Реконструкція механізму Голодомору в Україні Станіслав Кульчицький доктор історичних наук, професор Інститут історії України Національної академії наук України

April 12, 2008

Проф. Станіслав Кульчицький уважається одним із найавторитетніших сучасних істориків, який протягом тривалого часу досліджує Голодомор.

Приїзд проф. С. Кульчицького до США зумовлено його участю у конференції ASN (The Association for the Study of Nationalities), котра відбуватиметься у Колюмбійському університеті.

Stanislav Kulchytskyi

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia regarding the Ukraine Famine of 1932-33 is becoming sharper on the eve of the 75th anniversary of this tragedy.

This was evident especially at the United Nations session on the human rights held last March. Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Pavel Loshchynin, disagreed with the declaration of the Ukrainian representative, saying that the victims of the tragedy were not only Ukrainians, but also millions of people of other nations. On April 2, the State Duma of the Russian Federation adopted a resolution concerning the Famine in the Soviet Union 1932-33, where it condemned the attempt of the Ukrainians to refer to the Famine as genocide. On the same day, the Russian writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, strongly criticized the attempts of Ukrainian politicians to separate Holodomor from the overall Famine in the USSR.

The problem of Holodomor also has a scientific dimension. On April 4, it was included at the special session of the conference of Russian and Ukrainian historians. The conference was organized by the Moscow University and the European Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, with the support of the State Duma. I described Holodomor as genocide, but my colleagues from the Russian side ignored my comments. The text of my presentation will be printed in the Kyiv newspaper “The Day,” which is published in three languages (Ukrainian, Russian and English), as well as on the Internet. I mention this because here time is limited and I cannot present my argument sufficiently.

Ukrainian Holodomor 1932-33 for a long time was part of the Famine, which resulted in almost complete confiscation of the harvest in all grain-producing regions of the USSR. This is why Russian diplomats and scientists advise Ukrainians not to overestimate their victims and refuse the concept of genocide. They claim that Stalin committed a crime by exporting grain in order to speed up industrialization. As a result of this, peasants were dying of hunger, but crime like this is not genocide.

They say that a similar situation took place in 1947. At that time Stalin condemned Ukraine to hunger, as he confiscated crop in order to help drought victims in European countries. Soviet citizens were dying from hunger in the name of factory construction or in order to gain popularity for the Kremlin in the post-war Europe. This kind of policy may be qualified as crime against humanity but not as genocide.

In both instances we agree with the Russian side. The Ukrainian side is not asking to recognize the ruinous effects of the Famine 1946-47 as genocide. We are also not asking to recognize as genocide the demise of 150 thousands of Ukrainian peasants in the first half of 1932 as a result of grain confiscation. In our opinion, these crimes are genocide, but this kind of classification will become unquestionable only after the United Nations convention on genocide will be completed with additional articles.

We are asking to recognize as genocide two totally different events: the death from hunger of 3 to 3 ½ million peasants in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, and hundreds of thousands of mostly Ukrainian peasants and Cossacks in the Northern Caucasus during November 1932 to July 1933. These we would call Holodomor.

Until November 1932 peasants in the two mentioned regions, as well as peasants in other USSR regions, were dying from hunger in tens of thousands. This hunger was instigated by complete confiscation of grain. In November and December 1932 , in villages placed on the “black board,” and in January 1933 in all regions of Ukraine, under the pretext of grain consignment, a Chekist operation was realized where they confiscated all food from the peasants. As a result of this operation all food trade disappeared. In cities, free trade of food disappeared even earlier because city inhabitants used food cards. Until the new harvest, peasants had only one opportunity to acquire food: stores that belonged to a company called “Trade with Foreigners.” The government started to organize branches of this company in local centers in order to obtain gold and silver articles.

It was impossible to obtain food in other regions because in January 1933 Stalin blockaded the Ukrainian Republic and the Kuban region of the North Caucasus. At the same time, he forbade the use of the word Famine, and out of inertia this prohibition lasted until December 1987. Impossibility to discuss Famine paralyzed the ability of the local authorities to provide aid to the hungry. The aid could be realized only with directives from above.

The confiscation of non-grain food, the blockade, and the prohibition of the word Famine, together constitute the actions expected at the UN Convention on genocide: creation of impossible conditions for physical existence. Who can say, then, that a sack of potatoes or ten kilos of beans could help build Dniproges or Uralmashzavod?

We were very disappointed by the book “The Years of Hunger – Soviet Agriculture, 1931-33,” by Robert Davies and Steven Wheatcroft, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2004. The authors, together with Robert Conquest who saw the book yet in manuscript form, came to the conclusion that Stalin did not deliberately cause the Famine of 1933, but did nothing to prevent the tragedy. This conclusion, which was quoted by Professor Victor Kondrashin of the University of Penza, at the above mentioned conference in Moscow, is based on 35 party and government decrees about food aid to the hunger-stricken regions between February 7 and July 20 1933. The total aid constituted 320 thousand tons. Out of that, Ukraine and Kuban received 265 thousand tons, and all the other regions together – 55 thousand tons. Consequently, we cannot agree with Robert Conquest’s statement: “Stalin did not do anything to prevent the tragedy.” He did, and , as we see, not so little!

Is it possible to combine into one endeavor the organization of Famine/genocide and aiding the hungry? Not only possible, but necessary, because this repression loses sense without the end-phase of the Chekist operation – the great official aid. You need only to look at all the facts connected to the Holodomor, not as an ethnic cleansing which was for example the Holocost, but as a terror. Indeed, Robert Conquest himself was the first to call Holodomor “Terror-Famine.”

In the world literature for the last 20 years discussions are being held about whom it was that Stalin destroyed in 1933 – peasants, Ukrainians, or Ukrainian peasants. The dictator had absolute power during a quarter of the century, and it’s not worth it to pose such a question based on the experience of only one year. A variety of repressions was engaged against Ukraine, and so you cannot isolate what happened in 1933 from all the others. Even preceding all these discussions, answers were provided by the young scientist from Harvard, James Mace, at the first scientific conference on the 50th Anniversary of Holodomor, in Montreal, 1983. In the conference report, prepared in Edmo
nton by Bohdan Krawchenko and Roman Serbyn, you may read this answer: Stalin destroyed Ukrainians as representatives of nation/state, not as an ethnic group. Stalin’s repression was directed not against people of a given nationality or a given occupation, but against citizens of Ukrainian state. This state was created during the demise of the Russian empire and lived through its own destruction in the form of a Soviet state.
To understand the nature of Stalin’s repressions it’s important to remember that they always had the character of terror, directed at achieving a certain goal or prevention of a certain danger. Terror is always a repression with the goal to demonstrate the destruction of a part, in order to frighten the whole. Terror-Famine against Ukrainian peasants joins in the UN Convention, which defines genocide as a whole or partial destruction of a human group. In this case, a national group.

New York, April 10, 2008

Роман Андрушків, Станіслав Кульчицький,
Дарія Дика, Орест Попович