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Old 12-06-2018, 07:23 PM
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Default Book Review: "Red Famine," by Applebaum, on Ukrainian Holodomor--killed 5 million

Why Stalin Starved Ukraine

Anne Applebaum's new book tells of an atrocity and cover-up that shape today's politics.

Link: https://newrepublic.com/article/1459...tarved-ukraine

By David Patrikarakos
November 21, 2017

History is a battleground, perennially fought over, endlessly contested. Nowhere does this aphorism hold true more than in Russia. A majority of Russians recently voted Joseph Stalin the “most outstanding person” in world history (followed, naturally, by current President Vladimir Putin). No longer the monster of the gulags and purges that killed millions, Stalin now looms in the national consciousness as the giant who defeated the Nazis in World War II. Meanwhile, not only has Russia annexed Crimea and destabilized Ukraine’s eastern regions, its military adventurism has also extended to Syria. Putin, who once described the collapse of the USSR as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the twentieth century, looks determined to avenge the humiliations of Russia’s post-Soviet implosion. Integral to this endeavor is not just to flex the country’s geopolitical might in the present but to re-write its past.

RED FAMINE: STALIN’S WAR ON UKRAINE by Anne ApplebaumDoubleday, 496pp., $35.00

It is this point that makes the historiography of the USSR—a subject worthy of deep study in itself—so relevant today. Pulitzer-prize winning historian Anne Applebaum is one of the world’s pre-eminent chroniclers of the crimes of the Soviet Union. Her previous works, notably Gulag: A History, which detailed the horrors of the Soviet prison system, and Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944–1956, which analyzed the USSR’s imposition of communism in Eastern Europe, have played their part in bringing to light the full extent of Soviet oppression. Her new book Red Famine—a masterpiece of scholarship, a ground-breaking history, and a heart-wrenching story—turns to the horrors of Soviet policy in Ukraine, specifically Stalin’s mass starvation of Ukraine from 1932 to 1933. Such was the famine’s devastation that Ukrainian émigré publications coined a new word to describe its barbarity: “Holodomor,” a combination of the Ukrainian words for hunger (holod) and extermination (mor).

At least 5 million people died from starvation in the Soviet Union between 1931 and 1934—including 3.9 million Ukrainians. And, despite the contentions of certain historians of the Soviet Union, Applebaum argues that these deaths were no accident. As she notes at the beginning of the book, “The Soviet Union’s disastrous decision to force peasants to give up their land and join collective farms; the eviction of “kulaks,” the wealthier peasants, from their homes; the chaos that followed”—these policies were “all ultimately the responsibility of Joseph Stalin, the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.”

Moreover, they were—along with the persecution of intellectuals and officials who had even the flimsiest connection to Ukrainian nationalism—part of a systematic assault not just on Ukraine, but on the very idea of Ukraine.

Collectivization of the farmlands of Ukraine began in 1929. Stalin wanted the country, with its hugely fertile black soil, to be the breadbasket of the Soviet Union. He wanted to feed the important party officials and to export its grain abroad to fund his vast industrialization projects. It was an unmitigated disaster. Farmers were no longer paid for their produce but worked according to a ration system based on their productivity. In reality it made them beholden to the party, which, controlling their finances, was able to control all aspects of their lives. And they were no longer able to buy food.

From there it only got worse, peaking during 1932 and 33 when starvation struck Ukraine. Applebaum recounts in visceral and stomach-churning detail:

The starvation of a human body once it begins always follows the same course. In the first phase the body consumes its stores of glucose. Feelings of extreme hunger set in… In the second phase, which can last several weeks, the body begins to consume its own fats and the organism weakens drastically. In the third phase, the body devours its own proteins, cannibalising tissues and muscles. Eventually the skin becomes thin, the eyes distended, the legs and belly swollen as extreme imbalances lead the body to retain water. Small amounts of effort lead to exhaustion. Along the way, different kinds of diseases can hasten death: scurvy, kwashiorkor, marasmus, pneumonia, typhus, diphtheria, and a wide range of infections and skin diseases caused, directly or indirectly, by lack of food.

As with all Applebaum books, Red Famine places personal anecdote in the context of broader history, showing through an alternately widening and narrowing lens both the political context and personal tragedy of the Holodomor. The book benefits from large troves of previously unavailable sources, as Applebaum has taken advantage of the extensive Ukrainian archives that have opened up since the collapse of the USSR. Thus do we learn of the starving Tamara, with her “large, swollen stomach, and her neck…long and thin like a bird’s neck.” Another survivor remembers his mother as looking like “a glass jar, filled with clear spring water. All her body that could be seen…was see-through and filled with water like a plastic bag.” Yet another remembers his brother “alive but completely swollen, his body shining as if it were made of glass.” Such was the spectacle that words in themselves were no longer sufficient, only metaphor could convey the horror of what was happening.

People crawled into wheat fields to eat ears of wheat before dropping dead. They died from hunger in the act of eating. Children collapsed and died during lessons. A mother took the bread from her offspring to feed her husband (she could, she said, always have more kids, but she could only ever have one husband). A couple put their children in a deep hole and left them there, in order not to watch them die. A father strangled his own children rather than watch them perish from hunger. Communities that had once been kind and welcoming became mistrustful and violent; lynch mobs tortured people. And in the end, most horrifically of all, people began to eat each other.

And they pleaded to their government, above all to the man responsible for the suffering: Joseph Stalin. As one bereft Ukrainian wrote in a plangent letter:

Honourable Comrade Stalin, is there a Soviet government law stating that villagers should go hungry? Because we, collective farm workers, have not had a slice of bread in our farm since January 1… How can we build a socialist people’s economy when we are condemned to starving to death, as the harvest is still four months away? What did we die for on the battlefields? To go hungry, to see our children die in pangs of hunger?

But they were appealing to the wrong man, because it wasn’t just collectivization that was to blame. It was the combination of failed policy and brutality that caused the genocide of Ukrainians during those horrific two years. As Stalin’s collectivization bit, the peasants began, naturally, to resist, hiding food anywhere they could. This infuriated Stalin who saw these desperate measures as acts of rebellion and sabotage—from a perennially rebellious people no less—against the Communist ideal.

The result was inevitable. “Long before collectivization began, the phenomenon of the violent expropriator—a man who brandished a gun, spouted slogans and demanded food—was familiar in Soviet Ukraine,” Applebaum tells us. Ukrainians had been subject to the plunder of grain by soldiers in 1918 and 1919, and by the Bolsheviks in 1920. And it was only to get worse. Under the leadership of the Stalin’s close associate, the barbarous Lazar Kaganovich, teams of policemen and party officials smashed and stole their way through the Ukrainian countryside, entering houses and “confiscating” all available food, livestock and even pets.

They left nothing edible behind.

Non-Ukrainian Soviet citizens had been taught to distrust Ukrainians ever since the country had attempted to mould its own destiny in June 1917 by setting up a Ukrainian People’s Republic. This independent state, which resisted the armies of Vladimir Lenin during the Russian civil war, was to last only a few months. After several years of civil war, Ukraine became a Soviet Republic ruled from Moscow in December 1922. Ukrainian nationalism was seen from the beginning as a threat to the Bolshevik ideal, and was to be stamped out—at all costs.

During the famine of the 1930s, as peasants lay dying, the Soviet secret police began to repress all manner of Ukrainian intellectuals and officials who had tried to promote Ukraine’s language or history. Anyone with even the flimsiest connection to Ukrainian nationalism was liable to be vilified, arrested and sent to a labor camp or executed. It was a systematic assault not just on Ukraine, but on the idea of Ukraine. And it worked. The famine and repression of the Ukrainian intellectual classes eventually brought about “the Sovietization of Ukraine, the destruction of the Ukrainian national idea, and the neutering of any Ukrainian challenge to Soviet Unity.”

It was a systematic assault not just on Ukraine, but on the idea of Ukraine. And it worked.

And so silence marked the years that followed the famine. Ukrainians were prohibited from speaking of or writing on it: Soviet authorities expunged all traces of it from official accounts. Moscow’s destruction of all institutions of the Ukrainian countryside meant that the people lacked even tombstones to mourn over or churches to pray in. The Politburo wrote the official history of 1932 to 33. It was, so the version went, a history of some accidental but inevitable starvation due to Kulak corruption and problems with the climate and harvest. But alongside this an alternative history arose—an oral tradition in which parents passed on the details of what really happened to their children; the horrors of the famine would, they vowed, never be forgotten.

Ironically, the Nazi invasion of Ukraine in 1941, and the propaganda assault against Moscow that accompanied it, allowed S. Sosnovyi, an agricultural economist, to publish the first quasi-scholarly study of the famine in a Ukrainian newspaper. The famine, he concluded, had been designed to destroy Ukrainian peasant opposition to Soviet power; it was not the result of “natural causes” but was deliberate and imposed. The new climate made it acceptable—in this area at least—for the truth to finally begin to emerge.

But even as the decades wore on—even after Nikita Khrushchev’s speech condemning many of Stalin’s actions after the latter’s death in 1953—the truth of the famine was missing from official Soviet narratives. In fact, in an ironic twist, the German invaders’ use of this history as propaganda against Stalin during the war made it easy for Soviet officials and historians to label anyone talking of a deliberate famine against Ukraine as “fascists” and “Nazis” spreading “Hitlerite propaganda.”

This trend reached its apex in 1987, in which a “Douglas Tottle” (who appears to have written little if anything before or after) published a book entitled Fraud, Famine and Fascism: The Ukrainian Genocide Myth From Hitler to Harvard. His thesis was that the famine was a hoax propagated by a combination of Ukrainians fascists abroad and western intelligence agencies. It was a technique that would come to dominate all Soviet and Russian responses to the “Ukraine question.”

The Soviets’ anti-nationalist policy in Ukraine took a new form with the Holodomor, but the attitude itself was deep rooted. Ukraine has long been central to the Russian national consciousness. Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians all claim to descend from Kievan Rus,’ a group of East Slavic tribes that lived from the ninth to mid-thirteenth centuries. Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, the “mother of Rus’ cities,” was at the heart of this region. With the emergence of the Romanov dynasty in the seventeeth century, Ukraine began to be considered as an integral part of the Russian empire. In 1764, Catherine the Great created a new frontier territory called Novorossiya, in south and eastern Ukraine.

Today, Putin has revived the term to give legitimacy to Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine and simultaneous backing of Ukrainian separatists fighting Kiev. On 27 February, 2014, masked Russians soldiers wearing no identifying insignia appeared on Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and took over its parliament. The following month, after a referendum that much of the world deemed illegal, Russia formally annexed the territory. Moscow had simply stolen a large part of its much weaker neighbor.

The move attests to the continuing inability of Russian leaders to accept the legitimacy of the Ukrainian state. When Putin revived the idea of Novorussiya to justify military action in southeastern Ukraine, his message was clear: the region was not Ukraine—a largely make-believe country—but an integral part of Russia. And Russian intervention, he argued, was badly needed. The 2014 EuroMaidan revolution in which Ukrainians rose up to overthrow their Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, was a CIA-backed “coup.” The government that replaced him was a “fascist junta” determined to persecute Russian-speakers in Ukraine and stamp out the speaking of Russian across the country. It was Douglas Tottle-style revisionism for the twenty-first century.

As Russia and Ukraine continue to fight on the battlefield, the Holodomor—central to the question of an independent Ukrainian identity—hovers over the conflict. In August 2015, Ukrainian Russian-backed separatists destroyed a monument to the victims of the famine in the occupied eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne. Also that month, Sputnik, a Russian state website published an article in English entitled “Holodomor Hoax.”

One (unintended) effect of Russia’s assault on Ukraine has been to galvanize Ukrainian national feeling. And this resurgence has refocused attention on the Holodomor. This is why Red Famine, as the most complete exploration to date of one of the twentieth century’s greatest atrocities, stands both as a work of huge historical importance and contemporary relevance. But above all it is a book of great emotional power, which stems directly from Applebaum’s willingness to give space to Ukrainian voices. As the poet Oleksa Veretenchenko wrote in 1943:

What has happened to the laughter,
To the bonfires girls used to light on Midsummer’s Eve?
Where are the Ukrainian villages
And the cherry orchards by the houses?
Everything has vanished in ravenous fire
Mothers are devouring their children,
Madmen are selling human flesh
At the markets.
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Old 12-06-2018, 07:31 PM
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Default Re: Book Review: "Red Famine," by Applebaum, on Ukrainian Holodomor--killed 5 million

How Stalin Hid Ukraine's Famine From the World

In 1932 and 1933, millions died across the Soviet Union—and the foreign press corps helped cover up the catastrophe.

Anne Applebaum
Oct 13, 2017

Link: https://www.theatlantic.com/internat...-union/542610/

Shadows of people burying dozens of coffins in a mass grave are seen on November 25th, 2006 during a day of remembrance for up to 10 million people who starved to death in the great famine of 1932-33, in the city of Zhovkva. (Sergei Supinsky / Getty)

In the years 1932 and 1933, a catastrophic famine swept across the Soviet Union. It began in the chaos of collectivization, when millions of peasants were forced off their land and made to join state farms. It was then exacerbated, in the autumn of 1932, when the Soviet Politburo, the elite leadership of the Soviet Communist Party, took a series of decisions that deepened the famine in the Ukrainian countryside. Despite the shortages, the state demanded not just grain, but all available food. At the height of the crisis, organized teams of policemen and local Party activists, motivated by hunger, fear, and a decade of hateful propaganda, entered peasant households and took everything edible: potatoes, beets, squash, beans, peas, and farm animals. At the same time, a cordon was drawn around the Ukrainian republic to prevent escape. The result was a catastrophe: At least 5 million people perished of hunger all across the Soviet Union. Among them were nearly 4 million Ukrainians who died not because of neglect or crop failure, but because they had been deliberately deprived of food.

Neither the Ukrainian famine nor the broader Soviet famine were ever officially recognized by the USSR. Inside the country the famine was never mentioned. All discussion was actively repressed; statistics were altered to hide it. The terror was so overwhelming that the silence was complete. Outside the country, however, the cover-up required different, subtler tactics. These are beautifully illustrated by the parallel stories of Walter Duranty and Gareth Jones.

* * *

In the 1930s, all of the members of the Moscow press corps led a precarious existence. At the time, they needed the state’s permission to live in the USSR, and even to work. Without a signature and the official stamp of the press department, the central telegraph office would not send their dispatches abroad. To win that permission, journalists regularly bargained with foreign ministry censors over which words they could use, and they kept on good terms with Konstantin Umansky, the Soviet official responsible for the foreign press corps. William Henry Chamberlin, then the Moscow correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, wrote that the foreign reporter “works under a Sword of Damocles—the threat of expulsion from the country or of the refusal of permission to re-enter it, which of course amounts to the same thing.”

Extra rewards were available to those, like Walter Duranty, who played the game particularly well. Duranty was The New York Times correspondent in Moscow from 1922 until 1936, a role that, for a time, made him relatively rich and famous. British by birth, Duranty had no ties to the ideological left, adopting rather the position of a hard-headed and skeptical “realist,” trying to listen to both sides of the story. “It may be objected that the vivisection of living animals is a sad and dreadful thing, and it is true that the lot of kulaks and others who have opposed the Soviet experiment is not a happy one,” he wrote in 1935—the kulaks being the so-called wealthy peasants whom Stalin accused of causing the famine. But “in both cases, the suffering inflicted is done with a noble purpose.”

This position made Duranty enormously useful to the regime, which went out of its way to ensure that Duranty lived well in Moscow. He had a large flat, kept a car and a mistress, had the best access of any correspondent, and twice received coveted interviews with Stalin. But the attention he won from his reporting back in the U.S. seems to have been his primary motivation. His missives from Moscow made him one of the most influential journalists of his time. In 1932, his series of articles on the successes of collectivization and the Five Year Plan won him the Pulitzer Prize. Soon afterward, Franklin Roosevelt, then the governor of New York, invited Duranty to the governor’s mansion in Albany, where the Democratic presidential candidate peppered him with queries. “I asked all the questions this time. It was fascinating,” Roosevelt told another reporter.

As the famine worsened, Duranty, like his colleagues, would have been in no doubt about the regime’s desire to repress it. In 1933, the Foreign Ministry began requiring correspondents to submit a proposed itinerary before any journey into the provinces; all requests to visit Ukraine were refused. The censors also began to monitor dispatches. Some phrases were allowed: “acute food shortage,” “food stringency,” “food deficit,” “diseases due to malnutrition,” but nothing else. In late 1932, Soviet officials even visited Duranty at home, making him nervous.

In that atmosphere, few of them were inclined to write about the famine, although all of them knew about it. “Officially, there was no famine,” wrote Chamberlin. But “to anyone who lived in Russia in 1933 and who kept his eyes and ears open, the historicity of the famine is simply not in question.” Duranty himself discussed the famine with William Strang, a diplomat at the British embassy, in late 1932. Strang reported back drily that the New York Times correspondent had been “waking to the truth for some time,” although he had not “let the great American public into the secret.” Duranty also told Strang that he reckoned “it quite possible that as many as 10 million people may have died directly or indirectly from lack of food,” though that number never appeared in any of his reporting. Duranty’s reluctance to write about famine may have been particularly acute: The story cast doubt on his previous, positive (and prize-winning) reporting. But he was not alone. Eugene Lyons, Moscow correspondent for United Press and at one time an enthusiastic Marxist, wrote years later that all of the foreigners in the city were well aware of what was happening in Ukraine as well as Kazakhstan and the Volga region:

The truth is that we did not seek corroboration for the simple reason that we entertained no doubts on the subject. There are facts too large to require eyewitness confirmation. … Inside Russia the matter was not disputed. The famine was accepted as a matter of course in our casual conversation at the hotels and in our homes.

Everyone knew—yet no one mentioned it. Hence the extraordinary reaction of both the Soviet establishment and the Moscow press corps to the journalistic escapade of Gareth Jones.

Jones was a young Welshman, only 27 years old at the time of his 1933 journey to Ukraine.

Possibly inspired by his mother—as a young woman she had been a governess in the home of John Hughes, the Welsh entrepreneur who founded the Ukrainian city of Donetsk—he decided to study Russian, as well as French and German, at Cambridge University. He then landed a job as a private secretary to David Lloyd George, the former British prime minister, and also began writing about European and Soviet politics as a freelancer. In early 1932, before the travel ban was imposed, he journeyed out to the Soviet countryside (accompanied by Jack Heinz II, scion of the ketchup empire) where he slept on “bug-infested floors” in rural villages and witnessed the beginnings of the famine.

In the spring of 1933, Jones returned to Moscow, this time with a visa given to him largely on the grounds that he worked for Lloyd George (it was stamped “Besplatno” or “Gratis,” as a sign of official Soviet favor). Ivan Maisky, the Soviet ambassador to London, had been keen to impress Lloyd George and had lobbied on Jones’s behalf. Upon arrival, Jones first went around the Soviet capital and met other foreign correspondents and officials. Lyons remembered him as “an earnest and meticulous little man … the sort who carries a note-book and unashamedly records your words as you talk.” Jones met Umansky, showed him an invitation from the German Consul-General in Kharkiv, and asked to visit Ukraine. Umansky agreed. With that official stamp of approval, he set off south.

Jones boarded the train in Moscow on March 10. But instead of traveling all the way to Kharkiv, he got off the train about 40 miles north of the city. Carrying a backpack filled with “many loaves of white bread, with butter, cheese, meat and chocolate bought with foreign currency” he began to follow the railway track towards the Kharkiv. For three days, with no official minder or escort, he walked through more than 20 villages and collective farms at the height of the famine, recording his thoughts in notebooks later preserved by his sister:

I crossed the border from Great Russia into the Ukraine. Everywhere I talked to peasants who walked past. They all had the same story.

“There is no bread. We haven’t had bread for over two months. A lot are dying.” The first village had no more potatoes left and the store of burak (“beetroot”) was running out. They all said: “The cattle are dying, nechevo kormit’ [there’s nothing to feed them with]. We used to feed the world & now we are hungry. How can we sow when we have few horses left? How will we be able to work in the fields when we are weak from want of food?”

Jones slept on the floor of peasant huts. He shared his food with people and heard their stories. “They tried to take away my icons, but I said I’m a peasant, not a dog,” someone told him. “When we believed in God we were happy and lived well. When they tried to do away with God, we became hungry.” Another man told him he hadn’t eaten meat for a year.

Jones saw a woman making homespun cloth for clothing, and a village where people were eating horse meat. Eventually, he was confronted by a “militiaman” who asked to see his documents, after which plainclothes policemen insisted on accompanying him on the next train to Kharkiv and walking him to the door of the German consulate. Jones, “rejoicing at my freedom, bade him a polite farewell—an anti-climax but a welcome one.”

In Kharkhiv, Jones kept taking notes. He observed thousands of people queueing in bread lines: “They begin queuing up at 3-4 o’clock in the afternoon to get bread the next morning at 7. It is freezing: many degrees of frost.” He spent an evening at the theater—“Audience: Plenty of lipstick but no bread”—and spoke to people about the political repression and mass arrests which rolled across Ukraine at the same time as the famine. He called on Umansky’s colleague in Kharkiv, but never managed to speak to him. Quietly, he slipped out of the Soviet Union. A few days later, on March 30, he appeared in Berlin at a press conference probably arranged by Paul Scheffer, a Berliner Tageblatt journalist who had been expelled from the USSR in 1929. He declared that a major famine was unfolding across the Soviet Union and issued a statement:

Everywhere was the cry, “There is no bread. We are dying.” This cry came from every part of Russia, from the Volga, Siberia, White Russia, the North Caucasus, Central Asia …

“We are waiting for death” was my welcome: “See, we still have our cattle fodder. Go farther south. There they have nothing. Many houses are empty of people already dead,” they cried.

Jones’s press conference was picked up by two senior Berlin-based U.S. journalists, in The New York Evening Post (“Famine grips Russia, millions dying, idle on rise says Briton”) and in the Chicago Daily News (“Russian Famine Now as Great as Starvation of 1921, Says Secretary of Lloyd George”). Further syndications followed in a wide range of British publications. The articles explained that Jones had taken a “long walking tour through the Ukraine,” quoted his press release and added details of mass starvation. They noted, as did Jones himself, that he had broken the rules which held back other journalists: “I tramped through the black earth region,” he wrote, “because that was once the richest farmland in Russia and because the correspondents have been forbidden to go there to see for themselves what is happening.” Jones went on to publish a dozen further articles in the London Evening Standard and Daily Express, as well as the Cardiff Western Mail.

The authorities who had showered favors on Jones were furious. Litvinov, the Soviet Foreign minister, complained angrily to Maisky, using an acidic literary allusion to Gogol’s famous play about a fraudulent bureaucrat:

It is astonishing that Gareth Johnson [sic] has impersonated the role of Khlestakov and succeeded in getting all of you to play the parts of the local governor and various characters from The Government Inspector. In fact, he is just an ordinary citizen, calls himself Lloyd George’s secretary and, apparently at the latter’s bidding, requests a visa, and you at the diplomatic mission without checking up at all, insist the [OGPU] jump into action to satisfy his request. We gave this individual all kinds of support, helped him in his work, I even agreed to meet him, and he turns out to be an imposter.

In the immediate wake of Jones’s press conference, Litvinov proclaimed an even more stringent ban on journalists travelling outside of Moscow. Later, Maisky complained to Lloyd George, who, according to the Soviet ambassador’s report, distanced himself from Jones, declaring that he had not sponsored the trip and had not sent Jones as his representative. What he really believed is unknown, but Lloyd George never saw Jones again.

The Moscow press corps was even angrier. Of course its members knew that what Jones had reported was true, and a few were looking for ways to tell the same story. Malcolm Muggeridge, at the time the correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, had just smuggled three articles about the famine out of the country via diplomatic bag. The Guardian published them anonymously, with heavy cuts made by editors who disapproved of his critique of the USSR, and, appearing at a moment when the news was dominated by Hitler’s rise to power, they were largely ignored. But the rest of the press corps, dependent on official goodwill, closed ranks against Jones. Lyons meticulously described what happened:

Throwing down Jones was as unpleasant a chore as fell to any of us in years of juggling facts to please dictatorial regimes—but throw him down we did, unanimously and in almost identical formulations of equivocation. Poor Gareth Jones must have been the most surprised human being alive when the facts he so painstakingly garnered from our mouths were snowed under by our denials. … There was much bargaining in a spirit of gentlemanly give-and-take, under the effulgence of Umansky’s gilded smile, before a formal denial was worked out. We admitted enough to soothe our consciences, but in roundabout phrases that damned Jones as a liar. The filthy business having been disposed of, someone ordered vodka and zakuski.

Whether or not a meeting between Umansky and the foreign correspondents ever took place, it does sum up, metaphorically, what happened next. On March 31, just a day after Jones had spoken out in Berlin, Duranty himself responded. “Russians Hungry But Not Starving,” read the New York Times headline. Duranty’s article went out of its way to mock Jones:

There appears from a British source a big scare story in the American press about famine in the Soviet Union, with “thousands already dead and millions menaced by death and starvation.” Its author is Gareth Jones, who is a former secretary to David Lloyd George and who recently spent three weeks in the Soviet Union and reached the conclusion that the country was “on the verge of a terrific smash,” as he told the writer. Mr. Jones is a man of a keen and active mind, and he has taken the trouble to learn Russian, which he speaks with considerable fluency, but the writer thought Mr. Jones's judgment was somewhat hasty and asked him on what it was based. It appeared that he had made a 40-mile walk through villages in the neighborhood of Kharkov and had found conditions sad.

I suggested that that was a rather inadequate cross-section of a big country but nothing could shake his conviction of impending doom.

Duranty continued, using an expression that later became notorious: “To put it brutally—you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.” He went on to explain that he had made “exhaustive inquiries” and concluded that “conditions are bad, but there is no famine.”

New York Times via Penguin Random House

Indignant, Jones wrote a letter to the editor of the Times, patiently listing his sources—a huge range of interviewees, including more than 20 consuls and diplomats—and attacking the Moscow press corps:

Censorship has turned them into masters of euphemism and understatement. Hence they give “famine” the polite name of “food shortage” and “starving to death” is softened down to read as “widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition...

And there the matter rested. Duranty outshone Jones: He was more famous, more widely read, more credible. He was also unchallenged. Later, Lyons, Chamberlin and others expressed regret that they had not fought harder against him. But at the time, nobody came to Jones’s defense, not even Muggeridge, one of the few Moscow correspondents who had dared to express similar views. Jones himself was kidnapped and murdered by Chinese bandits during a reporting trip to Mongolia in 1935.

“Russians Hungry But not Starving” became the accepted wisdom. It also coincided nicely with the hard political and diplomatic considerations of the moment. As 1933 turned into 1934 and then 1935, Europeans grew even more worried about Hitler. By the end of 1933, the new Roosevelt administration was actively looking for reasons to ignore any bad news about the Soviet Union. The president’s team had concluded that developments in Germany and the need to limit Japanese expansion meant that it was time, finally, for the United States to open full diplomatic relations with Moscow. Roosevelt’s interest in central planning and in what he thought were the USSR’s great economic successes—the president read Duranty’s reporting carefully—encouraged him to believe that there might be a lucrative commercial relationship too. Eventually a deal was struck. Litvinov arrived in New York to sign it—accompanied by Duranty. At a lavish banquet for the Soviet foreign minister at the Waldorf Astoria, Duranty was introduced to the 1,500 guests. He stood up and bowed.

Loud applause followed. Duranty’s name, the New Yorker later reported, provoked “the only really prolonged pandemonium” of the evening. “Indeed, one quite got the impression that America, in a spasm of discernment, was recognizing both Russia and Walter Duranty.” With that, the cover-up seemed complete.
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Default Re: Book Review: "Red Famine," by Applebaum, on Ukrainian Holodomor--killed 5 million

Nationalism and Genocide: The Origin of the Artificial Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine

Valentyn Moroz

Link: http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p207_Moroz.html

In our age, a striking feature of the way in which modern history is presented in the mass media, in classrooms and by politicians is the contrast between the insistent emphasis given to the Holocaust and the Jewish victims of World War II, and the minimal treatment given to the victims of Soviet Communism – even through the number of victims of the Soviet regime exceeds the number of Holocaust victims. While names like Auschwitz and Buchenwald have been hammered into our collective consciousness, few people in the US or Europe recognize Vorkuta, Kolyma or any of the many other Soviet camps where millions perished. And whereas Americans and Europeans are taught to recognize the name of Heinrich Himmler, few have heard of the notorious Soviet secret police chiefs Nikolai Yezhov or Genrikh Yagoda.

The grim record of Soviet oppression and mass killing is well documented. Nobel prize-winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn detailed the horrors of the Soviet “Gulag” camp system, which held more than ten million prisoners at a time. In The Great Terror, British historian Robert Conquest cautiously estimated that some 15 million perished as victims of the Soviet regime, most of them during the Stalin era. (Soviet dictator Stalin once privately admitted to Churchill that some ten million kulaks had died in the brutal campaign to “collectivize” the country’s farmers and peasants.) In Stalin's Secret War, Nikolai Tolstoy exposes as a fraud the official Soviet claim, widely repeated by the Western media, that 20 million Soviet citizens were killed by the Axis during the Second World War. Most of those millions, he demonstrates, were actually victims of the Soviet regime.

Stalin's single most horrific campaign was perhaps the organized mass starvation of 1932-1933, which he used as a weapon to totally crush peasant resistance to the forced collectivization of agriculture. Soviet military units confiscated all available food in vast areas, condemning the inhabitants to death by hunger. As Conquest points out, this is perhaps the only case in history of a purely man-made famine. He estimates that the campaign claimed five to six million lives, including more than three million Ukrainians. Other historians have put the number of Ukrainian famine victims at six or even seven million. An important new work on this subject is Miron Dolot's moving memoir, Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust, which includes a valuable introduction by Adam Ulam.

In the following essay, Ukrainian historian Valentyn Moroz dissects the origins of the imposed famine of 1932-1933. He takes exception to the generally accepted view that the campaign was carried out for purely socio-economic reasons, and holds instead that the decisive motivation was Moscow's need to maintain the multi-national Soviet Russian empire. Stalin destroyed the independent Ukrainian peasantry, Moroz writes, because it was the foundation and lifespring of Ukrainian nationalism.

-- Mark Weber

In 1921, at the Tenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, it was resolved that the country's non-Russian nations (nationalities) required assistance. / 1

a) to develop and strengthen locally Soviet statehood in such forms as are applicable to the national and social conditions of these nations;

b) to develop and strengthen locally, in their native languages, the legal system, administrative and economic organs, and government organs, consisting of local people who are acquainted with the living conditions and mentality of the local population;

c) to develop locally the press, schools, the theater, social clubs, and all cultural and educational institutions in their native languages;

d) to create and develop a wide spectrum of courses and education institutions in both the humanities and the technical and professional fields in their native languages ...

Thus began the policy known as "korenizatsiia" or "return to the roots," which is an instructive and very interesting phenomenon in the history of the modern Russian empire. In Ukraine this policy became known as "ukrainizatsiia" or "Ukrainianization." In fact, this term was widely used in official documents during the 1920s. The Edict of 1923 described Ukrainianization with these words. / 2

... The people's government acknowledges the necessity ... of concentrating the attention of the state in the near future on broadening the knowledge of the Ukrainian language. The formal equality of the two most widely used languages -- Ukrainian and Russian -- has so far been insufficient. The processes of life, as experience has indicated, in reality favor the predominance of Russian. To remove this inequality the government will implement a series of practical measures which, while guaranteeing the equality of every language used on Ukrainian territory, must safeguard a position for Ukrainian corresponding to the size and strength of the Ukrainian nation on the territory of the Ukrainian nation on the territory of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

These days there is a tendency to regard this policy of Ukrainianization as a tactical ploy by Moscow to expose and destroy all patriotic Ukrainians. This is an extreme view. Obviously, Moscow had tactical considerations in introducing this policy. But it should be understood that Moscow was forced to adopt this policy. The impulse behind Ukrainianization came from far beyond the walls of the Kremlin and emerged from quite different sources.

The Revolution of 1917 stimulated a powerful renaissance among the non-Russian nations of the Russian empire, and this process continued even after these peoples were militarily subdued by the Soviet Russian forces. National development found means of self-expression even under the conditions of Soviet rule. While the facts and figures of the expansion of Ukrainainization are of interest for their own sake, even more interesting is the story of how the people involved found the means of carrying out this process of national development under the conditions of totalitarian one-party rule. This was possible because a kind of second political party, which was never proclaimed and formalized as such, existed during the 1920s. This alternate party was private enterprise.

The Tenth Congress of the Communist Party symbolically announced the introduction of the "new economic policy" or NEP in 1921 and shortly thereafter was also forced to proclaim the "korenizatsiia" policy of a return to native roots. New opportunities for private enterprise in economic life automatically also brought about a national renaissance among the non-Russian peoples. The "new economic policy" (NEP) not only meant a total change in economic life but in social and cultural life as a whole. Private entrepreneurs began demolishing totalitarianism in countless different ways. A shop owner operating his own business or a doctor with his own practice quickly became independent of the commissar with the red cloth on his table. They were soon also regarded as socially higher. And although these entrepreneurs had to recite the Communist slogans and jargon whenever required, the free market and not the Party came to govern their lives. Like the legendary genie suddenly released from his bottle, free enterprise spread swiftly.

This meant that, in practice, life became pluralistic, despite the protests of orthodox Communists concerned about the purity of party doctrine. And all this gave subconscious moral strength to the national movements. One felt able to "breathe" and express oneself at last. In Ukraine many associations of artists and writers were formed. An innovative and experimental theatrical life began to develop. In such conditions it was natural that legally sanctioned competition between the Ukrainian and Russian national influences would eventually develop. Among those who recognized this was Dmytro Lebed, who coined the theory of the "struggle between two cultures" in which the state should not intervene.

From the outset the Russians regarded Ukrainianization as a temporary political phenomenon, and accordingly sought to make it a purely formal letter, not to be taken seriously. For example, during a certain party conference an economic administrator from an outlying district, after listening to resolutions on the necessity of having administrators use Ukrainian in their official work, began speaking to his district director in Ukrainian. To this the official replied in Russian: "Speak like a human being!" But despite such resistance, a virtual army of patriotic Ukrainian academics and other culturally and politically active individuals greatly furthered the process of Ukrainianization. Supporters of this process of national renaissance came into high and sometimes even key positions. Because of Russian chauvinist resistance, Ukrainianization didn't really begun to develop until 1925. A 1927 letter from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine to the Communist International (Comintern) dealt with numerous "distortions" regarding the Ukrainianization process. / 3

These distortions lie in the ignoring of and failure to value adequately the national question in Ukraine (which is frequently masked by internationalist phrases), particularly:

1) in the belittling of Ukraine's significance as a part of the USSR, in the attempt to interpret the creation of the USSR as the actual liquidation of the national republics;

2) in the instruction that the party remain neutral toward the development of Ukrainian culture, in the interpretation of it as backward and "rural" compared to Russian "proletarian" culture;

3) in the attempt to maintain at all costs the dominance of the Russian language in the governmental, social, and cultural life of Ukraine;

4) in the formalistic attitude towards the development of Ukrainianization, which is often accepted only theoretically;

5) in the uncritical repetition of chauvinistic and imperialistic views about the so-called artificiality of Ukrainianization, the unintelligibility of the "Galician" language for the nation, and so forth, and in cultivation of these views within the party;

6) in the attempt to hinder the implementation of the policies of Ukrainianization in the towns and among the proletariat, confining it only to the villages;

7) in the frequent tendency to exaggerate isolated cases of distortion in the implementation of Ukrainianization, and in the attempt to portray these as an entire political system which violates the rights of national minorities (Russians, Jews, etc.).

It was characteristic of the time that the Communist Party of Ukraine could bypass the Central Committee in Russia and appeal directly to the Communist International, even though it was still a part of the all-encompassing "Soviet" Communist party. This is another indication of the pluralism and national self-expression which de facto manifested itself under conditions of Soviet rule, despite and in opposition to totalitarian doctrine.

The record shows that Ukrainianization was an important and very real development. Its impact may be compared to a torpedo exploding a dangerously threatening hole in the hull of the imperial ship of state. Millions of Ukrainian children were now being taught in Ukrainian. This was something for which several generations of Ukrainians had fought. In 1930 an astonishing 89 percent of the books published in Ukraine were printed in the Ukrainian language. That same year, the Eleventh Congress of the Communist Party of Ukraine reported. / 4

... A turbulent increase in Ukrainianization is apparent among the proletariat, particularly among its chief groups. Along with this there is an indisputable and systematic increase in the number of Ukrainians in the proletariat .... During the past three years the number of people who can read, write, and speak in Ukrainian has greatly increased .... The professional associations of Ukraine should take it upon themselves, as leaders of the masses, to ensure the availability of cultural services in Ukrainian for the working masses and also to make certain that the movement inspires the workers towards cultural and national development ....

These three elements -- the schools, the press, and the Ukrainianization of the proletariat -- are a strong base which will guarantee a rapid and unprecedented development of a Ukrainian culture which is national in form and proletarian in content.

All this created unease in Moscow, where it was understood that the continuation of this process would eventually mean the end of Russian hegemony in Ukraine. Two tendencies became apparent during the years of Ukrainianization that raised ominous questions about the future of the Russian empire.

Firstly, the major role of the village in the process of Ukrainianization became obvious. The village had long been recognized as the conserving bastion of national traditions. But now it was also clearly a powerful impetus for Ukrainianization in the towns and cities as well. The most talented Ukrainian national authors and cultural leaders of the 1920s were from the villages, which provided a solid base of some forty million people for the development of Ukrainianization. Ukrainian blood from the villages flowed into the veins of new Ukrainian social and cultural institutions developing in the cities. As these structures grew visibly stronger it became increasingly evident that this powerful and turbulent stream would eventually sweep aside all Russian influence. Joseph Stalin, the most important Bolshevik theoretician on the national question, clearly understood the crucial importance of the village in this process. In a speech to the Tenth Soviet Communist Party Congress in 1921 he pointed out. / 5

It is obvious that although the Russian element is still predominant in Ukrainian cities, within a short period of time these cities will doubtlessly be Ukrainianized. Forty years ago Riga was a German city, but because the village population moves to the cities and determines their character, Riga is now a Latvian city. Fifty years ago every city in Hungary had a German character, but now each is Hungarian. The same can be said for the cities of Ukraine because the village population will move to the cities. The village is the representative of the Ukrainian language and this language will penetrate every Ukrainian city and there become the dominant language.

Secondly, a clear distinction developed between archaic and modern nationalism. The first could express itself only in traditional and limited forms. It was thus able to co-exist for many years within a colonial structure, within the framework of an alien empire, and dominated by a foreign dynasty. In contrast, the modern form of nationalism was aggressive and dynamic, intolerant of colonial structures and inclined to demolish them. It was characterized by an alliance of the village and a national intelligentsia which emerged from native ethnic roots. (This modern form of nationalism brought down the European colonial empires in Asia and Africa during the 1940s and 1950s, and was accompanied by major conflicts and social upheaval.)

The process of Ukrainianization during the 1920s gave birth to a concept that had the potential of becoming an umbrella or screen behind which meaningful Ukrainian nationalism could develop under the new conditions of Soviet rule. This concept was best formulated by the writer Mykola Khvyloviy, who coined the slogans "Away from Russia!" and "We can do without a Russian conductor." Even the titles of his essays (such as "Russian Slops'') convey the new atmosphere and direction that emerged from Ukrainianization. With this concept, Ukrainian cultural, social and even political development could be furthered using acceptable "proletarian" jargon. In his polemical dispute with Russian newspapers, Khvyloviy wrote. / 6

Today, as Ukrainian poetry follows its own direction, Moscow is no longer able to tempt it with baubles .... And this is not because this or that Ukrainian participant in the dispute is more talented than this or that Russian (God forbid!) but because the Ukrainian reality is more complex than the Russian, because we have before us different tasks, because we are the young class of a young nation, because our literature is young ....

Because our literature has at last found its own path of development, the question now lies before us: Which of the world's literatures should we follow? In any case, not Russian literature. That is absolutely crucial. We must not confuse our political union with literature. Ukrainian poetry must move away from Russian literature and its influence as soon as possible. The Poles would never have given us Mickiewicz if their orientation towards Russian art had not ceased. The fact is that Russian literature has been weighing us down for centuries, like a master who has trained our mentality into slave-like imitation. So, to feed our young art with Russian literature is to restrain its development. We are aware of proletarian ideas without the help of Russian art. To the contrary, we, as representatives of a young nation, will more easily sense these ideas and will more quickly recreate them in suitable works of art. We will orient ourselves towards western European art, toward its style and methods.

We have philosophized enough. Let us at last use our guide. We do so not with the intention of harnassing our art to yet another foreign wagon, but in order to free it from the suffocating atmosphere of backwardness. We will go to Europe to learn, but in a few years we will return burning with a new light. Do you hear what we want, Moscow-lovers with your Russian slops? So, death to the Dostoyevskys! Let us begin a cultural renaissance!

It is also characteristic of the time that Khvyloviy came from a Russified milieu. This itself was his inspiration. Khvyloviy, who had been named Fitilov, knew from personal experience the swamp-like world of Russified Ukrainians. He thus knew best how to fight against it. The most effective preacher is a Saul converted into a Paul.

As Moscow watched, new institutions were developing that were both Communist and Ukrainian. Along with others, Khvyloviy exclaimed: "We are aware of proletarian ideas without the help of Russian art." The next and inevitable stage in the realization of the slogan "Away from Russia!" would have been the political separation of Ukraine from Russia. And that would have meant the collapse of the Russian empire. As everyone realized, Russia without Ukraine would automatically be reduced to the small realm (khanate) of Moscovy it had once been in the 16th century before Tsar Peter I.

The successful development of Ukrainianization (and of parallel national developments in other Soviet republics) was not limited to literary life. The non-Russian nations of the USSR chalked up other important achievements that threatened Russian hegemony. One was the establishment of "native" (territorial) armies. Out of a total of 17 army divisions based in Ukraine in the late 1920s, eight were "native" divisions consisting almost entirely of Ukrainians. These divisions also used Ukrainian as the language of communication and military command. Ukrainian was also the language of instruction in some military schools. Other non-Russian peoples had similar military formations. There were two Byelorussian divisions, two Georgian, and one Armenian, as well as one Tatar regiment, one Tadzhik regiment, and so forth. National non-Russian educational systems also developed. Under the direction of the Ukrainian minister of education, Hryhory Hrynko, an educational system developed in Ukraine that differed in every way from the Russian form. In economic life Volobuyev introduced the concept by which Ukraine would develop a national economy separate from Russia. And so it went in every sphere of Ukrainian life.

Moscow understood that if this process was allowed to continue for another decade the Soviet Russian empire would break up along national lines, much as the Austro-Hungarian empire had at the end of the First World War. The Kremlin rulers realized another essential reality: the empire could only be held together with totalitarianism. And that meant totalitarianism in every sphere of life. Only absolute state power could guarantee a unified empire. Although Russian chauvinistic opposition to the Ukrainian renaissance never completely disappeared, it was ineffective during the 1920s for two reasons. Firstly, private enterprise automatically brought with it pluralism in other spheres of life. It was comparable to fresh rain falling on the young shoots of the national movement. Secondly, the national awakening unleashed by the revolution of 1917 burgeoned during the decade of the 1920s.

The historical pendulum began to swing in a different direction at the close of the 1920s. The energy of the national renaissance was depleted, indicating the beginning of a decline. The regrouped imperial forces sensed that the time had come to strike back. Their revenge took three forms: 1. The elimination of private property in the villages and the imposition of totalitarian agriculture in the form of the collective farm ("kolhosp" or, in Russian, "kolkhoz"); 2. The uprooting of private enterprise in industry and trade; 3. The annihilation of pluralism in the arts. All cultural associations were replaced by unitary cultural unions, one each for writers, artists, journalists, and so forth.

The crucial essence of this program was the annihilation of the traditional village structure, which had always been the nation's foundation. Stalin recognized the key role of the village in the movement for national liberation. "The village is the major army in a national movement," he wrote. "Without the village the movement becomes impossible. This is what we mean when we say that the national question is, in effect, the village question. / 7

In planning the artificial famine of 1933, Moscow sought to strike a fatal blow at the village structure, not because it was socially troublesome or economically disadvantageous, but because it was the lifespring and resource foundation of the vital national spirit. Postishev, who was sent to Ukraine in 1933 as Moscow's plenipotentiary, stated this clearly: "The mistakes and oversight of the Communist Party of Ukraine in the realization of the nationalities policy of the party was one of the major reasons for the collapse of agriculture in l931-1932." / 8

This one sentence is enough to show that the national question triggered the catastrophe of 1933. The Plenum in 1933 and the Twelfth Congress of the Communist Party of Ukraine in January 1934 both declared that "the greatest danger in Ukraine is local Ukrainian nationalism. / 9 This marked a turning point in the Kremlin's nationalities policy. Until then the greatest danger in the nationalities question was officially "Russian imperialistic chauvinism." At the Twelfth Congress of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Postishev declared that "1933 was the year of the defeat of Ukrainian nationalist counter-revolution." / 10 Moscow thus regarded the catastrophe of 1933 as an aspect of the struggle against Ukrainian national renaissance. The village and national aspects of this catastrophe were closely interconnected.

In the spring of 1933, when millions of Ukrainian villagers were starving to death, Soviet forces carried out mass executions across Ukraine. Two population groups were targeted for extermination: the intelligentsia and Ukrainain Communists who had once belonged to other parties. The census figures of 1926 and 1939 indicate that the Ukrainian population decreased by ten percent during this period, while the number of Russians increased by 27 percent. / 11 The reason for this startling contrast was explained by a witness of the 1933 famine: "There were two villages on the border between the Ukrainain Soviet Socialist Revublic and the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic. On the Ukrainian side everything was taken away, on the Russian side there were normal corn [grain] taxes and everything went according to plan. The Ukrainians climbed onto the roofs of passing trains and traveled to Russia to buy bread." / 12

Historians have concluded that Ukraine lost 80 percent of its creative intelligentsia during the decade of the 1930s. / 13 Thus, Ukrainian culture suffered even more acutely than Ukrainian village life. While 80 percent of the books published in Ukraine in 1930 were printed in Ukrainian, in 1934 this figure had fallen to only 59 percent. / 14 At the Eleventh Congress of the Communist Party of Ukraine in 1930 there was talk of "the turbulent rise of Ukrainialization" and of the necessity for its continuation. In 1934, at the Twelfth Congress quite a different tone prevailed. /15

Before the November Plenum alone, 248 counter-revolutionaries, nationalists, spies and class enemies -- among them 48 enemies who were party members -- were exposed and expelled from Ukrainian research institutes and the Ministry of Education. Since then, many more of these people have been unmasked. For example, not long ago, in December, we were compelled to close down the Bahaliy Research Institute of History and Culture because we discovered that this institute, like numerous other academic organizations (such as the Ukrainian Soviet Encyclopaedia and the Shevchenko Institute where Pylypenko was administrator), was a nest of counter-revolution.

A key question in this entire issue is this: To what extent were the repressions of the 1930s carried out for socio-economic reasons? Certainly the social and economic motivations behind this policy of repression cannot be ignored or overlooked. But these motivations must be understood within historical context. Although these repressions were social in application, they were carried out primarily to preserve Russian imperial power.

The central thesis of this essay is that socio-economic considerations played only an instrumental and auxiliary role in the policy of repression of the 1930s. The drastic socio-economic changes of this period were motivated primarily by the desire to maintain Russian imperial hegemony, and only secondarily by economic considerations. In the struggle between orthodox dogmatists and pragmatists within the Communist party in the early 1930s, the defenders of doctrine were victorious. At the same time, however, the momentum of their attack against the pragmatists gave them their imperialistic and chauvinistic impulse.

The history of the Soviet system until the Second World War is normally divided into three phases: 1. Military Communism, 1917-1921; 2. Temporary tactical retreat in the form of the New Economic Policy, 1921-1929; 3. Further development of Communism according to Marxist doctrine, from 1929. However, few historians have considered that the characteristics of the third phase are hardly pragmatic.

I would describe these three phases somewhat differently. The first phase may be called a naive Communist experiment. During this period of "military Communism" the principle of private enterprise was totally extinguished. The new Soviet state confiscated as much of the villagers' production as it desired. (In practice this was usually as much as it could find.) A black market operated, and without it life could not have continued, even though officially it was illegal even to sell one's own shoes. The economy quickly fell into chaos. Suffice it to mention that only one blast furnace was functioning in Ukraine in 1921.

It was obvious that this "pure Communism" would soon result in the total collapse of the new system unless the new Soviet rulers recovered quickly from their "orthodox" intoxication. The abrupt turn to pragmatism in 1921 proved effective. This NEP phase permitted extensive private enterprise in agriculture and other aspects of economic life. It ended in 1929 with a sharp return to the collectivized system. This change has been generally regarded as a return to Marxist orthodoxy after a temporary retreat. However, this view is erroneous. The socio-economic policy of the 1930s was not a return to "pure" Communist orthodoxy. It was rather a synthesis of the principle of collectivization and pragmatism dictated by exclusively imperial interests.

The Communism described in Marx's Das Kapital is not realistic. As with any ideology, Communism in practice must take into consideration concrete national interests. The first Soviet phase of "military Communism" was only an experiment. The new Soviet rulers believed that the mythical "world revolution" and the utopian ideal of Communism would quickly usher in a worldwide proletarian paradise. These fantasies utterly ignored national considerations. The second NEP phase was a concession forced by individualistic and national factors. Only in the third phase was Communism integrated with Russian national interests. Marxist doctrine was adapted to the needs of the "Third Rome" (Moscow). (A similar process occured in China. After a series of uprooting experiments, a variant form of Communism was finally developed that might successfully serve Chinese imperial interests.)

A careful study of the Soviet collective farm system makes clear that it is not consistent with pure Communist doctrine. While the land and all agricultural implements are group property, houses, gardens, chickens, pigs, cows and many other items remained the property of individual villagers. In urban areas individuals continue to own such basic items as homes, holiday houses, and automobiles.

Beginning with the Stalin era, the Soviet system has been characterized by an ongoing combination of the collectivization principle and pragmatism. However, the nature of this pragmatism is not at all economic. If economic considerations were paramount, Moscow would long ago have disbanded the collective farms and reintroduced private enterprise in economic life. The collective farm system has brought Soviet agriculture to its knees, and the Soviet economy has still not recovered from the chronic depression caused by Stalin's drastic experiments during the 1930s. Soviet pragmatism is thus dictated by imperial and not economic interests. The relationship between the principle of collectivization and pragmatism is adjusted according to the interests of the empire. The collective farm worker category is not a socio-economic category as much as it an imperial category, similar to the "colon" class of the late Roman era. If villagers live according to the principles of individual self-reliance and private enterprise, they maintain a vital national awareness. This consciousness makes the collapse of any empire inevitable. Imperial self-interest necessitates the destruction of the villagers' traditional way of life. The villager is transformed into a "proletarian" who is neither tied to his land nor to his national heritage. Such rootless people easily lose touch with their native localities and migrate to the endless wastes of Siberia or Kazakhstan -- from one end of the empire to the other -- in search of higher wages. Moscow's intention has been to assimilate the non-Russian half of the Soviet empire. It is also interesting to note that even during the worst economic periods of Soviet rule, there has always been sufficient liquor available in the stores. This is one Soviet product that has never been in short supply. In destroying national consciousness, liquor has been as important as official Soviet propaganda. It's not difficult to persuade a drunk "proletarian" that as far as his national heritage is concerned "What's the difference?".

The collective farms are essential to the Soviet system, not because of Marxist economic doctrine (Yugoslavia gets along without them), but to maintain the empire. It is the Soviet Russian empire and not Communist orthodoxy that bans private enterprise. This is a key fact in understanding the nature of the Soviet system.

Thus, economic principles are ignored in favor of imperial interests. Not even the catastrophic economic consequences of this policy induce Moscow to change. Accordingly, the orthodox "purity" of Marxism has been abandoned. Of course, Soviet textbooks and newspapers repetitiously insist that everything is advancing "according to Marxist principles." But whoever has the patience to read past the third page of Marx's Das Kapital (almost no one in the Soviet Union has done so) realizes that the Kremlin ignores numerous Marxist principles. One example is the notion of "the total collapse of capitalism," which has not occured as Marx "scientifically" predicted. Another is the Leninist thesis that the Soviet Union would not require a standing army (only a limited "people's militia"), nor secret diplomacy, and so forth. These things are never mentioned in the USSR. While using Communist slogans for its own ends, the Soviet Russian empire has simply discarded everything about Communism that might prove advantageous to the non-Russian peoples.

The introduction of the collectivization and industrialization programs at the end of the 1920s meant that the empire once again held the reins of power tightly in its hands. During the chaos of the revolution these reins were temporarily torn from its control. State policy shifted in different directions during the 1920s in response to various forces. But when Moscow recovered and fully realized the situation, it once again adapted to the needs of the empire.

Although the impetus for the repressions of the 1930s is widely considered to have been socio-economic, often even by those who made policy, the real motivation behind the repression was a subconscious and unexpressed need to preserve the imperial system. The imperial instinct prompted the concrete social forms of the repression as well as the kind of totalitarianism that could be effective during the 1930s. If there had been no pressing imperial interests or Russian chauvinism, the repressions of the 1930s would have been only a tenth as severe. This is shown by comparing the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the Armenian massacre of 1915. Foreigners who were in Petrograd in late 1917 were astonished at how little blood was shed in the Bolshevik seizure of power. When one class fights another, many shots are fired but few people are killed. In contrast, an estimated two million Armenians were slaughtered in 1915 in an effort by the Turkish (Ottoman) empire to put an end to the Armenian national question. It is estimated that one half of the Armenian nation was murdered.

These elementary analogies are enough to show that the murder of seven million Ukrainians in 1933 could not have been motivated by socio-economic or "class" reasons alone. Conflicts claim millions of victims only in struggles between nations, as in wars, colonial struggles, and so forth, when the national question is paramount. Moscow needed a holocaust. The imposed famine of 1933 and the whole range of repressive mass killings during the 1930s were an expression of the empire's struggle for self-preservation. It was this instinct, and not the economic doctrine of collectivization, that impelled the Kremlin to carry out the horrors of the 1930s. No one can say how "real" socialist economics are supposed to work in practice. For example, Sweden calls itself a socialist society, and some regard it as a model of socialism. But Sweden has never abolished private enterprise. And although Poland has been under complete Soviet domination since 1945, collectivized agriculture has never been introduced there.

An article entitled "The Ethnocide of the Ukrainians in the USSR," signed by pseudonym Maksym Sahaydak, appeared in 1974 in the underground journal Ukrainian News. After quoting from Stalin's speech to the both Soviet Communist Party Congress of 1921, predicting that the cities of the Ukraine will inevitably become Ukrainianized, the author concludes: "The invaders dreaded this as they would an inferno, and they still dread it today. Bolshevik Moscow, headed by 'the father of all nations' (Stalin), did everything it could to stop the Ukrainian city from becoming Ukrainianized. This was the central reason for the famine in Ukraine in 1932 and 1933." / 16

From a historical perspective the year 1933 in the history of the Russian empire is analogous to 1848 in the Austrian empire, when the rulers in Vienna preserved the realm from dissolution by taking effective measures to repress the centrifugal national movements. This was the last great convulsion and the last effective effort for self-preservation before the final earthquake in 1918 brought about the collapse of the Habsburg empire.


1.KPSS v resoliutsiiach i postanovleniia sezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TC (Moscow: 1954), Vol. 1, p. 559.

2.Entsycopediia Ukrainoznavstva (1949), Vol. 1(2), pp. 547-548.

3.Dva roky roboty. Zvit Tsentralnoho Komitetu KP (b) U. (Kharkiv [Kharkov]: 1927), pp. 57-58.

4.XI zyizd KP (b)U. Stenohrafichnyj zvit (Kharkiv: 1930), pp. 737-738.

5.X zyezd RKP(b). Stenohraficheskyj otchet (Moscow: 1963), p. 213.

6.Visti BUCVK (dodatok "Kultura i pobut"), (1926).

7.I. Stalin, Marksysm i natsionalno-kolonialnyj vopros (Moscow: 1935), p. 152.

8.Ukrainskyj zbirnyk (Munich: 1957), Vol. 9, p. 71

9.V.I. Hryshko, Ukrainskyj Ho1okost 1933 (1978), p. 77.

10.Chrevonyj Shlach (Kharkiv: 1934), 2-3, p. 165.

11.The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book (New York and Toronto: Dobrus, 1955), Vol. 2, p. 129.

12.I. M-ko (I. Maystrenko), Do 25 richiia holodu 1933-ho roku. (Munich: Vpered, 1958), 7(92), p. 1.

13.Entsyclopediia Ukrainoznavstva (Paris and New York: 1959), Vol. 3, p. 1050.

14.U. Lavrynenko, Rostriliane Vidrodzheniia (Paris: 1959), p. 965.

15.XII zyizd KP (b)U. Stenohrafichnyi zvit (Kharkiv: 1934), p. 380.

16.Ukrainskyj Visnyk (Paris: Smoloskyp, 1975, reprint), 7-8, pp. 50-51.

From The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1986 (Vol. 6, No. 2), pages 207 - 220. This paper was first presented by the author at the Sixth IHR conference in February 1985, in Anaheim, California. The biographical information and introduction were updated and slightly revised in May 2019.

About the Author

Valentyn Moroz (1936–2019) was a historian, educator and author, as well as an important figure in the movement for Ukrainian national freedom and independence. During the Soviet era he was a prominent anti-regime dissident, a stalwart activist for human rights and Ukrainian freedom, and a political prisoner for 13 years in Soviet prisons and camps.

He was born in April 1936 in a village in the Volyn region of western Ukraine. After studies at the University of Lviv (Lvov), he worked as a secondary school teacher in his native region, and he taught modern history at teachers colleges. He was arrested in September 1965, age 29, on charges of “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda,” declared guilty, and sentenced to four years in a labor camp with a strict regimen. While in solitary confinement in a labor camp prison, he completed a lengthy essay entitled Report from the Beria Reserve, which was smuggled out and later published in the abroad. He was transferred to the central KGB prison in Kyiv (Kiev) and then to the notorious Vladimir prison.

In 1969 Moroz was released, but nine months later he was arrested again on a new charge of “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.” He was sentenced in November 1970 to six years of prison in strict isolation, to be followed by three years in a prison camp with a strict regimen, and then five years of internal exile. During this new term of imprisonment Moroz was treated harshly, and he went on several hunger strikes in protest.

The severity of his treatment prompted widespread protests, both within Soviet Ukraine and abroad. He and his case received considerable international publicity, and protest demonstrations on his behalf were held in front of Soviet embassies and consulates in the US and Canada. It was largely in response to the international protest campaign that Soviet authorities decided to release him. In April 1979 he was exiled to the United States. He was released at JFK airport in New York, along with four other dissidents, in exchange for two Soviet KGB agents.

Moroz then worked for a year as a Senior Research Fellow and lecturer at Harvard University’s Department of History. He completed his Ph.D. in 1982 at the Ukrainian Free University in Munich. He and his wife then made their home in Toronto (1986-1991), where he edited a Ukrainian journal and worked as a radio journalist. He was also prolific contributor to numerous Ukrainian periodicals in Canada and the US, and he lectured widely. After moving back to Ukraine during the 1990s, he made his home in Lviv, where he worked as a university lecturer and writer. He died on April 16, 2019
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