The “so-called” Holodomor
Consequences for Ukraine
Oleksandr KRAMARENKO, Luhansk
Photo by Dmytro NIKONOROV
THE TWO OF US
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sees no grounds for recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine as an act of genocide on an ethnic basis, reads the statement issued by the ministry’s press and information department “in connection with the discussion of the so-called Holodomor of 1932-1933 by the Ukrainian press.”
“The Ukrainian press continues to discuss the ‘Holodomor’ of 1932-1933, often drawing on the thesis that the famine during this period was not only specially provoked by the Soviet leadership, but aimed exclusively against the Ukrainian people,” www.pravda.com.ua reports. “Available archival materials attest to the fact that the mass famine in the early 1930s was indeed in many respects caused by the policy of the then leadership of the Soviet Union. However, it is clearly apparent that it was waged not on national grounds.”
Well, there is nothing surprising about these statements. The Russian Federation has expressed its stand on the question of the “so- called” Holodomor on more than one occasion. Why should any of this be surprising when our own Ukrainian political elite has not grasped the actuality of the consequences of the 1932-1933 Holodomor for the Ukrainian nation, let alone the need to overcome them as soon as possible. This is one of the signs that this elite is by no means a national one. This fact, in turn, causes disgust toward it on the part of growing numbers of people from various social strata in Ukraine.
Among my acquaintances is a man who was legally separated from his parents (today they would be qualified as “asocial”) and institutionalized. Eventually, he obtained an education and mastered a prestigious profession that allows him to live comfortably. Despite all this, I still feel ill at ease sharing a table with him. He eats so fast and so much that people cannot help averting their eyes.
As I later learned, as a three-year-old boy he was left alone for days without food while his mother was out getting drunk. When she was sober, she would repent by giving her son the best food money could buy. The boy was not dying of starvation, but those periods of hunger were enough to awaken an animal instinct that could not be overcome either by the strict discipline in government-run institutions or even by his current state of well-being.
In the early 1930s children of Ukrainian peasants did not see food for months on end; their bodies swelled from hunger and they died before their parents’ eyes. One can only try to imagine what horrible metamorphoses took place in those who were destined to survive the living hell of the Holodomor.
This is what Hryhorii Bevz, a man who lived through the Holodomor in a Ukrainian village, has to say: “A starving person’s psyche alters simultaneously with the physiological changes. Profound and prolonged hunger deadens or totally destroys normal human feelings and emotions. A starving person develops a different attitude to good and evil, truth and falsehood, justice and injustice. To such a person universal human values are of secondary importance, not worthy of his attention. Above all the person wants to eat. Feelings of patriotism, faith, friendship, and love are extinguished or are never born,”
Indeed, what patriotism could there be at a time when acts of cannibalism were taking place in almost every village in Ukraine during the Holodomor, when mothers ate their own children?
According to the noted British scholar Robert Conquest, 325 Ukrainians were serving a life sentence for this type of crime in the prison camps of the White Sea - Baltic Canal in the late 1930s. However, a life sentence was seldom handed down for cannibalism in the USSR; more often than not the guilty parties were shot. Therefore, it is possible to assume that there were dozens more cases of cannibalism in Ukraine during the Holodomor.
This is how Bevz characterizes the famine as a weapon of genocide: “People have invented a number of various means of mass destruction: mechanical, chemical, biological, and radiation. Famine is one such means, the cheapest and most effective. Famine can also be used not only to physically destroy but also re-educate people, change their aspirations and objectives, feelings and moods. This is very important for the creators of a new society.”
These are not scholarly conclusions or assumptions made by political scientists; these are the recollections of a man who experienced everything that he recounts. One can only envy the willpower of Bevz, who, after experiencing the hell of the Holodomor, was able to overcome in himself all its destructive consequences and look at himself dispassionately. Yet the sad fact remains that the absolute majority of Ukrainian peasants failed to do so.
The satanic re-education of Ukrainians by the Stalinist regime did take place. The distinguished Holodomor researcher James Mace reached the conclusion that people’s ethics and morals, as an important element of cultural life, suffered a devastating blow. In the conditions of the mass destruction of the Ukrainian people, such age-old features as friendliness, helpfulness, politeness, and empathy receded into the past. Instead, indifference and cruelty reigned supreme.
If we take a closer look at our current milieu, we must agree with this noted US scholar. The pathological desire of Ukrainians to climb to the top of the hierarchical ladder by hook or by crook is indirect proof that those who survived the Holodomor were raised that way (and, of course, they also raised their children and grandchildren this way) by the criminal regime that was by no means starving in 1933. It is safe to assume that there is nothing coincidental about the fact that our three last presidents came precisely from the postgenocidal countryside. You will agree that Kravchuk, Kuchma, and Yushchenko were different people before and after the elections.
Those who believe that the Holodomor cannot have such long- lasting aftereffects on our public life are wrong. They ought to be reminded of what the prominent Ukrainian intellectual Ivan Dziuba said: “Of course, the millions of victims of the Holodomor mean not only horrible sufferings sustained by each and every one of these millions, not only a horrible blow to the vital force of the nation but also a blow to its future. This means the destruction of its cultural essence; it is the vanished Atlantis of the traditional Ukrainian village.” Indeed, where can you find our traditional homespun embroidered shirts and towels? Where can you hear our folk songs that are known all over the world? All this is preserved only in the countryside in western Ukraine, territories that were fortunate enough to be spared the Holodomor and its terrible consequences.
The Bolshevik genocide dealt a devastating blow to Ukrainian national consciousness. According to Conquest, the same people who, with weapons in hand, resisted Russian communist chauvinism during the Civil War, who rebelled against forcible Russification in the Kuban region in late 1932, volunteered to register themselves as Russians during the 1939 census. There is information about the fact that Ukrainian-speaking peasants everywhere changed their nationality this way, much to the delight of the local authorities.
It is common knowledge that the most heinous consequences of the Holodomor were observed in the steppe and forest-steppe regions of Ukraine, which were not sources of food - in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Poltava, Cherkasy, Odesa, Zaporizhia, and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts, as well as in the Crimea and the Moldavian Autonomous Republic (today: Transdnistria). Therefore, it is no surprise that the residents of these territories are the most active supporters of pro-Russian political forces in Ukraine. During the last referendum in Transdnistria local Ukrainians proclaimed their desire to become citizens of Russia.
This is precisely what the ideologues and architects of the Holodomor were after. Valentyn Bokovsky, a noted researcher of the Ukrainian genocide, points out: “That was why it was decided to prepare a fundamental action aimed at destroying the Ukrainian national movement in Ukraine, so that there would be no possibility of reviving it in the future. To do so, the assault by famine had to be directed at the Ukrainian peasantry as the source of the people’s national strength; it was carried out so carefully that nothing was noticeable.”
An opportune occasion was chosen for launching this action: the start of the new agricultural system, collectivization. Under the guise of this economic experiment Moscow fulfilled its murderous plans, explaining the victims by “the hardships of collectivization.”
Of course, the peasants realized that the Bolsheviks were starving them to death precisely because they were Ukrainians, so the fear of preserving their national mentality entered their genes and mentality. Since the communists suffered no punishment for that genocide but only strengthened their rule, this fear was handed down to the succeeding generations. Today it is felt in the Russified mentality of many Ukrainians. Hence the mental split in our nation, which is not from its long history, as we are told time and again by the political advocates of the Bolshevik genocide. The fact remains that 75 years ago the level of national consciousness among the Kuban Cossacks was as high as that of the Galicians.
Instead of Christian virtues, totally different “moral values” were instilled in the Holodomor-mutilated minds of Ukrainians, which were brought by those very ethnoses that tortured our villages in the early 1930s: “If you don’t get caught, you’re not a thief”; “If you want to live, you’ve got to be smart”; “The only way to get somewhere is by greasing palms”; “Might makes right”). Today these guidelines are supplemented by another one: “Life according to the rules of the underworld.”
This is why one should not be surprised by the fact that these carriers of latter-day “values” cast their ballots for politicians who are like them, and they do so sincerely and consciously.
Herein lie the essential distinctions between the Holodomor and the Holocaust, which the Nazis directed only at the physical destruction of the Jewish nation. The Bolshevik genocide against the Ukrainians was also an act of ethnocide, meant to destroy systemic ties within the ethnos and, as Holodomor researchers point out, to spur its representatives to acquire a different ethnic quality. Thus, the state of Israel has totally different problems compared to the Ukrainian state, which can hardly even be called “Ukrainian” because ethnic self- identity has been destroyed in the greater part of the titular nation; there is no historical memory or even the need to communicate in the native language.
This situation allows representatives of other ethnoses to dominate Ukraine. Nor is there anything coincidental about them standing shoulder to shoulder with Russified Ukrainians in the front ranks of those campaigning against recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide.
Naturally, this situation in Ukraine, given the conditions of a quasi-democracy, produces a non-Ukrainian government so aptly described by Kharkiv’s human rights champion Vasyl Ovsiienko:
“That same Soviet nomenklatura, comprising for the most part of individuals who do not even remotely understand the national interests of the titular Ukrainian nation and who at times are openly hostile to Ukraine, is still in power in our country. It is not a national but territorial ruling stratum that is not a carrier of national values and has no clear-cut state-building guidelines. Even though most of them are of Ukrainian descent, they are reliably Russified and psychologically oriented toward Russian culture, and politically - toward the Kremlin stars.
“It would be naive to expect people who have problems with their national identity to set about implementing the national idea. Each of them has his nationality and the most important idea is to grab as much as possible from Ukraine, drag a juicy piece as far away as possible in order to devour it. But such an idea does not unite but disunite. It is destructive for Ukraine.
“If Ukraine had a truly Ukrainian government, would it have ever destroyed its own people so mercilessly? The time has come to call a spade a spade; otherwise we will never leave Russian captivity.”
Unfortunately, it is the Russified intelligentsia that is calling a spade a spade for the vast social strata in southeastern Ukraine, and this only serves to deepen the mental rift in our country. This process could be stopped only by a presidential republic headed by a true patriot. It was not for nothing that our “Europeans” Moroz and Symonenko exerted inhuman efforts to prevent this by implementing their so-called constitutional reform.
This allows the pro-Russian forces to build their own Ukraine that Ovsiienko describes as follows: “Thus Russia No. 2, Little Russia, is being created on the territory of Ukraine, which at any moment can be ‘canceled as no longer needed’, to quote Saltykov-Shchedrin.”
For doubting readers, here is just one example. Under the Soviets Russian obscenities could be heard in high schools in the Donbas only during fistfights among senior students. Today the schools of Luhansk oblast are raising an “obscenity-spewing population” for which, beginning in the third or fourth grade those dubious links with the “great and mighty” Russian language has become a daily necessity.
The hopes of those who expect that our young people will build a European Ukraine within several decades are futile, if not harmful. They will not build it because they are being raised outside any national ideology, without national heroes. Whatever language they speak, their life’s guidelines lead to a very dubious idol, the “golden calf.”
That is why the following political forecast by the noted Ukrainian historian Stanislav Kulchytsky is entirely realistic: “The main conclusion stemming from the comparison of national-spatial self-identification and the linguistic one is rather disheartening: Ukrainian society is in the initial phase of forming a political nation. In the event of unfavorable socioeconomic processes, an increasing number of Ukrainian nationals will gravitate to Russia, with tragic consequences for national statehood.” This is what should have given a headache to the leaders of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council if it were really pro- Ukrainian.
Why be surprised at seeing representatives of other nations with no national self-identification problems dominating Ukraine? These people have the biggest capital in Ukraine, and their culture and education are predominant in our country. They own newspapers with the largest circulation and popular television channels where the Ukrainian language has Cinderella status. Finally, the largest church in Ukraine is also non-Ukrainian. Russified Ukrainians pray in its temples for a foreign government and president, for the victory of a foreign army (also for a victory over the Ukrainian army, if need be).
Of course, these ruling non-Ukrainians are doing their utmost to maintain this situation, shameful as it is for the titular nation of this country, for as long as absolutely possible, if not forever. That is why the Holodomor topic is a reliable taboo in their media or is denied outright, as was the case in Soviet times. Unlike the modern so-called Ukrainian national elite, they know only too well the meaning of returning historical memory to a nation that has lost it.
Russian political scientist Sergei Kara-Murza notes in this connection: “In times of social crises historical memory is destroyed as a purposeful program of political forces. A man who remembers nothing from the history of his people, country, and family falls out of this social environment and becomes totally exposed to manipulations. A man without memory faces the need to re-establish his place in the world; a man without the historical experience of his own nation or others finds himself outside the historical perspective and is capable of living only on a day-to-day basis.” There are many individuals of this type in the totally denationalized southeastern regions of Ukraine, where their historical amnesia is being carefully maintained by the local authorities and media.
This is what Academician Ivan Dziuba has to say about such media: “A large part of the mass media is working to lower the moral level of their audiences and simplify their needs and tastes. They are shamelessly parasitizing on national immaturity, the deep-reaching Russification of this society; they are conducting a frenzied campaign aimed at discrediting Ukrainian culture and the Ukrainian spirit in general. This already includes brazen falsifications of Ukrainian classics and profanation of beloved Ukrainian names to the deafening accompaniment of hypocritical rhetoric about freedom of expression and human rights that have nothing to do with such public filth. Reading such newspapers, the feeling is that you live in an occupied Ukraine and that the occupier is becoming more savage every day.”
Dziuba believes that this situation is threatening “the very existence of the Ukrainian nation as an equal of the world’s nations.” A nation disappearing from the face of the earth is none other than the successful outcome of a genocidal campaign. Those who pedal the theme of inferiority of all things Ukrainian in our country should know as much.
But this does not seem to be troubling these Ukrainophobes. As the descendants of the architects and executors of the Holodomors in Ukraine, they are in no hurry to repent and redeem their parents’ faults. Instead, they bluntly refute the very fact of the Bolshevik genocide against the Ukrainians.
Of course, our “elder brother” is doing everything possible to prevent the return of historical memory to Ukrainians traumatized by the Holodomor - ever. Using the media under their control, Russians are imposing on us their interpretation of history, their holidays, their heroes, and their lifestyle. Lately, instead of the Soviet version of our history a “Single Economic Space” version has appeared on Russian and domestic oligarchical channels, which seemingly refutes the previous one, but at the same time never goes beyond great power ideology. None of our intellectual patriots has duly responded to this ideological subversion.
The non-Ukrainian government is apparently shutting its eyes to all these antinational acts. As a result, Ukraine remains an exceptional country on the world’s political map, and the only explanation of this depressing exceptionality is perhaps that, unlike all other countries, Ukraine is still reeling from the consequences of the genocide against the titular nation, as a result of which we have today a postgenocidal society that largely explains all our outwardly inexplicable hardships and paradoxes.
Among the genetically mutilated Ukrainian intelligentsia no one has been found who could offer us scholarly substantiation of what is actually happening to our society. This task was undertaken by James Mace, who introduced the concept of a “postgenocidal society” into scholarly circulation.
This is how he describes the overall situation in Ukraine: “In reality it took considerable sluggishness, incompetence, and undisguised fraud to turn a country with the world’s most fertile soils, great mineral resources, and a workforce that was better educated than in the US into a laughingstock. The economy cannot sustain such a large government and it has far more authority than necessary, so business entities either hide in the shadows or are crushed. The state is plunging increasingly deeper into debt and is eating up loans that should be used as investments. The state of the environment is the worst in Europe. The population is shrinking; people are losing their faith in a better future, etc.” What can one say? This is a classic of sociology, despite the fact that Mace died almost three years ago.
This objective and extremely scrupulous scholar saw a military threat to Ukraine only on the part of Russia, which issued the infamous resolution of the State Duma on Sevastopol. But mostly he wrote that the claims to Ukraine are deeply rooted in Russian political culture, and there is no denying the possibility that Russia will produce its claims sooner or later and not just in words. Moscow is increasing its economic pressure on Ukraine, politicians are striking back with statements, and economists are surrendering their positions one after another. And all this is happening to the accompaniment of rhetoric about the fraternal ties between two nations. Apparently only people who are brainwashed by the “elder brother” in Ukraine can believe in such fraternity.
As for postgenocidal Ukraine’s prospects in connection with its so- called bilingualism, Mace wrote that when the late Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide” in 1944 he actually meant the forceful replacement of one national model by another one. This is precisely what happened in Ukraine. It will be a long time before our nation comprehends the real meaning of this legacy and learns once again to be proud of itself and the things that make it unique. No one has anything against Russian culture and language, but so long as Ukrainian remains a second-rate language in the eyes of Ukrainians this nation will not be a united one.
This is indeed food for thought for those Ukrainian intellectuals who enthusiastically support the idea of a bilingual Ukraine.
According to James Mace, this bilingualism is the source of Ukraine’s multivectoral foreign policy, which will lead it into Russia’s embrace, nowhere else. “The choice that Ukraine is still not capable of making is to become European or Eurasian, consciously moving toward Europe or sinking ever deeper into the post-Soviet environment. This choice will ultimately have to be made, despite all the idle prattle about multiple vectors in the Ukrainian foreign policy. Let’s face it: the force of gravity is slowly but surely pulling Ukraine into the Eurasian orbit. It can reorient itself toward Europe only by using its political will. The Commonwealth of Independent States may not be an effective organization, but real politics in this part of the world is made not only on an official level. In Ukraine an economic system has emerged, which is practically similar to that in Russia and it depends on Russia’s energy supplies. This means that Russia’s energy concerns will call their own an increasing number of sectors of the Ukrainian economy on account of debts. This, in turn, means that Russia’s leadership will exert an increasing degree of influence on Ukraine’s. This integration is taking place in the shadows, away from the public eye.”
I am sure that people who have preserved their Ukrainian mentality will have no doubts that the above statement, made by the late American scholar, is addressed to Yanukovych’s government. But there are not enough of these kinds of people in postgenocidal Ukraine to make this government stop functioning immediately, and so our state is still headed for the Russian imperial harbor.
Needless to say, James Mace could not have overlooked the postgenocidal Ukrainian countryside that suffered the most negative transformations in the aftermath of the Holodomor. He regards the land reform in independent Ukraine as adequate to Stalin’s agrarian policy. “The peasants, who essentially were turned into slaves in accordance with Stalin’s version of social justice, ended up with nothing. Now it seems that they are being prepared for eviction from the land that has fed them and their forefathers.” Is the author of these lines the only one in Ukraine prepared to raise a clamor on the subject?
Unfortunately, Mr. Mace, you were the only one. Today’s ruling elite in Ukraine, regardless of its colors, is bating its breath in anticipation of the tasty morsels of our chornozem soils under cover of empty phraseology about the social protection of farmers whom they are consistently turning into roving beggars. You will agree that it is difficult to refute Mace’s foresight with regard to our postgenocidal society.
Unless the Ukrainian intelligentsia realizes all this, it will never produce a true national elite that will have to make Herculean efforts and suffer countless losses to prevent the cultural heirs of Stalin from enjoying the fruits of his satanic tyranny against the Ukrainian people.