Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Ukrainian Holodomor (Hunger-Extermination) of 1932-1933

Chicago American - Monday, February 25th, 1934
Not widely known by many Americans, the Holodomor was the premeditated mass starvation of the Ukrainian peasantry in the name of Soviet collectivization of Ukraine's farmland in 1932-1933. Recent international human rights research estimates the number of dead at somewhere between 2.4 and 7.5 million victims. It is impossible to arrive at an accurate figure. But there is one thing that scholars agree upon, this was the worst peacetime catastrophe in Ukraine's long and fabled history. The loss of life rivals the Holocaust of European Jews by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.

Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by many countries as genocide of the Ukrainian people. History notes that the destruction of the Ukrainian peasantry was premeditated on the part of Joseph Stalin. The term Holomodor emphasizes the man-made causes of the famine, like the Soviet confiscation of private property, farmland, livestock, wheat crops, and all the implements of farm and industrial production.

A campaign of terror was unleashed on ethnic Ukrainians, primarily in the southeastern "breadbasket" region of the country. Those who resisted Soviet authorities were shot or deported to Siberia. Families who attempted to hide their grain stocks were killed. Even so, some families chose to burn their homes to the ground and kill their livestock rather than hand them over to their Soviet overlords.

A system of internal passports was instituted preventing the free movement of the Ukrainian populace from villages and towns to suppress widespread knowledge of what was occurring in Ukraine. When the news of the famine reached the West, the Ukrainian Diaspora in Western Europe and the United States quickly raised relief funds and sent food supplies to Ukraine which were rejected at the border by Soviet authorities. As a result of growing international notice, the Soviets responded by banning all journalists in Ukraine, and among the Ukraine populace, the banning of the words "famine" and "hunger." Using either word could result in a jail term.

With the exception of grain reserves used to feed livestock and not people, the vast bulk of Ukrainian grain was exported to neighboring countries to generate revenue for fueling Stalin's Five Year Plan. The Soviet Union was able to purchase Western commodities, among them military weapons and hardware. In return, those countries turned a blind eye to the Soviet Union's internal problems.

In addition to Ukrainian farm peasants, more than 5,000 Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested and charged with plotting an armed rebellion. Those who were not summarily shot were deported to Siberian labor camps, never to be heard from again. It is believed that Stalin feared a general revolt in support of Ukrainian nationalism. The Soviet goal was to have Ukrainians abandon all nationalistic fervor. This preemptive move left the rest of the population without leadership or direction.

For more detailed information on Holodomor, visit the United Human Rights Council's site at:

To view the many monuments dedicated to the victims of Holodomor, tap on this link: