PRESENTATION: By Professor Roman Serbyn
Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
The Ukrainian Holodomor and the Denial of Genocides
International Conference, Federigo Argentieri, Ph.D., Organizer
Guarini Institute, John Cabot University
Rome, Italy, Friday, November 09, 2007
Published by the Action Ukraine Report #889, Article 5
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, November 19, 2007  

stalinIn his seminal study on genocide, Leo Kuper observed that
"governments hardly declare and document genocidal plans
in the manner of the Nazis" [1]. Nevertheless, since modern
states cannot function without large bureaucracies and elaborate
communication systems, tell-tale recordsinevitably survive.

When the CPSU lost power and the Soviet empire fell apart,
it was revealedthat an elaborate paper trail of the 1932-33
famine and the Sovietauthorities' involvement in it had been
preserved in party and statearchives. These documents are
being slowly declassified, examined and published[2].
Historians can now give us a fairly accurate account of the
catastrophe and ascertain the responsibility of Stalin and
his collaborators.

As a result, scholars who previously hesitated to recognize
the genocidal character of Stalin's forced starvation of
Ukrainian farmers, have reexamined the question and readjusted their interpretations. In his latest
book, Nicolas Werth comes to the conclusion that thanks to recent studies
based on the new documents, it is now "legitimate to qualify as genocide the
cluster of actions undertaken by the Stalinist regime to punish the
Ukrainian peasantry by famine and terror"[3].

In this paper I analyze some of the main documents that provide smoking-gun
evidence of genocide, in line with the definition of the crime given in the
UN Convention of 1948: "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or
in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such".

The key criteria in the Convention are proof of "intent" and identification
eligible "groups". Soviet documents corroborate the accusation against
Stalin and his closest collaborators for deliberately exterminating millions
of Ukrainian farmers, and show that the perpetrators targeted them as

Furthermore these and other documents reveal that the genocide was not just
against Ukrainian farmers, the focus of the attack was the Ukrainian nation
in all its component parts and on all its territories within the Soviet

The locus of this crime was thus the Ukrainian SSR, the predominantly
Ukrainian Kuban, and the other regions of the RSFSR with sizeable Ukrainian
populations. The simultaneous decimation of Ukrainian national elites,
especially academic, cultural and political leaders, was an integral part of
the destruction of the Ukrainian nation.

Stalin did not intend to kill all Ukrainians (nor is such an intent required
by the Convention); his motive was to break the backbone of the nation by
executing a sizeable percentage of the people and reducing the rest to
servile obedience, to transform them into manageable cogs of the state
mechanism. Stalin's means of destruction were varied: famine, shootings,
exhausting forced labor.

The UN Convention does not require the establishment of motives for
genocide, but determining the reasons for the act gives an insight into the
rationale which led to crime and thus help us comprehend the perpetrator's
intent. Stalin's measures against the Ukrainians were predicated on his
political ambitions, two of which provided the motives for the eventual

The first was to extend socialism beyond the borders of the USSR. He
realized that the Bolsheviks' initial attempt to export their revolution
into Europe failed primarily because of the weakness of the Red Army. To
resume Lenin's unfinished task, Stalin needed a powerful armed force, backed
by modern heavy industry. Industrialization had to be financed by exporting
natural resources, especially grain, which had to be extorted from the
farmers at the lowest cost to the state.

War communism had shown that door-to-door requisition was costly,
inefficient and politically dangerous. After the revolution, poor farmers
appropriated and divided up the land of rich landlords. As a result, farmers
lived better, ate more but sold less to the state. Marketable grain (sold
outside the village) in tsarist times was provided by the large farms owned
by landlords and kulaks. Now new large estates had to be set up in the form
of sovkhozy and kolkhozy. These would give the state easy access to grain,
produced by the newly enslaved peasants.

The immediate goal was not the increase of grain production (which could be
expected to fall as a result of peasant opposition), but of the "marketable
grain" to be delivered to the state. Since the main producers of grain were
Ukrainians farmers, who had no tradition of the Russian semi-communal
obshchina organization, they could be expected to offer stiff resistance to
forced collectivization and confiscation of the fruits of their labor.

Stalin's second ambition was to bring a permanent solution to the national
question, especially its crucial Ukrainian component. The 1926 census pegged
the Ukrainian population at 31 million, of the Union's 147 million: 23
million in Ukraine, and 8 million in the rest of the USSR, mainly along the
Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian national revival triggered by the Russian revolution forced Lenin
to give the reconquered republic nominal autonomy in the form of a
"sovereign" republic within a Potemkin-style Soviet federation. Subsequent
policy of Ukrainization, or the local application of a general principle of
korenizatsiia (nativization), allowed Ukrainians to add real national
content to the pretentiously misleading form of "soviet republic"[5].

The Ukrainization of education, communications and administration, not only
in Ukraine but also in the Ukrainian regions of the RSFSR, the
de-Russification of urban centers by the influx of Ukrainian farmers, the
demands on Moscow to transfer to the republic adjacent territories with
Ukrainian population, the shifting of cultural orientation from Moscow and
to the West - all these pressures on the imperial centre could not be
ignored by the Kremlin.

 Stalin, Lenin's "magnificent Georgian" and foremost expert on the
nationalities question, understood the dangers of active nation-building in
Ukraine, in the best of times. Collectivization would only aggravate the
situation. Over 85 % of ethnic Ukrainians were farmers and their sudden
disenfranchisement could throw the countryside into such turmoil that not
only grain production would be catastrophically reduced, but also farmers
could gain the support of the national elites in a united rebellion of the
whole republic to the spoliation of their country by Moscow.

Similar, if smaller, unrest could be expected in the Kuban' and other
ethnically Ukrainian regions of the RSFSR. In the mid-1920s Stalin had
written that the peasant question was "the basis, the quintessence, of the
national question", that "the peasantry constitutes the main army of the
national movement" and that "there is no powerful national movement without
the peasant army"[6]. The stability and even the integrity of the Soviet
empire would be threatened.

Genocide does not happen spontaneously. The targeted group is first
identified, vilified and intimidated, then it is discredited in the eyes of
the rest of the population, and only when it has been sufficiently isolated,
is it submitted to total or partial extermination. In the summer of 1929 the
GPU (political police) "uncovered" a nationalist conspiracy, headed by
prominent Ukrainian intellectuals and conducting anti-Soviet work in
villages and regional centers.

Over 700 people were arrested for, among other things, "anti-Soviet activity
in the villages and district centers" and a show trial was held in March
1930, appropriately staged in a Kharkiv theatre. 45 members of this mythical
Association for the Liberation of Ukraine (SVU) were sentenced to death or
long prison terms.

Arrests and trials of other mostly fictitious groups followed: Ukrainian
National Center, Ukrainian Military Organization, etc.[7] The condemned were
former members of the former Ukrainian national governments, Ukrainian
armed forces, Ukrainian political parties, and prominent people in fields of
education, culture and the arts.

The purpose was to terrorize the Ukrainian elites into submission and
lethargy, and thus deprive the peasants of leadership on the national level.
It should be noted that, in connection with the less severe famine in
Russia, no parallel attack took place against Russian national elites or the
Russian culture.

Stalin's war against the peasants began in earnest towards the end of 1929.
In a two-pronged attack he ordered to "eliminate the dekulakization as a
class" and to collectivize the middle and poor peasants. Divided into three
categories, the kulaks were dispossessed and  the most dangerous were shot.

The others were deported to the wilds of northern RSFSR, transferred to
distant regions in Ukraine, or given strips of poor land outside the kolkhoz
near which they lived. The intention was not only to provide kolkhozes with
the confiscated land, cattle and machinery, but also to deprive the peasants
of the more qualified leadership for their opposition to the authorities.

During the winter of 1929-1930, 90 thousand Ukrainian households were
dekulakized, and a smaller wave more or less finished the job a year later.
In 1934 Kossior, party boss of Ukraine, reported that 200 thousand farms had
been dekulakized in Ukraine. Out of this number of about one million (5
members per family), several thousand were deported to the northern parts of
the RSFSR and lost to the Ukrainian nation.

Collectivization went in unison with dekulakization: a major push was given
in early 1930. By 10 March 1930 Ukrainian kolhosps integrated 64.4% of
farmsteads with 70.9% of arable land. The operation was accomplished with
the help of some 50,000 activists, sent from Russian and Ukrainian urban
centers, with special powers to organize, punish, and terrorize.

Many poor peasants, paid for the service with confiscated goods,
participated in expropriating their richer neighbors, but many others
sympathized with the victims. Peasant rebellion swept Ukraine: in
January-March 1930, 3,190 uprisings with over 950 thousand participants
confronted the authorities.[8]

Hundreds of fliers were picked up by the authorities with such slogans as
"Free Ukraine from Moscow rule", "Time to rise against Moscow yoke" and
others. National and peasant factors were coming together. Stalin sounded a
temporary retreat and in October of that year collectivization was down to
29 % of households and 34 % of arable land. But the reprieve was brief and a
year later (October 1931) the figures rose to 68 % (for households) and 72 %
for arable land, with a much higher percentage in the grain-producing steppe

The effect of Stalin's revolution on the countryside was disastrous,
especially in Ukraine and the Kuban. From 1929 to 1932 the evolution can be
summarized in these four curt phrases: production down; state procurement
up; grain export up; peasant food consumption down.

Farmers' opposition to collectivization, mismanagement of collective farms
by incompetent administrators, neglect and slaughter of farm animals
seriously hindered farming and brought down its production. Yet, enforced
obligatory state procurement increased, and in 1931, 42 % of Ukraine's grain
harvest was turned over to the state.[9]

Kolhosps delayed or completely failed to pay out stipends for "workday"
(trudodni), and the their members had to rely on their meager and
insufficient individual plots of land and a few domestic animals for
subsistence. Undernourishment became generalized. But Stalin had reached
his goal.

Grain exports rose from below one million tons in 1929, to: 5,832,000 tons
in 1930/31 and 4,786,000 tons in 1931/32. It should be kept in mind that one
million tons could feed four to five million people for one year. After two
years of resistance and unequal struggle with the Communist authorities, the
Ukrainian elites were cowed and most of the collective and independent farms
despoiled of all their reserves. The republic was on the brink of a major

On 26 April 1932, Stanislav Kossior, the General secretary of the Communist
Party of Ukraine, 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 Kremlin masters, their lieutenant in Ukraine dismissed the
tragedy with the affirmation that "all talk of famine must be categorically

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 signaled 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 accumulate 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 food shortage, especially bread".[11]
Noteworthy additional remark: "Petliurite and other anti-Soviet moods

Petrovsky's letter was even more to the point. Having just returned from an
inspection of the countryside, he realized the catastrophic situation of the
farming population. He visited many villages and everywhere saw multitudes
of people, mainly poor and middle peasants, starving, subsisting on

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

Echoing Chubar, Petrovsky reported that "because of the famine, mass thefts
are taking place in the villages." 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?" And he predicted
that if help is not given starvation would drive peasants to pick unripe
grain and destroy much of it.

Petrovsky's letter paints a bleak picture of the forthcoming harvest. Since
the better grain had been seized by the state, seeds of poorer quality were
sown and scattered mores thinly. The young crops are good and the fields
well weeded but the grain is sparse. Petrovsky was also struck by the large
amount of unsown land. Aware of all these problems, the farmers complained
to Petrovsky that the new grain procurements would be even more difficult to
meet than last year's. "And this may very well be so", agrees Petrovsky.

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 in Northern Caucasus",
where grain is more readily available, and at much lower prices.

When Petrovsky suggested that farmers band together for these purchases, he
learned that 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?"

If the two Ukrainian leaders believed their pleas and warnings of turmoil in
the Ukrainian countryside would soften Moscow's position, they were
mistaken. Their effect on Stalin, Kaganovich and Molotov was just the
opposite. Writing from Moscow to Sochi, where Stalin was vacationing,
Kaganovich criticized both Ukrainian leaders, even though he admitted that
some aid would have to be given to Ukraine, and asked Stalin to decide on
the amount. Stalin's response was more brutal and more ominous of things to

He condemned the hypocrisy of the two leaders, who only wanted to get "new
millions of poods[12] of grain from Moscow" and "a reduction in the plan for
grain procurement". Ukrainians must mobilize their own forces and resources
for already "Ukraine has been given more than she should get".[13]
Nevertheless, on 16 June the Politburo considered Ukraine's plea and granted
about 8,500 tons[14], a paltry amount in comparison with the million and a
half poods requested by Petrovsky.

Politburo's niggardly "largesse" must have provoked Stalin's ire, for in a
letter to Kaganovich, Molotov and the Politburo he came back with harsh
criticism of past errors and new instructions for the coming harvest. The
Gensec blamed "mechanical equalization", which did not take into account the
ability of the kolkhozes to deliver grain, and as a result of which,
"fertile districts in Ukraine found themselves in a state of impoverishment
and famine, despite a fairly good harvest."[15]

This is the only known acknowledgement of the Ukrainian famine by Stalin. He
blamed regional authorities for being out of touch with the countryside and
allowing kolkhozniks to travel around the entire European part of the USSR
demoralize "our farms with their complaints and whining."[16]

Stalin proposed the calling of a top level conference on the organization of
grain procurement and its unconditional fulfillment, and insisted that
personal responsibility for grain procurement be delegated to the first
secretaries of the Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus, and the other grain
producing regions. "Personal responsibility" for "unconditional fulfillment"
imposed from the top along the administrative vertikal became the watchwords
of the 1932/33 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 July-September plan for grain delivery. Two days
later, Moscow answered Ukrainian Politburo's plea for 600,000 poods of grain
with a terse resolution: "bar any additional grain deliveries to

The III Conference of KP(b)U (6-10 July 1932) was devoted to the upcoming
harvest and grain procurement. Stalin sent Molotov and Kaganovich to the
meeting  "to ensure genuinely Bolshevik decisions". Molotov informed the
audience that Moscow had lowered Ukraine's quota but was adamant that the
plan be carried out in full.[18]

Declarations from regional leaders that the farmers were starving, that much
land lay fallow, and that 100 to 200 m.poods of grain would be lost during
harvesting did not bend the resolve of Moscow's envoys.[19] The conference
adopted a resolution to carry out the plan of grain delivery "in full and

It was largely in response to the tense situation in Ukraine[21], and in
anticipation of new troubles in that republic that Stalin came up with his
infamous decree, dubbed by the farmers "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 proposes to write a law, which would
make theft of property belonging to collective farms equal to similar crimes
against state property, and "punishable by a minimum of ten years'
imprisonment, and as a rule, by death".

"All active agitators against the new collective-farm system" and
"profiteers and resellers of goods" writes Stalin, should be removed and
sent to concentration camps.[22] He also wants stricter controls over the
limited kolkhoz trade allowed by a 6 May 1932 law (kolkhozes allowed sell
their surplus after 15 January 1933, after fulfilling the state procurement
plan), made more liberal on 20 May 1932.[23]

A follow-up letter provides ideological explanation: 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".[24]

Returning to the topic on 26 July, Stalin insists on formal legality of the
proposed operations: "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, will be strengthened and 'ennobled' (the OGPU agencies
will operate 'on a lawful basis' rather than 'high-handedly')".[25]

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 main
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".[26]

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 on the whole Soviet territory
but, as Stalin's letter to Kaganovich shows, it was primarily meant for
Ukraine. Stalin thought the law was "good" and would "soon have an impact",
and ordered a draft of directives from the C.C to the party, judicial and
punitive organizations.[27] 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. [...] This is not a
party but a parliament, [...]

Instead of leading the raions, Kossior kept maneuvering between the
directives of the CC VKP and the demands of the raion party committees [...]
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
[...]. [underlined and doubly underlined in original - R.S.]"

Then Stalin brandishes the specter of Ukrainian separatism: "If we don't
undertake at once to straighten out the situation in Ukraine, we may lose
Ukraine." He reminds Kaganovich that Pilsudski and his agents are
underestimated by Redens, and Kossior. He expressed utter contempt for the
whole KP(b)U, composed of 500,000 members ("ha-ha", snickers Stalin),
harboring Pilsudski's agents and "quite a lot (yes a lot!) of rotten
elements, conscious and unconscious Petliurists".

Thinking undoubtedly of Ukraine's negative reaction to the destructive
impact the just-passed property laws will have, Stalin warns: "The moment
things get worse, these [party] elements  will waste no time opening a front
inside (and outside) the party, against the party."

Frustrated by the fact that "the Ukrainian leadership does not see these
dangers", Stalin proposes to replace Kossior with Kaganovich and Redens with
Balitsky, and eventually Chubar with Kaganovich. In this way Stalin intends
to transform "Ukraine as quickly as possible into a real fortress of the
USSR, a genuinely exemplary republic."

The task is urgent and calls 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."[28] Kaganovich
agrees, of course, and accuses Ukrainian party of creating a certain
solidarity and "a rotten sense of mutual responsibility", not only in the
middle echelons of the party, but also among its leadership.[29]

Stalin's exchange of letters with Kaganovich reveals the ambiance in which
the policy of starvation 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 specter of Pilsudski and Petliura agents
running loose in Ukraine and infiltrating the Soviet party and state
machinery was nothing more than a scare tactic and a rallying call.

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 followers of Petliura whom Stalin had eliminated
by assassination in 1926. Poland may have had some illusions about a
Ukrainian insurrection in 1929-1930, but by 1932, the Poles realized that
the starving population was in no shape to revolt.

The Soviet-Polish nonaggression treaty signed on 25 July 1932 was ample
proof of the changing relations between the two neighbors.[30] 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, a national insurrection could become a reality if
the expected famine (implied in Stalin's 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 eventuality the KP(b)U had to be
purged and kept under close Moscow surveillance.

Stalin maintained that the 1932 harvest was good; historians today are more
skeptical but consider it adequate to cover Soviet Union's internal needs.
With the state 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 they
were extracted. Ukraine's plan was excessive, and in spite of the protests
from Kharkiv and three successive reductions, it remained so to the end.

Still, Ukraine delivered about a quarter of a billion poods of grain, or
over 90% of its procurement quota. [31] In addition it handed over large
quantities of meat, vegetables and other produce. Stalin insisted that state
procurement have absolute priority. Following a CC VKP(b) directive, a
KP(b)U resolution of 18 November reminded that "complete fulfillment of the
procurement plan by collective farms and the MTS constitutes their primary
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 and food supplies".[32]

Stalin was satisfied that he was achieving his goal. At a high-level party
meeting, held on 27 November 1932, he 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."[33]

The allusion to the famine, or rather to freedom from one, was an obvious
lie, and the reference to the feeding of the workers and the Red Army - an
overstatement; but then, Stalin's concern was not the feeding his subjects
but the financing of Soviet industrialization with grain exports.

Obedience to Moscow's orders 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. At the end of October 1932, two commissions were
sent, one to Ukraine headed by Molotov, and the other to North Caucasus
Territory 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 hit with the expulsion of 43 % of the 25,000 party
members, including 358 out of 716 party secretaries.[34]

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.[35] 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 fulfillment of the grain procurement".

"Personal responsibility" for the execution of instructions was a constant
refrain in messages coming from above and became an important means for
forcing recalcitrant cadres to carry out the Ukrainian genocide.

Dekulakization and deportation continued, on a smaller scale and were mostly
of political and punitive nature. Arrests, beatings, and cruelty of all
sorts abounded as before, only now the victims were weaker and less capable
of resistance. Kolkhozes, villages and individual farmers in arrears on
state procurement were put on "black lists", lost access to state-run
stores, and could not buy such essentials as matches, kerosene, salt.

Fines amounted to a year and a quarter's worth of meat tax, without freeing
the debtor from the unfulfilled grain procurement. "Activists" - the city
workers and their komnezam helpers searched farmers' houses and yards,
looking for the hidden grain.

There is no way of knowing what portion of the hidden grain was found by the
flying brigades of activists, but official reports state that in Kuban they
found 345,000 poods of grain in November, while searches in Ukraine from 1
December 1932 to 25 January 1933 yielded 1.7 million poods, in 17,000 hiding
places.[36] What grain was found, was confiscated; if nothing was
discovered, they took whatever edibles were seen, leaving the family to

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 torgsins
(stores for foreigners) for vouchers, and then exchange them for food.

Hardier peasants would flee their villages and seek salvation in urban
centers or in neighboring Belarus and RSFSR, where food was available.
Accounts of Ukrainian peasants overloading trains, filling stations and
wandering about Russian and Belarusian towns and countryside abound.

National and peasant questions became inextricably intertwined in Stalin's
decree of 14 December 1932, issued under the banal title "On Grain
Procurement in Ukraine, Northern Caucasus and the Western Oblast"[37].

Ukrainization was blamed for problems in grain deliveries and exemplary
punishment was prescribed for sabotage in grain procurement: 5-10 years of
concentration camp for a number of "party traitors" arrested in the Orikhiv
raion of Dnipropetrovs'k oblast of Ukraine, and deportation to the North of
the Poltavska stanytsia of Kuban in the RSFSR.

The decree made the party and government chiefs in the three grain producing
areas personally responsible for the completion of grain procurement by
January 1933. Ukrainianization presently is carried out in Ukraine, "without
meticulous selection of the Bolshevik cadre", had allowed
bourgeois-nationalists and Petliurites to 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. Similar accusation
was brought against Northern Caucasus, with supporters of the Kuban' Rada
figuring in place of Petliurites. This gave nationalists the opportunity to
sabotage harvest and sowing campaigns and organize other
counterrevolutionary activities.

Party and Soviet authorities in Ukraine and Northern Caucasus were ordered
to extirpate these counterrevolutionary elements, execute them or deport
them to concentration camps, including "saboteurs with party membership
cards in their pockets".

The verdict against Ukrainization came in two parts. In Ukraine it was not
formally prohibited, but Stalin insisted that it resume its primary
vocation, that of promoting "correct Bolshevik implementation of Lenin's
national policy", which in fact meant integration and assimilation.

Ukrainian authorities were instructed to "expel Petliurite and other
bourgeois-nationalist elements from party and government organizations", and
"meticulously select and recruit Ukrainian Bolshevik cadre". The signal was
thus given for rapid curtailment of Ukrainization and return to a more
sophisticated policy of Russification.[38]

Ukrainians of Northern Caucasus fared worse. "Non-Bolshevik
'Ukrainianization', which affected nearly half of the raions in the Northern
Caucasus," and which was declared to be "at variance with the cultural
interests of the population", was totally discontinued and replaced with

The use of the Ukrainian language was banned in public offices of local
administration, cooperative societies, and schools. The printing of
newspapers and magazines in the Ukrainized raions of Northern Caucasus was
to switch immediately to Russian, and preparation were to begin immediately
for the transfer in the fall of all Ukrainian schools into Russian.

The whole Poltava stanytsia was ordered to be deported and resettled with
demobilized Russian Red Army soldiers, who would receive the abandoned land,
buildings, equipment, and cattle. In fact, 2,158 families with 9,187 members
were sent out before 27 December[39] and resettled a month later with 1,826
demobilized soldiers.[40]

Together with Medvedivs'ka and Umans'ka, the three Cossack stanytsias saw
45,000 persons deported to the North. On 15 December, Molotov and Stalin
signed a similar ban on Ukrainization, for the rest of the previously
Ukrainized Soviet regions in the RSFSR.

Stalin's anti-Ukrainization decree reveals the extent to which the dictator
was ready to go, in sacrificing the Ukrainian nation on the altar of
great-power ambitions. There is little doubt that the ban on Ukrainization
was a sop to Russian chauvinism, especially in ethnically mixed regions
outside the Ukrainian SSR. National and social repressions reinforced one
another, even if neither was 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. 82 raions were
deprived of manufactured goods for not fulfilling their quotas of grain

On 19 December, 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 in fulfillment
of the plan, including grain put aside for seed and food. Direct orders to
increase repressive measures, arrests and deportations increase. A real
reign of terror seizes the republic and the Kuban.

On 22 January 1933 Stalin struck another crippling blow against the starving
Ukrainian grain growers. The new secret decree, drafted by the Gensec
himself, is perhaps the best available proof of the dictator's genocidal
intent against the Ukrainian nation. Sent to Ukraine, Belarus and the
neighboring regions of RSFSR[41], the document calls attention to the
unrestrained exodus of peasants from the Kuban' and Ukraine to the near-by
regions of Russia and Belarus.

Central authorities are said to have no doubt that these migrants, who
pretend to search for food, are, in fact, Socialist-Revolutionaries and
agents of Poland, sent to agitate, "through the peasants", in the northern
parts of the USSR, against the kolkhoz system and the Soviet power.
Addressees are reminded that a similar movement took place the previous
year, but the party, soviet and police authorities of Ukraine did nothing to
stop it. It must not be allowed to happen this year.

Stalin then orders the party, soviet and the repressive organs of the
Northern Caucasus and Ukraine to prevent the exodus of their peasants to
other regions of the USSR and directs them to close border crossings
between Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus.

The GPU of the Russian oblast's adjacent to the quarantined Ukrainian and
Northern 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

The Ukrainian branch of the OGPU was ordered to instruct all railway
stations not to sell tickets to peasants with destinations beyond the
borders, without formal travel permission from the raion executive committee
or a certificate of employment from construction or industrial enterprises.

Oblasts were told to take "resolute measures" to prevent massive departure
of their peasants, carefully check the work of agents recruiting peasants
for work outside Ukraine, and to urge kolhospnyky and individual farmers not
to depart without permission for other raions because they would be arrested

On 25 January, B. Sheboldaev, the party boss of the North Caucasus
Territory, issued a similar order, adding instructions on the employment of
internal forces and border troupes and the setting up of filtration

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
moths before. Petrovsky had complained to Stalin, back in June 1932, about
the ban on train ticket for 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

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 oblast, 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 apprehend agitators and
organizers of these migrations and arrested over 500 of them. [45] As a
direct result of Stalin's borders decree of 22 January 1933, 219,460 persons
were arrested in the first six weeks of its application; some were sent to
the Goulag, others punished in other ways, while 186,588 were sent back to
their villages to face the famine.[46]

In the middle of March 1933, Kosior wrote unperturbedly to the Kremlin that
"the famine still hasn't taught many kolhospnyky a lesson".[47] In his
report from Kharkiv, dated 31 May 1933, the Italian consul general
prognosticated on the devastation of the country: "The current disaster will
bring about a preponderantly Russian colonization of Ukraine. In a 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."[48]

There can be little doubt today that the famine was not only used by the
Communist party for political purposes, but that it was actually created and
directed by Stalin and his henchmen for that purpose. The regime's ultimate
objective was to transform the backward empire into an industrial giant and
a military superpower that could export socialism abroad.

To achieve this, Stalin needed great quantities of marketable grain, which
was to be extracted from the peasants "at any price" to the producers but at
minimal price to the state. The most expedient way was to herd the peasants
into collective farms, subject them to a direct control from the Kremlin,
and in this way ensure maximum grain deliveries to the state.

The Kremlin knew that the peasants would resist and that the imposition of
its will would result in the loss of millions of human lives, but that was
of no concern for masters of a well-populated empire. Stalin's project
required a homogenous and docile population. Revived Ukrainian
particularism, taking advantage of the indigenization program, reinforced
national unity at the expense of cohesion of the new "fatherland of world

The two sources of resistance to Stalin's plans (national and social) became
embodied in the same group - the Ukrainian farmers. Stalin decided to
sacrifice a considerable part of this group in order to eliminate the
opposition to his projects and to frighten the rest of the Ukrainian nation
into accepting the role of cogs (as he liked to call them) of the great
socialist mechanism.

The Stalin-Kaganovich discussion of the Petrovsy and Chubar letters
(June-July 1932), the "five ears of corn" law (7 August, 1932), the
condemnation of Ukrainization (14 December 1932), and the closing of
internal Soviet borders on starving Ukrainian peasants, each provide smoking
gun revelations about the genocide against the Ukrainian nation. But a
multitude of other documents now emerging from the secret archives help us
get a rounded understanding of the gigantic crime and the immeasurable
suffering of its victims.
[1] Leo Kuper, Genocide. Its Politic Use in the Twentieth Century. (Penguin,
1981), p. 35.
[2] Valerii Vasiliev & Yuri Shapoval (eds.), Komandyry velykoho holodu.
Poizdky V. Molotova i L. Kahanovycha v Ukrainu i na Pivnichnyi Kavkaz
1932-1933 rr. Kyiv, 2001; I. Zelenin et al (eds.), Tragediia sovetskoi
derevni. Kollektivizatsiia i rasskulachivanie. Tom 3. Moskva, 2001; Stalin i
Kaganovich Perepiska 1931-1936 gg. Moskva, 2001; Rozsekrechena pam'iat':
Holodomor 1932-1933 rokiv v Ukraini v dokumentakh GPU-NKVD. Kyiv, 2007;
Ruslan Pyrih (ed.), Holodomor 1932-1933 rokiv v Ukraini: dokumenty i
materialy. Kyiv, 2007.
[3] Nicolas Werth, La terreur et le désarroi: Staline et son système. Paris,
Perrin, 2007.
[4] Discussed more fully in my article, "The Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933
and the United Nations Convention on Genocide", in Taras Hunczak & Roman
Serbyn. Famine in Ukraine 1932-1933: Genocide by Other Means. (Forthcoming.)
[5] For a thorough discussion of Ukrainization and its problems see James
Mace, Communism and the dilemmas of national liberation: national communism
in Soviet Ukraine, 1918-1933. Cambride, Mass., 1983. See also Terry Martin,
The Affirmative Action Empire. Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union,
1929-1939. Ithaca & London, 2001.
[6] J. V. Stalin, "Concerning the National Question in Yugoslavia" Works.
Vol. 7. Moscow, 1954. Pp. 71-72.
[7] Rozsekrechena pam'iat'. Pp. 75-81.
[8] Valerii Vasil'ev & Linn Viola. Kolektyvizatsiia i selians'kyi opir na
Ukraini (lystopad 1929-berezen' 1930). Vinnytsia, 1997. P. 91.
[9] Nicolas Werth, La terreur et le désarroi: Staline et son système. Paris,
Perrin, 2007.  P. 118.
[10] Holod 1932-1933 rokiv na Ukraini:ochyma istorykiv, movoiu dokumentiv.
Kyiv, 1990. P. 148.
[11] All quotations and references to the two letters are taken from
Komandyry velykoho holodu. Pp.206-215.
[12] One pood = 16.36 kg; 1 ton - 61.36 poods.
[13] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence 1931-1936. New Haven& London,
2003. P. 136.
[14] For the allocation of the food aid, see Holod 1932-1933 rokiv na
Ukraini. Kyiv, 1990. P. 183, 187-188.
[15] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 138 (Underlined by Stalin).
[16] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 138-139..
[17] Holod. 1990. P. 183 (doc. 63), P. 190 (doc. 68).
[18] The original plan of 410 million poods (6.7 m.t.) was lowered twice to
356 and 274.8 million poods (5.8 m.t.; 4.5 m.t. ) but 16 November was raised
to 5.8 m.t.  Rozsekrechena pam'iat'. p. 84.
[19] For a detailed account of the deliberations see Komandyry velykoho
holodu. Pp. 152-164
[20] See part of the resolution in Holod1932-1933 rokiv na Ukraini. Kyiv,
1990. P. 194-198
[21] 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 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.
[22] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 164-165.
[23] 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 by
rail or water. Tragedia, p. 428.
[24] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 166.
[25] The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 169.
[26] Tragedia, p. 453-454.
[27] Stalin i Kaganovich Perepiska. Pp. 273-275; 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.
[28] 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.
[29] Letter of 16 Augus 1932. Stalin i Kaganovich Perepiska. P. 283-284;
Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence. P. 183-184.
[30] Timoty Snyder, Sketches from a Secret War. New Haven, Yale University
Press. P. 104.
[31] 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
[32] Holod 1932-1932 rokiv na Ukraini. P. 253.
[33] Tragedia. P. 559.
[34] Davies & Wheatcroft, The Years of Hunger. P. 178.
[35] Komandyry velykoho holodu. P. 50.
[36] Komandyry velykoho holodu. P. 49; Kulchytsky, Holod 1932-1933 v Ukraini
iak henotsyd. Kyiv, 2005. P. 98
[37] Tragedia, Pp. 575-577; also in Holod 1932-1933 rokiv na Ukraini. Pp
[38] 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.
[39] G.G. Iagoda report to Stalin, 29 December 1932. Lubianka. Stalin i
VChK-GPU-OGPU-NKVD. Moskva 2003. P. 386.
[40] Nicolaas Werth, Le pouvoir soviétique et la paysannerie dans les
rapports de la police politique (1930-1934). Rapport du 27 février 1933.
[41] Tragedia sovetskoi derevni. P. 634-635. 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.
[42] Volodymyr Serhiichuk. Iak nas moryly holodom. Kyiv, 2003. PP 156-158.
[43] Tragedia, p. 636-637.Sheboldaev added more precisions on the filtration
points three days later. Ibid. P. 638.
[44] Lubianka. Stalin i VChK-GPU-OGPU-NKVD. Moskva 2003.P. 394.
[45] Lubianka. P. 392-393.
[46] N.A. Ivnitskii, Kollektivizatsiia i raskulachivanie (nachala 30-kh
godov). Moscow, 1994. P. 204.
[47] Tragedia. P. 657.
[48] "Italian Diplomatic and Consular Dispatches. Op. cit. P. 427.
FOOTNOTE: Article published by the Action Ukraine Report (AUR) with
permission from Professor Federigo Argentieri, John Cabot University,
Rome, Italy.

Other links on Ukrainian Holodomor (Ukemonde)

Ukrainian parliament recognizes Soviet-era famine as genocide


Ukrainian Famine 1932-1933
I will remember  (Ukemonde)

Famine of 1932-33
Remembering Ukraine's Unknown Holocaust

By Roman Serbyn

I was chosen by your dead
Legacy of the Famine: Ukraine as a postgenocidal society (James Mace)

Le tabou de l'"Holodomor" ukrainien

The Holodomor Was Unique - (Lubomyr Luciuk)

Montreal community recalls Famine-Genocide of 65 years ago

A changing world (Ukemonde blog)

Memorial marks Famine of 1932-33.  Survivors call it a genocide,
started by Stalin's agricultural policy

Russia bristles at Ukrainian officials push for declaring Soviet-era famine as genocide

Other external links:

The Artificial Famine/Genocide
(Holodomor) in Ukraine 1932-33  (InfoUkes)

The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine, 1932-1933 (Holodomor)
Ukrainian Genocide (ArtUkraine)

THE GREAT FAMINE IN UKRAINE 1932-33 (Ukrainian Weekly)

Famine - Genocide in Ukraine 1932 - 1933

UKRAINIAN FAMINE - Revelations from the Russian Archives

Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-1933

The History Place - Genocide in the 20th Century

Ukrainian Holodomor/Genocide Resources - Prevent Genocide ...

The Story of the Ukrainian Genocide