In 1932-33 millions of Ukrainians died in the largest Famine of the
20th century. This Famine was not caused by a natural calamity such as
drought or epidemic or pestilence. It was not the result of devastation
or privation caused by a cataclysmic event such as war.
The Famine in Ukraine was engineered, orchestrated and directed from
the Kremlin. It was implemented by Stalin and his comrades in order to
complete Ukraine's subjugation to Moscow. Starvation became the tool and
the Ukrainian farmers became the main victims.
This genocide had a double motive. First, it was necessary to destroy
the Ukrainian farmers because they formed 80% of the Republic's
population and were therefore, the backbone of the intelligentsia-led
national revival. Second, the Ukrainian farmers stood in the way of the
unbridled exploitation of agriculture which the regime intended to carry
out for the sake of rapid industrialization.
"The nationality problem is by its essence a farmer problem," Stalin wrote.
Arrests, show trials, executions and deportations destroyed the
Ukrainian intelligentsia, while the Ukrainian "kurkuli" or successful
farmers were dispossessed and deported in cattle cars to Russia. Having
thus eliminated the country's national and social elites, the regime
could now more easily force the leaderless farmer masses into the
Collectivization was largely completed in Soviet Ukraine by the time
the Famine began to be implemented. In 1932 there was enough grain
harvested to adequately feed the population. However, Moscow imposed
draconian grain quotas on Ukraine which resulted in genocide.
Zealous Communist League members and armed troops were dispatched
into Ukraine from Russia to guard the fields and warehouses. The troops
entered every household, tore up floorboards in their search for buried
grain, and confiscated whatever foodstuffs they came across. Resisting
farmers were arrested and shot or exiled to Siberia. Theft of food, now
Socialist State property, warranted a minimum of five years of
imprisonment, or just as often, execution. Anyone caught picking up a
few stalks of wheat risked being executed on the spot. The regime even
went so far as to forbid people from naming the cause they were dying
The word "holod" (famine or hunger) was decreed a "counter-revolutionary rumour."
In December of 1932 the internal passport system was introduced and
the Ukrainian-Russian border was sealed to prevent Ukrainians from
escaping the genocidal famine.
"Food is a weapon," said Maxim Litvinov, the Soviet Commissar of Foreign Affairs.
The breadbasket of Europe became one vast graveyard.
As Victor Kravchenko, a former Soviet trade official put it, "on the
battlefield men die quickly, they fight back, they are sustained by
fellowship and a sense of duty." In Soviet Ukraine, he observed, people
were "dying in solitude by slow degrees, dying hideously .... trapped
and left to starve, each in his home, by a political decision made in a
far-off capital around conference and banquet tables... The most
terrifying sights were the little children with skeleton limbs dangling
from balloon-like abdomens. Starvation had wiped every trace of youth
from their faces, turning them into tortured gargoyles... Everywhere we
found men and women lying prone, their faces and bellies bloated, their
eyes utterly expressionless."
Untold suffering and agony prevailed, along with typhus and scurvy.
Corpses piled up grotesquely next to streets, roadways, and fields, for
the living no longer had the strength to bury the dead.
While the Famine was raging, Stalin was exporting Ukrainian grain to
the West. When international relief organizations offered to assist the
starving, the offer was rejected by the Soviet Government on the grounds
that there was no famine in Ukraine and hence no need to aid its
Many reporters in the West, particularly those who supported the
Communist line and put their hopes in the Soviet Utopia, accepted this
Soviet disinformation and the reports of mass starvation were dismissed
as scare stories. In 1932 it was counter for Western politics to
acknowledge this Genocide, since negotiations were underway to accept
the Soviet Union into the League of Nations.
Numerous historians and commentators have called this Famine-Genocide
an unprecedented tragedy in modern history. Even today, the
Famine-Genocide remains one of the least understood events of this
century; it has almost totally disappeared from the public
consciousness. The victims deserve a place in history and in our memory.
Canada became home to many famine survivors after the Second World War,
and although this generation is passing away, their children still
carry the memory of their parents' nightmare.
Awareness of this tragedy must not be limited to the Ukrainian
community; the famine victims deserve to be honoured, along with victims
of other genocides, in a Canadian Museum of Genocide.
Facts About the 1933 Famine-Genocide in Soviet Occupied Ukraine
In late 1932 - precisely when the genocidal famine struck - the Central Statistical Bureau in Moscow ceased to publish demographic data.
The 1937 census was given top priority. The census director I. Kravel was awarded the Order of Lenin for his meticulous work. After the results of the 1937 census were submitted to the Government, the census was declared "subversive", its materials destroyed and the top census officials were shot for not finding enough people.
2. Harvest and Climatic Conditions
The "natural disaster" excuse to cover up the 1933 Famine-Genocide does not hold water. It was not caused by some natural calamity or crop failure:
- The 1931 harvest was 18.3 million tons of grain.
- The 1932 harvest was 14.6 million tons of grain.
- The 1933 harvest was 22.3 million tons of grain.
- The 1934 harvest was 12.3 million tons of grain.
3. Laws and Decrees
- The 7 August 1932 law drafted by Joseph Stalin on the protection of the socialist property stipulated the death penalty for "theft of socialist property". Ukrainian villagers were executed by firing squads for theft of a sack of wheat and in some cases even for two sheaves of corn or a husk of grain.
- The 6 December 1932 decree stipulated a complete blockade of villages for allegedly sabotaging the grain procurement campaign - de facto sentencing their Ukrainian inhabitants to execution by starvation.
- An unpublished decree signed by Molotov encouraged Russian peasants to settle into the empty or half-empty villages of "the free lands of Ukraine" [and North Caucasus also inhabited by Ukrainians and likewise devastated by the famine].
- The All-Union Peoples Commissariat of Agriculture in Moscow initially mobilized some of its most reliable ‘25-thousanders' -Party members, majority of them Russians - and sent them to Ukraine to organize collective farms.
- Further ‘thousanders,' the army, the secret police [GPU], the militia and armed brigades were sent into Ukrainian villages to force the farmers into collective farms and to supervise the Draconian grain expropriation and eventually the entire output of butter, corn, sugar beet, etc.
- Local granaries in Ukraine held large stockpiles of ‘state reserves' for emergencies, such as war, but the raging famine did not qualify as an emergency.
- The 1933 Famine-Genocide was geographically focused for political ends. It stopped precisely at the Ukrainian-Russian ethnographic border.
- The borders of Ukraine were strictly patrolled by the military to prevent starving Ukrainians from crossing into Russia in search of bread.
- For example: The Kharkiv Province on the Ukrainian side was devastated while the contiguous Belgorod Province on the Russian side with similar climatic conditions and demographic profiles showed no evidence of starvation or any unusual mortality.
- Armed GPU officers were also stationed to prevent starving Ukrainians from entering the zone near the Polish and Romanian borders. Those who tried to cross the Dnister River into Romania were shot.
The Soviet regime dumped 1.7 million tons of grain on the Western markets at the height of the Famine. It exported nearly a quarter of a ton of grain for every Ukrainian who starved to death.
7. Victims and Losses
- At the height of the Famine Ukrainian villagers were dying at the rate of 25,000 per day or 1,000 per hour or 17 per minute.
- By comparison the Allied soldiers died at the rate of 6,000 per day during the Battle of Verdun.
- Among the children one in three perished as a consequence of collectivization and the famine.
- According to dissident Soviet demographer M. Maksudov "no fewer than three million children born between 1932-1933 died of hunger."
- 80% of Ukrainian intellectuals were liquidated because they refused to collaborate in the extermination of their countrymen.
- Out of about 240 Ukrainian authors 200 were liquidated or disappeared. Out of about 84 linguists 62 perished.
- The Ukrainian population may have been reduced by as much as 25%.
- Foreign correspondents were "advised" by the press department of the Soviet Commissariat for Foreign Affairs to remain in Moscow and were de facto barred from visiting Ukraine.
- Not a single Western newspaper or press agency protested publicly against the unprecedented confining of its correspondents in Moscow or bothered to investigate the reason for this extraordinary measure.
- The majority of reporters feared losing their journalistic privileges and toed the line.
- The only correspondents permitted into Ukraine were the likes of Walter Duranty of the New York Times who reported that there was no famine except for some "partial crop failures."
- Star reporter Walter Duranty of the New York Times set the tone for most of the Western press coverage with authoritative denials of starvation and referred to the Famine as the "alleged ‘man-made' famine of 1933."
- However, according to British Diplomatic Reports, Duranty off the record, conceded that "as many as 10 million" may have perished.
- For his reporting Walter Duranty received the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. To this date the New York Times refuses to revoke the prize and still lists Duranty among its Pulitzer winners.
A number of intrepid reporters, such as William Henry Chamberlin, Harry Lang, Malcolm Muggeridge and Thomas Walker ignored the ban and reported on the Famine, substantiating their reports with photographs.
Available archival evidence (such as reports sent in diplomatic pouches as well as coverage on the press by a few honest and courageous reporters who managed to penetrate into starving Ukraine) indicates that several Western governments (especially Great Britain, Canada and the United States) were well informed about the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine but chose to adopt a policy on non-interference in the internal affairs of a foreign sovereign state. Ironically, the United States recognized the Soviet Union in November, 1933.
Offers to aid the starving by numerous charitable organizations such as the International Red Cross, Save the Children Fund, the Vienna-based Interconfessional Relief Council and Ukrainian organizations in the West and Western Ukraine (occupied by Poland) were discouraged or blocked by their Governments.
10. Findings and Conclusions
The U.S. Congress 1988 Commission on the Ukraine famine in its "Investigation of the Ukraine Famine of 1932-1933" concluded that: JOSEPH STALIN AND THOSE AROUND HIM COMMITTED GENOCIDE AGAINST UKRAINIANS IN 1932-1933.
The famine operation
One sometimes hears from strangers, and even from one's own, that there is too much ado about the recent fifty year anniversary of the famine in Ukraine. They say that half a century has passed, that much has happened in the world, and that the significance of the event should not be exaggerated. Truly, quite a lot has happened and we intend to exaggerate none of it. For us, the famine in Ukraine of 1932-33 remains as the gravest tragedy in the history of our people. The famine and the terror that engendered it destroyed almost one quarter of our population, and with it, the majority of our national potential. We have yet to recognize the magnitude of the scar that this pogrom left on our national organism, and what a major factor it will continue to prove to be in the further development of our history.
Of course, the Soviet Union remains mute about all of these events. Them, no one either speaks or writes about them, as if nothing had ever happened. Those events are usually covered up with glib phrases about the difficulties encountered by collectivization. It is, therefore, not at all strange that the younger generation knows little about the nature of these "difficulties." What is less easy to understand is that, until recently, the free world was also mute about this genocide. There were, obviously, some reasons for this. First of all, there was a lack of interest on the part of the general media and information centres, and second, our own lack of rigour in cornbatting this.
Now that the general level of interest has been raised, the number of researchers in the field has also increased, both Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian. Some basic academic studies about this apocalyptic era have been published and will be published in the near future. Since the approach to a subject usually has an important bearing on the conclusions reached by a study, researchers of the famine in Ukraine should bear in mind that it was not an isolated phenomenon that arose unexpectedly as a result of the policy of collectivization, but was a direct result of the nationalities policy of the Bolshevik regime in Ukraine. We know that three famines occurred under this regime: in 1921-22; in 1932-33 and in 1946-47. Of these, the famine in the 1930s, which raged in Ukraine, the Kuban, and the lower Volga valley region was the most destructive. Around seven million Ukrainian people perished in it.
Inasmuch as we are dealing with a state system in which everything proceeds "according to plan," the question arises: on what level was this famine operation carried out. It is generally associated with a restructuring of society according to communist principle. This plan included the wholesale collectivization of agriculture and the liquidation of the kulaks (wealthier landowners) as a class. In the official history of the Communist Party it is described as follows: "toward the end of 1929, together with the policy of expansion of local and soviet (county) collective farms, Soviet authorities adopted an abrupt shift in policy to liquidation". The following slogan was to serve as a guide: "On the basis of a general collectivization, we liquidate the kulak as a class."
It should be added that the kulaks were liquidated, not through inclusion in the collective farms, but literally eliminated by deportation and execution. In early 1932 there were none left in Ukraine. The survivors were living out their lives in exile. Those who were dying of hunger were the middle income-farmers and small-holding peasants -- both private operators and members of collective farms. These, obviously, were not liquidated "as a class," but as Ukrainian farmers. The official propaganda completely ignored this fact and continuously attacked them for being kulak lackeys and class enemies.
Meanwhile, collectivization progressed at an increased tempo and was arrived at according to schedule. This we learn from the official history of the Communist Party: "1931 saw a new growth in the collective farm movement. In the main grain producing districts, more than 80% of farms had been collectivized. Collectivization here had basically been completed." Thus, collectivization was being successfully implemented.
But if this is the case, then who were the people who were dying of hunger in Ukraine in 1932 and 19337 Could it have been the kulaks who had somehow survived? Where had the millions of them come from, if dekulakization and collectivization had been completed? Thus, it is apparent that in Ukraine, although collectivization and the famine appear to be connected, in fact they are two completely separate phenomena. In Ukraine, collectivization was merely a cover for a pogrom by famine. Who would believe that to collectivize the countryside it was necessary to starve millions of proletarian peasantry?
The reasons for collectivization am widely known. It was an element of the Party's social and economic policy. However, there was one single cause for the famine, and it was, so to speak, outside of the ideological programme. The cause of the famine was the decision to destroy a basic stratum of a nation that the Kremlin considered an enemy.
In terms of a general policy, this famine can be considered to be one of the central achievements of the Bolshevik regime's nationality policy. It would have been difficult to plan for assimilation and merger of peoples if, fifty years ago, this essential "preparation" had not been carried out. In an article published in November 1929, Stalin called 1929 the year of "the great breakthrough." So it certainly was. It was in that year that the experimental New Economic Policy (NEP) agricultural policies were rolled back; the year that the provisions of the first Five Year Plan (adopted in mid-1928); the year that the policy of wholesale collectivization and dekulakization was adopted; the year that rationing cards for food were introduced, despite a lack of any apparent reason to do so.
The preparation for this breakthrough had occurred two years previously at the 15th Communist Party Congress, at which a resolution was adopted to step up collectivization and to attack the kulaks. Two years later, a campaign was launched that was called "the socialist advance on the village." This campaign had the following objectives: 1. the liquidation of kulaks; 2. general collectivization; and 3. requisitioning of grain, (which amounted to the stealing of grain). Let us examine each of these in turn.
A hatred of the peasantry is a general characteristic of all theoreticians and practitioners of communism. The peasantry, one of the most conservative of social classes, simply does not fit into their idea of a "progressive" society. The Kremlin leadership felt a particular detestation for the Ukrainian peasantry. The Proletars 'ka Pravda of 22 January 1930, wrote that collectivization had two goals: "The destruction of Ukrainian nationalism and of private farms." On the subject of kulaks, Lenin pronounced them to be rabid enemies of Soviet rule and threatened to deal with them.
However, it should be mentioned that even in 1929 there was no obvious class of kulaks in Ukraine. This term was simply attached to those middle-income farmers who had retained the so-called working norm of 8 to 10 desiatyny (21.3 to 26.7 acres) of land. Some of them used parts of the estates of landowners distributed by the Soviet authorities. The deciding factor for persecution was their independence. They were farmers who produced more than for their own needs.
In accordance with Stalin's directives, they were divided up into three categories, not according to possessions, but political orientation. The first category included all active opponents of the regime; the second included the less active; third category included all others. They were all subject to expropriation and deportation, but those of the first category were simply to be executed. Practically speaking, who belonged to which category depended on the decision of the organs of the OGPU, and the cadres who took part in the dekulakization actions. In this instance, Russia gave Ukraine some "brotherly assistance" and sent some 25,000 "official" cadres of the Party. In cooperation with local komnezams (committees of landless peasants), they often "outperformed" the norms of the plan to the point that many "sub-kulaks," were included in the first category. This was the fate of those who were seen to abet the kulaks in some fashion, or attempted to shelter them. They occasionally included the politically suspect, be they middle-income farmers or simple paupers.
Since it had been decided to liquidate the kulaks as a class, their status as class enemy was confirmed. Propaganda levelled a campaign of intense hatred against them. The press and other propaganda organs spared no black ink in their efforts to portray them as some sort of vampire. "The cursed kulak" was the usual epithet hurled at those destined for elimination. In 1930, dekulakization began, "according to plan ," with forced expropriations. The official Party history describes how this expropriation and material ruination of the kulaks was effected. After the financial came the physical. Shootings, arrests and deportations began. First to go were the men, followed by the women and children. They were taken north and transported like cattle in freight cars. Those who did not die on the way were left in the barren wastelands of the north and were instructed to set up "special work colonies." The figure arrived at by various researchers for the number of deportees from Ukraine ranges from half to two million. How many died during this operation was obviously not arrived at, but the many victims included, of course, children.
In his book Ave Diktator, Iu. Horlis-Hors'kyi writes: "During the winter of 1929-30 in Vologda, Arkhangelsk, Kotlas, Murmansk, Kem and in their peripheries, almost all children deported from Ukraine aged from 8 to 9 years old, died of cold and starvation ?' He goes on to write that "The total number of women and children reached two million four hundred thousand."
In January of 1933, in his address to the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU on the results of the first Five Year Plan, Stalin said:
"The Party has fought to the point that the kulaks as a class have been decimated, although not completely eradicated, and the peasantry has been freed from the kulak cabal and exploitation. The rule of the Soviets has been bolstered by a solid rural economic base, the base of collectivized agriculture."
This was said at a time when the famine in Ukraine had reached its worst extremes. The obvious inference in this speech is, that because the kulaks had not been completely killed off, this remained to be done. And thus, the killing proceeded. However, those being killed off at this point were no longer the kulaks, but simple peasants and a majority of collective farm workers.
Right alongside dekulakization came collectivization. Initially, a collective farm was seen only as a farmers' cooperative. It now became a landholding collective, that is, an actual state-run business. As long as creation of these collective farms proceeded according to the principle of voluntary membership, their number increased very slowly, and in 1928, constituted a very small percentage of the total number of farms.
In 1929, it was decided to speed the process and "in accordance with the advice of comrade Stalin;' wholesale collectivization began. In the ensuing months, millions of private farms were included in the collective farm system through various methods of coercion. Obviously, thus kind of haste not only created opposition among the peasantry, it also caused considerable losses in agricultural production. This forced the regime to slow down the pace of collectivization. The blame for excessive haste and for pressure exerted on the unwilling was placed squarely on the shoulders of the lower echelon, which, so to speak, had been "overly zealous?'
In March 1930, Stalin wrote an article, entitled Dizzy with Success, in which he underlined the importance of voluntary participation in collectives and called for a more gradual transition from farmers' collectives to full communal and collective farms. In April of that year, Stalin wrote another article, entitled "An answer to the comrades in collective farms," in which he again chided those who violated the "Leninist principle of voluntary participation". In addition, the Central Committee of the CPSU adopted a resolution concerning "The struggle against the warping of the Party line in the collective farm movement." This resolution demanded that forcible inclusion in collective farms be brought to a halt and that those individuals who wished to leave collective farms be allowed to do so.
Obviously, these pronouncements brought about a rapid exodus from the hastily assembled collective farms. It also brought collectivization to a standstill, and caused a fair degree of chaos in agricultural production. This convinced the regime to make another about-face and to get back on the old track. As a result, the break in collectivization lasted only a short while, but the confusion continued.
In late June 1930, the 16th Party Congress took place. According to Stalin, this Congress were down in history as the "congress of increased socialist advance on the entire front, the liquidation of kulaks as a class, and the institution of total collectivization." Thus one phase of collectivization came to an end, and the second began. In this second phase, there was no further mention of infringements against voluntary participation. Collectivization was brought into effect with crass coercion and outright participation of the organs of the OGPU, in direct contravention to various principles.
Dekulakization and collectivization were only indirectly related to the emergence of famine. The direct cause of the famine was the stealing of grain from the peasants who produced it. This robbery continued until it ate into the last stores of food. It bears mentioning, that famine struck those who produced the food, those who had the entire product of their labour confiscated. The urban population did not die of hunger.
This robbery was officially known as "grain consignment" (khlibozahotivlia). During various stages of Bolshevik rule it varied in magnitude and sported various names. During the revolution it had been known as prodrzv'orstka, then as prodnaloh and finally as khlibozahotivlia. The norms for these consignments were set in Moscow under the watchful eye of "the father of all workers."
In 1931 and 1932 production norms were set without regard to the actual conditions of agricultural production, and without regard to the chaos and losses caused by dekulakization and collectivization. They were set as if agriculture was proceeding normally. Conditions were such, that much of arable land lay fallow and often, grain would stand and dry out in the fields because there was no one to harvest it.
The memoirs of the Soviet author Vasili Grossman entitled Vs'o techot (Forever Flowing) and published outside the Soviet Union, include a character who reminisces about the past and says: "After the dekulakization, the seeded fields diminished as did the yield. But reports of new norms were issued as if life without kulaks was in full bloom." Later, the character says: And the village received news of the new consignment, one that you could not ful~l in ten years. In the village council, even those who never drank a drop of liquor now overdrank out of fear. Maybe Moscow staked its greatest hopes on Ukraine. But for Ukraine it also harboured the greatest malice. The word going around was quite simple -- if you didn't produce, you were a kulak they hadn't. killed off.
The rapid growth of this larceny began back in 1931. From a speech delivered in February 1933, by the general secretary of the Ukrainian CP, Stanislav Kossior, we learn that, in the four months of the main harvest in 1931, almost two and a half times as much grain was collected as had been for the harvest in 1930. As a result of this kind of "policy", a famine began in 1932. Regardless of this, the robbery did not cease.
The general quantity of the harvest and the relevant quotas for grain consignment were set in tree Bolshevik fashion. The numbers were set so high that they bore no relation to the reality of agricultural potential. And thus, although the harvest of 1932 in Ukraine was satisfactory, the general norm was set at 50% higher than the expected yield. And so, the norms for grain requisition were set according to this figure. Two thirds of the harvested grain was collected by the state organs themselves. The rest, which had to be set aside for seed left an amount insufficient to feed the hungry peasants. However, in order to ful~l the norms, the organs began stealing even the remaining seed grain, leaving the victims with literally nothing at all.
Obviously, this shock campaign was carried out under direct pressure from above. Already in early July 1932, Molotov and Kaganovich arrived in Kharkiv for a special conference. They informed the Ukrainian CP leadership that Moscow considered the fulfilment of the grain consignment plan to be of the gravest importance, and gave the necessary warnings. Thus, the final phase of the "socialist advance on the village" began. It was carried out under the watchful eye of the armies of the OGPU. Another 25,000 activists arrived from the brotherly RSFSR to assist the locals in this action, perhaps because Moscow could not entirely trust the latter.
And so it happened that bands of robbers, calling themselves "shock brigades?' went from village to village and raked out the last remnants of food the hungry peasants had hidden as if they were stolen goods. In his article, "Tridtsatiletie goloda" (The Thirtieth Anniversary of the Famine), published in Novoe Russkoe Slovo on 29 March 1963, Yuri Mishalov writes:
The grain consignment brigades went from house to house for four months looking for grain hidden by the collective farmers. With sharpened metal prods they searched the ground, the walls, the trunks. In small sacks and parcels they collected single kilograms of grain in the village square, then loaded up the wagons with all of the tidbits torn from the lips of the hungry and took it "by Red transport" to the state silos bursting with grain.
The reader will notice, that Mishalov speaks of collective farm members in this instance.
Throughout all of this, strict legality was observed. In the summer of 1932 the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of the People's Commissars of the USSR issued a proclamation on 7 August, under which everything on a collective farm was designated as socialist property, and theft of anything therefrom could be punished by "the highest measure of state punishment;' which included shooting. In order to ensure a full and practical enforcement of this law, surveillance towers were erected in the fields of collective farms whence armed guards made certain that no heedless "thieves" could make off with anything edible. However, driven to the edge, the people paid no heed; such "thieving" occurred. Then came the punishment foretold.
The directives from the centre were followed by those of the government of the Ukrainian SSR and of the Ukrainian CP. Such was the resolution of 20 November 1932, which ordered the cessation of distribution of rewards to collective farmers in the form of grain for the performance of workdays, until the grain consignment norms were met. A similar resolution of 6 December 1932, involved the "black slate;' according to which 86 grain producing districts in Ukraine were cited as districts that did not meet the norms of grain consignment. In order to make the position of the government quite clear, the introduction made reference to the necessity of such measures "in the face of the disgraceful disruption of the grain consignment campaign by counter-revolutionary elements." The punishment for these crimes was a whole series of repressive measures, which basically created a cordon of famine around these districts. In this same resolution it was ordered that "all supply of foodstuffs to this districts is to be halted; state and cooperative stores are to be closed and the goods from them to be shipped out. Trade, heretofore carried on by collective and private farms, in goods of general necessity is to be prohibited..." This, so to speak, dots the "I".
For a person accustomed to thinking in normal human terms, these "punitive ukases" will appear completely incomprehensible, for there was already a famine in the villages. These measures did not concern increasing the consignment of grain, but simply intensified the famine. They inflicted a punishment by hunger on the starving collective farmers. However, it is futile to look for explanations in the framework of some form of social or economic plan. This was a planned pogrom by famine.
At the outset of 1933, the inevitable came about -- famine permeated the countryside. Obviously, the norms for grain consignment for 1932 had not been met, because it was impossible to meet them under the prevailing conditions. Firstly, because they had been set inordinately high; secondly, because the disorder brought about by the campaigns of dekulakization and collectivization remained; and thirdly, because a starving collective farm worker is not a very good worker.
However, the "leader of the toilers" and his advisors acted as if they neither saw nor heard anything. In his speech at the Plenum of the CC of the CPSU, 11 January 1933, Stalin said:
Thus there was more grain produced in 1932 than in 1931. However, regardless of this fact, the collection of grain consignments encountered greater difficulties 1932 than in the previous year.
Kossior, appearing before the Plenum of the CC of the Ukrainian CP in February 1933, cried:
How are we to explain this incredible and unheard of fact in all of Ukrainian history -- a failure in delivery of a grain consignment? In recent years we had never reached such low levels in grain consignment.
There you have it. Famine raged in the countryside, chaos ruled agriculture, and the First Secretary of the Ukrainian CP was at a loss to explain it all.
And yet, a reason was found. "The wise Party" and its leadership found the necessary explanations and the culpable. The guilty, obviously, had to be "enemy counter-revolutionary elements" outside of the Party, and those who had managed to infiltrate it. This had already been discussed in the resolution of the CC Ukrainian CP of 20 November 1932. It had also been discussed in the resolutions of the CC CPSU of 14 December 1932, and of 24 January 1933, in which it was stated that "Petliurite and other bourgeois nationalistic elements" were involved. And so the next campaign was launched against "Petliurite and bourgeois nationalist elements." This time they were considered guilty of disrupting grain consignments.
The man sent to Ukraine to lead this campaign was Pavel Petrovich Postyshev, a proven Party man and a trusty of "the father of the toilers." Despite the fact that he was only given the posts of second secretary of the Ukrainian CP and secretary of the Kharkiv provincial commissariat, his powers were far-reaching. His special mission was to liquidate the threat of "bourgeois nationalism" engendered by the interval of "Ukrainianization," or national rebirth, that had taken place in the 1920s. Postyshev engaged himself in his task immediately after arriving in Ukraine with his staff of assistants. Under his direction, a full-scale purge of the Party apparat, administration, and collective farm system took place. Exhaustive details of the scale of these repressions have been provided by various researchers of this field. Suffice it to say that most of the membership of the basic cadres of the regime, the Ukrainian Communist Party, were purged, and two-thirds of the Ukrainian Komsomol w
Alongside the purges came arrests and executions. Particular pressure was focussed on the Minister of Education, Mykola Skrypnyk, whom Moscow considered to be the patron of the nationalist diversion. Removed from his post a month after the arrival of Postyshev and hounded continuously, he committed suicide in July 1933. In that same year, the famous writer Mykola Khvyl'ovyi, considered as one of the more striking figures of this brief period of renaissance, also committed suicide.
In his public appearances, Postyshev did not mince words: "Beat them down, this nationalist rabble who have grown so loose and insolent here, and have felt so good about themselves." The general secretary Kossior also did not relent. In his aforementioned speech of February 1933, he threatened:
Flush out from all collective farms, Machine and Tractor Stations (MTS), and zemorhany country political organs all kulak, Petliurite, Makhnovite and other counter-revolutionary elements...
Two years later, Postyshev would claim: "In 1933, we demolished the class enemy who attempted to exploit the collective farms for his anti-Soviet ends and to blow them up from within."
As an aside, both of them, Postyshev and Kossior met the same fate their victims did. After a few years, both of them were demoted and liquidated according to all of the practices of mob rule. Postyshev was transferred to a lesser post in the RSFSR in 1937 and then disappeared without a trace, while Kossior was executed in 1939 after he "confessed" of having spied for Poland.
The pogrom that passed over Ukraine under Postyshev had a twofold objective. The first was a pogrom of the upper echelons of society through various overt methods, and the second was the covert one, the pogrom of the lower echelon by famine in the countryside.
In the winter and spring of 1933, when the famine in Ukraine was reaching its severest extremes, the Party. aces remained mute about it. They were obviously maintaining the Party line, which still holds on this subject to this day. The lone exception was the speech delivered by Postyshev's predecessor, R. Terekhov, who dared raise the subject of the famine with Stalin. As a result, Stalin ridiculed him, then demoted him and had him sent into exile.
It was difficult not to notice the peasants who were starving to death. Everyone who lived or passed through Ukraine at the time noticed them. This includes those witnesses who had come from abroad. Quite a number of testimonies of eyewitnesses of this horror, both Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian, have been preserved. The following are but a few examples of the testimonies of non-Ukrainians.
In the aforementioned article by Iurii Mishalov in the Novoe Russkoe Slovo, we find:
Some travelled to border towns in Ukraine, and from there they walked some distance until they reached the RSFSR, where they could survive on potatoes. Those originally in the RSFSR travelled to get closer to Moscow and then, either on foot or by tram, made it into the city itself. Here, there lay piles of grain and bread, and of whatever sort you could wish for, obtainable without lining up for them. It was simply difficult to believe, amidst the wealth of Moscow, that somewhere entire families, homesteads and villages were dying of starvation. Hundreds and thousands of corpses began piling up in the cities and near railway lines.
In his autobiographical novel Smert' (Death) the Russian writer V. Tendriakov wrote:
In the Vokhrov district centre, in the large square near the station, the dekulakized peasants, run out of Ukraine, lay down and died. You would get used to seeing corpses there in the morning. The wagon would arrive, and Abram, a worker from the hospital stables, would be loading up the corpses. Not all of them died. Many of them wandered through the dusty streets, dragging their bloodless blue feet, swollen with dropsy and stared at every passerby with pleading eyes.
To the above it should be added that the peasants were run out of Ukraine by nothing other than the famine.
The Polish newspaper, Gwiazda Polarna published a memoir of Ludwika ed Genocide in Ukraine. The author concludes her memoir as follows:
I saw corpses that lay in the city streets. I saw women and children dying. I saw the famine that was killing the people like flies, in a country famous for the arability of its land; a country that had been the breadbasket of Europe. This tragedy of the Ukrainian people had been planned from above and had been carried out with precision. Will the guilty be punished? When?
An interesting commentary is provided by the English journalist Whiting Williams, whose report, entitled "My trip through a Russia devastated by famine;' was published in the journal Answers in 24 July 1934. He wrote in reference to the fall of 1933:
I saw with my own eyes in Soviet Ukraine, arable land, and field upon field of unharvested crops that had been left to rot. There were some districts in which you could travel for an entire day through a field of blackened wheat, and only find small oases of places where it had been harvested. This because of the great number of farmers who had either died of starvation or had been deported the previous year, as I was continuously told when I asked about the incredible waste.
To this might be added that workers and soldiers were sent to the countryside to harvest the crops, but they obviously could not cope with a harvest of such size.
A large number of similar testimonies have been preserved, and on the basis of these, one can begin to imagine the barbarity of murder on such a massive scale. The phenomenon of artificially induced famine is rare in the history of the human race. In ancient times, it was used in war, during sieges. But for this to be carried out in one's own country, against one's own population -- this had never happened before. The uniqueness of this phenomenon is the reason why many researchers have been unable to fully grasp it, and have offered various interpretations of it that do not always square with reality. Some researchers, unable to arrive at a convincing explanation, provide only conjecture.
There are many theories about the causes of the famine. The most widely accepted is the theory of opposition. That is, that the famine came as a result of repressions instituted by the authorities in response to peasant opposition to collectivization. In various publications and pronouncements, the fanatical and rabid opposition of the peasantry is dwelled upon. In 1932-33 there was no longer any fanatical opposition because there was nobody left to offer it. In 1932, and more so in 1933, collectivization had been virtually completed. Those who could have presented some opposition had been repressed and starved into submission. They were no longer capable of doing so.
Opposition, if there was any at the time, came against the stealing of the last stores and remnants of grain, not against collectivization. Resistance to collectivization had come earlier. Here and there it had become extreme, but for the most part it had remained passive. Obviously, no one was eager to hand over their property to an irresponsible collective headed by a pauper who had had little managerial experience. It is almost redundant to say that such opposition was futile in the face of the repression unleashed by the Soviet authorities.
The phenomenon of mass murder by famine, although not entirely unique in history, will lead some to wonder: on what values do the culture and civilization of the human race rest? When such events are examined on this level, questions inevitably arise that are impossible to answer. In terms of direct causation, one can say that the Ukrainian peasantry met the fate it did because it fell to the talons of a ruthless predator and had no one to defend it. To find an answer to the questions of how and why they found themselves in these talons, and how it was that they were defenceless and disarmed, one must look into history.
What is particularly strange is that this genocide was carried out on the territory of the formally sovereign Ukrainian SSR. Can one imagine such an occurrence in a truly sovereign state? Those who survived this pogrom by famine and ended up in the free world, consider it to be a matter of honour and conscience to speak of this famine and submit their testimony. They initiated the research which continues, and will continue, in order that the scars of those horrific years are not lost in our memories, and in order that our memories are not choked with weeds.
THE FAMINE: A Pogrom
of the Ukrainian Peasantry
of the Ukrainian Peasantry
F.P. Burtians'kyiFifty years ago, Ukraine survived a famine that was deliberately created by communist Moscow. This famine enveloped all of rural Ukraine and killed more than ten million people.
I am a witness of this horror, and I want to describe it as I saw it, survived it, and recount how I managed to escape death by a miracle.
My family lived in Selevyna, a village in the Odessa province. It consisted of about two hundred households and was considered prosperous. During the struggle for national liberation, during the rule of the Ukrainian People's Republic, my father was chosen the (assistant) vice county chief of Lovshyn. When Ukraine lost the war with the Russian communists, and the latter came to power, my father was arrested by the Cheka and summarily shot.
The new communist regime ushered in a period of robberies and the famine of 1921. Forty people died in that misfortune in our village.
The new regime also brought in new leaders for the village, headed by the communist Makovs'kyi. The new communist authorities began persecuting the wealthier peasants, giving them the shameful name, "kurkuli" or "kulaks." My entire family was categorized as "kulaks," and our family was considered an enemy of the communist authorities.
In 1928, the so-called collectivization began, the first phase of which was the establishment of the SOZ (Land Cultivation Collective). The population opposed these SOZ, but some of the poorest peasants and communist activist joined, apparently of their own free will. The communist authorities considered the peasants' hostility to the SOZ to be the result of the inimical activities of the kulaks. A campaign of cruel persecution was initiated, and our family was subjected to it. My mother died that year, and I was left completely orphaned. Local officials categorized me as a "batrak," or proletarian hireling.
In our village, there were no local communists at the time. However, there was one grand old farmer of middle income, Omelko Kovalenko. His son had left the village for Donhas two years back, and found work at the Rovenky mine. There, he joined the Communist Party and returned to our village when collectivization began. The district committee appointed him as the head of the village council. And thus it came about that this half-baked head of the council, Kyrylo Omel'kiv Kovalenko, included his own father on the list of individuals to be dekulakized. Thus, he served the Party faithfully. The Party, however, repaid him in 1930, by sentencing him to ten years of imprisonment for some misdemeanor. "To each hangman his due" as the people say, but I know nothing of his subsequent fate.
The years of 1929 and 1930 were marked by oppression and terror used by the Party and the government to force the peasants to join the collective farms. These were the years of dekulakization and the liquidation of kulaks as a class. I had already married and had joined the collective farm. However, the communists would not forget that my father had been executed by their Cheka, and persecuted me to the point that I decided to leave for Donbas. However, they took their revenge on my young wife and our infant. They stole all of our possessions and threw my wife and our five month old child out of our house. They forbade people to help them, saying: "let her suffer under the open sky until she brings her husband to us?' While they were robbing us of everything we had, they tore the shirt from my wife's back, then tore our five-month old son from her breast and threw him to the floor like a rag... From that day, our poor child began to ail, and he died at eleven months of age.
By the end of 1931, 68 families from our village had been dekulakized, and the rest had been herded into the collective farm. Dekulakization proceeded along the following lines: the district committee of the Communist Party and the district executive of the village council would draw up a list and designate those who were to be dekulakized and arrested; those who were to be deported out of the district or province; or those who were to be deported out of the republic, in other words, those to be sent to the far north, "the far reaches of the country of the Soviets?' All property of these unfortunate industrious farmers was stolen by the local communists and Komsomol members, who carried out these inhumane and horrible assignments. Of course, such things as the land, buildings, farm implements, and livestock were taken by the collective farms that had already been set up, and the grain was taken by the state.
Alongside the campaign of collectivization came the grain consignments. Peasants had to give their grain only to the state, and in quantities dictated by the state. Production quotas were higher for the wealthier peasants, and they sometimes were two or three times greater than the norm. This was called the "plan by estate," that is, the wealthier the estate, the greater the amount of grain it was asked to hand over. In this way, all grain was taken (ostensibly, bought) from the peasants, leaving them with nothing for either food or seed.
Special so-called grain consignment "staffs" were established by the local communists in each village. These staffs included local communist activists and Komsomol members, who called the peasants, who had not yet joined the collective farm, to appear, at all times of the day and night, before their committee, and demanded that these peasants meet the quotas of grain consignment.
The methods used at these sessions are difficult to imagine. During winter sessions, peasants were doused with water and then sent out into temperatures of twenty below zero and kept there until they froze over. The hapless peasant would then be hauled back into the staff room to face further tortures: fingers rammed into doorjambs, faces seared with oil lamps. This was all done under the supervision of one of the aforementioned 25,000, or some other dignitary of the district or province, Such as the Jew Oliforov an official of the OGPU. Honest farmers from our village, such as Musii Burkovs'kyi and Ivan Ishchenko died during the course of such tortures, may theirs be the Kingdom.
Those farmers who were subjected to the "plan by estate" endured other forms of punishment. The communists accused them of hiding grain by mixing it with chaff and straw, or by burial. In the course of searches for this imaginatively stowed grain, brigades of communists and Komsomol members would arrive with iron staves and pitchforks, and scatter the chaff lying in barns, prod the earth in the barns, tear up chimneys in houses, smash chests... Of course, they never found grain because there was none to find. Then a monetary fine would be imposed. This served as a punishment for the non-performance of the plan for grain consignment. The fine was always such that the farmer could never hope to pay it. Then all of the individual's property was seized and sold at an auction, ostensibly in order to pay the fine. The farmer and his family were simply thrown out of their house, or run out of the village.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its clergymen suffered just as much. There was a church in our village, and its prior was Father Petro Tkachenko. He was not only a sincerely religious man, but also a good-hearted spiritual guide. He owned his own plot of land in the neighbouring village and he cultivated it with the help of his wife and two children. He was arrested together with T. Zabiiaka, the principal of the school, and nobody ever found out what befell them.
The communists turned the church into a prison, where those destined for deportation to the distant Russian north were held in the dead of winter. After being held under guard by armed Komsomol members, all of the wretched prisoners, including children, women, aged, and the infirm, were led, like thieves, to the railway stations, herded onto freight cars and shipped off to the distant, northern, wild tundra and taiga. People were forbidden to approach prisoners with any manner of assistance, whether in clothes or food, nor were they allowed to bid farewell. Can one consider those who carried out these actions, those who abetted them with their "laws," human? No, they were not human, they were terrible beasts for whom no name has yet been devised.
By the end of 1931, our village had been completely despoiled by the authorities and had been forcibly impressed into the collective farm. 380 work-horses had been communized, and of these, 44 were still alive in 1932. The horses died of overwork and from their non-forage feed. They were only fed straw. Nevertheless, those who supervised these horses were severely punished for negligence and sabotage.
By 1932, virtually all peasants had been inducted into collective farms, and so the grain consignment plans were applied to the latter. In applying the plan to the collective farms, the government dictated that the state quotas were to be satisfied first, and then the needs of the individual collective and its workers dealt with. However, the grain consignment plan was so unrealistic that even entire collective farms were unable to meet them, let alone provide enough for the needs of its members. The cruelty of the Communist Party in its dealings with communized farmers offered no hope for compromise between the two parties. The defenceless collective farm workers were thrown to the mercy of fate, and were thus destined for famine. Nobody stood up for them and there were no laws that protected the collective farms from such robbery. The Party and the government were like bandits stealing not only grain, but also all food. As a result of this, people managed to find food during the summer, but by fall and early winter, the famine began in earnest. My God. What a terrifying word that is, and how much more of a terrifying sight.
My wife and I had already fled to Donbas to escape the famine. Here I found a job and received my food ration as a worker. These rations saved the three of us from a death by starvation. But not everyone survived: our infant son could not endure, and left us for a better world.
In the spring of 1933, my wife and I both worked in a mine and we both received food rations. I filed for leave from work, because I had decided to visit the village of my brothers and sisters, and to provide my in-laws with some assistance. While still on the train, I wondered at the fact that all of the windows were covered. Later, I found out that these were coverings put in place to prevent anyone from seeing what was going on outside. When I arrived at Zinovievsk (now Kirovohrad) I found a real hell. The station was empty, and all around swollen, starving people begged everyone who had arrived for but one crust of bread. The dead lay in the street -- they were only taken away at night. Those who were still moving and those who were already dead, were all village people, I could tell by their clothing.
As I passed through the city, I noticed the building of the local government administration. There was a Torgsin (Soviet-Foreign Trade) shop on the first floor. I steeled my courage and dared to look inside. Everything you could desire was in that store, but only for gold or silver. This was ostensibly free trade, and yet all communists, higher officials and OGPU operatives benefited from outfitters not open to the public called "zakritie raspredy" (closed outlets).
I went to a bazaar that was located near an alcohol distillery and saw a terrible sight. On one side of the plant, waste and still mash were pouring into the Inhul river. People were falling into this waste, drinking it, and dying slowly. No one made any effort to prevent them from doing this; no one tried saving their lives. On the plant grounds, cisterns full of clean mash stood under armed police guard -- intended for feeding pigs and other livestock.
In the bazaar, it was possible to buy bread, but a half kilo piece cost forty to fifty karbovantsi.
I hurried on my way to the village, and arrived in the evening. Here I had spent my childhood and my tempestuous youth, but I could not recognize the place. It was all in gloom; everything was dead; no dogs barked, no birds chirped, no children shouted. I shuffled through the weed-covered streets until I reached my sister Onila's house. The yard was overgrown with briars, and I was afraid to go into the house: was anyone alive in there? Both my sister and her husband were in fact alive, but they were both emaciated by hunger. They told me what was happening in the village, and listed off the people who had already died of hunger. Only those who managed to com~ to work in the collective farm were surviving, because they could eat in the mess hall, as they did.
I stayed with my sister overnight and then moved on to Reimentarivka where my in-laws lived. On the way, I passed through the Rozpashka farm. It stood empty. The once luxurious orchards were reduced to stumps overgrown with nettles and brambles, and collapsed houses seemed to stare up at the sky with their crumbling chimneys. People from Redchyna and Zashchyta told me that some of the villagers had been dekulakized and deported somewhere, and those who remained had died of starvation. The last residents of the farm, the father and his two sons, had been imprisoned, apparently for cannibalism.
When I reached Reimentarivka, I went to the village council building to register my arrival. The head of council was a relative of my wife's, Ivan Hudzenko. He related the events of the recent past in the village to me, and said that seven hundred people had perished of hunger.
On my way back to Donbas, I stopped in on my sister once again. She told me that in Selevyna over three hundred people had died of hunger. It was only June at the time, two months of waiting until the next harvest.
I relate these terrible events to the Canadian people, because they took us in, exhausted and beaten though we were, to live in this God-given Canadian land. I would like this article to be a warning to its good-hearted people about the threat of the Russian communists propaganda that carries the poison of famine and death. We are lucky to be living out our lives in a democratic Canada, where glorious future for our children is secure.
Let this memoir shine like an everlasting, unquenchable candle among free Christian people, and let the victims of the famine be forever remembered.
The Secrets of the Famine
(Where the NKVD - OGPU - Buried Thousands of Bodies)
Vasyl ZaiikaDuring the tragic years of the famine orchestrated by Moscow, I worked in the Donbas region in Mine 4-6 Maksymivka, as a coal quality inspector. My responsibility was to take samples of coal as it was loaded onto freight cars, and send these samples to the laboratory for testing. I then took the results of these tests to the chief inspection bureau.
In terms of work-time, my job was not regulated by norms, because the railyards supplied freight cars both day and night, and I had to appear at the time they arrived, whatever the time of day. The main street in Kadiivka, a town that I walked through each day, was Torhova street. Virtually all of the administrative and commercial buildings were located on this street.. There were various shops, a factory kitchen, a cafeteria for the workers of the "Illich" mine, a restaurant, and, at one end of the street, a bazaar that everyone called the "tolkuchka." During the spring of 1933, famine was raging in the countryside. Peasants were trying to save themselves by escaping to the cities and towns in droves, because there at least some food was being issued by ration card. However, most of the peasants got neither jobs nor food and died in the street.
The chief inspection bureau was located behind a school park across from Torhova street. Thus, everyday I walked along it and saw hundreds of people, emaciated by hunger, as they lolled all swollen on the sidewalks, and saw the dead and dying among them.
One night in May 1933, I was walking to the bureau on business and witnessed how drunken policemen or NKVD (OGPU) operatives, aided by some criminal elements (who always seemed to hang around the police), loaded the dead and half-dead onto trucks. The criminals, who were also drunk, paired up, took the bodies by the legs and arms and then threw them onto the trucks as if they were firewood. They always did this at night, in order that local residents not know where the bodies were taken or what was done with them. I too wondered about these secret burials many a time.
Once, also in May 1933, a messenger from the mine came to me at around one or two o'clock in the morning. He was a boy of about sixteen or seventeen, and he told me that the coal was being loaded at the mine. I dressed quickly and we set out toward it. In order to get there more quickly, we did not pass through the town, but cut across a field behind, following a path that led from the Parkom mine, past the no. 31 mine to the Maksymivs'ki mines. There were a number of auxiliary mineshaft exits along the way that were used for ventilation and as emergency outlets in case of collapse of one of the tunnels. These exits, or "shufry" as they were called, were excavated about two hundred to three hundred metres away from the main shaft, and when the coal in the mine was exhausted they were fenced off and then covered over.
The path we followed wound about eight to twelve metres past one of these "shufry" that had fallen into disuse. As we drew nearer to it, we saw a truck pull up. Some NKVD (OGPU) men got out, turned off the light in the truck, rolled back the fences around the exits and then the criminals began to throw the corpses and the dying into the shafts. We could hear the groans and cries of the unfortunate victims of this wantonness.
We could see the cargo of this "shipment" with complete clarity because the moon came out from behind a bank of clouds and lit up the sight of this unspeakable crime. It was obvious that the NKVD (OGPU) had given the order to use this place as a burial ground: the police would not have dared. When we got to about thirty or forty metres away from the "shufr" a voice from the truck stopped us: "Halt Who goes there?"
We stopped and a drunken NKVD (OGPU) man came up to us. We could now see his uniform. He drew his gun and said: "Who are you and what are you doing walking around here so late?" I had my certificate of place of work, so I showed it to him, explaining that I was on my way there, and that the boy was a messenger who was sent to me. I also said that we had taken a short cut to the mine to get there more quickly.
"What did you see or hear?" he asked sternly. I played stupid and replied: "We met nobody on the way, and we saw nothing and we heard nothing." All the while, two more NKVD (OGPU) men got off the truck and one of them said: "Maybe you want to go down there too?" and pointed to the "shufr." "I've already been in there;' I replied, "I worked in the mine for a couple of years, and now I've got another job."
The NVKD (OGPU) men said nothing in return and turned back to the truck, speaking in Russian, and left two of the criminals standing beside us like guards. I recognized one of them -- he was a pickpocket everyone called "Lafa." The NKVD (OGPU) men came back up to us and told us to get on our way to work. Then one of them, apparently the chief, said: "If you breathe a word of this anywhere, one word, about this night, then we'll see that you come back here."
We left, and the two of us promised each other not to tell anyone, any time, not a word. However, rumours were already circulating among the people, because many had seen bodies of those who had died in the famine buried in these "shufry." Mainly the no. 5 Semenivka shaft and the no. 8 Maksymivka shaft were used for this. Later all shafts so used were filled in and razed to the ground. Then they were divided into lots and sold to workers as gardens.
Thus the Muscovite-Bolshevik
Findings of the Commission on the Ukraine Famine
Source: U. S. Commission on the Ukraine Famine, Report to Congress. Adopted by the Commission, April 19, 1988. Submitted to Congress April 22. 1988. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1988. 524
Based on testimony heard and staff research, the Commission on the Ukraine Famine makes the following findings:
- There is no doubt that large numbers of inhabitants of the Ukrainian SSR and the North Caucasus Territory starved to death in a man-made famine in 1932-1933, caused by the seizure of the 1932 crop by Soviet authorities.
- The victims of the Ukrainian Famine numbered in the millions.
- Official Soviet allegations of "kulak sabotage," upon which all "difficulties" were blamed during the Famine, are false.
- The Famine was not, as is often alleged, related to drought.
- In 1931-1932, the official Soviet response to a drought-induced grain shortage outside Ukraine was to send aid to the areas affected and to make a series of concessions to the peasantry.
- In mid-1932, following complaints by officials in the Ukrainian SSR that excessive grain procurements had led to localized outbreaks of famine, Moscow reversed course and took an increasingly hard line toward the peasantry.
- The inability of Soviet authorities in Ukraine to meet the grain procurements quota forced them to introduce increasingly severe measures to extract the maximum quantity of grain from the peasants.
- In the Fall of 1932 Stalin used the resulting "procurements crisis" in Ukraine as an excuse to tighten his control in Ukraine and to intensify grain seizures further.
- The Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933 was caused by the maximum extraction of agricultural produce from the rural population.
- Officials in charge of grain seizures also lived in fear of punishment.
- Stalin knew that people were starving to death in Ukraine by late 1932.
- In January 1933, Stalin used the "laxity" of the Ukrainian authorities in seizing grain to strengthen further his control over the Communist Party of Ukraine and mandated actions which worsened the situation and maximized the loss of life.
- Postyshev had a dual mandate from Moscow: to intensify the grain seizures (and therefore the Famine) in Ukraine and to eliminate such modest national self-assertion as Ukrainians had hitherto been allowed by the USSR.
- While famine also took place during the 1932-1933 agricultural year in the Volga Basin and the North Caucasus Territory as a whole, the invasiveness of Stalin's interventions of both the Fall of 1932 and January 1933 in Ukraine are parallelled only in the ethnically Ukrainian Kuban region of the North Caucasus.
- Attempts were made to prevent the starving from travelling to areas where food was more available.
- Joseph Stalin and those around him committed genocide against Ukrainians in 1932-1933.
- The American government had ample and timely information about the Famine but failed to take any steps which might have ameliorated the situation. Instead, the Administration extended diplomatic recognition to the Soviet government in November 1933, immediately after the Famine.
- During the Famine certain members of the American press corps cooperated with the Soviet government to deny the existence of the Ukrainian Famine.
- Recently, scholarship in both the West and, to a lesser extent, the Soviet Union has made substantial progress in dealing with the Famine. Although official Soviet historians and spokesmen have never given a fully accurate or adequate account, significant progress has been made in recent months.