The Rise of the Soviet Union
In 1917, in the middle of the First World War, the Soviets seized control of Russia. They killed Czar Nicolas, as well as the rest of his family, and started the communist revolution. We may know that communism does not work, that the economic system is a failure, and that the cars in communist Russia were horrible. Yet, there is a part of history far worse than that. The Holodomor.
In the 1930’s the Soviets committed genocide. They tried to eradicate the Ukrainian people, so that they could replace them by ethnic Russians. The event would become known as the Holodomor. It is another instance where a government tries to change the ethnic make up of a country in order to increase its control. The strategy is similar to what the Chinese are doing in Tibet, but what the Soviets did was far more cruel.
The Soviets wanted to collectivize the farms. Private property was an evil to be destroyed in the socialist paradise. In reality this meant that Russian agents would enter Ukrainian villages, and taking peoples cattle and possessions. They forced the collectivization on the farmers, by taking away their private property.
Besides taking away the property, the Russians imposed ever increasing demands on the Ukrainian harvest. Not supplying the requested quota would result in you being deported to Siberia. Eating anything from the harvest became at some point punishable by death.
To the farmers, this felt like a return to serfdom. Once again they would not get to reap the benefits of their own hard work. Unsurprisingly, the farmers often revolted against the Russians. Many opposed communism and would have preferred to return to the age of the Czars.
All of this happened in the years 1932 and 1933.
The Man-Made Famine
During the years of the famine in the Ukraine, there was no famine anywhere else. The Ukrainian harvest was shipped abroad, sold in order to let money flow into the Soviet coffers. Ukrainians could not leave their land in search of food. They could not eat any of the food they were growing. The Soviets had made this all illegal and punishable by banishment or death.
The famine was, in its essence, a punishment. The Ukrainians were not loyal servants, and so they were destroyed. It was a genocide.
Russian settlers repopulated the abandoned Ukrainian villages. The newcomers settled into the abandoned farms. The previous occupants of the farms had perished in the famine.
It is estimated that between 3 and 8 million died. According to the Mykhailo Ptukha Institute of Demography and Social Studies of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences estimated that Ukraine lost 4.5 million people because of the Holdomor. Specifically, 3.9 million people died and 600 thousand babies died prematurely. That puts it on equal footing with the Jewish holocaust perpetrated by the Nazi’s – they too sought to destroy a group that was deemed to be not loyal to the cause.
Despite being equal in size, and maybe we could even say it was equal in brutality, the Holodomor is not as widely known. The term Holodomor itself is a merging of Ukrainian words, which roughly translates as death by hunger.
The Soviets aim in this genocide was clear. The Ukrainians were not loyal subjects, but they needed control of the area as it was the breadbasket of the Russian Empire. They decided to do what would serve their interests best – kill the Ukrainians and re-settle the land with loyal Russians.
The Germans attempted to destroy the Jews, because they considered the Jewish people to be parasites on their civilization. They eradicated them because they did not trust them to be loyal subjects serving the German cause.
The Chinese are re-settling Tibet with Han-Chinese to strengthen their control of the area. The Tibetans are not deemed loyal enough, and the Chinese wish to ensure that Tibet remains a part of China due to its geographical importance.
And once more in the Ukraine, we have seen governments enforcing demographic changes in order to serve their interests. The arrival of Russian immigrants destroyed the unity of the Ukrainian people. The population of Ukraine became diversified. This diverse society would never again be able to pose a serious threat to the ones in power.
Some fragments of the genocide…
”On Sunday evening she gave birth to two girls, on Thursday, they were driven out of the house and the babies were taken and thrown on snow. They said we had no right to take anything from the house and she cries. The little one is standing beside her. And where should she put those two? Then she was told to take the pillows. So she brought the pillows out. They helped her do it. And they put the pillows on the snow and she put the children. They said to their village council, there is no right to let anybody into the house.” – Eyewitness testimony to the United States Congressional Committee.
”Two women went into the fields in the spring to pick up some blackened spikelets left under the snow. Those spikelets were blackened; they picked them up and then were stopped on their way and exiled to Siberia for 10 years.” Testimony to the United States Congressional Committee
”Just as you leave Kharkiv where the Ukrainian border ends, people did not die from hunger at all. Our Ukrainians went there and the KGB people were already waiting there, checking who you are and where from. And they took people to Siberia. Alternatively, a fight would break out on the border because you are not allowed to cross it. You see, it seems we are living in one state but you are not allowed to leave.” – Eyewitness testimony to the United States Congressional Committee
”In Poltavka region, near Kyiv, there were also villages where everyone died. They have sent Russians to the place. They did not resettle Ukrainians from other place there, but real [ethnic] Russians.” – Eyewitness Testimony to the United States Congressional Committee