The Ukrainian famine was not a genocide
Nobel-prize winning Russian novelist, dramatist and historian
May 31, 2008
From as far back as 1917, we Soviet citizens had to hear and obediently
swallow all sorts of shameless, not to say meaningless, lies. That the
All-Russian Constituent Assembly was not an attempt at democracy but a
counter-revolutionary scheme (and was therefore disbanded). Or that the
October coup d'état (this was Trotsky's brilliant maneuver) was
even an uprising, but self-defense from the aggressive Provisional
Government (composed of the most intelligent cadets).
But people in Western countries never became aware of these monstrous
distortions of historical events - neither at the time nor later. So
they had no chance to immunize themselves to the sheer impudence and
scale of these lies.
[...] And in 1932-33, when a similar great famine hit Ukraine and the
Kuban region, the Communist Party bosses (including quite a few
Ukrainians) treated it with the same silence and concealment. And it
did not occur to anyone to suggest to the zealous activists of the
Communist Party and Young Communist League that what was happening was
the planned annihilation of precisely the Ukrainians. The provocative
outcry about "genocide" only began to take shape decades later - at
first quietly, inside spiteful, anti-Russian, chauvinistic minds - and
now it has spun off into the government circles of modern-day Ukraine,
who have thus outdone even the wild inventions of Bolshevik agitprop.
To the parliaments of the world: This vicious defamation is easy to
insinuate into Western minds. They have never understood our history:
You can sell them any old fairy tale, even one as mindless as this.
When we analyze Solzhenitsyn's op-ed, what do we find?
there is no analysis, historical or otherwise, of the Holodomor
controversy, the author gives no arguments why the Ukrainian famine
should not be considered a genocide.
Second, the text is no great
piece of literature, and the fact that the translators had trouble
understanding it was not due to the complexity of ideas but to poor
Third, artistic license stops where social science begins; the question
of famine and genocide is demand serious discussion not bouts of
Fourth, the piece is extremely insulting, first to the Ukrainian
community, and then to the general western public.
I. A bit of history:
The article was not written specifically for the Globe and Mail, nor is
it of a recent date. One may thus wonder what was so valuable or news
worthy that a paper that prides itself on being "Canada's National
Newspaper" would see it worthy to reproduce it now, more than eight
weeks after it appeared in Russian and was immediately translated into
[...] The timing of Solzhenitsyn's diatribe was not fortuitous. That
same day (2 April) the Russian Parliament was getting ready to discuss
Ukraine's claim of Holodomor-Genocide, and the coincidence was not lost
on the Russian commentators. Luke Harding, writing in the Guardian a
day later, believed it was an attack on Bush who two days earlier (1
April), together with Yushchenko, laid a wreath at a monument to the
victims of the famine in Kyiv. [...]
[...] On 5 April, the Boston Globe published Solzhenitsyn's piece under
the title "Ukrainian famine not a genocide". The translation was very
"liberal", some parts were left out and others added (compared to the
Izvestia version on the internet). Actually the last two paragraphs in
the three newspapers (Guardian, Boston Globe, G&M) differ quite a
bit, showing the almost incomprehensible style of Solzhenitsyn's prose
and the particular spin each translator/paper wished to give.
II. Content analysis:
[...] The first paragraph lists some of the the lies that Soviet
citizens had to swallow about the origins of the Communist regime.
The second paragraph states that people in the West did not become
aware of these lies and did not become immunized against them.
The third paragraph talks about the famine of 1921. This paragraph is
c) he is right to criticize the Communist for only blaming natural
drought (which actually took place & was greatly responsible for
the famine), and neglecting to admit to the forced requisition that was
the other reason for the famine; however, but fails to mention about
famine relief aid that was asked for and received from the west;
leaving Ukraine out of the picture, Solzhenitsyn fails to mention that
Ukraine had enough food to feed its population but was forced to send
it to Russia (Petrograd, Moscow & the Volga), even from the drought
stricken regions of the south and for this reason there was a
in Ukraine as well;
e) the term Holodomor
not used at that time, although the expression "moryty holodom"
probably was; it has to be investigated. But most Ukrainian farmers
were conscious of the fact that the famine was man-made and documents
reflect this realization.
Such omissions for an author that is presented as a historian is not
The fourth paragraph is the only one that actually deals with the
famine of 1932-33. The author once more gives a most biased
he mentions that there were Ukrainians among the communist bosses, but
fails to mention that Kuban' (part of RSFSR), which he cites was
b) he claims that
the Communist bosses treated this famine with the "same silence and
concealment"; double error: in 1921 the bosses knew of the famine and
asked for aid (first for Russia & eventually for Ukraine); in 1933
the bosses from Ukraine (Petrovsky, Chubar & others) informed
Stalin, Molotov & Kaganovich and begged for aid but were refused;
Published collections of documents (Stalin-Kaganovich correspondence;
Sovetskaia derevnia glazami OGPU; Tragedia sovetskoi derevi) just to
mention the ones published in Moscow & therefore easily available
for Solzhenitsyn give a very precise picture of the difference of the
famine in Ukraine and in Russia.
[...] The fifth
paragraph begins with seeming appeal to the World: "To the parliaments
of the world:". But if it were aimed at foreign parliaments, then the
author would not address them in the third person: "They have never
understood our history: You can sell them any old fairy tale". The
original Russian text has only four paragraphs and in fact last two
form a single whole. The sentence "To the parliaments of the world" are
in quotation marks. What the author is saying is that the Ukrainian
government circles are taking their "fairy tales" to the parliaments of