Holodomor genocide question
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The Holodomor genocide question refers to attempts to determine whether the Holodomor was an ethnic genocide against Ukrainians. In 1932–33, famine killed 3.3-3.9 million people in Ukraine,:xiv included in a total of 5.5-6.5 million killed by the broader Soviet famine.:401 At least 3.3 million ethnic Ukrainians were among the victims.
Scholars continue to debate "whether the man-made Soviet famine was a central act in a campaign of genocide, or whether it was designed to simply cow Ukrainian peasants into submission, drive them into the collectives and ensure a steady supply of grain for Soviet industrialization." According to Simon Payaslian The Holodomor has consensus that it is a genocide, although some claim it to be a significant issue in modern politics and dispute whether Soviet policies would fall under the legal definition of genocide. Since 2006, the governments of various countries have additionally issued statements recognizing Holodomor as genocide including Ukraine and 15 other countries including Australia, Canada, Mexico and others.
Genocide definition supporters
Simon Payaslian article on Oxford Bibliographies
According to Simon Payaslian in an overview on the website Oxford Bibliographies, "a consensus has formed among scholars that genocides in the 20th century encompassed (although were not limited to) the following cases: Herero in 1904–1907, the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915–1923, the Holodomor in the former Soviet Ukraine in 1932–1933, the Jewish Holocaust in 1938–1945, Bangladesh in 1971, Cambodia in 1975–1979, East Timor in 1975–1999, Bosnia in 1991–1995, and Rwanda in 1994."
Professor of law and coiner of the term "genocide" Raphael Lemkin states that the famine was man-made and the Holodomor was a genocide. In his 1953 article "Soviet Genocide in Ukraine", which he presented as a speech in New York City, he states that the Holodomor was the "third prong" of Soviet "Russification" of Ukraine.
What I want to speak about is perhaps the classic example of Soviet genocide, its longest and broadest experiment in Russification — the destruction of the Ukrainian nation. [....] The third prong of the Soviet plan was aimed at the farmers, the large mass of independent peasants who are the repository of the tradition, folklore and music, the national language and literature, the national spirit, of Ukraine. [....] As a Soviet politician Kosior declared in Izvestiia on 2 December 1933, ‘Ukrainian nationalism is our chief danger’, and it was to eliminate that nationalism, to establish the horrifying uniformity of the Soviet state that the Ukrainian peasantry was sacrificed. [....] The crop that year was ample to feed the people and livestock of Ukraine, though it had fallen off somewhat from the previous year, a decrease probably due in large measure to the struggle over collectivization. But a famine was necessary for the Soviet and so they got one to order, by plan, through an unusually high grain allotment to the state as taxes.
Roman Serbyn related Lemkin's view to Article 2 of the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and summarized his view:
As integral components of the same genocidal process, Lemkin speaks of it as having four prongs:
- the decimation of the Ukrainian national elites,
- the destruction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,
- the starvation of the Ukrainian farming population, and
- its replacement with non-Ukrainians from the RSFSR and elsewhere.
The only dimension missing in Lemkin’s excellent analysis is the destruction of the ethnic Ukrainians living in the Russian Republic (RSFSR), of which there were eight million on the eve of the genocide.
Timothy Snyder noted that, before UN adoption of the international convention, the Soviets "made sure that the term genocide, contrary to Lemkin's intentions, excluded political and economic groups." Thus the Ukrainian famine could be presented as "somehow less genocidal because it targeted a class, kulaks, as well as a nation, Ukraine.":413 According to Olga Andriewsky, the 2009 "rediscovery" of Lemkin's unpublished essay and its framing of the Holodomor as merely one episode, along with the emergence of the field of genocide studies, has helped historians re-conceptualize its genocidal nature in a larger history of colonial violence and coercion, quoting Douglas Irvin-Erickson.
. . . all of these were part of a larger pattern. "The genocide was not that Stalin’s regime killed so many people," as one Lemkin scholar explained, "but that these individuals were killed with the purpose of destroying the Ukrainian way of life."
In 1986, Conquest published The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine, dealing with the collectivization of agriculture in Ukraine and elsewhere in the USSR, under Stalin's direction in 1929–31, and the resulting famine, in which millions of peasants died due to starvation, deportation to labor camps, and execution. In this book, Conquest supported the view that the famine was a planned act of genocide. According to historians Stephen Wheatcroft and R. W. Davies, "Conquest holds that Stalin wanted the famine... and that the Ukrainian famine was deliberately inflicted for its own sake." However, Conquest clarified to them in a letter in 2003 that "Stalin purposely inflicted the 1933 famine? No. What I argue is that with resulting famine imminent, he could have prevented it, but put "Soviet interest" other than feeding the starving first thus consciously abetting it."
Professor of political science James Mace helped Robert Conquest complete Harvest of Sorrow, and after that he was the only US historian working on the Ukrainian famine, and the first to categorically name it as a genocide, while Soviet archives remained closed and without direct evidence of the authorities' intent. In his 1986 article "The man-made famine of 1933 in Soviet Ukraine", Mace writes::12
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.
Mace was appointed staff director for the U.S. Commission on the Ukraine Famine. The commission used published Soviet sources (but had no access to archives), survivor accounts, and reports by Western journalists and diplomats to compile a 1988 Report to Congress, that has held up remarkably well even after an immense amount of information from Ukraine has come to light. For example, Mace had concluded based on anecdotal evidence that the Soviets had purposely prevented Ukrainians from leaving famine-struck regions—this was later confirmed by the discovery of Stalin's January 1933 secret decree "Preventing the Mass Exodus of Peasants who are Starving," restricting travel by peasants after "in the Kuban and Ukraine a massive outflow of peasants 'for bread' has begun", that "like the outflow from Ukraine last year, was organized by the enemies of Soviet power". Roman Serbyn called this document one of the "smoking gun revelations about the genocide" One of the nineteen main conclusions of the Report to Congress was that "Joseph Stalin and those around him committed genocide against Ukrainians in 1932–1933".
Stanislav Kulchytsky and Hennadiy Yefimenko state that all-cause mortality among different ethnic groups in Ukraine closely reflects the ethnic distribution of the rural population of Ukraine. Therefore, people of Ukrainian, Moldavian, and Bulgarian ethnicity were disproportionately affected by the famine mostly because of their rural status.:64 They provided the following table on all-cause mortality by ethnicity and the 1926 population of the Ukrainian SSR in the 1926 Census:
|Mortality Proportion /|
There was a famine (widespread health-impairing food shortage) 1932–33 caused by two bad harvests in 1931 and 1932 attributable partly to collectivization and partly to weather (although Kondrashin and Penner contest the explanation), but it didn’t cause the killings. Grain supplies were sufficient to sustain everyone if properly distributed. People died mostly of 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.
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.
Professor of history Timothy Snyder stated that the starvation was "deliberate":vii and that several of the most lethal policies applied only, or mostly, to Ukraine. In his 2010 book, Bloodlands, Snyder stated::42–46
In the waning weeks of 1932, facing no external security threat and no challenge from within, with no conceivable justification except to prove the inevitability of his rule, Stalin chose to kill millions of people in Soviet Ukraine. [....] It was not food shortages but food distribution that killed millions in Soviet Ukraine, and it was Stalin who decided who was entitled to what.
If you asked me, is the Ukrainian Holodomor genocide? Yes, in my view, it is. In my view, it meets the criteria of the law of genocide of 1948, the Convention – it meets the ideas that Raphael Lemkin laid down. Is Armenia genocide? Yes, I believe legally it very easily meets that qualification. I just don't think that means what people think it means. Because there are people who hear the word "genocide" and they think it means the attempt to kill every man woman and child, and the Armenian genocide is closer to the Holocaust than most other cases, right, but it's not the same thing. So, I hesitate to use "genocide" because I think every time the word "genocide" is used it provokes misunderstanding.
Stated no clear opinion on the term usage
Professor of history Mark Tauger stated that the 1932 harvest was 30–40% smaller than official statistics and that the famine was "the result of a failure of economic policy, of the 'revolution from above'", not "a 'successful' nationality policy against Ukrainians or other ethnic groups". In his 1991 article "The 1932 Harvest and the Famine of 1933", Tauger wrote:
Western and even Soviet publications have described the 1933 famine in the Soviet Union as "man-made" or "artificial." [....] Proponents of this interpretation argue, using official Soviet statistics, that the 1932 grain harvest, especially in Ukraine, was not abnormally low and would have fed the population. [....] New Soviet archival data show that the 1932 harvest was much smaller than has been assumed and call for revision of the genocide interpretation. The low 1932 harvest worsened severe food shortages already widespread in the Soviet Union at least since 1931 and, despite sharply reduced grain exports, made famine likely if not inevitable in 1933. [....] Thus for Ukraine, the official sown area (18.1 million hectares) reduced by the share of sown area actually harvested (93.8 percent) to a harvested area of 17 million hectares and multiplied by the average yield (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. [....].
He stated that "the harsh 1932–1933 procurements only displaced the famine from urban areas" but the low harvest "made a famine inevitable". Therefore he concluded that it is difficult to accept the famine "as the result of the 1932 grain procurements and as a conscious act of genocide". He did say that "the regime was still responsible for the deprivation and suffering of the Soviet population in the early 1930s", and "if anything, these data show that the effects of [collectivization and forced industrialization] were worse than has been assumed".
Davies and Wheatcroft criticized Tauger's methodology in the 2004 edition of The Years of Hunger. Tauger criticized Davies and Wheatcroft's methodology in a 2006 article. In the 2009 edition of their book, Davies and Wheatcroft apologized for "an error in our calculations of the 1932 [grain] yield" but still concluded grain yield was "between 55 and 60 million tons, a low harvest, but substantially higher than Tauger's 50 million.":xix-xxi
David R. Marples in 2002 criticized Tauger's choice of rejecting state figures in favour of those from collective farms, where there was an incentive to underestimate yields, and he argued that Tauger's conclusion is incorrect because in his view "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": people died in the millions in Ukraine, but not in Russia, because "the 'massive program of rationing and relief' was selective."
Professor of economics Michael Ellman states that Stalin clearly committed crimes against humanity but whether he committed genocide depends on the definition of the term. In his 2007 article "Stalin and the Soviet Famine of 1932-33 Revisited", he writes::681–682, 686
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)[.] [....] Was Team-Stalin also guilty of genocide? That depends on how ‘genocide’ is defined. [....] The first physical element is the export of grain during a famine. [....] The second physical element was the ban on migration from Ukraine and the North Caucasus. [....] The third physical element is that ‘Stalin made no effort to secure grain assistance from abroad’[.] [....] 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.
Ellman asserts that if Stalin were guilty of genocide in the Holodomor, then "[m]any 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].":690–691
According to Stephen Kotkin, while "there is no question of Stalin’s responsibility for the famine" and many deaths could have been prevented if not for the "insufficient" and counterproductive Soviet measures - there is no evidence for Stalin's intention to kill the Ukrainians deliberately. The Holodomor "was a foreseeable byproduct of the collectivization campaign that Stalin forcibly imposed, but not an intentional murder. He needed the peasants to produce more grain, and to export the grain to buy the industrial machinery for the industrialization. Peasant output and peasant production was critical for Stalin’s industrialization."
Robert Davies and Stephen Wheatcroft
Professors R. W. Davies and Stephen G. Wheatcroft conclude the famine was man-made but unintentional. They believe that a combination of rapid industrialization and two successive bad harvests (1931 and 1932) were the primary reason of the famine. However, Davies and Wheatcroft agree that Stalin's policies towards the peasants were brutal and ruthless and do not absolve Stalin from responsibility for the massive famine deaths. In his 2018 article, "The Turn Away from Economic Explanations for Soviet Famines", Wheatcroft writes:
We all agreed that Stalin’s policy was brutal and ruthless and that its cover up was criminal, but we do not believe that it was done on purpose to kill people and cannot therefore be described as murder or genocide. [....] Davies and I have (2004) produced the most detailed account of the grain crisis in these years, showing the uncertainties in the data and the mistakes carried out by a generally ill-informed, and excessively ambitious, government. The state showed no signs of a conscious attempt to kill lots of Ukrainians and belated attempts that sought to provide relief when it eventually saw the tragedy unfolding were evident. [....] But in the following ten years there has been a revival of the ‘man-made on purpose’ side. This reflects both a reduced interest in understanding the economic history, and increased attempts by the Ukrainian government to classify the ‘famine as a genocide’. It is time to return to paying more attention to economic explanations.
According to them [Davies and Wheatcroft], only taking an action whose sole objective is to cause deaths among the peasantry counts as intent. Taking an action with some other goal (e.g. exporting grain to import machinery) but which the actor certainly knows will also cause peasants to starve does not count as intentionally starving the peasants. However, this is an interpretation of 'intent' which flies in the face of the general legal interpretation.
Ronald Grigor Suny
Ronald Grigor Suny contrasts the intentions and motivation for the Holodomor and other mass killings with those of intentional genocide, and specifically the Armenian Genocide. He explains that "although on moral grounds one form of mass killing is as reprehensible as another", for social scientists and historians "there is utility in restricting the term 'genocide' to what might more accurately be referred to as 'ethnocide,' that is, the deliberate attempt to eliminate a designated group"; "In my definition, genocide involves both the physical and the cultural extermination of a people".
He states that "Stalin’s intentions and actions during the Ukrainian famine, no matter what sensationalist claims are made by nationalists and anti-Communists, were not the extermination of the Ukrainian people" and therefore "a different set of explanations is required" for the Holodomor as well as for the Great Purges, the Gulag, and Soviet ethnic cleansings of minority national groups.
- Law of Spikelets
- Mass killings under communist regimes
- Assessment of the Kazakh famine of 1932–33
- Functionalism–intentionalism debate
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- Native American disease and epidemics
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- David R. Marples. Heroes and Villains: Creating National History in Contemporary Ukraine. p.50
- Наливайченко назвал количество жертв голодомора в Украине [Nalyvaichenko called the number of victims of Holodomor in Ukraine] (in Russian). LB.ua. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- Davies, Robert; Wheatcroft, Stephen (2016). The years of hunger: Soviet agriculture, 1931–1933. Springer. ISBN 9780230273979.
- "Resolution of the Kyiv Court of Appeal, 13 January 2010". Retrieved 2 February 2019.
The Conclusions of the forensic court demographic expertise of the Institute of Demography and Social Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, dated November 30, 2009, state that 3 million 941 thousand people died as a result of the genocide perpetrated in Ukraine. Of these, 205 thousand died in the period from February to December 1932; in 1933 - 3,598 thousand people died and in the first half of 1934 this number reached 138 thousand people;v. 330, p.p. 12-60
- Yaroslav Bilinsky (June 1999). "Was the Ukrainian famine of 1932–1933 genocide?". Journal of Genocide Research. 1 (2): 147–156. doi:10.1080/14623529908413948. ISSN 1462-3528. Wikidata Q54006926. Archived from the original on 2019-10-22.
- Payaslian, Simon. "20th Century Genocides". Oxford bibliographies.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- David Marples (30 November 2005). "The great famine debate goes on..." ExpressNews (University of Alberta), originally published in the Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on 15 June 2008.
- Kulchytsky, Stanislav (2007-02-17). "Holodomor 1932–1933 rr. yak henotsyd: prohalyny u dokazovii bazi" Голодомор 1932 — 1933 рр. як геноцид: прогалини у доказовій базі [Holodomor 1932-1933 as genocide: gaps in the evidence]. Den (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2021-01-19.
- ЗАКОН УКРАЇНИ: Про Голодомор 1932–1933 років в Україні [LAW OF UKRAINE: About the Holodomor of 1932–1933 in Ukraine]. rada.gov.ua (in Ukrainian). 28 November 2006. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
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- Lemkin, Raphael (2008) . "Soviet Genocide in the Ukraine" (PDF). In Luciuk, Lubomyr; Grekul, Lisa (eds.). Holodomor: Reflections on the Great Famine of 1932–1933 in Soviet Ukraine. Kingston ON: Kashtan Press. ISBN 978-1896354330.
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TsK VKP/b/ and Sovnarkom have received information that in the Kuban and Ukraine a massive outflow of peasants "for bread" has begun into Belorussia and the Central-Black Earth, Volga, Western, and Moscow regions. / TsK VKP/b/ and Sovnarkom do not doubt that the outflow of peasants, like the outflow from Ukraine last year, was organized by the enemies of Soviet power, the SRs and the agents of Poland, with the goal of agitation "through the peasantry" . . . TsK VKP/b/ and Sovnarkom order the OGPU of Belorussia and the Central-Black Earth, Middle Volga, Western and Moscow regions to immediately arrest all "peasants" of Ukraine and the North Caucasus who have broken through into the north and, after separating out the counterrevolutionariy elements, to return the rest to their place of residence. . . . Molotov, Stalin
- Serbyn, Roman (2007-11-19). "Is there a "smoking gun" for the Holodomor?". Unian. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
- U.S. Commission on the Ukraine Famine; James Mace. Investigation of the Ukrainian Famine 1932-1933: Report to Congress (1st ed.). Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-16-003290-3. Wikidata Q105077080.
- Kulchytsky, Stanislav; Yefimenko, Hennadiy (2003). Демографічні наслідки голодомору 1933 р. в Україні. Всесоюзний перепис 1937 р. в Україні: документи та матеріали [Demographic consequences of the 1933 Holodomor in Ukraine. The all-Union census of 1937 in Ukraine: Documents and Materials]. Kyiv: Institute of History. ISBN 978-966-02-3014-9. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 October 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
Статистичні таблиці, створювані на основі даних, що збиралися органами ЗАГС, непереконливі, коли йдеться про кількість жертв голоду. Проте вони дають відповідь на питання про національну приналежність померлих. Статистика смертності в національному розрізі за 1933 р. виглядає таким чином: Аналізуючи цю таблицю, слід пам'ятати, що в ній подається як природна смертність, так і смертність від толоду. Спрямований проти українського села терор голодом захопив усіх, хто проживав у ньому. У формах звітності за національною ознакою була зареєстрована більша кількість смертей, ніж у формах природного руху (1850,3 тис. чоловік). Частка українців серед загиблих приблизно відповідає їх питомій вазі у сільському населенні республіки. Молдавське, польське, німецьке і болгарське населення майже повністю проживало в селах. Тому воно постраждало від голоду в таких же пропорціях, як українці. Євреї мешкали більшою частиною у містах. Тому смертність серед них мало відрізнялася від нормальної. Переважна більшість росіян теж проживала в містах. Серед порівняно нечисленного населення в російських селах зареєстрована основна частина померлих. Треба прийняти до уваги, що облік смертності в містах майже не зазнав деформацій і тому був відносно повним. Навпаки, в селах органи ЗАГС спромоглися зареєструвати менше половини смертних випадків. Все це вказує на те, що терор голодом цілив своїм вістрям не в етнічних українців, а в сільське населення.
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