The Holodomor: Ukraine’s biggest tragedy, created by Soviet Russia

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Joseph Stalin organized a genocide-by-famine of Ukrainians, known as the Holodomor, in 1932-1933.
Photo: Galinfo

Photo: Galinfo

As international headlines speak of possible new threats from Russia, Ukraine was commemorating the victims of famines organized by previous Moscow regimes. The most terrible of them was Holodomor of 1932-1933, when the communist Soviet authorities, headed by Joseph Stalin, purposefully deprived Ukrainian villagers of any provision during a time of drought and poor crops. 

These actions were presented as emergency «grain procurements,» though the Soviets took away any food they could find in the people’s homes, and hiding even a portion of grain was considered «looting of state property» (introduced by the Law of Spikelets). Currently, Ukraine and 23 other countries have proclaimed the Holodomor a genocide against Ukrainian people, while Russian historians call it a crime commited against the whole population of the Soviet Union. «Genocide,» meaning «killing of a people,» is a term coined by Leopolitan Raphael (Rafael) Lemkin, who studied in Lviv (read more about him here.)

Below, there are the most important facts about Ukraine’s biggest tragedy:

1. The Holodomor in Ukraine lasted 17 months – from April 1932 to November 1933. According to various estimates, between 4 and 7 million people died, although some historians indicate 10-11 million dead.

2. In the spring of 1933, historians say, 17 people died every minute, 1,000 – every hour, and almost 25,000 – every day from the famine.

3. In the documents of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, there is evidence of how in the autumn of 1932, the so-called «green echelons» were organized from Ukraine to provide industrial centers of Russia with food for the October holidays. Sowing material was exported from starving Ukraine, and also even pickles, cabbage and tomatoes, leaving people doomed to starvation.

4. According to Soviet government orders, any trade in rural areas was banned and food supplies to villages were suspended. Any use of bread as wages to the workers was prosecuted and punished for 10 years in prison and execution in areas that did not comply with grain procurement plans, provision was being confiscated as fine. The share of Ukrainian grain in the all-Union volume of grain procurement reached more than a third, and in some regions exceeded the targets for the North Caucasus, Central-Black Earth region, Kazakhstan and the Moscow region combined.

5. The former Kharkiv and Kyiv oblasts (now Poltava, Sumy, Kharkiv, Cherkasy, Kyiv, Zhytomyr) suffered the most from the famine. They account for 52.8% of deaths. The mortality rate here exceeded the average level by 8-9 or more times.

According to and the website of the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada

Translated by Vitalii Holich

You can read a Ukrainian language version of this story here.

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