Holodomor: Ukrainian Famine-Genocide 1932-33
What is the Holodomor?
In the early 1930s, in the very heart of Europe - in a region considered to be Europe's breadbasket - Stalin's Communist regime committed a horrendous act of genocide against up to 10 million Ukrainians. An ancient nation of agriculturists was subjected to starvation, one of the most ruthless forms of torture and death. The government imposed exorbitant grain quotas, in some cases confiscating supplies down to the last seed. The territory of Soviet Ukraine and the predominantly Ukrainian-populated Kuban region of the Northern Caucasus (Soviet Russia) were isolated by armed units, so that people could not go in search of food to the neighbouring Soviet regions where it was more readily available. The result was the Ukrainian genocide of 1932-33, known in Ukrainian as the Holodomor, or extermination by famine.
Some facts about the Holodomor
- In late 1932 - precisely when the famine struck - the Central Statistical Bureau in Moscow ceased to publish demographic data.
- On Stalin's orders, those who conducted the 1937 census, which revealed a sharp decrease in the Ukrainian population as a result of the Holodomor, were shot, while the census results were suppressed.
- The 1931 harvest was 18.3 million tons of grain;
- The 1932 harvest was 14.6 million tons of grain;
- The 1933 harvest was 22.3 million tons of grain;
- The Soviet regime dumped 1.7 million tons of grain on the Western markets at the height of the Holodomor.
Geography of the Holodomor:
- The Holodomor was geographically focused for political ends. It stopped precisely at the Ukrainian-Russian ethnographic border.
- The borders of Ukraine were strictly patrolled by the military to prevent starving Ukrainians from crossing into Russia in search of bread.
Victims and losses:
- At the height of the Holodomor Ukrainian villagers were dying at the rate of 25,000 per day or 1,000 per hour or 17 per minute.
- Children comprised one-third of the Holodomor victims in Ukraine. Large numbers of children were orphaned and became homeless.
- The Ukrainian population was reduced by as much as 25 percent.
- The Soviet Government refused to acknowledge to the international community the starvation in Ukraine and turned down the assistance offered by various countries and international relief organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- Foreign correspondents were "advised" by the press department of the Soviet Commissariat for Foreign Affairs to remain in Moscow and were de facto barred from visiting Ukraine.
- The only correspondents permitted into Ukraine were the likes of Walter Duranty of the New York Times who set the tone for most of the Western press coverage with authoritative denials of starvation. According to British Diplomatic Reports, however, Duranty conceded off the record that "as many as 10 million may have perished."
Why is the Holodomor a genocide?
The Holodomor was genocide: it conforms to the definition of the crime according to the UN Convention on Genocide. The Communist regime targeted the Ukrainians, in the sense of a civic nation, in Soviet Ukraine, and as an ethnic group in Soviet Russia, especially in the predominantly Ukrainian Kuban region of the Northern Caucasus.
The Parliament of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada, called for international recognition of the Holodomor as genocide in three resolutions adopted during 2002-2003. On November 28, 2006, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed a resolution declaring the Holodomor as genocide.
The Senate of Canada adopted unanimously on June 19, 2003, a resolution calling upon the Government of Canada:
- to recognize the Ukrainian Famine/Genocide of 1932-33 and to condemn any attempt to deny or distort this historical truth as being anything less than genocide;
- to designate the fourth Saturday in November of every year throughout Canada as a day of remembrance of the more than seven million Ukrainians who fell victim to the Ukrainian Famine/Genocide of 1932-33; and
- to call on all Canadians, particularly historians, educators and parliamentarians, to include the true facts of the Ukrainian Famine/Genocide of 1932-33 in the records of Canada and in future educational material.
The Government of Canada unanimously passed Bill C-459, the Ukrainian Famine and Genocide ("Holodomor") Memorial Day Act which came into force by Royal Assent on May 29, 2008. The Act recognizes the Holodomor as an act of genocide and proclaims the 4th Saturday of each November Holodomor Memorial Day.