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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Why did Stalin exterminate the Ukrainians?

Comprehending the Holodomor. The position of soviet historians
22 November, 2005 - 00:00

(Continued from the previous issue)

A CONFLICT WITHIN A GENERATION

I have already mentioned that both right- and left-leaning unscrupulous politicians tend to politicize the subject of the Holodomor. In doing so, they aim to please their voters, which is quite natural for politicians. Why has it become possible to capitalize on the subject of the famine? Why do our fellow countrymen have differing opinions of the Holodomor? Finding the answer requires the use of a more or less abstract notion — a generation.

In the past I used to think that another abstract notion, territory, was more suitable for such analysis. So much has been said about the division of Ukraine into eastern and western halves, as well as about the special mentality of the population in the western oblasts, which came under Russia in the form of the Soviet Union (or reunited with the Ukrainian SSR, which is also true) only in 1939-1940. Now I consider that the decisive role in shaping the difference between the eastern and western oblasts of present-day sovereign Ukraine was played by the presence or absence of mass repressions when a particular generation was forming.

The Kremlin used mass repressions while building the “commune state” in 1918-1938, and during the Stalinist Sovietization of Ukraine’s western oblasts in 1939-1952. Notably in the latter case, the repressions affected a different generation. This means that the representatives of Ukraine’s oldest living generation in the western and eastern oblasts have had different life experiences, which is why they feel differently about history.

The residents of the western oblasts hate communism with a passion and despise the Communist Party and Soviet nomenklatura that carried out repressions during the “first Soviets,” i.e., from 1939, and during the “second Soviets,” i.e., from 1944. Meanwhile, the residents of the eastern oblasts were raised under the Soviet system. Unlike their parents, they were loyal to the government and were therefore spared Stalinist repressions. Even though mass repressions in the USSR continued until Stalin’s death, they became selective, targeting individual territories (the Baltic republics, the western Ukrainian oblasts) or nationalities (e.g., the campaign to combat cosmopolitanism, “the Doctors’ Case”). Manipulating the enslaved population, Stalin used the human and material resources of Ukraine’s eastern oblasts to combat the anti-Soviet underground movement in western Ukraine.

The anticommunism of the population in the western oblasts is manifested always and in everything. The West and the Ukrainian Diaspora, whose representatives mostly have Galician roots, proved very responsive to the tragedy of the Holodomor, even though they were not directly affected by it. The well-organized North American Diaspora made a decisive contribution to exposing the Kremlin’s most horrible crime.

For the anticommunist-minded representatives of the older generation in the western oblasts, the 1932-1933 famine was a priori a crime committed by the Kremlin. They needed no documents and accepted the testimonies of Holodomor witnesses as true. It turned out that they were right to do so. On the contrary, this generation’s representatives in the east have embarked (at least one would hope so) on a long and painful road of de-Stalinization, consciously giving up the stereotypes of thinking and behavior, which the Soviet system had inculcated in them since childhood.

World War II veterans and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) veterans find it very hard to come to terms not because they fought on opposing sides. Other wartime enemies in Europe have long since made peace. Our veterans have had different life experiences, and it is hard for them to give up the beliefs of their youth. Perhaps the real picture of the Holodomor will facilitate this painful reassessment of values. I must admit that the realization that you have become what you are as a result of government manipulations is an unpleasant thing. Yet it is much more unpleasant to remain that way until your final hour. How can one be Stalin’s puppet half a century after his death?

My own reassessment of values took place under the influence of my study of Holodomor history. In 1981 I published a book entitled Partiia Lenina — Sila Narodnaia [Lenin’s Party — the People’s Strength], which was designed for Soviet schoolchildren. I was being honest with them because I believed in what I was writing. I believed not only because I was raised in this faith. Built by forceful means, the Leninist “commune state” became harmonious in its own peculiar way, when there was no longer any need to use force. Then the eternal values propagated by the Soviet government came to the fore. Of course, I saw the double standards, but played them down as imperfections of human nature. I felt the lack of freedom, but justified it by the need to survive while being “surrounded by capitalists.” Indeed, what can a bird born in a cage tell you about the sky?

After several years of exploring the Holodomor, I realized that the Soviet government was capable of exterminating people — millions of people. What could one’s attitude be to such a government and its ideals after realizing what the Holodomor really was?

In 1991 two younger colleagues and I published the book Stalinism in Ukraine. The title itself is proof that I was clinging to the term “Stalinism,” which is still popular in the West, and did so in an attempt to save the idea of social equality by blaming everything on Stalin. Later I realized that the millions of lost lives were the result of the implementation of Lenin’s idea of the “commune state”. If personalized, the communist idea should be called Leninism. In its party dimension it should be called Bolshevism.

Tsina Velykoho Perelomu [The Price of the Great Turning Point] is the title of my second book that was published in 1991. The title is derived from Nikita Khrushchev’s thoughts on the cost of collectivization in the lives of Soviet citizens. At the time these thoughts astonished me because they came from a CPSU leader. The book’s 432 pages contain hundreds of documents that paint a vivid picture of the Holodomor. Did this book influence the people of my generation, who need to reassess their values?

I doubt it. The state plays a key role in society’s comprehension of the real nature of the Holodomor. Through its specialized agencies the state must bring to citizens’ attention knowledge about the not so distant past, knowledge accumulated by scholars. In doing so, the state can prevent interpersonal conflicts stemming from differing life experiences. The Ukrainian president’s calls for reconciliation are futile without daily educational efforts by the government.

After 1987 the Ukrainian Communist Party and Soviet nomenklatura approached the research and educational work on the subject of the famine with affected enthusiasm. In September 1990 I was made a member of the ideological commission of the CC CPU, even though I never held any posts in the state machinery. After the Ukrainian parliament proclaimed Ukraine’s independence, information on the Holodomor was used by the “sovereign communists” headed by Leonid Kravchuk to convince voters that this [independence] was the right decision. James Mace recalled that Oles Yanchuk’s film Holod-33 [Famine ‘33] on which he was a consultant, did not receive a single kopeck in state funding during the filming, but it was still aired on television before the Dec. 1, 1991 referendum. The first presidents of Ukraine mostly went no further than symbolic gestures (a memorial plaque on Kyiv’s St. Michael’s Square and the Day to Commemorate Holodomor Victims on the fourth Saturday of November). Most of the books on the Holodomor have been published with donations from sponsors, not with government funds. In a decade and a half the leaders of Ukraine have not shown the will or desire to republish the three volumes of witness testimonies that speak of the tragic events in the Ukrainian countryside after 1928, which were compiled by the Mace commission. These three volumes contain the voices of the generation born before 1920. What makes it unique is the fact that representatives of the first generation of Soviet people are no longer among us.

Whereas government bodies had no pressing desire to become involved in the subject of the Holodomor, opposition forces took over this function. We must recognize that they did a great deal of good. At the same time this subject became politicized. After the Orange Revolution, which removed the old nomenklatura from power, individual former oppositionists decided that now they could do as they pleased. They started with a “small thing” — an attempt to move the Day to Commemorate the Holodomor Victims, which Leonid Kuchma introduced in 1998, from fall to springtime, so that it would not conflict with the anniversary of the Orange Revolution. The moral myopia of such people is astounding.

DISCUSSIONS WITH RUSSIAN SCHOLARS

The attitude of the Russian public and government to the events of 1932-1933 is another important issue. Even if we substantiate with facts that the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine was an act of genocide, we will have to face a different interpretation of our common past at the international level.

Discussions with Russian scholars should be conducted as openly as possible so that we can prove the validity of our position to both the opposing side and our own public. This is necessary in view of how Ukrainian citizens presently understand the Holodomor.

Many our fellow countrymen believe that the causes of the 1932-1933 famine are unclear. Others think that the famine was caused by droughts and/or grain procurements. These were precisely the causes of the 1946- 1947 famine, which people still remember. Most of those who think that the Holodomor was an act of genocide have a shallow understanding of the political and legal essence of “genocide.” They are certain that if the government’s actions cause mass deaths among the population, they are always an act of genocide. The Kazakh tragedy refutes this supposition. Communist Party officials’ ignorant attempts to force the Kazakh nomads to settle down resulted in famine, the scale of which exceeded the Ukrainian Holodomor if you compare the percentage of the affected population in the two ethnic groups. However, the Kazakh tragedy was not a result of terror by famine.

The 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine should be analyzed within the context of the political and legal substance of the term “genocide.” During a relatively short period Stalin purposefully exterminated the village population in two Soviet political- administrative divisions in which Ukrainians were the dominant population (the Ukrainian SSR and the Kuban province of the Northern Caucasus Territory of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic). From the very outset I would like to dissociate myself from those of my colleagues who define the purpose of this act of genocide differently: Stalin exterminated the Ukrainians! Of course, the end result was just that: Stalin exterminated the Ukrainians. Yet we will not be able to prove the validity of a claim about it being an act of genocide if we use this simplified and purely emotional formulation.

For many years I have been conferring with a small community of scholars in Russia and the West, who are studying the Ukrainian Holodomor, and I know their way of thinking. For this reason I have to offer a thought-out and clear position on the subject of genocide.

I understood the socioeconomic causes of the 1932-1933 famine already in the early 1990s. Later, at the Department of Interwar History at the Institute of Ukrainian History we studied the totalitarianism of the Communist Party and the Soviets as a holistic political and economic system, which included a study of the Kremlin’s nationality policy. Now we have arguments relating to the national component of the Kremlin’s policy.

All of the comments provided here are necessary so that my account of discussions with Russian scholars on the nature of the 1932-1933 famine in the Soviet Union will strike the appropriate tone.

These discussions were touched off by the May 1993 informational and analytical conference organized by the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow, which was entitled “The Holodomor of 1932-1933: Tragedy and Warning.” Both sides were represented by scholars, politicians, and journalists. We spoke about terror by famine, which the Kremlin used against Ukraine, while they claimed that the Stalinist repressions had no national component. Only Sergey Kovalev, a former dissident, who in 1993 chaired the Human Rights Commission in the Russian parliament, summoned the courage to say “Forgive us!” while addressing the Ukrainian side.

Then a Moscow newspaper carried an article by the journalist Leonid Kapeliushny, who wrote it after reading the book by Volodymyr Maniak and Lidiia Kovalenko, Holod 33: Narodna Knyha-Memorial [Famine ‘33. The People’s Memorial Book]. In the book the journalist saw “eyewitness testimonies that have legal force, testimonies of genocide witnesses” (Izvestiia, 1993, July 3).

Kovaliov’s “Forgive us” and Kapeliushny’s conclusion were reinforced by papers presented at the international scholarly conference “The Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: Causes and Consequences,” which took place in Kyiv on Sept. 9-10, 1993 and was attended by the president of Ukraine. While President Kravchuk blamed the tragedy of the Ukrainian nation on the Stalinist government, Ivan Drach, who took the floor after him, placed this problem in a different dimension. “It is time to fully understand once and for all that this was only one of the closest to us — surviving and now living Ukrainians — stages in the planned eradication of the Ukrainian nation. Intolerance of this nation is deeply rooted in the descendants of the northern tribes, to whom our people gave its own faith, culture, civilization, and even its name,” Drach said.

The Russian experts on the problems of collectivization and famine— Ilya Zelenin, Nikolai Ivnytsky, Viktor Kondrashyn, and Yevgeniy Oskolkov — wrote a collective letter to the editors of a historical journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences, expressing their concern over the fact that most conference participants insisted on “a certain exceptionality of Ukraine, a special nature and substance of these events in the republic as opposed to other republics and regions in the country.” They claimed that the famine in Ukraine was no different from famines in other regions, whereas the anti-peasant policy of the Stalinist leadership had no clearly defined national direction (Otechestvennaia istoriia [National History], 1994, no. 6, p. 256).

In an attempt to substantiate their position, the Russian colleagues emphasized the socioeconomic aspects of the 1932-1933 famine, quoting my paper presented at that conference. Without a doubt, the Kremlin’s economic policy did not distinguish among the national republican borders, and in this respect their arguments were flawless. However, the rejection of the Ukrainian specifics of the famine, led the Russian colleagues, whether they wanted to or not, to state that the Kremlin had no nationality policy or repressive element of such a policy. I heard a similar statement to the effect that “Stalin’s victims have no nationality” from a different Russian delegation at an international symposium in Toronto, entitled “The Population of the USSR in the 1920s-1930s in the Light of New Documentary Evidence” (February 1995). However, Soviet history knows many cases of ethnically motivated repressions. Is it worthwhile recounting them all?

In recent years the Institute of Ukrainian History has established cooperation with the Institute of General History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and through it with experts at other Russian institutions as part of the Russian-Ukrainian Commission of Historians (co-chaired by the Ukrainian academician Valeriy Smoliy and Russian academician Aleksandr Chubarian). On March 29, 2004, Moscow hosted the commission’s meeting, attended by numerous prominent Russian experts on agrarian history. They discussed the book Holod 1932-1933 rokiv v Ukraini: prychyny ta naslidky [The Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: Causes and Consequences], published in 2003 by the Institute of Ukrainian History to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor. Thirty authors collaborated on this large-format volume of 888 pages supplemented with a 48-page section of illustrations.

Several copies of the book were sent to Moscow long before the commission’s meeting. Yet it failed to convince the Russian historians. Soon after that meeting Viktor Danilov and Ilya Zelenin publicized their views of the problem discussed in an article that appeared in Otechestvennaia istoriia (no. 5, 2004). The gist of their position is reflected in the title of their article: “Organized Famine. Dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of the Peasants’ Common Tragedy.”

The journal printed a black band around the authors’ names; our opponents died soon after the meeting. It is a great loss for Russian historical scholarship and all of us, since aspiring Russian scholars are not all that keen to explore these “complex problems.”

New archival documents on Soviet agrarian history are now circulating among scholars. This has become possible primarily thanks to the tremendous efforts of Viktor Petrovich Danilov. The new additions to the source base have significantly reinforced the position of the Ukrainian side in its attempts to convince the world that the Holodomor was indeed an act of genocide.

Summing up the results of our meeting on March 29, 2004, Danilov and Zelenin came to the following conclusion: “If one is to characterize the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as ‘a purposeful genocide of Ukrainian peasants,’ as individual historians from Ukraine insist, then we must bear in mind that it was in equal measure a genocide of Russian peasants.” The Ukrainian side can accept such a conclusion. After all, we are not saying that only Ukrainians were Stalin’s victims. Moreover, because of the specifics of “socialist construction” and the nature of the political system, between 1918 and 1938 the hardest hit (percentage of the total) by repressions were the immediate perpetrators of Stalin’s crimes — Chekist secret police agents, followed by state party members, especially the Communist Party and the Soviet nomenklatura, followed by citizens of the national republics, and finally Russians.

How can one explain the Russian scholars’ restraint when it comes to the question of genocide? It may perhaps be explained by the fact that the international community is using the Dec. 9, 1948, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide more and more actively. In January 2004 Stockholm hosted the international forum “Preventing Genocide: Threats and Responsibility,” which was attended by many heads of state. The forum focused on the following questions: the political, ideological, economic, and social roots of violence connected with genocide; mechanisms for preventing and responding to the threat of genocide at the international level; the use of diplomatic, humanitarian, economic, and forceful means to prevent genocide.

In Ukrainian society only marginal right-leaning politicians insist that present-day Russia is responsible for the Ukrainian Holodomor and demand moral or even financial compensation. However, the fact that Russia has been recognized as the legal successor of the USSR does not burden it with responsibility for the crimes of the Bolsheviks, White Guards, or any other regimes that controlled Russian territory in the past. Even the attempts of the Kremlin leadership to associate itself with certain attributes of the former Soviet Union, as evidenced by the melody of Russia’s state anthem, are not reason enough to put forward such claims. After all, nostalgia for the Soviet past is equally present in Ukrainian and Russian societies, mainly in the older generations.

Russia is freely publishing documentary collections that reflect the state crimes of the Stalinist period. In fact, it has become possible to build the concept of the Ukrainian Holodomor as an act of genocide only on the basis of documents publicized in Moscow. At the same time, Russia’s attempts to inherit the achievements of the Soviet epoch, especially the victory in World War II, are forcing Russian officials to throw a veil over Stalin’s crimes as much as this can be done in the new conditions of freedom from dictatorship. This applies particularly to the crime of genocide, even though the Dec. 9, 1948, Convention does not place responsibility on the legal successors of criminal regimes.

Naturally, if Russia wants to inherit the accomplishments of the Soviet epoch, it must also inherit its negative aspects, i.e., the obligation to utter Kovalev’s “Forgive us.” The European Parliament hinted at this “liability” in 2004, when it found the deportation of the Chechens to be an act of genocide. However, few would like to inherit moral responsibility for the crimes of previous regimes, unless absolutely necessary.

This is why Russia is a decisive opponent of recognizing the Ukrainian Holodomor as an act of genocide. In August 2003 Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin said in an interview with BBC’s Ukrainian Service: “The Holodomor affected the entire Soviet state. There were no fewer tragedies and no less pain in the Kuban, Ural, and Volga regions, and Kazakhstan. Such expropriations did not just happen in Chukotka and the northern regions because there was nothing to expropriate.” Russia’s official representatives at the UN did everything possible to have the definition of the Holodomor as an act of genocide excluded from the Joint Statement of 36 nations on the 70th anniversary of the Ukrainian Holodomor.

It remains for us to convince the Russians that the Ukrainian famine was a result of not only repressive grain procurements, but also a perfectly organized campaign to seize all food stocks from peasants. There is a body of evidence to this effect, and if the voices of Ukrainian scholars are reinforced by the voices of Western historians, this goal will become practicable.

POSITION OF WESTERN RESEARCHERS

A closely interconnected network of research institutions specializing in so-called Sovietology formed in the West during the Cold War. However, no Sovietologists were interested in what happened in Ukraine in 1932-1933.

After moving to the US, Robert Conquest, an English literary scholar and contemporary of the Russian revolution, started to work at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of the USSR. He is the author of the first book of non-Ukrainian historiography on the Great Famine in the USSR, which was published in 1986. The author of this famous work, The Great Terror, was right to define Stalin’s policy in Ukraine as a special kind of terror — terror by famine. Robert Conquest’s book The Harvest of Sorrow was based on literary sources, most of them collected by James Mace. The international community found the book sensational. On the contrary, Sovietologists disapproved of it and accused the author of political bias, because the book was commissioned by the Ukrainian Diaspora.

In the late 1980s a “revisionist” trend emerged in the ranks of Sovietologists. Its representatives believed that Cold War historiography had to be revised because it was ideologically opposed to communism, i.e., it went beyond the bounds of scholarly knowledge. The “revisionists” unleashed a torrent of criticism against the publications of the US Congressional Commission on the Ukraine Famine. Mace himself recalled that he was accused of falsifying history. With no prospects for steady employment in the US, Mace moved to Kyiv and found a job at the institute, which had been organized by Ivan Kuras on the foundations of the former Institute of Party History at the CC CPU.

Much like during the Soviet period, in the early post-Soviet years Ukrainian historical studies did not have an independent international status. In contrast, Russian historians only had to strengthen their long-standing ties. The international status of Russian scholarship rose sharply with the opening of archives from the Stalinist period.

In 1992 Viktor Danilov launched a theoretical seminar entitled “Modern Concepts of Agrarian Development” at the Interdisciplinary Academic Center of Social Sciences (Intercenter). During its meeting on June 24, 1997, the participants discussed the work of Stephen Wheatcroft (Australia) and Robert Davies (UK) entitled The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture, 1931-1933. The journal Otechestvennaia istoriia (no. 6, 1998) devoted dozens of pages to a report on this seminar. It is hard to describe it in several paragraphs, but I will try.

In his introduction Wheatcroft condemns the thesis that it was an “organized famine” and that Stalin purposefully seized grain to cause the peasants to starve. The report focuses much attention on Ukraine. It states that the Kremlin did not know anything, and when information about the famine started to come in, “the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) was addressing the increasingly pressing problem of dispensing additional grain [to the peasants — Auth.].” Between February and July 1933 the CC AUCP(b) and the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR issued 35 resolutions and decrees to dispense food grain.

That was the report. Interestingly enough, the cited facts were true. The only thing that is not known is why millions of people died of hunger. Only one document struck the researchers with its cynicism: a CC CP(b)U resolution on dividing peasants hospitalized and diagnosed with dystrophy into ailing and recovering patients. The resolution ordered improving the nutrition of the latter within the limits of available resources so that they could be sent out into the fields to sow the new crop as soon as possible.

Of course, Stalin did not use terror by famine for the indiscriminate extermination of all peasants for whatever reason. Those lucky enough to survive were sent to perform agricultural labor and received food in the fields while they worked. They received food dispensed according to special resolutions from supreme government bodies. This was meant to show how much the government cared about keeping its citizens alive. In this way the peasants learned to work as part of state- owned collective farms.

Based on the authors’ estimates, Roberta Manning of Harvard University pointed out that before the 1933 harvest government stockpiles contained between 1.4 and 2 million tons of grain. This was enough to prevent mass hunger. “What forced the Soviet government to seize and export such a large percentage of a very low harvest and stockpile more grain than it did during the previous grain crises? These questions demand answers,” she said in a polite rebuttal of the basic points of the report. On the contrary, Lynn Viola of the University of Toronto supported the view of the 1932-1933 tragedy as outlined in the report primarily because it was “revisionist,” i.e., it differed from previous opinions about the famine organized by the government or even an act of genocide committed by the Stalinist leadership. Yu. Moshkov agreed that peasants received food relief in the first half of 1933, but added to this obvious fact that “in my view, it is impossible to deny Stalin’s clear intent in the fall of 1932 to punish disobedient peasants who refused to surrender everything including grain.” M. Viltsan used the points in the report to launch an attack against the authors of the “concept of manmade famine” Nikolai Ivnytsky, Viktor Kondrashyn, and Yevgeniy Oskolkov. Armed with facts, these three repelled the attack.

This was the gist of the theoretical seminar at the Intercenter, with praise for “revisionists” and attacks against Russian scholars who called the famine of 1932-1933 “manmade” in the face of irrefutable facts. It is not surprising that they did not dare go one step further and call the Ukrainian famine an act of genocide.

This seminar reflected the way the Holodomor was comprehended in the West in the late 1990s. The situation has improved significantly. It appears that the turning point came during the international conference organized by the Institute for Historical and Religious Studies in Vicenza, Italy, in October 2003. I will not dwell on its work, because James Mace wrote about it in one of The Day’s October 2003 issues. Its result was a resolution supported by scholars from Italy, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, the US, and Canada (Ivnytsky and Kondrashyn abstained), urging the prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, who was then holding the EU’s rotating presidency, and European Commission chairman Romano Prodi to apply efforts to have the Ukrainian famine 1932-1933 recognized internationally as an act of genocide.

The Vicenza conference had a sequel. On Sept. 5, 2005, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy launched a book entitled Death of the Land. The Holodomor in Ukraine of 1932-1933. This event was attended by Italy’s Ambassador to Ukraine Fabio Fabbri and the director of the Italian Institute in Ukraine, Nicola Balloni. The book is based on the materials presented at the Vicenza conference. Nadia Tysiachna’s article (Sept. 13, 2005) on this presentation bore the same title that James Mace used for the newspaper column that he sent from Vicenza: “Intellectual Europe on the Ukrainian Genocide.”

University of Koln professor Gerhard Simon, who participated in the Vicenza conference, organized a discussion panel entitled “Was the 1932-1933 Famine in Ukraine an Act of Genocide?” at the 7th International Congress of Historians in Berlin, held in July 2005. This question touched off a heated debate. I am grateful to Dr. Simon for sacrificing the presentation of his own report to give me additional time to substantiate my position. I am also grateful to him for his assistance in having my article translated into German and published in the reputable magazine Ost Europa. The entire staff of the Institute of Ukrainian History is thankful to this authoritative expert on the history of Central and Eastern Europe for his interest in the problem of the Holodomor and his article published in Ukrainskyi istorychnyi Zhurnal [Ukrainian Historical Journal], which is a fresh contribution to the German historiography on this problem.

PEERING INTO THE ABYSS

It is obvious that comprehending the Holodomor is no simple task for Ukrainian and foreign scholars, Ukrainian society, and the international community. Do we know everything that happened in our Ukraine seven or eight decades ago? Have we broken free of the stereotypes that were inculcated into the consciousness of several generations?

Sometimes in the face of new or reconsidered facts one has to give up one’s established views of certain aspects of the past. This is a normal thing for a professional historian. This is the meaning of scholarly quest. At the start of Gorbachev’s de-Stalinization one impulsive woman could no longer endure it and screamed out loud for all of the Soviet Union to hear: “I cannot give up my principles!” She could not find the courage to peer into the abyss and see how much Leninist ideology differs from Leninist and Stalinist practice.

We have to squeeze the hypocrisy of the Soviet period out of ourselves one drop at a time. The sooner our society liberates itself from the stereotypes of the previous epoch, the easier its life will be. The truth about the Holodomor can become a powerful lever in this process.

What is this truth? In the coming issues I will propose my version of the 1932-1933 events in Ukraine. Readers who have read this historiographic introduction in the form of these four articles should make their own judgments based on the facts currently in possession of historians. The upcoming articles will address the essence of the communist “revolution from the top,” the Kremlin’s nationality policy, mechanisms of genocide, and other subjects that together can provide the answer to the question of why Stalin exterminated the Ukrainians.

By Stanislav KULCHYTSKY, Ph.D. (History)
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