James · @historyboy77

16th Mar 2015 from TwitLonger

Reply to another Holodomor denier. V2

Browsing the internet looking for suitable quotations into the state of Russian historiography, i stumbled across by accident a screed written by "Andrei Marchukov" in 2007 for RIA Novosti, now printed on what has become Sputnik, another arm of the Kremlin's propaganda machine. In a piece provocatively titled "Holodomor: was it ethnocide?" [1] he portrays the Holodomor not as an "act of genocide against Ukrainians" but merely and rather "a vast and aggressive campaign [...] an all-pervading ideological concept, a tool of public indoctrination [...] spearheaded against Russia as much as against the communist past." [2] Of course it's quite easy to flip this argument totally on it's head. Denying the Holodomor after all, has been a part of "a vast and aggressive campaign [...] an all-pervading ideological concept, a tool of public indoctrination" precisely because Putin exploits soviet propaganda for all its worth in the name of maintaining his own power and the toxic ideology he exudes. [3] Marchukov asks "Why is such sensation whipped up over bygones?" The answer is It is precisely because of the Kremlin's denial, exemplified by its historians like Marchukov et al! Marchukov tries to make the point "the world does not regard the Famine as a deliberate genocidal act" as a classic argumentum ad populum fallacy. [4] But again the flipside to his argument can be applied here. It is not to the world's credit that much of it doesn't recognise the Holodomor as genocide, but rather it's shame. Russian pressure and soviet propaganda has been more pervasively influential in shaping opinion than what Marchukov would like you to assume. "While fully recognizing the Ukrainian tragedy," he says [in fact he doesn't] "there is no explicit proof that the famine was provoked by the Kremlin and intended to exterminate the Ukrainian nation." [5] Except there is plenty of proof that the Communists planned to subdue the Ukrainian people in the name of putting down bogus Pretexts that Stalin had set up [6]. Ask Mendel Khataevich, a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Ukraine, who in 1933 boasted that "[w]e needed a famine to show them who is boss here. It claimed millions of lives, but the collective farm system has been established, we have won the war" [7] The intent of the Holodomor was about "punishing peasants with famine" and taking "preventative measures against the Ukrainian national movement… " Those are not my words, but the words of Marchukov's fellow Holodomor denier Viktor Kondrashin [8]. The Holodomor cannot be denied!

Marchukov tries to make out that "The holodomor concept first arose amongst the Ukrainian Diaspora." [9] Well that is because Ukrainians in Ukraine couldn't talk about it until the USSR collapsed, because doing so amounted to "Anti-Soviet agitation." A dubious crime with severe punishment. As i typed this, a library Director in occupied Crimea was punished for owning books about the Holodomor [10]. It seems like Putin would like to instill a similar type of fear that any Ukrainian talking about the Holodomor would have faced when Ukraine was under the soviet banner! But Marchukov goes on to try to paint the Holodomor as western Anti-soviet propaganda:

"Public attention to the holodomor skyrocketed in the 1980s. This was the time when President Ronald Reagan was referring to the U.S.S.R. as the Evil Empire. Ukrainian emigres added fuel to the fire with their reminiscences and analyses of the holodomor. In 1984, the U.S. Congress established an ad hoc commission to investigate the causes of the Great Famine in Ukraine in 1932-33. Its 1988 Report to Congress described the famine as "man-made" and denied any causal connection with drought. "Joseph Stalin and those around him committed genocide against Ukrainians in 1932-1933," the report says. Perestroika, with its outspoken spirit, brought the concept to Ukraine. Mourning the millions starved to death went hand-in-hand with wrathful denunciations of genocide." [11]

The difficulty with this paragraph is that it is hard to portray the Holodomor as some kind of attempt at western propaganda when Volodymyr Shcherbytsky, leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine delivered a speech on December 25 1987 in which he admitted there was famine in 1932-33. His words that "in 1932-33 there had been hardships and even famine in some areas" might have been brief, but they went completely against the traditional soviet line that sought to hush up any mention of famine. [12] When you have a man like Shcherbytsky admitting famine, added to the eyewitness testimony [13], added to the words of the communists at the time of 1932-33, again, the narrative that Marchukov so detests becomes undeniable.

But Marchukov tries to strawman that narrative by setting it as "propaganda [that] has found a satanic enemy [in the form of the USSR], the epitome of Absolute Evil, [..] and is now out to develop a guilt complex in Russians to make them feel morally and materially responsible for the tragedy. [...] Tellingly, Ukrainian leaders are ever more frequently referring to the Famine as the "Ukrainian Holocaust" - thus putting the U.S.S.R. on a par with Nazi Germany." [14]

Certainly the USSR was an epitome of absolute evil and Stalin is comparable to Hitler [15] and we're still waiting for the Kremlin to admit the full scale of the full horrors that the soviets inflicted. The Holodomor had a different modus operandi to the Nazi holocaust, but that is not an excuse for denying either. Instead of focusing on this constant strawmanning of Ukrainian historiography, it's worth focusing on his actual denialist arguments, which begins:

"Was it really genocide or ethnocide against Ukrainians? The U.S.S.R. owed the terrible famine of 1932-33 to agricultural collectivization. The rapid creation of a thoroughly new type of farming went together with the cruel dispossession of well-to-do farmers, so-called "kulaks". Peasant resistance inevitably followed. Bloated grain procurement quotas envisaged total confiscations-seed, food and fodder grain. The 1932 quota for Ukraine was 400 million poods, or 6.4 million metric tons, but even the severest possible confiscations brought only 261 million poods, so extra procurements were launched, with searches, ruinous fines-and firing squads. Peasants were dying of starvation as early as October 1932, and the famine went on up to the next year's end.

Those two years saw 2.9-3.5 million deaths from starvation in Ukraine alone, according to various estimates. Yet it was not ethnocide proper. Registry office statistics for 1933 show death rates in urban localities no higher than average, in contrast to an exorbitant death toll in the countryside not only in Ukraine but all over the Soviet Union. People were doomed not on the grounds of ethnicity, but merely because they lived in rural areas." [16]

In reality the death toll from starvation from the Ukrainian SSR alone amounted to at least 4-5 Million. [17] Not every one of those was a "Kulak" or "Saboteur" which was the pretext Stalin used for his disproportionate punishment. Marchukov's use of the Registry office statistics is interesting because other researchers, even other professional Holodomor deniers, have conceded their flawed nature. "Assuming that a certain number of deaths may have not been registered, according to registry offices data the number of deaths from famine in Ukraine is approximately 1.5-2 million. Most Russian and foreign historians, however, agree that registry offices data are incomplete." [18]

Marchukov continues: "Grain shortages were exacerbated by a rapid increase of the urban population. It swelled by 12.4 million nationwide in the four years 1929-32, and by 4.1 million in Ukraine within 1931, mainly because persecuted peasants fled their villages. Nothing could have been easier for the regime than to starve townspeople, who depended on food supplies from elsewhere for their survival. Yet, it was not done. The regime made do with harsh food rationing. Peasantry as a social class was the victim of the cruel policy. This point clearly follows from the geography of the Great Famine. It spread throughout the Soviet breadbasket areas-Ukraine, the middle and lower reaches of the Volga, the North Caucasus, the central part of the Black Earth Zone, the Urals, part of Siberia, and Kazakhstan – with a total population of 50 million. The Famine killed 6-7 million people nationwide. All Soviet peoples were victims. [19]

The numbers Marchukov cites ought to raise severe eyebrows. Even with his exceptionally low death tolls, he still inadvertently admits over half of it is accounted for by Ukrainians alone, which alone ought to hint that something peculiar was going on there. [20] The North Caucasus too used to be a majority Ukrainian area and it was significantly impacted by the Holodomor for that reason! 6-7 million people is not a "nationwide" death toll for famine as Marchukov claims. It is far more akin to a Ukrainian death toll alone! [21] Another place of great excess death was Kazakhstan, which saw it's own genocide being carried out under the hand of Filipp Goloshchekin. The Kazakh death toll amounted to approximately 1.5 million, a disproportionately high death toll so severe it made the Kazaks a minority in their own country. [22] While it is true that Russians did starve also, the proportions of starving Russians nowhere near matched those of the numbers of starving Ukrainians, and with reason, as Jan Karszo-Siedlewski, head of the Polish consulate general in Kharkiv noted in a January 1934 report:

"If you cross ... [into the Black earth region of the RSFSR] which does not differ much from Ukraine as far as the climate & economic situation is concerned, the condition of the peasants is incomparably better. This means that the policy of the central govt towards Ukraine was much more ruthless and predatory than towards the neighbouring provinces of the RSFSR with the exception of the Northern caucasus" [23]

With regards to his comments about starvation in the towns and harsh rationing, let me quote from the testimony of Kyiv resident Varvara Dibert, who saw it all:

"In 1932 and 1933 Kyiv seemed like a paradise to nearby villagers who had been stripped of all they had by the Soviet government ... [But that idea was not to last]. Townspeople tried in every possible way to help relatives who were living in the countryside, but it was not easy. Workers and officials in Kyiv received ration cards, but the rations were so small that even some of them began to swell and even die. [...] Civil servants got 400 grams of bread per day and another 200 grams for each dependent. Factory workers got 500 grams per day, while workers at military factories got 800. Some millet, sugar, and fat were also given out. Today some people may say that 400 grams per day does not constitute a famine, but this is because we have other things to eat besides bread and don't need as much of it. And in those days, what mother would eat her ration if she saw her starving child looking pitifully at her. In 1933 the so-called "commercial bread" appeared in Kyiv. You could buy a kilo for two-and-a-half rubles. They would only let you buy one kilo a day, and the lines for this bread were so long that not every working person could wait so long. The police would take villagers from these lines, load them on trucks, and take them out of the city. Ever since the revolution, Kyiv had been full of orphans from age six to fifteen. Although the government set up orphanages, the number of homeless orphans continued to grow, especially when dekulakization started and later when the famine began. Near the house where I lived was a large building. The government converted this building into a so-called "collector" for homeless children caught on the streets, and who, after sanitary inspection, were sent to orphanages. When leaving my home, I would often see how trucks would pull up there and the police would take out the filthy, bedraggled children who had been caught on the streets. A guard stood at the entrance and no one was permitted inside. During the winter of 1932-1933, I saw five or six times how in the early morning they took out of the building the bodies of half-naked children, covered them with filthy tarpaulins, and piled them onto trucks. Going as far as Artem Street, I would hear a loudspeaker (at that time there was one on every corner) blare out how children lived in horrible conditions in capitalist countries and what a wonderful life they led in our own Socialist Fatherland." [24]

Regardless of whether or not you want to interpret the Ukrainian death toll in a "countryside vs townspeople dichotomy", a genocide is still a genocide. End of debate!

"Arguments cited to prove that the famine was a deliberate act of genocide do not hold water. Still, many Ukrainians do not want to turn the tragic page of history. This is understandable. If they did, public attention would turn to their own, present-day, policy and its dire fruit. The Ukrainian population shrank by 4.3 million in 1991-2003-3.6 million died, and over 1.2 million emigrated, while only 500,000 former emigres returned. If we extrapolate the figures to the end of 2006, the population decline exceeds 5.4 million-this without wars, famine, or the Kremlin's imperialism. Don't these statistics give food for uneasy thought?" [25]

Except the Ukrainian public attention is very much focused on the present and the failings of its politicians as much as it on the tragedies of its own past, indeed, that is why the Euromaidan revolution happened! Ukraine is still suffering the results of "the Kremlin's imperialism" of which contemporary depopulation has been a consequence, and simply ignoring "the Kremlin's imperialism" is not going to solve anything! It is unfortunate that such denialist trite like the comments of Marchukov is apparently enough to get you the position of "staff researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Russian History" in Russia today, but for as long as the Kremlin continues to deny its own past & its consequences, the relations between Russia and Ukraine will sadly not improve.


[1] A Marchukov, "Holodomor: was it ethnocide?"


[2] Marchukov, ibid.

[3] See my own piece "Fascism exploited and distorted in Putin’s Russia for propaganda’s sake" which deals with a number of problems with contemporary Russian historiography.


[4] See Marchukov, "Op cit". For an introduction to the Argumentum ad populum fallacy, see


[5] Marchukov, ibid

[6] See T Snyder, “Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin”, p42-46. Also my piece "On Holodomor denial, and fisking a denialist Russian professor of History"


[7] https://twitter.com/historyboy77/status/552474481319751681

[8] Kondrashin quoted in "On Holodomor denial, and fisking a denialist Russian professor of History." Op Cit.

[9] Marchukov, op cit

[10] https://twitter.com/historyboy77/status/556199552479674368

[11] Marchukov, op cit

[12] https://twitter.com/historyboy77/status/547893531172679680

[13] https://twitter.com/historyboy77/status/504393987700965376

[14] Marchukov, op cit

[15] https://twitter.com/historyboy77/status/470307552832794624

[16] Marchukov, op cit

[17] See O Wolowyna, "The Famine-Genocide of 1932-33: Estimation of Losses and. Demographic Impact."


[18] A Dyukov, "The Soviet Story: The Mechanism of lies", p55.

[19] Marchukov, Op cit

[20] See Mace's comments about Kondrashin cited in my own piece, "On Holodomor denial, and fisking a denialist Russian professor of History", Op cit.

[21] R Conquest, "The Harvest of Sorrow", p303. "Subtracting about 500,000 for the Ukrainian dead of the dekulakization of 1932, we are left with Six million [Ukrainians] dead in the famine. This would be divided into 5 million in the Ukraine and 1 million in the North Caucasus…"

[22] See my piece "Stalin’s Holodomor in Kazakhstan, or a very brief guide to “The Goloshchekin genocide”


For figures, see S Maksudov, ““Migratsii v SSR v 1926-1939 godakh.” Cahiers du monde russe 40, no 4 (1999)”, p770-96

[23] Jan Karszo-Siedlewski, quoted in C Noack, L Janssen, V Comerford (eds) "Holodomor and Gorta Mór: Histories, Memories and Representations of Famine", p223.

[24] V Dibert, quoted in


[25] Marchukov, Op cit

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