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Impact of Stalin's Crackdown in Ukraine

What happened in Ukraine, during 1932-33, which caused people to describe a famine in that country as Holodomor ("death by starvation)? What led to the horrifying survivor stories about the impact of Stalin's crackdown on Ukrainians?

The Library of Congress, profiling documents from the Russian State Archives, provides this information:

The dreadful famine that engulfed Ukraine, the northern Caucasus, and the lower Volga River area in 1932-1933 was the result of Joseph Stalin's policy of forced collectivization. The heaviest losses occurred in Ukraine, which had been the most productive agricultural area of the Soviet Union.

Stalin was determined to crush all vestiges of Ukrainian nationalism. Thus, the famine was accompanied by a devastating purge of the Ukrainian intelligentsia and the Ukrainian Communist party itself. The famine broke the peasants' will to resist collectivization and left Ukraine politically, socially, and psychologically traumatized.

The policy of all-out collectivization instituted by Stalin in 1929 to finance industrialization had a disastrous effect on agricultural productivity. Nevertheless, in 1932 Stalin raised Ukraine's grain procurement quotas by forty-four percent. This meant that there would not be enough grain to feed the peasants, since Soviet law required that no grain from a collective farm could be given to the members of the farm until the government's quota was met.

Stalin's decision and the methods used to implement it condemned millions of peasants to death by starvation. Party officials, with the aid of regular troops and secret police units, waged a merciless war of attrition against peasants who refused to give up their grain. Even indispensable seed grain was forcibly confiscated from peasant households.

Any man, woman, or child caught taking even a handful of grain from a collective farm could be, and often was, executed or deported. Those who did not appear to be starving were often suspected of hoarding grain. Peasants were prevented from leaving their villages by the NKVD and a system of internal passports.

The death toll from the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine has been estimated between six million and seven million. According to a Soviet author, "Before they died, people often lost their senses and ceased to be human beings." Yet one of Stalin's lieutenants in Ukraine stated in 1933 that the famine was a great success. It showed the peasants "who is the master here. It cost millions of lives, but the collective farm system is here to stay..."

Man's inhumanity to man was on full display during 1932-33 in Ukraine. The impact of Stalin's crackdown, on the country, is still felt in the 21st century.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5123stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 24, 2017

Updated Last Revision: Feb 24, 2017


Media Credits

Quoted passage, Library of Congress.

 

Clip from "Harvest of Despair:  The Unknown Holocust."

 

Produced and directed by Slavko Nowytski for the Ukrainian Famine Research Committee in Canada, with the assistance of the National Film Board of Canada. 

Narration writer and story consultant, Peter Blow

Photography by Thomas Burstyn and Yuri Denysenko

Edited by Yurij Luhovy

Music by Zenoby Lawryshyn

Distributed by International Historic Films, Inc. 

Released, 1984

Online, courtesy Google Video.

 

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Impact of Stalin's Crackdown in Ukraine" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 24, 2017. Oct 18, 2017.
       <https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Impact-of-Stalin-s-Crackdown-in-Ukraine>.
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