24.06.2007 | Stephen Komarnyckyj

Open Letter to the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and Maidan on Holodomor


In 1932 to 1933 the Soviet Government organised a huge artificial famine in Ukraine which caused the deaths of between 3.5 and 11 million people. Starved Ukrainian peasants died in the fields and were buried in anonymous mass graves. The evidence from the Security Service of Ukraine’s archives, and

letters between Stalin and Kaganovich, show that the famine was organised deliberately to smash Ukrainian nationalism. During the summer of 1932 Stalin wrote to Kaganovich on numerous occasions expressing concern over what he saw as the potential menace of Ukrainian nationalism and eventually urged Kaganovich to “correct” the situation. In a letter dated 11 August he wrote of his fear of losing Ukraine which he associated with “Petlura supporting” nationalist elements who, he argued, were resisting grain requisitioning. On 23rd November he requested Kaganovich to strike a blow at resistance to Soviet Power in the Republic. On the14 December 1932 a joint resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Council of Peoples Commissars of the USSR condemned the process of Ukrainisation and linked it to difficulties collecting grain. During the months that followed Communist Party Activists collected every scrap of food from the Ukrainian countryside. Military Units cordoned off the border of the republic and surrounded starving villages to prevent Peasants from fleeing. On 29th December 1932 an instruction was issued to collect all the available stocks of grain in the republic

within a five to six day period. These instructions are reproduced on the Ukrainian President’s website together with samples of the correspondence between Kaganovich and Stalin:

It is of course impossible to forcibly remove all the food from an area and prevent people from fleeing without causing death on a massive scale. We have the letters from Stalin to Kaganovich showing that he was frightened of loosing control over Ukraine and requesting Kaganovich to destroy resistance in Ukraine. We have the direct instructions to party members and organizations to collect foodstuffs. We

have the subsequent mass killing of people accused of nationalist political conspiracies from 1933 onwards. The evidence that the famine was inflicted on Ukrainians in order to cause loss of life, and followed by other measures to break resistance in Ukraine is conclusive. It is obvious that this act is  a genocide under the UN convention on genocide adopted on 9th December 1948 which states that:

“In the present Convention, genocide 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 [including] deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.

The British Government, however, refuses to recognise Holodomor as an act of genocide. Geoff

Hoon, a Minister in the UK Government, has written to me claiming that disputes between academics make this impossible for them. There is, however, no serious doubt of the scale of the tragedy or that it was inflicted deliberately on Ukraine. There will always be a number of Holodomor deniers who will argue that, despite the instruction to remove all foodstuffs from a defined ethnic territory, that Stalin was merely trying to reform agriculture. Australia the USA and Canada have had the courage to recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide and to ignore the small number of cynical academics who attempt to generate publicity for themselves by arguing that a clear act of mass murder was simply an unfortunate accident or a rational policy which went wrong.

I urge Ukrainians to campaign for a change in the British Government’s attitude by contacting the Embassy either by phone, in writing or via email

Yours faithfully,

Steve Komarnyckyj


British Embassy Website Address:

Please see for more information about the UK campaign  


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