Holodomor is the term given to the early 1930’s famines in the Soviet Union. The popular anti-Soviet propaganda states that the famine was man-made, especially to orchestrate a genocide of the Ukrainian people. The supposed millions of deaths from the “famine-genocide” are usually counted in the deaths under communism. It is not only a popular anti-communist myth that is circulated around in capitalist circles but also one that is believed by a large sector of the socialist left.
Marxists do not deny that a famine happened in the Soviet Union in 1932. In fact, even the Soviet archive confirms this. What we do contest is the idea that this famine was man-made or that there was a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This idea of the subjugation of the Soviet Union’s own people was developed by Nazi Germany, in order to show the world the terror of the “Jewish communists.” Below are some sources corroborating this claim in the hope that some of the misconceptions around this topic will be cleared.
It is a matter of some significance that Cardinal Innitzer’s allegations of famine-genocide were widely promoted throughout the 1930s, not only by Hitler’s chief propagandist Goebbels, but also by American Fascists as well.
It will be recalled that Hearst kicked off his famine campaign with a radio broadcast based mainly on material from Cardinal Innitzer’s “aid committee.” In Organized Anti-Semitism in America, the 1941 book exposing Nazi groups and activities in the pre-war United States, Donald Strong notes that American fascist leader Father Coughlin used Nazi propaganda material extensively. This included Nazi charges of “atrocities by Jew Communists” and verbatim portions of a Goebbels speech referring to Innitzer’s “appeal of July 1934, that millions of people were dying of hunger throughout the Soviet Union.”
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 49-51
This is Stalin urging the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine to take appropriate measures to prevent a crop failure.
The Political Bureau believes that shortage of seed grain in Ukraine is many times worse than what was described in comrade Kosior’s telegram; therefore, the Political Bureau recommends the Central Committee of the Communist party of Ukraine to take all measures within its reach to prevent the threat of failing to sow [field crops] in Ukraine.
Signed: Secretary of the Central Committee – J. STALIN
From the Archive of the President of the Russian Federation. Fond 3, Record Series 40, File 80, Page 58.
Excerpt from the protocol number of the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist party (Bolsheviks) “Regarding Measures to Prevent Failure to Sow in Ukraine, March 16th, 1932.
This is the response of Anna Louise Strong, an American journalist famous for reporting on the Soviet Union, to a question about the supposed genocide.
QUESTION: Is it true that during 1932-33 several million people were allowed to starve to death in the Ukraine and North Caucasus because they were politically hostile to the Soviets?
ANSWER: Not true. I visited several places in those regions during that period. There was a serious grain shortage in the 1932 harvest due chiefly to inefficiencies of the organizational period of the new large-scale mechanized farming among peasants unaccustomed to machines. To this was added sabotage by dispossessed kulaks, the leaving of the farms by 11 million workers who went to new industries, the cumulative effect of the world crisis in depressing the value of Soviet farm exports, and a drought in five basic grain regions in 1931.
The harvest of 1932 was better than that of 1931 but was not all gathered; on account of overoptimistic promises from rural districts, Moscow discovered the actual situation only in December when a considerable amount of grain was under snow.
Strong, Anna Louise. Searching Out the Soviets. New Republic: August 7, 1935, p. 356
Here is Strong again on the harvest of 1933.
The conquest of bread was achieved that summer, a victory snatched from a great disaster. The 1933 harvest surpassed that of 1930, which till then had held the record. This time, the new record was made not by a burst of half-organized enthusiasm, but by growing efficiency and permanent organization … This nationwide cooperation beat the 1934 drought, securing a total crop for the USSR equal to the all-time high of 1933.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 44-45
This is what a study of the Russian Archives led to.
Recent evidence has indicated that part of the cause of the famine was an exceptionally low harvest in 1932, much lower than incorrect Soviet methods of calculation had suggested. The documents included here or published elsewhere do not yet support the claim that the famine was deliberately produced by confiscating the harvest, or that it was directed especially against the peasants of the Ukraine.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 401
Another confirmation after a search of the Russian archives.
In view of the importance of grain stocks to understanding the famine, we have searched Russian archives for evidence of Soviet planned and actual grain stocks in the early 1930s. Our main sources were the Politburo protocols, including the (“special files,” the highest secrecy level), and the papers of the agricultural collections committee Komzag, of the committee on commodity funds, and of Sovnarkom. The Sovnarkom records include telegrams and correspondence of Kuibyshev, who was head of Gosplan, head of Komzag and the committee on reserves, and one of the deputy chairs of Komzag at that time.
We have not obtained access to the Politburo working papers in the Presidential Archive, to the files of the committee on reserves or to the relevant files in military archives. But we have found enough information to be confident that this very a high figure for grain stocks is wrong and that Stalin did not have under his control huge amounts of grain, which could easily have been used to eliminate the famine.
Stalin, Grain Stocks and the Famine of 1932-1933 by R. W. Davies, M. B. Tauger, S.G. Wheatcroft.Slavic Review, Volume 54, Issue 3 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 642-657.