My recent piece, Where Obama’s Plan is NOT Working…, prompted this response from Bob Montgomery
Lots of people going to starve if Obama starves the breadbasket.
That comment got me thinking about something that occurred about four score and seven years ago. To paraphrase honest Abe
Four score and seven years ago one of the most ruthless humans ever to hold power brought forth, upon the European continent, a new nation, conceived in tyranny, and dedicated to the proposition known as collectivization.
Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, set in motion events designed to cause a famine in the Ukraine to destroy the Ukrainian people seeking independence from his rule. As a result, an estimated 7,000,000 persons perished in this farming area, known as the breadbasket of Europe, with the people deprived of the food they had grown with their own hands.
After Lenin’s death, Joseph Stalin, one of the worst dictators in human history ascends to power. Ukrainian farmers were a class of people called Kulaks by the Communists. They were formerly wealthy farmers who had owned acres, or had employed farm workers. Stalin believed any future insurrection would be led by the Kulaks, thus he proclaimed a policy aimed at “liquidating the Kulaks as a class.”
Stalin introduces a program of agricultural collectivization that forces farmers to give up their private land and livestock, and join state owned, factory-like collective farms. Stalin decides that collective farms would not only feed the industrial workers in the cities but would also provide a substantial amount of grain to be sold abroad, with the money used to finance his industrialization plans.
A propaganda campaign was started utilizing eager young Communist activists who spread out among the country folk attempting to shore up the people’s support for the Soviet regime. However, their attempts failed. Despite the propaganda, ongoing coercion and threats, the people continued to resist through acts of rebellion and outright sabotage. They burned their own homes rather than surrender them. They took back their property, tools and farm animals from the collectives, harassed and even assassinated local Soviet authorities. A policy of enforcement is applied, using regular troops and secret police. Many Ukrainian farmers, known for their independence, still refuse to join the collective farms. Stalin decides to “liquidate them as a class” and accuses Ukrainians of “bourgeois nationalism.”
Hundreds of thousands are expropriated, dragged from their homes, packed into freight trains, and shipped to Siberia where they are left, often without food or shelter. In the end, 1,000,000 Ukrainian farmers are seized and more than 850,000 deported to the frozen tundras of Siberia, where many perished.
The Soviet government increases Ukraine’s production quotas by 44%, ensuring that they could not be met. Starvation becomes widespread. Secret decrees are implemented that allow arrest or execution of anyone starving found taking as little as a few stalks of wheat or a potato from the fields he worked. By decree, discriminatory voucher systems are implemented, and military blockades are erected around Ukrainian villages preventing the transport of food into the villages and the hungry from leaving in search of food. Brigades of young activists from other Soviet regions are brought in to confiscate hidden grain, and eventually all foodstuffs from their homes. Stalin states of Ukraine that “the national question is in essence a rural question” and he and his henchmen determine to “teach a lesson through famine” and ultimately, to deal a “crushing blow” to the backbone of Ukraine, its rural population.
Ukrainians are dying at the rate of 25,000 a day, more than half were children. In the end, up to 10 million starve to death. Stalin denies to the world that there is any famine in Ukraine, and prevents international aid from entering the country.
The Soviets bolstered their famine denial by duping members of the foreign press and international celebrities through carefully staged photo opportunities in the Soviet Union and the Ukraine. The writer George Bernard Shaw, along with a group of British socialites, visited the Soviet Union and came away with a favorable impression which he disseminated to the world. Former French Premier Edouard Herriot was given a five-day stage-managed tour of the Ukraine, viewing spruced-up streets in Kiev and inspecting a ‘model’ collective farm. He also came away with a favorable impression and even declared there was indeed no famine. The New York Times correspondent and Pulitzer-prize winner Walter Duranty reported
Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda. There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.
While all of this happened long ago, and the post Soviet era Russia admits the famine was artificially engineered by the Soviet rulers and treats the actions taken by authorities at the time as criminal. However, it denies it was an early attempt at ethic cleansing. TV presenter and journalist Dmitry Kiselyov makes the point that Holodomor is an American term created by James Mace, an American historian, to justify the ethnic genocide of Ukrainians.
The ethnic selectiveness during Holodomor has no proof. Some seven to eight million died back then, 3.5 million of them lived on Ukrainian territory, but there were also Jews, Poles, Russians and Georgians among them.
The Russian Duma passed a resolution that read
There is no historical proof that the famine was organized along ethnic lines. Its victims were million of citizens of the Soviet Union, representing different peoples and nationalities living largely in agricultural areas of the country
This is what Jonah Goldberg wrote about this denial.
The Ukrainians want to call the organized murder of Ukrainians “genocide.” The Russians don’t. One of the things I find particularly interesting is how this disagreement cuts across the whole “Which Was Worse: Communism or Nazism” argument, which as some can imagine I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about while working on my book.
The Russians defend themselves by arguing that they were merely trying to slaughter an economic class of people, not an ethnicity. I understand why, as a technical matter, this might be a defense against the charge of “genocide” which, after all, is about killing a type of people.
Now, part of what fascinates me is why anyone would think murdering people because of their economic status is somehow any less evil than murdering people because of their ethnicity. I know what many of the whys are, and they reveal something profound about how different people see the world. In America, and the West generally, vast numbers of leftist intellectuals forgave Stalin, Mao and others for murdering people who stood in the way of Progress – and historians continue to do so today. Indeed, “modernization” was one of the great excuses and rationalizations for murder, theft and, yes, genocide in the 20th century and, I fear, people will be going back to this intellectual well for a good long time.
I agree with Jonah about how different people see the world. This is why instead of thinking that it can’t happen here we must be resolved to not let it happen here. People who see the world like this must be voted out of power instead of compromising with them.
Everyone, except some Turks, acknowledges the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the Jewish Holocaust of World War II. But between those events came another mass killing that has been conveniently hidden or ignored: the Holodomor. Holodomor literally means “death from forced starvation.”