publicize the famine
amongst the populace and blame it on the Jewish Bolsheviks that had
orchestrated it. Simultaneously, Hitler used it as an excuse to
dispatch his Einsatzgruppen to exterminate Bolshevik Jews. At first,
the Ukrainians did not realize that Hitler and his
planning a similar genocide against them, that they were to be
exterminated or displaced and that Ukrainian lands were
slated to become a German colony to provide lebensraum for an
expanding German empire. During the first year of the war over
2 million POWs died in open air pits of starvation and disease.
- "Herbert Backe, the sinister Nazi official in charge of food and
agriculture, conceived a ‘Hunger Plan’
whose goals were
straightforward: ‘the war can
only be won if the
entire Wehrmacht is fed from Russia in the third year of the war’. But
he also concluded that the entire Wehrmacht, as
well as Germany itself,
could only be fed if
the Soviet population were completely
deprived of food." However: "The Nazis never had time to
fully implement the ‘Hunger Plan’ in Ukraine." Although: "Hunger
- "At least 50,000 people died from starvation in Kyiv that winter. In
Kharkiv, which was cordoned off by a Nazi commander, 1,202 people died
of hunger in the first two weeks of May 1942; the total deaths from
starvation during the occupation amounted to about 20,000."
- "In November 1942, S. Sosnovyi, an agricultural economist, published
what may have been the very first quasi-scholarly study of the famine
in a Kharkiv newspaper, Nova
- "he concluded that 1.5 million people had died from starvation in
Ukraine in 1932, and that 3.3 million died in 1933 -- numbers slightly
higher than those now widely accepted, but not far off."
Sosnovyi used 1939 census data, not 1937 census data. If he had
used the 1937 census data, his numbers would probably have been
After the war, the anti-Ukrainian rhetoric of Soviet regime changed
from "Petliurite, bourgeois nationalist" to "fascist, Nazi,
Outside of Ukraine, the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees
stranded in DP camps in Europe spread memories of the Holodomor to the
- Olexa Woropay published The
- Semen Pihhainy in Canada " initiated the founding of the Ukrainian
Association of Victims of RussianCommunist Terror."
- "The Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre in Winnipeg, founded
in 1944, held a memoir-writing competition in 1947", which resulted in The Black Deeds of the Kremlin
containing "dozens of memoirs as well as analysis of the famine".
- But these books were "studiously ignored
by most Soviet scholars and mainstream academic journals."
By the 1970s, the Ukrainian diaspora established "both the
Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and the Canadian Institute of
Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton".
New York the Ukrainian Studies Fund commissioned James Mace, a young
scholar who had written a doctoral thesis on Ukraine, to launch a major
research project at the Harvard Ukrainian
Institute." which led to Robert Conquest's Harvest of Sorrow the seminal book on the Holodomor.
"In Toronto the Ukrainian Famine Research Committee began to film
interviews with famine survivors and witnesses across Europe and North
America", which led to the video documentary Harvest of Despair by Yurij Luhovy and Slavko Nowitsky.
Strangely, Ms. Applebaum does not refer to the original 1983 trilingual
video documentary spearheaded by Taras Hukalo of Radio Quebec, links to
which are archived at the top and also near the bottom of my Holodomor page.]
Ms. Applebaum refers to the 26Apr1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident as the impetus for Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost
policy announced shortly thereafter. The accident prompted Ukrainian
poet Ivan Drach to compare the Chernobyl accident to the 1932-33 famine at the 05Jun1986 meeting of the Writers' Union of Ukraine.
- "In August 1987, VyacheslavChornovil, a leading dissident intellectual, wrote a thirty-page open letter to Gorbachev, ..."
- "In June 1988 another poet, Borys Oliinyk, stood up at the infamous Nineteenth Party Congress in Moscow ..."
- "The sixtieth anniversary of the famine, in the autumn of 1993, was like no other that had preceded it."
Ukraine's independence had shattered all restrictions on discussing the Holodomor.
EPILOGUE: The Ukrainian Question Reconsidered
- "Stalin did not seek to kill all Ukrainians ... But Stalin did seek to physically eliminate the most active and engaged Ukrainians, in both the countryside and the cities."
"In a very literal sense the concept of ‘genocide’ has its origins in
Ukraine, specifically in the Polish-Jewish-Ukrainian city of Lviv.
Raphael Lemkin, the legal scholar who invented the word -- combining
the Greek word ‘genos’, meaning race or nation, with the Latin ‘cide’,
meaning killing -- studied law at the University of Lviv, then called
Lwów, in the 1920s."
- "... according to Lemkin’s definition, the Holodomor was a genocide -- as it is by most intuitive understandings of the word."
"Initially, a UN General Assembly resolution in December 1946 condemned
genocide in language that echoed Lemkin’s broad understanding", but the
USSR insisted that the definition not include 'political groups' which
would have included the victims of the Holodomor.
- In 2005,
newly elected President Viktor "Yushchenko had an unusually strong
mandate from the Ukrainian national movement and he used it to promote
the study of the famine."
Unfortunately, in 2008 then-President
Dmitry Medvedev lobbied world leaders "against a proposal to call the
Holodomor a genocide" and the Kremlin continues to maintain this
position. to the present day.
- Following his election in 2010,
President Viktor "Yanukovych removed references to the Holodomor from
the presidential website, replaced the head of the National Memory
Institute with an ex-communist historian, and stopped using the word
‘genocide’ to describe the famine."
Following the "Revolution of
Dignity" in 2013-14, the killing of 100 demonstrators on 20Feb2014
leading to the flight of Yanukovych on 22Feb2014, the annexation of
Crimea in March 2014 and the Russian invasion of the Donbas shortly
thereafter, the Russian-Ukrainian controversy over the Holodomor
increased.significantly but has subsided by 2016.
years later, the Russian FSB, the institutional successor of the KGB
(itself the successor of the OGPU), continues to demonize its
opponents using propaganda and disinformation."
- "Eighty years later, it is possible to hear the echo of Stalin’s fear
of Ukraine -- or rather his fear of unrest spreading from Ukraine to
Russia -- in the present too."
- "The famine and its aftermath left a terrible mark. But although the
wounds are still there, millions of Ukrainians are, for the first time
since 1933, finally trying to heal them. As a nation, Ukrainians know
what happened in the twentieth century, and that knowledge can help
shape their future."