WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
By Stanislav KULCHYTSKY, Ph.D. (History)
1. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
Question at Issue
a) Question at Issue
b) Earliest Attempts to equate the Holodomor with Genocide
c) Politicization of the Holodomor Issue
2. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
Comprehending the Holodomor
a) Silent Terror
b) The End of Silence
c) Efforts of the Ukrainian Diaspora
3. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
Comprehending the Holodomor. The position of soviet historians
4. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
Comprehending the Holodomor. The position of Soviet historians
a) A Confict within a Generation
b) Discussions with Russian Scholars
c) Position of Western Researchers
d) Peering into the Abyss
5. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
The ideological dimension of the genocide
a) On the Nature of Soviet Power
b) Slogans of the Russian Revolution
c) "Getting Rid of the Peasants"
6. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
Socioeconomic and national dimensions of the genocide
a) The Purpose of Socioeconomic Transformations
b) Elimination of Wealthy Kurkul Peasants as a Class
c) "Dizzy with Success"
d) Crisis in the Collective Farm System
e) Stalin's Zeal
f) Nationality or Citizenship?
g) The Kremlin and Ukrainian Citizens
h) How it Happened
1. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
Question at Issue
a) Question at Issue
b) Earliest Attempts to equate the Holodomor with Genocide
c) Politicization of the Holodomor Issue
This article could have a different title, one that reflects the scholarly, political, and legal dimension: "The Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine as genocide."
Historians must provide scholarly evidence, while legal experts and government officials must come to the legal and political conclusion that the Holodomor was an act of genocide.
We must all ensure that the international community officially recognizes the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 as an act that falls under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
It is our moral duty to the millions of our compatriots who perished as a result of terror by famine - they perished not as a result of famine but terror by famine.
On Oct. 12, 2005, the Gramsci Institute in Rome hosted a scholarly seminar entitled "Stalin, the Soviet Famine of 1931-33, and the Ukrainian Holodomor." The institute's director, Professor Silvio Pons, and Professor Andrea Graziosi, dean of the University of Naples, proposed only one question for discussion by Italian scholars specializing in Russian and Ukrainian studies.
How is the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33 different from the famine that was caused by the grain procurement campaign after the 1931 harvest, which encompassed all of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, and the famine that was caused by the grain procurement campaign after the 1932 harvest in all the Soviet republics except Ukraine?
This wording of the question was meant to determine whether there are convincing scholarly arguments to justify studying the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation.
Few non-Italian scholars attended the seminar: I represented Ukraine and Oleg Khlevniuk represented Russia. Oleg Khlevniuk is better known in the West than in Russia or Ukraine, because his major monographs have been published only in English.
Dr. Khlevniuk works at the State Archives of the Russian Federation and is rightly considered the preeminent authority on sources dealing with the Stalinist period of Soviet history.
We must thank those Western historians who have proven so responsive to a problem that concerns only us. On Nov. 10, 2003, a joint statement from 36 nations was published in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33, which was officially adopted during the 58th session of the UN General Assembly.
This statement does not contain a definition of this Ukrainian tragedy as an act of genocide, even though the wording of the draft statement included the word "genocide." On Nov. 25, 2004, "The Day" published an interview with Ukraine's permanent UN representative, Valeriy Kuchynsky, who described how this document was drafted.
But it does not provide an answer to the question, why so many diplomats made it clear to their Ukrainian colleagues that they were not ready to include the word "genocide" in their statement.
The answer was revealed only during the recent seminar at the Gramsci Institute. It turns out that Ukrainian diplomats failed to prove to the Third Committee of the General Assembly that the Soviet regime did exterminate the Ukrainians. The documents they presented only proved that famine claimed millions of lives in Ukraine in 1932-33. But this was known even earlier.
According to Khlevniuk's authoritative statement, Soviet archival documents do not contain a straight answer to the question of why millions of Ukrainian peasants were exterminated. I said that we have exhaustive documentary evidence to answer the question of HOW the peasants were exterminated, but we do not have documents that state WHY they were exterminated.
The perpetrators of the Kremlin's horrible crime required instructions, which were later stored in the archives. Yet Stalin was not obliged to report to anyone about WHY he had used instituted terror by famine, a term first proposed by the British scholar Robert Conquest.
A convincing answer to the question of the motives behind this crime may be found only through a comprehensive analysis of many documents. In 2005 "Ukrainskyi Istorychnyi Zhurnal" [Ukrainian Historical Journal] carried articles by Andrea Graziosi and Gerhard Simon, the latter a professor at the University of Kbln and arguably one of the best Western experts on the nationalities policy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
These articles analyze Stalin's terror by famine. Based on the conclusions of my Western and Ukrainian colleagues and drawing on my 20 years of experience researching the problem of the Ukrainian Holodomor, I will attempt to answer the question: why did Stalin exterminate the Ukrainians?
Substantiating this answer will require a separate monograph that has yet to be written. But I am hastening to publish a newspaper version of this book.
"The Day" publishes in three languages and has an online version, which means that it has a broad readership among the general public.
This is especially important because the Holodomor is, at the very least, a historical problem. First and foremost, it is a deep and unhealed wound on the body of the Ukrainian nation. This wound will not heal unless we understand what we were like before the Holodomor and what became of us after it.
My opening remarks are addressed to the government. I cannot say that the Ukrainian Institute of History is excluded from the process of making decisions relating to Holodomor issues, which take the form of presidential decrees. Decision makers consult the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, but the scholarly community's recommendations are not always taken into account.
As a case in point, with his decree of July 11, 2005, the Ukrainian president ordered the Cabinet of Ministers a bill to parliament by Nov. 1 "On the political and legal assessment of holodomors in the history of the Ukrainian people."
However, I am not familiar with the text of this bill. Moreover, I am certain that in the Ukrainian nation's history there was only one Holodomor, which is enough for all time.
This decree instructs the government to "resolve the question of creating" the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (UINM) before the Day to Commemorate the Victims of the Holodomor and Political Repression, which will be observed this year on Nov. 26 .
An institution of this kind is crucial, as it would convey the knowledge collected by academics and scholars to society. However, the presidential decree does not propose a mechanism for creating the UINM.
As evidenced by the Israeli and Polish experiences of creating similar institutions, Ukraine will face major challenges relating to the funding and staffing of the institute, defining its functions and drafting laws to incorporate this institution into the existing system of departments and organizations.
It is inexpedient to restrict the efforts to create the UINM to a single item in the presidential decree, which merely declares intent to create it.
The presidential secretariat is already making plans to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor in 2008. I hope that such steps will put an end to the old practice whereby the government raises the subject of the Holodomor only on the eve of major anniversaries. Creating an Institute of National Memory is the first step to making this work systematic and effective.
It is also important to convince the Ukrainian public and the international community that the Holodomor of 1932-33 was no accidental phenomenon of unknown origin, but the result of terror by famine, i.e., genocide, which was applied by the totalitarian government.
In equating the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33 with genocide, scholars primarily face terminological difficulties, which is why the analysis of this problem must begin with terminology.
The term genocide (the killing of a nation) was coined by the Polish lawyer Rafael Lemkin, who first used it in his book, "Axis Rulers in Occupied Europe," published in 1944. Lemkin used this word to describe the total extermination of Jews and Gypsies on Nazi-controlled territories.
With this understanding of the term genocide, the UN General Assembly stated in its Dec. 11, 1946, resolution: "...genocide is a crime under international law which the civilized world condemns, and for the commission of which principals and accomplices - whether private individuals, public officials, or statesmen, and whether the crime is committed on religious, racial, political, or any other grounds - are punishable."
Since history has known many cases of mass extermination of human beings, and in view of the continuing threat of their recurrence, the UN decided it was necessary to introduce the notion of genocide into international law.
This laid the legal groundwork for establishing international cooperation to combat such crimes, including those committed by individuals constitutionally vested with supreme power.
On Dec. 9, 1948, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Article I of the convention reads: "The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish."
Article II contains a definition of genocide: "[G]enocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
The convention was adopted by 56 attending members of the UN General Assembly and opened for signature, ratification, and accession. It became effective as of Jan. 12, 1951, i.e., on the 90th day after 20 instruments of accession or ratification were deposited with the UN Secretary General.
Since that time this convention has been an instrument for preventing genocide. Its effectiveness increased significantly after the end of the Cold War.
The legal norms formulated in this document did not fully guarantee that all cases of mass extermination of human beings would be identified as genocide.
Only the Holocaust of World War II fully corresponded to them: the Nazis either exterminated Jews wherever and whenever they found them, or placed them in conditions that were physically unsuitable for life. In effect, the convention was developed when the memories of the Holocaust were still fresh.
There was another reason why cases of mass extermination that occurred before the Holocaust were not always identified as genocide. Legal experts were unwilling to make exceptions to the basic principle of jurisprudence, i.e., that the law has no retroactive effect.
The famine of 1932-33 was a forbidden topic in the USSR. At the 20th party congress of the CPSU in 1956 party leaders finally dared to speak out about the Stalinist terror that primarily targeted the Soviet-party nomenklatura and intelligentsia.
However, they concealed the terror by famine in collectivized villages until the last possible moment. The Stalinist taboo on mentioning the famine was broken only after the Ukrainian diaspora succeeded in persuading the US Congress to create a temporary commission to investigate the events of 1932-33 in Ukraine.
Led by the late James Mace, the congressional commission had no access to Soviet archives. It collected most of its information from emigres who had survived collectivization and famine and ended up in North America after the Second World War.
Of course, Holodomor survivors could not figure out the crafty stratagems of Stalin's policies, but their victim's instinct told them that the Soviet government meant to physically destroy them. Based on hundreds of eyewitness accounts, James Mace's commission recreated the real picture of those events and presented a final report to the US Congress in April 1988.
Interviews conducted in Ukraine since 1988 have confirmed the tendency recorded by James Mace: recalling events from half a century earlier, Holodomor survivors sensed the authorities' intent to punish "saboteurs" of the grain procurement campaign by starving them to death. Individual documents that have been unintentionally preserved in archives confirm that this is what famine victims felt.
An anonymous letter sent from Poltava in August 1933 to the editorial offices of the newspaper "Komunist," which was written by an individual with a higher education, judging by the content and style, even claimed to be a summary of Stalin's national policy: "The physical extermination of the Ukrainian nation and the exhaustion of its material and spiritual resources are [some] of the most important points in the criminal agenda of Bolshevik centralism."
The congressional commission called the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine an act of genocide. Yet this conclusion was not based on documents but on subjective judgments of Holodomor survivors. Moreover, the purpose of the commission was to establish facts (which it did, brilliantly) but not to provide a legal assessment of them. Therefore, after the commission completed its work, Ukrainian organizations in North America decided to seek legal help.
The World Congress of Free Ukrainians initiated the creation of the International Commission of Inquiry Into the 1932-33 Famine in Ukraine, presided over by Professor Jacob Sundberg. Representatives of the Ukrainian Diaspora in North America appealed to the most outstanding jurists, who because of their high public and scholarly status had sufficient credibility with the international community.
In November 1989 Sundberg's commission published its verdict, naming excessive grain procurements as the immediate cause of mass famine in Ukraine, and identifying its preconditions as forced collectivization, dispossession of wealthy kurkul peasants, and the central government's desire to curb "traditional Ukrainian nationalism."
Thus, the jurists not only recognized in the Holodomor the Kremlin's desire to impose an alien lifestyle on the Ukrainian peasants, they also identified a national component in this act of terror. The Ukrainian Holodomor was therefore identified as genocide.
Sundberg's commission determined that the principle of the non- retroactive nature of laws applies only formally to the UN Convention of Dec. 9, 1948.
They pointed out that this principle applies to criminal law, whereas the Convention is outside of its boundaries because it does not pass verdicts. The Convention only encourages nations to cooperate in preventing and condemning genocide.
Addressing those who opposed the identification of the Holodomor with the crime of genocide only because the term "genocide" did not exist before WWII, the International Commission of Inquiry asked: was it possible before the war to freely destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group?
The answer is obvious. Relying on the above arguments, the commission stated in its final report: "Commission feels justified in maintaining that if genocide of the Ukrainian people occurred, it was contrary to the provisions of the international law then in force" [This sentence was misquoted in the Ukrainian original, which omitted the word "if" - Ed.]
This verdict was based on the facts available to the commission. It stated, however, that the inquiry into the Holodomor must continue to document with additional facts the conclusion that it was an act of genocide, i.e., to reinforce its source base.
We all remember how important the question of the 1932-1933 famine was in the late 1980s-early 1990s: it helped people break old stereotypes and reevaluate Soviet history. This subject became a lethal weapon in the hands of those who had fought for the republic's independence. After all, the death sentences for millions of Ukrainian citizens had come from outside Ukraine.
It seemed that after independence the question of the Holodomor would become the exclusive province of historians. Indeed, historians started to explore it in a systematic and comprehensive manner. But it also became a popular issue in the political arena.
Political opponents extracted convenient facts from scholarly publications on the famine of 1932-1933, while ignoring their overall significance. None of them managed to prove anything to their opponents because nobody was interested in ascertaining the truth. It was easy to predict the outcome of these struggles between politicians and scholars of various stripes.
While the former had unlimited access to media outlets, thereby shaping the public opinion, the latters' voices did not reach society and died away in the meager press runs of books and brochures.
Let us listen closely to the words of Levko Lukyanenko, the long-time Soviet political prisoner, Ukrainian parliamentarian, and chairman of an association of Holodomor researchers.
Addressing a Nov. 15, 2002, scholarly conference, he said: "The members of the Association of Researchers of the Holodomors in Ukraine and other scholars have amassed a large number of documents that prove that Moscow deliberately planned and carried out the Holodomor in Ukraine in order to curb the national-liberation movement, decrease the number of Ukrainians, and dilute the Ukrainian ethnos (nation) with Muscovites, thus preventing Ukrainians from struggling to get out from under Moscow's control in the future."
It would seem that these words echo the above-mentioned anonymous letter to the editors of Komunist, which we can now support with documentary evidence. However, there is a substantive difference between them. The anonymous author of the 1933 letter was justified in faulting the Bolshevik party leadership for the Ukrainian Holodomor.
Meanwhile, with all the documents uncovered by contemporary historians at his disposal, Lukyanenko unjustifiably expands the Bolshevik-dominated Kremlin to the size of Moscow, while referring to the Russian people pejoratively as "Muscovites."
The "colonization" by representatives of the dominant Soviet nation of the national republics (especially the Baltic nations and Ukraine) was not Stalin's idea alone. This policy was in fact designed to stem national liberation movements.
However, these Russian resettlers (military personnel, intellectuals from the technical and humanities spheres, and skilled workers) had no idea of the Kremlin's strategic plans, nor did Russified Ukrainians, who had experienced assimilation, voluntary or otherwise, throughout the centuries, not just decades.
How could the millions of so-called "Muscovites" who currently reside in Ukraine respond to the Holodomor according to Lukyanenko's interpretation?
Because of the irresponsible actions by individuals whose primary concern was their own political career, our tragic past started to divide Ukraine instead of consolidating its citizens. We felt this during the presidential elections of 2004.
The opposing side also fueled interethnic tensions. The leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Petro Symonenko, spoke during the Feb. 12, 2003, parliamentary hearings in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor. He could no longer deny the fact that there was a famine in 1932-1933, because Volodymyr Shcherbytsky had confirmed it in 1987.
However, much like his predecessors, Symonenko blamed the famine on drought and misrepresentations of grain procurements in raions and oblasts. According to Symonenko, the Politburo of the CPSU's Central Committee condemned the misrepresentations and demanded criminal prosecution of those responsible.
Such blatant lies could be uttered before the archives were opened during Gorbachev's perestroika. On the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor such statements were shameless blasphemy.
A natural question arises: Why do representatives of the extreme right- and left-wing political forces politicize the Holodomor issue by exchanging contradictory statements without believing one bit in them or caring about establishing the truth?
This question is easy to answer because the same fate has befallen other historical problems. No one is crossing swords over the revolution of 1905-1907, and its centennial is passing completely unnoticed.
The situation with the Holodomor or the problem of the OUN and UPA are different because they are part of the life experiences of the current generation of Ukrainian citizens, who were participants in those events, or the children of these people.
People tend to have differing opinions on events in the not so distant past, whereas all politicians try to please the public. Therefore, let us have a look at the people.
Three generations are represented in our society: grandfathers and grandmothers, and their children and grandchildren. Living at the same time with them is a small number of representatives of adjacent generations, i.e., great- grandparents and great-grandchildren. Let us analyze the life experience of each generation.
I will begin with grandparents born before 1920 inclusive. This is the generation of the 20th century, which experienced countless disasters and a great deal of suffering. This generation survived the Great War of 1914-1918, the Civil War and interethnic wars after the fall of the Russian Empire, the famine of 1921-1923, industrialization, collectivization, and the Holodomor of 1932-1933, the Great Terror of 1937-1938, World War II of 1939-1945, postwar destruction, including the famine of 1946-1947.
I am quite familiar with this generation thanks to my profession and as a result of personal communication with these people. I still communicate with the youngest representatives of this generation. My exchanges have been especially fruitful with Vasyl Kuk, the last UPA army commander; Bohdan Osadchuk, the Berlin-based professor and the oldest active journalist in Europe; and Petro Tronko, the former deputy prime minister for humanitarian policy of the Ukrainian SSR, who occupied his ministerial seat for 17 years.
With the exception of those who lived outside the Soviet Union's borders until 1939 and 1940, the representatives of this generation were the "builders of socialism." The Bolsheviks, whom Lenin called "a drop in the people's ocean," built their "commune state," as defined by Lenin, together with the people.
The concerted action of the party and the people was achieved with the help of two slogans: "Those who are not with us are against us!" and "Unless the enemy surrenders, he will be destroyed!"
Mass repressions were the main method of building a "commune state." They continued even after this state was built and had passed a test of strength during the Soviet-German war, and until the death of Joseph Stalin.
Once the repressions had almost wiped out society's political activity, the Kremlin chiefs switched to other methods of administration: propaganda and indoctrination.
I belong to the generation of those born between 1921 and 1950. These people were raised in the Soviet school and were not affected by the mass repressions. The older representatives of this generation are the veterans of WWII, who now rightfully enjoy society's respect.
As a rule, how they picture the past differs from the way subsequent generations view it. And this is not only due to their understandable idealization of their youth.
When the hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, who were "rehabilitated" by Stalin's successors, returned to their homes from the GULAG, Lidiya Chukovska made her famous declaration: "Two Russias have encountered each other: the one that did time, and the one that put the former behind bars."
However, there was also a third Russia, much like a third Ukraine, Kazakhstan, etc., which did not take part in the repressions and was not subjected to them. The representatives of my generation formed the largest percentage of these people. After returning from the GULAG, our fathers kept silent, as a rule.
Perhaps they did so not only because upon their release they had signed a "pledge not to disclose information." Perhaps they did not want to complicate the lives of their children, who out of ignorance could start saying bad things about the Soviet government.
Finally, they feared for their own lives, because in that country parents were responsible for children and vice versa.
Such responsibility was viewed as the norm. We lived in a kingdom of crooked mirrors, but didn't realize it. There was no longer any need to deport us, because we respected or even loved the Soviet government. We knew the things we could discuss in public, and it seemed normal that there were things that were best kept private.
A case in point is the famine of 1932- 1933. Young and old knew that it had occurred, but we also knew that it should not be discussed - period. My foreign colleagues who study the Holodomor and whose numbers are growing do not understand this.
They try to find explanations in our national character or talk about how the KGB intimidated the population. To fully understand the Soviet people's behavior and way of thinking, they should have been born and raised in this country.
Soviet citizens' dependence on the government was not just reinforced and not even so much by standard repressions, such as extermination or imprisonment. The government was the universal employer and could fire anyone, if necessary. Almost everyone who "misbehaved" could end up like a beached fish.
Notably, the chekist selectors spent a decade imprisoning or exterminating the most active part of the population. Society was becoming conformist for two main reasons: the percentage of dissenters was progressively declining, while the percentage of people raised in the Soviet school was increasing as part of a natural process.
Indoctrination and propaganda proved successful after the period of mass repressions because the Soviet system showed the people many advantages compared to the pre-revolutionary system.
The system enslaved the person politically, but ensured a minimum level of its material and cultural welfare, whether this person wanted it or not. In the Soviet period alcoholics underwent "reeducation" in therapeutic sanatoriums, and there were almost no homeless persons.
What anticommunists cannot understand is that the Soviet government's care for the people was not dictated by moral duty, but was a precondition of its existence. In order to emerge, the communist system had to destroy private enterprise in all its forms, i.e., take over the job of feeding, healing, educating, and entertaining the entire population.
The commune state was so drastically different from states in which citizens had political freedom that it should be viewed as a civilizationally different phenomenon. This state did not even hide the lack of political and national freedom in the general accepted sense.
At the same time, it labeled these freedoms "bourgeois democracy" and "bourgeois nationalism," while espousing the "loftier" values of "socialist democracy" and "socialist internationalism."
Communism also demonstrated its "significant accomplishments" on the republican level. It gave Ukraine internationally recognized Soviet statehood (a founding member of the UN!), increased its pre-revolutionary industrial capacity many times over, turned it into a culturally developed republic, and fulfilled the dream of many generations of Ukrainians: the reunification of ethnic lands.
It is extremely difficult to convince the many representatives of my generation that the civilization in which they spent the better part of their lives was built on the blood and bones of the previous generation. Many of my peers a priori refuse to believe that the Soviet government could deliberately exterminate people.
There are many who still believe that "enemies of the people" really existed. A post- genocidal society, as defined by James Mace, is a sick society.
People born between 1950 and 1980 belong to the third generation of Ukrainian citizens. Long ago this generation outnumbered all the other generations, and after the Orange Revolution its representatives ousted almost all of their parents from managing the affairs of state and society.
This generation, and the preceding generation, was not separated by a barrier in the form of a pledge not to disclose information. This is why few of its representatives share their parents' stereotypes and biases, especially since they live in an age of transformations, i.e., a time when the established underpinnings of life become unstable.
When the commune state collapsed and vanished as a result of growing external and internal pressures, it was replaced not by a Western-style social state but primitive capitalism. Quite naturally, many representatives of the third generation, much like their parents, are nostalgic for the Soviet past.
Citizens find it hard to take for granted historians' assertions to the effect that the Soviet system under Lenin and Stalin could be built only with steel and blood-plenty of blood.
We must bear all this in mind when we want to convince the public that terror by famine was a tool of "Soviet construction" on par with other forms of terror. We should not fault our parliament for not having shown any interest in the Holodomor until 2002.
Parliament is the mirror image of society. We should be happy with what has already been accomplished. At a special session on May 14, 2003, the Ukrainian parliament adopted an Address to the Ukrainian People in Connection with the Famine of 1932- 33.
It defined the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. With 410 parliamentarians present, the document was passed by a mere 226 votes, i.e., the minimum required.
On the fourth Saturday of November 2003, marking the Day to Commemorate the Victims of the Holodomor, only the state-owned television channel UT-1 dedicated air time to the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor by airing a 30-minute program entitled "The Bells of Popular Memory." Meanwhile, private television channels broadcast the usual weekend fare of entertainment shows, comedies, and erotic films.
Nothing has changed even now. In a commentary published in the Aug. 17, 2005, issue of the [Russian-language] newspaper "Segodnia" on a proposal to plant high-bush cranberries known as kalyna on all the Dnipro slopes in Kyiv in memory of Holodomor victims, a female journalist addressed a question to herself and her readers, which was framed in the banner headline: "Is this not a lot of sorrow for Kyiv?"
Historians have their work cut out for them to convince society of the need to face the problems of the Holodomor. Only when we accomplish this will marginal politicians let go of this issue.
2. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
Comprehending the Holodomor
Comprehending the Holodomor
a) Silent Terror
b) The End of Silence
c) Efforts of the Ukrainian Diaspora
The Holodomor is a phenomenon that is hard to fathom. To do so one must find a rational explanation for the actions of those who organized it, and discover the logic and political interests that drove them.
In the case of other large- scale tragedies, the perpetrators' logic was absolutely transparent. The Turkish governments and the Nazis exterminated the Greeks, Armenians, and Jews precisely because they were Greeks, Armenians, and Jews.
Did the communists really always exterminate the Ukrainians because of their nationality? Even if we say that rank-and-file communists were puppets in the hands of the leaders of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik), who in turn were puppets in the hands of the General Secretary (which is true to a certain extent), the question of why Stalin exterminated the Ukrainians in 1933 remains unanswered.
The absence of a convincing answer to this question does not mean that it is impossible to find. It is no accident that groups of eminent experts - the US Congressional Commission on the Ukraine Famine and the International Commission of Inquiry into the 1932-33 Famine in Ukraine - concluded in 1988 and 1989, respectively, that the Holodomor was an act of genocide.
Both commissions left it up to experts to corroborate this conclusion. We must examine how experts used the decade and a half of the time they have had at their disposal.
Not so long ago the Institute of Ukrainian History at the National Academy of Sciences produced a fundamental study of terrorist acts and terrorism on Ukrainian territory in the 19th and 20th centuries.
It represents our attempt to explore the essence of state terror and individual terrorism. There is quite enough concrete material about terror and terrorism in Ukrainian history of the past two decades for a thorough exploration of this issue.
One characteristic of terror and terrorism has escaped the attention of our scholars, including me. Judging by the word terror (from the French terreur, meaning terror, panic), terrorism is aimed at demonstrativeness, showiness. Someone is destroyed in order to show others what will happen to them if they do not change their conduct with respect to a certain question.
A typical example of such terror was dekulakization, i.e., repressions directed at a certain proportion of peasants (from 2 to 5 percent of the village population) in order through terror to force other peasants to join collective farms. The level of wealth was the only criterion for selecting kurkuls.
More than others, wealthy peasants wanted to preserve their private property, which provided them with the means of subsistence. However, the status of a poor peasant did not provide immunity to those who were unwilling to join. Such peasants were repressed as subkurkuls.
Dekulakization as a form of repression cannot fall under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It is not committed "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."
True, proposals are being made to amend the UN Convention of Dec. 9, 1948, by adding the notion "social genocide." Social groups also suffer from brutal persecution aimed at their extermination. However, "sociocide" and "classicide" have yet to become legal notions, which is why they are not relevant to our discussion.
At first glance, terror by famine has no characteristic features. It is indiscriminate killing over a wide area. Its victims are not individuals whom the perpetrator of repressions considers dangerous or "whipping boys" chosen at random, but all people in a certain territory, including children and pregnant women.
Because the technology of terror by famine did not require it to show characteristic features and because it lacked "ideological security," to use the parlance of Soviet newspapers (after all, how can you explain the need to kill children and pregnant women?) this repression was committed in silence. Terror by famine is silent terror.
Then what was its underlying sense? How can we find the hidden characteristic features that are indispensable to any form of terror in the Soviet government's actions, which were aimed at depriving peasants not only of grain but of all kinds of food.
An answer to this question will help us understand why Stalin exterminated Ukrainian peasants not always and not everywhere (as Greeks, Armenians, Jews, and Gypsies had been exterminated), but (a) in 1932-1933 and (b) in two administrative-political creations where the Ukrainian population constituted a majority: in the Ukrainian SSR and the Kuban district of the Northern Caucasus.
I know the answer, but I cannot provide it right away. An immediate answer would be nothing more than an expression of my personal viewpoint. Too many personal viewpoints based on emotions have been voiced in connection with the Holodomor.
I would like my readers to arrive at the answer to this question independently by providing them with the requisite mass of undeniable facts.
This exploration should begin with an analysis of the background to this question. We need to ascertain how the Ukrainian Holodomor was understood in time and space.
It is no wonder perhaps that the peasants, who were being exterminated by means of famine, immediately understood the true situation. Holodomor survivors told James Mace's associates that the government was purposefully exterminating them.
They could not prove it with documents, but sensed with all their being the Soviet government's evil intentions. It is no surprise that based on this testimony, the US Congressional Commission concluded that the famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine was an act of genocide.
That people were dying of hunger was not known outside of areas where these people were dying. The mass media kept silent. It was even forbidden to use the word "famine" in top secret official documents of Soviet Communist Party agencies.
Further down the text you will find an example that this rule was also observed at the pinnacle of the pyramid of power, i.e., in the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (VKP[b]).
Whenever it was necessary for the government to intervene - if only to bury the dead, appropriate instructions to subordinates were handed down as part of the " osobaya papka" [special file] (much like the term Chekist, the words osobist [special agent], osobyi otdel [special section], or osobaya papka [special file] do not have equivalents in the Ukrainian language).
Perhaps this was done not only to conceal information. Famine was an open secret in all the affected regions. The people who were victimized by the famine knew about it. "Special files" were necessary to rule out official and unofficial discussions of the famine in the Communist Party milieu and that of Soviet functionaries.
Among normal people such discussions would lead to the question: How can we help? Meanwhile, no assistance was envisioned. Therefore, the veil of silence around the famine was one of the mechanisms of genocide.
The silence resulted in the fact that in regions where no terror by famine was used, even high-ranking officials had a vague idea about the nature and scale of the famine in Ukraine.
This is how Nikita Khrushchev, who in the early 1930s was second secretary of the Moscow municipal and oblast committees of the VKP(b), recalled the Holodomor: "I simply could not imagine how famine could be possible in Ukraine in 1932. How many people died then? Now I cannot say. Information about this was leaked to the bourgeois press. Until my last day in office articles were occasionally published about collectivization and its cost in human lives. But I am saying this only now. Then I didn't know anything about this, and even if I had learned something, explanations would have been found: sabotage, counterrevolution, kurkul ploys, which have to be combated, and so on."
I can comment on this abstract from Khrushchev's memoirs only in connection with the date of the Holodomor. When Khrushchev tape-recorded his thoughts on his past life after his retirement, he mentioned the wrong date, which is very telling. In the first half of 1932 there was an outbreak of famine in Ukraine with tens of thousands of deaths and even cases of cannibalism.
It resulted from the grain procurement campaign after the 1931 harvest. However, the Holodomor did not happen then. The Holodomor resulted from the seizure of all grain after the 1932 harvest, which was followed by expropriations of all remaining food supplies. Deaths from the Holodomor began in the late fall of 1932, and the death toll peaked in June 1933.
I must add that you will not find the above quotation in the famous four-volume compilation of Khrushchev's memoirs. It comes from a different version of transcripts, published in the March 1990 issue of the magazine "Voprosy Istorii" [Questions of History].
As we know today, Western special services and diplomatic representatives possessed more accurate information about what was happening in the Soviet Union. In particular, the British Foreign Office and the British government had diverse and extensive information from multiple sources, as evidenced by the compilation of documents "The Foreign Office and the Famine: British Documents on Ukraine and the Great Famine of 1932-33," published in 1988 in Kingston, USA [sic], and edited by Bohdan Kordan, Lubomyr Luciuk, and Marco Carynnyk.
Benito Mussolini was well informed about the Holodomor. Italy's General Consul Sergio Gradenigo sent him detailed and accurate reports from Kharkiv. The reports filled an entire book compiled by Andrea Graziosi and published in Turin in 1991. He now plans to have it translated into Ukrainian.
The then newly-elected US president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was also well aware of the situation in the Soviet Union. However, like all the other leaders of the great powers, in his relations with the Kremlin Roosevelt was guided exclusively by national interests.
In 1933 Stalin began to seek a rapprochement with the Western democracies, because he did not expect to coexist peacefully with Adolph Hitler, who had come to power in Germany. The Western democracies welcomed this foreign policy change. In the fall of 1933 the US recognized the Soviet Union.
Thus, the tragedy of the Holodomor was played out in plain view of leaders and chiefs, who chose to remain silent. The current heads of the leading nations should remember this when the question of recognizing the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1933 as an act of genocide is raised again at the UN assembly.
Unlike the political leaders who remained silent, Western journalists more often than not carried out their professional duty if they succeeded in visiting regions that were affected by famine.
The Maxim Gorky State Scholarly Library of Odesa compiled and published a bibliography of the Ukrainian Holodomor partially with its own money and, most importantly, with donations from the Ukrainian diaspora, collected by Wolodymyr Motyka (Australia) and M. Kots (US).
Its compilers, L. Buryan and I. Rikun, located over 6,000 publications that were published before 1999 inclusively. In the foreign press they found 33 publications dated 1932 and 180 dated 1933.
Judging by this bibliographic index, the Holodomor was especially broadly covered by the Ukrainian-language newspaper "Svoboda," published in Jersey City (state of New Jersey). Its article of Feb. 15, 1932, has a characteristic headline: "Moscow wants to starve Ukrainian peasants to death."
This headline proves that the assessment of the famine that resulted from the grain procurement campaign after the 1931 harvest was an emotional one. In reality, this famine cannot be classified as genocide as defined in the Convention. The state seized all the grain, which caused deaths among the peasants.
According to my estimates, 144,000 people died of hunger during 1932. However, in the first half of 1932 there were no signs of terror by famine.
On the contrary, when the famine was officially established, the starving population obtained relief in the form of 13.5 million poods of grain [1 pood=36.1 pounds, or 16.39 kilograms - Ed.].
With its May 21 decree the Council of People's Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR identified the areas most affected by famine. They received additional relief in the form of food-grade grain, fish, and canned foods.
As a rule, publications about the 1933 famine in the USSR appeared with a significant delay in Western newspapers.
This does not apply to the newspaper "Svoboda," which published its reports promptly. The following are headlines from early 1933: "Bolsheviks deport residents of Kuban Cossack villages to Siberia" (January 21), "Bolsheviks change method of expropriating crops from peasants" (January 23), "Famine grips Soviet Ukraine" (January 28), "After mass deportations of Ukrainians from the Kuban, the Bolsheviks begin deporting peasants from Ukraine" (February 11), "Ukraine has no grain for sowing" (February 13).
Now we understand who provoked Stalin to write his angry memo of Feb. 13, 1933, to Politburo members Molotov and Kaganovich: "Do you know who allowed American correspondents in Moscow to travel to the Kuban?
They cooked up foulness about the situation in the Kuban (see their correspondence). We have to put a stop to this and ban these gentlemen from traveling around the USSR. There are enough spies in the USSR without them."
"Svoboda" published reports that were circulated within a rather small circle of Ukrainian diaspora representatives. The first analytical stories about the Soviet famine were by the journalist Malcolm Muggeridge.
He managed to make a journey through the Northern Caucasus and Ukraine before the Politburo's Feb. 23, 1933, banning decree "On foreign correspondents' trips within the USSR."
In March of that year he published his impressions in the English newspaper "The Manchester Guardian." His three fact-filled articles left no doubt as to the famine that was spreading in the main grain-growing belt of the USSR.
In the wake of Muggeridge's material, this newspaper carried an article entitled "Famine in Russia," based on the personal impressions of Gareth Jones, the former secretary of Prime Minister Lloyd George of Great Britain. The author said that Russia was in the grip of a famine on the scale of the one it had experienced in 1921.
Walter Duranty, the New York Times correspondent, who was a British citizen, tried to refute the sensational reports in "The Manchester Guardian." The essence of his article published in the Mar. 31, 1933, issue is reflected in its heading: "Russians Hungry Not Starving."
Notably, Duranty is the only Western journalist who ever managed to interview Stalin. He always tried to write his articles in such a way as not to displease the Kremlin.
Information about famine on a horrible scale in Russia continued to leak through the Iron Curtain. On Aug. 21, 1933, the "New York Herald Tribune" published material by Ralph Barnes with a first estimate of the number of those who had perished - one million. Duranty also confirmed that there was famine.
Although he did not say so directly, it follows from his short article in the Aug. 24, 1933, issue of "The New York Times" that at least two million people had perished. A day later this newspaper carried a report by Frederick Birchall, quoting a figure of four million dead.
The Soviet government spared neither time nor effort to hide the consequences of the famine from foreigners. On Dec. 6, 1932, the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee and the ONK of the Ukrainian SSR issued a decree (and published it in order to scare people) to "blacklist" five villages that could not fulfill the government's grain procurement quota for a long period of time.
An invention of Lazar Kaganovich, the "blacklist," meant that villagers were banned from leaving the village, deliveries of all foodstuffs to the village were suspended, and searches at the farms of "deadbeats" continued until all food was expropriated.
Famine claimed all the villagers in Havrylivka in Mezhova raion, Dnipropetrovsk oblast. This tragedy became known abroad, and American journalists requested permission to visit Dnipropetrovsk oblast. Permission was granted with surprising ease.
In his book "Russia Today: What We Can Learn from It," published in New York in 1934, Eddy Sherwood writes: "A group of foreign visitors heard rumors that in the village of Havrylivka all the people except for one had died ofhunger. They decided to investigate and visited the local registrar's office, the priest, the local council, the judge, and the teacher. It turned out that three out of 1,100 residents had died of typhus. Measures were taken to stop the epidemic. There were no deaths from hunger." [Translations of cited passages here and elsewhere are not the published versions - Ed.].
There is no doubt that the American journalist honestly reported what he saw. But there is also no doubt that all the original residents of Havrylivka starved to death.
The visit to the USSR by the prominent French politician Edouard Herriot, the president of the French National Assembly and former prime minister, caused the State Political Directorate (GPU) even more problems.
According to the distinguished guest's request, his itinerary included a trip to Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus, which, he was told, were hardest hit by the famine.
A day before Herriot was scheduled to arrive in the Soviet Union, Stalin, who was staying at a resort in the Northern Caucasus, sent a memo to Viacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, and Genrikh Yagoda, the de facto head of the Joint State Political Department (OGPU): "According to information in possession of Yevdokimov (official OGPU representative in the Northern Caucasus - Author), the White Guardists are preparing a terrorist attack against Herriot in Odesa or other locations in the USSR.
In my view, Yevdokimov's proposals are justified. Balytsky (official OGPU representative and head of the GPU of the Ukrainian SSR - Author) must be immediately instructed to personally visit all locations visited by Herriot and take all preventive measures against all possible excesses."
As we can see, Stalin used Aesopian language even when he was issuing instructions to his associates to prevent the distinguished guest from seeing signs of famine. This is striking.
On Aug. 26, 1933, Herriot arrived in Odesa aboard a steamship. On the following day he arrived in Kyiv, then Kharkiv, and Dniprobud. Everywhere he saw whatever he wanted to see and met with hundreds of people. On Aug. 31 Herriot left Rostov-on-Don for Moscow without seeing any signs indicating that the areas he had visited had experienced a famine.
It cost Stalin substantial political capital to organize this trip. On Sept. 13 the headline in Pravda cited Herriot's statement made in Riga: "What I have seen in the USSR is beautiful."
In the USSR during the latter half of the 1930s the topic of the famine was no longer relevant in the West. The public only remembered contradictory newspaper stories. Not surprisingly, people had more faith in famous politicians, like Herriot, not journalists. World War II relegated all memories of the Holodomor to the background.
There were numerous survivors of the Holodomor among emigrants who ended up in the West after World War II. Some of them kept silent so as not to provoke repressions against their relatives in the USSR. There were also those who wanted to speak out.
Many books containing their accounts were published by Ukrainian civic organizations on anniversaries of the Holodomor.
Two are distinguished by their fundamental nature: a two- volume reference book entitled "The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book" (Toronto-Detroit, 1953-55), and the Ukrainian-language compilation by Yuri Semenko entitled "Holod 1933 roku v Ukrayini: Svidchennia pro vynyshchuvannia Moskvoyu ukrayinskoho selianstva" ['The 1933 Famine in Ukraine: Eyewitness Testimonies about Moscow's Extermination of the Ukrainian Peasants''(New York, 1963).
The Ukrainian diaspora used every Holodomor anniversary to make the truth about the Holodomor known to the general public. Tremendous work was completed in time for the 50th anniversary.
The Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and the Harvard Ukrainian Studies Institute, founded by Omeljan Pritsak, were already functioning at this time. Trained professionals began to study the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine.
In 1983 Universite du Quebec a Montreal hosted a scholarly conference on the fundamental problems of the Holodomor. The proceedings were published in book form three years later in Edmonton.
Bohdan Kravchenko, Sergei Maksudov (the alias of the former Moscow- based dissident Alexander Babyonyshev, who concealed his identity to protect his relatives), James Mace, and Roman Serbyn delivered the most exhaustive reports.
The 50th anniversary of the Holodomor became a watershed in many respects. The events of 1932-1933 in Ukraine started to attract the attention of historians, politicians, and journalists. The situation was further heightened by the fact that the USSR did not recognize the existence of a famine in 1933.
When journalists questioned Ukrainian diplomats at the UN about this, they either avoided answering or denied the fact that there was a famine. Eventually, they were forced to turn to their government for instructions: What should they do about this problem dating back 50 years?
The Politburo of the CC CPU instructed the Central Committee's secretary in charge of ideology and the Ukrainian KGB chief to investigate this matter.
On Feb. 11, 1983, they submitted a report to Volodymyr Shcherbytsky, the gist of which is reflected in its title: "On propaganda and Counter- propaganda measures to counter the anti-Soviet campaign unleashed by reactionary centers of the Ukrainian emigration concerning food shortages that took place in the early 1930s."
The late Ihor Olshaniwsky, head of the Organization of Americans in Defense of Human Rights in Ukraine, studied the archives of the US Congressional Commission on the Holocaust and proposed creating an identical commission to study the Ukrainian Holodomor.
Congressman James Florio and Senator Bill Bradley, both of whom represented the state of New Jersey, supported Olshaniwsky's idea because there were many Ukrainian voters in the state.
In November 1983 Florio introduced a bill to form the Congressional Commission. When it was introduced in the House of Representatives, the bill bore the signatures of 59 congressmen, most of whom were Florio's fellow Democrats.
Even though one year later this bill bore the signatures of 123 congressmen, leading Democrats in the House of Representatives had little enthusiasm for it. "Why spend American taxpayers' money on what happened some 50 years ago?" they asked.
The Ukrainian diaspora then organized a grassroots campaign in all states with Ukrainian communities. Congressmen, chairmen of congressional commissions and committees, House of Representatives Speaker O'Neil, and US President Ronald Reagan began receiving tens of thousands of individual and collective petitions. Never before or since had Ukrainian Americans organized such a large-scale campaign.
Senator Bradley submitted the same bill to the Senate on March 21, 1984. Myron Kuropas, vice president of the Ukrainian National Association, was very influential in the numerous Ukrainian communities of Illinois. At one time he actively campaigned for Illinois Senator Charles Percy, who later chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Thus, the passage of the bill in this Senate committee did not encounter any obstacles. The first hearings were held in August and ended with positive results. Addressing the senators, Olshaniwsky said that time does not wait: the surviving Holodomor victims were old and weak, and it was crucial to collect their testimonies as soon as possible. On Sept. 19 the Foreign Affairs Committee approved the bill's wording, and two days later the Senate unanimously approved the bill.
Meanwhile, the passage of the bill in the House of Representatives encountered difficulties. Foreign Affairs Committee members did not want to provoke Moscow's wrath, and State Department officials sided with them. The Oct. 3, 1984, hearings, held on the penultimate day of the 98th Congress, revealed differing opinions.
Robbie Palmer, the US State Department representative, claimed there was no need for another bureaucratic committee and that its creation would cause "an avalanche of similar demands from other ethnic groups."
On the contrary, Congressman David Roth, who represented the interests of the American European [sic: read Jewish] Congress, reminded his colleagues that the US Congress had a committee on the Jewish Holocaust and emphasized: "The two peoples were persecuted for political reasons and only for being who they were. The US Congress therefore must pay equal attention to them so that the whole world will learn about those heinous crimes, so that they will never be repeated."
Yet the Foreign Affairs Committee did not submit the bill lobbied by the Ukrainian organizations to the House of Representatives. Bill Bradley saved the day by exercising his right as senator to amend the budget. On Oct. 4, 1984, the last day of the 98th Congress, he appended the funding provision for the temporary commission on the Ukrainian Holodomor to Congress's Funding Resolution.
The House of Representatives, which can veto senators' amendments, agreed to this amendment without debating it, owing to lack of time, since the Senate had already approved this bill.
The Funding Resolution, i.e., a 470 billion-dollar budget for the 1985 fiscal year with a funding provision for the Ukrainian Holodomor Commission for 400,000 US dollars appended to it had to be approved immediately. Without this procedure the government would be left penniless.
President Ronald Reagan signed the Funding Resolution on October 12, 1984. A Congressional Commission thus came into being, whose mission was to "carry out a study of the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933 in order to disseminate knowledge about the famine throughout the world and to ensure that the American public has a better understanding of the Soviet system by highlighting the role that the Soviets played in the famine."
The US Congressional Commission on the Ukraine Famine was comprised of two senators, four congressmen, three representatives of the executive, and four representatives of the Ukrainian community.
At the request of the Organization of Americans in Defense of Human Rights in Ukraine, James Mace, a fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Studies Institute and one of the few American specialists on the history of Soviet Ukraine, was appointed the commission's executive director.
At Harvard University, Dr. Mace was helping the English historian Robert Conquest to collect and process historical materials for his book about the Holodomor. Conquest had earned recognition for his study of mass repressions in the Soviet Union in 1937-1938.
At the request of the National Committee for Commemorating the 1933 Holodomor Victims in Ukraine he started to explore this new subject. In late 1986 Oxford University Press published his book "The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine," which immediately created an international sensation. The publishing house Lybid published a Ukrainian translation in 1993 with money supplied by the Ukrainian diaspora in the US.
Nobody expected the research team of six Ukrainian-studies scholars headed by James Mace to obtain convincing evidence of Stalin's greatest crime, given the commission's short mandate. But Mace performed a scholarly and civic feat.
The US Congressional Commission on the Ukraine Famine did not become another bureaucratic committee, as Robbie Palmer feared it would. James Mace and the young American researcher Leonid Herets developed methods that made it possible to ensure the objectivity of testimonies provided by Holodomor witnesses.
Layered one on top of the other, the testimonies corrected the subjective nature of these personal recollections. In this way they became a fully-fledged source.
As soon as it became possible, James Mace traveled to Ukraine, where he settled permanently in 1993. For many years he worked at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and contributed to "The Day." "Fate decreed that the victims chose me," he wrote in one of his numerous columns carried by this newspaper (Feb. 18, 2003).
Mace died on May 2, 2004. One year later "The Day's Library Series" published a book dedicated to him: "Day and Eternity of James Mace," objective proof of the weighty role this American played in Ukraine's contemporary history.
3. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
Comprehending the Holodomor. The position of soviet historians
Comprehending the Holodomor. The position of soviet historians
With the Stalinist taboo broken, Soviet historians began to explore the famine of 1933 with increasing intensity. It would be a mistake to say that the agony of the totalitarian regime and the empire that it had created began with the opening of this particular "Pandora's box."
Nonetheless, the subject of the famine resonated throughout Ukrainian society, evolving into a discussion of the Holodomor as an act of genocide.
Cut off from the Ukrainian Diaspora behind the Iron Curtain, Soviet historians were largely unaffected by the results of the Diaspora's investigation of the Holodomor. The Iron Curtain was located not only on the borders of the USSR but inside our minds.
What I would least like to discuss in this chapter is the quantitative accomplishments of Soviet historians on the subject of the Ukrainian famine. The line of discussion is determined by the wording of the question: Why did Stalin exterminate the Ukrainians?
I will therefore not discuss the facts they exposed but only how those facts affected the researchers' worldview. In particular, they developed an ability to reject Soviet stereotypes, which enabled them to elicit the true cause-and-effect relationships in the problem of the Holodomor.
The chosen line of discussion requires me to explore my own worldview and life experience especially closely. In this sensitive matter it is hard to find other material for the necessary generalizations.
I spent 11 years working at the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, where I studied the history of the nation's economy, moving from one time period to the next. I then transferred to the Institute of History to prepare a doctoral thesis within the framework of the so-called interwar period: from 1921 to 1941.
When I received my doctorate and was appointed to chair the Department of Interwar History, my scholarly specialty and position required me to study the 1933 famine once it became a widely discussed topic.
Other people in the department were studying the history of the peasants before and after collectivization, while I specialized in the problems of industrialization and the history of the working class. Like everybody else, I knew about the famine.
Moreover, I had access to demographic data that was locked away in special repositories and knew that the Ukrainian countryside had lost millions of people, and that this loss could not be attributed to urbanization. But I could not understand the causes of the famine.
Even in my worst nightmare I could not imagine that the Soviet government was capable of exterminating not only enemies of the people (at the time I never questioned the legitimacy of this notion), but also children and pregnant women.
After several years of studying the famine, I chose a newspaper with the highest circulation in my republic to publish a sharply-worded article "Do we need the Soviet government?" I am grateful to the chief editor of Silski visti [Village News] for publishing the article in unexpurgated form on June 7, 1991.
He did, however, change the title to: "What government do we need?" Unfortunately, piety toward the Soviet government is still widespread among many people of my generation.
Before the worldview transformation caused by my study of the Holodomor, I was a Soviet scholar like everyone else. That is, I looked at history from the class point of view, viewed capitalism and socialism as socioeconomic formations, considered uncollectivized peasants to be representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, believed that collective ownership of production facilities was a viable option and that collective farms were the peasants' collective property.
I considered it a normal thing that there were special repositories in libraries and archives, i.e., I accepted the division of information into classified and public. But for this very reason I could not understand why the 1933 famine was a forbidden topic.
Since there was no one in Ukraine who didn't know about it, why did this information have to be classified? An older colleague, who also chaired a department at the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, confided in me that in his village everybody knew who had eaten whom. They spent the rest of their lives with this knowledge.
When some important individuals on the staff of the CPU's Central Committee, whom I knew well, got word of a US congressional commission on the Ukrainian famine, they went into a state of continuing stress.
The Feb. 11, 1983, report by the Central Committee's secretary in charge of ideology and the Ukrainian KGB chief contained a recommendation addressed to our specialists abroad: Do not enter into polemics on the famine. It was clear that this polemic would be a losing proposition under any circumstances. At the time, however, they could no longer bury their heads in the sand.
In the fall of 1986 the CC CPU formed a so-called "anti-commission." I found myself among its members. We scholars were expected to produce studies that would "expose the falsifications of Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists."
I had worked in special repositories before, but received clearance to access "special files" of CPU committees only once I began working as a member of the commission.
Soviet archives had one special characteristic: a researcher could have access to 99.9 percent of all files, yet all crucial information relating to the history of this totalitarian state was contained in the 0.01 percent of inaccessible files.
After six months of working in the archives, I learned about the agricultural situation in the early 1930s. After this, some causes, which I had taken for granted since my school years, changed places with consequences. The new cause-and-effect relationships often coincided with what I got to read in the so-called "anti-Soviet" literature.
While I was working in the archives, the commission's work was proving fruitless. Perhaps those upstairs realized that the scholars had been given an unrealistic assignment. I sent an analytical report under my own name to the Central Committee with a proposal that the famine be officially recognized.
Now I understand that I was demanding something impossible from the Central Committee. Indeed, why did Stalin's taboo on recognizing the famine last for so long? After the 20th Congress of the CPSU, Stalin's successors readily condemned the political terror of 1937- 1938 because its primary victim was the ruling party.
Unlike individual terror carried out by state security agencies, terror by famine in 1932-1933 was carried out by party committees, the Komsomol, trade unions, and komnezam committees of poor peasants.
How could they possibly admit that Stalin had succeeded in using the system of government, which everybody called "people's rule," to exterminate the people, i.e., to commit genocide?
In exposing famine, the rhetoric about Stalinist vices would not hide the organic flaws of the Soviet government behind the great chieftain's broad back.
I remember writing that report at a time when I still had not given up many stereotypes of the official concept of history. Now I understand that this helped me formulate my arguments in such a way that my report would not appear too explosive to those in a position to make the political decision to recognize the famine.
I think this report was only about recognizing the fact that famine had really occurred. While I, an expert on the history of the interwar period, still could not interpret this mysterious famine as genocide in 1987, our chiefs in the party committees were even farther from such an interpretation.
Granted, we knew that books had been published in the West, in which the victims of the 1933 famine said that the government had intended to destroy them. But such stories were always rejected in the USSR as anti- Soviet propaganda.
While rereading the text about the ability or inability of our government officials of the time to recognize the fact of the famine, I caught myself in a contradiction: while I state that I was demanding the impossible of the members of the Central Committee, I am insisting that they could not identify the famine with genocide.
I teach a course on historical methodology to M.A. students and always draw their attention to the phenomenon of presentism: people tend to invest the past with characteristics of contemporaneity, which it does not have, and overlook those characteristics of that past, which are not present in their life. For the past to shine with its true colors, we have to approach it with expert knowledge.
I think, however, that even people who are not expert historians but have enough life experience can recall exactly what they thought about the 1933 famine a decade and a half ago, and how their views have changed now that thousands of horrifying documents have been published.
Those who were in power in the late 1980s had access to such documents even in those days. I dare say, however, that they could not evaluate them properly because they were not Stalin's contemporaries and did not contribute to his crimes. Like me, they were products of the Soviet school.
Later in this article I will show with concrete examples that it took both time and great mental effort for people of my generation to grasp the famine as an act of genocide.
Representatives of the generation that had survived the famine did not realize, but only felt, that somebody had intended to destroy them. However, there is a difference between understanding and feeling.
A judge listens to eyewitness testimony about a crime (in our case, the crime of genocide), but issues his ruling only after establishing the entire sequence of events that constitute the corpus delicti of the crime.
In appealing to the international community for recognition of the Ukrainian Holodomor as an act of genocide, we must stop playing on emotions, which we have been doing until now, and must instead supply corroborated evidence of the crime.
Thus, I am certain that none of the CPU leaders realized the true essence of the events of 1933, but they all knew that something horrible and monstrous had happened. On the other hand, they felt that the Stalinist taboo on the word famine could no longer continue.
For several months my report wandered from office to office at the Central Committee. Finally, they allowed me to submit it as a scholarly article to Ukrayinsky istorychny Zhurnal, but only once a political decision to recognize the famine as a historical fact was publicized.
That event was scheduled for Dec. 25, 1987, when Volodymyr Shcherbytsky, the first secretary of the CC CPU was slated to deliver his report on the 70th anniversary of the Ukrainian SSR.
In the meantime, the liberalization of the political regime, which started with Gorbachev's announcement of his policy of perestroika, was becoming more and more pronounced. The conspiracy of silence surrounding the famine began to disintegrate by itself.
On July 16, 1987, the newspaper Literaturna Ukraina carried two articles that mentioned the famine matter-of-factly as a well-known fact. Discussions of the famine began in Moscow.
On Oct. 11, 1987, the famous scholar Viktor Danilov of the Institute of Soviet History at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, who had already experienced much unpleasantness within the party organs for his "distorted" portrayal of Soviet agrarian history, published a statement in the newspaper Sovetskaia Rossiia, stating that famine had claimed a huge number of lives in the winter and spring of 1933.
In his short article entitled "How many of us were there then?" published in the December issue of the magazine Ogonek, Moscow-based demographer Mark Tolts blew the lid off the suppressed union-wide census of 1937, revealing that its organizers had been repressed for the malicious under- estimation of the population. Tolts pointed to the 1933 famine as the cause of this "underestimation."
On Nov. 2, 1987, CPSU Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev delivered a report in the Kremlin, pegged to the 70th anniversary of the October Revolution. Aleksandr Yakovlev recalled that the conservatives and liberals on Gorbachev's team prepared several versions of the same report. A conservative version of this assessment of the country's historical path got the upper hand, and Gorbachev did not mention the famine.
Volodymyr Shcherbytsky could not follow his Moscow patron's example because what had raged in Ukraine was not merely famine but manmade famine, or the Holodomor. Moreover, the US congressional commission was about to announce the preliminary results of its investigation.
For this reason Shcherbytsky's anniversary report contained six or seven lines about the famine, which was allegedly caused by drought. For the first time in 55 years a CPSU Politburo member broke the Stalinist taboo on the word "famine." This created an opportunity for historians to study and publish documents on the Holodomor.
My article, "Concerning the Evaluation of the Situation in Agriculture of the Ukrainian SSR in 1931-1933," was published in the March 1988 issue of the Ukrainskyi istorychnyi Zhurnal. Its abridged version had already been published in January 1988 in two Soviet newspapers for Ukrainian emigrants: the Ukrainian-language Visti z Ukrainy and the English-language News from Ukraine.
In May 1988 the Foreign Ministry of the Ukrainian SSR received the materials of the US congressional commission via the Soviet Embassy in the US and passed them on to the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR.
The English-language version of my article was almost entirely quoted and analyzed. James Mace concluded, "The scale of the famine is minimized, the Communist Party is depicted as doing its utmost to improve the situation, while the actions of the Communist Party and the Soviet state, which exacerbated the famine, have been ignored."
This is an objective conclusion, for I had deliberately excluded materials that had already been discovered in party archives from this article, which in fact was my report to the CC CPU.
I could not afford to make things difficult for Shcherbytsky to render a decision that was coming to a head under the conditions of increasing glasnost and which was necessary in the face of the investigation being pursued by the US Congress.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian writers were bringing the subject of the famine to the forefront of civic and political life. On Feb. 18, 1988, Literaturna Ukraina published Oleksa Musiyenko's report to a meeting of the Kyiv branch of the Writers' Union of Ukraine.
Welcoming the new CPSU leadership's policy of de-Stalinization, Musiyenko accused Stalin of orchestrating a brutal grain procurement campaign in the republic, which resulted in the Holodomor of 1933. The word "Holodomor" used in this report was coined by the writer.
In early July 1988 the writer Borys Oliynyk addressed the 19th CPSU conference in Moscow. Focusing on the Stalinist terror of 1937, he surprised those present with his conclusion: "Because repressions in our republic started long before 1937, we must also determine the causes of the 1933 famine, which killed millions of Ukrainians; we must list the names of those who are to blame for this tragedy."
In a November 1988 interview with the Moscow weekly Sobesednik [Interlocutor], the writer Yuriy Shcherbak, the founder of the Green movement in Ukraine, devoted much attention to the problem of the famine. He was convinced that the 1933 famine was the same kind of method for terrorizing peasants who opposed collective farm slavery as dekulakization.
At the same time, he was the first to speculate that Stalin's policy of repressions in Ukraine was also aimed at forestalling the danger of a large-scale national liberation movement. The peasantry, he said, was always the bearer of national traditions, which is why the 1933 famine was a blow aimed against the peasants.
In the summer of 1993 James Mace published his analytical article "How Ukraine Was Permitted to Remember" in the American journal The Ukrainian Quarterly. In describing the process of how the Holodomor was understood, I have followed this article to some extent and in separate instances, while making independent evaluations. I cannot agree with one of his statements.
In July 1988 the Writers' Union of Ukraine instructed Volodymyr Maniak to prepare a memorial book comprised of testimonies of Holodomor survivors. Mace wrote that Maniak was not allowed to address the famine eyewitnesses in the press; this mission was entrusted to me. In December 1988 I appealed to the readers of Silski visti and published a questionnaire.
In fact, neither Maniak nor I were instructed to prepare a memorial book. This problem did not concern the republican leadership. The initiative was Maniak's. After enlisting the support of the Writers' Union, he came to the Institute of History at the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR with a proposal to join forces.
At the time we were actively searching for documents relating to the famine, which had been amassed in the archives of Soviet government agencies. We collected so many sensational materials that we processed them in parallel form: memoirs and documents. We could not immediately publish the manuscripts we had prepared.
Radiansky Pysmennyk published the colossal book of recollections, Famine 1933. The People's Memorial Book compiled by Maniak and his wife Lidia Kovalenko, only in 1991. In 1992 and 1993 Naukova Dumka published a collection of documents from the Central State Archive of the Highest Organs of Government and Administration of Ukraine, compiled by Hanna Mykhailychenko and Yevhenia Shatalina.
In the meantime, the substance and even the words from my article that appeared in Ukrayinsky istorychny Zhurnal became the target of harsh criticism in the press immediately after its publication in March 1988. Only one year after its publication society was viewing the fundamental questions concerning Soviet reality in a completely different way.
In 1988 I wrote a brochure for the society Znannia [Knowledge] of the Ukrainian SSR. While the brochure was being prepared for publication, I obtained permission from the society to publish it in Literaturna Ukraina. At the time this newspaper was most popular among radical intellectual circles and in the Diaspora.
The text, published in four issues of the newspaper between January and February 1989, was the product of 18 months of archival work. Complete with photographic evidence, the story of Viacheslav Molotov's extraordinary grain procurement commission shocked the public.
In June 1989 Znannia published 62,000 copies of my brochure entitled 1933: The Tragedy of the Famine. Not surprisingly, it was published as part of series entitled Theory and Practice of the CPSU. The art editor designed an original cover depicting a cobweb with the brochure's title centered in red and white lettering.
As I reread it now, I can see that it is an accurate portrayal of the socioeconomic consequences of forced collectivization of agriculture, the major one being famine in many areas of the USSR.
However, at the time I still did not understand the specifics of the Ukrainian famine. In particular, the brochure listed all the clauses of the Nov. 18 decree of the CC CP(b)U and the Nov. 20 decree of the Council of People's Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR, both of which were approved as dictated by Molotov.
These decrees were the spark plug of the Holodomor. The brochure also cited the most disturbing clause, calling for the imposition of penalties in kind (meat, potatoes, and other foodstuffs). However, at the time I still had no facts about the consequences that stemmed from that clause.
For this reason the Ukrainian famine was considered the result of a mistaken economic policy, not a deliberate campaign to seize food under the guise of grain procurements: "Openness in the struggle against the famine would mean recognizing the economic catastrophe that crowned Stalin's experiment of speeding up the pace of industrialization.
Stalin thus chose a different path, the path of cowardly and criminal concealment of the situation in the countryside." It follows from these words that I did not see signs of genocide in the concealment of information about the famine.
A detailed analysis of my own brochure was necessary to provide background to the story about the major accomplishment of the Soviet period, which was being quickly consigned to the past. I am speaking about the book The Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: Through the Eyes of Historians and the Language of Documents.
The book was published in September 1990 by Politvydav Ukrainy as an imprint of the Institute of Party History at the CC CPU. It contained articles, including one of mine, but I will discuss the documents from the archival funds of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist (b) Party and the CP(b)U.
The documentary section was compiled by Ruslan Pyrih, head of the team of compilers that included A. Kentiy, I. Komarova, V. Lozytsky, and A. Solovyova. The official pressrun was 25,000, but the real number of published copies was ten times smaller. When it became clear that the book would be published, somebody decided to turn it into a bibliographic rarity.
I saw the documents discovered in the party archives of Moscow and Kyiv by Pyrih's team one year before their publication. Some of them are reason enough to accuse Stalin of committing the crime of genocide, and I will cite them in subsequent articles.
However, my immediate task is to elicit how the Holodomor was understood. I will only say that at the time nobody saw the true substance of these few documents, and thank God for that. If they had, they might have removed these documents from the manuscript. It is no wonder that their contents were underestimated. In my 1989 brochure I too could not assess the significance of those fines in kind.
A battle over this manuscript broke out at the highest political level in the republic - in the Politburo of the CC CPU. The Politburo meeting in January 1990, to which I was invited as an expert, took a long time to discuss the expediency of publishing this book.
I got the impression that those present heaved a sigh of relief when Volodymyr Ivashko, the first secretary of the CC assumed responsibility and proposed publishing the documents.
Why did the Politburo decide to publish such explosive documents? There are at least two reasons.
First, in 1988-1989 the originally bureaucratic perestroika was already evolving into a popular movement. Constitutional reform had divested the ruling party of its power over society. In order to remain on top of the revolutionary wave, party leaders had to distance themselves from Stalin's heritage.
Second, the US congressional commission had already completed its work and published a conclusive report that contained many impressive details. The Politburo members were familiar with the specific results of the work carried out by Mace's commission. I am so sure of this because I have this particular volume, 524 pages, published in Washington in 1988, in my own library.
The book's cover bears the red stamp of the CC CPU's general department, identifying the date of receipt as Sept. 5, 1988. I obtained the book during the transfer of Central Committee documents to the state archive after the party was banned (as material foreign to the compiler of the funds).
The above-mentioned Politburo meeting of Jan. 26, 1990, approved a resolution "On the 1932-1933 Famine in Ukraine and the Publication of Archival Materials Relating to It."
The Politburo identified the immediate cause of the famine as the grain procurement policy that was fatal to the peasants. Yet this statement did not correspond to the truth, much like Shcherbytsky's statement about the drought.
Mace came to Ukraine for the first time in January 1990. He brought me a computer printout of the famine survivors' testimonies recorded by the US congressional commission. The three volumes of testimonies on 1,734 pages were published in Washington only in December 1990.
In the first two weeks of that month the journal Pid praporom Leninizmu [Under the Banner of Leninism] published my article "How It Happened (Reading the Documents of the US Congressional Commission on the 1932-1933 Ukraine Famine").
My own experience of analyzing archival documents and the testimonies recorded by the American researchers enabled me to reach the following conclusion: "Alongside grain procurements and under their guise, a repressive expropriation of all food stocks, i.e., terror by famine was organized."
Now the conclusion about genocide was no longer based solely on the emotional testimony of Holodomor eyewitnesses but on an analysis of archival documents.
March 1991 saw the publication of my conclusive book, Tsina velykoho perelomu [The Price of the Great Turning Point]. The final conclusion was formulated in no uncertain terms: "Famine and genocide in the countryside were preprogrammed" (p. 302).
In the years that followed I wondered why this book was not known to many researchers of the Holodomor. But eventually I realized that the announced pressrun of 4,000 copies could have been reduced tenfold, as it happened with the collection of documents from the party archives. Even though the publishing house was renamed Ukraina, it was the same old Politvydav Ukrainy.
Reviewing the book a decade and a half later, I have reconsidered its merits and shortcomings. Its merit lay in the detailed analysis of the Kremlin's socioeconomic policy that resulted in an economic crisis capable of disrupting the political equilibrium.
This explained why Stalin unleashed terror by famine against Ukraine in one particular period - a time when the economic crisis was at its peak. The monograph's shortcoming was the lack of an analysis of the Kremlin's nationality policy. Without such an analysis the conclusion of genocide was suspended in midair.
In those distant years Mace and I often engaged in sharp polemics. However, these polemics were disinterested, i.e., they concerned problems, not specific persons. I criticized him for his inadequate attention to the Kremlin's socioeconomic policy, and he criticized me for my inattention to its nationality policy.
Time has shown that establishing that the Holodomor was an act of genocide requires an equal amount of attention to both the socioeconomic and nationality policies.
However, Mace had an advantage in this polemic. He did not have to change his worldview the way I had to change mine, one that was inculcated in me by my school, university, and my entire life in Soviet society, and to do so posthaste in the face of irrefutable facts.
He saw in me an official historian, which in fact I was. However, in the above-mentioned article, "How Ukraine Was Permitted to Remember," Mace concluded the chapter on the evolution of my worldview with these words: "He approached the development of the topic [of the famine - Author] as a Soviet historian whose works were as political as they were scholarly. When the possibilities for studying archives expanded, he stopped being a Soviet historian and became simply a historian."
The world we live in now is no worse and no better than the communism of the Brezhnev period. It is simply different. We should not be happy or sad that it has passed.
We must only understand that the communist system exhausted its life cycle and that its continued existence would necessarily have involved government pressure on society, which was germane to the first two decades of Soviet rule, i.e., the Holodomor could also be repeated.
At this point I cannot help saying a good word about Yakovlev, who died last month. He proposed the best possible way for a quick and managed disintegration of the communist order.
Soviet communism disintegrated as an empire and as a system a long time ago. Now it is imperative for us to overcome the worldview inherited from it.
Unfortunately, a decade and a half after the demise of communism this problem persists. It can be resolved with the help of knowledge about Ukraine's true history in the Soviet period, including knowledge of the real causes of the Holodomor.
I can say this based on my own life experience.
4. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
Comprehending the Holodomor. The position of Soviet historians
Comprehending the Holodomor. The position of Soviet historians
a) A Confict within a Generation
b) Discussions with Russian Scholars
c) Position of Western Researchers
d) Peering into the Abyss
I have already mentioned that both right- and left-leaning unscrupulous politicians tend to politicize the subject of the Holodomor. In doing so, they aim to please their voters, which is quite natural for politicians. Why has it become possible to capitalize on the subject of the famine?
Why do our fellow countrymen have differing opinions of the Holodomor? Finding the answer requires the use of a more or less abstract notion - a generation.
In the past I used to think that another abstract notion, territory, was more suitable for such analysis. So much has been said about the division of Ukraine into eastern and western halves, as well as about the special mentality of the population in the western oblasts, which came under Russia in the form of the Soviet Union (or reunited with the Ukrainian SSR, which is also true) only in 1939-1940.
Now I consider that the decisive role in shaping the difference between the eastern and western oblasts of present-day sovereign Ukraine was played by the presence or absence of mass repressions when a particular generation was forming.
The Kremlin used mass repressions while building the "commune state" in 1918-1938, and during the Stalinist Sovietization of Ukraine's western oblasts in 1939-1952. Notably in the latter case, the repressions affected a different generation. This means that the representatives of Ukraine's oldest living generation in the western and eastern oblasts have had different life experiences, which is why they feel differently about history.
The residents of the western oblasts hate communism with a passion and despise the Communist Party and Soviet nomenklatura that carried out repressions during the "first Soviets," i.e., from 1939, and during the "second Soviets," i.e., from 1944.
Meanwhile, the residents of the eastern oblasts were raised under the Soviet system. Unlike their parents, they were loyal to the government and were therefore spared Stalinist repressions. Even though mass repressions in the USSR continued until Stalin's death, they became selective, targeting individual territories (the Baltic republics, the western Ukrainian oblasts) or nationalities (e.g., the campaign to combat cosmopolitanism, "the Doctors' Case").
Manipulating the enslaved population, Stalin used the human and material resources of Ukraine's eastern oblasts to combat the anti-Soviet underground movement in western Ukraine.
The anticommunism of the population in the western oblasts is manifested always and in everything. The West and the Ukrainian Diaspora, whose representatives mostly have Galician roots, proved very responsive to the tragedy of the Holodomor, even though they were not directly affected by it. The well-organized North American Diaspora made a decisive contribution to exposing the Kremlin's most horrible crime.
For the anticommunist-minded representatives of the older generation in the western oblasts, the 1932-1933 famine was a priori a crime committed by the Kremlin. They needed no documents and accepted the testimonies of Holodomor witnesses as true. It turned out that they were right to do so.
On the contrary, this generation's representatives in the east have embarked (at least one would hope so) on a long and painful road of de-Stalinization, consciously giving up the stereotypes of thinking and behavior, which the Soviet system had inculcated in them since childhood.
World War II veterans and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) veterans find it very hard to come to terms not because they fought on opposing sides. Other wartime enemies in Europe have long since made peace. Our veterans have had different life experiences, and it is hard for them to give up the beliefs of their youth.
Perhaps the real picture of the Holodomor will facilitate this painful reassessment of values. I must admit that the realization that you have become what you are as a result of government manipulations is an unpleasant thing. Yet it is much more unpleasant to remain that way until your final hour. How can one be Stalin's puppet half a century after his death?
My own reassessment of values took place under the influence of my study of Holodomor history. In 1981 I published a book entitled Partiia Lenina - Sila Narodnaia [Lenin's Party - the People's Strength], which was designed for Soviet schoolchildren. I was being honest with them because I believed in what I was writing. I believed not only because I was raised in this faith. Built by forceful means, the Leninist "commune state" became harmonious in its own peculiar way, when there was no longer any need to use force.
Then the eternal values propagated by the Soviet government came to the fore. Of course, I saw the double standards, but played them down as imperfections of human nature. I felt the lack of freedom, but justified it by the need to survive while being "surrounded by capitalists." Indeed, what can a bird born in a cage tell you about the sky?
After several years of exploring the Holodomor, I realized that the Soviet government was capable of exterminating people - millions of people. What could one's attitude be to such a government and its ideals after realizing what the Holodomor really was?
In 1991 two younger colleagues and I published the book Stalinism in Ukraine. The title itself is proof that I was clinging to the term "Stalinism," which is still popular in the West, and did so in an attempt to save the idea of social equality by blaming everything on Stalin.
Later I realized that the millions of lost lives were the result of the implementation of Lenin's idea of the "commune state". If personalized, the communist idea should be called Leninism. In its party dimension it should be called Bolshevism.
Tsina Velykoho Perelomu [The Price of the Great Turning Point] is the title of my second book that was published in 1991. The title is derived from Nikita Khrushchev's thoughts on the cost of collectivization in the lives of Soviet citizens. At the time these thoughts astonished me because they came from a CPSU leader.
The book's 432 pages contain hundreds of documents that paint a vivid picture of the Holodomor. Did this book influence the people of my generation, who need to reassess their values?
I doubt it. The state plays a key role in society's comprehension of the real nature of the Holodomor. Through its specialized agencies the state must bring to citizens' attention knowledge about the not so distant past, knowledge accumulated by scholars.
In doing so, the state can prevent interpersonal conflicts stemming from differing life experiences. The Ukrainian president's calls for reconciliation are futile without daily educational efforts by the government.
After 1987 the Ukrainian Communist Party and Soviet nomenklatura approached the research and educational work on the subject of the famine with affected enthusiasm. In September 1990 I was made a member of the ideological commission of the CC CPU, even though I never held any posts in the state machinery.
After the Ukrainian parliament proclaimed Ukraine's independence, information on the Holodomor was used by the "sovereign communists" headed by Leonid Kravchuk to convince voters that this [independence] was the right decision.
James Mace recalled that Oles Yanchuk's film Holod-33 [Famine '33] on which he was a consultant, did not receive a single kopeck in state funding during the filming, but it was still aired on television before the Dec. 1, 1991 referendum.
The first presidents of Ukraine mostly went no further than symbolic gestures (a memorial plaque on Kyiv's St. Michael's Square and the Day to Commemorate Holodomor Victims on the fourth Saturday of November). Most of the books on the Holodomor have been published with donations from sponsors, not with government funds.
In a decade and a half the leaders of Ukraine have not shown the will or desire to republish the three volumes of witness testimonies that speak of the tragic events in the Ukrainian countryside after 1928, which were compiled by the Mace commission.
These three volumes contain the voices of the generation born before 1920. What makes it unique is the fact that representatives of the first generation of Soviet people are no longer among us.
Whereas government bodies had no pressing desire to become involved in the subject of the Holodomor, opposition forces took over this function. We must recognize that they did a great deal of good. At the same time this subject became politicized. After the Orange Revolution, which removed the old nomenklatura from power, individual former oppositionists decided that now they could do as they pleased.
They started with a "small thing" - an attempt to move the Day to Commemorate the Holodomor Victims, which Leonid Kuchma introduced in 1998, from fall to springtime, so that it would not conflict with the anniversary of the Orange Revolution. The moral myopia of such people is astounding.
The attitude of the Russian public and government to the events of 1932- 1933 is another important issue. Even if we substantiate with facts that the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine was an act of genocide, we will have to face a different interpretation of our common past at the international level.
Discussions with Russian scholars should be conducted as openly as possible so that we can prove the validity of our position to both the opposing side and our own public. This is necessary in view of how Ukrainian citizens presently understand the Holodomor.
Many our fellow countrymen believe that the causes of the 1932-1933 famine are unclear. Others think that the famine was caused by droughts and/or grain procurements. These were precisely the causes of the 1946- 1947 famine, which people still remember.
Most of those who think that the Holodomor was an act of genocide have a shallow understanding of the political and legal essence of "genocide." They are certain that if the government's actions cause mass deaths among the population, they are always an act of genocide. The Kazakh tragedy refutes this supposition.
Communist Party officials' ignorant attempts to force the Kazakh nomads to settle down resulted in famine, the scale of which exceeded the Ukrainian Holodomor if you compare the percentage of the affected population in the two ethnic groups. However, the Kazakh tragedy was not a result of terror by famine.
The 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine should be analyzed within the context of the political and legal substance of the term "genocide." During a relatively short period Stalin purposefully exterminated the village population in two Soviet political- administrative divisions in which Ukrainians were the dominant population (the Ukrainian SSR and the Kuban province of the Northern Caucasus Territory of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic).
From the very outset I would like to dissociate myself from those of my colleagues who define the purpose of this act of genocide differently: Stalin exterminated the Ukrainians! Of course, the end result was just that: Stalin exterminated the Ukrainians. Yet we will not be able to prove the validity of a claim about it being an act of genocide if we use this simplified and purely emotional formulation.
For many years I have been conferring with a small community of scholars in Russia and the West, who are studying the Ukrainian Holodomor, and I know their way of thinking. For this reason I have to offer a thought-out and clear position on the subject of genocide.
I understood the socioeconomic causes of the 1932-1933 famine already in the early 1990s. Later, at the Department of Interwar History at the Institute of Ukrainian History we studied the totalitarianism of the Communist Party and the Soviets as a holistic political and economic system, which included a study of the Kremlin's nationality policy. Now we have arguments relating to the national component of the Kremlin's policy.
All of the comments provided here are necessary so that my account of discussions with Russian scholars on the nature of the 1932-1933 famine in the Soviet Union will strike the appropriate tone.
These discussions were touched off by the May 1993 informational and analytical conference organized by the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow, which was entitled "The Holodomor of 1932-1933: Tragedy and Warning." Both sides were represented by scholars, politicians, and journalists.
We spoke about terror by famine, which the Kremlin used against Ukraine, while they claimed that the Stalinist repressions had no national component. Only Sergey Kovalev, a former dissident, who in 1993 chaired the Human Rights Commission in the Russian parliament, summoned the courage to say "Forgive us!" while addressing the Ukrainian side.
Then a Moscow newspaper carried an article by the journalist Leonid Kapeliushny, who wrote it after reading the book by Volodymyr Maniak and Lidiia Kovalenko, Holod 33: Narodna Knyha-Memorial [Famine '33. The People's Memorial Book]. In the book the journalist saw "eyewitness testimonies that have legal force, testimonies of genocide witnesses" (Izvestiia, 1993, July 3).
Kovaliov's "Forgive us" and Kapeliushny's conclusion were reinforced by papers presented at the international scholarly conference "The Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: Causes and Consequences," which took place in Kyiv on Sept. 9-10, 1993 and was attended by the president of Ukraine. While President Kravchuk blamed the tragedy of the Ukrainian nation on the Stalinist government, Ivan Drach, who took the floor after him, placed this problem in a different dimension.
"It is time to fully understand once and for all that this was only one of the closest to us - surviving and now living Ukrainians - stages in the planned eradication of the Ukrainian nation. Intolerance of this nation is deeply rooted in the descendants of the northern tribes, to whom our people gave its own faith, culture, civilization, and even its name," Drach said.
The Russian experts on the problems of collectivization and famine- Ilya Zelenin, Nikolai Ivnytsky, Viktor Kondrashyn, and Yevgeniy Oskolkov - wrote a collective letter to the editors of a historical journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences, expressing their concern over the fact that most conference participants insisted on "a certain exceptionality of Ukraine, a special nature and substance of these events in the republic as opposed to other republics and regions in the country."
They claimed that the famine in Ukraine was no different from famines in other regions, whereas the anti-peasant policy of the Stalinist leadership had no clearly defined national direction (Otechestvennaia istoriia [National History], 1994, no. 6, p. 256).
In an attempt to substantiate their position, the Russian colleagues emphasized the socioeconomic aspects of the 1932-1933 famine, quoting my paper presented at that conference. Without a doubt, the Kremlin's economic policy did not distinguish among the national republican borders, and in this respect their arguments were flawless.
However, the rejection of the Ukrainian specifics of the famine, led the Russian colleagues, whether they wanted to or not, to state that the Kremlin had no nationality policy or repressive element of such a policy.
I heard a similar statement to the effect that "Stalin's victims have no nationality" from a different Russian delegation at an international symposium in Toronto, entitled "The Population of the USSR in the 1920s-1930s in the Light of New Documentary Evidence" (February 1995). However, Soviet history knows many cases of ethnically motivated repressions. Is it worthwhile recounting them all?
In recent years the Institute of Ukrainian History has established cooperation with the Institute of General History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and through it with experts at other Russian institutions as part of the Russian-Ukrainian Commission of Historians (co-chaired by the Ukrainian academician Valeriy Smoliy and Russian academician Aleksandr Chubarian).
On March 29, 2004, Moscow hosted the commission's meeting, attended by numerous prominent Russian experts on agrarian history. They discussed the book Holod 1932-1933 rokiv v Ukraini: prychyny ta naslidky [The Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: Causes and Consequences], published in 2003 by the Institute of Ukrainian History to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor.
Thirty authors collaborated on this large-format volume of 888 pages supplemented with a 48-page section of illustrations.
Several copies of the book were sent to Moscow long before the commission's meeting. Yet it failed to convince the Russian historians.
Soon after that meeting Viktor Danilov and Ilya Zelenin publicized their views of the problem discussed in an article that appeared in Otechestvennaia istoriia (no. 5, 2004). The gist of their position is reflected in the title of their article: "Organized Famine. Dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of the Peasants' Common Tragedy."
The journal printed a black band around the authors' names; our opponents died soon after the meeting. It is a great loss for Russian historical scholarship and all of us, since aspiring Russian scholars are not all that keen to explore these "complex problems."
New archival documents on Soviet agrarian history are now circulating among scholars. This has become possible primarily thanks to the tremendous efforts of Viktor Petrovich Danilov. The new additions to the source base have significantly reinforced the position of the Ukrainian side in its attempts to convince the world that the Holodomor was indeed an act of genocide.
Summing up the results of our meeting on March 29, 2004, Danilov and Zelenin came to the following conclusion: "If one is to characterize the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as 'a purposeful genocide of Ukrainian peasants,' as individual historians from Ukraine insist, then we must bear in mind that it was in equal measure a genocide of Russian peasants." The Ukrainian side can accept such a conclusion.
After all, we are not saying that only Ukrainians were Stalin's victims. Moreover, because of the specifics of "socialist construction" and the nature of the political system, between 1918 and 1938 the hardest hit (percentage of the total) by repressions were the immediate perpetrators of Stalin's crimes - Chekist secret police agents, followed by state party members, especially the Communist Party and the Soviet nomenklatura, followed by citizens of the national republics, and finally Russians.
How can one explain the Russian scholars' restraint when it comes to the question of genocide? It may perhaps be explained by the fact that the international community is using the Dec. 9, 1948, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide more and more actively. In January 2004 Stockholm hosted the international forum "Preventing Genocide: Threats and Responsibility," which was attended by many heads of state.
The forum focused on the following questions: the political, ideological, economic, and social roots of violence connected with genocide; mechanisms for preventing and responding to the threat of genocide at the international level; the use of diplomatic, humanitarian, economic, and forceful means to prevent genocide.
In Ukrainian society only marginal right-leaning politicians insist that present-day Russia is responsible for the Ukrainian Holodomor and demand moral or even financial compensation. However, the fact that Russia has been recognized as the legal successor of the USSR does not burden it with responsibility for the crimes of the Bolsheviks, White Guards, or any other regimes that controlled Russian territory in the past.
Even the attempts of the Kremlin leadership to associate itself with certain attributes of the former Soviet Union, as evidenced by the melody of Russia's state anthem, are not reason enough to put forward such claims. After all, nostalgia for the Soviet past is equally present in Ukrainian and Russian societies, mainly in the older generations.
Russia is freely publishing documentary collections that reflect the state crimes of the Stalinist period. In fact, it has become possible to build the concept of the Ukrainian Holodomor as an act of genocide only on the basis of documents publicized in Moscow.
At the same time, Russia's attempts to inherit the achievements of the Soviet epoch, especially the victory in World War II, are forcing Russian officials to throw a veil over Stalin's crimes as much as this can be done in the new conditions of freedom from dictatorship. This applies particularly to the crime of genocide, even though the Dec. 9, 1948, Convention does not place responsibility on the legal successors of criminal regimes.
Naturally, if Russia wants to inherit the accomplishments of the Soviet epoch, it must also inherit its negative aspects, i.e., the obligation to utter Kovalev's "Forgive us." The European Parliament hinted at this "liability" in 2004, when it found the deportation of the Chechens to be an act of genocide. However, few would like to inherit moral responsibility for the crimes of previous regimes, unless absolutely necessary.
This is why Russia is a decisive opponent of recognizing the Ukrainian Holodomor as an act of genocide. In August 2003 Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin said in an interview with BBC's Ukrainian Service: "The Holodomor affected the entire Soviet state. There were no fewer tragedies and no less pain in the Kuban, Ural, and Volga regions, and Kazakhstan.
Such expropriations did not just happen in Chukotka and the northern regions because there was nothing to expropriate." Russia's official representatives at the UN did everything possible to have the definition of the Holodomor as an act of genocide excluded from the Joint Statement of 36 nations on the 70th anniversary of the Ukrainian Holodomor.
It remains for us to convince the Russians that the Ukrainian famine was a result of not only repressive grain procurements, but also a perfectly organized campaign to seize all food stocks from peasants. There is a body of evidence to this effect, and if the voices of Ukrainian scholars are reinforced by the voices of Western historians, this goal will become practicable.
A closely interconnected network of research institutions specializing in so-called Sovietology formed in the West during the Cold War. However, no Sovietologists were interested in what happened in Ukraine in 1932-1933.
After moving to the US, Robert Conquest, an English literary scholar and contemporary of the Russian revolution, started to work at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of the USSR. He is the author of the first book of non-Ukrainian historiography on the Great Famine in the USSR, which was published in 1986.
The author of this famous work, The Great Terror, was right to define Stalin's policy in Ukraine as a special kind of terror - terror by famine. Robert Conquest's book The Harvest of Sorrow was based on literary sources, most of them collected by James Mace.
The international community found the book sensational. On the contrary, Sovietologists disapproved of it and accused the author of political bias, because the book was commissioned by the Ukrainian Diaspora.
In the late 1980s a "revisionist" trend emerged in the ranks of Sovietologists. Its representatives believed that Cold War historiography had to be revised because it was ideologically opposed to communism, i.e., it went beyond the bounds of scholarly knowledge.
The "revisionists" unleashed a torrent of criticism against the publications of the US Congressional Commission on the Ukraine Famine. Mace himself recalled that he was accused of falsifying history. With no prospects for steady employment in the US, Mace moved to Kyiv and found a job at the institute, which had been organized by Ivan Kuras on the foundations of the former Institute of Party History at the CC CPU.
Much like during the Soviet period, in the early post-Soviet years Ukrainian historical studies did not have an independent international status. In contrast, Russian historians only had to strengthen their long-standing ties. The international status of Russian scholarship rose sharply with the opening of archives from the Stalinist period.
In 1992 Viktor Danilov launched a theoretical seminar entitled "Modern Concepts of Agrarian Development" at the Interdisciplinary Academic Center of Social Sciences (Intercenter). During its meeting on June 24, 1997, the participants discussed the work of Stephen Wheatcroft (Australia) and Robert Davies (UK) entitled The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture, 1931-1933. The journal Otechestvennaia istoriia (no. 6, 1998) devoted dozens of pages to a report on this seminar. It is hard to describe it in several paragraphs, but I will try.
In his introduction Wheatcroft condemns the thesis that it was an "organized famine" and that Stalin purposefully seized grain to cause the peasants to starve. The report focuses much attention on Ukraine.
It states that the Kremlin did not know anything, and when information about the famine started to come in, "the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) was addressing the increasingly pressing problem of dispensing additional grain [to the peasants - Auth.]." Between February and July 1933 the CC AUCP(b) and the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR issued 35 resolutions and decrees to dispense food grain.
That was the report. Interestingly enough, the cited facts were true. The only thing that is not known is why millions of people died of hunger. Only one document struck the researchers with its cynicism: a CC CP(b)U resolution on dividing peasants hospitalized and diagnosed with dystrophy into ailing and recovering patients. The resolution ordered improving the nutrition of the latter within the limits of available resources so that they could be sent out into the fields to sow the new crop as soon as possible.
Of course, Stalin did not use terror by famine for the indiscriminate extermination of all peasants for whatever reason. Those lucky enough to survive were sent to perform agricultural labor and received food in the fields while they worked. They received food dispensed according to special resolutions from supreme government bodies. This was meant to show how much the government cared about keeping its citizens alive. In this way the peasants learned to work as part of state- owned collective farms.
Based on the authors' estimates, Roberta Manning of Harvard University pointed out that before the 1933 harvest government stockpiles contained between 1.4 and 2 million tons of grain. This was enough to prevent mass hunger. "What forced the Soviet government to seize and export such a large percentage of a very low harvest and stockpile more grain than it did during the previous grain crises? These questions demand answers," she said in a polite rebuttal of the basic points of the report.
On the contrary, Lynn Viola of the University of Toronto supported the view of the 1932-1933 tragedy as outlined in the report primarily because it was "revisionist," i.e., it differed from previous opinions about the famine organized by the government or even an act of genocide committed by the Stalinist leadership.
Yu. Moshkov agreed that peasants received food relief in the first half of 1933, but added to this obvious fact that "in my view, it is impossible to deny Stalin's clear intent in the fall of 1932 to punish disobedient peasants who refused to surrender everything including grain."
M. Viltsan used the points in the report to launch an attack against the authors of the "concept of manmade famine" Nikolai Ivnytsky, Viktor Kondrashyn, and Yevgeniy Oskolkov. Armed with facts, these three repelled the attack.
This was the gist of the theoretical seminar at the Intercenter, with praise for "revisionists" and attacks against Russian scholars who called the famine of 1932-1933 "manmade" in the face of irrefutable facts. It is not surprising that they did not dare go one step further and call the Ukrainian famine an act of genocide.
This seminar reflected the way the Holodomor was comprehended in the West in the late 1990s. The situation has improved significantly. It appears that the turning point came during the international conference organized by the Institute for Historical and Religious Studies in Vicenza, Italy, in October 2003. I will not dwell on its work, because James Mace wrote about it in one of The Day's October 2003 issues.
Its result was a resolution supported by scholars from Italy, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, the US, and Canada (Ivnytsky and Kondrashyn abstained), urging the prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, who was then holding the EU's rotating presidency, and European Commission chairman Romano Prodi to apply efforts to have the Ukrainian famine 1932-1933 recognized internationally as an act of genocide.
The Vicenza conference had a sequel. On Sept. 5, 2005, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy launched a book entitled Death of the Land. The Holodomor in Ukraine of 1932-1933. This event was attended by Italy's Ambassador to Ukraine Fabio Fabbri and the director of the Italian Institute in Ukraine, Nicola Balloni.
The book is based on the materials presented at the Vicenza conference. Nadia Tysiachna's article (Sept. 13, 2005) on this presentation bore the same title that James Mace used for the newspaper column that he sent from Vicenza: "Intellectual Europe on the Ukrainian Genocide."
University of Koln professor Gerhard Simon, who participated in the Vicenza conference, organized a discussion panel entitled "Was the 1932-1933 Famine in Ukraine an Act of Genocide?" at the 7th International Congress of Historians in Berlin, held in July 2005. This question touched off a heated debate. I am grateful to Dr. Simon for sacrificing the presentation of his own report to give me additional time to substantiate my position.
I am also grateful to him for his assistance in having my article translated into German and published in the reputable magazine Ost Europa. The entire staff of the Institute of Ukrainian History is thankful to this authoritative expert on the history of Central and Eastern Europe for his interest in the problem of the Holodomor and his article published in Ukrainskyi istorychnyi Zhurnal [Ukrainian Historical Journal], which is a fresh contribution to the German historiography on this problem.
It is obvious that comprehending the Holodomor is no simple task for Ukrainian and foreign scholars, Ukrainian society, and the international community. Do we know everything that happened in our Ukraine seven or eight decades ago? Have we broken free of the stereotypes that were inculcated into the consciousness of several generations?
Sometimes in the face of new or reconsidered facts one has to give up one's established views of certain aspects of the past. This is a normal thing for a professional historian. This is the meaning of scholarly quest. At the start of Gorbachev's de-Stalinization one impulsive woman could no longer endure it and screamed out loud for all of the Soviet Union to hear: "I cannot give up my principles!" She could not find the courage to peer into the abyss and see how much Leninist ideology differs from Leninist and Stalinist practice.
We have to squeeze the hypocrisy of the Soviet period out of ourselves one drop at a time. The sooner our society liberates itself from the stereotypes of the previous epoch, the easier its life will be. The truth about the Holodomor can become a powerful lever in this process.
What is this truth? In the coming issues I will propose my version of the 1932-1933 events in Ukraine. Readers who have read this historiographic introduction in the form of these four articles should make their own judgments based on the facts currently in possession of historians.
The upcoming articles will address the essence of the communist "revolution from the top," the Kremlin's nationality policy, mechanisms of genocide, and other subjects that together can provide the answer to the question of why Stalin exterminated the Ukrainians.
5. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
The ideological dimension of the genocide
The ideological dimension of the genocide
a) On the Nature of Soviet Power
b) Slogans of the Russian Revolution
c) "Getting Rid of the Peasants"
In my previous article I pointed out that I no longer use the term "Stalinism," which is widely used in both Ukraine and the West. As I reread that article, I decided that I should explain my rejection of this term.
At the same time, I reread the article by Professor Andrea Graziosi of the University of Naples, which appeared in Ukrainskyi istorychnyi zhurnal [Ukrainian Historical Journal] (no. 3, 2005), and focused on the following thought: "Stanislav Kulchytsky established the preconditions of the genocide from a different angle, portraying the famine (at both the general Soviet level and the Ukrainian level) as ideologically motivated genocide that resulted from decisions made in 1929."
Combining these two thoughts, I realized that I cannot confine myself to revealing only the socioeconomic and national dimensions of the genocide, as I planned on doing from the start. I must single out a third, ideological, dimension.
Its analysis should start not with the year 1929, when the collectivization of agriculture was already in full swing, but with 1917, when Lenin threw the idea of building a "commune state" into Russian society, which was then in revolutionary turmoil.
In doing so, I do not mean to add new touches to the concept of the Holodomor as an act of genocide, but only to enhance the concept's structural integrity. The cause-and- effect relationships between the Holodomor and the entire picture of "socialist construction" should be outlined in such a way as to make this concept logically impeccable and clear to readers. This means that the explanation of the concept should begin with the ideological dimension of the genocide.
In 2003 I completed my book entitled Rosiiska revoliutsiia 1917 roku: novyi pohliad [The Russian Revolution of 1917: a New Perspective]. It was published by the Institute of Ukrainian History in two languages, Ukrainian and Russian, the original and the translation in one volume. The limited edition was distributed among experts, including members of the scholarly council on the history of revolutions at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
In the book I speak of only one revolution of 1917, not the February or October revolution, but a single Russian revolution with its specific ramifications in the empire's peripheral national territories - Ukraine and others. Yet this is not what my new angle on those events is about. The greatest authority on Russian history in the West, Richard Pipes, published his two-volume work, The Russian Revolution, in New York already in 1990.
His book quite naturally analyzes the Russian revolution as an uninterrupted process. In 1994 the association "Russian Political Encyclopedia" translated and published these two volumes under their original title, Russkaia revolutsiia [The Russian Revolution].
However, even after this, few people in Russia and Ukraine abandoned the idea of two separate revolutions. Only the terminology has changed, with the Great October Socialist Revolution now being called the October Coup.
The novelty of my approach, which has not won any recognition either, lies in analyzing the historical phenomenon commonly known as Soviet power. I believe that it was the political regime with this inaccurate name that provided Russian communism with a margin of strength that enabled it to survive for three generations.
The essence of Lenin's approach was in dividing seized power - integral and centralized - into two halves, only one of which had its face turned to the people, thereby creating an impression of government by the people, or democracy.
The population formed soviets, or councils, with their executive committees, in keeping with the norms of democratic constitutions, but did so under the strict control of partkoms, or party committees, which recommended their own candidates for deputies from the "bloc of communists and independents." Party committees, which represented the second face of power, were elected only by members of the state party.
Thanks to the principle of "democratic centralism," which was at the core of all sociopolitical structures in the country, the membership of the executive bodies of the monopolistic party was first determined by the hierarchically superior link before being formally endorsed in "elections."
Executive committees of soviets possessed real administrative power. Party committees were not involved in the process of administration unless necessary, but had a monopoly over political decisions and appointments. Thus, Soviet power was dual in nature, i.e., it was constructed as a symbiosis of separately existing systems of power: party committees, all the way up to the Central Committee of Lenin's party, and executive committees of the soviets, all the way up to the Council of People's Commissars (Radnarkom) of the USSR.
The communist dictatorship was collective by definition, because "democratic centralism" could centralize power only to the level of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik).
The relationships among Politburo members, i.e., party chiefs, could not possibly be regulated by the constitution because the party was above the soviets and society. Nor were they regulated by the party's charter with its make-believe democracy - the principle of "democratic centralism." However, these chiefs were not endowed with power by royal lineage or religion, as is the case in traditional monarchical societies.
As a result, the relationship among them, as though in a pride of lions, was one of constant struggle until one of them emerged victorious. The victor concentrated in his hands absolute power over the party and society. Nobody could stop him from implementing decisions aimed at the extermination of millions of people in order to preserve absolute personal power. This was the power that Stalin secured during the brutal six-year struggle (1923-1928) within the Politburo. Soviet power...
Why can't our conscience register the profound meaning of some of Stalin's documents that are directly linked to the Holodomor? In my previous articles I provided one such example, and I will have an opportunity to provide one more in my upcoming articles. The answer is this: in Soviet textbooks the history of the USSR was far removed from reality.
Unlike us, Stalin was not a disciple of the Soviet school. He stood at the cradle of what was called Soviet power and was well aware of its soft and vulnerable spots. By contrast, for us the idea of Soviet power was more or less in sync with the image that had been created by propaganda. Meanwhile, those who hated it did so blindly.
When I say "us," I mean my generation, including the General Secretary and members of the CC CPSU, and the deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, all those who in 1988 embraced the slogan "Full power to the Soviets" and blithely destroyed the system of power created by Lenin. They could not anticipate the outcome: the totalitarian state collapsed and society reestablished its sovereignty over the state, the sovereignty it had won in March and lost in November 1917.
I finally realized the nature of Soviet power only after Mikhail Gorbachev's constitutional reform, when this power was deprived of the dictatorship of party committees and became fundamentally different. Only after this was I able to bring clarity to the problem of its genesis. To understand how the Holodomor became possible, we must understand how this power emerged and what goals it pursued.
The term "Stalinism" entered into common usage here after the first de-Stalinization, Khrushchev's, i.e., from the latter half of the 1950s. Official historiographers insisted that the Bolshevik revolution was specifically the popular revolution of 1917. According to them, the Kremlin worked to implement the demands of the revolution and pursued a liberalized policy in the economic sphere (New Economic Policy) and national relations (indigenization). But then Stalin came along and spoiled everything.
The reality was different. The history of the USSR was written by the victors, and it does not correspond to the truth. Focusing on the exploration of "blank spots" in history (including the Holodomor) historians have accomplished a great deal. However, on some key issues we (Western historians as well) are still captive to the stereotypes of Soviet historiography.
The truth is that the uninterrupted chain of critical events that began in the world in 1914, i.e., from the start of World War I, mutated in Bolshevik-controlled Russia (from the spring of 1918) and Ukraine (from early 1919). Subsequent events in the countries that came under communist control developed differently from the civilized world (now customary parlance for us).
There is no denying that the history of the USSR and the Central and Eastern European countries was rich in its own way. There was room in it for heroism and terror, for epochal accomplishments and so-called blank spots that concealed some horrible crimes committed by political regimes. However, the Soviet system was a specific and, what is more, mutated civilization that was deprived of the mainstay that has supported mankind since the beginning of time - private enterprise.
Despite the network of Sovietological institutions, the Western world did not have a very good understanding of what was happening here. Moreover, nobody could deny the communist empire the right to exist. On the contrary, it claimed that in the future mankind would follow Soviet patterns of development. Some political analysts even believed that the two worlds would converge by combining the positive features of capitalism and socialism. However, the "commune state" created by Lenin and Stalin crumbled suddenly and quite unexpectedly.
I cannot comprehend how two contradictory ideas can coexist in the public consciousness: the idea of Bolshevism as the offspring of the 1917 revolution and the idea of communism as an experiment that the Bolsheviks carried out in the former Russian empire. I agree only with the latter. I must add, however, that this experiment had nothing in common with Marxism or Marxist ideas that were widespread among the Russian social democrats of both Menshevik and Bolshevik leanings.
Heavily saturated with Marxist terminology, the concept of a "commune state" originated in only one head - Lenin's. For 20 years it was being brought to life by forceful means and with persistence that could have been put to better use elsewhere. The communist construction, which out of tactical considerations was renamed Soviet construction after 1921, was a veritable revolution as far as the profundity of transformations is concerned ("revolution from the top," as Stalin referred to it).
Indeed, Bolshevik experimenters changed the appearance of the countries they occupied and built an alternative to the existing civilization. However, contrary to what Soviet historiography claims, the Bolsheviks' mutated civilization had nothing in common with the slogans of the Russian revolution.
The revolution that started in Petrograd on March 8, 1917, was unlike any other social cataclysm known in history. It saw the formation of a democratic camp in the form of liberal and socialist party blocs. The term "socialism" should be understood in its original meaning, which has nothing in common with later interpretations: Lenin's (socialism as the first phase of communism) and Hitler's (National Socialism).
The liberal bloc was less radical, while the socialist bloc was more so, but both agreed on the need to lead the country toward the Constituent Assembly. Aside from the political parties, however, there emerged another participant of the revolutionary events - a camp of popular masses represented by the soviets.
On the fifth day of the revolutionary events, leaders of the workers' group at the Central Military and Industrial Committee went from prison straight into the residence of the State Duma - Tavria Palace. They still remembered the experience of the 1905 revolution, when, unprompted by the parties, workers formed soviets to organize the leadership of political strikes on the scale of a raion of a whole town. This is why the leaders proposed that striking groups immediately send their city council deputies to the palace.
On the night of that same day, March 12, the organ of the revolution was created: the executive committee of the Petrograd Council of Workers and Soldiers' Deputies, which controlled the actions of tens of thousands of striking workers and armed soldiers in the streets of Petrograd. Soon after that, soviets (or soldiers' committees in frontline areas) started to form all across the empire.
Each of them functioned independently of the others, and no hierarchically structured Soviet organization emerged at the time. The composition of the soviets was changeable because soldiers' and workers' committees could recall and replace their deputies at any time.
Although the political parties differed in terms of the level of their radicalism, they acted within a single system of coordinates - a democratic one. Unlike them, the soviets demanded the immediate expropriation of property from landowners and the bourgeoisie.
This revolution was not only about eliminating institutions of the previous government, as was the case in all revolutions known to historians; it was about eliminating social classes. The soviets' extremist demands stemmed from the sharp social contradiction inherent in Russia, which was further exacerbated by the burden of the war that was unprecedented in its scale.
The soviet camp showed its strength from the first days of the revolution. Who forced Tsar Nikolai II to abdicate his throne on March 15, 1917? The tsar acted on advice from the leaders of the major parties in the State Duma, the front commanders, and General Mikhail Alekseev, chief of staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief (he was also the Supreme Commander- in-Chief). But who forced the tsar's closest allies to recommend that he surrender power?
In the Soviet period, the industrial proletariat was positioned at the forefront of the revolutionary events of 1917. Assembled in large groups by virtue of industrial conditions, the proletariat could act in a coordinated manner and proved this in 1905. However, tsarism proved that it could also handle a proletarian revolution.
By contrast, production conditions in the countryside did not facilitate coordinated action among the peasants. Throughout the centuries the peasants had cultivated a hatred for landowners, but they were scattered and did not pose a serious threat to the political system with the class of landowners at its core and an autocrat at its head. All of a sudden, from 1914 the empire itself started to unite scattered peasants into military companies and battalions, putting weapons in their hands. Rear garrisons formed in large cities.
In each of them instructors from the standing army trained thousands of mobilized peasants. When the uprising began in Petrograd, the rear garrison in Petrograd faced a dilemma: either to head to the frontline or turn their weapons against the leadership. Wherever there were clusters of mobilized peasants (workers were mostly employed at defense enterprises), they immediately made their choice. It was after this that front commanders realized that the tsar had to be deposed.
In keeping with the inertia that stems from the unjustifiable division of the 1917 revolution into two separate revolutions, the February revolution is mechanically called a bourgeois-democratic revolution. However, the bourgeoisie was represented in the revolution only by liberal democrats, primarily the Cadets. The overwhelming majority of workers and peasants (including mobilized ones) were influenced by social-democratic parties that emerged from the underground and acted in concert with the liberals.
The overwhelming majority of the Russian working class (including workers in the Ukrainian provinces) supported the Menshevik Party that headed the trade union movement and shared the positions of European social democracy, which was aimed at reconciling the interests of workers and owners of capital through negotiations.
The Socialist Revolutionaries were especially influential among the masses of mobilized peasants. They also wanted to end the revolution by passing laws in a legitimate fashion, i.e., through the Constituent Assembly. These parties also had a decisive influence on the soviets, thereby restraining the anarchical and destructive soviet camp. Both parties viewed the soviets as temporary organizations designed to prevent the mobilization of counterrevolutionary forces.
On April 16 Lenin arrived in Petrograd from Switzerland. On the following day he addressed the participants of the all-Russian meeting of the Soviets of Workers and Soldiers' Deputies. His speech contained 10 theses that were published in Pravda on April 20 under the title "On the Tasks of the Proletariat in This Revolution." This document, known as the "April Theses," excluded the Bolsheviks from the democratic camp that united the liberals and socialists, and placed them apart in the revolution.
Lenin proposed the slogan "All power to the Soviets!" His strategy was to establish control of the soviets from within, overthrow the liberal democratic government, and replace it with his own government in a soviet shell. He did not directly reject the idea of convening the Constituent Assembly because it was supported by the people. Yet he rejected this idea in a camouflaged form.
Lenin insisted on creating a soviet republic instead of a parliamentary republic, thereby denying the people's sovereign right to form the governing bodies. He realized that the Bolsheviks had no chance of winning a majority of mandates in the Constituent Assembly. Winning a majority in the soviets was more realistic.
The doctrinal extremism of the Bolsheviks, who supported the abolition of private ownership of production, meshed to some extent with the grassroots extremism of the soviets that were demanding the expropriation of property from the bourgeoisie and the landowners. Concealed behind the talk of the advantages of a soviet republic over a parliamentary republic was the Bolsheviks' desire to force their way into power and not share it with other political forces.
In practice the slogan "All power to the Soviets!" meant the establishment of a single-party dictatorship. The Bolshevik Party's plan was, first of all, to oust all the other parties from the soviets and, second, merge with the soviets, which were becoming the power on all levels of state administration and local self-government.
By merging with Lenin's party, the soviets lost their independence, but formally remained separate organizational structures. By preserving the outer shell of the soviets and labeling their own dictatorial rule as Soviet (which was to be necessarily capitalized), the Bolsheviks gained an opportunity to control the masses.
The first five of Lenin's "April Theses" were designed to bring the Bolsheviks to power. They were clear and specific. The remaining theses were formulated in camouflaged wording. This part outlined the action plan that had to be carried out once the dictatorship was established. Lenin spoke of renaming the party as the Communist Party, adopting a communist program, and building a commune state.
Thus, the ghost of the communist revolution was hovering over the country already in April 1917, but nobody could see it clearly at the time. None of the Bolshevik party members could even picture the long-term effects of the abolition of private ownership of production.
In the first post-revolutionary months the Bolsheviks' successes were more than modest. Their own slogans could not win them popular support. For this reason, in August 1917 Lenin temporarily shelved his communist slogans and armed himself with soviet slogans.
In particular, in place of the slogan that called for turning the imperialist war into a civil war, the Bolsheviks supported the popular demand for a separate peace. Instead of their demand to convert landowners' estates into sovkhoz soviet farms, they adopted the peasant slogan for the "black redistribution," i.e., an egalitarian distribution of all lands. Having always spoken out for a centralized state, the Bolsheviks supported the demand to federalize Russia.
In the popular imagination the Bolsheviks' powerful propaganda machinery created an image of an opposition party that would bring the soviet slogans to life once it was in power. For the first time, in September the Petrograd, Moscow, and Kyiv soviets adopted resolutions proposed by the Bolsheviks. The Petrograd soviet was chaired by Leon Trotsky.
The Bolsheviks used this soviet to prepare an all-Russian Congress of Soviets and seized power in the capital while it was assembling. At the time of the coup they did not have a majority in the soviets, but simply ignored the soviets beyond their control.
The elections to the Constituent Assembly revealed the true level of the Bolsheviks' popularity. As we know, they obtained 25% of the popular vote in Russia and 10% in Ukraine. Yet this no longer mattered, for Lenin already had power in his hands. December 1917 saw the creation of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counterrevolution and Sabotage.
The Bolsheviks labeled as counterrevolutionaries everyone who did not side with them. Now voters were expected to elect the membership of soviet government bodies from among candidates recommended by Bolshevik party committees.
The Bolsheviks' October coup was carried out under soviet, not communist, slogans. In fact, Lenin's party wormed itself into power disguised as something else.
Having consolidated their power and spread it from the capital to the periphery, in the spring of 1918 the Bolsheviks started their own, communist, revolution. In May 1918 Lenin formulated the party's goal as follows: "We have to organize anew the deepest fundamentals of the lives of hundreds of millions of people."
He spoke about proclaiming the nation's economy as public (in reality - state-owned) property; he discussed collectivization (in reality - nationalization) of small production facilities, the elimination of money, and the building of a centralized planned economy on the ruins of the market economy. Such revolutions were unprecedented in the world, but in terms of the methods employed it was a "reform from the top," which was common in Russia since the days of Peter the Great.
Countless political forces were embroiled in the Russian revolution, but all of them were split between two sharply differing trends: democratic and soviet. It would be a big stretch to call the latter a workers and peasants' party, because the soviets united a relatively small percentage of workers and peasants - the embittered, lowest social class that was willing to expropriate and distribute everything. The spontaneous and unorganized soviet trend triumphed in the revolution for one reason: dissolved in this trend was the Bolshevik Party, hardened in clandestine struggle, disciplined, and centralized.
The soviets' victory was in fact the soviets' immediate defeat. In reality, the Bolshevik Party won, and its make-believe "dissolution" in the masses was only a means for establishing control of the soviets. Immediately after the October coup the Bolsheviks started to combine demagoguery and populism with state terror.
Repressions against political parties turned out to be repressions against all deputies in the soviets, who did not belong to Lenin's party. As a result, the soviets stopped functioning as an independent factor of political life. Almost at the same time, in January 1918, Lenin's government disbanded the Constituent Assembly. This symbolized the defeat of the democratic trend in the Russian revolution.
After the 1917 revolution exhausted its potential and wound down, the Bolsheviks remained in possession of the battlefield. They immediately unleashed their revolution, targeting owners and private ownership. With the help of the masses, who unwittingly thought they were continuing their revolution, Lenin's party managed to squelch the resistance of big owners during the Civil War.
The party secured the peasants' backing because it had carried out Lenin's promises from August 1917: landowners' property was distributed in Russia on an egalitarian basis. However, the "commune state," which the Bolsheviks started to build in the spring of 1918, was incompatible with the existence of dozens of millions of small owners. The Bolsheviks immediately started to have problems with the peasants.
Without hesitation Lenin placed on the agenda the question of changing the social status of those whom he disparagingly called the "petty bourgeoisie," i.e., small manufacturers and farmers. He stated openly: "The major goal of the revolution now is to fight against these two remaining classes. In order to get rid of them, we have to use methods other than those used in the struggle against the big landowners and capitalists" (Vladimir Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 44, p. 38). He therefore insisted on finding other methods, but the goal was nonetheless to "get rid of them."
The program approved by the party congress in March 1919 underscored the Bolsheviks' view that the organization of soviet farms and the support of all kinds of public farming associations, all the way to a commune, was the only possible way to increase the productivity of farming work, which was seen as an absolute necessity. However, "labor productivity" was part of the camouflage. In reality, this was about establishing government control over agriculture.
Before the program was approved, in January 1919 Moscow hosted the Congress of Land Departments, Poor Peasants' Committees, and Communes, which passed the resolution "On the Collectivization of Farming." Commenting on it, the newspaper Pravda expressed the hope that the development of these new forms would "inevitably lead to a single communist organization of all agriculture."
The Kremlin started to implement the new land policy in newly- conquered Ukraine, where landowners still owned the land. The Bolsheviks transferred a large part of the landowners' lands not to the peasants but to sugar plants and distilleries for the organization of soviet farms, or to those who wished to form communes. In response, the peasants rose up in an armed struggle against the Soviet government. The Red Army, most of which consisted of peasant companies, lost its defense capability. The White Guard quickly occupied Ukraine and Anton Denikin advanced on Moscow.
After Lenin defused the threat of the White Guard, he never again returned to his old slogan calling for the immediate collectivization of the countryside. To maintain the food supply to the army and cities, the Soviet government had to conduct requisitions of food. Peasants refused to sow crops under such conditions, which threatened to disrupt the harvest of the following year.
To preclude this threat, Lenin decided to impose a sowing plan on each peasant household. The 8th All-Russian Congress of Soviets in December 1920 passed a law to create a network of sowing committees. The imposition of mandatory sowing plans returned the countryside to the days of serfdom, the only difference being that the place of the land and serf owner was now occupied by the "government of workers and peasants."
The peasants were reluctant to shoulder the burden of food requisitions. In the winter months of 1920- 1921 Ukraine and the central chernozem oblast of Russia, where the government's pressure on peasants was the greatest, turned into an arena of mass uprisings. On Lenin's proposal, the 10th Congress of the Communist Party was forced to replace the requisition principle in the relations between the city and the countryside with taxes.
This first step away from the accelerated construction of communism gave rise to others. The government abandoned the idea of abolishing money, reintroduced free trade in agricultural products after the payment of a food tax, and allowed private enterprise. Heavy industry remained under state ownership, but an artificial partition - cost accounting - was introduced between the state budget and the budgets of state enterprises. In this way a new economic policy (NEP) materialized within the space of several months.
Embarking on the transition to the NEP, Lenin admitted that the policy of the accelerated construction of communism did not justify hopes. Not wanting to tarnish the doctrine, in March 1921, i.e., after the transition to the NEP, Lenin labeled the communist transformations of 1918-1920 as "war communism."
The chief replaced the necessary condemnation of the communist storm, which had brought so much suffering onto the population, with a statement about the storm itself having been necessitated by the conditions of the war. As a result, in all Soviet encyclopedias "War Communism" was now described as a system of temporary, extraordinary economic measures necessitated in view of the Civil War and foreign intervention.
The NEP should not be overestimated. The market in which economic entities found themselves was cut off from the world market, i.e., it was artificial. Only the government's relations with peasant farms, which preserved private ownership of production facilities (with the exception of land), were still based on market-economy principles.
After his defeat of the opposition within the Politburo, Stalin resumed the communist storm that Lenin had suspended in 1921. It was necessary to create a socioeconomic groundwork for a totalitarian political regime. The lessons of Lenin's failed storm were taken into account.
In the urban setting, within the working class, the depth of reforms was limited. In particular, the money-for-goods exchange was preserved. The trust-based cost accounting of the NEP period was replaced by improved (in the sense of being more government-controlled) cost accounting of enterprises. The working class preserved the right to freely choose the place of employment. All of this significantly simplified the Kremlin's task of keeping consolidated groups of workers under its control.
State party leaders even enlisted the workers' cooperation in creating heavy industry, primarily enterprises of the military-industrial complex and their infrastructure. Evidence of this was the genuine enthusiasm with which workers participated in new construction projects of the first Five-Year Plans.
Implementing the communist storm in the countryside proved much harder than in the cities. After all, real market relations had been preserved in the countryside. A market is about selling and buying commodities based on mutual agreement, and the peasants were not going to freely surrender to the government the role of determining the price of their agricultural products. When the government-imposed price seemed altogether unacceptable, the peasants refused to sell grain. This led to grain-procurement crises.
On its part the government wanted to finance the tremendous industrialization program at the expense of the peasantry. It simply had no other financial resources. The Soviet government's refusal to recognize the debts of the tsarist and interim governments deprived it of the possibility to secure long-term loans in the West. The equipment needed for construction projects was purchased on the terms of signature loans.
Only one thing could guarantee the extraction of the greatest possible resources from the countryside: the peasant had to be transformed from an owner, who independently decided what to do with his produce, into a hired laborer in collective farms placed under the constant control of soviet and party organs.
The state had to divest the peasant of his property and equalize his social status with that of the urban proletariat. As evidenced by the experience of the 1919 collectivization, this could not be accomplished without resorting to colossal coercive pressure.
Thus, the pervasive collectivization of agriculture had to be accompanied by repressions. In turn, repressions led to resistance on the peasants' part. This created a vicious circle. In this situation the "workers and peasants'" state had to use all available forms of repressions against the peasants. Only one person could decide on what kind of repressions to use: the person who had usurped power in the state party and, by inference, in the state.
We have begun to grasp the fact that the collectivization of agriculture was impossible without repressions. Why did Stalin opt for the most horrible form of repressions, terror by famine, and what territory was affected and when? These questions will be answered in my upcoming articles.
6. WHY DID STALIN EXTERMINATE THE UKRAINIANS?
Socioeconomic and national dimensions of the genocide
Socioeconomic and national dimensions of the genocide
a) The Purpose of Socioeconomic Transformations
b) Elimination of Wealthy Kurkul Peasants as a Class
c) "Dizzy with Success"
d) Crisis in the Collective Farm System
e) Stalin's Zeal
f) Nationality or Citizenship?
g) The Kremlin and Ukrainian Citizens
h) How it Happened
In November 2003, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the 1932-1933 Holodomor in Ukraine, the distinguished scholar James Mace proposed lighting candles in tribute to the memory of the victims of this horrible tragedy. Two years later the nation's leadership supported this proposal, first publicized in The Day.
President Victor Yushchenko of Ukraine recently signed an order instituting the Day to Commemorate the Victims of the Holodomor and Political Repressions, which was observed this year on Nov. 26.
Now all that remains is for the Holodomor of the early 1930s to be recognized as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation.
Among the researchers who are working to make this happen is the eminent Ukrainian historian and regular contributor to The Day, Stanislav KULCHYTSKY.
Today's feature concludes his series of articles on this subject.
In order to reveal the causes of terror by famine, it should be analyzed within the context of the communist revolution that was carried out by the Bolsheviks. This "revolution from the top" drastically changed the usual forms of life in society. These changes provoked resistance, which in turn gave rise to repressions by the state.
The communist revolution spanned two decades: from 1918 to 1938. Two periods of onslaught can be singled out in this revolution: the Leninist (1918-1920) and Stalinist (1929-1933). The Leninist onslaught targeted landowners and the bourgeoisie. In its elimination of landowners the Soviet government enjoyed the masses' absolute support. This created the illusion of a continuous revolutionary process.
The Leninist onslaught only created the framework for the "commune state." The attempt to extend the socioeconomic transformations to encompass small owners failed. Faced with resistance from the peasantry, which threatened a loss of power, Lenin implemented his new economic policy, leaving the peasantry outside of the "commune state."
After lengthy preparations Stalin resumed the communist onslaught. The nature and intensity of repressions during the Stalinist onslaught differed over the course of time and from region to region. Where resistance was strongest, Stalin used the most horrible form of repressions - terror by famine. The Holodomor was the result of such terror.
The propagandistic image of communism is well known: a society in which people use as many material and spiritual resources as would satisfy their needs. However, the true essence of Soviet communism, which was called socialism because it could not provide enough resources to satisfy needs, was determined by ownership relations, not an equal distribution of property.
None of the Bolshevik leaders intended to turn the country into a land of milk and honey. Their aim was to eliminate private ownership of the means of production and replace it with "common public" and "collective-farm and cooperative" forms of ownership, to use the language of propaganda. In reality, private ownership was to be replaced by Soviet state ownership.
At the time this state had no adequate economic foundation commensurate with its size. It had deprived the people of political freedom, but failed to subjugate them economically. During the Civil War the Communist Party broke the landowners' resistance, but the property that was confiscated from the bourgeoisie and landowners was used in different ways.
The Bolshevik leaders denounced attempts by workers' collectives to privatize enterprises as "anarcho-syndicalism." Factories and plants were proclaimed the peoples' property and came under state control. The state called the working class the "leader" of the revolution and gave it broad rights to manage production, the one thing it should be credited with. However, the state became the arbiter of working peoples' destinies, and the working class remained the same old proletariat.
The land was also proclaimed as the people's. However, the peasants prevented the conversion of landowners' estates into state enterprises and privatized them on an egalitarian basis. The Soviet government's early socioeconomic transformations did not bring the peasantry any closer to the "commune state"; in fact, quite the opposite. As long as the peasantry remained economically independent, the Kremlin leaders could not accomplish their goals.
We cannot understand the causes of the government's fanatical attempts to collectivize the peasantry unless we answer the question: What were the Kremlin's long- term goals?
In his "April Theses" Vladimir Lenin identified the creation of a "commune state" and the Communist International (Comintern) as his long-term goals. The bacchanalia of the "expropriation of expropriators" began after the Bolsheviks seized power, but they established a very strict system of accounting for seized valuables: gold, diamonds, and currency. Then Lenin's emissaries spread out across Europe with suitcases stuffed with this wealth to establish local networks of the Comintern.
After World War I, Europe underwent large-scale demobilization. In the meantime, the war continued in Soviet Russia, and the strength of the Red Army continued to grow, reaching five million soldiers in 1920. The Bolsheviks felt that it was time to enter Europe. "We must probe with our bayonets: perhaps a social revolution of the proletariat is already ripe in Poland?" Lenin wrote.
After unsuccessful attempts to establish Soviet power in Hungary, Germany, and Poland, the party leaders realized that a lengthy period of peaceful development lay ahead. They had to build industry that would be on a par with the industries of the major European countries in order to replace the primitive bayonet with tanks and planes.
In 1920 Lenin initiated the development and consolidation of a state plan to electrify Russia (GOELRO Plan), i.e., to rebuild and build industry and transport, which depended on electricity. The GOELRO Plan failed for lack of funds, but soon Stalin's Five-Year Plans were developed, requiring even greater resources.
The 14th Congress of the All- Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) in December 1925 endorsed an industrialization policy for the country. This immediately created the problem of securing funds for capital construction. The "all-Union elder" Mikhail Kalinin stated emphatically: we must sacrifice the last shirt to build the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant.
The plan was to take the "last shirt" off the peasants. The state could not force peasant owners to sell grain at below-market prices, which is why it adopted a policy to exterminate this category of producers. Turning them into collective farmers would resolve this problem. Collective farmers, much like industrial workers, had nothing to do with selling the products of their labors.
If you superimpose the vector of communist transformations onto the vector of normal development, you will see an interesting picture. Because of the unsuccessful attempt to impose communes on the Ukrainian peasantry during the first communist onslaught, Lenin was forced to make the implementation of the country's industrialization program constantly dependent on requisitions of grain from peasants.
Endorsed in December 1920 by the 8th All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the GOELRO Plan was to be implemented at the expense of food requisitions. Hoping that the Soviet government would be able to create a grain reserve of 300 million poods [491,700 tons], Lenin told the congress that the task of electrifying Russia could not be approached without such a reserve.
The same congress approved a bill "On Measures to Strengthen and Develop Agriculture," according to which each peasant household was to receive a compulsory quota for sowing the fields. Lenin told the congress, "The essence of the bill is to arrive at practical measures to assist struggling independent households by providing the kind of assistance that would combine both incentives and constraint."
After three years of industrialization (1926-1928) the Kremlin was not satisfied with the results. While endorsing the most fast-paced version of the first Five-Year Plan, Stalin simultaneously launched the total collectivization of agriculture. Collective farms produced incomparably more national income than could ever come from direct and indirect taxes levied on economically independent households of peasant owners.
The vector of sociopolitical development in European countries was directed away from feudal and serf-like forms of labor organization toward market-based forms that facilitated a democratic structuring of society. Despite all assurances of its social justice and a higher degree of democracy as compared to the bourgeois system, the vector of communist labor organization was aimed in the opposite direction: toward forced labor.
The pace of capital construction in industry matched available resources only in the first year of industrialization. From then on its volumes were increased by way of cash infusions unsupported by goods. This tipped the fragile market balance that had been secured during the reconstruction period. In a country where the "command heights" of the economy were controlled by the state, prices remained more or less stable.
The market imbalance was manifested in the form of commodity shortages. With demand outpacing supply, industrial goods sold out immediately. The government's attempts to restrain inflationary price hikes in agriculture forced peasants to refuse to supply their products to the market.
Soviet historiography referred to these phenomena as the "NEP crisis." Allegedly, the New Economic Policy had exhausted all of its potential, and the government naturally moved toward the industrialization policy and the concomitant total collectivization of agriculture.
In fact, the "NEP crisis," which was mostly manifested as a grain procurement crisis, was the result of a mistaken policy of the country's leaders, who had chosen forced industrialization as their overriding policy goal. Grain shortages helped Communist Party committees to prepare public support for the planned pogrom against peasant owners.
In his Nov. 7, 1929, article entitled "The Year of the Great Turning Point," Stalin claimed that peasants were joining collective farms "in entire villages, volosts [several village communities - Ed.], raions, and even districts." It was a bluff, but it served its purpose. Local leaders were under the impression that they were falling behind their neighbors, for their percentage of collective farms was pitiful.
This article preceded the plenum of the CC AUCP(b), which officially broached the question of implementing total collectivization. The plenum recommended implementing a policy of "the elimination of wealthy kurkul peasants as a class" in areas of total collectivization.
To prevent resistance to total collectivization, Chekist agents were instructed to divide kurkuls, wealthy peasants, into three categories: the active body of kurkuls, who were subject to imprisonment in concentration camps or immediate physical elimination; other elements of the active body of kurkuls, who were subject to deportation to remote areas; and the remaining kurkuls, who had most of their production facilities confiscated and were allowed to settle outside the territory of collective farms.
The number of liquidated kurkul households in all three categories was supposed to amount to between 3 and 5 percent of the total number of households.
The Kremlin arbiters of the peasants' destiny thought that they could implement collectivization entirely according to plan. It was a plan on the scale of the 1919 program to create a "commune state." The dekulakization campaign deprived the peasants of the will to resist, forcing them to join the "collective farm movement." In this case the authors of total collectivization were absolutely correct in their calculations. Why then in the early months of 1930 did the party and state leaders suddenly feel that the Soviet government was on the verge of collapse?
While the dekulakization lists were being compiled, every peasant was willing to submit an application to join a collective farm in order to save his own farm. When it turned out that they were required to part with even the last cow and even small farm animals and poultry, peasants began to resist desperately.
Armed insurgencies were infrequent because the secret police had made sure to confiscate all the weapons that remained in villages since the war. Despite their disorganized and spontaneous nature, however, revolts against the government were becoming increasingly more dangerous.
On Feb. 26, 1930, the CC AUCP(b) received a panicky telegram from Kharkiv, sent by Panas Liubchenko and Hryhorii Petrovsky. The two Ukrainian leaders reported mass civil unrest in the Pluzhniansk border raion. In the following days, similar reports trickled in from other regions, but Stalin was especially concerned about the situation in the Ukrainian-Polish frontier areas.
According to the minutes of the March 5 Politburo meeting, on Feb. 28 the Politburo voted to approve amendments to the Exemplary Charter of an agricultural cooperative (artel). The newly-worded charter was to be published in newspapers on March 2, followed by an explanatory article from Stalin.
Unlike the old charter, the new charter clearly identified what peasants had to hand over to common ownership when establishing a collective farm. Collective farmers were given the right to keep a cow, small farm animals, and a garden plot. In his article entitled "Dizzy with Success," Stalin stated without any reservations: "The artel is the main link in the collective farm movement."
The commune was replaced by a peasants' artel - "a two-faced Janus." One of its faces was turned to the economy, which operated according to an administrative command plan, while its other face was turned to the market economy, i.e., live production that existed because of the producer's natural motivation. The artel form of the collective farm necessitated the formation of a free market in which prices were formed according to the law of supply and demand. It necessitated the existence of goods-for-money exchange, notably not only in the limited sector of agricultural production but in the whole economy.
Initially, membership in an artel was considered temporary. The resolution of the 16th Congress of the AUCP(b) convened in June-July 1930 under- scored that at this stage the main form of a collective farm is an agricultural artel. But the document also expressed the assumption that the "collective farm movement can rise to a higher form - a commune - in line with the rising level of technical facilities, increasing collective farm membership, and the rising cultural level of collective farmers." However, Stalin no longer dared attempt to encroach on a peasant's cow or garden plot.
The market economy visage of the collective farm system softened the disproportions of the Soviet economy, which were inherent in administrative regulation. It signaled to the managers of the planned economy when and where they should adopt measures to avoid difficulties with the sale of products, conversion of wages into goods, etc.
Alongside free choice of employment, which the working class received without any efforts on its part, in 1930 peasants secured for themselves a garden plot with a cow and small farm animals. These two elements, which are alien to the communist economy, enabled it to function for a long time. It was always ineffective, but it enabled the Kremlin to exploit the colossal mobilization resource that this economy possessed by virtue of its nature.
Soviet historiography recognized the fact that the collective farm system experienced a crisis in 1930- 1932, along with "food supply complications" that it caused. It was believed that the crisis was the result of the farmers' inability to work collectively. In time, things purportedly returned to normal; the party and government carried out the organizational-economic strengthening of collective farms, and the collective farm system emerged from the crisis.
These statements appeared to be supported by government declarations and decrees. In March 1930 the Kremlin repudiated the idea of imposing communes under the guise of artels. In April 1930 the government passed a law on grain procurements: collective farms were expected to supply the government between one-third and a quarter of their gross yield. Most of the yield was subject to distribution according to the number of workdays. In May 1932 the government allowed collective farms to sell their products at market prices.
The reality, however, was different. In grain-growing regions the government in fact reinstated food requisitions from Civil War times. For three years running almost entire harvests were confiscated from collective farms, condemning farmers to starvation. In grain-consuming regions the government restricted bread supplies and confiscated ration cards from entire categories of the population, which also resulted in starvation. Where did all the grain go?
In 1929 an unprecedented economic crisis engulfed the world, which came to be known as the Great Depression. In these conditions prices for industrial equipment dropped. Soviet foreign trade organizations happily bought everything at low prices and on preferential payment terms, paying in foreign currency.
It turned out, however, that prices for agricultural products dropped even further. Nobody was issuing long-term loans, and to earn foreign currency the Soviet government had to sell more grain. Delayed exports of grain spelled big trouble. In order to find currency for yet another payment on its bonds, the Soviet government auctioned off museum treasures.
In the meantime, the volume of grain procurements shrank substantially. Peasants only pretended to work in collective farm fields because they were paid almost nothing for their products. The Kremlin offered a political assessment of such unscrupulous behavior, condemning it as kurkul sabotage. With each passing year grain requisitions were becoming more and more severe. In the fall of 1932 Stalin established extraordinary procurement commissions in the major grain-growing regions.
The commission in Ukraine was chaired by Viacheslav Molotov, head of the USSR Council of People's Commissars (Radnarkom). The commission in the Northern Caucasus was chaired by Lazar Kaganovich, secretary of the CC AUCP(b). The commission in the Volga region was headed by Pavel Postyshev, secretary of the CC AUCP(b). Their work resulted in famine in all three regions.
Stalin appeared close-lipped even among his closest associates. In state matters he considered it imperative to keep his distance. Only in rare moments of extreme anxiety would he commit to paper the words that give an inkling into the dark depths of his damned soul.
Why was Stalin occasionally compelled to write letters to his subordinates? This was the only possible way for him to discuss confidential matters with his subordinates in the Kremlin during his stays in southern resorts. In his Aug. 11, 1932, letter to Lazar Kaganovich, Stalin expressed profound outrage over the fact that dozens of raion party committees in Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts dared to say that the grain procurement plan was unrealistic.
He wrote, "Unless we immediately start to improve the situation in Ukraine, we might lose Ukraine. Mind you, that Pilsudski is not sleeping, and his agents in Ukraine are many times stronger than Redens or Kosior might think. Also keep in mind that the ranks of the Ukrainian Communist Party (500,000 members, ha-ha) have quite a few (yes, quite a few!) rotten elements, conscious and unconscious followers of Petliura, and, finally, direct agents of Pilsudski. As soon as matters take a turn for the worse, these elements will rush to open the front inside (and outside) of the party, against the party. The worst thing is that the Ukrainian leadership is blind to these dangers. This can no longer continue."
Stalin's concern merits special attention. He feared "losing Ukraine" and intended to "improve the situation" lest "matters take a turn for the worse." The Kremlin ruler never waited for matters to take a turn for the worse. Stalin's 25-year-long dictatorship had seen various forms of repressions, all of which had one thing in common: they were preventive. Stalin stayed on top of events, remembering the maxim of the Chinese sage Lao Tzu: "Set things in order before there is confusion."
In an article published in the Russian journal Otechestvennaia istoriia [National History] (no. 1, 1995), the German professor Stefan Merl stated that the very fact of famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933 does not prove that an act of genocide took place. The total number of famine victims "had no major significance" for him either.
This statement makes my skin crawl, but I cannot help attributing it to the imperfections of the legal definition of the term "genocide." Merl suggests that Robert Conquest and his fellow thinkers should prove with facts that Ukrainians died because of their nationality and that "the Holodomor was engineered for this very purpose."
The Russian professor Viktor Kondrashyn sided with Merl: "The famine equally affected the countryside with a Russian and non-Russian population and had no 'national specifics,' i.e., it did not target any one particular nation."
The truth is not on the side of Merl and Kondrashyn, nor is it on the side of scholars who refute their allegations. Polemics in the field chosen by Conquest's opponents will necessarily lead them to a dead end. The very phrasing of the question is incorrect.
Let us consult available statistics. Mortality statistics in the USSR were broken down by nation; separately for urban and rural residents. It should be kept in mind that, first of all, vital statistics departments recorded no more than one-half of all deaths in Ukraine in 1933; second, deaths as a result of starvation are not singled out in these statistics.
The statistics indicate an abnormally high death rate in the countryside and an identical mortality rate in the countryside for all national groups, if you compare the number of deaths with the number of all village residents in any given group. This means that the criterion according to which people died in Ukraine was their place of residence and not their nationality. The famine affected the countryside and the peasants as a social group.
A comparison of official mortality statistics by region creates a different picture. In 1933 the death rate exceeded the birth rate in seven regions in the European part of the USSR. The excess of deaths over births was most pronounced in regions where extraordinary grain procurement commissions were established: the Ukrainian SSR (1,459,000), the Northern Caucasus Territory (291,000), and two territories in the Volga region (178,000).
In Central-Chernozem oblast the number of deaths exceeded the number of births by 62,000; this figure was 35,000 for Ural oblast and 5,000 for the Northern Territory. In the grain-consuming regions, excessive death rates were observed in cities where people were deprived of ration cards for state food relief.
We cannot compare Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus Territory. Among the territory's six districts, the hardest hit by famine was the Kuban district, two-thirds of whose population was Ukrainian (according to the 1926 census).
The other districts suffered much less, which is why the total death rate for the whole territory does not appear to be as horrible as the death rate for Ukraine.
Ukraine can be compared with the Volga region, but not only according to official 1933 statistics, which do not reflect the full picture of the mortality rate, but according to calculations of direct losses from the famine, based on the analysis of the 1926 and 1937 censuses and the demographic statistics for the inter-census period.
Ukraine and the Volga region cannot be compared in terms of population size, but they are comparable in terms of their territory. Before 1939 Ukraine's territory was 450,000 square kilometers versus the Volga region's 435,000 square kilometers. Kondrashyn estimated that famine claimed 366,000 lives in the Volga region. According to my calculations, the direct losses from the famine in Ukraine were 3,238,000 persons, i.e., higher by an order of magnitude.
In 1933 people starved to death in many regions, but a manmade famine with an astounding number of victims was observed only in two political- administrative formations, where Ukrainians made up more than two-thirds of the general population: the USSR and the Kuban district of the Northern Caucasus Territory.
Thus, the Holodomor affected primarily Ukrainians, and more specifically - Ukrainian peasants in Ukraine and Russia. This more precise definition is necessary, and we should not argue with Stefan Merl or Viktor Kondrashyn on the terms that they impose on us.
We will never prove to the grandchildren of those Ukrainian citizens who starved to death, let alone to the international community, that people died in 1933 in the USSR as a result of their national affiliation, i.e., in the same way that Armenians died in the Ottoman Empire in 1915, or Jews in the European countries that were occupied by Hitler's Reich.
And there is no need to prove this, because the mechanism of the Soviet genocide was different. The terror by famine that Stalin unleashed on Ukraine and the Kuban was an act of genocide against Ukrainian citizens, not Ukrainians.
To understand why Stalin was afraid that he would "lose Ukraine," we must examine the essence of Ukrainian citizenship and national Soviet statehood, albeit not the statehood as it is remembered by contemporary generations, but the statehood as it was before the Holodomor.
In the above-mentioned letter, Stalin informed Kaganovich that he wanted to make him secretary general of the CC CP(b)U in place of Stanislav Kosior. Kaganovich had occupied this post earlier, in 1925-1928, so he replied obediently: "Of course, it would be easier for me to get down to business immediately, because I know the country, its economy, and the people." Unlike us, Kaganovich called Ukraine a country. Everyone who survived 1933 and 1937, and even more so all those who were born later, referred to the Soviet Union as "the country." They grew accustomed to calling Ukraine a republic.
Earlier we concluded that the symbiosis of the Communist Party dictatorship and power of the Soviet organs enabled the Kremlin to package the totalitarian regime as a "government by the people." Now it must be pointed out that the dual nature of Soviet statehood made it possible to present the strictly centralized "commune state" in the misleading guise of a country without a name, which was made up of nine outwardly independent Soviet states. In this way the national-liberation movement of oppressed nations was undermined from within.
After the Civil War, the Bolshevik leaders came up with the idea to turn the "independent" states into autonomous republics of the Russian Federation. However, the leader of Soviet Ukraine, Khristian Rakovsky, protested. Lenin called him an "independentist" in a friendly manner, but took into account the feelings of peripheral Communist Party and Soviet leaders who wanted to retain their powers. So he proposed adding another level to the Soviet federation. All the "independent" national states were to enter on an equal basis with Russia a new state formation - the Soviet Union.
Citizens in each union republic were given the constitutional right to secede from the USSR. The only thing holding the "commune state together" was the dictatorship of the Communist Party. It was up to the party to make sure that citizens in the Union republics did not have any dangerous wishes.
Immediately after the USSR was established, the Kremlin chose indigenization (literally, "enrooting") as the main line of its national policy. Its Ukrainian variant was called Ukrainization. The purpose of this policy was to implant Soviet power. But there was a side effect of this policy. Ukrainians started to hear their previously persecuted native language in schools and cultural institutions. A national revival began in Ukraine.
The economic and human potential of the Ukrainian SSR matched that of all the remaining national republics taken together. For this reason it received special attention from competing political figures within the Politburo of the CC AUCP(b). Stalin became Ukraine's "best friend" after he managed to install his ally Kaganovich in the top post in this republic. With the support of Kaganovich and Stalin, People's Commissar for Education Mykola Skrypnyk squeezed the utmost out of the indigenization policy.
In 1927 he stated publicly that the Ukrainian SSR "is a Piedmont for the whole Ukrainian nation inhabiting the entire ethnographic territory of Ukraine." He did not mean only the Western Ukrainian lands then occupied by other countries. The 1926 census showed that nearly eight million Ukrainians resided in the Russian Federation.
While Stalin was engaged in the struggle for power, he ignored such statements. However, two decrees of the CC AUCP(b) and the Radnarkom of the USSR, dated Dec. 14 and 15, 1932, respectively, proclaimed Ukrainization outside the Ukrainian SSR as "Petliurite."
In the Northern Caucasus, where Ukrainization encompassed nearly one-half of all raions, all institutions, schools, and the press immediately switched to the Russian language as being "more understandable" to the population. Kuban residents and Ukrainians in other districts of the territory were ordered to consider themselves Russian.
According to the All-Union Census of 1939, 86.8 percent of the population of Krasnodar Territory was already registered as Russians. Only 150,000 citizens, or 4.7 percent, who arrived there in the 1930s, dared admit to being Ukrainian.
On the one hand, Soviet national statehood was a major propaganda achievement for the state party leaders. On the other hand, the Kremlin leaders did not trust even their own party in Ukraine (recall Stalin's "ha- ha" in his letter to Kaganovich). The Kremlin had not forgotten that between 1917 and 1919 it had to conquer Ukraine three times.
The Kremlin chiefs also remembered the single case of insurrection in the party's nearly 100-year history, which was paralyzed since day one by the principle of "democratic centralism": the 4th All-Ukrainian Party Conference in the spring of 1920 voted down the list of CC CP(b)U members proposed by Lenin and elected its own preferred leaders.
Despite the broadly advertised successes of the first Five-Year Plan, the economic situation in the USSR was deteriorating inexorably. Stalin realized that the crisis could weaken the Kremlin's iron grip ("as soon as matters take a turn for the worse").
Under such conditions, the Communist Party and Soviet nomenklatura in Kharkiv could change color from red to blue-and-yellow and use Ukraine's frontier location and constitutional rights to secede from Moscow. During Stalin's lifetime (in 1950) the outstanding Ukrainian historian Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky published an article entitled "Against Russia or Against the Soviet System" in a West Berlin journal.
It contained a forecast that came true only when the Soviet empire crumbled in 1989 and 1991: "The elimination of the communist system in the contemporary Soviet 'union republics,' much like in the satellite states, would not in the least be a painful coup, on the contrary, it would be a happy and natural return to their own national identity."
In order to prevent such a turn of events, Stalin turned Ukraine into the epicenter of repressions for a long period of time.
"Without a peasant army there cannot be a strong national movement," Stalin wrote with confidence in 1925. One can quite agree with this statement if one analyzes the Ukrainian revolution of 1917-1920. However, the total collectivization of peasant households undermined the basis of the liberation movement in all the national republics, while the terror by famine that was used against the Ukrainian SSR and the Kuban eliminated the potential threat to the Kremlin from the most powerful republic.
After taking care of the peasant question, which Stalin considered the national question, the dictator immediately turned his attention to the Ukrainian intelligentsia, both in the Communist Party and outside it. On his orders, in November 1933 the joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Controlling Commission of the CP(b)U endorsed a thesis about nationalist deviations as the main danger within the party and the state.
The 17th AUCP(b) Congress in January 1934 supported and expanded on this thesis. The most large-scale extermination of the Ukrainian intelligentsia began after the suicide in July 1933 of the hounded Mykola Skrypnyk. Under the banner of the fight against "Skrypnykivshchyna" the membership of the CP(b)U was axed by 110,000 persons during 1933.
In 1932-1938, the years of horror for Ukraine, most Ukrainian cultural figures, including representatives of the new generation of worker and peasant backgrounds, ended up in concentration camps and prisons. The secret police targeted virtually anyone who had participated in the Ukrainian revolution of 1917-1920. At the same time, Stalin launched purges in his own creation in Ukraine.
Of the 62 members of the CC CP(b)U who were elected by the 13th Congress in June 1937, 56 were accused of hostile activities. Out of 11 Politburo CC CP(b)U members, 10 were subjected to repressions.
To organize the death of millions of people is no simple task. This required special skills, experience, and tens of thousands of perpetrators.
Rejecting James Mace's conclusion of the US Congressional Commission on the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine, Stefan Merl wrote, "Expropriations of grain were conducted as a rule by local activists of Ukrainian nationality. And it is hard to combine this fact, which is mentioned with regret in the congressional report, with the thesis about genocide."
Taking the opposite tack, his fellow countryman, the German historian Gerhard Simon, formulated the following Bolshevik principle based on his lengthy study of the CPSU's nationalities policy: "Victims and killers should belong to the same ethnos."
Countless facts prove that Simon is correct. But when we approach the problem from this angle, we should not speculate on the nationality of those who issued and fulfilled the orders that resulted in the genocide. Unfortunately, extreme nationalists never miss an opportunity to cast aspersions on those nations to which they have a negative attitude.
The Georgian Stalin, the Jew Kaganovich, the Russian Molotov, or the Pole Kosior - none of these individuals place any burden of guilt on their respective nations. The infernal political regime created by Lenin was international in nature.
The peasants' unwillingness to work without pay in the collective farm fields was described as "kurkul sabotage." The unwillingness of Communist Party and Soviet officials to extort bread from famished peasants was viewed as "treason." In his Dec. 13, 1932, directive to local party organizations, Kosior proposed that they immediately raise the question of depriving "traitors" of their party cards, deporting them to the north, imprisoning them for long periods, or executing them by firing squad.
Kosior's directive was a response to local leaders' attitudes toward the instructions from the extraordinary grain procurement commissions: Molotov's in Ukraine and Kaganovich's in the Kuban. The instructions were dictated by Stalin and boiled down to terror by famine.
On Nov. 2-4 the bureau of the Northern Caucasus Territorial Committee of the AUCP(b) considered the question "On the Course of Grain Procurements and Sowing in the Raions of the Kuban." Ten Kuban raions were placed on a "blacklist": within a short period of time all of their grain and almost all foodstuffs were confiscated.
Molotov pressured the CC CP(b)U and the Radnarkom of the Ukrainian SSR into adopting decrees, on Nov. 18 and 20, respectively, both of which were almost identical in terms of their content and had identical titles: "On Measures to Intensify Grain Procurements." The main point of the Ukrainian and Kuban decrees was the introduction of fines in kind.
Collective farms, collective farmers, and independent farmers who owed grain to the state were given additional tasks to supply a 15-month quota of meat and a one- or two-year quota of potatoes. Stalin made his position known after these decrees were endorsed. Addressing the Nov. 27 joint session of the CC Politburo and Presidium of the Central Controlling Committee of the AUCP(b), he stated that Ukraine and the Kuban are concealing grain in pits and sabotaging grain procurements, thereby threatening the working class with famine.
The local authorities quickly fulfilled the task of confiscating grain, meat, and potatoes from collective farms and Soviet state farms. It was more difficult to confiscate food from peasants' households. During a visit to Odesa oblast as part of an inspection team, on Dec. 23 Kaganovich offered guidance to secretaries of raion party committees: "You should never hit them in their mugs.
However, ably conducted searches, not only among individual owners but also among collective farmers, owners, and communists, are not overkill. You must take the village in such a "thrust" as to force the peasants to open the pits themselves."
Stalin himself teamed up with Kaganovich. On Jan. 1, 1933, he sent a telegram in the form of a CC AUCP(b) decree to Kharkiv.
This telegram reflects the entire year of 1933:
"Let the CC CP(b)U and the Radnarkom of the Ukrainian SSR widely inform collective farmers and independent farmers through village councils and collective farms that: a) those who voluntarily hand over to the government previously stolen and concealed grain will not be subject to repressions; b) as for those collective farmers, collective farms, and independent farmers who stubbornly continue to hide stolen and concealed grain, they will be subject to the severest degrees of punishment envisioned by the decrees of the Central Executive Committee and Radnarkom of the USSR of Aug. 7, 1932 (on the protection of the property of state enterprises, collective farms, and on cooperation and consolidation of socialist ownership)."
The horrible meaning of this New Year's telegram becomes clear only when it is studied analytically. The first item was a warning: hand over grain, or else. The nature of repressions was not defined. The second item becomes clear when it is compared to the first one. It was addressed to those peasants who ignored the warning. But such peasants had to be identified. In what way? There was no other method except searches.
Thus, Stalin's telegram was a warning about mass searches. Grain might or might not be found during searches. In the first case, peasants would be subjected to repressions under the law of Aug. 7, 1932. It was not revealed what action was to be taken in the second case. However, as of November 1932 fines in kind were imposed on everyone in whose possession no grain was found during the search. Understandably, the peasants concluded that where no grain was found, other durable foodstuffs would be confiscated.
For lack of space I cannot paint a full picture of searches, based on the recollections of famine survivors. I will point out the most important thing: they seized not only grain, meat, lard, and potatoes, as envisioned by party and government decrees. They also confiscated beets, peas, beans, millet, onions, dried fruit, and anything else that the peasants had preserved to last them until the next harvest.
Searches in each village were conducted by members of poor peasants' committees led by grain procurement officials, secret police officers, and policemen. We cannot blame them, for they wanted to eat, just as we cannot blame the peasants subjected to searches, who later ate their children or parents.
The state grain procurement campaign after the 1932 harvest began in July. One hundred thirty-six million poods [2,229,040 tons] of grain were stockpiled by the end of October. Over the next three months Molotov's commission "procured" another 87 million poods [1,425,930 tons] of grain. What was the percentage of grain seized during searches? There is one reference: between Dec. 1 and Jan. 25 the GPU and NKVD organs discovered 14,956 pits and 1,980 other caches and confiscated 1.7 million poods [27,863 tons] of grain.
The editors of Pravda organized a 10-day campaign against grain thieves. The raid that lasted from Aug. 7 to 17, 1932, involved some 100,000 "shock workers of the press." Pravda's correspondent in Dnipropetrovsk oblast appealed to his readers: Look for them; after all, there is an underground "grain city!"
The searchers did not find anything at the time, and the house-to-house searches in December and January produced a paltry amount of grain (it should be added that this 1.7 million poods of grain also included grain confiscated from grain dealers). Under the guise of a legend about underground "grain cities," a hideous campaign to seize grain and all non-grain foodstuffs, which had nothing to do with grain procurements, was carried out in Ukrainian and Kuban villages.
The purpose of this campaign is revealed in a comment that Kosior made in his March 15, 1933, letter to Stalin: "to teach collective farmers a lesson." This judgment corresponded to the conclusion made at the time by CC CP(b)U secretary M. Khatayevych: "Among the majority of those collective farmers, who not so long ago were stealing collective farm grain, mishandling collective farm property, and refusing to work honestly in collective production, there are signs that they are increasingly comprehending the need to work for the benefit of the collective farm in a fair and diligent manner."
The same motif can be discerned in the May 31, 1933 report of Italy's General Consul Sergio Gradenigo to the Italian government. A high-ranking secret police officer told him that "the peasants should be taught a lesson" ("per dare una lezione al contadino"). Finally, we see the same motif from a different but downright horrible angle in a report of the People's Commissar for Agriculture, A. Odyntsov, who toured villages in the Kyiv area. "People are becoming more conscientious, including those who are starving, and there is growing anger at idlers and thieves," he wrote in his report. "Conscientious farmers are for the death by starvation of idlers and thieves."
Do these statements correspond to the truth? Absolutely! The purpose of Stalin's terror was to educate people by murdering them. This was repeatedly proven by the hectic activity of Postyshev, whom Stalin appointed as second secretary of the CC CP(b)U. In late 1933 he came to Kharkiv while retaining his position as secretary of the CC AUCP(b).
Stalin gave him two main instructions: first, stop "Skrypnykivshchyna," and, second, save the peasants who could still join the sowing campaign. As of Feb. 1, grain requisitions were officially halted in Ukraine. The republic began receiving loans in the form of food and seeds. Now the state was giving food to those peasants who could work.
On Jan. 22, 1933, Stalin and Molotov sent a secret directive ordering the adoption of measures to prevent a mass exodus of peasants to other regions. All roads out of Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus Territory, including dirt roads, were closed by the GPU organs, police, and local activists of poor peasants' committees. The starving peasants were condemned to die a slow death in their villages, with the exception of those whom the state had begun to feed in the fields during the sowing campaign.
Without knowing the factual material available to us now, Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky provided a surprisingly accurate description of the situation in Ukraine during the years of Stalin's dictatorship in an article entitled "Novyi Pereyaslav" [The New Pereyaslav] first published in 1956 in the Paris-based Polish-language journal Kultura: "Stalin's policy with respect to Ukraine boiled down to a gigantic attempt to break down the resistance of the Ukrainian people by means of physical violence.
At the same time, perhaps it was not about the total extermination of Ukrainians, as this was done with the Crimean Tatars, Germans in the Volga region, Kalmyks, and certain other peoples in the Northern Caucasus; Ukrainians were too numerous for this. Instead, Stalin consistently favored the elimination of all active Ukrainian social groups, and thus, having decapitated the nation, to force it to capitulate and turn it into an obedient tool in the hands of the Kremlin rulers."
The Holodomor in Ukraine and the Kuban significantly influenced the formation of the Soviet economy as we know it. Convinced that the peasants would not work on collective farms for free, Stalin initiated the Jan. 19, 1933, decree of the People's Commissariat of the USSR and the CC AUCP(b) "On Compulsory Supplies of Grain to the State by Collective Farms and Independent Households."
Could a single decree bring about radical changes in the economic situation? It could, and there is an example to prove it: the resolution of the 10th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) on the transition from food requisitions to a food tax. With its decree of Jan. 19, 1933, the state recognized that products grown on collective farms belonged to the peasants.
It recognized that the state was to receive only part of the value of these products in the form of a tax. Collective farmers had to be informed about the tax before the start of the agricultural year. All the remaining products belonged to the peasants and could be used at their discretion. For the first time this sparked interest in the results of collective farming.
Despite this lengthy series of articles, I was unable to cover all of the significant aspects of the Ukrainian Holodomor from the chosen perspective. However, what has been said will suffice to refute the superficial arguments of opponents of the idea of the Holodomor as an act of genocide.
Now the important goal for Ukrainian historians is to circulate the available arguments within Ukrainian society and throughout the world. The international community must recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation.