The Holodomor Story

In the period of 1932–1933 a disastrous famine occurred throughout the Soviet Union, affecting areas including but not limited to Kazakhstan, Ukraine, the Lower Volga and the North Caucasus. It has been used to claim that a genocide took place against Ukrainians through deliberate ‘terror–famine’ by the Soviet government. To try to present the famine as another Holocaust it has been branded with the similar name ‘Holodomor’ (meaning famine–plague) in recent times.

Famines had been a frequent occurrence in the Russian Empire and pre-collectivization Soviet Union and this was the last famine in Russian history (with the exception of World War 2 and 1946-1947 famine following its destruction). During the 1000 years preceding 1917 Russia experienced at least 433 years of famine. Far back in 1092 a famine killed 15 percent of Kiev’s population. Famines struck in years including 1872, 1891, 1905, and 1911. Anti-communists like to pretend that famine started with collectivisation and act like there was no famine during the NEP ignoring those of 1924, 1927 and 1928. In fact, the opposite is true since the long cycle of famines was ended following collectivisation.

It is important to understand the background and preceding years. After the revolution and First World War, the new revolutionary Soviet states of the former-Russian Empire were now under attack in a civil war and foreign invasion. Although the Red Army was able to eventually defeat these forces, this period brought immense destruction to the newly created Soviet Union. In 1921 the New Economic Policy was introduced to allow a steady recovery from the war and destruction suffered since 1914. The policy was in basic terms state-capitalism, a form of capitalism.

In this period the country suffered multiple famines, such as the 1921 Volga famine, which was caused by drought–induced crop failures as well as massive infestations of locusts, rodents, and plant diseases. This famine was witnessed by Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen who headed a relief commission and took many photos of famine victims. In early 1924 the country was struck by another severe drought and, despite larger harvests in 1925 and 1926, Stalin admitted in 1927 that the country had not fully recovered from the 1924 famine. In July 1925 when the Dneprostroi project was under consideration, Stalin opposed it and stressed the need to expand agricultural machinery factories.

The situation in the countryside at the time of the NEP saw a rise in dominance of kulaks (meaning ‘tight-fisted’; basically the rural capitalists), who took advantage of the harsh situation of poor peasants and middle peasants to enrich themselves.

The kulak is a very interesting figure in rural Russia … There is no doubt that the methods used by this usurer and oppressor in the peasant’s blouse have not been of the cleanest … In Russian literature he has been dubbed the “village eater,” and has been clothed with all sorts of diabolical qualities.

― Wolf von Schierband “Russia, her Strength and her Weakness” 1904

The kulaks owned lots of land, and hired poor peasants, who owned little or no land, to work on their land for them. The kulaks, who accumulated more money thanks to their wealth, could buy the farming equipment and rent it out to the poor peasants who had none; further enriching themselves and making the peasants dependent on them. On top of this Kulaks would be able to make money through speculation and taking advantage of famine by hoarding grain to inflate prices and selling it at much higher prices to the hungry and desperate people, putting cities into a desperate situation.

In 1927, after the spontaneous evolution of the free market, 7 per cent of peasants, i.e. 2,700,000 peasants, were once again without land. Each year, one quarter of a million poor lost their land. Furthermore, the landless men were no longer accepted in the traditional village commune. In 1927, there were still 27 million peasants who had neither horse nor cart. These poor peasants formed 35 per cent of the peasant population.

The great majority were formed of middle peasants: 51 to 53 per cent. But they still worked with their primitive instruments. In 1929, 60 per cent of families in the Ukraine had no form of machinery; 71 per cent of the families in the North Caucasus, 87.5 per cent in the Lower Volga and 92.5 per cent in the Central Black-Earth Region were in the same situation. These were the grain-producing regions.

In the whole of the Soviet Union, between 5 and 7 per cent of peasants succeeded in enriching themselves: these were the kulaks. [8]

In 1927 another drought struck the Volga, Ukraine, and other regions which reduced grain production below subsistence in many regions. In 1927-1929 the country was experiencing another famine. During this famine the Soviet government of Ukraine established a famine relief commission called Uriadkom distributing aid including food and farm equipment. Ukraine recieved more aid than was sent to other parts of the USSR.

According to a report by the Uriadkom on 13 August 1928, 85.2 percent of the winter crops failed in the steppe regions of Ukraine in winter and spring 1928. These regions had planted half of their sown area in winter crops and usually had high and stable harvests. Peasants in the region reseeded the failed areas with spring crops, but this prolonged the spring sowing in the steppe almost a month, and the area was undersown because poor harvests in the region in 1927 left the peasants with insufficient seed. Both of these factors augured a reduced yield. Spring in 1928 was late, cold and dry; dust storms blew the soil away and in many cases made more reseedings necessary. In June and July, continued drought and heat harmed late-sown spring crops, and rains in August did not improve the situation.

[Mark B. Tauger “Grain Crisis or Famine?”]

This vulnerability to natural disaster when compared to the west was seen as a sign of agricultural backwardness by Soviet leaders . The famine was an important part of the argument that agriculture had to be changed.

We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or they crush us…

– Joseph Stalin, 1931 [12]

The Soviet Union desperately needed modern machinery and industrial equipment to recover from the destruction of the years of war since 1914 and to modernise and move their country forward.

Where is the way out? The way out is in the passing of small disintegrated peasant farms into large-scaled amalgamated farms, on the basis of communal tillage of the soil; in passing to collective tillage of the soil on the basis of the new higher technique. The way out is to amalgamate the petty and tiny peasant farms gradually but steadily, not by means of pressure but by example and conviction, into large-scale undertakings on the basis of communal, fraternal collective tillage of the soil, applying scientific methods for the intensification of agriculture.

[Fifteenth Congress of the Party, December 1927]

Large collective farms and modern machinery were the way forward and early experiments proved successful. A lot of inspiration came from large farms in the USA. Not to forget also is that fact that Russia had had a tradition of communal agriculture in the form of the Obshchina.

The initial step in that policy was a plan to establish several dozen sovkhozy (large mechanized state farms) in the eastern regions of the USSR, implemented in 1928 on Stalin’s initiative but with much discussion by specialists and the Central Committee. These farms were set up on non-peasant land in the eastern regions of the USSR (Siberia, Kazakhstan, the Volga basin and other regions had vast areas of remote unpopulated arid lands), and thus these sovkhozy were not established to exploit the peasants. These sovkhozy were to produce 1.5 million tons of marketable grain. The plan, modelled explicitly on Thomas Campbell’s totally mechanized farm of more than 60,000 acres in Montana, was implemented rapidly during 1928-29; by 1930, according to the confidential report by the agency in charge of these farms, these sovkhozy produced double the planned target amount of grain.

[Mark B. Tauger “Soviet Peasants and Collectivization, 1930–39”]

The first Five–Year Plan began in October 1928 and the collectivization movement grew rapidly in the following years.

In 1931 severe drought and hot winds (sukhovei) affected regions across the USSR including the southern Urals, Western Siberia, Ukraine, Bashkiria and the Volga region. In the main spring-grain precipitation period, precipitation in the southern Urals and Western Siberia was one-fourth of the amount that agronomists there considered necessary for plant growth.

A Canadian agricultural specialist Andrew Cairns who made extensive travels through the USSR in 1932 wrote reports providing stark evidence of the effects of the 1931 drought on agricultural production. 38 of the 124 districts in the West Siberian Krai had total crop failures in 1931 according to the chief agricultural official of the krai. Sovkhozy near Omsk, that Cairns visited, had average grain yields of 1.8 and 2.5 centners per hectare in 1931, as opposed to 9.3 and 13 centners in 1930. According to officials, the Middle Volga Krai had lost 3-3.5 million tons of grain to drought. In Ukraine grain harvests also were reduced by drought. The 1931 drought created famine conditions in the USSR and many horses, the chief draught animals, were lost or severely weakened.

In 1932, drought also reduced harvests in some areas, even if the drought did not approach the severity of 1931. In August 1932, Cairns was told by the Soviet Union’s leading specialist on arid agriculture N.M. Tulaikov that drought and hot winds had ruined most of the crops on the left bank of the regions of the Middle and Lower Volga. Cairns himself saw large fields stunted and damaged by hot winds and drought south of Moscow. German agricultural attaché, Otto Schiller was told in August by the head of the agricultural of the Soviet statistical agency that drought and hot winds had reduced crops significantly in Ukraine, along the Volga, and in Siberia.

However, despite the existence of drought in 1932, drought in 1932 was not as severe or widespread as in 1931, and 1932 is not seen as a year of drought. Both Soviet officials at the time and historians overlook other environmental factors, aside from drought, affecting famine. Russian agriculture, which the government was at the time working to modernise, was far behind that of advanced countries in western Europe and was highly vulnerable to weather, pests, and diseases.

A sudden warm spell in January 1932 caused fall-sown crop to start growing, after which winter temperatures returned and killed a portion of the crop. At least 12 percent of the fall-sown crop in Ukraine was destroyed by this winterkill.

Despite regional droughts, 1932 was overall a warm and humid year. Heavy rains damaged crops and reduced yields in several regions, particularly on the right bank of the Volga, in the North Caucus, and in Ukraine. Cairns noted that in June drownings in basement apartments in Kiev were caused by heavy rains. Internal security police reported flooding in Uzbekistan cotton fields in August and a hurricane in the central industrial region in September. Slower sowing in 1932 was caused by “the large quantity of precipitation which interfered with work” according to a report prepared by the Ukrainian Agriculture Commissariat on 20 June 1932 on agricultural conditions and work in spring which reported heavy rainfall which was double or triple the normal amount, in April-early June, in many regions.

It may seem that more rainfall benefits crops, but British geographer David Grigg noted that in Europe generally, grain yields tend to be inversely related to rainfall during the growing season, in particular because it encourages the spread of crop diseases. A 1978 CIA report found rust and smut to be the main factors reducing grain quality and yield in the Soviet Union. In 1932 Soviet crops suffered from an extraordinarily severe combination of infestations of crop diseases and pests, indicated by Soviet agronomic literature as well as published and archived sources.

Several varieties of rust, a category of fungi that infests grains and many other plants, greatly harmed the crops in 1932. Rust causes plant cells to age prematurely, reduces the plants capacity to photosynthesize, and diverts increasing amounts of carbohydrates and other nutrients for the infestations own growth and reproduction. Rust can in some cases kill the plant but more ordinarily the rusted grain will appear to continue to grow normally but the harvest will consist of smaller or fewer grains. This means that a field could appear promising but then produce and extremely low yield because of the infestation. Rust is among the most difficult of plant diseases to combat and because of its destructive potential the US military even produced and stockpiled rust spores as a biological weapon in the 1950s and 1960s. Widespread outbreaks of rust in 1932 were documented by numerous publications. In the North Caucasus, Stem rust of wheat caused a loss of 80-90 percent of crop in regions near rivers in 1932 and 1933, according to a Soviet agronomic guidebook. Cairns and Schiller also observed widespread rust infestations and Soviet agronomists confirmed these impressions in Ukraine, the North Caucasus, Byelorussia, the Central Black Earth Oblast, and the Volga region. However identifying rust required specialized knowledge and training so it appeared that the 1932 harvest would be better than it was. Famine survivors in the Volga region, interviewed by Russian historian Viktor Kondrashin, remembered how in the 1932 harvest the ears were somehow “empty.” Investigations at the time found that brown rust of wheat in destroyed 70 percent of the harvest in some regions of Ukraine and the North Caucasus and reduced the weight of grain and the number of seeds in ears.

Large outbreaks of smut also affected Soviet agriculture in 1932 and caused substantial losses of approximately 9 million tons. The Commissariat of Agriculture issued an emergency decree, in August 1932, on measures to deal with ergot, another plant disease.

Pests were another problem in 1932. The warm and humid weather led to severe insect infestations including locusts, field moths, and others. In one district of Ukraine it was reported that beet weevils had destroyed almost 500 hectares of beets in 3 hours. OGPU reports also claimed to have found a wrecking organization that operated in pest control organizations.

The loss of many horses was another great detriment to agriculture. Many horses had been lost from conditions in 1931 because desperate peasants would eat the horses fodder. But also many horses were slaughtered by Kulaks in protest of collectivization.

The threat of Kulak sabotage was a serious problem at the time. Frederick Schuman, who traveled in Ukraine at the time, later published in 1957 while a Professor at Williams College a book in which he spoke about the famine:

Their [kulak] opposition took the initial form of slaughtering their cattle and horses in preference to having them collectivized. The result was a grievous blow to Soviet agriculture, for most of the cattle and horses were owned by the kulaks. Between 1928 and 1933 the number of horses in the USSR declined from almost 30,000,000 to less than 15,000,000; of horned cattle from 70,000,000 (including 31,000,0000 cows) to 38,000,000 (including 20,000,000 cows); of sheep and goats from 147,000,000 to 50,000,000; and of hogs from 20,000,000 to 12,000,000. Soviet rural economy had not recovered from this staggering loss by 1941.

… Some [kulaks] murdered officials, set the torch to the property of the collectives, and even burned their own crops and seed grain.

Sabotage by opponents of the government was a serious issue. Ukrainian nationalists employed the use of sabotage against agriculture. Isaac Mazepa, who was head of Petliura’s anti-Bolshevik Ukrainian state in 1919–1920, seems quite pleased in his tone when describing the damaged inflicted in Soviet Ukraine by sabotage:

At first there were disturbances in the kolkhosi [collective farms] or else the Communist officials and their agents were killed, but later a system of passive resistance was favored which aimed at the systematic frustration of the Bolsheviks’ plans for the sowing and gathering of the harvest …. The catastrophe of 1932 was the hardest blow that Soviet Ukraine had to face since the famine of 1921–1922. The autumn and spring sowing campaigns both failed. Whole tracts were left unsown, in addition when the crop was being gathered … in many areas, especially in the south, 20, 40 and even 50 per cent was left in the fields, and was either not collected at all or was ruined in the threshing.

– Isaac Mazepa, Slavonic Review Vol. 12, 1934

The harvest of 1932 was a much worse harvest than was expected and the environmental causes, such as rust, where not fully understood by the leadership and therefore they tended to suspect factors like mismanagement and sabotage.

The degree of overestimation can be approximated by extrapolating from the archival data for kolkhozy. Official figures for Soviet and Ukrainian kolkhoz yields (6.8 centners and 8.0 centners) are close to average yields for all sectors (7.0 centners and 8.1 centners). The archival figures for kolkhoz yields (6.4 centners and 5 centners) can be reasonably assumed to be close to the genuine yields for all sectors and, therefore, kolkhoz production data in the annual reports can serve as a basis for estimating total grain production in 1932. Thus, for Ukraine, the official sown area (18.1 million hectares) reduced by the share of sown area actually harvested (approximately 5 centners) gives a total harvest of 8.5 million tons, or a little less than 60 percent of the official 14.6 million tons. This result appears to support Holubnychy’s statement that 40 percent of the crop was lost in 1932. A similar calculation of the sown area in the Soviet Union (99.7 million hectares), reduced by 7 percent (based on the TsUNKhU data) to 92.72 and multiplied by the NKZ average yield of 5.4 centners, gives a total Soviet harvest of 50.06 million tons, almost 30 percent below the official figure of 69.87—within the range that Schiller predicted.

If the kolkhozy that did not complete annual reports had lower harvests than those that did and if Sovkhoz and edinolichnik harvests were as low as their 1932 procurements implied the harvest may have been well below 50 million tons.

[Mark B. Tauger “The 1932 Harvest”]

Following this bad harvest the country was struck by famine affecting people across the Soviet Union including Ukraine, the North Caucasus, the Central Blackearth oblast, the Volga basin, portions of the Urals and Kazakhstan. This was a disaster of course first and foremost for the victims of famine but also for the country and regime which had its industrialisation affected and the “power-hungry” leadership of country had its opposition heightened. This was at a time when Japan had just invaded Manchuria and was a threat to the country. The government was now faced with the task of making sure that food was distributed to as many people as possible, including the people in towns and cities, while working towards a good harvest in 1933.

The country also suffered epidemics of typhus, typhoid fever, and dysentery which coincided with the famine and were responsible for many deaths.

The government introduced political departments, Politotdely, which played a crucial role to overcome the famine and help peasants produce a crop. The politotdely helped organize the sovkhozy and machine tractor stations and purged officials for malfeasance, replacing them by promoting thousands of peasants.

They were supported with the largest allocations of food and seed aid in Soviet history of 5.67 million tons and special sowing commissions set up in crucial regions like Ukraine, the Urals, the Volga and elsewhere to manage regional-level aspects of organization and supplies to farms.

[Mark B. Tauger “Soviet Peasants and Collectivization, 1930–39”]

A report from the Central Blackearth oblast, one of the regions hit by famine, shows the work of the politotdely in the kolkhozy. With politotdely help, kolkhozy were able to make great improvements. They sowed 3.4 million hectares instead of 2.85 million hectares that they had in 1932, and 15 finished 15 days earlier.

They used fertilizer for the first time and sorted seed, they treated more seed against plant diseases, they weeded crops sometimes two and three times, and they took measures against insects. They completed harvesting grain crops in 65 days, versus 70 in 1932, and threshing in December 1933, a process that in 1932 had lasted the region into March 1933. They completed grain procurements in  November 1933 (those of 1932 had lasted like threshing into spring 1933), paid off all of their seed loans, formed the necessary internal funds in kolkhozy and still managed to distribute to kolkhozniki much more in labour-day payments than the previous year, thereby ending the famine in the region.

[Mark B. Tauger “Soviet Peasants and Collectivization, 1930–39”]

The Central Committee allocated more than half a million tons of seed loans to Ukraine and the North Caucasus in one February decree. By April 1933, aid to Ukraine exceeded 560,000 tons.

It is said by proponents of ‘holodomor’ that the state came to take grain from peasants to starve them. In reality grain procurements were standard in order to take a portion of grain to feed the cities.

During a shortage the hoarding of grain becomes a problem. Some peasants would hide grain to either sell at higher inflated prices, to have more food for themselves, or to receive more aid from the government. Many times this hoarded grain had been stolen from collective farms often by individuals who worked on them. It was necessary for the state therefore to find and seize hoarded grain to make sure that it was distributed to as many people as possible and to make sure aid was distributed to those that needed it most. This was not a unique situation and the same thing happened in Tsarist times:

Governments worked hard to ensure that only the neediest peasants received aid, including by searching peasants’ homes―even in the 1891 famine―to expose hidden hoards that would disqualify them from aid.

[Mark B. Tauger “Famine in Russian History”]

Grain procurements targets were reduced multiple times. In Ukraine procurement quotas were reduced by 1.3 million tons in May 1932; 656,000 tons in July 1932; 1.15 million tons in October 1932; and 459,000 tons in January 1933 in response to appeals. In other regions there were requests to reduce procurements that were denied while Ukraine’s were granted. Grain procurements were less in 1932 than other years in the 1930s. In the first half of 1933, 5 million tons of grain procurements were returned to villages in the USSR.

Russia had been an agrarian country which relied on selling raw materials and agricultural produce. Exports of grain were an important part of funding the modernisation of agriculture and industrialisation which would end that situation. Western countries had placed embargos and restricted the Soviet’s alternative exports such as gold, meanwhile grain prices fell on world markets. Contracts for exports were signed in advance. The Soviets curtailed the exports of grain sharply when the crisis had become evident. The exports were reduced by over 66% from 5.2 million the previous year to 1.73 million in 1932, they were further reduced the following year. In the first half of 1933 aid to Ukraine alone was 60 percent greater than the amount exported from the whole Soviet Union.

Despite all the damage caused, the country was able to overcome the famine and in 1933 they produced a much better harvest. Famines which had long plagued the territories of the Russian Empire would become (with the exception of those following the Nazi invasion) a thing of the past.

The propaganda campaign in the 1930s over famine in Ukraine was largely the work of Nazi Germany and fascist sympathisers. One important figure was the multi-millionaire American press magnate William Randolph Hearst. Hearst owned the biggest media conglomerate in the world and was known for the use of ‘yellow journalism’ (sensationalist journalism which often uses faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience etc.; the ‘fake news’ of the time). Hearst, known to millions as “America’s No. 1 Fascist” in the 1930s, employed Benito Mussolini in the thirties and the Hearst press became the Italian dictator’s chief source of income, paying him ten times the amount he received in salary from being the head of the Italian state. In the late summer of 1934, Hearst traveled to Nazi Germany and met with Ernst Hanfstaengl, press officer for the Reich and intimate adviser of Hitler. He then was later informed by four stormtroopers that a plane was waiting to take him to meet Hitler, who he met with for a discussion. Numerous agreements were reportedly reached, such as the agreement that Germany would buy its foreign news through Hearst’s International News Service.

In October 1934, a man by the name of Thomas Walker entered the Soviet Union. After spending less than a week in Moscow, he spent the rest of his thirteen-day journey in transit to the Manchurian border, left and did not return. Four months later, in February 1935, a series of articles began appearing in the Hearst press by Thomas Walker, who is described as a “noted journalist, traveller and student of Russian affairs who has spent several years touring the Union of Soviet Russia”. Under such titles as “Six Million Perish In Soviet Famine” it is claimed that Walker “entered Russia last spring” (spring of 1934) and smuggled in a camera under dangerous and adverse circumstances to photograph the pictures accompanying the stories of a mammoth famine in Ukraine. This means, according to the version printed in the Hearst press, the Hearst press kept the story for 10 months before printing them in 1935 and that there was a famine during the spring of 1934. However the famine occurred in 1932 and the harvest of 1933, in contrast to that of 1932, was a great harvest. Furthermore, Thomas Walker did not enter the Soviet Union in the spring of 1934 but in October after receiving a transit visa in London on the 29th of September. He stayed in Moscow for five days before boarding a trans-Siberian train to the Soviet-Manchurian border which did not pass within several hundred miles of the black soil and Ukrainian districts which he later claimed to have saw and photographed.

The photographs, which Walker could not have taken, were inconsistent and many were clearly taken in different seasons. Many of the photos were taken a decade earlier, during the Volga famine, by Fridtjof Nansen. Some photos were identified as being from the dissolved Austro-Hungarian Empire, with one showing an Austrian cavalry soldier standing beside a dead horse during World War One. Similar faked photographs were also appearing in Nazi papers, including Voelkischer Beobachter and Der Sturmer, in Germany. These false images are still used to show the “holodomor” to this day.

Read also: “Kharkov” to “East Ghouta”: Imperialist propaganda has long used false photographs

Not only were the photographs and the trip to Ukraine a falsification but so was the identity of Thomas Walker. Walker was deported from England and arrested in the United States a few months after the Hearst series. The man turned out to be escaped convict Robert Green, who escaped from Colorado State Prison after serving two years out of his eight-years term for forgery. Robert Green had a trail of crime through the US and four European countries. Just a few of his crimes included forgery, “marriage-swindle” and violation of the Mann-White Slave Act (an Act against human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution). Green was indicted by a Federal grand jury on a charge of passport fraud and plead guilty. During the trial, a reporter noted, Green (Thomas Walker) “admitted that the ‘famine’ pictures published with his series in the Hearst newspapers were fakes and they were not taken in Ukraine as advertised.”

The propaganda campaign continued throughout the 1930s with the same false images being used in multiple publications, especially in Germany.

In Ukraine, the Ukrainian language was still being promoted. In Ukraine in 1934, over 55 million books were published in Ukrainian, an increase from 27 million in 1928. The number of books increased to over 65.3 million in 1937, almost 90 percent of all books published; only 5.8 million were published in Russian.

We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or they crush us…

– Joseph Stalin, 1931

In 1941 Nazi Germany and its allies invaded the Soviet Union. They were joined by Ukrainian nationalist collaborators the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN; paramilitary wing: Ukrainian Insurgent Army, UPA).

The forces of Germans and Ukrainian nationalists were not met with the reception you would expect from a people who were targeted for genocide by the previous government. The support for the OUN was limited to the region of west Ukraine (Polish Galicia), which was under the control of Poland, not the Soviet Union, before it was unified with Ukraine in 1939. A Ukrainian priest, Father Ohienko, dispatched to Kiev by the Nazis, in a letter during the war wrote:

I have been here for several months but I can find no spiritual peace. You can’t imagine how Bolshevism has changed everything … People are malicious and consider us enemies… [1]

Many Ukrainians joined the partisans to fight the Nazi occupation and millions fought in the Red Army.

Today in Ukraine attempts are made to spread myths about the partisan movement in the occupied territories of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic allegedly being a fiction. In reality, this, of course, isn’t so. Perhaps its scale were a little exaggerated, but we can speak with confidence about 260,000 of its participants. This is a huge force. For comparison, UPA reached no more than 40,000 people. And if to remember that, besides 260,000 Soviet partisans, another 7 million more Ukrainians fought as a part of the Red Army, nobody should doubt who in reality the people of Ukraine supported back then. [11]

It was quickly noticeable that the propaganda and reality about the Soviet Union did not match up. As historian Heinz Hohne states:

Two sobering years of bloody war in Russia provided cruel proof of the falsity of the tale about sub-humans. As early as August 1942 in its “Reports from the Reich” the SD noted that the feeling was growing among the German people that “we have been victims of delusion. The main and startling impression is of the vast mass of Soviet weapons, their technical quality, and the gigantic Soviet effort of industrialization ― all in sharp contrast to the previous picture of the Soviet Union. People are asking themselves how Bolshevism has managed to produce all this.” [1]

Ukrainian nationalist Lev Shankivsky quotes the report of a Galacian “culture worker”:

One can come across an ordinary village girl … during our talk we discover that the girl is well-versed in mathematics, physics, chemistry … had finished secondary school and worked as a tractor driver … In other examples one could meet a former university, medical institute or teachers’ college student among the village girls. Such cases are frequent … People are well informed. One could discuss any political or social theme with the peasants … Our fellows fared badly in discussions on professional matters or knowledge of state structure …

― Lev Shankivsky Pokhidni hrupy OUN (OUN Marching Groups) 1958 [1]

After the defeat of the Nazi invaders, many of their Ukrainian collaborators flooded into western countries particularly Canada and the USA. These former collaborators would be useful in the Cold War. They would now resurrect the famine-genocide campaign.

An important figure in this cold war propaganda campaign was Robert Conquest. Conquest was formerly employed by the British Secret Service’s disinformation project, the Information Research Department. Robert Conquest published one of the most popular books on the famine-genocide, “Harvest of Sorrow.” The book uses the same discredited sources of Ukrainian nationalists, the Hearst press, and Nazi Germany. 13 references are made to a fictional novel written by Vasily Grossman. Conquest relies heavily on hearsay, rumour and anecdotes. Conquest is quoted as saying:

on political matters basically the best, though not infallible source is rumour [1]

Historians like J. Arch Getty criticised Conquest and his book, and observed that for no other period or subject, except the study of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, have “historians been so eager to write and accept history-by-anecdote.” Conquest later backed off his initial claim that the famine was deliberate, explaining in 2003 that he does not hold the view that Stalin purposely inflicted the 1933 famine.

The holodomor would still be pushed as propaganda against the Soviet Union and many books etc. would be published with the same falsifications. It would be used as a weapon against not only the Soviet Union and communism but also against Russia because of the west’s desire to expand its influence over Ukraine.

It is quite simple to see that the famine that occurred was not deliberate or manufactured by Soviet leaders. The famine went completely against the interests of the Soviet Union, just as the Ukrainian nationalist said, it was a hard blow against the country. A famine would put the power of the countries leaders at risk, greatly damage the progress of industrialisation, create a propaganda story in foreign countries attacking the leaders and their policies, and weaken the country while under threat of foreign invasion. All of those things occured while the country was trying to industrialize, at the same time the country had new threats from the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. The famine clearly was not directed against Ukraine because many other areas also suffered famine and aid was given to Ukraine. The evidence shows that it was primarily environmental factors including draughts, plant disease, and pests, which caused crop failures and a bad harvest. The country was able to overcome famine with a much better harvest in 1933. The long cycle of famines were made a thing of the past following industrialisation and collectivization.


  1. Fraud, Famine and Fascism by Douglas Tottle
  2. Stalin, Soviet Agriculture and Collectivization by Mark Tauger
  3. Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-33 by Mark Tauger
  4. The 1932 Harvest and the Famine of 1933 by Mark Tauger
  5. Grain Crisis or Famine by Mark Tauger
  6. Famine in Russian History by Mark Tauger
  7. Soviet Peasants and Collectivization, 1930–39 by Mark Tauger
  8. Another View of Stalin by Ludo Martens
  9. Blood Lies by Grover Furr
  10. Who Organised the Famine in the USSR in 1932-1933? by Nikolay Starikov
  11. «Настоящий герой Украины»: как история жизни Сидора Ковпака помогает развеять мифы националистов by Aleksandr Kolpakidi [translation]
  12. The Tasks of Business Executives (Speech Delivered at the First All-Union Conference of Managers of Socialist Industry, February 4,1931) by Joseph Stalin
  13. Review of Anne Applebaum’s “Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine” by Mark Tauger

7 thoughts on “The Holodomor Story

  1. Pingback: Il est où, ce QI tant vanté des blancs? | Réseau International

  2. Pingback: Il est où, ce QI tant vanté des blancs? – les 7 du quebec

  3. Pingback: The Holodomor Story – courtesy of Kópamaros – jaysaysthings

  4. Oh good. Lenin et al. where loving, caring communist leaders with only the best interests for their country and people… because, its the environments fault. Pfew.


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