American Elephants

Sounds Like Genocide to Me by The Elephant's Child
April 7, 2008, 1:38 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Media Bias, News, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Holodomor Memorial

Russia’s lawmakers have passed a resolution stating that the 1930’s famine that killed millions of peasants in Soviet Ukraine should not be considered genocide. Even Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the 89 year old renowned author dismissed Ukrainian claims that the famine was genocide as a myth. Historians agree that the 1932-1933 famine was instituted by Soviet authorities under Joseph Stalin.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is leading an effort to gain international recognition of the famine as an act of genocide.

That the Great Famine was engineered to force peasants to give up their plots of land and establish collective farms is a matter of history. The number of peasants deliberately starved to death is estimated to be around 10 million, but the actual number is unknown. Grain was removed by the authorities from the villages, and the animals, and any food, and the peasants and their children were forced to remain. Ukrainians call it Holodomor, or death by hunger.

Many argue that the famine was meant to target private landowners as a social class in order to pay for the rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union. Others suggest that the famine was simply meant to eliminate Ukrainians as an ethnic group, as if one were better than the other.

President Vladimir Putin’s government has angrily clashed with nations formerly of the Soviet bloc about efforts to reinterpret 20th century events. Moscow accuses those nations of seeking to rewrite history and cast Russia as the villain.

Americans in 1933 were assured by New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty that “any report of famine” was “exaggeration or malignant propaganda”. Duranty received the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting, though the British charg√© d’affaires in Moscow reported in his dispatach that “According to Mr Duranty the population of the North Caucasus and the Lower Volga had decreased in the past year by three million and the population of the Ukraine by four to five million”. Robert Conquest says that “the influence of his false reporting was enormous and long-lasting”.

Also in the news is President Bush’s visit to the Ukraine to stress America’s support for its leaders hopes to join NATO. President and Mrs. Bush visited a memorial honoring famine victims along with President and Mrs. Yushchenko.

Of course the demand for the recognition of the Great Famine as an act of genocide is connected to Ukraine’s desire for NATO membership, and Russia’s angry denials are a sign of their displeasure at the actions of its former state.

Events have consequences. People have long memories.

2 Comments so far
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Of course it was genocide. There’s no such thing as genocide if that wasn’t it.

It was not a famine in the true sense of the word, although food production was lower than usual. The main causes of the “famine” were the collectivization of farms and the redistribution of goods from Ukraine to Russia. Russia wanted to export grain that was in short supply already. They confiscated it from the Ukrainian farmers and blocked them from even looking for other sources of food. When farmers in some village lacked their quota of grain, they were forced to give up their potatoes, beets, and other vegetables.

I have been to Ukraine twice and looked at the documentation. It still haunts me to remember the photographs of starving children who were, as I understand it, promised rations of milk and bread that they never got.

Food supplies were low, but there would have been enough for most people to survive–if they could have kept what they produced.


Comment by renaissanceguy

Have you read Robert Conquest? He was the first to alert the West to what was going on, and was vilified for it. And of course he was proved correct when the Soviet archives were opened. Harvest of Sorrow, and The Great Terror;A Reassessment. His two more recent books are marvelous too: Reflections on a Ravaged Century, and The Dragons of Expectation.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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