Holodomor in Ukraine

By Rev. Ignatius Holowaychuk, OSBM
Reprinted with permission, Vegreville News Advertiser

The Holodomor, death by starvation, in Ukraine was organized by the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and his regime. Stalin used starvation as a means of subjugating Ukraine. Between 1932 and 1933 as many as 10 million Ukrainians died in the largest human-engineered famine of the 20th century.

The main victims were the Ukrainian farmers (Kulaks). The Kulaks and Ukrainian intelligentsia supported Ukrainian nationalism. Ukrainian farmers occupied 80 percent of the land that the now Communist regime of Ukraine wished to appropriate for state-owned farms. Ukrainian nationalism had to be curtailed to achieve this goal. Rebellions took place all over Ukraine to no avail. The Soviet regime began a counter-attack by destroying farmers’ religious, intellectual and social leaders. Ten percent of the intelligentsia, artists and priests were eliminated by arrests, show trials, executions and deportation. An estimated 80 percent of the intelligentsia were eliminated and the farmer’s land and livestock seized. The regime now began to force farmers into collective farms.

Collectivization was largely completed. In 1932 there was enough grain harvested to feed the population. The Stalin regime imposed stringent quotas on Ukraine which resulted in genocide. The regime sent communist activists and armed troops to guard fields and warehouses and confiscate food. Anyone resisting was arrested, shot or sent to Siberia. Food was declared state property. Picking up a few stalks of wheat meant a sentence of five years of incarceration for theft. In December of 1932, the internal passport system restricted movement of farmers. Ukrainian borders fell under military control. The border was sealed, preventing Ukrainians from leaving famine villages. In early 1933, 25,000 people were dying daily. The Soviet Union’s propaganda and political and economic pressure ensured that the rest of the world heard little or nothing about the famine.

In 2008 a memorial to famine victims was erected in Ukraine on the slope of the Dnipro River.