Skip to comments.Ukraine’s enduring Holodomor horror, when millions starved in the 1930s
Posted on 03/25/2014 9:48:05 PM PDT by No One Special
Ukraine, a fertile provider of food, almost died 80 years ago of starvation. In the village of Targan, 120 kilometres south of the Ukrainian capital Kiev [Kyiv], half the people died from hunger in 1932-1933.
Oleksandra Ovdiyuk, 92 today, survived what Ukrainians call the Hunger-extermination not insufficient food, but deliberate policy imposed by the Soviet dictator Stalin.
She said: The Bolsheviks had special brigades of seven men that would sweep through the villages in wagons and confiscate any hidden beans, grain or other food from the farmers homes.
Opinion has remained divided for many decades whether the mass death was the result of a deliberate drive to kill an entire people, because Ukrainian nationalism was on the rise, or the unintentional effect of misguided mismanagement by Stalin in his quest to feed rapid industrialisation elsewhere. Millions fell, mostly in rural Ukraine. Cannibalism was documented.
Survivor Olena Goncharuk felt the terror: We were afraid to go out in the village, because people were starving and they hunted children. My neighbour had a daughter, who disappeared. We went to her house. The head was separated from the body, and the body was cooking in the oven.
Stalins forces in 1932-33 requisitioned food stores, deported peasants or forbade them from leaving the land, carried out mass executions and put people in prison.
Olena Goncharuk relives the horror: There was a man who went into a womans house to take the body away. But she was still alive. She asked the man: Dont take me, Im still breathing. And he said: One way or another you are going to die, and I dont want to have to come back for you tomorrow!
Cherished sites today belie the great nameless burials. Stalins reign of terror would claim many victims in other terrible actions too, aimed at consolidating power his purges, for example. And information about death tolls and nationalities of who died where and how by firing squad or famine was guarded, repressed, denied or distorted with propaganda pseudo-justification.
Historian Volodymyr Serhiychuk told us: There was famine in other USSR regions, in Kazakhstan, for instance, but Kazakhs could go and seek food in neighbouring Russian regions, or in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Ukrainians, in contrast, in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, couldnt go to Belarus or Russia, because the borders were closed and there were no railway tickets for them.
Ukrainian farmers didnt want to join collective farms, they didnt want to give the Bolsheviks their produce. Thats why the Bolsheviks killed them with famine.
Then more millions were killed in World War Two. It was only many years later that light could be shed on the Holodomor. After independence in 1991, a law in Ukraine made it a criminal offence to deny that the Holodomor was pre-meditated genocide.
Iryna Gibert, from euronews headquarters in Lyon, spoke about this with André Liebich, a professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.
He is a historian whose speciality is the countries of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR.
euronews: Ukrainian law defines the Holodomor as a genocide against the people of Ukraine. More than 20 countries recognise this. But many people consider that the term genocide does not say enough. Why is this?
André Liebich: It is in fact a poorly chosen term. When we think genocide, and certainly in the context of the 1930s, we think foremost of the Holocaust. The difference is that the Holodomor did not only affect the Ukrainian people but also other peoples within Ukraine and outside it: in Kazakhstan and in Russia. In addition, the Holocaust was a campaign whose intention was to exterminate a people while the Holodomor was not conceived to eradicate the Ukrainian people, even though there were undeniably millions of victims. It was the result of a brutal, inhumane policy led by Stalin, who didnt care how many died because of him. But his first intention wasnt to eliminate the Ukrainians but rather to realise his programme, whatever the cost, even if it meant millions of peasant victims especially peasants who often were Ukrainians.
euronews: The criminal code in Ukraine provides for prosecution for public denial of the Holodomor. Doesnt that stifle debate on the subject?
Liebich: Absolutely. It is not up to the state to decree what is true, or to put a stop to discussion. The fact that the Holodomor is contested by some people only makes the debate more real and necessary. It is by showing what happened and discussing the number of victims that we manage to establish the truth. Its not for the state to legislate what is true and not true, and to stop discussion.
euronews: The reality is millions of individual deaths even if the numbers vary. Isnt it fair to count this tragedy on the scale of a crime against humanity, as is the case for the Holocaust?
Liebich: Entirely so: as a crime against humanity not as a crime against a particular people. If we conceive of the Holodomor as a crime that affected millions of individuals across the former
USSR, we have the foundation for a common commemoration, a reconciliation between the Russians and the Ukrainians and other peoples. If we portray the Holodomor as exclusive, as a purely Ukrainian tragedy targeting only them, we only create conflicts with others who were also victims of that tragedy.
euronews: Ukraine is often criticised for competitively inflating the death toll. Whats your opinion on that?
Liebich: There is, effectively, an overstating of the number of victims which doesnt help anyone. The lowest we can give for the Holodomor is 2,000,000. If we add those who died of illness, of famine-induced weakness, add the birth deficit, we get a figure of several million but we dont get the 10,000,000 that we sometimes hear, and maybe not even the 6,000,000 that is the standard figure for the Holocaust, to which some seek to compare the Holodomor.
If this had been done by a regime labeled ‘right wing” by the Left, we would never hear the end of it’s horrors, but, alas.
***She said: The Bolsheviks had special brigades of seven men that would sweep through the villages in wagons and confiscate any hidden beans, grain or other food from the farmers homes. ***
Reminds me of what happened to my Sister-in-law’s husband’s family who operated a ranch in West Texas. During WWII they provided all food for themselves and the ranch hands, but one day someone snitched, said they were HOARDING, and all their foods were confiscated.
How did they survive? They had another hidden food cellar out in the hills.
nowadays the left claim the right is worse than stalin for not providing state funded abortion and contraceptives.
And, Hitler was responsible for the deaths of at least 40 million people.
I'm Left wondering what the point of the article is.
A remnant of reporting the episode is the word kulacks which can be found in todays dictionaries. Thank you New York Times; Durante.
Which is how Stalin described those who were against his collectization pogrom. It meant “fist” and described as the fist held against the throats of the proletariat. Because they were “hoarding” food.
Yes, it means fist but I heard it was in reference to the closed fist of someone who would not share their produce. But who knows? I do not know a word of Russian.
The year we diplomatically recognized was 1933 which was FDR’s first term. The Holodomor dated from 1932 to 1933. I suppose he might have been unaware.
A squad of 7 men. An AK or an AR with one mag in a kulaks home.
That’s all that was needed. NKVD men, gestapo, pol pots boys,, they all deserved a surprise mad minute.
The cruelty Russian Tsars, Soviet rulers, and Putin inflict on Ukraine while claiming that its their country is amazing. It’s regrettable that these crimes are less known and for some reason get little sympathy. Maybe we just have such low expectations of people like Putin, though it seems he does have a fan club here. But in the case of Putin fans his being willing to inflict more suffering on a nation that only wants to be free of his interference and his cronies is seen as yet another reason for Putin to lash out at them. Putin is worth $75 billion. He is rich enough to help them if he wanted to do something to win them over.
Remember this was a time when Liberals were denying anything was wrong with Russia or with its recaptured satellites. You probably know about the New York Times reporter Walter Duranty who knew full well about Stalin’s crimes and still covered them up. He was like many Putinistas are today.
“Its regrettable that these crimes are less known and for some reason get little sympathy.”
It’s less known because at the time these events were happening, “Socialism” and it’s propaganda were all the rage among the “enlightened” liberals of the Western Press.
The US Government, CPUSA and the unions of the 30’s were riddled with Soviet agents and sympathizers who immediately quashed any suggestions that Socialism was anything but the best thing ever. many in the media sympathized with the Soviet Union, (and even Nazism).
Kinda like what is happening in the US now.
How did they survive? They had another hidden food cellar out in the hills."
If they had TWO STASHES, and had enough to survive after one was confiscated...how many GIs were deprived of food? How many hard working Americans,including kids were deprived of rations? Remember Victory Gardens... oops guess they had a "stash" garden in Texas.
Which was worse, Hoarding as in TWO stashes or the Black Market trafficking? Our men were at war and we were deprived. Sounds like things were not so patriotic in parts of this country even then.. Were they Dems? All JMO
I was raised up in a poor family , we did not hoard food and we did not starve.
The only thing i remember having food stamps for was sugar, there may have been other things but the only thing i was interested in was sugar because that meant candy.
The only thing i worried about is if that S.O.B. could come over here and exterminate me.
Most of the Putinistas I have seen on this forum are ideologues. They will not change until they recognize that fact. I simply ignore them because they are not reachable thru dialogue.
Ah. So it was only TWO million that Stalin starved to death. Boy, does that ever make me feel so much more positive about the Soviets.
There were people like Owen Lattimore, that communist turncoat scumbag POS who traveled with Vice President Wallace and his delegates when they stayed 25 days in Siberia and were given a tour of the Soviet Union's Magadan concentration camp at Kolyma. In a travelogue for National Geographic, Lattimore described what little he saw as a combination of the Hudson's Bay Company and the TVA, remarking on how strong and well-fed the inmates were and ascribing to camp commandant Ivan Nikishov 'a trained and sensitive interest in art and music and also a deep sense of civic responsibility.
Liberals are complicit in the death of the millions in the Soviet Union, and the tens of millions who were murdered in China during "The Great Leap". Add that to the millions more who have died around the world since the early Seventies when DDT was banned due to malaria and other insect-borne diseases.
What a blasphemous, bloodthirsty, stench of a curse liberalism is on humanity.
The point is to keep Holocost and Holodomor deniers at bay. There are those who publicly deny either ever happened
A lot of people died because people nade bad mistakes back then. We basically gave Stalin the bomb and then we had the Korean war. Doubt it would have happened if we didn’t give him the secret.
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