Action Ukraine Report #774 | 14Oct2006 | Stanislav Kulchytsky
Item 3

Was the 1933 Holodomor and Act of Genocide?

By Stanislav Kulchytsky, Deputy Director,
Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
The Day Weekly Digest in English, in three parts, #29, #30, #31
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Part I, September 26, 2006; Part II,
Tuesday, October 3, 2006; Part III, Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #774, Article 3
Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 14, 2006

On Nov. 10, 2003, the 58th UN General Assembly Session officially adopted the Joint Statement on the Holodomor-the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine. Due to the Russian Federation's inflexible stand, the level of the document was lowered from a UN resolution to a joint statement, and the term "genocide" was excluded from the title.

In view of Russia's position, the US House of Representatives and the Senate also left out this key term from their statements on the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor in Ukraine.

However, in a joint bill passed in February 2005, both houses of the US Congress allowed the Ukrainian community to erect a memorial in the District of Columbia "in order to honor the victims of the famine-genocide."

In this document the US Congress emphasizes that in 1998 it set up a commission to investigate the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine and after analyzing its report, acknowledged that Stalin and his circle had employed genocide as a weapon against Ukraine.

The Nov. 4, 2005, Ukase of the President of Ukraine "On Commemorating the Victims and Those Who Suffered from the Holodomors in Ukraine," established an organizing committee headed by the prime minister of Ukraine, whose task is to implement a number of measures commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor of 1932-1933.

As President Yushchenko declared, the committee's main task is to "implement additional measures pertaining to the international community's recognition of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people."

Why is qualifying the Holodomor of 1933 as an act of genocide so important? What kind of hidden obstacles are we finding on the way to recognizing this tragedy as a genocide?

Why do so many people both in our country and abroad refuse to believe that the Soviet government in Stalin's time was capable of destroying people? Do historians have facts at their disposal that can prove that the 1933 Holodomor was an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people?

In October and November of 2005, The Day carried a series of six of my articles entitled "Why did Stalin exterminate the Ukrainians?" Without repeating myself, I am seeking an answer to these questions in a new series of articles.


The Holodomor of 1932-1933 left unhealed wounds on the body of the Ukrainian nation. If one imagines the total number of the population as a diagram based on birth years, the result would be an age-based pyramid, with children born in the first years at the bottom and long-lived people at the top.

Dents in this pyramid are caused by unnatural population losses. The dent made by the Holodomor is the deepest and in an increasingly smoother appearance is repeated in every succeeding generation. Today no grandsons and great-grandsons of those whose lives were cut short in the early 1930s are being born.

The current generation of Ukrainian citizens remembers its grandfathers and great-grandfathers who perished during the famine. But for many the cause of those deaths by starvation in 1932-1933 has not been determined. Some people try to learn why. Others have no memories -- and there are a lot of people like this.

The 70th anniversary of the Holodomor has become an event of world significance. On Nov. 10, 2003, the UN General Assembly issued a joint statement by 36 countries expressing sympathy with the Ukrainian people.

On Oct. 22, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 356 "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the man-made famine that occurred in Ukraine in 1932-1933" in which the nature of the tragedy was clearly defined: "...this man-made famine was designed and implemented by the Soviet regime as a deliberate act of terror and mass murder against the Ukrainian people..."

Yet neither the joint statement of 36 countries nor the US Congress resolution contained the key point: recognition of the 1932-1933 famine as an act of genocide.

Genocide is a category of international law. The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, signed on Dec. 9, 1948, reads that the international community undertakes to bring to justice persons committing genocide "whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals."

Former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was prosecuted on the basis of this convention. We do not have to bring to justice those who were responsible for the genocidal famine because they are all dead. The important thing is to know why. Our society and the rest of the world must know what really happened in those years.

With this in mind, the president of Ukraine signed an edict on Nov. 4, 2005, establishing the Organizing Committee for the Preparation and Implementation of Measures in Conjunction with the 75th Anniversary of the Holodomor. The committee must organize its activities so that the UN will recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide in 2008.

Do we stand a chance of getting the international community to do this? The task of this article is to assess the actual situation. We have about two years to convince the international (and Ukrainian) community.


Whether a crime against humanity is an act of genocide is decided only by the international community -- i.e., parliaments in other countries. The final verdict is returned by the United Nations. Qualifying a crime as an act of genocide is a serious matter, and the international community approaches it with a sense of special responsibility.

The recognition of the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine as an act of genocide cannot entail any concrete actions on the part of the UN Security Council. An entire lifetime separates us from that tragedy, but this circumstance is of little help in the successful resolution of this problem.

History is firmly connected to politics and is thus often politicized. Nor is the famine issue an exception. It has to be depoliticized, made absolutely clear, and convincingly substantiated.

In the first place, it must be explained to the international community why the nation against whom that weapon of genocidal famine was employed has not demonstrated any clear-cut and unanimous desire to regard this crime as an act aimed at terminating its existence in an organizational, i.e., state, form.

It must also be explained why several convocations of parliament formed by that nation during the course of free elections failed to examine the question of the famine-genocide. Is it because the dent from this genocide touched not only the physical body of the Ukrainian people but also its historical awareness?

We are a postgenocidal society, said the late Prof. James Mace, former staff director of the U.S. Commission on the Ukraine Famine (1932-1933). A postgenocidal society is not cognizant of the violence that was carried out against it. Complicating this issue is the fact that the victim of this violence is a generation that no longer exists.

Ukrainian scholars and those engaged in regional historical studies have succeeded in conveying to their people the outward image of the Holodomor. This has been done in breathtaking detail.

However, they may not have been as convincing in revealing the logic of events that were unfolding in the countryside from the beginning of the all-out collectivization of agriculture.

Collectivization itself probably ought to be viewed on a broader scale, as an element in the creation of the Bolshevik socioeconomic system that ran counter to the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population; in other words, it was inherently artificial and could emerge only within the force field of a terrorist dictatorship.

The final task is crucial in determining the genocidal nature of famines in Ukraine and the Kuban region. It is necessary to prove why the Kremlin found the regions most densely populated by Ukrainians especially dangerous, so that it employed famine as the most severe form of terror against them.

Without a doubt, the famine of 1932-1933 swept over most Soviet regions. Researchers also agree that the degree of famine in two Ukrainian regions was the highest (with the exception of Kazakhstan, but more on this later). In order to recognize the famines there as an act of genocide, it is necessary to explain how they differed from the others.

This article does not claim to solve the problem of the famine-genocide. It simply raises questions relating to the recognition of the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine as an act of genocide. It should be noted that foreign researchers have accomplished more to this end than we have.

One of the main problems is to heal the Ukrainian people's historical awareness. The need has been realized on the governmental level. A Ukrainian Institute of National Memory is in the process of being organized and is meant to coordinate the efforts of numerous organizations in reviving historical memory.


Two de-Stalinization campaigns took place in the Soviet Union. The one launched by Khrushchev became known as the struggle against the cult of personality; the one by Gorbachev, as democratization. Both campaigns had a concrete objective: to rehabilitate the victims of Stalin's arbitrary rule, primarily communist functionaries and Soviet public figures.

Along the way, society gradually began to see the general picture of terror with the aid of which the Bolsheviks constructed an order during 1918-1938, which became known as the Soviet system.

A colossal number of documents on the mass repressions, which began circulating among the general public, convinced many in the Soviet Union that there were no blank spots left in their history. That was an illusion.

The Short Course on the History of the AUCP(b), which in 1938 summed up the gains of the communist revolution, was withdrawn from circulation after Stalin's death, but the postulates remained in the minds of those who studied and taught history.

In the countries that emerged in place of the USSR, a revision of Soviet history continued, but at different rates and even along different vectors. Russian historians, for example, have mostly emphasized positive aspects, like the transformation of a backward country into a superpower.

Ukrainian historians have basically divided into two camps. Some see nothing positive in the past; others see almost nothing negative. Official policy in the field of history (which was particularly manifested in the content of textbooks recommended by state agencies) has been strongly influenced by the anticommunist North American Diaspora.

The anticommunism of the Diaspora and the former Soviet Communist Party nomenklatura that did not lose power in independent Ukraine sprang from different causes, which I will examine further on. At this point it should be noted that anticommunism only impeded the comprehension of the history of communist construction.

Comparatively few researchers, who try to approach the past without using communist or anticommunist criteria, are working quite successfully on revising the conceptual principles of the history of the Soviet order. Their studies are facilitated by the absence of pressure from authorities and the presence of open archives.

The year 1933 cannot be described as a blank spot because everybody knew about the famine. In the late 1980s, when information about the crimes of Stalinism began pouring out, it was received by society in a variety of ways.

In the minds of many people a positive attitude to Soviet power, ingrained since childhood, could not coalesce with claims that this government had carried out terror by starvation, i.e., conscious actions specially designed to physically destroy the population by starving it to death.

It is considerably easier to present historical facts in a consecutive order than to trace the effects of some or other events on a person's consciousness. A historian has few sources at his disposal with which to study individual and collective consciousness.

The history of Soviet Ukraine has been studied well in terms of events, including the Holodomor, but we know little about how people's awareness changed during that revolutionary epoch, how adequately people responded to terror and propaganda, which were used to herd them toward a "bright future."

Along with terror and propaganda, the Soviet government intensively used another factor of influence on the population, namely, the education of the rising generation.

Recently, on the pages of The Day I wrote a commentary on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 20th Congress of the CPSU, but I did not emphasize an idea that is very important in the context of the present article: that congress served to reconcile people who were products of Soviet schools with the government.

At the time, in the first postwar decades, almost all Soviet citizens were graduates of Soviet schools (except in the territories that were annexed to the USSR in 1939). It was now possible to attribute to Stalin the crimes committed by the Bolshevik regime, which had used terror and propaganda to build the Soviet socioeconomic system in the years preceding World War Two.

We (I mean my generation) can assess the effectiveness of communist upbringing by analyzing our own awareness in this period.

When I was still a university student (1954-1959) I obtained access, as a professional archivist, to uncensored information: Ukrainian newspapers of the occupation period, the first articles on the 1932-1933 famine that were appearing in the journals of the Ukrainian Diaspora, etc. But that information was rejected by my consciousness and had no effect on my ingrained world views.

Terror can impose a way of life but not a world view. A world view is the result of upbringing and propaganda, which must necessarily rely on an understandable and a positive symbol of faith.

Who can argue that the communist doctrine in its propagandistic form was not attractive? You should read the works of a very sincere poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky, to realize its strength.

After graduating from Odesa University, I made my way to the Institute of Economy of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, where I became fascinated with Soviet economic history of the 1920s and 1930s.

In those days I was also following the scholarly literature in my field that was being published in the West, and I tried on a regular basis to read the journal Problems of Communism, which was quite prestigious among Sovietologists.

My indirect acquaintance with "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists" did not lead to a split in my consciousness. Our world was different from the West in its most profound dimensions, i.e. it was a different civilization.

The Iron Curtain was like the glass walls of an aquarium separating two different environments. In its own way our world was logical and had values that were understandable to everyone. It was false through and through, but few could detect this precisely because of the totality of that falsity.

For me in particular, both the causes of the 1932-1933 famine and the reasons behind the Soviet government's refusal to acknowledge the fact of the famine remained unfathomable. The literature of the Diaspora stated that Stalin had starved the Ukrainian people to death, but it was simply impossible to believe such a thing.

It is embarrassing to keep referring to myself, but I lack other empirical material for analyzing the revolution in world perception that has taken place in our country. My own such revolution was accelerated by my research on the famine of 1932-1933, and it passed through two stages.

The first one lasted seven or eight years during which I accumulated archival material and formed a factual picture of the Holodomor. I was compelled to believe the "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists," who recounted how Stalin had killed the Ukrainian people by starving them to death.

During the second stage, my department conducted a systematic nine-year study of the nature of Soviet totalitarianism. The famine of 1932-1933 became part of the general context of events that took place in 1918-1938 in a Bolshevik-controlled country.

It has become possible to answer the question why Stalin tried to destroy the Ukrainian people by starving them to death. This is precisely what we need to define the Holodomor as a famine-genocide in accordance with the criteria set forth in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, of Dec. 9, 1948.


History knows cases of genocide that occurred in wartime and in different ethnic sociums. In my encounters with some overseas researchers of the Ukrainian Holodomor, I could see that they were unable to accept the possibility of genocide in peacetime and within one's own country.

I repeat: in order for them to believe in the facts, the nature of the Holodomor must be analyzed against a broader background, without separating this phenomenon from the entire process of communist construction of 1918-1938.

Marxism had a number of principal distinctions from the teachings that were known in the Soviet Union as MarxismLeninism.

Perhaps the most important one was that Marx regarded a communist society as a natural product of objective natural-historical development. You will not find the term "communist construction" in any of his works. In contrast, Lenin believed that it was not worth waiting for communism to mature.

He saw communist construction as the main duty of the proletarian party (his and only his) after it came to power and after the founding of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" (once again, the dictatorship of his very own party). In his opinion, communism could be built within a very short period of time.

Maintaining the stereotypes that were instilled in us during Soviet times, we are still seeking the roots of the Leninist-Stalinist communist revolution in the revolution that began in Russia in March 1917 (new style).

In reality, the revolution in Russia had only two distinct currents-bourgeois-democratic and Soviet, which were represented in various proportions in every region of the multinational empire.

The Bolsheviks joined the Soviet current without in any way merging with it and seized power on the shoulders of the soviets, after which they left only the outer shell of these soviets.

None of the revolutionary personalities of 1917, except the leaders of the Bolshevik Party, wanted to do what was done in Russia and Bolshevik- enslaved Ukraine between World War One and World War Two.

At any rate, in 1917 the Bolshevik leaders kept their communist doctrine to themselves, and for the purpose of seizing power they exploited completely different political slogans of the revolutionary soviets.

After the failure of the first communist assault in 1921, the Bolsheviks put communism on the back burner and played up distribution relations in communism rather than production relations. Simultaneously, from the angle of propaganda distribution relations were given the following highly effective formulation: "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

The building of the Soviet order, starting in 1918, was proclaimed as socialist, not communist. This terminological contradiction was resolved very simply: socialism was proclaimed the first phase of communism.

Even today we call the communist revolution of 1918-1938 the building of socialism. However, the notion "socialism" should be left to its original Western European discoverers, who recognized the objective necessity of capitalist enterprise and private ownership.

The essence of socialist policies in the West was that the capitalists pledged to share their profits with the strata of the socium that needed help. This policy appealed to the population, which could elect organs of rule. That is why social democratic parties began coming to power in Europe (the Bolsheviks too emerged from the ranks of the social democrats).

In time, countries called capitalist in the Soviet Union changed, but we could not spot their new look from behind the Iron Curtain, all the more so as they never called themselves socialist. This popular term was privatized first by Lenin and later by Hitler.

As a matter of fact, Stalin took a dim view of Hitler's privatization, so when the National-Socialist German Workers Party became the governing one, he ordered the Nazis to be called fascists. Even though there is an essential difference between German Nazism and Italian fascism, we still adhere to Stalin's directive announced at the 17 th Congress of the AUCP(b).

Western European socialism relied on capitalist entrepreneurship and helped maintain class peace in society, which is the basis of a democratic order. It was a dynamic and highly effective socioeconomic system, so long as it took into account the polarized interests of workers and employers.

In contrast, Soviet communist socialism destroyed the free market and private enterprise, replacing them by the planned distribution of finished products. The destruction of the free market as a natural regulator of the economic process a priori deprived production of effective management. The nationalized economy came alive under the influence of bureaucratic commands that arrived from outside and could not assure its effectiveness.

Marx and Engels peremptorily declared in their Communist Manifesto: "...the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property" (Works, 2nd ed., vol. 4, p. 422).Western European Marxists discarded this postulate as premature and, instead of revolutionary violence, adopted a policy of reform as a method of struggle for a better future.

Thanks to this, they were able to transform their countries. In contrast, the Bolsheviks adopted early Marxism and declared the destruction of private ownership of the means of production. What came of this?

Private property is an historical category, i.e., it has a beginning and an end. But in our days, just like in Marx's time, it is too soon to discuss its demise. We will have to wait another couple of hundred years, perhaps longer. The slogan of the abolition (not demise) of private property is an altogether different matter.

Its realization does not destroy property itself; it merely changes its owner. Communist construction in the USSR resulted in the concentration of all ownership of the means of production in the hands of a small group of oligarchs, the Politburo of the CC CPSU.

Even during the first onslaught of 1918-1920, these oligarchs realized that tens of millions of peasants would not surrender their lands and other means of production. And so a new communist onslaught, which began in 1929, relied primarily on terrorist means of influencing the peasantry.

Hair-raising tragedies, like the Holodomor and the Great Terror became possible precisely because the coercive component was paramount in communist construction.

In the hands of the Communist Party/Soviet oligarchs the fusion of political dictatorship and economic dictatorship turned society into an atomized, helpless, inert mass.

You can do anything you want with an enslaved population: organize an artificial famine to ward off spontaneous unrest, and carry out mass repressions, even with the help of the purged victims' intimidated relatives.

Many people refuse to believe that the Soviet power could use terror by starvation in order to systematically destroy people. They seek other causes behind the famine of 1932-1933, like drought, excessive grain delivery quotas, or the drop in harvests because of the crisis that took place in agriculture after villages were totally collectivized.

I will say straightaway that all these factors were present (except drought). They did cause famines both in grain-producing regions (because of excessive grain delivery quotas) and grain-consuming ones (because of inadequate government food supplies).

But it is necessary to distinguish between the famine that raged almost everywhere in the Soviet Union, and the Holodomor in Ukraine and the Kuban region. Unfortunately, the tenfold difference in the death toll does not suffice to convince many of our contemporaries.



Why has the problem that this article calls the healing of historical memory become so topical in our day? The reason may be that in transformational processes social and humanitarian problems should not be pushed to the background.

If society wants to remove the blemishes of its totalitarian past, it should be interested not only in investments or the exchange rate. You cannot head toward the future with your head turned to the past.

I belong to the older generation, those people who were recently granted the legal status of "children of the war." The older members of my generation fought in the war, mostly in its victorious phase; some younger ones were born after the war. We are all united by one characteristic: we are graduates of Soviet schools.

Throughout my life I have encountered people from my parents' generation. However, the historical consciousness of the preceding generation became clear to me not through direct contacts, but only as a result of my professional activities. There was an almost impenetrable wall between us, and even Khrushchev's "Thaw" failed to dismantle it.

Frankness was impeded by the staggering number of informers working for the secret police, popularly known as "the organs." Hounded by the security organs, the representatives of this first generation of "Soviet people" did not share their life experiences with the next generation, their children. Those children -- the oldest of which are over 80 -- grew up under a mature Soviet system.

What was my parents' generation all about? Those people survived a civil war that in and of itself attested to that generation's mixed attitudes to the communist idea.

Later, this generation became divided (into unknown proportions) into those who wanted to build a new life to the accompaniment of the March of the Enthusiasts' and those who were forcibly driven to join communism.

The ranks of the latter were probably increasing because life did not get any better, while the terror intensified. Still, there is a litmus test for determining the attitude to the Soviet regime of a large proportion of this generation: the war against Nazi Germany.

German statistics indicate that between June 1941 and October 1942 -- a period of less than a year and a half -- a total of 5.2 million Red Army troops surrendered to the Nazis. Such was the result after 16 months of the "Great Patriotic War."

People preferred to become POWs rather than defend their Bolshevik-conquered Fatherland. To keep this horrible phenomenon away from the public eye, Stalin abolished military dog tags and the registry of names of fallen soldiers, and introduced a strange column in the statistics, which became usual practice from the spring of 1942: "Missing in action."

It was only after the Soviet people became convinced that Nazism constituted a lethal danger that they began to fight the enemy in earnest. Between November 1942 and November 1944, i.e., during a two-year period, only half a million Red Army soldiers and commanders were taken prisoner, a figure that is 10 times smaller than during the first period of the war.

Therefore, the generation of victors in World War II built a thick wall separating it from the next generation and did not hinder schools from raising their children in the communist spirit. When we, their children, grew up, we proceeded to form our contemporaries' consciousness and that of the next generation in the spirit of convictions instilled by Soviet schools.

However, the impact of propaganda and upbringing should not be overestimated. Life experience has always been the key factor in the formation of historical consciousness and citizens' world views. The experience accumulated by the communism-building generation was radically different from that of subsequent generations, the people who were destined to live under communism.

Without changing its character in any way, the Soviet government altered its attitude to society. It stopped using mass terror as a method of state rule.

At first, mass terror was used to create an artificial socioeconomic order and later, to strengthen Stalin's personal authority. After his death terror became selective rather than mass-scale. This was enough to maintain the existing political system. It turned out, however, that an artificial system becomes unstable without mass terror.

In this situation, the new political leadership had to exert tremendous efforts to raise the population's level of well-being. These were truly heroic efforts, considering the Soviet Union's military commitments and inherent ineffectiveness of the command economy.

The current generations have duly assessed those efforts. Despite the inconveniences of daily life that the decades-long death throes of the Soviet order inflicted on the people, the older, and mostly middle, generation in Ukraine preserved its generally positive views of life in the past, all the more so as it is difficult for people over 40 to adjust to a new life.

These objective circumstances explain the moral detachment of a large number of Ukrainians from the horrific tragedies of the interwar period, including the Holodomor. These people cannot believe that the Soviet government, so deeply rooted in the masses, was capable of cold-bloodedly annihilating its own citizens.


The Kremlin's dictatorship in Soviet Ukraine was implemented not so much by the CPU as by "union-subordinated agencies" (star ting with the KGB). However, even these agencies were Ukrainized. The Kremlin-reared nomenklatura reported directly to the CPU leadership and, at the same time, was a solid link of the Communist Party/Soviet system.

In 1988 the CPSU lost its status as a state structure, and power passed to the Supreme Councils. The Union center, headed by Mikhail Gorbachev, found itself faced with a challenge from Boris Yeltsin, then Speaker of the Russian Parliament.

The Ukrainian nomenklatura promptly took advantage of the crisis in Moscow. On July 16, 1990, it adopted the Declaration of Ukrainian State Sovereignty; on Aug. 24, the Act of Independence, and on Aug. 30 it banned the CPSU on the territory of Ukraine.

This metamorphosis of the "party of power" did not strike me as odd. Half a year before the national sovereignty declaration, on Jan. 16, 1990, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine deliberated the Holodomor question and the publication of relevant archival documents.

A heated discussion took place during the meeting, which was attended several experts, including me. Some Politburo members started making alarming statements (not unjustifiably) that the publication of this collection of documents would be a "knife in the party's back."

However, key party leadership figures, among them First Secretary of the CC Volodymyr Ivashko, were keen on giving the collection the "green light." The resolution of the CC CPU includes this final instruction: "The editorial offices of newspapers, magazines, television and radio must be provided with truthful, unbiased, documented coverage of events relating to the Holodomor of 1932-1933."

In my 2005 series of articles entitled "Why did Stalin exterminate the Ukrainians?" published in The Day (no. 207, 2005) I mentioned another fact relating to this strange (at first glance) phenomenon.

James Mace recounted how Oles Yanchuk's documentary Holod-33 (Famine '33), on which he had worked as a consultant, did not receive a single penny from the central budget, but it was shown on Ukrainian television on the eve of the referendum held on Dec. 1, 1991.

Finally, I will mention another fact that is probably the most eloquent one. During an international scholarly conference held in Kyiv on Sept. 9, 1993, marking the 60 th anniversary of the Famine, Ukraine's President Leonid Kravchuk declared: "I fully agree that this was a planned action, that this was an act of genocide against one's own people.

However, I would not close the issue here. Yes, they aimed it against their own people, but they were acting on orders from a different center. Obviously, this is how this horrible page in our history should be treated."

The above facts prove one thing: the leaders of Soviet Ukraine sought to climb up the rungs of the Kremlin ladder and become genuine state leaders. After they "flowed" from the party structures into Soviet ones, they banned the activity of their own party and armed themselves with the state symbols of the "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists."

The truth about the Holodomor was used for the sole purpose of revealing the actual danger of all those fateful decisions if they were made outside the republic. This corresponded to the Kyiv leadership's calculations aimed at asserting Ukraine's political independence and, thus, their personal independence of the Kremlin.

I am recounting this without rancor, simply to stress the absence of real interest in the problem of the Holodomor among key figures in the "party of power."

Leonid Kuchma should be given credit for signing his ukase of Nov. 26, 1998, marking the 65th anniversary of the Holodomor and establishing Holodomor Victims Remembrance Day to be marked on the last Saturday of November. On this date measures were supposed to be implemented in order to restore people's memories of the most horrifying event in the history of Ukraine.

However, these Remembrance Days serve as the best proof of the indifferent, even scornful, attitude to this event on the part of regional authorities. In fact, the required measures were formally approved in the Ukrainian capital only after insistent reminders from activists in the Ukrainian Diaspora.

Quite a few books on the Holodomor have been published in Ukraine. However, I cannot think of a single book that was published with state funds. The proceedings of the international scholarly conference held in September 1993 were published by the Institute of History at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

The proceedings of the conference held on Nov. 28, 1998, were published with funds raised by the Ukrainian American Marian Kots. This philanthropist has been instrumental in the publication of dozens of other books about the Holodomor. All honor and respect to him!

Much can be said about the attempts to create a scholarly-research structure that would embark on the study of the genocide of the Ukrainian nation within the framework of the Institute of History.

For example, on Feb. 4, 2003, Viktor Yanukovych, the chairman of the Organizing Committee to Prepare and Implement Measures in Conjunction with the 70th Anniversary of the Holodomor in Ukraine, issued a directive stating that "the scholarly work of the Ukrainian Genocide Research Center will be adequately funded." Yet to this day the state has not allocated a single hryvnia for target-oriented studies in this domain.

Books published in Ukraine, with a print run of 1,000 copies, or even fewer, cannot possibly have an impact on the process of healing the historical consciousness of our citizens.

In December 2005 veterans in Kyiv held a meeting during which council chairman Ivan Krasylnikov took the floor and spoke at length about the merits of "Joseph Stalin, the greatest figure in the history of the world," while Yurii Syzenko, the first secretary of the CPU municipal committee, referred to "the so-called Holodomor."

Oleksandr Omelchenko, the then mayor of Kyiv, was present at the meeting and declared that he was donating 300,000 hryvnias so that people could receive complimentary issues of Kievskii vestnik [Russian-language Kyiv Herald] on whose pages statements made by Krasylnikov, Syzenko, and others like them are published.

The mayor made it clear that there would be no problem to double the amount if need be. Thus, government funds are still being used to drum the postulates from Stalin's Short Course on the History of the AUCP(b) into veterans' heads.

On May 14, 2003, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a Message to the Ukrainian People in conjunction with the Holodomor. The document defined the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. The bill passed with 226 votes in favor.

Without a doubt, President Kuchma and Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn had done their best to produce the minimum required majority of votes, lest the Verkhovna Rada miss the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor the way it missed its 60th anniversary.

During that decade historians and regional historians published mountains of blood-curdling data. So it would have been strange if the parliamentarians had ignored it.


I will briefly restate what I said in The Day in 2005 with regard to the role played by the Ukrainian Diaspora in revealing to the world the scope and fundamental nature of the Holodomor. In 1982-1983 the Diaspora succeeded in organizing large-scale events commemorating the Holodomor's 50th anniversary in a number of countries.

This was instrumental in the decision of the US Congress to set up what became known as the Commission on the Ukraine Famine (1932-1933). The commission's activities forced Volodymyr Shcherbytsky to acknowledge in December 1987 the fact of the famine in Ukraine.

This, in turn, gave researchers access to archives on the Holodomor. Shcherbytsky's successors allowed the publication of top-secret KGB archival documents reflecting the true picture of what actually happened in the Ukrainian countryside during the Holodomor. This was the systematic nature of events initiated by the Diaspora.

This article analyzes another problem: why is the process of identifying the Holodomor as a genocidal famine such a difficult one?

An analysis of the reasons preventing people outside Ukraine from ascertaining this fact should start with the works of journalists and scholars in the Ukrainian Diaspora, connected to the interpretation of the Holodomor.

Ukrainian immigrants talked about the Holodomor, relying on their own experiences. They knew that the Soviet regime had placed them in a position in which they simply had no chance of surviving. In communicating with each other, they realized that the famine had engulfed the entire Ukrainian countryside and that the Soviet regime was destroying Ukrainians.

After studying their eyewitness accounts, Western scholars, among them the members of the U.S. Commission on the Ukraine Famine (1932-1933), arrived at the conclusion that a genocidal famine had indeed taken place. At the time, it was not possible to verify the reports of eyewitnesses to the Holodomor, nor could archival work bring quick results.

After writing my first booklet entitled 1933: The Tragedy of the Famine, which appeared in May 1989 (also published in the newspaper Literaturna Ukraina in January and February 1989), I believed that the Ukrainian tragedy was the result of an economic crisis, and that this crisis stemmed from the forced collectivization campaign.

A more thorough-going familiarization with the archives of the CCCP(b)U led me to a different conclusion, namely that the Soviet authorities punished grain producers who had failed to fulfill the state delivery quotas by levying fines in kind on them; in other words, practically the whole Ukrainian countryside was made to suffer.

Special resolutions were adopted to levy fines of meat and "other bread" -- potatoes. These documents did not attract attention in the collection that Ivashko allowed to be published.

It was only by cross-checking this data with eyewitness accounts (Mace brought me a computer page-proof of the unpublished three-volume collection in 1990) that the horrendous scope of the famine in Ukraine could be explained.

It turned out that the "grain procurement officials" confiscated not only grain, meat, and potatoes from the peasants, but also all food supplies that had been collected to last until the next harvest.

This action, in the absence of any possibility to purchase food in the countryside (peasants were excluded from the ration-card system) can only be regarded as the conscious creation of conditions leading to death by starvation. Thus, in my book The Price of the "Great Breakthrough" (published in March 1991) the Holodomor is treated as an act of genocide.

At the time, however, I did not invest the term "genocide" with legal content, and little did I comprehend the real motives of the government, which was starving peasants to death.

Cloaking the confiscation of food in the form of "fines in kind" led me to the idea that the government was punishing the peasants in such a barbaric manner for failing to fulfill the official grain delivery quotas.

From the heights of our current knowledge of the Holodomor it becomes obvious that the perpetrators of the act of genocide must have been governed by a particular reason. The punishment of peasant debtors was selected as this motive.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the voice of Soviet scholars was hardly audible, while the voices of the Ukrainian Diaspora's journalists and researchers were reverberating mightily all over the world. What was the weakness of our collective stands from the standpoint of the legal content of the term "genocide"?

We could recount those criminal actions in detail but were unable to explain Stalin's reasoning. At the time we knew about the horrible scope of the tragedy in Kazakhstan (larger than in Ukraine).

The cause of the Kazakh death toll was clearly apparent: most of the nomads' cattle was confiscated for the meat delivery plan, and they were forced to work the land. Unaccustomed to agricultural work, they slaughtered the cattle left to them for food and then started dying of hunger.

Naturally, the famine in Kazakhstan was an act of genocide in essence, but in the categories of criminal law it may be qualified as "manslaughter due to negligence."

The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, of Dec. 9, 1948, reads that "genocide means any... acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such..." In other words, you always have to prove the murder of people as a deliberate intention.

The genocide of the Armenian people during the First World War was understandable to everyone: the Armenians were massacred simply because they were Armenian. The Holocaust of World War II is also understandable.

The Nazis massacred the Jews because they were Jews. Germany's defeat marked the starting point of criminal prosecutions against the Nazis, including those who were responsible for the Holocaust.

The term "Holocaust" proved to be so easily identifiable that journalists in our Diaspora started using the concept of the "Ukrainian Holocaust" with regard to their own national tragedy. They failed to notice that there is a methodological danger in equating the Holodomor with the Holocaust.

The expression "Ukrainian Holocaust" automatically leads one to the erroneous conclusion that the Kremlin destroyed Ukrainian citizens simply because they were ethnic Ukrainians. In actuality, the Ukrainian genocide was not as primitively simple as Hitler's "final solution" in regard to the Jews.

Identifying the Holodomor with the Holocaust was transplanted from the Diaspora by our journalists. This is inadmissible, for two reasons.

First, we forget about the true Ukrainian Holocaust, the deaths of 1.6 million Ukrainian Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

Second, we will never convince anyone that the famine of 1932-1933 was an act of genocide if we keep referring to it as the "Ukrainian Holocaust." The international community will never understand why the Kremlin was set on destroying millions of ethnic Ukrainians precisely in the years 1932-1933.

How many millions of Ukrainians starved to death in Ukraine? Unfortunately, our journalists and political figures are still using experts' calculations borrowed from Diaspora sources in the period when Soviet population statistics were still secret.

In 1990 we reprinted the dictionary section of the Encyclopedia of Ukraine published in the West, edited by the celebrated Ukrainian geographer and demographer Volodymyr Kubijovyc.

One entry contains Kubijovyc's tally of Holodomor death toll statistics (nearly 2.5 million), and Dmytro Solovei's figure from a book published in Winnipeg in 1954 -- between four and five million.

Another figure (7.5 million) was cited in 1950 by T. Sosnov in a newspaper published in Neue Ulm (West Germany). Later, Solovei, using the pen name of Petro Dolyna, contributed his figures to the first joint monograph on Soviet repressions in Ukraine, published by emigres in Toronto in 1955. His estimates were based on a formula of complicated percentages that are completely unsuitable for demographic analysis.

Nevertheless, Vasyl Hryshko used it in his book about the famine in Ukraine. In 1983 an English version was published in Toronto and a Ukrainian one in Detroit.

Eventually, this data was borrowed by Mykola Zhulynsky, the then deputy prime minister of Ukraine and chairman of the organizing committee of the international scholarly conference held in Kyiv (September 1993) to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Holodomor. Since then, Zhulynsky's statistics have often been cited: 7.5 million, including "direct losses" of 4.8 million people.

During the parliamentary hearings on honoring Holodomor victims (Feb. 12, 2003), Dmytro Tabachnyk, the then deputy prime minister of Ukraine, noted in his speech that historians and demographers do not agree on the number of lives lost during the Holodomor (estimates ranging from three to ten million), but said that seven million looked liked the most reliable figure.

The question is: why do journalists and politicians favor estimates made in the Diaspora? Is it possible that all these researchers have never looked up Soviet demographic statistics that have been open for the past 17 years?

In March 1990 I flew to Canada from Moscow. The director of the Central State Archive of the National Economy of the USSR, Vsevolod Tsaplin, gave me permission to work in the archive for several days.

That is how I landed in Toronto with a large digital cargo and contacted two world-renowned demographers with a proposal to write a joint article on Ukraine's population losses resulting from the famine of 1932-1933.

I contacted Professors Stephen Wheatcroft of the University of Melbourne and Alexander Babyonyshev of Harvard University, a former Moscow dissident from Sakharov's circle, who signed his works using Bulgakov's pen name Maksudov. Maksudov's book entitled Poteri naselenia SSSR (Population Losses in the USSR) was published in the US in 1988.

It is an impossible task to tally up the human lives lost in the famines of 1921-1923 and 1946-1947 because we have no data relating to migrations and population losses during the world wars.

However, the number of victims of the 1932-1933 famine can be estimated with a great deal of accuracy, because this number constitutes the difference between the censuses of 1926 and 1937, allowing for the balance of natural and mechanical movement.

Maksudov helped to figure out some purely demographic problems, and I was able to include my own estimates in the above-mentioned collection of archival documents whose publication was specially approved by the Ukrainian Politburo.

In early 1990, my and Maksudov's article was published in Ukrainskyi istorychnyi Zhurnal (Ukrainian Historical Journal). My estimates recorded direct losses of 3,238,000 people, allowing for a margin of error of 3 to 3.5 million owing to inaccurate data on mechanical population movements.

Aggregate losses (allowing for the drop in births during the famine years) reached five million. Maksudov refused to take into account official statistics on the mechanical increment rate (which I still think is wrong), so his estimates of losses wobbled between 4 and 4.5 million, and after factoring in the drop in the birth rate, 6 million.

Using a completely different calculation method, which made it possible to establish only aggregate losses sustained in 1926-1939, in 1992 Serhii Pyrozhkov published his result: 5.8 million lives lost over 12 years. I believe that his figures are closer to my own calculation of the death toll over two years, compared to Maksudov's.

Stephen Wheatcroft refused to sign our article. I believe that this conscientious researcher was scared by the excessively high number of victims, which emerged from the unbiased analysis of sources.

However, in an addendum to the collection of documents entitled Tragediia sovetskoi derevni (The Tragedy of the Soviet Countryside) published in Moscow in 2001, he published his own estimates of direct losses: between 3 and 3.5 million deaths in Ukraine, and between 6 and 7 million in the USSR.

So we have death toll statistics. What we do not have is a desire to use them. Over the years no one has questioned scholars' estimates. These estimates were known to Dmytro Tabachnyk, e.g., who said that "historians and demographers are arguing."

But is it possible to use a number that you like, which thus seems to be reliable? Unbiased findings on the Holodomor, not subjective preferences, must be submitted to the court of world public opinion.



My series of articles entitled "Why did Stalin exterminate the Ukrainians?" (Den, no. 207, 2005) includes a subsection on discussions with Russian scholars, which corresponds thematically with the present question.

Indeed, these debates boil down to the assertion (on our part) or negation (on their part) of the genocidal character of the Famine of 1932-1933. Without repeating what I stated last year, I will dwell on the stand of political figures who are deforming objective knowledge about the Holodomor.

I will start by characterizing the position of Ukrainian politicians. On the question of Russia's responsibility for the Holodomor it was contradictory, but it was always aimed at defending personal powers. For politicians power probably comes first under all circumstances.

In the subsection on the governing party's attitude to the Holodomor I mentioned Leonid Kravchuk's speech at an international conference that took place in September 1993. The president of Ukraine recognized the Holodomor as an act of genocide perpetrated on instructions from Moscow.

Ivan Drach spoke next. In his speech he declared that the Russian Federation was asserting itself as the legal successor to the White and Red empires, in conjunction with which legal and ethical reasons emerge for Ukraine to present a bill to Russia on account of the Holodomor.

"The time will come," said the writer, "when 8 or 12 million eyewitnesses -- two or three times the number of those killed in the war of 1941-1945 -- will rise from their graves in every Ukrainian village and demand the abolition of the statute of limitations on their deaths, which is only proper under international law."

I will not comment on the number of victims. Drach derived the right to submit a bill from the unquestioned fact that Russia truly wanted to be the legal successor of the USSR. However, this fact, as everyone understands, belongs to the category of objective evaluations of the Russian political elite.

Another fact is objective: the USSR was a totalitarian state whose peoples were not responsible for the Kremlin's actions. Drach's emotional and selfless (from the political point of view) speech corresponded to the interests of Kravchuk and the party nomenklatura that he headed, which wanted to move to a safe distance from Russia.

The Kremlin reacted rather indulgently to the Ukrainian political leaders' emphasis on their political independence. Its reaction was elicited by the specific features of its course of collecting the lands that had fallen away. This course was formulated immediately after the collapse of the USSR.

It consisted in the creation in the post-Soviet countries of an elite social stratum connected to the Kremlin with its economic interests at the expense of Russia's raw material resources.

This stratum was supposed to replace the Communist Party-Soviet nomenklatura that was linked to the center only by political interests. The political interest disappeared after Mikhail Gorbachev's constitutional reform that "lopped off" the dictatorial functions of the ruling party.

The replacement of the Kremlin-supporting social stratum was taking place almost imperceptibly because private ownership of the means of production, whose rights had been restored, was concentrated mainly in the hands of the former Communist Party-Soviet nomenklatura.

The Kremlin's influence on this process relied primarily on the penetration of Russian capital into the economy of the former Union republics and second of all, on maintaining their dependence on Russia -- in the case of Ukraine, through energy supplies.

Thanks to the difference in domestic Russian and world oil and gas prices, a small but influential group of oligarchic businessmen emerged in Russia and Ukraine. Business and politics are close connected in Ukraine.

Now the Ukrainian elite has stopped spurning Russia, once again in order not to forfeit its power. On Feb. 23, 2003, an informal meeting of four presidents -- Vladimir Putin, Leonid Kuchma, Nursultan Nazarbaev, and Aleksandr Lukashenko -- took place in Moscow.

The presidents signed a statement with the long heading "On the New Stage of Economic Integration and the Beginning of Talks on Forming a Single Economic Space and Creation of a Single Regulatory Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Tariffs." Thus, the new concept of a "Single Economic Space" (SES) was introduced into daily life.

The concept and draft of the SES agreement had been developed already in August 2003. A number of Ukrainian ministries showed a markedly critical attitude, but at the Yalta meeting in September 2003 the Agreement on the Creation of the SES was signed.

On April 20, 2004, Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada passed the Law on the Ratification of the Agreement on the Formation of the SES by a roll-call vote.

There is no doubt that the results of the voting -- and before that, the positions of President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Volodymyr Yanukovych of Ukraine -- were the consequence of heavy pressure from the Russian Federation. On the eve of the presidential elections the candidates needed support from the Kremlin, but for this support they had to make certain commitments in return.

Readers may think that the previous paragraphs are a digression from the present topic. In reality, they form the background against which subsequent debates on the character of the Ukrainian Holodomor unfolded.

In 1991 the Communist Party-Soviet nomenklatura connected independent Ukraine with the Ukrainian National Republic, which was crushed by the Kremlin. This allowed historians to freely assess documentary sources and more effectively rid themselves of sham communist stereotypes.

However, this also created difficulties for Ukrainian and Russian historians in reaching an understanding of certain acute problems, one of which is the Holodomor of 1932-1933.

Ukrainian and Russian historiographies are drifting increasingly farther apart in assessing the recent past. In Ukraine, a thorough revision of the Soviet concept of "socialist construction" is underway.

In Russia, however, this revision is superficial and selective. Developed in the 1938 edition of the Short Course on the History of the AUCP(b), the concept of socialist construction is still prevalent in our neighbor's country.

In his introduction to the Russian edition of Le Livre noir du communisme: Crimes, terreur, repression, the famous joint study by mostly French scholars, Aleksandr Yakovlev wrote bitterly in September 1999: "Our students and schoolchildren continue to study using the same (content-wise) textbooks as before."

Lest this statement by the chief architect of Gorbachev's perestroika seem grossly exaggerated, it would be useful to bolster it with the conclusions of an historiographic analysis carried by Voprosy istorii (Questions of History), the leading historical journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In 2006 the journal published I. Chemodanov's article under the paradoxical heading, "Was There an Alternative in the USSR to Forced Collectivization?" The author states that there are two approaches to this question, including this one: the implementation of mass collectivization was on the whole justified.

Further on he writes: "When the question arises of the price that the peasantry paid, the advocates of all-out collectivization only spread their hands: you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, and every victory has to be paid for." That's not all.

Summing up a survey of literature, Chemodanov arrives at the following conclusion: in the mid-1920s there was a possibility of relatively dynamic industrial development through a linkage with NEP-based agriculture, but by the end of this decade there was no longer such a possibility: the development of market relations in agriculture turned out to be incompatible with the reinforcement of the planned principles of industry.

Hence his final conclusion: "There was only one way out of that situation: mass forced collectivization."

In thrall to Soviet stereotypes, this author did not even bother to consider that the reinforcement of the planned foundations of industry was the result of the voluntaristic decision of Stalin's team to resume the course of communist construction that was begun in 1918.

I think that we will continue to encounter difficulties in finding a common language with many Russian scholars with regard to the Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933, if they continue to suggest that we spread our hands helplessly and forget about the millions of victims: "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs."

The position of the journal Voprosy istorii would have been more understandable some 20 years ago, when the collective farm system still existed, albeit in its last death throes. But what is there to say now?


In the Kremlin's arsenal there was a large assortment of forcible means that were used for communist construction.

These included individual repressions that now and then acquired a mass character: the "dekulakization" of the wealthiest stratum of peasant owners, as well as poor peasants who opposed collectivization; terror by famine under the guise of grain deliveries; deportation of large masses of the population according to social or national markers; "purging" dissenters from the governing party, and so on.

Using mass terror as a method of state governance, the Kremlin leaders did not reckon with human losses even in cases when they fell under a category known in international law as the concept of genocide.

Herein lies the secret of the Soviet genocide, which is unfathomable to Western observers because it in no way resembles the Jewish or Armenian genocides.

We can have objections to the content of the concept of genocide that was formulated and adopted by the United Nations together with representatives of the Stalinist regime.

However, the famine of 1932-1933 in the Soviet Union, which was suppressed until 1987, falls -- on the territories of the Ukrainian SSR and the Kuban district of the Northern Caucasus Territory -- under the not quite complete definition that already exists in international law.

Attempts to locate in the most secret archives the frank testimonies of individuals who were directly involved in the organization of the famine-genocide are naive. They are not even necessary. A frank admission of guilt could be the "queen of evidence" only in jurisprudence headed by Stalin and Vyshynsky.

Terror by famine was a likely possibility in the state that was building a socioeconomic system that could not have emerged in a natural way.

This artificial system did not correspond to the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population and therefore could only be built by the method of force. Where force is used, there is terror.

Applied at the turn of 1932-1933, terror by famine was not the first such occurrence in Ukraine. The famine of 1921 impeded Nestor Makhno's peasant detachments in their continuing struggle against the Bolsheviks.

The approaching famine became the straightjacket for the peasants, who had been rebelling against all regimes since 1917. After the Kremlin established this regular pattern, the Soviet government began to struggle against "kulak banditry" in the southern famine-stricken gubernias of Ukraine with the aid of forced grain deliveries.

In order to understand the situation in Ukraine in the fall and winter of 1932, as well as the way in which the Kremlin rulers reacted to it, it is above all necessary to compare it to the situation that existed in the winter and spring of 1930.

In March 1930, the growing anti-collective farm movement, especially in Ukraine's borderland districts, worried Stalin so much that he rejected the communization of farms (just like Lenin did in 1919, also in connection with mass uprisings in Ukraine).

In the commune state the Kremlin left a "small island" of private ownership in the form of the peasants' "personal" ownership of a plot of land attached to a house.

The collectivization of agriculture in the artel (cooperative) form was proclaimed as a completely voluntary matter. The previous course aimed at the forced "collectivization" of peasant property began being identified with local authorities' "leftist distortions."

In early 1932 the situation in Ukraine looked incomparably worse. As a result of grain deliveries from the 1931 harvest, carried out by forcible means, the Ukrainian peasants were left without grain.

During the first half of the year some 140,000-150,000 peasants starved to death. They were dying because all their grain, their main source of food, had been confiscated from them.

People whose personal plots could not feed them after their grain was confiscated were dying. The following year, i.e., in the first half of 1933, the peasants were dying the same way in the Volga area and all the districts of the Northern Caucasus Territory, except the Kuban. In the first half of 1933 there was a complete different situation in the Kuban region and the Ukrainian SSR -- the Holodomor.

Here is some food for thought. In the first half of 1932 the Soviet government was not destroying the Ukrainians by famine because they were Ukrainians and not starving peasants to death because they were peasants.

The government purchased grain abroad, something it had never done before, to provide seed and bread grain assistance to dozens of rural districts in Ukraine. Of course, they were not rescuing peasants' lives so much as the 1932 harvest.

However, the harvest forecast was not realized. Grain deliveries failed, and the government's ability to supply tens of millions of people with centralized ration card supplies dropped sharply. Owing to the situation that had developed, Stalin dispatched special grain delivery commissions to the main grain-producing regions.

Famine broke out as a result of forced grain confiscations and the cancellation of ration cards for many categories of the population, and with it, a political crisis. The crisis could not be concealed behind pompous newspaper reports on the start of operations of the Dnipro Hydroelectric Station and other new construction projects of the first Five-Year Plan.

All the textbooks state that the Soviet totalitarian state deprived the population not only of political freedom but also private ownership of the means of production, along with freedom of enterprise.

However, they do not emphasize the direct consequence of the absence of political and economic freedom: the obligation of the state to feed the population on a daily basis.

Instead of taking measures to ease the situation of the starving population of the Ukrainian SSR and the Kuban (as was the case in the first half of 1932), the Kremlin carried out the confiscation of non-grain food reserves, i.e., terror by famine.

Soviet repressions were always of a cautionary character. Stalin did not wait for an unfavorable situation to evolve and then react to it later. Preventive strikes were used to destroy or isolate those who could take advantage of the crisis in order to put an end to the "dictatorship of the proletariat" concentrated in the hands of the Kremlin oligarchs.

What kind of threat did the Kremlin see in the Ukrainian SSR and the Kuban, in other words Ukraine? We are accustomed to analyzing events of the interwar period from the standpoint of perceptions that were formed later, in the postwar period.

Besides being an ordinary aberration of historical vision defined by the concept of presentism (i.e., the influence of the epoch in which a researcher is living on his analysis of preceding epochs), this habit is also explained by the stability of a political regime.

The regime that Lenin formed in the space of several months after the coup of October 1917 did not actually change until Gorbachev's constitutional reform.

However, corrections should be made in two circumstances relating to the problem under study. The first one concerns Stalin's political weight and the second, the functioning of the Soviet Union as a multinational state of the imperialistic type.

Stalin acquired one-person power after a long (1922-1928) and difficult struggle within the Politburo of the CC AUCP (b). Starting in 1929, he exerted a decisive influence on the passage of the most important state decisions, although he was not yet an omnipotent dictator, the way he is remembered today.

In 1929-1932 the destiny of the political group led by Stalin was hanging by a thread. At any moment the political and economic crisis caused by the excessively high rates of industrialization could have become so exacerbated that it could have touched off the threat that Stalin's group would be ousted from power.

The leader had a lot to lose, and we know that he did not stop short of committing a crime on the most massive scale, which helped reinforce his power.

Stalin's transformation from a formal into a true dictator was the result of the Holodomor and the Great Terror. This circumstance should be taken into account when analyzing the general secretary's actions in the critical situation of 1932-1933.

[2] The second circumstance that influenced the Kremlin's decision to use a weapon against Ukraine like terror by famine under the guise of grain procurements is linked to the Soviet Union's dual nature. On the one hand, it was a unitary state with a centralized administration.

On the other hand, it was a federation of Union states, each of which had the right to secede from the federation as laid down both in its own constitution and the Union one. This federation of Union states was transformed into a unitary state by the "dictatorship of the proletariat," which boiled down to the Kremlin's dictatorship.

The crisis in the leadership of the state party was destroying the force field holding the Union republics within the framework of the federation. We are used to the kind of Soviet Union that it became after the Holodomor and the Great Terror.

This was a unitary country in which any mention of the right to secede was regarded as treason to the Motherland and punishable by death or the maximum prison term (a precedent set by Levko Lukianenko). In this case "we" means all of us Soviet people, starting from the highest-ranking leaders.

When the force field of the Communist Party dictatorship vanished after Gorbachev's constitutional reform and each Union republic got the opportunity to leave the empire built with "steel and blood," almost all the leaders kept a low profile in their respective capitals, contenting themselves with issuing declarations about state sovereignty.

All these republican leaders reminded one of baby birds that had been born in a cage and were scared to fly out now that the door was open. The situation exploded only after a putsch was organized by some high-ranking leaders of the Union state, who had found themselves jobless after the signing of the new Union agreement.

What was the Soviet Union like prior to the Holodomor and the Great Terror? It must be acknowledged that it was a false federation in which the Kremlin placed its own people at the head of all the republics.

These people were accustomed to submitting to iron party discipline. But they did not forget either the needs of their own republics, which for them were countries united around the Kremlin, or their constitutional rights. Even Lazar Kaganovich referred to Ukraine as a "country" in his letters to Stalin.

The leaders of that branch of the unitarily-built AUCP (b) known as the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine behaved particularly "insolently." They managed to get the bureau of the CC of the CP(b)U renamed as a political bureau and the first secretary of the CC as general secretary (this lasted until 1934).

They constantly demanded that the Kremlin annex the raions bordering on the Russian Federation, which were inhabited predominantly by Ukrainians, to the Ukrainian SSR. They were especially insistent about the Kuban and in the meantime launched vigorous activity to Ukrainize the Kuban organs of power, educational institutions, and the mass media.

They transformed the official policy of indigenization, which the Kremlin began to implement after the formation of the Soviet Union in order to enroot the organs of Soviet power in the national republics, into a policy of de-Russification and began seriously regarding Russians in the Ukrainian SSR as a national minority.

What can be added to everything stated above-perhaps the fact that even without the Kuban the Ukrainian SSR was the most powerful national republic? Its economic and human resource potential equaled that of the other Union republics put together, except the RSFSR.

One could probably add that 15 to 20 years before the Holodomor the Ukrainian people had their own national statehood and that the Kremlin succeeded in replacing it by the Soviet one only after three "liberation campaigns" against Ukraine.

Another significant thing was that the Ukrainian SSR bordered on European countries, and there was an eight-million-strong Ukrainian enclave in Poland that was awaiting the overthrow of the Bolshevik regime and reunification with Greater Ukraine.

Stalin truly had grounds for striking a preemptive strike against the citizens of the Ukrainian SSR and the Kuban in the critical situation of 1932-1933.


In May 2006 The Day published my article "Society and the State on the Scales of History," which deals with the events of the last two decades. Among other things it analyzed the "Russian question" in Ukraine.

In particular, I raised the idea that the successful development of Ukraine as a state that would be different from Russia is ensured by abiding by two conditions:

[1] first, tolerance and self-restraint with regard to "inner" Russia -- Russian-speaking Ukrainians and Russians;
[2] second, maintaining friendly relations with the Russian people while achieving complete independence from the Russian Federation, both political and economic.

Such a conclusion did not appeal to everyone. One of my colleagues, who used to be a high-ranking official, reminded me of the Soviet propaganda thesis before Germany invaded the USSR: if Hitler tries to attack the world's first workers' and peasants' state, the German proletarians mobilized into the army would turn their weapons against him.

These calculations were built on sand, he said; likewise, Ukraine cannot expect support from the Russian people, which would go against the line of the Russian Federation's leadership.

I still think that we shouldn't be afraid of the Russian people. The argument of the German proletarians is not convincing, if only because the USSR was not the world's first workers' and peasants' state.

In addition -- and this is the main thing -- the situation in the world has radically changed over the past 50 to 100 years. Unlike statesmen and politicians, many of whom out of inertia continue to think in categories of control over territories, nations want to live without borders.

They have the right to freely elect their leaders and expect effective governance from them, which will ensure positive dynamics of well-being, friendship with neighboring countries, admission to the global economic and humanitarian space, and care for the preservation of national identity. It is not nations that elicit fears but elites that manipulate people's consciousness. However, their possibilities are limited.

A revision of Soviet historical concepts is taking place in Ukraine and Russia at different rates. Thus, knots of conflicts have formed, which are negatively influencing Ukrainian-Russian relations.

Among them is the problem of the OUN-UPA or the assessment of the famine of 1932-1933. In studying such problems, we must try to arrive at only one thing: historical truth. Historical myths may seem useful, but they are only a way to manipulate consciousness; you cannot build your own history on them.

Since Ukraine during its existence within the USSR suffered horrific repressions, including the Holodomor, some representatives of our community want to "present a bill" to the state-forming nation in the multinational Union state, in other words, to the people of Russia, all the more so as the Russian Federation is in no hurry to renounce its Soviet heritage.

When such appeals are voiced, they disunite not only neighboring peoples, but also the population of Ukraine. Allegations devoid of historical authenticity turn into Russophobia, which is equally unpleasant to almost all strata of Ukrainian citizenry.

Although the study of the famine of 1932-1933 in the Russian Federation is not encouraged, works by Western researchers make it clear that other regions put together suffered no fewer human losses from the famine than Ukraine (true, if you include the Kuban as part of the Russian Federation, of which it was then a part and where it will remain forever).

When our public political figures accuse the Kremlin of destroying ethnic Ukrainians, they often encounter a distrustful and skeptical reaction. Identifying the Holodomor with the Holocaust is beneath criticism, although in the final result it was ethnic Ukrainians who were being destroyed in 1932-1933.

Stalin was annihilating not ethnic Ukrainians as such but citizens of Ukraine, in other words representatives of Ukrainian national statehood, which was dangerous to him even in its Sovietized form.

We cannot leave the truth about the Holodomor inaccessible to the understanding of the international community and citizens of Ukraine itself.

We are duty-bound to show why those Kremlin monsters passed a decision on a people-killing action on part of the territory of their own country, which was completely well-informed, calculated in advance and painstakingly supported by organizational and political measures.

The truth about the Holodomor must be free of emotional exaggerations, if only with regard to the number of victims, otherwise it will be received not as truth but as propaganda.

The truth about the Holodomor is part of the people's historical memory. The restoration of historical memory is directly connected with the liberation of the people's consciousness from Soviet stereotypes.

Unfortunately, among the many institutes that have emerged in Ukraine after 1991 with the aim of asserting its independence, to this day there is no institute called upon to engage in the correction, healing, and restoration of national memory.

As a result of the complete absence of informative work, a large part of Ukrainian society cannot render an objective judgment on the balance sheet of gains and failures of the first two decades of the Soviet period, i.e., the era of communist construction.

The consciousness of these people is still dominated by the distorted assessments laid down in the Short Course on the History of the AUCP(b). The famine-genocide of 1932-1933 clearly does not fit in with these evaluations, as we have already seen.

The tragedy of the Ukrainian nation is attracting increasingly greater attention among foreign researchers, especially in Italy, Germany, and Poland.

On Nov. 24, 2005, the Lithuanian parliament passed a resolution commemorating the victims of political repressions and the famine-genocide of 1932-1933 in Ukraine. On Dec. 20, 2005, a similar resolution was adopted by the Georgian parliament, and on March 16, 2006, by the Polish Senate.

I would like to conclude this article with the closing statement of the resolution of the Polish Senate:

"The Senate of the Republic of Poland pays homage to all those who were tortured to death during the Great Famine in Ukraine, as well as to that small number of heroes who often armed with weapons fought against the threat of destruction of their people, against communist tyranny, hypocrisy, and falsehood.

We are in solidarity with the actions of the Ukrainian people, as well as the president, parliament, government, self-ruling organs, and veterans' unions, which honor this tragedy that, like a warning against totalitarian ideology, can never be forgotten."



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