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Facts About the 1933 Famine-Genocide in Soviet Occupied Ukraine

1. Censuses

In late 1932 - precisely when the genocidal famine struck - the Central Statistical Bureau in Moscow ceased to publish demographic data. 

The 1937 census was given top priority. The census director I. Kravel was awarded the Order of Lenin for his meticulous work. After the results of the 1937 census were submitted to the Government, the census was declared "subversive", its materials destroyed and the top census officials were shot for not finding enough people. 

2. Harvest and Climatic Conditions

The "natural disaster" excuse to cover up the 1933 Famine-Genocide does not hold water. It was not caused by some natural calamity or crop failure: 

  1. The 1931 harvest was 18.3 million tons of grain.
  2. The 1932 harvest was 14.6 million tons of grain.
  3. The 1933 harvest was 22.3 million tons of grain.
  4. The 1934 harvest was 12.3 million tons of grain.
In 1934 during the poorest harvest - a mere 12.3 - there was no massive famine because Stalin reduced the grain requisition quotas and even released grain from existing "state stockpiles" to feed the population. 

The highest death rates were in the grain growing provinces of Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad and Odessa: usually 20-25%, although higher in many villages. 

3. Laws and Decrees

  • The 7 August 1932 law drafted by Joseph Stalin on the protection of the socialist property stipulated the death penalty for "theft of socialist property". Ukrainian villagers were executed by firing squads for theft of a sack of wheat and in some cases even for two sheaves of corn or a husk of grain.
  • The 6 December 1932 decree stipulated a complete blockade of villages for allegedly sabotaging the grain procurement campaign - de facto sentencing their Ukrainian inhabitants to execution by starvation.
  • An unpublished decree signed by Molotov encouraged Russian peasants to settle into the empty or half-empty villages of "the free lands of Ukraine" [and North Caucasus also inhabited by Ukrainians and likewise devastated by the famine].

4. Means of Implementing Forced Collectivization and Draconian Grain Requisition Quotas

  • The All-Union Peoples Commissariat of Agriculture in Moscow initially mobilized some of its most reliable ‘25-thousanders' -Party members, majority of them Russians - and sent them to Ukraine to organize collective farms.
  • Further ‘thousanders,' the army, the secret police [GPU], the militia and armed brigades were sent into Ukrainian villages to force the farmers into collective farms and to supervise the Draconian grain expropriation and eventually the entire output of butter, corn, sugar beet, etc.
  • Local granaries in Ukraine held large stockpiles of ‘state reserves' for emergencies, such as war, but the raging famine did not qualify as an emergency.

5. Geography of the Famine

  • The 1933 Famine-Genocide was geographically focused for political ends. It stopped precisely at the Ukrainian-Russian ethnographic border.
  • The borders of Ukraine were strictly patrolled by the military to prevent starving Ukrainians from crossing into Russia in search of bread.
  • For example: The Kharkiv Province on the Ukrainian side was devastated while the contiguous Belgorod Province on the Russian side with similar climatic conditions and demographic profiles showed no evidence of starvation or any unusual mortality.
  • Armed GPU officers were also stationed to prevent starving Ukrainians from entering the zone near the Polish and Romanian borders. Those who tried to cross the Dnister River into Romania were shot.

6. Exports

The Soviet regime dumped 1.7 million tons of grain on the Western markets at the height of the Famine. It exported nearly a quarter of a ton of grain for every Ukrainian who starved to death. 

7. Victims and Losses

  • At the height of the Famine Ukrainian villagers were dying at the rate of 25,000 per day or 1,000 per hour or 17 per minute.
  • By comparison the Allied soldiers died at the rate of 6,000 per day during the Battle of Verdun.
  • Among the children one in three perished as a consequence of collectivization and the famine.
  • According to dissident Soviet demographer M. Maksudov "no fewer than three million children born between 1932-1933 died of hunger."
  • 80% of Ukrainian intellectuals were liquidated because they refused to collaborate in the extermination of their countrymen.
  • Out of about 240 Ukrainian authors 200 were liquidated or disappeared. Out of about 84 linguists 62 perished.
  • The Ukrainian population may have been reduced by as much as 25%. 

8. Western Press Coverage

  • Foreign correspondents were "advised" by the press department of the Soviet Commissariat for Foreign Affairs to remain in Moscow and were de facto barred from visiting Ukraine.
  • Not a single Western newspaper or press agency protested publicly against the unprecedented confining of its correspondents in Moscow or bothered to investigate the reason for this extraordinary measure.
  • The majority of reporters feared losing their journalistic privileges and toed the line.
  • The only correspondents permitted into Ukraine were the likes of Walter Duranty of the New York Times who reported that there was no famine except for some "partial crop failures."
  • Star reporter Walter Duranty of the New York Times set the tone for most of the Western press coverage with authoritative denials of starvation and referred to the Famine as the "alleged ‘man-made' famine of 1933."
  • However, according to British Diplomatic Reports, Duranty off the record, conceded that "as many as 10 million" may have perished.
  • For his reporting Walter Duranty received the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. To this date the New York Times refuses to revoke the prize and still lists Duranty among its Pulitzer winners.

  • A number of intrepid reporters, such as William Henry Chamberlin, Harry Lang, Malcolm Muggeridge and Thomas Walker ignored the ban and reported on the Famine, substantiating their reports with photographs.

9. Collusion by Western Governments

Available archival evidence (such as reports sent in diplomatic pouches as well as coverage on the press by a few honest and courageous reporters who managed to penetrate into starving Ukraine) indicates that several Western governments (especially Great Britain, Canada and the United States) were well informed about the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine but chose to adopt a policy on non-interference in the internal affairs of a foreign sovereign state. Ironically, the United States recognized the Soviet Union in November, 1933. 

Offers to aid the starving by numerous charitable organizations such as the International Red Cross, Save the Children Fund, the Vienna-based Interconfessional Relief Council and Ukrainian organizations in the West and Western Ukraine (occupied by Poland) were discouraged or blocked by their Governments. 

10. Findings and Conclusions

The U.S. Congress 1988 Commission on the Ukraine famine in its "Investigation of the Ukraine Famine of 1932-1933" concluded that: JOSEPH STALIN AND THOSE AROUND HIM COMMITTED GENOCIDE AGAINST UKRAINIANS IN 1932-1933. 

Sources consulted:

Conquest Robert The Harvest of Sorrow. Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1986. 
Dolot, Miron Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust. New York: W. W. Norton, 1985. 
Famine in Ukraine 1932-1933 Edited by Roman Serbyn and Bohdan Kravchenko. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1986.



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