war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

The Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933 and the UN Convention on Genocide

Roman Serbyn
Professor Serbyn provides compelling arguments backed in part by material published since the collapse of the Soviet Union for recognizing that Holodomor does fall within the UN definition of genocide and that deliberate starvation was directed against Ukrainians

We are very grateful to Professor Serbyn for kindly allowing us to publish this very important article

The State of the Question

The historicity of the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933 is no longer challenged. What is still disputed is the number of victims, the reasons for the catastrophe, and its nature. Estimates of loss of life from starvation and related diseases vary from three to ten million. Historians identify a number of factors which brought on the famine or contributed to its intensification: adverse climatic conditions and field pests, incompetence of local administrators and farmer opposition, difficulties connected with the transition from private to socialized economy and governmental mismanagement of the agricultural sector, criminal intention on the part of Stalin and his cronies. Some historians deny or minimize the moral responsibility of the Communist leaders, reject the accusation of their intention to starve the population, or even of pursuing policies which they knew would result in horrendous human losses. In a recent major study on the subject, the authors write: "We do not at all absolve Stalin from responsibility for the famine. His policies towards the peasants were ruthless and brutal. But the story which has emerged in this book is of a Soviet leadership which was struggling with a famine crisis which had been caused partly by their wrongheaded policies, but was unexpected and undesirable."[1] It is my contention that the famine was both expected and desirable. Proponents of the view that the famine was a deliberate act of the Soviet régime continue to disagree on the nature of the crime and the identity of the victims: there is no consensus on whether the famine in Soviet Ukraine should be classified as genocide, and if so, if its intended victims were targeted as Ukrainians or farmers. The question of the Ukrainian famine has always had academic and political dimensions. And today, it still elicits partisan feelings among scholars and politicians.

The Ukrainian famine has not yet been recognized as genocide by the United Nations. When the 70th anniversary of the event was commemorated in November 2003 by the UN General Assembly, a declaration signed by some 60 countries stated that “the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine” took seven to 10 million innocent lives, and explained that these people were victims of “the cruel actions and policies of the totalitarian regime.” The catastrophe was called “a national tragedy for the Ukrainian people,” but there was no allusion to genocide. The declaration erroneously attributed the cause of the famine to “civil war and forced collectivization” and misleadingly merged the Ukrainian catastrophe with the “millions of Russians, Kazaks and representatives of other nationalities who died of starvation in the Volga river region, North Caucasus, Kazakhstan and in other parts of the former Soviet Union.”[2] The Ukrainian delegation agreed to this watered-down version out of fear that Russia would block a more strongly worded declaration. Ambassador Valeriy Kuchinsky of the Ukrainian Mission to the UN later stated that it was, nevertheless, “an official document of the General Assembly,” whose importance resided in the fact that “for the first time in the history of the UN, Holodomor was officially recognized as a national tragedy of the Ukrainian people, caused by the cruel actions and policies of a totalitarian regime.”[3] The recognition did constitute a precedent and the Ukrainian Ambassador took advantage of it to return to the famine two years later. During the General Assembly discussion of the resolution on the International Holocaust day, Kuchynsky recalled the Holodomor and urged the audience that it was, “high time that the international community recognized that crime as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation.”[4]

There is no unanimity on the famine among Ukrainian historians. Some, like Valeriy Soldatenko of the Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies, continue to reject the notion of a man-made famine in Ukraine. Others, like Yuri Shapoval of the same institution, blame the communists for the crime and consider it genocide in accordance with the 1948 UN Convention. Stanislav Kulchytsky of the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine maintains that the famine was genocide and that the Ukrainians must ensure that the international community officially recognize it as “an act that falls under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” However, in another passage of the same publication, Kulchytsky declares: “in reality, this famine cannot be classified as genocide as defined in the Convention.”[5] The author draws a sharp distinction between the Ukrainian famine, on the one hand, and the Jewish Holocaust and Armenian massacres, on the other. “We will never prove to the grandchildren of those Ukrainian citizens who starved to death, let alone to the international community, that people died in 1933 in the USSR as a result of their national affiliation, i.e., in the same way that Armenians died in the Ottoman Empire in 1915, or Jews in the European countries that were occupied by Hitler’s Reich.” Convinced that the Ukrainian famine cannot satisfy the criteria set by the UN Genocide Convention, he comes to a rather surprising conclusion: “And there is no need to prove this, because the mechanism of the Soviet genocide was different. The terror by famine that Stalin unleashed on Ukraine and the Kuban was an act of genocide against Ukrainian citizens, not Ukrainians.”[6]

Further on, I shall return to Kulchytsky’s notion of “terror by famine” and the designation of "Ukrainian" as civic and ethnic identification. At this point I wish to point out that Kulchytsky’s dismissal of the UN criteria for genocide is not useful in arguing the Ukrainian case before international legal bodies, and it is of no help when debating the issue with scholars who, unlike Davies and Wheatcroft, base their rejection of the Ukrainian genocide on the UN Convention[7]. Kulchytsky often quotes the UN Convention but then dismisses it without submitting it to a thorough examination, to see if it applies to the Ukrainian case. Absence of rigorous analysis is characteristic of much of Ukrainian scholarship, which too often contents itself with simply asserting that the Ukrainian famine falls within or outside the UN parameters of genocide.

Generally speaking, opponents of the Ukrainian genocide thesis have a tendency to fall back on the UN Convention in their denial of the genocidal nature of the Ukrainian famine. The discussion that took place at the VII World Congress of the International Committee for Central and East European Studies, held in Berlin in the summer of 2005, was a case in point. At the session dedicated to the question “Was the Famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933 Genocide?” Otto Luchterhadt, Professor of Law at the University of Hamburg, Germany, presented a paper “Famine in Ukraine and the Provisions of International Law on Genocide.” Luchterhandt’s own summation of his argument, printed in the Congress Abstracts, reads as follows:

 “The question whether the Ukrainian Golodomor [sic!] was a genocide, can only be answered along with the Anti-Genocide Convention (9.12.1948), because it exclusively offers the relevant criteria, i.e. the definition of genocide as a crime under international law. While the objective elements of the offense were completed without any doubt by state terrorist measures against a substantial part of the Ukrainian population during the so-called Dekulakization, the subjective element was not fulfilled, because killings, deportations, and mistreatments were not committed with the required specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the Ukrainians as a national group as such. The victims of the Dekulakization policy were defined by a social approach, not by a national one. So, the Golodomor-case touches on a crucial problem of genocide definition: due to the Soviet UN-policy it doesn’t protect social and political groups. [Emphasis added - R.S.]”[8]

Let us disregard, for the moment, the author’s erroneous reading of history: a) dekulakization — confiscation of property of the richer farmers — was mostly over when the great famine began; b) only a small minority of the peasants who starved to death could be classified as having previously belonged to this group; and c) his misdirection in subject identification (victims of dekulakization instead of the famine). What is more germane to our discussion is that Luchterhandt, like most of the scholars, who today reject the notion of a Ukrainian genocide, bases his denial of the Ukrainian genocide on the UN document.

Advocates of the recognition of the Ukrainian famine have not yet succeeded in convincing the international community of the justice of their claim. Yet Andrea Graziosi, a recognized expert in the field, has come to the conclusion that this will happen, due to new information revealed by new documents.[9] What the Italian historian does not say is whether he believes that this claim can be made on the basis of the UN Convention. I think it can. In this paper I shall argue the following three points:

1.  The Ukrainian famine was genocide.

2.  Documents show that deliberate starvation was directed against Ukrainians.

3.  The evidence meets the criteria set by the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide.

The UN Convention on Genocide

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1948 and came into force on 12 January 1951. Soviet Ukraine became a signatory of the Convention on 16 June 1949 and ratified it on 15 November 1954. Independent Ukraine continues to respect the international Convention and has inscribed “Article 442. Genocide” into its own Code of Criminal Law.

The term “genocide” was coined in 1943 by Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) “from the ancient Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cidere (to kill). In its composition it thus corresponds to such words as tyrannycide, homicide and infanticide.”[10] A Polish Jew, born in what today is Lithuania, Lemkin studied law at the University of Lviv, where he became interested in crimes against groups and, in particular, the Armenian massacres during the First World War. In October 1933, as lecturer on comparative law at the Institute of Criminology of the Free University of Poland and Deputy Prosecutor of the District Court of Warsaw, he was invited to give a special report at the 5th Conference for the Unification of Penal Law in Madrid.[11] In his report, Lemkin proposed the creation of a multilateral convention making the extermination of human groups, which he called “acts of barbarity,” an international crime.

Ten years later, Lemkin wrote a seminal book on the notion of genocide. The author’s approach was much broader than the one later adopted by the UN, as the following excerpt from his book shows:

 “Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.” [emphasis added - R.S.][12]

The annihilation of a national group did not necessarily imply physical extermination of the whole group; the killing of individual members of the group and the destruction of the group’s national foundations were sufficient to constitute genocide. Lemkin’s book became a guiding light for the framers of the UN Convention on Genocide.

The Convention voted by the UN General Assembly contains 19 articles, dealing mainly with the problems of the prevention and punishment of genocidal activity. Most relevant to our discussion is the preamble and the first two articles. The preamble acknowledges that “at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity,” while the first article declares that genocide is a crime under international law “whether committed in time of peace or in time of war.” The all-important definition of genocide is contained in Article II:  “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.” [Emphasis added - R.S.][13] The delegates of various countries who sat on the drafting committees arrived at this definition after much discussion. It was a compromise, which satisfied few people and continues to be criticized by legal experts, politicians and academics. However, it remains the only legal definition sanctioned by the UN General Assembly and operative in international courts.

A major objection to the definition is the restricted number of recognized genocide target groups. Coming in the wake of the Second World War and informed by Lemkin’s work and the evidence of the Nazi concentration camps, the definition was necessarily tailored to the Jewish Holocaust. Jews fit all four categories: national, ethnic, racial and religious. They did not form a distinct political or social group, but this was not the reason for the exclusion of the two categories, which, after all, were part of Lemkin’s concern. The exclusion of social and political groups from the Convention, to which Luchterhandt alluded, was the result of the Soviet delegation’s intervention. Today, the limitation of the definition to the four categories of victims implies that one cannot argue for the recognition of a specific Ukrainian genocide if its victims are identified only as peasants. Since it is clear that of the four human groups listed by the Convention, the Ukrainians did not become victims of the famine because of their religious or racial traits, this leaves the two other categories — “national” and “ethnic(al)”, on which the case for genocide must be built.

There has always been a certain ambiguity about the distinction between the two groups labeled “nation” and “ethnic(al)” by the Convention. William Schabas, internationally recognized legal expert on genocide, believes that all four categories overlap, since originally they were meant to protect minorities. He argues that “national minorities” is the more common expression in Central and Eastern Europe, while “ethnic minorities” prevails in the West. [14] But if both terms were used to designate the same group then there would be redundancy, a fact which Schabas fails to account for.

A recent court case cited by Schabas provides, in my opinion, a more appropriate interpretation of “national group”: “According to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the term ‘national group’ refers to ‘a collection of people who are perceived to share a legal bond based on common citizenship, coupled with reciprocity of rights and duties’.”[15] What we have here is a “civic nation” formed by all the citizens of a given state, regardless of their ethnic, racial or other differentiation, as distinct from “ethnic nation,” or people belonging to the same ethnic community, who may or may not live within the same state. Relevant to this discussion is a statement made in 1992 by a Commission of Experts, applying the Genocide Convention to Yugoslavia: “a given group can be defined on the basis of its regional existence ... all Bosnians in Sarajevo, irrespective of ethnicity or religion, could constitute a protected group.”[16] The “regional” group is thus analogous to a civic nation. Such a clarification of the terms “national” and “ethnical” in reference to the term “group” used by the UN document removes all ambiguity and redundancy in the Convention. It also helps our understanding of the role of the government-induced starvation during the Ukrainian genocide, a policy directed against the Ukrainians peasants — as citizens of the Ukrainian SSR and a specific ethnic group in the UkrSSR and RSFSR.

According to the UN Convention, the decisive element in the crime of genocide is the perpetrator’s intent to destroy a human group identified by one of the four traits mentioned above. When applying this notion in concrete cases, certain aspects of the question of intent must be taken into consideration. First, it is not an easy task to document intent, for as Leo Kuper pointedly remarked, “governments hardly declare and document genocidal plans in the manner of the Nazis.”[17] This is particularly true with reference to the totalitarian Communist regime. Yet, documents, which directly reveal Stalin’s criminal intent, have survived in Soviet archives and are now available; furthermore, there is also a large body of circumstantial evidence which points in the same direction.[18]

Secondly, contrary to a common misapprehension, the Convention’s definition of genocide is not predicated on the intent to destroy the whole group; it is sufficient that the desire to eliminate concern only a part of the group. The Convention thus implies the possibility of victim selection within the designated group. Practical application to the Ukrainian case would mean the recognition of the probability that the choice of victims was limited to a sizeable portion of the Ukrainian farmers and the more nationally conscious elements of the Ukrainian cultural and political elites, both in Ukraine and in the RSFSR. Most of the victims of the genocide were starved to death, but others were executed or perished in the Gulag.

Thirdly, the Convention (Article II) lists five ways in which the crime is executed:

1. Killing members of the group;

2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the group;

3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

It should be noted that while the first and the third points specify physical annihilation, the other three speak of weakening the group, or what Lemkin referred to as the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national group. All of these acts can be documented in the Ukrainian experience.

Fourthly, the Convention does not demand the establishment of the motive behind the crime, even though knowing the reasons for a crime can help to establish the criminal’s intent. The Soviet delegate contested this omission during the framing of the Convention, arguing that "a crime against a human group became a crime of genocide when that group was destroyed for national, racial, or religious motives"[19]. A compromise was found and to the enumeration of the four victim groups the committee added the qualifier "as such". The lack of precision was convenient for it allowed each country to give its own interpretation to the clause. The Soviet side explained this addition as recognition that "in cases of genocide, the members of a group would be exterminated solely, because they belonged to that group"[20]. This interpretation became part of the Soviet definition of genocide and has persisted in the post-Soviet Ukraine until the present day. The online Great Ukrainian Dictionary defines genocide as "destruction of distinct groups of population for racial, national or religious motives".[21] This explains why Ukrainian scholars today focus on the question "why Stalin destroyed?"[22], while the Convention demands proof of Stalin’s intent to destroy.

The analysis offered by Schabas is close to that of the old Soviet position. While admitting that "there is no explicit reference to motive in article II of the Genocide Convention" and pointing out that "intent and motive are not interchangeable notions"[23], Schabas nevertheless focuses on the expression "as such", and insists that the crime of gencide must be "motivated by hatred of the group"[24]. To a large extent this is so. With the help of a criminal ideology, perpetrators of genocide can transform a targeted group into an object of blind hate, which then, in itself, becomes a motive for total or selective destruction of members of that group. In other words, members of a group “X” become singled out for destruction because they are members of that group. As Lemkin wrote: "Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group."[25] However, there are underlying motives which bring about group hatred, and these do not disappear — they are only pushed into the background.

Two Canadian scholars with long experience in genocidal studies have divided genocides into four groups according to the objectives of the perpetrators:

1. To eliminate a real or potential threat;

2. To spread terror among real or potential enemies;

3. To acquire economic wealth; or

4. To implement a belief, a theory or an ideology. [26]

All these aims were present in the Ukrainian genocide: a) to avert the threat to the integrity of the Soviet empire from the Ukrainian national revival; b) to terrorize the Ukrainian people into submission to Stalin’s will; c) to seize Ukrainian grain to feed Soviet industrial centers and export abroad; d) to eradicate the vestiges of capitalist economy and consolidate socialism.

Mention should be made of five other expressions that are often used in connection with the Ukrainian famine: artificial famine, famine-genocide, Holodomor, Holocaust and terror-famine (or terror by famine). The first designation corresponds to the oldest description of how the Ukrainians saw the event - a famine artificially created by the Communist regime. The second appelation is of a more recent usage; it reflects the desire of the Ukrainians to secure appropriate international recognition of the crime. Holodomor combines two words: "holod" - hunger/famine and "moryty" - to exhaust, to kill; it has come to signify "deliberate extermination by starvation", and in this sense has entered other languages. Holocaust (original meaning - immolation by fire) is used by some Ukrainians by analogy to the Jewish genocide, but many Ukrainians consider it inappropriate for the Ukrainian famine. Finally, "terror famine" was used by Robert Conquest[27] and then popularized in Ukrainian historical literature by Stanislav Kulchytsky. The designation is, in my opinion, a misnomer, and should be avoided, particularly in Western languages, where the term has a different connotation than it had in the Soviet Union and has survived in the post-Soviet Ukrainian lexicon. The online Ukrainian dictionary defines terror as "the most severe form of struggle with political and class adversaries with the application of violence up to physical annihilation".[28] But this is not the basic understanding of the term "terror" in the West, where it usually connotes "extreme fear".

Prelude to Stalin’s Revolution

In his programmatic "Political Report of the Central Committee", read at the XV Party Congress, on 3 December 1927, Stalin characterized the international situation as "the eve of a new revolutionary upsurge both in the colonies and in the metropolises." He then affirmed that, "the period of ’peaceful co-existence’ is receding into the past, giving place to a period of imperialist assault and preparation for intervention against U.S.S.R. [Stalin’s emphasis]". Implied was the need of the Soviet Union to prepare for the eventuality. Always ready to invoke the authority of his mentor, Stalin reminded his audience: "We must not forget Lenin’s statement that as regards our work of construction very much depends upon whether we succeed in postponing war with the capitalist world, which is inevitable, but which can be postponed either until the moment when the proletarian revolution in Europe matures, or until the moment when the colonial revolutions have fully matured, or, lastly until the moment when the capitalists come to blows over the division of the colonies.[emphasis added - R.S.]"[29] Stalin’s continued belief in the inevitability of war and his allusion as to the eventual initiator of the conflict are noteworthy. The capitalist world would attack the Soviet Union, but all three of the envisaged scenarios for the outbreak of war gave the latter an advantageous position. One could hardly believe that the Soviet Union would ignore such favorable conditions and would wait to be invaded, rather than take the initiative to spread the socialist revolution abroad. The thesis of a victorious ending to a defensive war was picked up by the Commissar for National Defence. K. Voroshilov stressed the need to organize "such defence of the Soviet Union [...] that would guarantee a victorious retaliation to the united forces of our eventual adversaries" [emphasis added - R.S.].[30] What the Soviet leaders were hinting at was, in fact, a "preventive war" in which, as Stalin explained ten years later, the Bolsheviks would take the initiative and attack first, "if the war was just, if the situation was propitious, if the conditions were favourable".[31]

The passages from Stalin’s speech, shows that far from abandoning the idea of world revolution, Stalin’s "socialism in one country" was only a preliminary stage for a much greater undertaking. Stalin realized that the Bolsheviks’ initial attempt to export their revolution into Europe failed primarily because of the weakness of the Red Army. After triumphing over Trotsky and the Left opposition, and consolidating his personal power at the 15th Party Congress, Stalin could turn his energies to the transformation of his sprawling empire into an industrial giant and a military superpower. But, as Voroshilov had pointed out, this would have to be done, "based on our resources".

Soviet industrial development demanded a huge outlay of capital. But since the West would not lend to a country that refused to honor old tsarist debts, the U.S.S.R. would have to finance her projects with her own resources, by exporting raw materials. Traditionally the tsarist empire sold huge quantities of grain and Stalin decided to do the same. However, Soviets exports were meager. In a lecture delivered on 28 May 1928 to the students of the Institute of Red Professors, the Communist Academy and the Sverdlov University, Stalin examined the unsatisfactory situation in Soviet foreign trade and gave his solution the problem, based on the analysis of the following table:[32]


  Gross Grain  Marketable Grain (sold 

  Production  outside the village) 

  Millions  %  Millions  %  % of grain

  of poods  of poods  marketed


Landlords [large estates]  600  12.0  281.6  21.6  47.0

Kulaks  1,900  38.0  650.0  50.0  34.0

Middle & poor peasants  2,500  50.0  369.0  28.4  14.7

 Total   5,000  100.0  1,300.6  100.0  26.0

Post-war (1926-27)

State & collective farms  80.0  1.7  37.8  6.0  47.2

Kulaks   617.0  13.0  126.0  20.0  20.0

Middle & poor peasants  4,052.0   85.3  466.2  74.0  11.2

Total   4,749.0  100.0  630.0  100.0  13.3

Statistics showed, argued Stalin, that at the height of the New Economic Policy the Soviet Union produced almost as much grain as did the tsarist empire before the war. Yet, he complained, "the amount of marketable grain we are producing is only one half, and the amount we are exporting is only about one-twentieth, of the pre-war figure"[33]. The Soviet Union finds itself in a situation where "the slow development of the output of our agriculture for the market" is "accompanied by a rapid increase in the demand for marketable grain". The increase in demand for commercial grain (sold outside the village) came from the growing urban centres, the expanding industrial work force and the needed to pay for foreign machinery and technology.

Before the revolution, it had been the big landlords and the rich farmers (kulaks), who delivered 47% and 34% of their produce respectively to the market and together satisfied 72% of market demands. Middle and poor peasants could only sell 15% of their production and supplied only 28% of the market needs. After the revolution, as poor peasants appropriated more land, the privately owned landed estates disappeared and kulak holdings were diminished. Under the NEP, large landholding belonged to state and collective farms, which, together with the kulaks, now provided respectively 47% and 20% of their produce for the market. But this did not amount to much, as they only produced 15 % of all the grain. The middle and poor peasant now harvested 85 % of the grain, but only sold 11% of it outside the village. What had happened, but what Stalin failed to mention, was that the peasant was keeping more grain for himself, eating better and feeding his family more adequately, but contravening the main goal Stalin set for Soviet agriculture, which was the financing of industry and not peasant welfare.

Stalin could not openly attack peasant consumption, so he blamed the paucity of marketable grain on the decline of large farms: "The reason is primarily and chiefly [...] the passing from large-scale landlord and large-scale kulak farming, which provided the largest amount of marketable grain, to small- and middle-peasant farming, which provides the smallest amount of marketable grain." Stalin’s solution was the reduction and, eventually, the elimination of middle and small farms. Since a socialist state could not patronize the kulak, large-scale farming that should replace the small exploitations could only be collective and state farms. In 1928 Stalin still spoke of a gradual transition: the kulak would be taxed more heavily, the middle and poor peasants would be helped to raise the yield of marketable grain, and collectivization was to be encouraged not enforced. Stalin expected to increase the yield of collective farms within several years to the point of getting an additional 100 million poods of grain for the State. An equal amount of additional procurement would come from the enlarged state farms, and the same quantity from the remaining individual peasant farms. "Thus", concluded Stalin, "the state can in three or four years’ time have at its disposal 250-300 million additional poods [4-5 million tons - R.S.] of marketable grain".

It is important to note that Stalin’s immediate and overriding goal, was not to augment the overall amount of grain that Soviet agriculture could produce, but to increase the amount that the state could extract from it. It is in this light that he saw the role of large-scale farming, which would "employ machines, scientific methods, fertilizers to increase the productivity of labour, and thus to produce the maximum quantity of marketable grain." Collectivization would bring agriculture under state control and allow the govenment to take greater quantities of grain, regardless of whether the actual production rose or fell. State procurement, or obligatory sale of grain to the state, at ludicrously low price, by both the collective and individual farmers, became the leitmotif of the "Stalin revolution" in agriculture. Stalin realized that most peasants would oppose collectivization, and that the hostility would be particularly fierce in Ukraine and in regions, like the Kuban that had not known the traditional Russian obshchina, or peasant commune. He was not ignorant of the fact that strong opposition would inevitably hinder farmwork and reduce overall production. That is the reason why he did not stress the total agricultural production but only the marketable part of it, that is — the part taken by the state. Pushing Lenin’s unfinished socialist revolution to its ultimate denoument in the countryside would serve Stalin’s other ambitions: direct control over the peasantry and wealth they produced.

Stalin anticipated opposition to collectivization from the Russian farmers for economic reasons, but he could expect even more hostility from the Ukrainian agriculturalists, who would be expected to provide a major portion of the marketable grain and who would sense a national dimension in the regime’s new policy. Ukrainians formed the biggest national minority of the multiethnic Soviet empire and their role was particularly significant in the agricultural domain. The official results of the  1926 census put the whole Soviet population at 147,027,000, of which 77,791,000 (52.9%) were ethnic Russians and 31,195,000 (21.2%) ethnic Ukrainians. Of the Ukrainians, 22,927,000 (73.5%) lived in the Ukrainian SSR and 8,268,000 (26.5%) in the rest of the USSR. In Ukraine, the titular nation formed 80.6% of the republic’s population of 28,446,000. 20,428,000 ethnic Ukrainians lived in the Ukrainian countryside, where they formed 89.0% of the republic’s ethnic Ukrainians and 88.5% of it’s rural population. Most of the ethnically Ukrainian population in the rest of USSR lived along the Ukrainian border. There were over 3 million Ukrainians in the Northern Caucasus Territory, of which some 900,000 lived in the Kuban okruh, where they formed 62% of the population. Another 500,000 lived in the Don okruh and formed 44% of the population. Ukrainians lived in compact settlements in RSFSR and were also overwhelmingly engaged in agriculture. Ukrainian agriculturalists constituted an important segment of the overall Soviet population and were especially prominent in the black-earth belt, where collectivization would have the gravest consequences since it was the main area producing the highly prized "marketable" grain.

Stalin was well aware of the threat to the unity of authoritarian states from repressed or disgruntled national minorities. On 30 March 1925 he delivered a lecture to the Yugoslav section of the Comintern on the national question in that multiethnic state. Invoking the Russian example, the Gensec discussed two important aspects of the subject: a) the place of the national question in revolutionary movements, and b) the link between the national and the peasant questions. He acknowledged "the inherent strength of the national movement" and its "profoundly popular and profoundly revolutionary character".[34] He told the Yugoslavs that the national question was "in essence, a peasant question". Conversely, the peasant question was "the basis, the quintessence, of the national question". Furthermore, "the peasantry constitutes the main army of the national movement", and "there is no powerful national movement without the peasant army". "That is what is meant", theorized the Russified Georgian, "when it is said that, in essence, the national question is a peasant question." Stalin’s convoluted explanation made one thing clear: peasantry’s potential in constituting a national army had to be reckoned with.

Important to our appreciation of Stalin’s understanding of the national question is his insistence on the fact that the national question was a peasant question and not just an agrarian one, for, as he explained, "these are two different things". The scope of the national question "includes such questions as national culture, national statehood, etc" and thus cannot be limited to the peasant’s agrarian interests. Stalin’s recognition of the peasant’s distinct economic and social functions is noteworthy. It shows that he realized that the peasant’s sphere was not limited to the material world. Besides their economic interests peasants had a cultural, social and political life, which they shared with their fellow countrymen from other social classes. This must be kept in mind when discussing the forced starvation of Ukrainian peasantry, for they were attacked not only as grain growers but also as a latent "main army of the national movement", seeking "national statehood". It is in this perspective that the appropriateness of the accusation of genocide becomes apparent.

Finally, Stalin coached the Yugoslavs in the proper way to take advantage of the national question in revolutionary movement. It was imperative "to include in the national programme a special point on the right of nations to self-determination, including the right to secede". Lest the Yugoslavs understand this as endorsement of Croat separatism, Stalin hastened to add: " the right to secede must not be understood as an obligation" [Stalin’s emphasis - R.S.] for "a nation may take advantage of this right and secede, but it may also forgo the right". The latter decision was taken "here in Russia", claimed Stalin. This was more than stretching the truth: Bolshevik Russia did not relinquish the colonial empire of the Romanovs. The only right to self determination that the Bolsheviks did not challenge was the former Russian colonies’ right to reintegrate the new sovietized Russia. Seceding republics were quickly invaded by the Red Army and only a few managed to save their independence. Ukraine was conquered by the Red Army and incorporated as a seemingly independent Ukrainian SSR, but foreign occupation was only too evident from the dominance of non-Ukrainians in the Party and State cadres[35].

To gain acceptance of its rule, the Communist Party introduced a policy of "indigenization" (putting roots) of the regime, which in regions inhabited by Ukrainians took the form and the name of "Ukrainization". In practice, it meant recruiting Ukrainian cadre for local administration and using the Ukrainian language in the mass media, education and local administration.

Ukrainization had several important effects:

 a) it promoted the use of the Ukrainian language,

b) it favoured the development of Ukrainian culture,

c) it helped Ukrainize previously Russified urban and industrial centres of Ukraine,

d) it strengthened national consciousness.

Although Ukrainization helped gradually erase Ukrainians’ awareness of foreign occupation, voices were raised about Ukraine being economically exploited by Russia and Ukrainian writers began turning to the West for inspiration, while Ukrainian politicians made claims on Moscow, demanding the transfer of predominantly Ukrainian regions of the RSFSR[36].

The Ukrainization program encompassed the Ukrainian population living outside Ukraine. M. Skrypnyk, Ukraine’s Commissar of Education used his commissariat to help with the Ukrainization of the Ukrainian minority in the RSFSR. Kuban’, where the descendants of the Zaporozhian cossacks had set up a short-lived Ukrainophile Kuban’ Rada in 1918, opened Ukrainian schools and began using the Ukrainian language in the public domain.

Soviet Ukraine was becoming a "Piedmont" not only for the Ukrainian lands in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Rumania, but also for the adjoining regions of the RSFSR.[37] Stalin could not be oblivious to this national revival in Ukraine, nor could he ignore the danger, under these conditions, of an all-out war on the peasants.

Stalin’s War against the Peasants

The decision to establish a Five-Year Plan for the National Economy was taken at the XV Party Congress in December of 1927. Due consideration was given to agriculture; the congress called for "accelerated work on land management", "the transformation of all agriculture to a higher level", and "the introducing collective methods of farming".[38] The state would not "refrain from taking funds from the village in order to build industry; that, at the present time, would slow down the rate of development and would upset the balance to the detriment of the country’s industrialization." But the transfer of funds from agriculture to industry would have to be moderate so as not to cause a "political break with the peasantry".[39] At the same time, the Party declared that it would achieve its goals by applying the old Bolshevik tactic: "relying on the poor peasants, a firm alliance with the middle peasants, and an offensive against the kulak".[40] The stage was thus being set for the Stalin revolution, and in preparation for eventual peasant opposition to it, the regime began confiscating in 1927 the small arms that the peasants had kept since the turbulent years of the Bolsheviks’ struggle for power. Having expelled Trotsky and Zinoviev, and discredited the leftists in the Party, Stalin could not yet adopt a more radical leftist economic platform for fear of alienating his interim allies on the right. The break would come two years later.

At the November 1929 Plenum of the Central Committee, Stalin successfully eliminated Bukharin and the moderate right, and launched an all-out campaign for industrialization and collectivization. The published resolution presented the drive for collectivization as a response to the spontaneous movement of the peasants. "In actual fact, we are experiencing such a turbulent growth of collectivization and such a headlong rush to socialist forms of agriculture on the part of the poor and middle peasant holding that the kolkhoz movement has already reached the point of transition to total collectivization of entire districts."[41] The document claimed that the number of households in kolkhozes rose from 445,000 in 1927-28 to 1,040,000 in 1928-29. The plenum decided to mobilize 25,000 specially selected industrial workers to help with the organization and management of kolkhozes. Most were young party activists; they were assigned chairmanships of large kolkhozes or given other administrative jobs. Additional cadres were periodically dispatched, and by the spring of 1930 Ukraine had some 50,000 activists with special powers to organize, punish, and terrorize the peasants.

Collectivization was at the heart of a revolution aimed at solving several problems at the same time. In terms of Marxist-Leninist ideology, the New Economic Theory (NEP), Lenin’s "strategic retreat", would be stopped and socialism (kolhospnyky called it serfdom) would be brought to the remaining vast majority of the Societ citizenry. The Machine and Tractor Stations, created to service the kolhosps with equipment and technical know-how, facilitated the extension of party control over the countryside by means of reliable personnel, posted in supervisory positions. Collectivization would thus give the Party control over the peasantry, which, in contrast to the urban dwellers, had continued until then to lead a relatively autonomous way of life, in both the economic and cultural domains. But the appropriation of agricultural resources by the state remained the most pressing objective. Stalin’s ruthless collectivization would soon throw the countryside into a frenzy of reorganization, abuse and repression. The principal loser will be the peasant, demoted from independent producer to agricultural worker, akin to the city proletariat but bound to the more primitive conditions of country life.

On 27 December 1929 Stalin escalated the regime’s war against the peasants by declaring that the output of the collective and state farms could now replace that of the kulaks, and announcing a shift "from the policy of restricting the exploiting tendencies of the kulaks to the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class".[42] On the instigation of the GPU, the Ukrainian Politburo adopted a resolution on 23 January 1930, to liquidate the kulaks and set up a commission headed by Stanislav Kosior, the general secretary of the KP(b)U, with V. Balytsky, L. Postyshev, and two others as members.[43] On 30 January 1930 the Central Committee in Moscow approved a secret resolution for dekulakization and deportation. It stipulated the number of kulak households to be 3 to 5 percent in grain-producing areas and 2 to 3 percent in non-grain-producing regions, and established quotas for each region. Kulaks were futher divided into three categories. The first category consisted of "counterrevolutionary kulak activists". They were to be incarcerated in concentration camps, and the most dangerous amongst them — "organizers of terrorist acts, counterrevolutionary action, and insurgent organizations" — were to be executed. Their families could join the deportees or request permission to remain in the region where they were living. The second category consisted of the remaining counterrevolutionary kulak activists, the more affluent kulaks and the semi-gentry (polupomeshchiki); they were subject to deportation to the far corners of the U.S.S.R. or to other destinations in their own regions. The least anti-Soviet elements made up the third category; they would be resettled in their own region, but given land of inferior quality and not allowed to join the collective farms. Two observations are in order: a) political rather than economic criteria was used to define the first and, to some extent, the second category of kulaks; b) the formulation was sufficiently vague to leave room for the initiative of the GPU and for local authorities to interpret them at their discretion. A display of "kulak mentality" by opposing collectivization was enough to rate a poor peasant the category of kulak. In this way the regime could keep the specter of kulaks alive even after their effective demise.

In 1929, only 73 thousand Ukrainian farmsteads (1.4%) employed hired labor — a basic criteria for the kulak category. Yet during the winter of 1930 over 90 thousand Ukrainian households were dekulakized. Obviously, many of the farms belonged to the middle and even poor peasants. Dekulakization continued throughout the whole period of collectivization and in 1934 Kosior reported that 200 thousand farms had finally been dekulakized in Ukraine. With an average of about 5 persons per family this gives a total of one million people. The process was accomplished with much abuse and cruelty from the twenty-five-thousanders and their local helpers from among the village komsomol and the committees of poor peasants. Dekulized families were thrown out into the winter cold, their property was stolen, and women were often sexually abused. Many formerly well-off farmers ended up begging and perishing from hunger and cold. The fate of the deportees was as bad if not worse. During the first wave of dekulakization — in the winter and spring of 1930 over 115,000 men, women and children were deported from Ukraine. A smaller group was sent out a year later, but the process was continuous and by end of the period several hundred thousands Ukrainians had been exiled to Northern Russia and Siberia. Deportations were organized like military operations, with the participation of military units of the GPU and the militia cadets. A great number of the deported, especially children and old people, perished in transition, in the unheated freight trains, and at the inhospitable destination points.

 Dekulakization attained several objectives. Seized kulak property went to the collective farms as part of the poor peasants’ contribution, and to reward the activists who confiscated it. Expulsion from the village deprived the peasants of the more dynamic elements, who led the opposition to collectivization. Deportation outside Ukraine removed the more nationally conscious element of the population and weakened the republic’s capacity to resist the return to a policy of Russification. Deportees provided gratuitous labour for the development of Russian forest industry and eventually the Russified descendants of the survivors would augment the Russian population. At the same time, dekulakization was ruining the well established farms of Ukraine and Ukrainian agriculture in general. While many poor peasants and agricultural workers sought their own gain from their neighbours’ calamity, many other middle and even poor peasants opposed the spoliation of the country, as they opposed forced collectivization of its inhabitants. On the other hand, the threat of inclusion in the doomed kulak class could be, and was, used by the authorities to drive middle and poor peasants into collective farms, and by unscrupulous activists to exact all sorts of favours and services from the frightened peasants who still wished to remain outside the kolkhoz.

Mounting state violence applied to collectivization produced desired results. In November 1929, out of the total of 5,144,800 Ukrainian households, only 522,500, or 10.4 % were members of collective farms. Plans for Ukraine, worked out in Moscow in November 1929, foresaw the collectivization of 33.8 % of the households for the summer 1930, and 53.8 % for the fall of that year. But the increased tempo of both the constantly adjusted plan and the work on the ground pushed the percentage of collectivized households to 30.7 % by 1 February 1930 and to 62.8 % (and 68.5 % of arable land) a month later. The spectacular success was achieved with unbridled violence and at the cost of many peasant lives. The regime had created a reign of terror in the village. Some of the abuses even made it into official reports of the more conscientious inspectors. V. Balyts’sky reported that in the south of Ukraine collectivization went under such slogans as "let them all die, but we will collectivize the okruh to 100 %".[44] The peasants reacted with passive and active resistance. Many fled to urban and industrial centres, notably to the mines of Donbas. Enforcers of dekulakization and collectivization were attacked. Anti-soviet posters appeared with social, political and national content. Between 20 November 1929 and 7 April 1930 the authorities picked up 834 fliers (in 349 versions) with such messages as: "Free Ukraine from Moscow rule", "Time to rise against Moscow yoke" "Mazepa was a great Hetman", "Ukraine is perishing my brothers Ukrainians", "Petliura told us the truth — time to wake up, time to rise" [45]

Women often lead the opposition to the formation of kolkhozes, and later in their dismantling them, hoping that the authorities would be more tolerant towards them than to their menfolk. Riots turned into widespread uprisings, and by the end of February 1930 they engulfed the Dnipropetrovs’k, Sumy, Starobil’s’k and other regions of Ukraine. The military had to be used to quell the disturbances; in Shepetivka, for example, soldiers killed or wounded 49 peasants and left behind 15 dead of their own. Other parts of the Soviet Union were also thrown into convulsions; Stalin decided it was time for a tactical reprieve.

On 2 March 1930, Pravda carried Stalin’s article "Dizziness from Success". Looking for scapegoats for the turmoil he caused, the Gensec accused the cadres of letting success go to their heads and blamed local "overzealous socializers" for all the excesses. He reminded them that collective farms "must not be established by force" and stressed that conditions were "not yet ripe for agricultural communes", which, in fact, he favoured and which were being forced on the peasants. The "predominant form at the present moment [...] is the agricultural artel", Stalin explained. Stalin’s declaration did not reassure the peasants. In Ukraine disturbances spread towards the Romanian and Polish borders, and by 10 March 1930 they were recorded in 110 raions. On 15 March Pravda published the CC VKP(b) resolution "On the Struggle against Distortions of the Party Line in the Kolkhoz Movement". Stressing once more "the voluntary principle in kolkhoz construction", the document reiterated the basic agricultural problem, namely "the grain problem". It condemned what it called the distortions in applying the party line by the cadres, because "the continued rapid growth of the kolkhoz movement, and the liquidation of the kulaks as a class, are impossible without the immediate liquidation of these distortions". In other words, rapid collectivization and the destruction of the kulaks were to be pursued, but the peasants had to be prevailed upon to make it an expression of their will.

Gradually, the peasants began to take Stalin’s "Dizziness from success" pronouncement and the new party directives literally and to abandon en masse the unpopular collective farms. In the process, they took with them their cattle, their farming implements, and their land. In the next six months 65 % of the collectivized households left the kolkhosps:


  Date  collectivized farms %  collectivized arable land

  10 March  64.4  70.9

  10 April  44.3  53.2

  1 May  41.3  49.8

  1 June  36.1  45.8

  1 August  29.5  36.5

  1 September  28.4  34.8

  1 October  28.7  34.1

The precipitous decollectivization was a spectacular condemnation of the kolkhosps by the farmers. But the collectivization drive was only slowed down, not abandoned, for while the tactics changed, the main objectives remained the same: industrialization was paramount. It needed capital obtained from export, which in turn required collectivization of agriculture to facilitate increased procurement of so-called commercial grain.

Industrialization remained the strategic imperative to which Stalin returned from time to time in his allocutions. Addressing Soviet industrial managers on 4 February 1931, he complained that the Soviet Union was still lagging 50 to 100 years behind the advanced countries and warned of the consequences that awaited weak states. Appealing to Russian patriotism, he illustrated his point with lessons from the country’s past: "One feature of the history of old Russia was the continual beatings she suffered because of her backwardness. She was beaten by the Mongol khans [...] the Turkish beys [...] the Swedish feudal lords [...] the Polish and Lithuanian gentry [...] the British and French capitalists [...] the Japanese barons. All beat her because of her backwardness, military backwardness, cultural backwardness, political backwardness, industrial backwardness, agricultural backwardness."[47] It was incumbent on the Soviet Union to increase the tempo of its industrial development and catch up to the advanced states, especially since the U.S.S.R. had become the fatherland not only for the Soviet workers and peasant, but for the world proletariat. "It is said," claimed Stalin, "that our country is the shock brigade ot the proletariat of all countries. [...] we are engaged on a cause which, if successful, will transform the whole world and free the entire working class. [...] We must march forward in such a way that the working class of the whole world, looking at us, may say: There you have my advanced detachment, my shock brigade, my working-class state power, my fatherland [...]."[48]

Before sending the individual farmers off to free the "proletariat of the world", the Soviet authorities cajoled and coerced them back to the kolkhozes. By 10 March 1931 48.5 % of Ukrainian households were collectivized with 52.7 % of the arable land and the figures rose to 68.0 % and 72.0% respectively, seven months later. By October of the same year 87% of the households of the steppe region, the main source of Ukraine’s grain, was collectivized. By the end of 1931, when the first wave of massive famine broke out, most of Ukraine’s farmers had lost their individual farms.

Various methods were used to force the peasants to join the kolkhozes. Middle peasants were threatened with being declared kulaks and deported. Village meetings were convened and the farmers ordered to vote for the kolkhozes. Recalcitrants were threatened with confiscation, exile, and even execution. Terror and lawlessness reigned in the countryside. Various forms of physical abuse were used (beatings, locking naked in unheated jails, etc.). Local activists and their henchmen from the committees of poor peasants lorded over the defenselss peasants. Various economic presure was used as well. Levels of direct taxation and state procurement were set higher for individual farmers than the kolkhozes. Fields left fallow by individual farmers were confiscated and transferred to the kolkhoz. Arrears in grain deliveries were punished with heavy fines, confiscation and sale of property.

Farmers reacted with active and passive resistance to forceful collectivization, dekulakization and deportation. Villagers organized semi-military groups and violently confronted the authorities. Most numerous and most intensive confrontations took place in the beginning of the collectivization campaign, when the peasantry had not yet been weakened by malnutrition and constant struggle. In the early spring of 1930, the OGPU recorded 6,528 mass peasant uprisings in the U.S.S.R., of which 2,945, or 45 %, took place in Ukraine. But the farmers’ scythes, pitchforks, axes and some rusty cut-off rifles (authorities had order the confiscation of arms from the peasants back in 1927) were no match for the regular weapons of the OGPU and the Red Army. Still, many bloody skirmishes did take place as the armed resistance of the farmers was gradually eliminated. Many abandoned the countryside and fled to the industrial centres, especially to the Donbas region. Farmers killed their cattle rather than turn them over to the kolkhoz, where the conditions were so poor that the mortality of the farm animals was very high. Cows, which the kolhospnyks were allowed to keep, became the mainstay of many a family, but as the table below shows, only a small minority of families owned one.


Sector  1928  1929  1930  1931  1932  1933

Radhosps  58,000  52,500  119,000  507,200  605,00  577,400

Kolhosp  20,300  35,700  330,100  731,400  1,167,900  950,600

Kolhosp member  142,400  287,100  1,175,000  2,757,100  1,958,500  1,970,600

Independent farmer  8,354,200  7,221,700  4,606,400  2,231,900  1,102,700  775,700

Total  8,579,900  7,597,000  6,230,500  6,227,600  4,834,100  4,274,300

Similarly to horned cattle, almost half the horses were lost over the same period, declining from 4,967,200 in 1928 to 2,267,400 in 1933[50],when only 565,600 of them belonged to individual or collective farmers.

Stalin’s War against the Ukrainians

After the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia, their "war for bread" in Ukraine acquired a national dimension. Two months after the October Revolution, Karl Radek, a Bolshevik leader, harangued Russian workers with the slogan" "If you want food, cry ’Death to the Rada’."[51] When Ukraine was reconquered by the Red Army in 1919, Lenin could not hold back his satisfaction: "Now we can get enough grain."[52] Moscow’s draining Ukraine of its grain was the principal reason of the first major famine, which swept southern Ukraine in 1921-1923. For although a severe drought destroyed the harvest of 1921 and 1922 in the grain producing regions of Ukraine and Russia, it was Moscow’s colonialist policy towards Ukraine that was primarily responsible for the death of perhaps as many as a million Ukrainians from hunger and associated afflictions. There was enough food in the Ukrainian republic to ensure the survival of all its inhabitants, but Moscow ordered Ukraine to expedite foodstuffs to Moscow and Petrograd and to alleviate the famine on the Volga. When Moscow appealed to the West for famine relief, it only spoke of Russia. It was due to the persistent pressure from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Commission, concerned about the fate of the large Jewish population in Ukraine, that Ukraine eventually received aid from the West, but only half a year or so after Russia. There is no evidence that the Ukrainian part of this widespread famine was planned by the Soviet authorities, but there is ample proof that they took full advantage of it in their struggle with the Ukrainian national movement[53]. Other, smaller famines ravaged Ukraine in 1924-1925, 1928-1929, and 1946-1947[54], but the most costly in human life was the famine of 1932-1933. It is also this famine for which the classification of genocide is claimed.

As most of the peasants found themselves in kolkhosps, their livelihood became increasingly dependent on the collective farm. By the end of 1931, 90% of the kolkhosps were of the artel type, which the "Dizzy with Success" article had described as "the basic means of production, primarily for grain-farming". In the artel, Stalin explained, "labour, use of the land, machines and other implements, draught animals and farm buildings — are socialised", but "the house-hold plots (small vegetable gardens, small orchards) the dwelling houses, a part of the dairy cattle, small livestock, poultry, etc., are not socialised."[55] The "not socialised" sector of the kolkhosp economy was supposed to supplement earnings from the collective farm, which paid their members mainly in kind, and in proportion to earned "labor days" (trudodni). As pressure increased on the kolkhosps to fulfill exorbitant grain procurements, payments to the farmers fell in arrears[56] and the latter became completely dependent on the "not socialized" sector, which, however was also subject to taxation. Heaviest taxes fell on those farmers who had remained outside the socialized system. To survive, the kolhospnyks slaughtered their farm animals, "stole" what they could from the farm products they helped to raise, and resorted to surrogates.

By the end of 1931 famine began to break out in the Ukrainian countryside; during the first half of 1932 it spread over the republic, taking in its wake the lives of several hundred thousand Ukrainian farmers, and only abated with the coming of new crops. How did the Ukrainian authorities react? On 26 April 1932, Kosior informed Stalin about "individual cases and even individual villages that are starving" but blamed it on "local bungling, errors, particularly in the case of kolkhozes." And, lest he displease his Moscow masters, the boss of Ukraine dismissed the tragedy, affirming that "all talk of famine must be categorically discarded."[57] Yet famine there was and on 10 June H. Petrovsky, the head of the Ukrainian state and V. Chubar, the head of the Ukrainian government, sent separate letters to notify Molotov and Stalin of the appalling conditions in the Ukrainian countryside, and to ask for help. Chubar admitted that cases of starvation among independent and collective farmers had already been signalled in December and January and that by "March-April there were dozens and hundreds of malnourished, starving, and swollen people and people starving to death accumulating in every village; children and orphans abandoned by their parents appeared". Raions and oblasts organized aid from internal resources, but were obliged to do this "under conditions of acute shortage of food products, especially bread".[58] He further recognized that the 3,000 tons of millet released by the CC VKP(b) in April helped but it was insuficient to liquidate the famine, and if another million poods of foodstuffs are not released by Moscow, the harvesting campaign in Ukraine would be jeopardized. Finally, he drew attention to the kulaks, who had been dekulakized in 1930 but not deported from their regions, and were now drawing support from resentful middle and poor peasants. Worthy of note are two other pieces of information: "Petliurite and other anti-Soviet moods increased. The extraordinary growth of petty and grand larceny is aggravating the situation."

Even more revealing and significant for our understanding of the famine was Pokrovsky’s letter. He had previously assisted at the sowing in several regions and saw that the obligation to deliver 510 m.pood of grain that the Ukrainian authorities had accepted was beyond the republic’s capability. Having just returned from an inspection of the countryside, he now realized the catastrophic state in which the farming population found itself. He visited many villages and everywhere saw that a considerable part of the people, mainly the poor and middle peasants, were starving, subsisting on surrogates. Peasants scolded him, posed embarrassing question, reproached him, saying "why did you create an artificial famine, [...] why did you take away the seed material - this did not happen even  under the old regime, why is it necessary for Ukrainians to travel for bread [...] to non-grain producing terretories?". Echoing Chubar, Petrovsky reported that "because of the famine, mass thefts are developing in the villages, mainly of poultry — [people] steal chickens, ducks, they take potato peels, butcher calves and cows during the night and eat them." Pointing out that grain harvest is still six week off, and famine will only intensify, Petrovsky ask: "shouldn’t assistance be rendered to the Ukrainian countryside in the amount of two or, at the very least, one and a half million poods of grain?" If assistance is not given, he feared, starvation will drive the peasants to pick unripe grain, much of which may perish.

Petrovsky also paints a bleak picture of the forthcoming harvest. Since the better grain that the farmers had put aside for sowing was seized for state procurement, "the sowing was often carried out with seeds of poorer quality," and "the quantity of seeds per hectare was also lower". Thus, even though "the young crops in these raions are good and the fields are free of weeds, the grain is sparse". Petrovsky was also struck by the large amount of unsowed land. Aware of all these problems, the farmers complained to Petrovsky that "the new grain procurements will be even more difficult to meet than last year’s". "And this may very well be so", agrees Petrovsky. Much will have to be done to remove the ill effects of the harshness, rudeness, disgraceful practices towards the independent farmers, especially the middle peasant. The brash behaviour of the activists, coupled with the famine has generated new support for the dekulakized farmers and made them more aggressive. Finally Petrovsky draws attention to the exodus of Ukrainian farmers. They are forced to seek food beyond the republic’s borders, at "the Dno station, in the Central-Black Earth Oblast’, in Belarus, and Northern Caucasus", where grain is more readily available, and at much lower prices. Since the exodus clogged up transportation, Petrovsky had suggested that farmers organize group purchases through the coops, but the Commissariat of Transport has drastically reduced the sale of train tickets to peasants. Bewildered Ukrainian peasants needled Petrovsky: "Why are they banning trips for grain?"

The two Ukrainian party stalwarts wrote Stalin to forewarn him of the grave economic situation in Ukraine, secure immediate aid for the starving population, and obtain a reduction in grain procurement plan for the coming harvest. Both complained of abuses during grain collection and the spread of famine, which drove the desparate farmers to larceny and to favorable attitudes to kulaks and Peliurists. If the two leaders believed their pleas and their warnings of turmoil in the Ukrainian countryside would soften Moscow’s attitude, they were mistaken. The effect on Stalin, Kaganovich and Molotov was just the opposite. Running the office during Stalin’s vacation in Sochi, Kaganovich was the first to read the letters and on 12 June informed his boss of their contents. Criticizing both Ukrainian leaders, he nevertheless admitted that some aid would have to be given to Ukraine, leaving to Stalin the decision as to the amount. In passing he noted that there was no word from Kosior (their man in Kharkiv). In a follow-up note, two days later, Kaganovich informed Stalin that Chubar had arrived to personally plead for help, but that it was decided to give only 50,000 poods to Moldavia, then an autonomous republic in Ukraine. Stalin’s response, a day later, was more brutal and more ominous of things to come. He condemned the false "self-criticism" and staged self-righteousness of the two Ukrainian leaders, who only wanted to get "new millions of poods of grain from Moscow" and "a reduction in the plan for grain procurement". Neither plea was acceptable. Ukrainians must mobilize their own forces and resources for already "Ukraine has been given more than it should get".[59]  Nevertheless, on 16 June the Politburo considered Ukraine’s plea and granted 2,000 tons (122,000 poods) of oats from the unused seed loan, 100,000 poods of corn from unused allocation for sowing in the Odesa region, and another 300,000 poods of grain for kolhosps and radhosps in the sugarbeet regions — in all 522,000 poods of cereals, or about 8,500 tons.[60] This was much less than the million and a half poods requested by Ukraine, but it undoubtedly saved lives and helped with the farm work.

Politburo’s "largesse" must have provoked Stalin’s ire, for two days later, in a letter to Kaganovich, Molotov and the Politburo he came back with a harsh criticism of past errors and new instructions for the coming harvest. The Gensec blamed "mechanical equalization", which assigned procurement quotas to the collective farms without taking into account the ability to deliver, and as a result of which, "the fertile districts in Ukraine, despite a fairly good harvest, have found themselves in a state of impoverishment and famine."[61] This is the only known acknowledgement by Stalin of the Ukrainian famine. He criticized regional authorities for being out of touch with the countryside. "The results of these errors are now having an effect on the sowing situation, especially in Ukraine, and several tens of thousands of Ukrainian collective farmers are still travelling around the entire European part of the USSR and are demoralizing our farms with their complaints and whining."[62] Stalin proposed a top level conference to be convened "on the organization of grain procurement and the unconditional fulfilment of the grain-procurement plan", and insisted that the responsibility for grain procurement "be entrusted personally to the first secretaries of the Northern Caucasus, Ukraine", and all the other grain producing regions.

Thus, "unconditional fulfilment of the plan" and "personal responsibility" down the administrative "vertikal" became the watchwords of the grain procurement campaign, which would result in the genocidal famine. On 21 June a telegram signed by Stalin and Molotov instructed Kharkiv to carry out "at any cost" the plan for grain deliveries for July to September. Two days later, Moscow answered the Ukrainian Politburo’s plea for additional 600,000 poods with a terse resolution: "To remain within the limits set by the CC decision already adopted and to bar any additional grain deliveries to Ukraine."[63]

The III Conference of KP(b)U, which opened on 6 July, was wholly devoted to the upcoming harvest and grain procurement. Stalin sent Molotov and Kaganovich to the meeting "to improve the functionaries’ mood, isolate the whining and depraved diplomats (no matter who they are!) and ensure genuinely Bolshevik decisions". The Gensec had enough of "Chybar’s corruptness and opportunistic essence and Kosior’s rotten diplomacy (with regard to the CC of the VKP) and criminally frivolous attitude toward his job". These two were ruining the country and Stalin suggested that they may have to be replaced.[64] Molotov informed the audience that Moscow had lowered Ukraine’s quota to 356 m.p. but was adamant that the plan must be carried out in full. Declarations from regional leaders that the farmers were starving, that much land lay fallow, that the previous year 100 to 200 m.p. of grain was lost during harvesting and that this year it would be as high if not higher, did not bend the resolve of Moscow’s envoys.[65] They prevailed upon the conference to adopt a resolution "to carry out in full and uncoditionally" the plan of grain delivery.[66]

While Molotov and Kaganovich were bullying the KP(b)U conference into accepting new starvation measures for the Ukrainian farmers, Soviet newspapers were putting aside letters about the encroaching famine. A summary of letters to Izvestiia TsIK SSSR i VTsIK for 6 July contains a number of references to the famine in Ukraine, and among them this revealing message, posted in Moscow by an anonymous author:

"Why is the Ukrainian SSR starving thus? Why do other republics not know such a horrible famine? How do you explain that there is no bread in the bread-producing country, while in the Moscow markets there is as much bread as you want? Why is the party not waging war against the famine? In Ukraine many people are dying from famine, but the party does not want see what is happening in Ukraine. In the past, even when there was bread, it was not taken away, like they do now. In case of war we shall not defend the Soviet power."[67]

Stalin was well informed about Ukrainian affairs and it was largely in response to the situation there[68], as well as in anticipation of new troubles in that republic that he came up with his infamous decree, dubbed by the farmers as "the 5 ears of corn law". Writing on 20 July to Kaganovich and Molotov, the Gensec complains of widespread theft by "dekulakized kulaks" and others, and propose to formulate a three part law: a) to equalize railroad freight, collective-farm property, and cooperative property with state property; b) make theft of any of this property "punishable by a minimum of ten years’ imprisonment, and as a rule, by death"; c) revoke the use of amnesty for the above criminal cases. "All active agitators against the new collective-farm system" and "profiteers and resellers of goods" should be removed and sent to concentration camps.[69] He also wants stricter controls over the limited kolkhoz trade allowed by a 6 May law (kolkhozes allowed sell their surplus after 15 January, after fulfilling the state procurement plan) and made more liberal on 20 May.[70] In a follow-up letter a few days later, Stalin provides an ideological argument for his proposed law: in the same way that capitalism could not triumph without first making "private property sacred property", socialism will not finish off capitalism "unless it declares public property (belonging to cooperatives, collective farms or the state) to be sacred and inviolable".[71] Stalin returned to the topic on 26 July, elaborated the three sections of the future law and insisted that "we must act on the basis of law (’the peasant loves legality’), and not merely in accordance with the practice of the OGPU, although it is clear that the OGPU’s role here will not only not diminish but, on the contrary, it will be strengthened and ’ennobled’ (the OGPU agencies will operate ’on a lawful basis’ rather than ’high-handedly’)".[72]

The joint Party-State decree "On the Protection of the Property of State Enterprises, Collective Farms and Cooperatives, and on the Consolidation of Public (Socialist) Property" was issued on 7 August 1932. It became the chief legal instrument used by the Soviet authorities to condemn millions of farmers to slow death by starvation. It repeated Stalin’s declarations that all public property is "sacred and inviolable" and that individuals attempting to take possession of public property should be considered "enemies of the people".[73] All collective farm property, whether in the field or in storage was decreed equal to that of state property and theft was made punishable by execution, which could be reduced to 10-year imprisonment only under mitigating circumstances. Advocating withdrawal from the kolkhoz became tantamount to treason and was punished with three to five years imprisonment in concentration camps. No amnesty could be applied in any of these cases.

The decree on State property was applicable in the whole Soviet Union but its primary role in connection with Ukraine was underscored in Stalin’s letter to Kaganovich, sent just four days later. Stalin ordered the drafting of "a letter-directive from the CC to party and judiciary and punitive organizations about the point of these decrees and the methods for implementation".[74] He considered the task "absolutely imperative" because the law was "good" and would "soon have an impact". The Gensec then addressed the Ukrainian problem. The passage is highly revealing:

"The most important thing right now is Ukraine. Ukrainian affairs have hit rock bottom. Things are bad with regard to the party. There is talk that in two regions of Ukraine (it seems in the Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk regions) about 50 raion party committees have spoken out against the grain-procurements plan, deeming it unrealistic. It is said that the situation in other raion party committees is no better. What does this resemble? This is not a party but a parliament, a caricature of a parliament. Instead of leading the raions, Kosior kept maneuvering between the directives of the CC VKP and the demands of the raion party committees — and finally has maneuvered himself into a total mess. [...] Things are bad with the soviets. Chubar is no leader. Things are bad with the GPU. Redens is not up to leading the fight against the counterrevolution in such a large and distinctive republic as Ukraine. [underlined and doubly underlined in original - R.S.]"

Then Stalin brandishes the spectre of Ukrainian separatism that haunted many a Russian imperialist: "If we don’t undertake at once to straighten out the situation in Ukraine, we may lose Ukraine." He reminds Kaganovich that Pilsudski was not napping and that his agents were stronger than Redens, the head of the GPU in Ukraine, and Kosior, Ukraine’s party boss, realized. Stalin expresses only disdain for the whole KP(b)U, composed of 500,000 members ("ha-ha", snickers Stalin), which contains direct agents of Pilsudski and "quite a lot (yes a lot!) of rotten elements, conscious and unconscious Petliurists". Mindful of the Ukraine’s negative reaction to the murderous effects of the just-passed property laws, Stalin warns: "The moment things get worse, these elements will waste no time opening a front inside (and outside) the party, against the party." Things cannot continue in Ukraine without change, and since "the Ukrainian leadership does not see these dangers", Stalin proposes to replace Kosior with Kaganovich and Redens with Balitsky. Several months later Chubar could also be replaced. In this way Stalins intends to transform "Ukraine as quickly as possible into a real fortress of the USSR, into a genuinely exemplary republic." Stalin considers the task urgent, calling for immediate action for without "these and similar measures (the economic and political strengthening of Ukraine, above all its border raions, etc.), I repeat, we may lose Ukraine." Asking Kaganovich for his opinion the Gensec insists that they must "get to work on this matter as soon as possible" — immediately after his return to Moscow.[75]

Kaganovich concurs, complaining that some of the Ukrainian party activists have decided that the grain procurement could not be fulfilled and that the Ukrainians have become innocent victims. [76] He believes that this has created a certain solidarity and "a rotten sense of mutual responsibility" not only in the middle echelon of the party, but also among its leadership. Ukrainians are not taking the resolution of their own Party conference on grain procurement seriously, "since they consider it partly coerced". The CC KP(b) must therefore issue an official order, appraising the Ukrainian affairs and demanding a decisive turnabout. This will straighten out a sizable segment of the active members and improve the situation. Kaganovich also sees a direct link between the international situation, Pilsudski’s work in Ukraine, the Ukrainian party’s weak organization, lack of principle and absence of ideological militancy. Kosior has shown "big weaknesses and shortcomings". Perhaps, "if we took him firmly in [hand -RS] [illegible] and disciplined him [pomiat’ boka], he might learn some lessons". At to Stalin’s suggestion that he return to lead the KP(b)U, Kaganovich considers himself qualified for the job: he has extensive administrative experience, he knows Ukraine, the economy and the people. True, since he left Ukraine, the people have gotten worse due to the "’mild-mannered’ and easy-going administration based on the principle ’don’t insult anyone’ and on mutual amnesty". What he finds "so annoying" is that "again we have to start from scratch with people in Ukraine!" Kaganovich is lukewarm to Stalin’s suggestion that he once more go to Ukraine; besides, he is physically worn out and sees no one to replace him in Moscow. However, he is ready to subordinate his preferences to party interests and to Stalin’s decision: "you have not only the official political right, but also the comradely and moral right to direct those you have molded as political leaders, i.e., me, your pupil". The question of Ukrainian functionaries has to be given more thought; Ukraine needs "fresh blood (at least a little)".

The "5 Ears of Corn Law" provided the Communist regime with the necessary legal basis for reducing the Ukrainian peasantry to the state of slow starvation. Stalin’s exchange of letters with Kaganovich reveals the ambiance in which the policy that would bring about the excruciating deaths will be implemented. The overall objective was to maintain a high level of grain procurement. To assure this, all challenge outside and inside the republic had to be eliminated, regardless of the cost. Stalin’s raising of the spectre of Pilsudski and Petliura agents running loose in Ukraine and infiltrating the Soviet party and state machinery was nothing more than a scare tactic. He was well aware that by the summer of 1932, the weak Polish network and the few local collaborators had been rounded up by the GPU, which also arrested real and imaginary partisans of the assassinated Petliura. Poland may have had some illusions about a Ukrainian insurrection back in 1929-1930, but by 1932, the Poles realized that the starving population was in no shape to revolt. The Soviet-Polish non-aggression treaty signed on 25 July 1932 was ample testimony to the changing relations between the two neighbors.[77] The Pilsudski-Petliura scarecrow will continue to enjoy popularity in Soviet propaganda. While there was no serious threat from the Poles or the Ukrainian nationalists, an insurrection could become a reality if the expected famine (Stalin foresees this possibility in the phrase "the moment things get worse") could bind together the threatened middle cadres of the KP(b)U with the surviving peasantry. To prevent this occurrence the KP(b)U had to be purged and kept under close Moscow surveillance.

The Ukrainian Genocide

Stalin always maintained that the 1932 harvest was good; historians today are more sceptical but consider it quite adequate to cover Soviet Union’s internal needs. With the reserves from previous year, there were enough supplies to feed every citizen of the Soviet Union. Famine was brought about by the exorbitant amount of grain and other agricultural products taken from the Ukrainian peasants, and the way the requisitions were carried out. Ukraine’s plan was excessive from the start, but in spite of the protests from Kharkiv and three successive reductions, Ukraine delivered about a quarter of a billion poods of grain, or over 90% of its quota. [78] In addition it handed over large quantities of meat, vegetables and other produce. Stalin insisted that state procurement had priority over everything else. Quoting a CC VKP(b) directive, a KP(b)U resoltion of 18 November reminds all party organizations that "the complete fulfilment of the procurement plan by the collective farms and the MTS constitutes their primary obligation before the party and the working class, and the first obligation, to which all the other duties of the collective farm must be subordinated, including the duty to set up all sorts of funds: seed fund, forage, food supplies".[79] The authorities perfected and intensified the old tactics for extracting grain from the peasants, and added new measure. Independent and collectives farmers gradually gave up active struggle against the regime and only sought to save theirs lives and that of their families.

Obedience to Moscow was assured in two ways: a) frequently repeated delegations to Ukraine and the North Caucasus Territory of Molotov, Kaganovich and other high-ranking leaders to supervise the local authorities, and b) party discipline enforced from Moscow down the administrative structure. Thus, at the end of October, two commissions were sent, one to Ukraine headed by Molotov, and the other to NCT headed by Kaganovich. Stalin’s emissaries supervised party meetings and forced them to pass resolutions on grain procurements, party discipline, stricter application of the 7 August property laws, the establishment of "black lists" of collective farms in arrears with grain deliveries, imposition of fines, etc. They also instigated purges in party organizations and administrative structures. Kuban’ was particularly touched with the expulsion of 43 % of the 25,000 party members, including 358 out of 716 party secretaries.[80] In Ukraine, during November and first five days of December, the OGPU arrested 1,230 people, including 340 heads of kolhospy while 327 Communists were brought before the courts for sabotaging state procurements.[81] In the 18 November resolution quoted above, the Ukrainian CC reminded the directors of sovkhoz of their "personal responsibility as party members and civil servants for the fulfilment of the grain procurement". "Personal responsibility" for the execution of instructions was a frequent refrain in messages coming from above and this fact cannot be taken lightly by students of the famine for it was an important factor of the mechanism of the Ukrainian genocide.

Dekulakization and deportation continued, even though on a much smaller scale and mostly out of political or punitive motives. Arrests, beatings, and cruelty of all sorts abounded, as before, only now the victims were weakened and less capable of resistance. Kolkhozes, villages and individual farmers accused of delaying state procurement could be put on "black lists", which meant that they no longer had access to state-run stores, could not buy such essentials as matches, kerosene, salt. They were fined with a year and a quarter’s worth of meat tax and after paying that, were still responsible for the unfulfilled grain procurement. "Activists" - the city workers and their komnezam (committee of poor peasants) helpers searched the recalcitrant farmer’s house and yard, looking for the hidden grain. What was found was confiscated; if they found nothing for the procurement, they often took whatever edibles were discovered, leaving the famine with nothing to eat, at all. Peasants who could find some old religious medals or other mementos made of precious metals could trek to the city and exchange them at the torgsin (stores for foreigners) for vouchers, with which they could get some food.

The peasants’ reaction to the 1932 procurement drive was predictable, at least for Stalin, who, as the ultimate addressee of all important reports, had his finger on the empire’s pulse. The kolkhoz property decree was at once a preventive and punitive measure against peasants’ efforts to circumvent the dictator’s procurement plan and to put their own survival above his megalomaniacal ambitions. Practically speaking, collective farmers could not wait for their share of the produce, until the state procurement and all the other obligations were fulfilled by the kolhosp, because they no longer had any personal reserves to sustain them in the meantime. Some kolhosp with more conscientious management, gave out "advances", for previously earned trudodni. But the practice was rare and eventually was formally forbidden. The other solution was to "steal" the grain grown by the kolhosp. This "theft" of the fruits of one’s own labour was severely punished in the name of the protection of "state property". Children as well as adults, accused of "shaving" cereal stalks or picking up ears of corn left behind by the harvester were severely punished. Where the cooperation of millers could be obtained, thrashing machines were adjusted to let some grains get through together with the chaff or fall into the straw which could later be gleaned. Whatever was saved, in one way or another, was often hidden for later usage. There is no way of knowing what portion of the hidden grain was found by the flying brigades of activists, but an official reports state that in Kuban 345,000 poods of grain were found in November, while in Ukraine the search from 1 December 1932 to 25 January 1933 uncovered 1.7 million poods, in 17,000 hiding places.[82]

The hardier peasants would flee their villages, either alone or with their entire families, and seek salvation in urban centres — especially industrialized Donbas — or go to Belarus and the RSFSR. Accounts of Ukrainian peasants overloading trains, filling stations and wandering about Russian and Belarusian towns and countryside abound. The party secretary of the Kantemyrivka raion, on the Russian side of the border with Ukraine’s Donets’k oblast’, requested the Voronezh oblast’ authorities to prevail on Ukraine to stop the massive flow of Ukrainian refugees. The letter forwarded to Kosior states: "Beginning in February of this year [1932], an influx of people from the neighbouring regions of Ukraine have flooded our raion, buying, trading and begging for bread. The railway station is crammed with people; crowds of people roam in the villages; whole families with children and frail old people. [...] Only in the last several days 12 individuals were buried who had come for bread from the neighbouring Ukrainian raions."[83] On 15 July 1932 three Belarusian workers signed their names to a letter written in Belarusian and sent to CC KP(b)U, asking rhetorically: "When was it that Belarus fed Ukraine?" They point out that in the past Ukraine fed Belarus’, and now multitudes of hungry, ragged Ukrainians invade Belarusian towns of Zhlobin, Homel’, Bakhmuch, Bykhat, Mahimt, Orsha, Minsk, Sirotsino. "Why don’t they [the papers - R.S.] write the truth that millions are starving and that grain is perishing in the fields, overgrown with weeds, because the stronger men and women have left in search of bread, so as not to die from hunger"?[84] Indeed, many starving Ukrainians did die in Belarus and the RSFSR, a fact that is usually omitted in the discussions on the "Russian" victims of the famine.

By the end of 1932 the "war against the peasantry" in Ukraine and in the Ukrainian regions of the RSFSR had become an outright assault on the Ukrainian nation. On 14 December, as the long scythe of starvation mowed down Ukrainian peasants by the thousands, Molotov and Stalin signed a secret decree, whose banal title "On Grain Procurement in Ukraine, Northern Caucasus and the Western Oblast"[85], dissimulated a virulent attack of the hitherto government approved Ukrainization program. The document deals with three issues:

a) solving the problems of grain procurement,

b) fighting infiltration by counterrevolutionary elements,

c) curtailing the ills of Ukrainization.

The decree makes the Party and Government chiefs in the three grain producing regions personally responsible for the completion of grain procurement on assigned dates in January 1933. It also prescribes two exemplary punishments: a) the sentencing of a number of "traitors to the party", arrested in the Orikhiv raion of Dnipropetrovsk oblast "for organizing the sabotage of grain procurement", to five to ten years of concentration camp, and b) the "transfer to northern oblasts" of "the entire population of the most counterrevolutionary Poltavs’ka stanytsia" of the Kuban’ region, also implicated in the sabotage of grain procurement. The stanytsia was to be settled with demobilized Russian Red Army soldiers, who would receive the abandoned land, buildings, equipment, and cattle.

Difficulties in grain delivery are presented as a direct result of the Ukrainization process, carried out "mechanically" in Ukraine "without meticulous selection of the Bolshevik cadre". Bourgeois-nationalists and Petliurites could thus join party and state institutions and set up their cells and organizations. Absence of "revolutionary vigilance" by local party organizations let "counterrevolutionary elements" become directors, accountants, storekeepers, foremen in collective farms, members of village soviets. This gave them the opportunity to sabotage harvest and sowing campaigns and organize other counterrevolutionary activities. Northern Caucasus is reproached with the same shortcomings, with supporters of the Kuban’ Rada figuring in place of Petliurites. Party and State authorities in Ukraine and Northern Caucasus are ordered to extirpate these counterrevolutionary elements, execute them or deport them to concentration camps. Shooting should also be the normal punishment meted out to the saboteurs with party membership cards in their pockets.

But "unbridled Ukrainization" was held responsible for more than just economic ills. Particularly, the "non-Bolshevik ’Ukrainization’, which affected nearly half of the raions in the Northern Caucasus," was declared to be "at variance with the cultural interests of the population". The verdict was in two parts. Ukrainization was not formally prohibited in Ukraine, but Stalin wanted to force it back to its primary vocation, that of promoting the "correct Bolshevik implementation of Lenin’s national policy", which was one of integration and assimilation. Ukrainian authorities were therefore instructed to "pay serious attention to the proper implementation of Ukrainization", "expel Petliurite and other bourgeois-nationalist elements from party and government organizations", and "meticulously select and recruit Ukrainian Bolshevik cadres". In reality, this was a signal for a gradual curtailment of Ukrainization and a return to a more sophisticated policy of Russification.[86]

A worse fate awaited the Ukrainians of Northern Caucasus. They were submitted to a real national pogrom. The Poltava stanytsia was deported (2,158 families with 9,187 members) by 27 December[87] and resettled on 28 January 1933 with 1,826 demobilised soldiers.[88]

Other Cossack stanytsias fared likewise. All Ukrainization was discontinued and replaced with Russification. The Ukrainian language was banned from all office work in local administration, cooperative societies, and schools. The printing of newspapers and magazines in the Ukrainized raions of the Northern Caucasus was to be switch immediately from Ukrainian to Russian, which, the document claimed, was a language "more understandable to the Kuban residents". Preparations were to begin immediately for the transfer in the autumn of all Ukrainian schools into Russian. In the meantime, the composition of school workers was to be examined and upgraded. On 15 December, Molotov and Stalin signed another ban on Ukrainization, this time for the other regions of the USSR that had previously been subject to Ukrainization. Previous demands from "Ukrainian comrades for mandatory Ukrainization of a whole series of regions of the USSR (for example, in the Far Eastern Territory, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Central Black-Earth Oblast, etc.)" are condemned. Such requests can only play into the hands of those bourgeois-nationalists who are expelled from Ukraine and seek refuge in newly Ukrainized regions to do their harmful work. For that reason, the authorities of the regions mentioned above are instructed to discontinue Ukrainization, switch all publications to Russian and prepare to transfer all schools to Russian by autumn.[89]

It should be noted that the attack on Ukrainization does not even have an economic pretext.

Stalin’s anti-Ukrainization decree reveals the extent to which the dictator was ready to go, in sacrificing Ukraine on the altar of great-power ambitions. There is little doubt that the stop on Ukrainization was a sop to Russian chauvinism, especially in ethnically mixed regions outside the Ukrainian SSR. Now, the combination of the regime’s national and social repression came to the fore, even if neither could be acknowledged openly. For the next several months after the condemnation of the abuses of Ukrainization and the Ukrainian sabotage of grain procurements, the Ukrainian countryside passed through some of the worst moments in its history. The litany of repressive measures is endless. On the following day, 82 raions were deprived of manufactured goods for not fulfilling their quotas of grain deliveries. Four days later, Stalin orders Kaganovich and Postishev back to Ukraine to help Kosior, Chubar and Khataevich carry out the procurement plan. On 24 December, collective farms are ordered to deliver all grain, including reserves for seeding and nourshment in fulfillment of the plan. Direct orders to increase repressive measures, arrests and deportations increase. Moscow and its emissaries in Ukraine constantly harass the KP(b)U  and its leaders for falling behind in their duties. A real reign of terror seizes the republic and Kuban, where similar processes are taking place. Personnel changes are effected: in February 1933 Postyshev replaces Terekhov, who had dared to remind Stalin about the famine in his Kharkiv oblast, and Balitsky takes Redens’s position at the GPU.

It is in this atmosphere that Stalin strikes another deadly blow against the Ukrainian grain growers. The new secret decree, which he himself drafted, is perhaps the best available evidence of the dictator’s genocidal intent against the Ukrainian nation. Signed by Molotov and Stalin, and sent out on 22 January 1933 to Ukraine, Belarus and the neighboring regions of RSFSR[90], the document calls attention to the unrestrained exodus of peasants from the Kuban’ and Ukraine to the near-by regions of Russia and Belarus. The central authorities are said to have no doubt that these migrants, who pretend to search for food, are, in fact, social-revolutionaries and agents of Poland, sent by the enemies to agitate, "through the peasants", in the northern parts of the USSR, against the kolkhoz system and the Soviet power. The Gensec reminds that a similar movement took place the previous year, but the party, state and police authorities of Ukraine did nothing to stop it. It must not be allowed to happen this year. Stalin then orders the party, state and the repressive organs of the Northern Caucaus and Ukraine to prevent peasants from leaving their own territories for other regions of the USSR and directs them to close border crossings between Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus. Furthermore, the GPU of the Russian oblast’s adjacent to the quarantined Ukrainian and North Caucasus regions, and the transport section of the OGPU, are instructed to arrest all peasants from Ukraine and North Caucasus, who have managed to leave their territory, and, after segregating the counter-revolutionary elements, return the others to their villages.

The next day, the Politburo of the CC KP(b)U adopted a resolution to carry out Moscow’s orders and forwarded the directive, along with addition instructions, for implementation by the appropriate Ukrainian authorities,.[91] The Ukraiinian branch of the OGPU was ordered to instruct all railway stations not to sell tickets to peasants with destinations beyond the Ukrainian borders, without formal travel permission from the raion executive committee or a certificate of employment from construction or industrial enterprises. Oblasts were instructed to take "resolute measures" to prevent massive departure of their peasants, carefully check the work of agents recruiting peasants for work outside Ukraine, urge kolhospnyks and individual farmers not to depart without permission for other raions, for they would be arrested there. On 25 January, B. Sheboldaev, the party boss of the North Caucasus Territory, issued a similar order, adding instructions on the employment of internal and border troops and on the setting up of filtration points.[92]

Like the anti-Ukrainization decree of 14 December 1932, the 22 January 1933 directive, which closed the borders to the famished Ukrainian peasants was not the beginning but the culmination of processes that had started many monthss before. Petrovsky had complained to Stalin, back in June 1932, about the ban on train ticketsfor Ukrainian peasants who wanted to obtain provisions in Russia. Evdokimov’s telegram from Rostov-on-Don, which Iagoda prepared for Stalin’s attention on 23 January 1933, details the elaborate measures taken since November to prevent the flight of farmers from the Northern Caucasus Territory. Among these were roadblocks set up on the main arteries of peasant migration. Transport authorities had arrested 11,774 persons and another 7,534 were incarcerated by other organs. In the same dossier, Balitsky’s report from 22 January informed of massive exodus of peasants from Ukraine since December.[93] Departures were registered in 74 raions, 721 villages and 228 kolhosps. In all, 31,693 persons left: 20,129 from Kharkiv oblast’, 6,576 from the Kyiv oblast, 3,447 from Odessa oblst, and 1,541 from Chernihiv. Of these migrants about one third were collective farmers and two thirds individual farmers; 128 were activists. A check at the railway junction stations in the Kharkiv oblast revealed a great demand for long-distance tickets: in January 1933 16,500 such tickets were sold in Lozova station and 15,000 — in Sumy. In the beginning of January 1933, the GPU began to arrest agitators and organizers of these migrations and arrested over 500 of them. [94] Population movement did not escape the attention of the Italian vice-consul who reported on 20 January 1933 from Batum, how in recent times local authorities forced migrants from other Soviet regions to return to their places of origin, making them sell their last possessions to pay for the boat fare to Odessa or elsewhere.[95] As a direct result of Stalin’s borders decree, 219,460 persons were arrested in the first six weeks after it came into operation; some were sent to the Gulag, others punished in other ways, while 186,588 were sent back to their villages to face the famine.[96]

The worst period of the famine came during the winter and spring of 1932-1933. Physically exhasted after several years of privation and struggle, the peasants were most vulnerable to hunger, cold and various accompanying maladies. The horrors of the period have been amply documented and written up in the scholarly and popular literature and need not be repeated here. What should be related is the regime’s attitude to what happened and the effect it had on Ukraine.

Stalin was convinced that he had achieved his goal. At a high-level party meeting, held on 27 November 1932, Stalin gloated: "The party has succeeded in replacing the 500-600 million poods of marketable grain, procured during the period of individual peasant holdings by our present ability to collect 1,200-1,400 m.p. of grain. It is hardly necessary to prove that without this leap forward the country would have a famine [sic-RS], we would not be able to support our industry, we would not be able to feed the workers and the Red Army."[97] The allusion to "famine", or rather to the escape from it, was an obvious lie, and the reference to the feeding of the workers and the Red Army — an overstatement; but then, Stalin’s chief ambition was to make commercial grain available to the state. Grain was taken in sufficient amounts to increase Soviet exports tremendously:


1930/31 = 5,832,000 m.t.

1931/32 = 4,786,000 m.t.

1932/33 = 1,441,000 m.t.

1933/34 = 2,319,000 m.t.

The grain exported from the 1932 harvest was sufficient to assure the survival of all the victims of the famine. Besides this, USSR had another million and a half tons in grain reserves  that could also have been used.

Whether it is considered as genocide against the Ukrainians or war against the peasants, the cost in human lives to Ukraine was enormous. We shall probably never know the exact number of victims, or even get a close approximation, but the two censuses give us some idea of the tragedy.



  (in thousands)  (in thousands)

Year  Total  Russian  Ukrainian  Jewish  Total  Ukrainian  Russian  Jewish

  T  A  B  C  T  D  E  F

I. 1926  147,027  77,791  31,195  2,672  28,446  22,927  2,677  1,580

% of T  100%  52.9%  21.2%  1.8%  100%  81.1%  9.4%  5.6

II. 1937  162,039  93,933  26,421  2,715  28,398  22,213  3,222  1,470

% of T  100.0%  58.0%  16.3%  1.7%  100.0%  78.2%  11.3%  5.2%

change  +15,002  +16,142  –4,774  +34  –48  –714  +545  –110

I to II  10.2%  +20.5%  –15.3%  +0.1%  –0,2%  –3.1%  +20.3%  –7.0%

The 1926 census was taken at the end of the year, and the 1937 — in the beginning. There are thus ten full years between them. The average yearly population increase in Ukraine in normal years was over 600,000 souls. The 1926 figures for Ukraine are missing about 550,000 souls from the total, most of which would go into the Ukrainian column. The figures are considered quite reliable by most experts. The problem is how to interpret these numbers and what lies between them. In studying the consequences of the famine for the Ukrainian nation, the change in the ethnic composition of both Ukraine and the USSR must be take into consideration. The overall population of the Ukrainian republic fell by between 50 to 600 thousand souls, but the Ukranian component was reduced from 81% to 78%. What the table does not show, but what was a significant change, was the rise in the urban population and the decline of the rural. Before the famine, the influx of Ukranian peasants into the cities helped the Ukrainization of the urban population; after the denunciation of Ukrainization, rural migrants fell under the renewed policy of Russification. The catastrophic drop of 4 million in the Ukrainian population count for the rest of the USSR, in spite of the large number of important influx of deportees, is probably due more to real and simulated assimilation, than to death.

Victims, perpetrators and onlookers alike were aware of the fact that Stalin’s war against the Ukrainian peasants was at the same time a direct attack on the Ukrainian nation. The young romantic A.V. Holovkin, who in 1930 organized an underground "Union of Militant Communists" in the town of Putivl (Sumy region) and in 1932 distributed Ukrainian and Russian fliers in defense of the peasants, confided to a friend who turned out to be an informer, that "during the last two years Ukraine has been living through an unprecedented famine. The Ukrainian people is literally perishing from hunger, whole villages are dying out, the situation is hopeless." And he added that the hopeless situation "was created by the Soviet power".[99] In the middle of March 1933, Kosior wrote unperturbedly to the Kremlin that "the famine still hasn’t taught many kolhospnyks a lesson".[100] In his report from Kharkiv, dated 31 May 1933, the Italian consul general prognosticated on the devastation of the country: "In conclusion: The current disaster will bring about a preponderantly Russian colonization of Ukraine. Ita future time, perhaps very soon, one will no longer be able to speak of a Ukraine, or of a Ukrainian people, and thus not even of a Ukrainian problem, because Ukraine will have become a de facto Russian region."[101] 


In the light of all the documents published since the event, there can be little doubt today that the famine was not only used by the Communist party for political purposes, but that it was instigated and directed by Stalin and his cronies for that reason. The regime’s ultimate objective was to transform the backward empire into an industrial giant and a military superpower. To achieve this, Stalin needed great quantities of marketable grain, which was to be extracted from the pesants "at any price". The most expedient way was to herd the peasants into collective farms, subject them to a more direct control from the top, and in this way maximize grain deliveries to the state. That the peasants would resist and that the imposition of Moscow’s will would result in the loss of millions of human lives was not a great problem for a well-populated empire, where citizens were treated like expendable cogs in a great machine. All this explains "Stalin’s war on the peasantry", but it does not account for the fact that the overwhelming majority of the victims were Ukrainian peasants, living in the Ukrainian republic and in the adjacent regions of the RSFSR. Nor does it reveal the deeper reason for Stalin’s special decrees reversing the Ukrainization program and closing borders on starving Ukrainian farmers fleeing to the more abundant regions of Russia and Belarus.

On 23 November 1932, Kaganovich boasted in Rostov-on-Don that the Party had definitively settled the question of "kto koho" (who would defeat whom) in the struggle between the régime and its opponents.[102] Kaganovich was right regarding the peasants: by then their opposition to collectivization was broken, as was their “sabotage” of state procurement. Ukrainian peasants (as peasants) were no more an obstacle to the Party’s policies, or a danger to its domination, than were the Russian peasants. There was no greater need to exterminate them, than there was to eliminate the Russian peasants. However, Ukrainian peasants had presented a formidable obstacle to Communist rule in Ukrainians, as part of the Ukrainian nation, and this danger could come back, "as soon as the situation lent itself". The extermination of a part of the Ukrainian peasantry was thus a conscious bloodletting, intended to weaken the Ukrainian nation both physically and morally. The reversal of the Ukrainization program would help denationalize Ukrainian farmers and speed up their assimilation into the Russian nation.

Stalin’s border decree concerned all peasants of Ukraine and the North Caucasus Territory. But since the UN Convention only recognizes national and ethnic groups, the question that may arise is whether they were targeted as peasants or Ukrainians? We have seen that the “national group” in the UN Convention’s has been interpreted in the sense of “civic nation” and the interpretation was even applied to a well-defined region. In this sense, all the peasants within the borders of the Ukrainian SSR, whatever their ethnic origin, were part of the Ukrainian nation. According to the 1926 census, ethnically Ukrainian peasants made up 88.5 % of the Republic’s peasant population, so that the ethnic and civic character of Ukrainian peasantry overlapped. The Ukrainian peasants also made up 89.0 % of the Republic’s ethnically Ukrainian population and 71.8 % of the Republic’s overall population, and thus constituting an overwhelming portion of the Republic’s total population. Stalin’s direct reference to the Kuban (two thirds Ukrainian) shows that despite the document’s theoretical application to all of NCT, it was the descendants of the Ukrainian cossacks, who had supported the Kuban Rada, that were the butt of the regime’s ire. It was this group that Stalin’s border decree singled out for partial destruction, but did he see his enemies as peasants or Ukrainians?

Finally, it should be noted that while the peasantry of the Ukrainian SSR was the main target of the famine, the genocide against the Ukrainian nation had a wider scope of intended victims. It included the Ukrainian agriculturalists on the other side of the Ukrainian-Russian border and the other segments of the Ukrainian population (intellectuals, cadres, workers, etc.) repressed for national reasons.

[1] R. W. Davies and Stephen G. Wheatcraft, The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture, 1931-1933 (New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). P. 441.

[2] Ukrainian Weekly, 16 November 2003.

[3] Kuchynsky at the UN discussion of Holocaust Day, 1 November 2005.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Stanislav V. Kulchytsky, Holod 1932-1933 rr. v Ukrayini yak henotsyd (Kyiv, 2005), pp. 3, 21.

[6] Den’ (Kyiv) 24 November 2005. In the book version, the phrase “not Ukrainians” was dropped. (Kulchytsky, 2005. P. 85).

[7] Davies and Wheatcroft reject the affirmation that "Stalin wanted a famine", that the Ukrainian famine was "deliberately inflicted for its own sake", and that "the Communist ideology provided the motivation for an unprecedented massacre of men, women and children", which Robert Conquest makes in his pioneering study Harvest of Sorrow. To further discredit Conquest’s previous statement, the authors quote from a recent letter from Conquest, in which he states that he does not think that "Stalin purposely inflicted the 1933 famine", but rather that Stalin "could have prevented it, but put ’Soviet interest’ other than feeding the starving first - thus consciously abbeting it". Davies & Wheatcroft. Ibid.

[8] ICCEES VII World Congress Abstracts, Europe — Our Common Home? (Berlin, 25-30 July 2005), pp. 247-248. The importance of the intent as defined by the convention is shown in Michael Ellman, “The Role of Leadership Perceptions and of Intent in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1934,” Europa-Asia Studies, vol. 57, no. 6 (September 2005), pp. 823-841.

[9] Den, 8 November 2005.

[10] Raphael Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation - Analysis of Government - Proposals for Redress (Washington, D.C.:  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944), p. 80.

[11] “Les actes constituant un danger général (interétatique) considérés comme délits du droit des gens,” Librairie de la cour d’appel et de l’order des advocates (Paris, 1933).

[12] Lemkin, Axis Rule. p. 80.


[14] William A. Schabas, Genocide in International Law. The Crime of Crimes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), "Chapter 3. Groups protected by the Convention".

[15] Ibid., p. 115.

[16] Ibid., p. 237.

[17] Leo Kuper, Genocide. Its Political Use in the Twentieth Century (Penguin, 1981), p. 35.

[18] On circumstantial evidence, see Ellman, op. cit. pp. 829-830.

[19] Quoted by Schabas, op. sit. P. 248.

[20] Ibid. P. 249.

[21] The absence of the term "ethnic" from the definition is explained by the common usage in Eastern Europe to label as "national" what in the West would be called "ethnic".

[22] S. Kulchytsky titled a recent article "Why Stalin destroyed Ukrainians?"(Den’. Nov. 2005).

[23] Schabas, p. 245.

[24] Schabas, p. 255.

[25] Lemkin. Ibid. P. 80.

[26] Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn, The History and Sociology of Genocide. Analyses and Case Studies (New Haven and London : Yale University Press, 1990), p. 29.

[27] Robert Conquest. The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. U. of Alberta Press, 1986.

[28] In the Soviet Union, the term "terror" had a specific ideological coloring, which has survived in Ukraine and which explains Kulchytsky’s predilection for the word. Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1993) defines "terror" as "extreme fear", "organized intimidation" and explains that it comes from the Latin terreo - to frighten.

[29] J.V. Stalin. Works. Vol. 10. Moscow, 1954. Pp. 291, 295, 296.

[30] Quotation in S.V. Kulchytsky. Ukraina mizh dvoma viinamy (1921-1939). Kyiv, 1999. P.143.

[31]. Ibid. P. 144.

[32] Pravda, 2 June 1928. All quotations from that lecture are taken from J.V. Stalin. Works. Vol. 12. Moscow, 1955. Emphasis added by R.S. Note, throughout the text the author uses, when referring to the weight of grain, abbreviation “m.p.”  This means “million of poods”. One pood = 36 lbs.  One pood of grain could sustain one person for a month.

[33]  In 1913, Russia exported 10.5 million tons of wheat. Progressive Policy Institute. Trade Fact of the Week. July 2, 2003.

In 1926-27 fiscal year, USSR exported 153 million poods (2.5 million tons), but in 1927-28 only 27 million poods (less than half million tons).

[34] All quotations from J. V. Stalin, "Concerning the National Question in Yugolsavia," in Works, vol. 7 (Moscow, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1954), pp. 71-72. Emphasis in the original except where indicated.

[35] The composition of the KP(b)U in 1922 showed that Ukrainians formed only 23.3 % of the membership. Russians: 53.6 %; Jews 13.6 %, others: 9.5 %.No Ukrainian ever headed the KP(b)U under Stalin. Bohdan Krawchenko. Social change and national consciousness in twentieth-century Ukraine. Edmonton, 1987.

[36] James Mace. Communism and the dilemmas of national liberation : national communism in Soviet Ukraine, 1918-1933. Cambridge, Mass., 1983.

[37] On the "Piedmont principle" see Terry Martin. The Affirmative Action Empire. Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939. Ithaca and London, 2001.

[38] Robert H. McNeal (ed.). Resolutions and decisions of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Vol. 3. Toronto, U of T. Press, 1974. P. 323.

[39] Ibid. P. 320.

[40] Ibid. P. 324.

[41] Resolutins  Vol. 4. P. 25. Emphasis in the original text.

[42] Stalin. Works. Moscow, 1955. Vol. 12. P. 474

[43] Valerii Vasil’ev, Linn Viola. Kollektyvizatsiia i selians’kyi opir na Ukraini (lystopad-1929 — berezen’ 1030 r.r.). P. 76.

[44] Valerii Vasil’ev, Linn Viola. Kollektyvizatsiia i selians’kyi opir na Ukraini (lystopad-1929 — berezen’ 1030 r.r.). Vinnytsia, 1997. P. 195.

[45] Liudmyla Hrynevych, "Vyiavlennia natsionalnoi identychnosti ukrainskoho selianstva v roky kolektyvizatsii" Holod 1932-1933 rokiv v Ukraini. Kyiv, 2003. Pp. 421-422. The section (pp. 416-429) provides interesting information on the national consciousness and feelings of the Ukrainian peasants during the period from 1928 to 1933.

[46] Holod 1932-1933 rokiv v Ukraini. Op. cit. P. 377.

[47] Pravda. 5 February 1931. J.V. Stalin. Works. Vol. 13. Moscow 1955. P. 40. Emphasis added by R.S.

[48]  Ibid. P. 42. Emphasis added.

[49] Holod 1932-1933 rokiv v Ukraini. P. 455.

[50] Ibid, P. 454

[51] Pravda, 15 January 1918. Cited by E. H. Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923. Vol. I. London, 1966. P. 301.

[52] Lenin, Sochineniia. (5th ed.) Vol. 37, P. 468.

[53] For details see: Roman Serbyn, "The Famine of 1921-1923: a Model for 1932-1933?", in Roman Serbyn and Bohdan Krawchenko (eds.), Famine in Ukraine 1932-1933. Edmonton. 1986. Pp. 147-178; R. Serbyn, "The Origin of the Ukrainian Famine of 1921-1923 in the Light of Recent Research", in W. Isajiw  (ed.), Famine-Genocide in Ukraine. 1932-1933. Western archives, testimonies and new research. Toronto, 2003. Pp. 165-183;

[54] Mark B. Tauger, "Grain Crisis of Famine? The Ukrainian State Commission for Aid to Crop-Failure Victims and the Ukrainian Famine of 1928-29" in Donald J. Raleigh, Provincial Landscapes. Local Dimensions of Soviet Power, 1917-1953, Pittsburgh, 2001; Holod v Ukraini 1946-1947: Dokumenty i materialy. Kyiv, 1996.

[55] J. V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 12, pp. 197-205, Foreign Languages Publishing House: Moscow, 1955.

[56] Kosior later admitted that in 1931, 48 % of all collective farms did not pay any trudodni.Kulchtsky, Tsina "Velykoho Perelomu". P. 201.

[57] Holod 1932-1933 rokiv na Ukraini:ochyma istorykiv, movoiu dokumentiv. Kyiv, 1990. P. 148.

[58] All quotations and references to the two letters are taken from Komandyry velykoho holodu. Pp.206-215.

[59] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 136.

[60] For the allocation of the food aid, see Holod 1932-1933 rokiv na Ukraini. Kyiv, 1990. P. 183, 187-188.

[61] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 138 (Underlined by Stalin).

[62] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 138-139..

[63] Holod. 1990. P. 183 (doc. 63), P. 190 (doc. 68).

[64] The Stalin-Kaganovich correspondence. P. 152. In a letter to Kaganovich, dated 15 July, Stalin comes back to the idea of replacing Kosior and suggests that Kaganovich should take the job. In the end Stalin kept both Ukrainian leaders in their posts. Ibid. p 158.

[65] For a detailed account of the deliberations see Komandyry velykoho holodu. Pp. 152-164

[66] See part of the resolution in Holod1932-1933 rokiv na Ukraini. Kyiv, 1990. P. 194-198

[67] Tragedia. P. 408. Other letter writers take apart the fallacious statements of Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb denying the famine in the USSR. Ibid, p. 413.

[68] A secret OGPU report from around 20 July 1932 stated that "as for anti-Soviet manifestations, Ukraine occupies first place". "From 1 January to 1 July 1932, 118 counterrevolutionary kulak organizations were discovered, counting 2.479 members.In addition, along the lines of national counterrevolution we have unmasked 35 groups with 562 members." Tragedia, p. 421. Another secret OGPU report, dated 5 August, contains a section "National counterrevolution (U[krainian]SSR)" which relates the liquidation of 8 nationalist groups, two of which consisted of former members of the outlawed UKP (Ukrainian Communist Party). These people are said to have a leftist program and conduct systematic activity among members of the KP(b)U, arguing that the Soviet authorities are suppressing the Ukrainian culture. In their platform, claims the report, they declare war on the Soviet regime and the Polish fascism, while in fact keeping links abroad and carrying out directives of the Second Department of of the Polish General Staff in Ukraine. Ibid.  p. 443.

[69] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 164-165.

[70] S. Kulchytsky, Tsina "Velykoho perelomu". Kyiv, 1990. P. 296. On 23 July Stalin sent a telegram to Kaganovich demanding the restoration and enforcement of last year’s ban on transporting private bread supplies on by rail or water. Tragedia, p. 428.

[71] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 166.

[72] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 169.

[73] Tragedia, p. 453-454.

[74] Stalin i Kaganovich Perepiska. Pp. 273-275. For a slightly different translation of the document see The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 179-181. A follow-up secret "Instruction on the Application of the TsIK and SNK SSSR of 7 August 1932 About the Safeguarding of State Property", signed by the Chairman and the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of the USSR and the Vice-Charman of the OGPU, was sent out on 16 September to all republican and oblast authorities. Tragedia. P. 477-479.

[75] On 12 August Stalin sends a note to Kaganovich asking him to keep secret for the moment the plan regarding Ukraine sent in the preceding letter. Tragedia. P. 276. To stiffen Kosior’s resolve, in January 1933, Stalin sent him the more resolute Postyshev as his second in commend; Redens was replaced Balitsky in February 1933.

[76] Letter of 16 Augus 1932. Stalin i Kaganovich Perepiska. P. 283-284; Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 183-184.

[77] Timoty Snyder, Sketches from a Secret War. New Haven, Yale University Press. P. 104.

[78] Kosior spoke of 255 m.p. at the January plenum of the CC KP(b)U. Holod1932-1933 rokiv na Ukraini. P. 352. Davies and Wheatcroft give  3,584,000 tons, or 219 millon poods, P. 478. Other authors give similar figures.

[79] Holod 1932-1932 rokiv na Ukraini. P. 253.

[80] Davies & Wheatcroft, The Years of Hunger. P. 178.

[81] Komandyry velykoho holodu. P. 50.

[82] Komandyry velykoho holodu. P. 49; Kulchytsky, Holod 1932-1933 v Ukraini iak henotsyd. Kyiv, 2005. P. 98

[83] V. Serhiichuk, "Mihratsiini protsesy v Ukraini na pochatku 30-kh rokiv iak naslidok holodomoru", Holod-henotsyd 1933 roku v Ukraini: istoryko-politychnyi analiz. Kyiv-New York, 2000. P. 126.

[84] Holod 1932-1933 rokiv na Ukraini. P. 209.

[85] Tragedia, Pp. 575-577; also in Holod 1932-1933 rokiv na Ukraini. Pp 291-194.

[86] The Russification of Ukraine attracted the attention of the Italian consulate in Kharkiv. "In government offices the Russian language is once again being used, in correspondence as well as in verbal dealings between employees." See the "Italian Diplomatic and Consular Dispatches", Report to Congress. Commission on the Ukraine Famine. Washington, 1988. P. 446.

[87] G.G. Iagoda report to Stalin, 29 December 1932. Lubianka. Stalin i VChK-GPU-OGPU-NKVD. Moskva 2003. P. 386.

[88] Nicolaas Werth, Le pouvoir soviétique et la paysannerie dans les rapports de la police politique (1930-1934). Rapport du 27 février 1933. /http:/

[89] Komandyry velykoho holodu. Pp. 312-313.

[90] Tragedia sovetskoi derevni. P. 634. The first English translation of the document appeared in Terry Martin, The Affirmative Action Empire. Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939. Ithaca and London, 2001. P.p. 306-307.

[91] Volodymyr Serhiichuk. Iak nas moryly holodom. Kyiv, 2003. PP 156-158.

[92] Tragedia, p. 636-637.Sheboldaev added more precisions on the filtration points three days later. Ibid. P. 638.

[93] Lubianka. Stalin i VChK-GPU-OGPU-NKVD. Moskva 2003.P. 394.

[94] Lubianka. P. 392-393.

[95] A. Graziosi, "’Lettres de Kharkov’, La famine en Ukraine et dans le Caucase du Nord à travers les rapports des diplomates italiens. 1932-1934". Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique. Vol. XXX(102) 1989. P. 43.

[96] N.A. Ivnitskii, Kollektivizatsiia i raskulachivanie (nachala 30-kh godov). Moscow, 1994. P. 204.

[97] Tragedia. P. 559.

[98] Davies & Wheatcroft. P. 471

[99] Lubianka. Op. cit. P. 590.

[100] Tragedia. P. 657.

[101] "Italian Diplomatic and Consular Dispatches. Op. cit. P. 427.

[102] Tragedia. P. 553.

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