Holodomor genocide question

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While some governments and scholars have denied that a famine even occurred (or have minimized the number of mortalities), this article refers to the debate over whether the man-made famine was intended to cause massive death from starvation, and if so, whether the intent of its creators amounted to genocide.

The Holodomor genocide question consists of the attempts to determine whether the Holodomor, the disastrous man-made[1] famine in 1933 that claimed millions of lives in Ukraine, which is recognized as a crime against humanity by the European Parliament,[2] was an ethnic genocide, an unintended result of the "Soviet regime's [re-direction of already drought-reduced[3] grain supplies to attain] economic and political goals',"[4] or democide.[5][6]

Currently, there is no international consensus among scholars or politicians on whether the Soviet policies that caused the famine fall under the legal definition of genocide.[7][8] As of April 2008, the parliament of Ukraine and the governments of 19 countries have recognized the Holodomor as an act of genocide.[9]

Holodomor[edit]

The Ukrainian famine (1932–1933), or Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомор) (literally in Ukrainian, "death by hunger"), was one of the largest national catastrophes in the modern history of the Ukrainian nation.

The word comes from the Ukrainian words holod, ‘hunger’, and mor, ‘plague’,[10] possibly from the expression moryty holodom, ‘to inflict death by hunger’. The Ukrainian verb "moryty" (морити) means "to poison somebody, drive to exhaustion or to torment somebody". The perfect form of the verb "moryty" is "zamoryty"—"kill or drive to death by hunger, exhausting work". The neologism "Holodomor" is given in the modern, two-volume dictionary of the Ukrainian language as "artificial hunger, organised in vast scale by the criminal regime against the country's population".[11] Sometimes the expression is translated into English as "murder by hunger."[12]

The reasons of the famine are the subject of intense scholarly and political debate. Some historians[who?] claim the famine was purposely engineered by the Soviet authorities to attack Ukrainian nationalism, while others view it as an unintended consequence of the economic problems associated with radical economic changes implemented during Soviet industrialization.[13]

Raphael Lemkin in his work "Soviet Genocide in the Ukraine", the last chapter of a monumental History of Genocide, written in the 1950s, applies the concept of genocide to the destruction of the Ukrainian nation and not just Ukrainian peasants during the Holodomor. In his work he speaks of: a) the decimation of the Ukrainian national elites, b) destruction of the Orthodox Church, c) the starvation of the Ukrainian farming population, and d) its replacement with non-Ukrainian population from the RSFSR as integral components of the same genocidal process. The only dimension not included in Lemkin’s analysis was the destruction of the 8,000,000 ethnic Ukrainians living on the eve of the genocide in the Russian Republic (RSFSR).[14][15] Lemkin's individual capacity to make this judgement has been challenged by Weiss-Wendt, on the basis of Lemkin's transformation of his concept of genocide to meet the demands of Central and Eastern European emigre communities who, at that time, provided his funding support.[16] In turn Professor Steven Jacob has disputed the Weiss-Wendt interpretation in his 2008 paper, "Raphael Lemkin and the Holodomor: Was it Genocide?"[full citation needed]

Ukrainian government position[edit]

On November 28, 2006, the Parliament of Ukraine passed (by a majority of 233 out of 450 votes)[citation needed] a law classifying the Holodomor as genocide.[17] Another bill was sought by Yushchenko's administration to criminalize those disputing that the Holodomor was genocide, but such a law has never been adopted by the Ukrainian parliament. The law would make denying that the Holodomor was "an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people" equal to denying the Holocaust an act of genocide against the Jews. The maximum punishment proposed would be 100–300 "gross salaries", and a prison sentence of up to two years.[18]

On April 26, 2010, newly elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe members that Holodomor was a common tragedy that struck Ukrainians and other Soviet peoples, and that it would be wrong to recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide against one nation. He stated that "The Holodomor was in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It was the result of Stalin's totalitarian regime. But it would be wrong and unfair to recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide against one nation."[19] In response to Yanukovych's statements, the Our Ukraine Party alleged that Yanukovych directly violated Ukrainian law which defines the Holodomor as genocide against the Ukrainian people and makes public denial of the Holodomor unlawful. Our Ukraine Party also asserted that Yanukovych "ignored a ruling of January 13, 2010 by Kyiv's Court of Appeal, which recognized the leaders of the totalitarian Bolshevik regime as those guilty of 'genocide against the Ukrainian national group in 1932-33 through the artificial creation of living conditions intended for its partial physical destruction.'"[20]

Russian government position[edit]

The Russian Federation accepts historic information about the Holodomor but rejects the argument that it was ethnic genocide by pointing out the fact that millions of non-Ukrainian Soviet citizens also died because of the famine. On 2 April 2008, a statement was voted by the Russian parliament stating there was no evidence that the 1933 famine was an act of genocide specifically against the Ukrainian people. This was in response to the 2006 Ukrainian parliament declaration that the Holodomor was an act of genocide by the Soviet authorities against the Ukrainian people. The resolution adopted by Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, condemned the Soviet regime's "disregard for the lives of people in the attainment of economic and political goals", along with "any attempts to revive totalitarian regimes that disregard the rights and lives of citizens in former Soviet states." yet stated that "there is no historic evidence that the famine was organized on ethnic grounds."[4]

According to a Moscow Times article: "The Kremlin argues that genocide is the killing of a population based on their ethnicity, whereas Stalin's regime annihilated all kinds of people indiscriminately, regardless of their ethnicity. But if the Kremlin really believed in this argument, it would officially acknowledge that Stalin's actions constituted mass genocide against all the people of the Soviet Union."[21]

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature and Soviet-Russian historian, opined in Izvestia that Holodomor was no different from the Russian famine of 1921 as both were caused by the ruthless robbery of peasants by Bolshevik grain procurements. According to him the lie of the Holodomor being genocide was invented decades later after the event and the Ukrainian effort to have the famine recognised as genocide is an act of historical revisionism that has now surpassed the level of Bolshevik agitprop. The writer cautions that the genocidal claim has its chances to be accepted by the West due to the general Western ignorance of Russian and Ukrainian history.[22]

In November 2010 a leaked confidential U.S. diplomatic cable revealed that Russia had allegedly pressured its neighbors not to support the designation of Holodomor as a genocide at the United Nations.[23]

Other countries and international organizations[edit]

Countries which officially recognise the Holodomor as an act of genocide

Several countries and international organizations made public statements addressing the Holodomor and recognizing it as a tragedy. Some went further to recognize it as genocide, or a crime against humanity.

In the framework of international organizations, resolution recognizing Holodomor as genocide was adopted by the Baltic Assembly.[24][25]

A number of international organizations adopted resolutions recognizing Holodomor as tragedy or crime against humanity but did not use the word "genocide":[not in citation given]

The following Parliaments, Heads of Government and Heads of State recognize the Holodomor as a genocide:[not in citation given]

Scholarly debate[edit]

Yaroslav Bilinsky[edit]

Yaroslav Bilinsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware, writes in the Journal of Genocide Research (1999) in a review of Holodomor literature—he concludes:

Political usage should not override scholarly logic, especially political usage which is just being established in independent Ukraine, arguably seven years late. My argument, however, is that both logic and political usage in Ukraine point in one direction, that of the terror-famine being genocidal. Stalin hated the Ukrainians, as accepted as a fact by Sakharov, revealed in the telegram to Zatonsky and inferred from his polemics with the Yugoslav communist Semich. Stalin decided to collectivize Soviet agriculture and under the cover of collectivization teach the Ukrainians a bloody lesson. Had it not been for Stalinist hubris and the incorporation of the more nationalistically minded and less physically decimated Western Ukrainians after 1939, the Ukrainian nation might have never recovered from the Stalinist offensive against the main army of the Ukrainian national movement, the peasants.[59]

James Mace[edit]

James E. Mace, a Ukrainian historian of American-Irish origin, wrote:

For the Ukrainians the famine must be understood as the most terrible part of a consistent policy carried out against them: the destruction of their cultural and spiritual elite which began with the trial of the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine, the destruction of the official Ukrainian wing of the Communist Party, and the destruction of their social basis in the countryside. Against them the famine seems to have been designed as part of a campaign to destroy them as a political factor and as a social organism.[60]

Stanislav Kulchytsky[edit]

Ukrainian historian Stanislav Kulchytsky has contended that:

[T]he way Stalin dealt with the Ukrainian countryside lifted the events out of the category of merely a famine and into the realm of genocide. In the fall of 1932, on orders from Moscow, government troops came to villages requisitioning grain to meet Stalin’s unrealistic quotas. At gunpoint they took away grain, even when peasants did not have enough for themselves. Those peasants who had no grain were deprived of other food stocks. Those who resisted were shot. Then a Jan. 22nd, 1933 directive from Stalin and Molotov sealed off Ukrainian borders to prevent famished peasants from escaping.[61]

Norman Naimark[edit]

Norman Naimark, Professor of East European Studies at Stanford University, asserts that "the Ukrainian killer famine should be considered an act of genocide."[citation needed] He explains:

There is enough evidence - if not overwhelming evidence - to indicate that Stalin and his lieutenants knew that the widespread famine in the USSR in 1932-33 hit Ukraine particularly hard, and that they were ready to see millions of Ukrainian peasants die as a result. They made no efforts to provide relief; they prevented the peasants from seeking food themselves in the cities or elsewhere in the USSR; and they refused to relax restrictions on grain deliveries until it was too late. Stalin's hostility to the Ukrainians and their attempts to maintain their form of "home rule" as well as his anger that Ukrainian peasants resisted collectivization fueled the killer famine.[62]

Mark Tauger and opponents[edit]

According to West Virginia University professor Dr Mark Tauger, to assert that the famine was a political measure intentionally imposed through excessive procurements is to take an uncritical approach to the official sources.[63] Tauger writes that he is skeptical of Conquest's claims about the famine and of the accuracy of Conquest's book on the subject.[64] He has argued that the 1932 harvest was smaller than the official estimate, and smaller than the harvest of 1933, which would suggest the famine was not "man-made."

Tauger's evidence, methodologies and conclusions in regard to the famine were criticized by Robert Davies and Stephen Wheatcroft in their book The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture, 1931–33, published in 2004.[65] Wheatcroft additionally claims Tauger's view represents the opposite extreme in arguing the famine was totally accidental.[66] Tauger, however, maintains that his harvest estimates are supported by evidence, and his conclusions are shared by a number of other scholars.[65] In reply, Wheatcroft continues to maintain Tauger's use of the evidence is oversimplified, that his methodology is faulty, and that his conclusions overall are wrong.[67] Tauger replied in kind, defending his work against Wheatcroft's criticisms.[68]

Historian James Mace wrote that Mark Tauger's argument "is not taken seriously by either Russians or Ukrainians who have studied the topic."[69] However, Robert Conquest himself admitted that "Mark B. Tauger has produced some interesting material on the 1932 which will doubtless contribute to debate among economists.".[70] John-Paul Himka, professor at University of Alberta, wrote that "Tauger’s substantive argument, that the famine was in part generated by a change in the way Soviet authorities estimated harvest size, has not been confronted by diaspora scholars or publicists."[71] But Dr. David Marples, professor of history at the University of Alberta, is critical of Tauger's claims, stating "Dr. Tauger and other scholars fail to distinguish between shortages, droughts and outright famine. There is no such thing as a "natural" famine, no matter the size of the harvest. A famine requires some form of state or human input."[72]

Steven Rosefielde[edit]

Professor Steven Rosefielde argues in his 2009 book Red Holocaust that "Grain supplies were sufficient enough to sustain everyone if properly distributed. People died mostly from terror-starvation (excess grain exports, seizure of edibles from the starving, state refusal to provide emergency relief, bans on outmigration, and forced deportation to food-deficit locales), not poor harvests and routine administrative bungling."[73]

Timothy Snyder[edit]

Yale Historian Timothy Snyder asserts that the starvation was "deliberate"[74] as several of the most lethal policies applied only, or mostly, to Ukraine.[75] He argues the Soviets themselves "made sure that the term genocide, contrary to Lemkin's intentions, excluded political and economic groups." Thus the Ukrainian famine can be presented as "somehow less genocidal because it targeted a class, kulaks, as well as a nation, Ukraine."[76]

Michael Ellman[edit]

Professor Michael Ellman of the University of Amsterdam concludes that "Team-Stalin’s behaviour in 1930–34 clearly constitutes a crime against humanity (or a series of crimes against humanity) as that is defined in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (...)".[77] These include not only policies that exacerbated the starvation (exporting 1.8 million tonnes of grain during the height of the famine, banning migration from famine-stricken areas and refusing to secure humanitarian aid from abroad), but also mass shootings and deportations of alleged "kulaks," "counter-revolutionaries" and other "Anti-Soviet elements" around the same time.[78]

However, as to whether "Team-Stalin [was, further,] guilty of genocide", [79] Ellman asserts that if so, "Many other events of the 1917–53 era (e.g. the deportation of whole nationalities, and the ‘national operations’ of 1937–38) would also qualify as genocide, as would the acts of [many Western countries].”[80]

Citing three physical elements susceptible also of "non-genocidal interpretations" and two mental elements lacking proof of specific intent that he contends are, taken together, "not unambiguous evidence of genocide", Ellman concludes as to genocide, that were he a juror, he would support a not guilty or "not proven" verdict.[81]

Ellman asserts that the "national operations" of the NKVD, particularly the "Polish operation", which occurred during the late 1930s during the great purges may qualify as genocide even under the strictest definition, but there has been no ruling on the matter.[79]

Nicolas Werth[edit]

Nicolas Werth, historian an co-author of The Black Book of Communism accepted a line of interpretation developed by Andrea Graziosi, and now believes that the Ukrainian famine of 1932–33 can be defined as a genocide according to the 1948 United Nations Convention:

This specifically anti-Ukrainian assault makes it possible to define the totality of intentional political actions taken from late summer 1932 by the Stalinist regime against the Ukrainian peasantry as genocide. With hunger as its deadly arm, the regime sought to punish and terrorize the peasants, resulting in fatalities exceeding four million people in Ukraine and the northern Caucasus.[82]

Other modern academics[edit]

A number of modern academics lean toward the definition of the Holodomor as a genocide, echoing Dr Raphael Lemkin's views. Their work is presented in the collection of essays, "Holodomor: Reflections on the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine," printed in 2008.[83]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert J. Sternberg, Karin Sternberg, The Nature of Hate Cambridge University Press (2008), ISBN 0521721792, p. 67. [1]
  2. ^ "MEPs recognize Ukraine's famine as crime against humanity". Russian News & Information Agency. 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  3. ^ Robert William Davies, Stephen G. Wheatcroft, Challenging Traditional Views of Russian History Palgrave Macmillan (2002) ISBN 978-0-333-75461-0, chapter The Soviet Famine of 1932–33 and the Crisis in Agriculture p. 69 et seq. [2]
  4. ^ a b "Russian lawmakers reject Ukraine's view on Stalin-era famine". Russian News & Information Agency. 2008-04-02. 
  5. ^ Sobran, Joseph (1997-05-20). "The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)". ArtUkraine.com. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  6. ^ Латвія визнала Голодомор ґеноцидом (in Ukrainian). bbc.co.uk. 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  7. ^ Dr. David Marples, The great famine debate goes on..., ExpressNews (University of Alberta), originally published in Edmonton Journal, November 30, 2005
  8. ^ Kuchytsky, Stanislav (2007-02-17). "Holodomor of 1932–1933 as genocide: the gaps in the proof". Den (in Russian). Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  9. ^ (Ukrainian) Sources differ on interpreting various statements from different branches of different governments as to whether they amount to the official recognition of the Famine as Genocide by the country. For example, after the statement issued by the Latvian Sejm on March 13, 2008, the total number of countries is given as 20 (according to Ukrainian BBC: ="Латвія визнала Голодомор ґеноцидом") or 16 (according to Korrespondent: "После продолжительных дебатов Сейм Латвии признал Голодомор геноцидом украинцев"
  10. ^ Ukrainian holod (голод, ‘hunger’, compare Russian golod) should not be confused with kholod (холод, ‘cold’). For details, see romanization of Ukrainian. Mor means ‘plague’ in the sense of a disastrous evil or affliction, or a sudden unwelcome outbreak. See wikt:plague.
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  21. ^ Bovt, Georgy (2008-04-24). "Equating Holodomor With Genocide". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
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  64. ^ "We have likewise shown that Mr. Conquest's book on the famine is replete with errors and inconsistencies and does not deserve to be considered a classic, but rather another expression of the Cold War." Mark Tauger, H-Net Discussion Logs - Re: Ukrainian Famine (2) (16 Apr 2002). Retrieved 08-12-2013.
  65. ^ a b Tauger, Mark B. Arguing from errors: On certain issues in Robert Davies' and Stephen Wheatcroft's analysis of the 1932 Soviet grain harvest and the Great Soviet famine of 1931-1933, Europe-Asia Studies, 2006, 58:6, p. 973
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  74. ^ Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. Basic Books, 2010. ISBN 0-465-00239-0 p. vii
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  77. ^ "Team-Stalin’s behaviour in 1930 – 34 clearly constitutes a crime against humanity (or a series of crimes against humanity) as that is defined in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court article 7, subsection 1 (d) and (h) and, if the argument of the previous section of this article on national criminal law is accepted, then also subsection 1 (a) of the Statute would apply." Michael Ellman, “Stalin and the Soviet Famine of 1932-33 Revisited,” Europe-Asia Studies, Routledge, Vol. 59, No. 4 (June 2007), p. 681. Retrieved 08-12-2013.
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  81. ^ "If the present author were a member of the jury trying this case he would support a verdict of not guilty (or possibly the Scottish verdict of not proven). The reasons for this are as follows. First, the three physical elements in the alleged crime can all be given non-genocidal interpretations. Secondly, the two mental elements are not unambiguous evidence of genocide. Suspicion of an ethnic group may lead to genocide, but by itself is not evidence of genocide. Hence it would seem that the necessary proof of specific intent is lacking".Michael Ellman, Stalin and the Soviet Famine of 1932-33 Revisited Europe-Asia Studies, Routledge, Vol. 59, No. 4 (June 2007), p. 686. Retrieved 09-12-2013.
  82. ^ Nicolas Werth, Case Study: The Great Ukrainian Famine of 1932–1933 Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, [online]. Published on 18 April 2008. Accessed 17 May 2014
  83. ^ Lubomyr Y. Luciuk and Lisa Grekul, ed. (2008). Holodomor: Reflections on the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine,. Kashtan Press.  ISBN 9781896354330

External links[edit]