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Understanding the Causes and Consequences of the Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: The Significance of Newly Discovered Archival Documents

Today there is no dearth of research on the tragic events that transpired in Ukraine in the early 1930s. A bibliography containing 6,000 works on the famine-genocide was recently published in Ukraine. However, it may also be said that genuinely qualitative changes in understanding the far-reaching consequences of this social cataclysm, a topic that researchers from various countries (and not just researchers) are still discussing today, have taken place only in the last few years.

This change may be explained primarily by the gradual accessibility of documents revealing the activity of the top Soviet leadership in 1932-1933, and the conduct of regional leaders, particularly the party-state nomenklatura of the Ukrainian SSR. These documents enable scholars to grasp the exact mechanisms with which the Stalinist regime extracted grain under the guise of modernization--the great Molokh that ended up swallowing the lives of millions of people. They also foster a clearer understanding of the doctrinal and situational motives that governed the communist establishment.

          These kinds of documents were published in the book Komandyry velykoho holodu, which I co-edited with Valerii Vasyliev in 2001.28 The book contains direct archival testimonies on the activity of the extraordinary grain procurement commissions controlled by the head of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Viacheslav Molotov and the secretary of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (b) Lazar Kaganovich in Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus. Included among the documents are telegrams exchanged by Stalin,


28 See: Komandyry velykoho holodu. Poizdky V. Molotova i L. Kaganovycha v Ukrainu ta na Pivnichnyi Kavkaz. 1932-1933 rr. [Commanders of the Great Famine: V. Molotov and L. Kaganovich's Trips to Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus, 1932-1933]. Ed. by V. Vasyliev and Yu. Shapoval, Kyiv: Heneza, 2001


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