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Holodomor -- Ukrainian Famine-Genocide 1932-33

What is the Holodomor?

In the early 1930s, in the very heart of Europe -- in a region considered to be Europe's breadbasket -- Stalin's Communist regime committed a horrendous act of genocide against up to 10 million Ukrainians. An ancient nation of agriculturists was subjected to starvation, one of the most ruthless forms of torture and death. The government imposed exorbitant grain quotas, in some cases confiscating supplies down to the last seed. The territory of Soviet Ukraine and the predominantly Ukrainian-populated Kuban region of the Northern Caucasus (Soviet Russia) were isolated by armed units, so that people could not go in search of food to the neighbouring Soviet regions where it was more readily available. The result was the Ukrainian genocide of 1932-33, known in Ukrainian as the Holodomor, or extermination by famine.

Some facts about the Holodomor


  • In late 1932 -- precisely when the famine struck -- the Central Statistical Bureau in Moscow ceased to publish demographic data.
  • On Stalin's orders, those who conducted the 1937 census, which revealed a sharp decrease in the Ukrainian population as a result of the Holodomor, were shot, while the census results were suppressed.

Harvest and Climatic Conditions:

  • The 1931 harvest was 18.3 million tons of grains;
  • The 1932 harvest was 14.6 million tons of grain;
  • The 1933 harvest was 22.3 million tons of grain;
  • The Soviet regime dumped 1.7 million tons of grain on the Western markets at the height of the Holodomor.

Geography of the Holodomor:

  • The Holodomor was geographically focused for political ends. It stopped precisely at the Ukrainian-Russian ethnographic border.
  • The borders of Ukraine were strictly patrolled by the military to prevent starving Ukrainians from crossing into Russia in search of bread.

Victims and losses:

  • At the height of the Holodomor Ukrainian villages were dying at the rate of 25,000 per day or 1,000 per hour or 17 per minute.
  • Children comprised one-third of the Holodomor victims in Ukraine. Large numbers of children were orphaned and became homeless.
  • The Ukrainian population was reduced by as much as 25 percent.

International Community:

  • The Soviet Government refused to acknowledge to the international community the starvation in Ukraine and turned down the assistance offered by various countries and international relief organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • Foreign correspondents were "advised" by the press department of the Soviet Commissariat for Foreign Affairs to remain in Moscow and were de facto barred from visiting Ukraine.
  • The only correspondents permitted into Ukraine were the likes of Walter Duranty of the New York Times who set the tone for most of the Western press coverage with authoritative denials of starvation. According to British Diplomatic Reports, however, Duranty conceded off the record that "as many as 10 million may have perished."

Why is the Holodomor a genocide?

The Holodomor was genocide: it conforms to the definition of the crime according to the UN Convention on Genocide. The Communist regime targeted the Ukrainians, in the sense of a civic nation, in Soviet Ukraine, and as an ethnic group in Soviet Russia, especially in the predominantly Ukrainian Kuban region of the Northern Caucasus.

In Ukraine

The Parliament of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada, called for international recognition of the Holodomor as genocide in three resolutions adopted during 2002-2003. On November 28, 2006, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed a resolution declaring the Holodomor as genocide.

In Canada

The Senate of Canada adopted unanimously on June 19, 2003, a resolution calling upon the Government of Canada:

  • to recognize the Ukrainian Famine/Genocide of 1932-33 and to condemn any attempt to deny or distort this historical truth as being anything less than genocide;
  • to designate the fourth Saturday in November of every year throughout Canada as a day of remembrance of the more than seven million Ukrainians who fell victim to the Ukrainian Famine/Genocide of 1932-33; and
  • to call on all Canadians, particularly historians, educators and parliamentarians, to include the true facts of the Ukrainian Famine/Genocide of 1932-33 in the records of Canada and in future educational material.



Holodomor Quotes

"We in Canada are bonded to this dark chapter in human history by more than a million Canadians of Ukrainian descent, many of whom lost loved ones in the Holodomor. And so, all Canadians join us in commemorating this 75th anniversary of the terrible famine of 1932-33. Because what was done to the Ukrainian people was a mortal offence against the values we hold dearest; freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
National Holodomor Commemoration Ceremony
Ottawa, November 28, 2007

"This year marks the 75th anniversary of one of the darkest chapters in human history. Holodomor, or "murder by hunger", was a famine brought on not by drought or war or careless farming practices. It was the intended result of a shameful political policy. Using food as a weapon, Stalin and his Soviet regime hoped to break the independent spirit of Ukrainian farmers resisting the forced collectivization of their lands."

Rt. Hon. Stephane Dion, Leader of the Opposition
National Holodomor Commemoration Ceremony
Ottawa, November 28, 2007

"Almost single-handedly did Duranty aid and abet one of the world's most prolific mass murderers, knowing all the while what was going on but refraining from saying precisely what he knew to be true. He had swallowed the ends-justifies-the-means-argument hook, line and sinker. When Stalin's atrocities were brought to light, Duranty loved to repeat ‘you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.' Those few "eggs" were the heads of men, women and children, and those "few" were merely tens of millions."

Mark Y. Herring - Review of S. J. Taylor's
Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty, the New York Times Man in Moscow, "Contra Mundum" No. 15

"I remain convinced that for Stalin to have complete centralized power in his hands, he found it necessary to physically destroy the second-largest Soviet republic, meaning the annihilation of the Ukrainian peasantry, Ukrainian intelligentsia, Ukrainian language, and history as understood by the people; to do away with Ukraine and things Ukrainian as such. The calculation was very simple, very primitive: no people, therefore, no separate country, and thus no problem. Such a policy is Genocide in the classic sense of the word."

James Mace
Holodomor Scholar (USA)

Additional on-line sources:

Famine Genocide Commemorative Committee - UCC-Toronto: Famine - Genocide in Ukraine 1932 - 1933
INFOUKES: Artificial Famine/Genocide (Holodomor) in Ukraine
Shevchnko Scientific Society: The Ukrainian Famine (Holodomor) of 1932-1933

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