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Genocide question : Countries which officially recognise the Holodomor as an act of genocide

April 27th, 2018 | by Richard Paul
Genocide question : Countries which officially recognise the Holodomor as an act of genocide
Business and Finance

Genocide question

Countries which officially recognise the Holodomor as an act of genocide

Robert Conquest, the author of The Harvest of Sorrow, has stated that the famine of 1932–33 was a deliberate act of mass murder, if not genocide committed as part of Joseph Stalin‘s collectivisation program in the Soviet Union.[89] R. W. Davies and Stephen G. Wheatcroft believe that, had industrialisation been abandoned, the famine would have been “prevented” or at least significantly alleviated:

[W]e regard the policy of rapid industrialisation as an underlying cause of the agricultural troubles of the early 1930s, and we do not believe that the Chinese or NEP versions of industrialisation were viable in Soviet national and international circumstances.[90]:626

They see the leadership under Stalin as making significant errors in planning for the industrialisation of agriculture. Michael Ellman argues that, in addition to deportations, internment in the Gulag camps and shootings (see the law of spikelets), there is evidence that Stalin used starvation as a weapon in his war against the peasantry.[91] He analyses the actions of the Soviet authorities, two of commission and one of omission: (i) exporting 1.8 million tonnes of grain during the mass starvation (enough to feed more than five million people for one year), (ii) preventing migration from famine afflicted areas (which may have cost an estimated 150,000 lives) and (iii) making no effort to secure grain assistance from abroad (which caused an estimated 1.5 million excess deaths), as well as the attitude of the Stalinist regime in 1932–33 that many of those starving to death were “counter-revolutionaries“, “idlers” or “thieves” who fully deserved their fate. Based on this analysis he concludes, however, that the actions of Stalin’s authorities against Ukrainians do not meet the standards of specific intent required to prove genocide as defined by the UN convention (with the notable exception of the case of Kuban Ukrainians).[92] Ellman further concluded that if the relaxed definition of genocide is used, the actions of Stalin’s authorities do fit such a definition of genocide.[92] However, this more relaxed definition of genocide makes the latter a common historical event,[clarification needed] according to Ellman.[92] Regarding the aforementioned actions taken by Stalin in the early 1930s, Ellman unambiguously states that, from the standpoint of contemporary international criminal law, Stalin is “clearly guilty” of “a series of crimes against humanity” and that, from the standpoint of national criminal law, the only way to defend Stalin from a charge of mass murder is “to argue he was ignorant of the consequences of his actions”. He also rebukes Davies and Wheatcroft for, among other things, their “very narrow understanding” of intent. He states:

According to them [Davies and Wheatcroft], only taking an action whose sole objective is to cause deaths among the peasantry counts as intent. Taking an action with some other goal (e.g. exporting grain to import machinery) but which the actor certainly knows will also cause peasants to starve does not count as intentionally starving the peasants. However, this is an interpretation of ‘intent’ which flies in the face of the general legal interpretation.[92]

Chicago Americans front page

Genocide scholar Adam Jones stresses that many of the actions of the Soviet leadership during 1931–32 should be considered genocidal. Not only did the famine kill millions, it took place against “a backdrop of persecution, mass execution, and incarceration clearly aimed at undermining Ukrainians as a national group”.[93] Norman Naimark, a historian at Stanford University who specialises in many fields of modern European history,[94] genocide and ethnic cleansing, argues that some of the actions of Stalin’s regime, not only those during the Holodomor but also Dekulakization and targeted campaigns (with over 110,000 shot)[citation needed][28] against particular ethnic groups, can be looked at as genocidal.[95] In 2006, the Security Service of Ukraine declassified more than 5,000 pages of Holodomor archives.[96] These documents suggest that the Soviet regime singled out Ukraine by not giving it the same humanitarian aid given to regions outside it.[97]

The statistical distribution of famine’s victims among the ethnicities closely reflects the ethnic distribution of the rural population of Ukraine[98] Moldavian, Polish, German and Bulgarian population that mostly resided in the rural communities of Ukraine suffered in the same proportion as the rural Ukrainian population.[98]

Author James Mace was one of the first to show that the famine constituted genocide, although Rapahel Lemkin, who coined the term, also described this famine as an act of Soviet genocide directed against the Ukrainian nation.[99] But British economist Stephen Wheatcroft, who studied the famine, believed that Mace’s work debased the field of Russian studies.[100] However, Wheatcroft’s characterisation of the famine deaths as largely excusable, negligent homicide has been challenged by economist Steven Rosefielde, who states:

Grain supplies were sufficient to sustain everyone if properly distributed. People died mostly of terror-starvation (excess grain exports, seizure of edibles from the starving, state refusal to provide emergency relief, bans on outmigration, and forced deportation to food-deficit locales), not poor harvests and routine administrative bungling.[101wikipedia]

Country Soviet Union
Location Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
Period 1932–1933
Total deaths 2.4 million to 12 million
  • Considered genocide by 16countries
  • Considered as a criminal act of the Stalinist regime by 6 countries
  • Considered a tragedy or crime against humanity by5 international organizations
Relief Foreign relief rejected by the State. Respectively 176,200 and 325,000 tons of grains provided by the State as food and seed aids between February and July 1933.[1]
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The Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомо́р);[a][2] derived from морити голодом, “to kill by starvation”),[3][4][5] also known as the Terror-Famine and Famine-Genocide in Ukraine,[6][7][8] and—before the widespread use of the term “Holodomor”, and sometimes currently—also referred to as the Great Famine,[9] and The Ukrainian Genocide of 1932–33[10]—was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932 and 1933 that killed an officially estimated 7 million to 10 million people.[11] It was part of the wider Soviet famine of 1932–33, which affected the major grain-producing areas of the country.

During the Holodomor millions of inhabitants of Ukraine, the majority of whom were ethnic Ukrainians, died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine.[12] Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by Ukraine[13] and 15 other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people carried out by the Soviet government.[14]

Early estimates of the death toll by scholars and government officials varied greatly;[clarification needed] anywhere from 1.8[15] to 12 million[16] ethnic Ukrainians were said to have perished as a result of the famine. Recent research has since narrowed the estimates to between 2.4[17] and 7.5[18] million. The exact number of deaths is hard to determine, due to a lack of records,[19][20] but the number increases significantly when the deaths in heavily Ukrainian-populated Kuban are included.[21] Older estimates are still often cited in political commentary.[22] According to the findings of the Court of Appeal of Kiev in 2010, the demographic losses due to the famine amounted to 10 million, with 3.9 million direct famine deaths, and a further 6.1 million birth deficit.[19]

Some scholars believe that the famine was planned by Joseph Stalin to eliminate a Ukrainian independence movement.[12][23][24] Using Holodomor in reference to the famine emphasises its man-made aspects, arguing that actions such as rejection of outside aid, confiscation of all household foodstuffs, and restriction of population movement confer intent, defining the famine as genocide; the loss of life has been compared to that of the Holocaust.[25][26][27][28] The causes are still a subject of academic debate, and some historians dispute its characterization as a genocide.[29][30]


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