[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
The Ukrainian Review, 1958
The Russian Terrorist Regime and the Artificial Famine in Ukraine (1932-33)
by A. Mykulyn
In his “Manual of Russian History”, published in Buenos Aires in 1945, the Russian scholar, S. Platonov, writes as follows: The inhabitants of Novgorod frequently organised insurrections agains the princes of Suzdal; in 1170 they defeated the armies of Prince Andrey Boholubsky so completely that, for a time at least, the Prince had some doubts about annexing the territories of Novgorod by force and incorporating them in the Principality of Suzdal. But, in addition to his army, the Prince had other means at his disposal which enabled him to defeat the inhabitants of Novgorod. He closed the frontiers of the Principality of Novgorod and in this way prevented the merchants of Novgorod from importing food from the Volga territories. In view of the possibility of a famine, the inhabitants of Novgorod in their desperation were obliged to surrender to Andrey Boholubsky” (p. 63). On pp.106-107 of the above-mentioned work almost identical facts are recounted with reference to the annexation of the regions of Pskov and Riazan and their incorporation in the Principality of Suzdal:
“Prince Basil III—so Platonov writes—besieged the frontiers of the territory of Pskov with his armies and forbade his soldiers, under penalty of death, to supply the inhabitants of Pskov with food. . . A terrible famine ensued in Pskov and the country was ravaged by disease (pestilence, Siberian fever, cholera, etc.), until in the end the inhabitants were compelled to surrender to Basil III... The Prince then abolished the Veche (general Assembly of Pskov) and deported 2,000 persons from Pskov to the regions of Moscow, while Pskov itself was inundated by Muscovites... The inhabitants of Pskov wept bitterly for the loss of their freedom, because ‘they had not found justice in Moscow’ . . . This Muscovite Prince also treated the inhabitants of the Principality of Riazan in the same way; the starving and the sick were deported by the hundreds to the regions of Moscow.”
It is evident from the above statements by S. Platonov, which are based on Russian historical sources, that the organisation of artifical famines by Moscow for the purpose of realising the Muscovite imperialistic plans dates back to the days when the Muscovite state was in its first embryonic stage. Famine as a means of conquering other peoples was already resorted to by the Muscovite princes in the 12th century. This method of subjugating other peoples has been practised by Moscow through the ages, right up to recent times.
According to Ukrainian and Russian historical sources, the Russian Tsars on numerous occasions resorted to this method in the case of Ukraine and other peoples subjugated by them. A famine caused in Ukraine by Moscow is for instance mentioned in the correspondence between the Russian Ministers Volynski and Biron in 1737: “Till my journey to Ukraine—so Volynski writes to Biron—I had no idea that Ukraine has been devastated to such an extent and that so many of the native papultion have died of starvation. Owing to the fact that so many people have been forced to join the Russian army, there are not enough farmers left to till the land. Although Moscow ascribes this failure to till the land to the stubbornness of the Ukrainians, we cannot but admit that there are no proper implements available and no enough farmers; many people have died of starvation, others have been obliged to wage war as ordered by Moscow, and all the cattle have been removed from Ukraine…”
In 1762, Ukrainian officers wrote to the Tsarina Catherine II as follows: “During the recent Turkish war, Ukraine—although she had to face many difficulties as a result of the events of the war which lasted several years—was obliged to provide billets for the Russian soldiers and to supply them with food and forage; what is more, horses and oxen were taken from the inhabitants by force and people of every class were abducted. In addition, food, forage and all the other things that are needed for waging war have been demanded from the population; no wonder that all the Ukrainians and, above all, the Cossacks, are suffering the most terrible hardships and need and are dying of starvation by the hundreds... In spite of this, the Russian army command has ordered them to pay an additional 140 thousand karbovantsi (roubles) in gold a year and also to hand over 40,000 hundredweights of flour” (from the official records of the Hetman governmental office in Ukraine).
The question presents itself as to what was the reason for a famine in Ukraine in the 17th and 18th centuries. Was Ukraine—the granary of Europe—in those days not in a position to provide sufficient food for her population, or was the cause of the famine the special policy pursued by the Russian occupation authorities in Ukraine?
In order to find an answer to this question, we should again like to refer to the semi-official sources of the above-mentioned “Manual of Russian History” by S. Platonov. On page 190 he writes as follows: “When in the General Council of Pereyaslav in 1654 an alliance was concluded on equal terms between Ukraine and Muscovy, the Muscovite Government interpreted this treaty to mean that the Ukrainians voluntarily became the subjects of the Muscovite (Russian) Tsar. Accordingly, Moscow sent Muscovite armies to Ukraine (especially to Kyiv); voivodes and administrators were appointed, and the Muscovites constantly tried to subject the Ukrainian Church to the Patriarchate of Moscow... But all these Muscovite measures in Ukraine encountered fierce and stubborn opposition on the part of the Ukrainian population. The Ukrainian Cossack hierarchy (the Hetman, his administrators, colonels, capains, etc.) as well as the lower-ranking Cossacks and the Ukrainian population as a whole regarded Ukraine as an entirely independent state. Since they were aware of the aims of the Muscovite policy in Ukraine, they opposed this policy and wished to declare the Treaty of Pereyaslav null and void. Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky, in particular, tried to accelerate this declaration. He waged war against Moscow and inflicted such a heavy defeat on the Muscovite armies near Konotop in 1659 that the Tsar, in alarm, prepared to leave Moscow. But later on, however, the Muscovite forces succeeded in invading Ukraine, where they pillaged the whole country, robbed the inhabitants of their food, property and cattle, etc., and deported the Ukrainian population to Muscovy”... Thus, according to Russian historical sources, the famines in Ukraine in the 17th and 18th centuries were in no way caused by a shortage of food or other commodities, but were due solely to the policy pursued by the Russian occupation authorities in order to break the opposition of Ukraine to Russian enslavement. According to entries in the governmental records of the Hetman’s office in Ukraine and in Tsarist records, artificial famines were organised in Ukraine during the reigns of Peter I, Anna, Catherine II, Paul I and other Russian Tsars. It is interesting to note that a similar Russian policy was practised with regards to Georgia in 1800 and 1826 because of the resistance put up by the Georgians at that time against the Russian subjugation of the Caucasus. Platonov also comments on this fact on page 314 of his “Manual of Russian History”. By that time, Ukraine had already been entirely subjugated; the Russian armies had occupied all the Ukrainian towns and now administered Ukraine as they liked.
The colonial exploitation of Ukraine by Russia in the second half of the 19th century was more evident than ever. The ultimate aim of Russian economic policy was to bind Ukraine to Moscow permanently, since Ukraine was an important agricultural region of the Russian empire which would provide Russia’s industry with raw materials and would serve as a market outlet for the sale of Russian products. Ukraine was likewise exploited as regards the financial side, too. Before the First World War, Ukraine was obliged to hand over to Russia about 30 per cent of all state revenues, a figure which was in no way in proportion to the state expenses alotted to Ukraine. The Ukrainian population had to pay all the occupation costs of Muscovy-Russia in Ukraine. The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 gave the Russian government an opportunity to resort to unheard-of measures of reprisal against the Ukrainian national movement. The entire Ukrainian press was prohibited, and Ukrainian intellectuals were imprisoned and deported. The measures resorted to by the Russian occupation authorities in the case of the Ukrainian population of the West Ukrainian regions that belonged to Austria-Hungary and were temporarily occupied by the Russian armies, were particularly violent: the extermination of Ukrainian cultural life in every sphere, mass •arrests and imprisonment of the Ukrainian population. But in spite of all these reprisals, the resistance of the Ukrainian people against the Russian intruders was steadily increasing. Numerous agrarian revolts and strikes by workers were organised in Ukraine at that time, and this state of affairs continued until the outbreak of the Russian revolution in February, 1917. The February revolution rapidly spread to the whole of Ukraine. In the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, a Ukrainian parliament—theTsentralna Rada (Central Council) was formed immediately after the outbreak of the revolution. In its Fourth Universal Manifesto of January 22, 1918, the Tsentralna Rada proclaimed the complete national independence and sovereignty of the Ukrainian State.
Ukraine continued to wage war against Moscow until 1921. Together with the Russian Bolshevist armies, Russian “White” (reactionary) armies also fought against Ukraine. Both Tsarist Russia and Red Russia were unwilling to tolerate the existence of an independent Ukrainian state. In his order issued to the Red Russian armies to advance from Petrograd to Ukraine, Lenin literally said: “Your victory over the yellow-blue (Ukrainian national colours—translator’s note!) vagabonds means bread for our wives and children. You must obtain bread for Russia in Ukraine with your bayonets.” Under the pressure of the superior numbers of the Russian armed forces, the Ukrainian army was obliged to leave Ukraine and go into exile. The Russian Bolsheviks in Moscow thereupon proclaimed the independence of a Ukrainian Soviet Republic on March 4, 1918, and in the spring of 1919, the 3rd Congress of the Soviets proclaimed the founding of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Despite the fact that the Ukrainian army had left Ukraine, the Ukrainian people continued their grim struggle for the national independence of their country. Up to the end of 1924, secret Ukrainian insurgent groups existed throughout Ukraine. On numerous occasions revolts on the part of the farmers took place, whilst in many towns and villages the Russian Communist administration was overthrown. Since he was well aware of the fact that Ukraine would not willingly accept the Red Russian occupation, Zinovyev made the following statement at the 5th so-called Pan-Ukrainian Conference of the Communist Party of Ukraine on November 17, 1920: “You must avoid all measures that might lead to the conviction on the part of the Ukrainian farmer that he is not allowed to speak Ukrainian” (Bulletin of the 5th Pan-Ukrainian Conference, Kharkiv, 1920).
By means of such a deceitful national policy, Moscow thus tried to mislead the people of Ukraine. In addition, the Russian Communist government (apart from exerting military pressure) decided to resort to the notorious Russian method of causing a wide-spread famine in Ukraine. And it was for this reason that Moscow made use of the unfavourable weather which prevailed in Ukraine in 1921-23. In the summer of 1921 a terrible drought occurred in South Ukraine, in the regions of Ukraine on the left bank of the Dnipro and in the Volga areas of the Russian Soviet Republic. The harvest was extremely poor, and the farmers, who, in spite of this fact, had to supply Moscow with agricultural products, were obliged to use up their reserve supplies of the year before. Towards the end of 1921, a dreadful famine began to rage in Ukraine and in the Volga areas. The Russian occupation authorities, however, were not in the least concerned about the famine in Ukraine; they only drew the attention of the rest of the world to the danger of a famine in the Volga regions. Thus, Western Europe and America only knew of the famine in the Volga regions, but not of the equally serious famine in Ukraine. Numerous West European political, charitable and religious organisations collected and sent gifts for the starving people of the Volga areas, whilst the U.S.A. promptly organised a permanent relief fund for these distressed areas, and the League of Nations entrusted its High Commissioner, Fridtjof Nansen, with the task of assisting the population of these regions. It is interesting to note that Moscow although it was well aware of the famine in Ukraine—nevertheless “assigned” each starving Volga province to a certain Ukrainian province that was to help the former with food and other products. The province of Odessa, for instance, was obliged to help the province of Tsaritsyn (now Stalingrad), the province of Zaporizhzha the area of Samara, etc. Whereas the starving population of the Volga areas—on the strength of a special decree issued by the Council of the People’s Commissars of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (R.S.F.S.R.)—was exempted from all obligation to fulfil delivery quotas in the summer of 1921, Ukraine, on the other hand, was compelled to deliver the greatest possible quantity of agricultural products. Special detachments of the Red Army robbed Ukraine of the “voluntary gifts”, consisting of cereals, clothes and other products, which were destined for the starving population of the Volga regions. The Russian Bolshevist press, as usual, distorted the truth by affirming that many Ukrainian provinces, especially those of Kyiv and Kherson, “with great enthusiasm hand over the rest of their agricultural products to their starving brothers in the Volga regions (“Kommunist”, December 12, 1921).
At the same time, when the Ukrainian provinces of Kyiv and Kherson were being forced by the Russians to supply cereals for the Volga areas and the Russian Soviet Republic, the newspaper “Visti” (published in Kharkiv) of December 21, 1921, wrote as follows: “... The provincial commission stated that in three districts alone of the Mykolayiv area there were as many as 400,000 starving Ukrainians; the entire province of Mykolayiv needs at least 96,000 tons of cereals in order to save the population till the new crops can be harvested.” The newspaper “Communist” of December 23, 1921, published the following statement: “Mykolayiv, December 20. In the region of Mykolayiv 22.4 thousand tons of cereals have been set aside to meet the delivery quotas. 72 thousand tons are thus still lacking. The special commission will not make any more attempts to convince the population that the lacking quantities must be supplied; it will force the population to hand over the quantity fixed as the delivery quota.” Hence, though the inhabitants of the province of Mykolayiv needed at least 96,000 tons of cereals to save them from dying of starvation, the special commission, instead of helping them, deprived them of 94.4 thousand tons. It is hardly necessary to ask oneself where the population was likely to find cereals to deliver to the state authorities, when it was starving and dying of hunger. And, indeed, Moscow was not in the least interested in this aspect of the question. All it did, was to resort to “decisive measures”. And these measures were extremely drastic. The newspaper “Kommunist” of December 22, 1921 (Kharkiv), for instance, published the following report: “Yelisavetgrad, December 19. In order to force the population that fails to deliver agricultural products to fulfil its quota in this respect, two public sessions of the revolutionary tribunal have been held, at which persons guilty of failure to deliver such products were sentenced to death and their property confiscated... 12 groups of the revolutionary tribunal will see to it that the delivery of agricultural products is carried out.” In the coastal regions ‘of the Sea of Azov and of the Black Sea, in the districts of Zaporizhzha, Dnepropetrovsk, Yelisavetgrad, Kherson and Mykolayiv and in the Don Basin the situation, as regards grain supplies, was already desperate in December 1921 and January 1922. The people were dying of starvation, but Moscow did nothing whatever to help Ukraine. On the contrary, it ruthlessly continued to demand the delivery of cereals. The Leningrad “Pravda” of December 9, 1921, was lying when it affirmed that the government had only just learnt of the famine in Ukraine: “A special commission that visited Ukraine states that there is a terrible famine there. The roads in the regions that are starving, including Odessa, are strewn with the carcasses of horses.’ The extent of the famine in Ukraine can be seen from some of the statements made by the Russian Bolshevist press during the years from 1921 to 1923: “The country is dying. In order to save it, we have appealed to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee... The population has no means of escaping the danger of death,—horses are being consumed as food. The people are leaving their homes and property and fleeing to other districts”... “The only hope is assistance from the state—from the central authorities. If the latter do not help immediately, hitherto unheard of events will occur. The children have no shoes and are starving; in vain they beg for alms, but nobody gives them anything. The schools have been closed down, because the children are too weak and exhausted to attend.” ... This statement was signed by the chairman and secretary of the Relief Committee of the district of Mariupol (Bulletin of the Central Committee for Relief for Famine-stricken Areas, All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee, Nos. 5-6, Kharkiv, 1922).
In January, 1922, Kalinin toured Ukraine, and, in the lectures which he held before the members of the Party organisations, reproached Ukraine with having failed to do her duty with regard to the famine-stricken Volga areas; he urged that the relief supplies of cereals for the “brothers” of the Volga region should be increased. At the same time, Manuilsky made the following statement at the 4th All-Ukrainian Conference of Soviets in Kharkiv: “We are obliged to admit that words fail us to describe the full extent of the devastation caused to Ukrainian agriculture by the famine. Is there a way out of this difficulty? Can we find any remedy to save our agriculture?” This was the question that Manuilsky put to the delegates present at the Conference,—a question put by a representative of the Red Russian government in Ukraine. Manuilsky knew quite well that Moscow, after having camouflaged its hunger policy by the drought in Ukraine in 1921-23, had organised an artificial famine in Ukraine.
“Is there a way out of this difficulty?” This question was ridiculous. Thanks to the various measures of the Russian Bolshevist government to help the Russian people and to the extensive relief measures of the Western world, the famine in the purely Russian areas, from Viatka to Orenburg, was eventually checked. Huge quantities of cereals and other foodstuffs, clothes and medical supplies were continuously sent to the Volga areas. In the autumn of 1921, the land in these areas was tilled. The paper “Izvestya” of December 7, 1921, reported that about 17 per cent less land than usual had been sown, but added that in spite of this fact it was to be hoped that by the following spring the land could once more be tilled normally. Thus, in the Volga regions a way out of the difficulty was found. But what about Ukraine? It was not until January, 1922, that the government of the Ukrainian S.S.R. was allowed (by Moscow, of course) to sign an agreement with the representative of the ARA (American Relief Administration), Mr. Chaskel, regarding the question of partial relief for famine-stricken Ukraine. The extent of this partial relief was naturally to be determined by Moscow.
In 1922 the harvest in Ukraine was very poor, owing to the fact that over 68 per cent of the land could not be tilled because there were no seeds to be had. In addition, the land that had been tilled and sown did not produce crops as a result of drought. Indeed, vast tracts of land resembled deserts. The streets of the villages and towns were strewn with the corpses of people who had died of starvation. Thirty volosti (sub-districts) in the region of Melitopil were famine-stricken; in the region of Hulay-Pole about 75 per cent of the population had no food whatever; in the Don Basin as many as 500,000 persons died of starvation. The following districts in Ukraine were swept by famine: Zaporizhzha, Kyiv, Kherson, Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk, the Don Basin, Yelisavetgrad, Kharkiv and various other regions.
On January 30, 1922, the following urgent telegram was sent from Bahmut to Kharkiv: “. . . the famine is raging in the districts of Mariupol, Hryshyno and Tahanrih... the farmers in desperation are digging graves for themselves and their children with their own hands. So far, the central authorities (Moscow) have sent no help whatever in the form of cereals. We are awaiting your respective measures and orders” (Official Bulletin of Kharkiv for January, 1922). A member of the Relief Committee of the League of Nations, after having travelled through Ukraine, reported to Geneva in 1922 as follows: “The cornfields between Poltava and Odessa, formerly the richest in Ukraine, are untilled. Everywhere there are to be seen deserted houses without roofs because the straw was eaten up by the inhabitants. Areas covering hundreds of kilometers are not tilled. I have seen neither cattle nor people.” In spite of this terrible situation, Moscow issued orders that countless trainfuls of Russians were to be sent from the Volga areas to Ukraine. These Russians then robbed the Ukrainians of their homes, grain and clothes. Mention must be made of the fact that the Ukrainian people were forced to fulfill the fixed delivery quotas for agricultural products as ordered by Moscow. According to a report published in the newspaper “Byednota”, Ukraine was in this way robbed of 1,520,000 tons of grain in one year alone.
Why did Moscow, after proclaiming the “independence” of the Ukrainian S.S.R., resort to such a terrible method of annihilating it,—namely, famine? Why did Moscow permit such an organisation as the “ARA” to help a few Ukrainian districts only? Why did Moscow conceal from the Western world the fact that the greater part of the Ukrainian population died as a result of the famine?
Having conquered Ukraine with the help of the Red Russian Army and the so-called “White” Russian armies, too, Moscow decided to break Ukrainian national revolutionary resistance by terrorism, plundering, destruction of Ukrainian culture and by ruthless Russification. The continued resistance of Ukraine—after the Russian occupation in 1920—is confirmed by the official documents of the Russian occupation authorities at that time. In April, 1922, the newspaper “Visti” reported the following incident: “A few days ago, a gang of Ukrainian bandit-rebels raided the Executive Committee of Tereshcha... The insurgents killed 140 Communists.” On March 6, 1922, the same newspaper had already reported that “the Presidium of the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee recommended that the secret political police, the GPU, should organise military revolutionary tribunals in Ukraine, the task of which should consist in sentencing to death all Ukrainian insurgents.” According to another report in the same newspaper, all the members of the Commission of Zhytomir, which had been ordered to set up Party organisations in the villages of Voihynia, were found dead on the road from Kyiv to Zhytomir. A big anti-Russian insurrection also flared up in the districts of Tyraspil, during which the farmers destroyed railways, bridges and goods trains. The All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee approved, on the same day, the sentence passed by the governmental revolutionary tribunal of Voihynia on the “Volhynian Insurgent Army”, namely that 64 persons were to be shot. These insurgents were then executed in Vynnytsia. In Zhytomir 53 persons were shot because they were “suspected’ of having collaborated with the Voihynian insurgent army. In the spring of 1923, the newspaper “Visti” reported as follows: “We are informed that another big counter-revolutionary insurrection has broken out in Ukraine. In the regions of Ukraine on the right bank of the Dnipro, martial law has been proclaimed; strong military units equipped with every type of arms have been sent out to deal with the rebels.”
The newspaper “Communist” in the summer of 1922 contained the following report: “Raids and assaults by Ukrainian insurgents are once again increasing. Even in the city of Kharkiv these gangs of bandits are very active; what is more, they are often aided by officers of the Red Army.” The Russian representative in Ukraine—the Hungarian Communist, Bela Kun, informed the French Communist, Laporte, as follows: “In 1921 we encircled the Ukrainian villages with machine-gun cordons, set on fire all the cottages and killed the whole population—old people, women and children—with machine-gun fire... Why? Because we knew quite well that all the Ukrainians were taking part in the insurgent struggle against Bolshevist rule in Ukraine.”
For the purpose of defeating the Ukrainian rebels, so the paper “Communist” reported, the Voihynian Provincial Executive Committee issued the following orders to the garrisons:
“1) persons who are arrested and refuse to give their names are to be shot on the spot;
2) in villages where weapons are found, hostages are to be taken and shot;
3) in cases where weapons are found in cottages or on other premises, the elders of the families concerned are to be shot on the spot;
4) those families in which some of the members are insurgents are to be deported to the Russian Federated Republic or to Siberia;
5) if an insurgent escapes, his family is to be shot, their house set on fire and their property confiscated and seized by the state.”
On March 10, 1923, 36 farmers were tried in Zhytomir on a charge of having taking part in insurrections. They were all sentenced to death. In Vynnytsia 85 Ukrainians were shot because they had worked in the forbidden Ukrainian cultural organisation “Prosvita”. The newspaper “Visti” of March, 1923, accused them of having planned an anti-Communist insurrection. In the summer of 1923, the same newspaper reported as follows: “The secret police, GPU, of Kharkiv has arrested numerous students and workers because many anti-Boishevist leaflets have been distributed in the city.” ... “Cavalry units have been sent to Dnepropetrovsk from Odessa in order to overthrow the Ukrainian insurgents there.”
The armed revolutionary resistance of Ukraine against Red Russian enslavement is also referred to in the speech of the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, D. Lebed, at the Party Conference in Kyiv: “Since we began to liquidate the Ukrainian national vagabonds, the influence of the Ukrainian chauvinists has gradually become weaker; but the results of the activity of our authorities in the Ukrainian villages are almost negative” (“Communist”, March 23, 1923).
The insurrections on the part of the farmers and the ineffectiveness of the so-called war Communism eventually forced Moscow to approve a new economic policy, the N.E.P., at the 10th Congress of the Communist Party. Moscow was, however, determined that this economic concession should in no way influence the political sphere of Soviet life. Accordingly, on December 30, 1922, the Soviet Conference formed the so-called “Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics” (U.S.S.R.) which Ukraine was obliged to join as an indivisible and constituent republic. With the introduction of the New Economic Policy, terrorism abated somewhat; mass executions, which had been the order of the day during the war Communism policy, were no longer practised. The New Economic Policy brought about certain improvement in the economic life of Ukraine. The results of the famine of 1921-23 were gradually obliterated; the farmers now tilled their land with far more care and interest since they were allowed to keep the products of their labour; there was a steady increase in industry; the Ukrainian language now predominated and the press was also printed in Ukrainian. It was during this period that the anti-Russian national forces become extremely powerful. When Stalin became dictator of the Soviet Union, however, the entire administration and all military and foreign affairs, too, became centralised in Moscow. The bureaucratic Party system was intensified, the N.E.P. was liquidated, and the first of the notorious Five Year Plans was introduced. It was at this stage that Moscow began to plan its imperialistic aggression against the Western world. In addition to its aggression plans, Stalin’s policy also had as its aim the complete annihilation of the anti-Russian resistance of the peoples enslaved by Moscow, above all, of Ukraine. For this reason, Stalin in 1927, on the occasion of the 15th Congress of the All-Russian Communist Party, approved the general collectivisation of agriculture; and in 1929 collectivisation was imposed on Ukraine. By means of exorbitant taxes, confiscation of the farmers’ property, reprisals and the so-called “De-kurkulisation” (liquidation of wealthy farmers), Moscow forced the Ukrainian farmers to join the collective system. Thousands of farmers were deprived of their property and deported, together with or without their families, to Northern Russia or Siberia. Ukraine’s reaction to these terrorist measures was to put up a general resistance; individual representatives of the Russian administration were persecuted, acts of sabotage were carried out and numerous villages and even whole districts (as for instance Pavlohrad, Lozova, Nikopol, Zolotonosha, Yahotyn, etc.) started insurrections.
Compulsory collectivisation in Ukraine was finally completed in 1932. But even then, anti-Russian resistance in Ukraine, Caucasia, Byelorussia, the provinces of the Don and the Kuban did not cease. Seeing that deportations, murders and executions, arrests, the increasing confiscation of grain and the military encirclement of numerous villages and districts failed to break this resistance, Moscow once again resorted to its old method of organising famines. In 1932-33 a terrible famine, artificially created by Moscow, once again swept Ukraine. By this means and by the general collectivisation, Moscow hoped to crush Ukrainian resistance for good. In 1929 the GPU had discovered the existence of a Ukrainian underground organisation—the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (SVU), and had also succeeded in liquidating the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, after having accused it of anti-Russian activity. After discovering the SVU, the GPU liquidated countless well-known Ukrainian personalities in an atrocious way. About two thousand members of the SVU and the Union of Ukrainian Youth (SUM) were executed without ever having been tried before a court.
In 1931 the GPU discovered the existence of the Ukrainian National Underground Centre and once again liquidated countless Ukrainians or deported them to concentration camps. Part of the Ukrainian Military Organisation (UVO) was discovered in 1933. Orders were then issued by Moscow that mass purges were to be carried out in every sphere amongst those Ukrainians who could not be accused openly of any anti-Russian activity. Numerous Ukrainian nationalists were the victims of these purges.
On November 19, 1933, Postyshev made the following statement during the plenary session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine: “I must admit that during the recent purges in the People’s Commissariat of Industry more than 300 nationalists were liquidated. In eight other central Soviet departments more than 200 Ukrainian national chauvinists were liquidated, whilst in the cooperative and agricultural sectors the number of persons purged amounted to two thousand...”
Famine and disease raged in most of the Ukrainian villages, but despite this fact Moscow continued to demand further deliveries of cereals from Ukraine. These delivery quotas were fixed by Moscow not according to the yield of the harvest, but according to the acreage of the land that still had to be tilled. The farmers were thus obliged to hide their cereals by digging them into the ground, but special detachments were sent round to all the villages to find the cereals which had been hidden. These brigades confiscated all the cereals they found and arrested the farmers and took them to concentration camps. By the spring of 1933, the famine had become so terrible that cases of cannibalism occurred. The people were so desperate with hunger that they ate anything they could lay hands on,—straw, the carcasses of horses, dogs, crows, old shoes, etc. The Russian press took good care to conceal this terrible famine in Ukraine from the Western world and even went so far as to publish accounts of the happy life led by the workers on the collective farms and of the great enthusiasm with which they went about their task. In reality, the streets of the villages and towns were strewn with corpses of the victims of the famine. Special brigades of grave-diggers from time to time collected the corpses and buried them in the forests. Starving dogs frequently snatched away corpses and dragged them into fields. And whilst this terrible tragedy was being enacted in Ukraine, long goods trains full of grain that had been stolen from Ukraine moved in the direction of Moscow, Leningrad and other Russian towns. There was no famine in Russia; indeed, foodstuffs of every kind were available in Moscow at the lowest prices. In order to escape from the famine-stricken areas of Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainians fled to Russia, where bread was not scarce. But the frontiers between Ukraine and Russia were guarded by Russian secret police and militia, and countless Ukrainian refugees were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
It is interesting to note that whereas in Ukraine 90 per cent of the privately owned farms were forcibly incorporated in collective forms during the years from 1929 to 1932, in Moscow, however, the corresponding figure was only 20 per cent. The periodical “Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn” (“Economic Life”), No. 294 (published in 1933), stated that the confiscation of cattle in Ukraine amounted to 70 per cent; at the same time, the stock of cattle in the Moscow area increased by 20 per cent, owing to the fact that it was augmented by cattle that had been taken from Ukraine; in the areas to the east of Leningrad the stock of cattle increased by 12 per cent.
Although Moscow was well aware of the terrible conditions which existed at this time in Ukraine, it continued its policy of exterminating the Ukrainian people by artificially created famine, since even starvation failed to stop the anti-Russian struggle of Ukraine.
It was stated by the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Kosior, in 1932, that 4.8 million tons of cereals had been lost in Ukraine. In addition, about 4.5 million tons of crops were lost because the Ukrainian farmers refused to work on the collective farms. In 1932 the harvest in Ukraine was good, but many of the cereals were not mown, whilst others were mown at the wrong time. Only relatively small quantities were damaged by rain. The farmers, since they refused to work on the collective farms, were, above all, anxious to secure the cereals for their own needs. On August 7, 1932, a special decree was issued regarding “the protection of socialist property”, according to which persons who collected ears of corn for their own needs were sentenced to deportation for ten years. Hence, once again thousands of Ukrainian farmers were deported to concentration camps.
In January 1933, a plenary session of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party was held in Moscow, and one of the speakers on this occasion was Kaganovich. One member of the Central Committee who had toured famine-stricken Ukraine commented: “In Ukraine people are already eating each other”. To which remark Kaganovich replied: “If we lose our nerve, they will eat us up and you, too... Would that be better for us?” (“The Socialist Courier”, No. 5, 1956, p. 93).
In the course of the above-mentioned plenary session, it transpired that artificial famines had been organised not only in Ukraine, but also in the provinces of Kuban and the Don, in Caucasia, in the Kirgiz, Bashkir, Uzbek, Kazakh and Tadjik Republics, that is to say in those countries where the non-Russian peoples opposed Moscow. Twenty million persons are said to have died of starvation in these countries. In Ukraine the number of victims of the famine of 1932-33 increased from 3.5 millions to 7 millions.
When news of the famine in Ukraine eventually reached the Western world, the latter immediately offered to help. But in order to conceal from the world the Russian policy of genocide in Ukraine, Moscow rejected this offer of help and Stalin hastened to proclaim the deceitful watchword, “We are living better, we are happier now!”
Although the resistance of the Ukrainian farmers was partly broken by Moscow’s starvation policy in 1932-33, Ukraine nevertheless continued her anti-Russian liberation fight. This fact is corroborated by the underground activity of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), by the refusal of the Ukrainians to fight for Russian interests during World War II, by the proclamation of a new Ukrainian state on June 30, 1941, and by the armed struggle of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) on two fronts. Further proof of Ukraine’s anti-Russian liberation fight can a1so be seen from the underground activity of the insurgents in Ukraine during the Hungarian revolution in 1956 and from the collaboration of the soldiers of the Red Army of Ukrainian descent with the Hungarian freedom fighters. In addition, reference is frequently made in the Red Russian press to the passive and active resistance of the Ukrainian population in the collective farms and in industry.
Twenty-five years have passed since the artificial famine was organised in Ukraine by Moscow in 1932-33 for the purpose of crushing obstinate Ukraine for ever. We should like to remind the free world of this fact, since it often forgets that Moscow continues to advance for the purpose of conquering the entire civilized world, be it by means of “peaceful” coexistence or by force.
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