[email protected] | 04Oct2008 | Roman Serbyn

Soviet Genocide in the Ukraine

I have reproduced below, excerpts from "Soviet Genocide in the Ukraine", the last chapter of a monumental History of Genocide, written in the 1950s by the Jewish-Polish scholar Raphael Lemkin. Unfortunately, the monograph has not yet been published and the chapter on Ukraine is known only to a few Lemkin scholars. The whole chapter (12 double-spaced pages) on Ukraine will soon be published in the original English language in the USA and eventually in other languages, in other countries.

Lemkin's text deserves special attention by the Ukrainian community as it commemorates the 75th anniversary of the tragic events. It should be noted that Lemkin, the developed the concept and coined the term "genocide", applies it to the destruction of the Ukrainian nation and not just Ukrainian peasants. Lemkin speaks of: a) the decimation of the Ukrainian national elites, b) destruction of the Orthodox Church, c) the starvation of the Ukrainian farming population, and d) its replacement with non-Ukrainian population from the RSFSR as integral components of the same genocidal process. The only dimension that is missing in Lemkin's excellent analysis is the destruction of the 8,000,000 ethnic Ukrainians living on the eve of the genocide in the Russian Republic (RSFSR).

As Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora commemorates, in the coming months of October and November, the 75th anniversary of the Genocide against the Ukrainians, it should be inspired by the all-encompassing approach to the analysis of the great Ukrainian catastrophe by the father of the  concept of genocide and the man who did most to have it enshrined in the UN Convention of 1948. Lemkin's perception of the Ukrainian genocide is a solid recommendation to the UN Assembly to finally recognize the Ukrainian tragedy for what it was "a case of genocide, the destruction of a  nation".

Roman Serbyn


What I want to speak about is perhaps the classic example of Soviet
genocide, its longest and broadest experiment in Russification ­ the
destruction of the Ukrainian nation. [...]
[S] As long as Ukraine retains its national unity, as long as its people
continue to think of themselves as Ukrainians and to seek independence, so
long Ukraine poses a serious threat to the very heart of Sovietism. It is no
wonder that the Communist leaders have attached the greatest importance to
the Russification of this independent[-minded] member of their ³Union of
Republics,² have determined to remake it to fit their pattern of one Russian
nation. For the Ukrainian is not and has never been, a Russian. His culture,
his temperament, his language, his religion ­ all are different. [...]
Ukraine is highly susceptible to racial murder by select parts and so the
Communist tactics there have not followed the pattern taken by the German
attacks against the Jews. The nation is too populous to be exterminated
completely with any efficiency. However, its leadership, religious,
intellectual, political, its select and determining parts, are quite small
and therefore easily eliminated, and so it is upon these groups particularly
that the full force of the Soviet axe has fallen, with its familiar tools of
mass murder, deportation and forced labor, exile and starvation.
The attack has manifested a systematic pattern, with the whole process
repeated again and again to meet fresh outburst of national spirit. The
first blow is aimed at the intelligentsia, the national brain, so as to
paralyze the rest of the body. [...]
Going along with this attack on the intelligentsia was an offensive against
the churches, priests and hierarchy, the "soul" of Ukraine. Between 1926 and
1932, the Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church, its Metropolitan
(Lypkivsky) and 10,000 clergy were liquidated. [...]
The third prong of the Soviet plan was aimed at the farmers, the large mass
of independent peasants who are the repository of the tradition, folk lore
and music, the national language and literature, the national spirit, of
Ukraine. The weapon used against this body is perhaps the most terrible of
all ­ starvation. Between 1932 and 1933, 5,000,000 Ukrainians starved to
death, an inhumanity which the 73rd Congress decried on May 28, 1934. There
has been an attempt to dismiss this highpoint of Soviet cruelty as an
economic policy connected with the collectivization of the wheatlands, and
the elimination of the kulaks, the independent farmers was therefore
necessary. The fact is, however, that large-scale farmers in Ukraine were
few and far-between. As a Soviet writer Kossior [error: Kosior was party
boss of Ukraine ­ R.S.] declared in Izvestiia on December 2, 1933,
"Ukrainian nationalism is our chief danger", and it was to eliminate that
nationalism, to establish the horrifying uniformity of the Soviet state that
the Ukrainian peasantry was sacrificed. The method used in this part of the
plan was not at all restricted to any particular group. All suffered ­ men,
women, children. The crop that year was ample to feed the people and
livestock of Ukraine, though it had fallen off somewhat from the previous
year, a decrease probably due in large measure to the struggle over
collectivization. But a famine was necessary for the Soviet[s] and so they
got one to order, by plan, through an unusually high grain allotment to the
state as taxes. To add to this, thousands of acres of wheat were never
harvested, were left to rot in the fields. The rest was sent to government
granaries to be stored there until the authorities had decided how to
allocate it. Much of this crop, so vital to the lives of the Ukrainian
people, ended up as exports for the creation of credits abroad.
In the face of famine on the farms, thousands abandoned the rural areas and
moved into the towns to beg [for] food. Caught there and sent back to the
country, they abandoned their children in the hope that they at least might
survive. In this way, 18,000 children were abandoned in Kharkiv alone.
Villages of a thousand had a surviving population of a hundred; in others,
half the populace was gone, and deaths in these towns ranged from 20 to 30
per day. Cannibalism became commonplace.
The fourth step in the process consisted in the fragmentation of the
Ukrainian people at once by the addition to the Ukraine of foreign peoples
and by the dispersion of the Ukrainians throughout Eastern Europe. In this
way, ethnic unity would be destroyed and nationalities mixed. [...]
These have been the chief steps in the systematic destruction of the
Ukrainian nation. Notably, there have been no attempts at complete
annihilation, such as was the method of the German attack on the Jews. And
yet, if the Soviet program succeeds completely, if the intelligentsia, the
priests and the peasants can be eliminated, Ukraine will be as dead as if
every Ukrainian were killed, for it will have lost that part of it which has
kept and developed its culture, its beliefs, its common ideas, which have
guided it and given it a soul, which, in short, made it a nation rather than
a mass of people.
The mass, indiscriminate murders have not, however, been lacking ­ they have
simply not been integral parts of the plan, but only chance variations.
Thousands have been executed, untold thousands have disappeared into the
certain death of Siberian labor camps.
[...] This is not simply a case of mass murder. It is a case of genocide, of
destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation. [...]
Soviet national unity is being created, not by any union of ideas and of
cultures, but by the complete destruction of all cultures and of all ideas
save one ­ the Soviet.