Below is a complete re-blog of an excellent, thoroughly researched and objective article about how the myth of “Holodomor” of 1932-1933 was created and neutered in the West and then picked up by the nationalistic forces in Ukraine. The article is written by Olga of the Siberian Matrëshka Telegram channel.
There is only one additional comment that I want to make about the name “Holodomor”. The article mentioned why “H” was chosen as the first letter. The fact is, the Russian word “holod” means “cold”, while “famine” or “hunger” is “golod”; “mor” means “mass death”. So the official “Western” name actually means “death from freezing”, but as will be come apparent from the article, the chose of the leading “H” was intentional.
Olga🪆July 21, 2023
The myth of the Holodomor is blatantly at odds with reality. Supporters of the Holodomor theory argue that the Soviet government and Stalin personally wanted to destroy the Ukrainian people. This statement is not supported by facts: the famine of 1932-1933 covered the territory of several Soviet republics, and in Ukraine it was not at all widespread. Well, did the Soviet government starve Ukrainians selectively, depending on the territory in which they lived?
The forces that are now planting their blatantly anti-historical “Ukrainianism” in Ukraine attach great importance to the theme of the “Holodomor”. I invite the reader to first get acquainted with how the myth of the “Holodomor” was created – a famine allegedly artificially organized by Stalin for the purposeful destruction of the Ukrainian people. And only then move on to historical realities.
The famine of 1932-1933 is a bitter page in our real history. But this famine, firstly, was far from the first in the history of Russia. And, secondly, it affected not only Ukraine, but also the Don, Kuban, Volga, Central Black Earth, Kazakhstan. However, the Ukrainizers immediately, in hot pursuit, tried to isolate the “Ukrainian” component from this tragic event, which affected many regions of the USSR, and make the theme of the famine of 1932-1933 an irrelevant one. in Ukraine as an instrument of struggle against the “communist regime”.
In July 1933, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Andriy Sheptytsky, and the higher clergy of Galicia, which at that time was part of Poland, issued a pastoral message entitled “Ukraine in its death throes.” The message said that “built on injustice, deceit, godlessness and lawlessness, the cannibalistic system of state capitalism brought the recently rich region to complete ruin”, and also sounded a call to Christians around the world to pray for the dying brothers. The purpose of this message is obvious – to put pressure on the Western public and inspire it to further war against communism. It launched a massive anti-Soviet information campaign launched by the Ukrainian diaspora in the United States (according to experts, by 1920 there were 750,000 Ukrainian migrants on the American continent).
In August 1933, the Austrian Cardinal-Archbishop Theodor Innitzer, known for his support of Hitler during the Anschluss of Austria, issued an appeal to the whole world, in which he pointed to Sheptytsky’s message and emphasized that millions of people had already died of starvation in the Soviet Union, and that in the coming months “millions of human lives would again die.”
The apogee of the information campaign was a resolution sent on May 28, 1934 by Congressman Hamilton Fish for consideration by members of the US House of Representatives. The resolution stated that the USSR was using the famine “as a means of reducing the Ukrainian population and destroying Ukrainian political, cultural and national rights.” However, the House of Representatives did not pass this resolution.
In 1934, the American media tycoon William Hirst, having visited Germany and talked with Hitler there, began active anti-communist propaganda, publishing pictures of starving Ukrainians and starving Ukrainian children on the pages of his newspapers and magazines. The articles claimed that 6 million people died of starvation. Only decades later, in 1987, did the Canadian journalist Douglas Tottle’s book “Fraud, Famine and Fascism” come out, in which it was analyzed in detail where these pictures were taken from. As the author argues, the photographs of Ukrainian starving people published in Hearst’s publications date back to the time of the Civil War in Russia and the famine of 1921-22. And the correspondent Thomas Walker, who allegedly obtained these photographs, was not in fact in Ukraine in 1932-1933.
In July 1934, speaking in the UK before the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared that the USSR was experiencing the most terrible famine that had ever been known, and estimated the number of victims at 6 million people.
In 1941, the leaflets that the German fascists scattered over the territory of Ukraine in order to incite hatred of the “communist regime” in the Ukrainian population and raise them to revolt against this regime contained a mention of the famine of 1932-1933. The Ministry of Propaganda of the Third Reich claimed that 7,910,000 Ukrainians died of starvation.
In 1944, the American lawyer Rafael Lemkin first introduced the term “genocide” into jurisprudence in relation to the actions of the Nazis. As Lemkin’s biographer Douglas-Irwin Erickson notes, Lemkin’s founding example was the extermination of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. The “genocide of the Ukrainian nation”, allegedly arranged by Stalin, was not discussed at that time.
In 1948, with the active participation of Lemkin, the UN adopted the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” Genocide was recognized as a crime against humanity.
In 1953, Lemkin wrote a text entitled “Soviet genocide in Ukraine”, in which he stated that the Soviet leadership allegedly destroyed the Ukrainian nation, and called it a classic example of some kind of Soviet genocide. According to researchers, the text was intended for Lemkin’s speech at a rally in New York dedicated to the twentieth anniversary of the famine.
Since 1978, in the printed works of Ukrainian emigrants in Canada and the United States, the famine of 1932−1933 becomes closely linked to the Holocaust. The book by Vasyl Grishko, published in 1978, was called “Ukrainian Holocaust, 1933”. The influence of the Ukrainian diaspora on the heating up of the theme of hunger was obviously of decisive importance at that time. The diaspora collected materials about the famine, published extensive literature, and held events dedicated to the memory of the victims of the famine. The word Holodomor was introduced into international circulation precisely in the spelling not through G, but through H – similar to the word Holocaust.
In 1983, a mass mourning event was held in Canada for the victims of the 1932-33 in Ukraine.
In 1984, a special commission on hunger was created in the United States, which prepared a report for Congress. It was chaired by James Mace, an American historian, political scientist, author of a dissertation on the incompatibility of the Ukrainian national idea with communist ideology. Mace also directed the “Ukrainian Famine Oral History Pilot Project”, which interviewed victims of the famine. As a result of the project, a three-volume book with testimonies of the victims was published.
The commission continued to collect eyewitness testimony and concluded that the victims were “starved to death by man-made famine” and that “Joseph Stalin and his entourage committed genocide against Ukrainians in 1932-1933.” A three-volume edition was published, in which the testimonies of more than two hundred people were given. With this, the commission completed its work.
In the same period, one of the largest specialists in the creation of constructs aimed at the destruction of the Soviet Union, Robert Conquest, an Anglo-American writer, a specialist in the history of the USSR, at one time was the leader of Mace, joined the development of the theme of hunger. Conquest made a great contribution to the formation of the myth of the colossal number of victims of the “communist regime” by publishing in 1968 the book “The Great Terror”, dedicated to the repressions in the USSR in the 1930s. And in 1984, Reagan commissioned Conquest to write the pamphlet “What to Do When the Russians Come? The Survivor’s Guide” is a guide to preparing the American people for the Soviet invasion.
Published in 1986, Conquest’s book “Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and Terror by Famine” is devoted to proving that the leadership of the USSR artificially organized “terror by famine … by setting grain quotas much higher than possible, weaning any handful of food and preventing outside help” . In this book, Conquest claims that 7 million people fell victim to the famine, 5 million of them in Ukraine, 1 million in the North Caucasus, and another 1 million in other regions.
Even in the West, Conquest’s research was not accepted unconditionally. For example, the American historian Arch Getty wrote that the concept of “terror by famine” was promoted in the West by Ukrainian nationalists. In 1987, the book “Fraud, Famine and Fascism” by the Canadian journalist Douglas Tottle, which we have already mentioned, was published, exposing the forgery of William Hirst, who published pictures of the victims of the Civil War in his publications in the 1930s under the guise of pictures of the victims of the famine in Ukraine.
However, the Ukrainian diaspora in the United States insisted on continuing to study the topic of genocide in Ukraine and that the USSR should be held accountable for the genocide. On the initiative of one of the Ukrainian North American organizations – the World Congress of Free Ukrainians – in 1988, this time the International Commission of Inquiry into the Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine was created. It was led by Professor Jacob Sandberg.
In 1990, the commission submitted its report. The findings of the report were contradictory. On the one hand, according to the Sandberg Commission, the Ukrainians resisted collectivization, and the Soviet government, putting pressure on them, increased the grain procurement plan. This measure led to the fact that famine began, but the authorities did not provide assistance to the starving. On the other hand, the commission emphasized that “there is no serious evidence that the famine was actually organized by the authorities for the purpose of certain implementation of their policies. In this sense, they did not want hunger, even if the authorities pursued political goals, the result of which was it.”
The Commission points out that only the act of extermination of a population group “as such” can be called genocide, and in relation to the case under discussion this has not been proven (that is, the intention to destroy the Ukrainian people as such has not been proven). And in conclusion, he gives an evasive wording: “The Commission considers it legitimate to state that if the genocide of Ukrainians took place, then this contradicted the norms of international law in force at that time .”
In addition, the commission’s report discusses in detail the question of whether the UN Convention on the Punishment of the Crimes of Genocide has retroactive effect. In other words, can it be used to punish the USSR for the famine. However, even here the commission does not come to any definite conclusion, disclaiming responsibility for the final recommendations.
While there were those abroad who resisted the creation of the myth of the Holodomor, part of the Soviet political elite seemed to deliberately play along with the myth-makers. In December 1987, Vladimir Shcherbitsky, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine (he held this post from 1972 to 1989), speaking at the celebrations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Ukrainian SSR, for the first time at the official level raised the topic of the famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine. Why was it necessary to touch upon this complex and painful topic at a festive event dedicated to the formation of the Ukrainian SSR? In addition, the first secretary clearly could not help but understand what efforts the West is making so that the wound of this tragedy does not heal.
Shcherbitsky, as the head of the Ukrainian SSR, for many years “extinguished” the manifestations of nationalism in the republic, preventing Bandera and Greek Catholics from turning around. Could he have been unaware of how exactly the West, spitting on historical authenticity, creates a myth that allows accusing the USSR of the “Holodomor” – “the genocide of the Ukrainian people”? Could he not understand how powerful and destructive a weapon in the hands of nationalists can be the theme of hunger? So why, in Shcherbytsky’s speech, Ukraine was singled out of the general number of starving territories of the USSR?
After the findings of the Mays Commission that Stalin and his inner circle had committed genocide against ethnic Ukrainians, killing millions of people in the USSR, were made public in April 1988, a commission was belatedly set up to refute the evidence of Mays. It was headed by a historian, a specialist in the history of industrialization in the USSR Stanislav Kulchitsky. As a result of the work of this commission, the brochure “1933: The Tragedy of the Famine” was published, refuting the Americans’ assertion that the famine was organized by the leadership of the USSR.
However, in 1991, Stanislav Kulchitsky “reformed” – he refused the conclusions of his own commission. He began to glorify the OUN-UPA (an organization whose activities are banned in the Russian Federation), rant about the “Holodomor” as a genocide of Ukrainians, and claim that Stalin, using “terror by famine”, “eliminated a potential threat to the Kremlin from the most powerful republic.”
Kulchitsky speaks quite frankly about the role of the Holodomor theme in the destruction of the USSR: “We remember how important the theme of the famine of 1932-1933 was at the turn of the 80s and 90s. It helped people get rid of stereotypes and rethink the history of the Soviet period. This topic has become a sharp weapon in the hands of those who fought for the independence of the republic.”
In 1993, James Mace, the previously mentioned American developer of the Holodomor construct, moved to Ukraine, where he worked at the Kiev-Mohyla Academy. In the last years of his life, Mace developed the theory of the Ukrainian “post-genocidal society”. The theory was that Ukrainian society is dominated by its totalitarian Soviet past, and above all by the “Holodomor”. This past does not allow society to develop, and in order to move forward, it is necessary to comprehend the terrible legacy. This means that it is necessary by all means to convey information about the “Holodomor” to society.
In 2004, when Mace was no longer alive, Yushchenko posthumously awarded him the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (at that time it was Ukraine’s highest state award for foreigners) for outstanding personal services to the Ukrainian state. And in 2015, as part of the implementation of the “law on decommunization,” Collectivization Street in Kiev was renamed James Mace Street.
On November 28, 2006, Viktor Yushchenko signed the law “On the Holodomor of 1932-1933. in Ukraine”. The first article of the law stated that “The Holodomor of 1932-1933. in Ukraine is genocide of the Ukrainian people.” In the second article, it is recorded that “the public denial of the Holodomor in 1932-1933 in Ukraine is recognized as a desecration of the memory of millions of victims of the Holodomor, a humiliation of the dignity of the Ukrainian people and is illegal”.
Having thus recognized the famine as genocide, Ukraine began to seek similar recognition from other countries. And 23 other states, including the United States, Canada, Italy and Spain, also recognized the famine as genocide of the Ukrainian people.
The Yushchenko government organized a number of cultural events designed to inform the public about the famine in full accordance with the concept of James Mace. In particular, a photo exhibition with pictures of the victims of the famine was sent on a long tour of different countries. When it reached Sevastopol in March 2009, it turned out that modern Ukrainian propagandists followed in the footsteps of Hirst: some of the photographs presented at the exhibition had nothing to do with the famine of 1932-1933, they depicted the starving people of Tsarist Russia, as well as the victims of the American Great Depression and the victims of the famine of 1921-1922.
On December 7, 2016, that is, already under Poroshenko, the Verkhovna Rada, apparently considering that the recognition of 23 states is not enough, adopted an appeal “to the partner states of Ukraine” with a request to recognize the famine of 1932-1933 as “the crime of genocide of the Ukrainian people.” The document stated: “The criminal communist totalitarian regime, through the forcible seizure of food, the blockade of villages and entire regions, the ban on travel outside the famine-stricken Ukraine, the curtailment of rural trade, and the repression of dissenters, deliberately created for Ukrainians such living conditions that were calculated for their physical destruction. Such a policy of the regime is a crime against humanity in accordance with the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”.
On January 23, 2017, Yuriy Shukhevych, a member of the Radical Party, suggested that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine introduce criminal liability for denying the Holodomor. Recall that Yuriy Shukhevych, the son of a banderite Roman Shukhevych, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) (an organization whose activities are banned in the Russian Federation), is formally until 2014, headed the radical nationalist Ukrainian organization UNA-UNSO (an organization whose activities are banned in the Russian Federation).
So, the Ukrainizers claim that there was a “Holodomor” in the USSR – an artificial famine, a genocide specially organized by Stalin to exterminate the Ukrainians. What are the actual historical realities?
First of all, it should be noted that in the Russian Empire and in Soviet Russia at the early stage of the existence of the state, famine was, unfortunately, not uncommon. Here is how the problem of hunger was described in the encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron in an article from 1913:
“In 1872, the first Samara famine broke out, striking exactly that province, which until that time was considered the richest breadbasket of Russia. And after the famine of 1891, which covered a vast region of 29 provinces, the lower Volga region constantly suffers from famine: during the 20th century. Samara province went hungry 8 times, Saratov 9. Over the past thirty years, the largest hunger strikes date back to 1880 (the Lower Volga region, part of the lakeside and Novorossiysk provinces) and 1885 (Novorossia and part of the non-chernozem provinces from Kaluga to Pskov); then, after the famine of 1891, the famine of 1892 came in the central and southeastern provinces, the famines of 1897 and 98. approximately in the same area; in the 20th century famine of 1901 in 17 provinces of the center, south and east, hunger strike of 1905 (22 provinces, including four non-chernozem provinces, Pskov, Novgorod, Vitebsk, Kostroma), opening a series of hunger strikes: 1906, 1907, 1908 and 1911. (mainly eastern, central provinces, Novorossiya).”
The famine in the Russian Empire was mainly due to two negative circumstances:
- bad weather conditions and
- problems in the organization of the economy.
In the USSR, both of these circumstances were overcome. Problems in the organization of the economy were overcome by building a system of collective and state farms. And the main natural threat of crop failure – drought – was significantly reduced due to the creation in the late 1940s – early 1950s. forest protection belts. As a result of these measures, the last famine in the USSR was in 1946-1947.
Ukrainizers promoting the theme of “Holodomor” argue that the famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine was a deliberate genocide of the Ukrainian peasantry. Here is what the historian I.E. Zelenin says in response to this: “And if we characterize the famine of 1932-1933 as a “targeted genocide of the Ukrainian peasantry,” which some historians of Ukraine insist on, it must be borne in mind that it was an equal genocide of the Russian peasantry – the Don and Kuban, the Volga region, the Central Black Earth Region, the Urals, and especially the pastoralists and farmers of Kazakhstan – the peasantry of all regions and republics of the USSR”.
But what was the real famine of 1932-1933?
When analyzing its real causes, it is necessary to rely, first of all, on authentic documents of that era, moreover, choosing some important document as a starting point. For the well-known Russian researcher Viktor Zemskov, thanks to whom we now have real (and not invented by domestic and Western propagandists) data on the number of victims of political repressions in the USSR, the reference to the number of repressed people for the period 1921-1953 became the starting source of figures. This certificate was prepared at the request of N. S. Khrushchev in early 1954 and provided to him with the signatures of the USSR Prosecutor General R. A. Rudenko, the Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR S. N. Kruglov and the Minister of Justice of the USSR K. P. Gorshenin. As Zemskov later became convinced, the figures given in this certificate were close to what actually took place.
Is there any document relating to the famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine that could be taken as a starting point in the study of this topic? Yes. This is a letter from the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR V. Chubar to V. M. Molotov and I. V. Stalin on the situation with the sowing campaign in Ukraine dated June 10, 1932.
Chubar already in the middle of 1932 stated the unfavorable situation with the harvest and procurement, noting individual outbreaks of famine. He singled out the following causes of trouble.
The first reason: errors in the preliminary assessment of yields, which led to errors in planning. The same mistake was made in the next season – in 1932-1933.
The second reason: the loss of the 1931 harvest. It should be noted that losses meant mainly unthreshed grain, the use of grain for livestock feed, and theft. Similarly, part of the crop was lost in 1932.
The third reason: the incompetence of the local leadership, expressed in disregard for the practical experience of collective farm agronomy in planning work. Excesses in the organization of the harvest led to the resignation of incompetent executives, but there was no one to replace them.
From Chubar’s letter:
“During the struggle for bread, the right to sell the property of malicious non-deliverers of bread was abused (law of 1929). The harvest of individual farmers was harvested and threshed at the so-called “red currents”, from which all the threshed grain was handed over for harvesting, and then they also brought a firm task “to the court”, and since this task was not fulfilled, they sold all property, including buildings, household belongings, shoes, clothes, etc. In some villages, 20% or more farms were sold. If we add to this the mockery inflicted on the individual farmers, for the most part future collective farmers, as well as on collective farmers who were only expelled from the collective farm yesterday, it becomes clear why the individual farmers have no tax, no land was allotted to them, no livestock. Those who did not sell livestock in the order of repression, they themselves sold or slaughtered it in advance. The brigades that raged there had almost no leadership. The peregibschiks (in this context: “abusers of the law”) were tried, but the deed done by them cannot be corrected by one court. <…>
It is clear that after such actions on the ground there were almost no chairmen of the village councils, nor the activists who had carried out previous campaigns. Some were tried and removed, others fled on their own. The regional leadership was also barely preserved. But the new people, finding themselves under the colossal pressure of the masses demanding bread, the return of illegally sold property, improperly socialized livestock, etc., were at a loss.”
It should be recalled that the famine of 1932-1933 occurred against the backdrop of a very difficult transition from individual farming to collective farming. Such a transition, which in many respects ensured the further success of industrialization vital for the country, can be compared with the agrarian transformations in the capitalist countries, which also gave a new quality to industrialization in these countries.
All such agrarian economic radical transformations in the West were accompanied by dire consequences, including mass starvation. And this, despite the fact that in the West the transformations took incomparably longer than the Soviet transformations in the same area. Maxim Gorky was right when he asserted that the Soviet transformations in the agrarian sphere were “an almost geological revolution, and this is more, immeasurably more and deeper than anything that was done by the party”.
Thus, one can and should grieve over the most difficult processes associated with the radical transformation of the agrarian sector. But one cannot fail to understand that these transformations are no more tragic than similar transformations all over the world. And that without these transformations there would be no industrialization, which means that the Nazi fascists would have destroyed most of the Soviet population, making no distinction between Ukrainians and Russians.
Such a statement has nothing to do with the justification of the tragedy of the events in question, with references to the sayings “They cut the forest – the chips fly”, “The end justifies the means” and so on. But one cannot turn a real tragedy and the real historical circumstances that caused it into a fairy tale about the fact that the tragedy was organized by the Bolsheviks, which means that this is not a tragedy at all, but a conspiracy.
The tragedy, by the way, caused severe damage to the Bolsheviks, since the authority of the collective farm economy they were establishing was significantly destroyed. And therefore, the tale that the Bolsheviks themselves created all this is very reminiscent of Gorodnichiy’s statement from Gogol’s “Inspector” that the non-commissioned officer’s widow flogged herself. The Bolsheviks would never become like this very non-commissioned officer’s widow, and for many reasons.
Firstly, because what happened brought many collective farms created by the Bolsheviks to the brink of collapse. “The most enterprising elements began to leave the collective farms without formalizing their exit, and by spring only about half of the men remained in a number of collective farms and villages in these regions,” Chubar notes.
Secondly, because the tragedy called into question the successes of the first year of collectivization, when it was possible to do a lot of work to get the middle and poor peasants out of the influence of the “kulaks” (wealthy, egocentric farmers). The “kulaks” were given the opportunity to regain their lost influence. Nationalist sentiments also intensified (Chubar called them “Petliurists”). All this led to further disorganization of the collective farm economy. Chubar wrote: “The kulak elements, defeated mainly in 1930, but not expelled from their places, received significant numbers of offended middle peasants and poor peasants to recruit as their supporters. Petliura’s and other anti-Soviet sentiments grew. The extraordinary development of petty and major thefts exacerbates the situation.”
Thirdly, the most advanced collective farms, which were supposed to become a locomotive and demonstrate the advantages of a collective farm economy, fell under the principal workload, under which they bent and fell into the position of “losers”. “Under these conditions, it is extremely difficult to turn the masses towards production, towards the fulfilment of the plan of the sowing company,” Chubar pointed out. “The tractors are also helping out those small (it must be said frankly) groups of advanced workers, enthusiastic collective farmers who, in conditions of terrible deprivation, pull out the whole mass of work with their hump.”
At the same time, lagging behind, collapsing collective farms required huge resources and time to restore them. Chubar emphasized: “The economic weakening of the group of so-called difficult regions of Ukraine is such that without special planned (urgent and decisive) measures they will hang like a stone around the neck of our national economy, not only the Ukrainian SSR, but the USSR as a whole.” All this was extremely painful in the conditions when the Soviet government relied on the management of the countryside through collective farms, on demonstrating to the population the advantages of this type of farming and the increasing involvement of individual farmers in collective farms. On the one hand, it was required to subsidize the village affected by the famine. On the other hand, it was impossible to create through these subsidies an atmosphere of relaxation, provoking a further collapse of collective farm construction. The whole chance for a strategic, and not situational, correction of the problem that had arisen was to complete the full collectivization and bring the collective farm to a working state.
This determined the government’s policy: decisions to help the affected by the famine and reduce procurement plans alternate with decisions to strengthen collective ownership and the management system.
Among the measures to strengthen collective property, two resolutions of the Central Executive Committee and the SNK of the USSR, often cited and demonized by myth-makers-holodomorshchik, should be noted: the resolution of August 7, 1932 “On the protection of property of state enterprises, collective farms and cooperation and the strengthening of public (socialist) property”, which toughened the responsibility for the theft of collective property, as well as the resolution of December 27, 1932 “On the establishment of a single passport system for the USSR and mandatory registration of passports”, aimed, among other things, against the arbitrary unsystematic migration of collective farmers.
The motive behind the adoption of the resolution on the protection of public property and the strengthening of public property becomes clear if we turn again to Chubar’s letter.
Chubar named three main threats to the harvest:
- lack of draft power associated with the death of horses;
- the exhaustion of workers that has already begun;
- the risk of stealing bread.
If we talk about mandatory registration, then here it is worth referring to the data of V. Kondrashin, a specialist in the field of the history of the famine. Kondrashin writes: “In the summer of 1932, the famine in Ukraine played the role of a destabilizing factor for neighboring regions, primarily the North Caucasus Territory and the Central Chernozem Region. The hungry Ukrainian peasants who rushed there stimulated “panic moods” in the Cossack and peasant environment, thereby disrupting the harvesting campaign and grain procurements.
In addition to the above two measures, others have been taken. Among the most important is the resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks adopted on May 6, 1932 “On the plan for grain procurement from the harvest of 1932 and the development of collective farm trade in bread.” This decree reduced the procurement plan for the coming season by 19.3% compared to the previous season, and also provided for the peasants to organize trade in their surplus grain – but only after the completion of the delivery of grain to the state and the closing of the grain procurement plan. I.V. Stalin explained the meaning of these measures in his speech at the joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks on January 11, 1933:
“What guided the Council of People’s Commissars and the Central Committee, introducing the collective-farm trade in grain?
First of all, by expanding the basis of trade between town and country and improving the supply of agricultural products to the workers and urban products to the peasants. There can be no doubt that state and cooperative trade alone is not enough for this. These channels of trade had to be supplemented by a new channel—collective-farm trade. And we supplemented them by introducing collective farm trade.
They were further guided by the fact that, with the help of the collective-farm trade in grain, they would give the collective farmer an additional source of income and strengthen his economic position.
Finally, they were guided by the fact that the introduction of collective-farm trade would give the peasant a new impetus to improve the work of the collective farms, both in terms of sowing and harvesting.”
The resolution, of course, should be considered as a step reaching out to the peasants after the already half-starved season of 1931-1932. However, the implementation of the resolutions did not begin at all in the way they were intended. It was taken by the local authorities as a signal to accumulate grain for trade, instead of fulfilling the grain procurement plan in the first place (which, as indicated above, was reduced by 19.3% compared to the previous season). The peasants, apparently, perceived this decree as a significant relaxation, which served as a pretext for an increase in sabotage of state grain procurements and theft of grain. In favor of this assumption is the fact that in the future all decisions, both on the reduction of procurement plans and on loans to the starving, were classified.
Moreover, on September 24, 1932, the Izvestia newspaper published a resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, stating that henceforth there would be no reduction in plans and no loans would be made. At the same time, secretly, including after September 24, one decision after another was made on loans and reduction of plans. The Ukrainianizers insist that the starving people have been deprived of all kinds of assistance, including food loans. This is wrong.
Decisions on food loans began to be made as early as the spring of 1932, as food troubles were reported. And above all, loans were directed specifically to Ukraine. Even before Chubar’s letter of June 1, 1932, which we quoted, a resolution was adopted on the preservation and development of the horse stock (in his letter, Chubar calls the exhaustion and death of horses as one of the direct causes of the impoverishment of the regions and famine). However, all this, unfortunately, did not have a decisive effect on the procurement campaign of 1932-1933. The progress of procurement can be traced to well-known statistical data, in which all the falsity of the statements of the “holodomorists” that the procurement plans did not decrease and even increased as the situation worsened is visible.
The stories of the “holodomorists” that during the famine the export of bread was not reduced are also false. The reality is that from December 1932 the export of bread was minimized, and from April 1933 it was stopped altogether.
Statistics show that the sowing and harvesting campaigns of 1932 were poorly conducted. The reason for this could be the depletion of the population that had already taken place by that time and the unsatisfactory state of the tax (death and exhaustion of horses), which Chubar points out in his letter as a threat to the upcoming sowing campaign. But Chubar analyzes the situation in the most disadvantaged areas, and the failure to fulfil the plan concerned other areas as well. Therefore, it is clear that the above reasons were not the only ones. Sabotage and theft, on the one hand, and the incompetence of the local leadership, on the other hand, also prevented the normal conduct of the sowing campaign. The sowing campaign was a failure in all respects compared to previous years – both in terms of the time and duration of sowing, and in terms of sown areas (according to various estimates, 14-25% less, than in 1931), and in relation to the amount of sown grain per unit area. The latter was connected specifically with the theft of grain. The amount of unsown grain per hectare of crops in some cases reached 40%.
Sowing time has a great influence on the yield. The sowing of spring crops (that is, those varieties of bread that are planted in the spring and harvested in the autumn) was catastrophically delayed in 1932 in many cases. Here is what the historian V. Kondrashin writes, referring to archival data: “In Ukraine, only 8 million hectares were sown by May 15, 1932 (for comparison: 15.9 million in 1930 and 12.3 in 1931). In 1931-1932 the course of sowing spring crops in Ukraine was much worse than in 1930. If in 1930 by May 15, 85.4% of the area was sown there, then in 1932 – only 48.8%. The extremely unsatisfactory pace of spring field work, their low quality, was indicated in numerous decisions of the bureaus of the regional committees of the Lower and Middle Volga. During the sowing season, there were flaws, sifting, a deliberate reduction in seeding rates, theft of seeds, absenteeism,
Poor quality and sabotage of weeding operations led in many cases to the dominance of weeds in the fields sown with bread. This also had a significant impact on the yield.
A similar situation has developed with the harvesting campaign. “Disruptions in harvesting terms,” notes V. Kondrashin, “the quality of threshing work and careless transportation of harvested grain caused huge crop losses. If in 1931, according to the data of the NC RCT, more than 150 million centners (about 20%) of the gross grain harvest were lost during harvesting, then in 1932 the crop losses turned out to be even greater. For example, in Ukraine they ranged from 100 to 200 million pounds. According to the annual reports of collective farms and state farms, grain losses from drought and during harvesting in 1932 reached 50 million tons, that is, almost 30% of the grown crop.”
The government constantly during the second half of 1932 and the first half of 1933 took various measures designed to save the situation. As mentioned above, these measures were twofold: on the one hand, subsidies and reductions in plans (this also includes the abolition of exports, etc.), on the other hand, the tightening of the management and control regime.
Unfortunately, these measures were delayed and did not give a decisive effect, although they were sometimes carried out in a mobilization regime (for example, assistance to Ukraine with grain and tractors to speed up the sowing campaign at the end of May 1932). These measures, no doubt, gave their effect, but it manifested itself in the next harvesting season. And in the first half of 1933, a serious famine broke out.
Who was in the most distressed situation can be judged from the memorandum of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b)U S.V. Kosior to I.V. Stalin on the food situation of March 15, 1933. Kosior notes the following.
First. In the worst situation were those areas in which there was the greatest collapse of the collective farms.
One can imagine what would have happened if the government had not taken measures, including tough ones, to strengthen collective farm property and the collective farm system.
Second. The most hungry were those who had few workdays (that is, they worked little during the procurement campaign), as well as individual farmers and “returnees”. Although there are other cases when those who have worked a lot of workdays, but received little bread, go hungry.
“There are also facts when many collective farmers and individual farmers, under the influence of panic, hid their bread and at the same time are starving,” writes Kosior. In Dnepropetrovsk region alone more than 50 such cases have been discovered. The main cause of the famine – poor management and an unacceptable attitude towards public goods (losses, theft and waste of bread) – this year appears before the masses more clearly and sharply. For in the majority of the starving regions, an insignificant amount of grain was taken from the blanks, and it is by no means possible to say that “the bread was taken away”. This must be said in relation to the majority of districts, even the Dnepropetrovsk region, all the more it sticks out, for example, in the Kiev region, where this year grain procurements were completely insignificant.
Why are they starving in the Kiev region, where we almost did not take grain procurements in these main regions? In these areas, there was a large undersowing of spring crops in the spring, there was a great loss of winter crops, and what was harvested was eaten at public catering, as much as they wanted, and also stolen by those who did not work.
The question arises: if there were numerous cases of theft and bread was stolen, then why didn’t this save us from hunger? The point here, apparently, is the poor storage conditions of the stolen grain. So, Viktor Zemskov mentions that they buried the grain, and when they dug it out, it turned into powder right in their hands, “that is, it is impossible to bake bread.” The chance to avoid starvation was, of course, in sowing all the grain and fulfilling the plan for harvesting, and not in burying it.
Further, Kosior notes: in order not to fail the sowing of spring crops for the next season of 1933-1934, emergency measures must be taken: Thanks to the departure of a part of the collective farmers, this burden increases even more, while on the collective farms, the majority of the working staff are women. One can imagine what would have happened if measures had not been taken against the free departure of collective farmers.
“In many places, in the present state of affairs, the collective farms will not be able to cope with their land, even if they are fully provided with seeds. It will be necessary to organize help for them already in the spring sowing, not only with tax, but also with working hands,” continues Kosior. “Several tens of regions (30-40) from among the steppe, as well as from among the sugar beet, have a clearly unbearable burden of taxes and for sowing, especially in the very early period, they will require serious tax assistance. Otherwise, these areas will be strongly tightened and disrupt the sowing. We now have 250 tractors at our disposal, which we will divide between 4 regions – Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kiev and Kharkov. But these tractors are certainly not enough. Only Dnepropetrovsk region requires 300 tractors from us. Kiev makes big demands.”
It is noteworthy that the unpreparedness of the regions for sowing, an acute shortage of resources for sowing, was also observed in 1932. In addition, in 1933 the condition of workers in terms of exhaustion was significantly worse than the year before. However, in 1933, the famine was completely overcome!
This indisputable fact allows us to rationally discuss the real causes of hunger – after all, if certain factors were the same during and without hunger, then they should not have a decisive influence on hunger, right?
What exactly had a decisive influence on the emergence of famine is actually said in the same letter from Kosior. “The comrades who were in the field say that now they almost don’t talk about the fact that ‘the bread was taken away’ in the Kiev region, but they blame themselves for poor work, for not saving the bread, for letting it be taken away.” In this regard, there is undoubtedly a certain turn among the collective farm masses, which is reflected in the attitude towards those who did not work. Apparently, after the ordeal of famine, the peasants rallied around the collective farms for a better organization of life and work. The new organization of work, as history later showed, made it possible to obtain a higher harvest, which means it was an effective remedy against hunger.
A vivid, albeit tragic, example of how the attitude of peasants towards collective farms changed in 1933 is weeding. As already mentioned, in 1932 these works were performed poorly, and this was reflected in the harvest. And here is what happened a year later (this case is described by Kondrashin): “In 1933, on the Bolshe-Orlovsky collective farm … the collective farmers, swollen from hunger, went out to the fields with their last strength to weed the crops several times. As the head of the political department of the MTS Vasiliev pointed out, they did not want to ‘be left without bread again’.”
At the same time, the problem of local government was solved.
Undoubtedly, the institution of political departments under the MTS, created by decision of the January (1933) plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of the CPSU(b), contributed to the successful completion of the new sowing season. These political departments, created on the model of political departments in the armed forces, supervised party work on collective farms and state farms and were responsible for sowing and harvesting. They were called upon to form a reliable collective farm asset. As a result, the picture of the harvest in 1933 turned out to be completely different. Here is what Mark Tauger, an authoritative researcher on the problem of hunger, writes about this, referring to the data of dynamic surveys published in two tables of the collection “Agriculture from the VI to the VII Congress of Soviets” in 1935: “The first [table], based on data from TsUNKhU [Central Economic Accounting], shows that the 1933 harvest on the surveyed collective farms exceeded the 1932 harvest in Ukraine by 63%, in Belarus by 43.5%, in Russia by 16%. The second table shows how the average gross grain harvest per kolkhoz and one worker has grown.”
A sharp increase in productivity is also visible from the statistics of relative indicators of the Central Administration of National Economic Accounting. According to TsUNKhU, the growth in Ukraine was 60% (from 4.98 to 8.07 centners per hectare), and in the RSFSR – about 20% (from 5.2 to 6.03 centners per hectare).
Commenting on overcoming hunger and increasing crop yields in 1933, Mark Tauger notes: “This was made possible in part by the weather, but also in large part by the astonishing efforts of the peasants to harvest more crops under incredibly difficult conditions and amid great suffering.”
Tauger also talks about the fact that the government implemented effective measures to overcome the famine:
“Throughout 1932 and early 1933, taking into account the reduction in the grain procurement plan, the authorities worked in a “crisis mode”: regional leaders (including Ukrainian ones) sent urgent requests to the center to reduce grain procurement plans and demand food supplies to the regions … The only thing that the government did not do was that it did not want to make the fact of famine known outside of Russia and did not resort to food imports. Although earlier all leaders, including Stalin, repeatedly did both – in 1921, 1924 and 1928. — and in all cases their efforts helped Ukraine.
Why, in 1933, did the government act differently – did not recognize the fact of the famine and did not begin to import food? I suspect that they refrained from such steps because the Nazis came to power in Germany, the Japanese occupied Manchuria, and the Soviet Army suffered from food shortages (also as a result of famine). Both Germany and Japan have had the upper hand over Russia in recent wars. In other words, the Soviet leadership was afraid of an invasion and did not want to appear weak.”
The considered facts prove that the arguments of the creators of the myth about the “Holodomor” are untenable. And that, in fact, the Soviet government not only did not starve anyone, but, on the contrary, took radical measures so that the famine would not happen again. And in order for it not to happen again, it was necessary, first of all, to organize the work of collective farms, which was done by 1933.
Supporters of the Holodomor theory argue that the Soviet government and Stalin personally wanted to destroy the Ukrainian people. This assertion is not supported by facts. Not only that, as I have already said, the famine of 1932-1933 covered the territory of several Soviet republics. Moreover, it was not ubiquitous in Ukraine. So, did the Soviet government starve Ukrainians selectively, depending on the territory in which they lived? Probably, it also marked the borders of the territories with a red pencil: here we will starve, but not here. The myth of the Holodomor is too blatantly at odds with reality. But in order to see this discrepancy, one firstly needs to crave the truth, secondly, to have information about reality and, thirdly, to have at least an elementary ability to comprehend this information.
And now – about the real victims of the elements that got out of control, the victims of what Gorky called a coup, similar in scale to the geological one. And let’s add, carried out on a time interval immeasurably shorter than those on which geological – and similar historical – upheavals are carried out.
According to the creators of the “Holodomor” myth, between 5 and 10 million Ukrainians died during the famine. The Nazi leaflets featured figures of 7.9 million. Yushchenko once called the figure of 10 million dead.
Viktor Zemskov calls these figures “speculations and fictions” and refers as evidence to the data of the Central Administration of National Economic Accounting (TsUNKhU), which kept the current population records in the interval between population censuses (the census was conducted in the USSR in 1926, after which the next one was only in 1937). Zemskov’s conclusion: the famine in Ukraine claimed the lives of 1.5 million people. Similar figures in the 1980s were given by historians V.P. Danilov (USSR), S. Wheatcroft (Australia), and others.
In conclusion, here is a fragment of the speech of Andrey Marchukov, senior researcher at the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, on the TV program “The Judgment of Time”: “It was quite rightly said that there was a famine, there was a famine. This is a historical fact. But “Holodomor” and famine are completely different things. The Holodomor is one of the constituent parts of the ideology of the Ukrainian national project. The project that originated in the middle of the 19th century, and at the beginning of the 20th century became politicized. The goals of the concept are to form a completely special type of Ukrainian society, a special type of nation, built on the initial contradiction to everything Russian. But Russian, not as Russian, in the modern sense of the word, but as deep layers in the consciousness, in culture, in the mentality of this very people, which used to be called Malorossians (Little Russian), and is now called Ukrainian. And it has quite definite political tasks … “.