The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

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"UKRAINE IS VERY MUCH A COUNTRY" REPLY TO NINA KHRUSHCHEVA FROM PROF. JAMES MACE
  

 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  www.ArtUkraine.com  found and sent Nina Khrushcheva's article (see below) to Prof. James Mace in Kyiv and asked him if he would write down his thoughts concerning the very troublesome statements made by Nina Khrushcheva about Ukraine and its history.

 

The article below was sent to us by Prof. James Mace.  www.ArtUkraine.com  wishes to give special thanks to Prof. Mace for this fine article.

 

We will publish additional replies from Ukrainian experts about the Nina Khrushcheva article in the future. We encourage you to write a reply to the statements about Ukraine and its history by Nina Khrushcheva and send them to us.

 

E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor
UKRAINE REPORT 2003
ArtUkraine.com Information Service
Washington, D.C. and Kyiv, Ukraine

 

The following is the article written for the ArtUkraine Information Service by Prof. James Mace in reply to the article Stalin and Memory by Nina Khrushecheva:

UKRAINE IS VERY MUCH A COUNTRY

 

Nina Khrushcheva Granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev History and International Relations Teacher New School University and Columbia University Daily in "Stalin and Memory," The Times in Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan on March 3, 2003 writes:

"It will never be easy to produce a version of Russian history that all Russians agree on; competing conceptions of national identity militate against it. But some other countries sloughing off the skin of communism are only too ready to adopt a new history - even one based on fancy and invention - to suit current needs. Ukraine provides an example of this. Does Ukraine have a history? Well, the place certainly does, but is the place a country? Ukraine means, literally, "on the edge." It is more a frontier than a region, let alone a country. So it is well suited to an invented history - and who better to supply it than a Ukrainian Diaspora eager to boost the land of their forefathers? It may be no accident that independent Ukraine's first history textbook was written in Toronto, not Kiev."

As an American historian of Ukraine who has lived in the country I have spent virtually all my life studying, I can assure the reader that Ukraine is very much a country, albeit one that has spent a large part of that history under foreign rule. Once upon a time Marx and especially Engels adhered to the view then popular among Germans that peoples who had spent a long time without a state were also without histories.

Engels even went so far as to use this as justification for a Verstorungskrieg (war of destruction) against the Czechs as a way to remove them as "a knife in the back of the German peoples." Well, Communists and Marxists of other persuasions have long laid that one to rest, and the history of the twentieth century is, among other things, one of the national liberation of such peoples who had hitherto lacked states.

Of course, all nations are, in the words of Benedict Anderson, imagined communities and creating histories was part of that process of forming nations. Sometimes states did it even before thinking in terms of nations, as was the case with Russia, where Tsar Peter the First (the first official Soviet historian whose textbooks carried a laudatory letter from Lenin, wrote of "Peter, whom fawning historians call the Great") hired one Professor Mueller from Germany to do the job.

Since the original Muscovite dynasty was descended from one Riurik, most likely one Hroerich of Jutland (meaning he was what was then called a Viking in the West, Varangian in the East, and Dane in more recent times) took Kyiv which was the main settlement of something called russkaia zemlia, in the earliest chronicle accounts basically a triangle enclosing Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Pereyaslav.

The name Rus 'with time covered all the lands that recognized the supremacy of the Grand Prince of Kyiv, including a hitherto no-man's-land of Finno-Ugric tribes that became Slavicized, where one Andrei Bogoliubsky with his Viking and Slavic followers built a palladium, returned to sack Kyiv as did his son, one Yury Dolgoruky, and then commissioned chronicles which gave events in Kyiv no more attention than to those in other foreign countries.

This area became the Grand Duchy of Moscow and kernel of what would grow into the Russian Empire, and in a couple of hundred years one Muscovite prince known in English as Ivan the Terrible began to claim the lands of the old core of Kyivan Rus', by then under the Grand Duke of Lithuania, as his patrimony because some of his ancestors had once ruled there.

Prof. Mueller and his Russian successors Soloviov, Tatichev, Pogodin, et. al.) followed this dynastic history which evolved into a national one sometime in the nineteenth century.

But then the ancestors of most Frenchmen also became subjectively French only toward the end of the last century. Nations in the sense we know them are actually much younger than their histories, which were of necessity created by reading later ideas and identities onto people and places to which they were completely foreign. The same was true of the Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, and most everyone else.

Others, like Czechs and Ukrainians, found scholars who attempted to trace not states but the ancestors (real or imagined) of the peoples they sought to "awaken."

The greatest Ukrainian historian and later president of the Ukrainian Central Rada (a national council that evolved into a government in 1917-18), Mykhailo Hrushevsky, in the early twentieth century even gave a lecture in the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences saying that for the Russians, whose state evolved from Moscow and thereabouts, to adopt what had happened in Ukraine as the start of their history was not very logical because it stripped the Ukrainians and Belarusians of their early histories while leading the Russians to ignore how their state really got started by transplanting and adapting Kyivan institutions to a very different area. Russian historians Presniakov and Liubavsky made up for this in 1919 and 1929 but very few Russians today know about it.

Names and identities change, albeit slowly, as with the Greeks whose ancestors a couple of centuries ago called themselves Rum, or Roman, and France could also easily have become at least two counties had the Albigensian Crusade of the Middle Ages not crippled forevermore the culture of a land later historians have called Occitania, with a language in which the medieval troubadours wrote their songs.

History is far more subjective than historians often like to admit, and that is probably why every generation rewrites it to suit its own needs. The Ukrainians are in the process of doing this and have made some notable progress after a Russocentric (not exactly the same as Russian) Soviet regime killed off their intelligentsia, starved to death a major segment of their rural majority, and banned the understanding of history they had been evolving up to that time.

Ukrainians are now in the process of sifting through the wreckage left by the Stalinist "friendship of peoples" in an attempt to put together a national identity that would make it possible to take their place among the nations of Europe. I may be biased, but I suspect that this is not a bad thing.

 

(NOTE: This article by Prof. James Mace can only be used with full credits to Prof. James Mace and to  www.ArtUkraine.com  Information Service)


Article by Nina Khrushcheva: STALIN AND MEMORY


STALIN AND MEMORY
"......Does Ukraine have a history?....it is well suited to an invented history -and who better to supply it than a Ukrainian Diaspora eager to boost the land of their forefathers? It may be no accident that independent Ukraine's first history textbook was written in Toronto, not Kiev."

By Nina Khrushcheva
Grand-daughter of Nikita Khrushchev
History and International Relations Teacher
New School University and Columbia University
Daily Times in Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan
March 3, 2003

 

So far, Russia, a country of little moderation, has alternated between rampant discussion or absolute silence and self-deception about Stalin. These swings keep many people (not only the elderly) voting communist. German Gref, Russia's young Minister of Trade and Economics, responded to a sympathetic question about his parents being prisoners in the Gulag by saying, "So what, all were prisoners then."

"The duty we owe to history is to rewrite it," said Oscar Wilde. As a Russian, I am familiar with rewriting history. The Soviet Union spent a century touching up the warts on Lenin's nose, revising harvest statistics, and making the dying Yuri Andropov look less cadaverous. But in dealing with Stalin - dead 50 years today - most of us now rewrite history by pretending that a chunk of it never happened.

Don't get me wrong: Stalin has not disappeared like people sent to the gulag. He has not been blotted from our memories the way Trotsky and Bukharin were cropped out of official photographs.

Once, as I was getting out of a Moscow taxicab, the driver lifted his scarf to show a Stalin photograph pinned to his jacket. I thought about this sly gesture. He seemed to represent a true underground, someone who felt shocked and betrayed by the world that arose out of Gorbachev's glastnost and perestroika.

But clinging to the past uncritically is probably better than allowing the past to dominate the present. After all, it was history that incited Yugoslavs to turn their corner of Europe into a medieval slaughterhouse of rape, pillage, and siege. On June 28, 1989, St Vitus's Day, while most Eastern Europeans were daring to dream of a non-communist future, a million Serbs prepared to leap into the past with Slobodan Milosevic, descending on the Field of Blackbirds in Kosovo to mark the 600th anniversary of Serbia's defeat by the Turks.

History, of course, is not some medicine with a label cautioning about the proper dosage. History is what gives nations their character, their institutions, their identity. It can be misread or misused, but never rationed. Milosevic did not give the Serbs an overdose of history; he simply administered it as they imagined it, undiluted by criticism.

Plainly, the best thing is to confront history - and oneself - forthrightly, and to draw the most honest conclusions. But what are the right conclusions when you are dealing with history as bloodstained and corrupting as Stalin's era? Some are ready to look at the past with an open mind, in pursuit, if you will, of self-improvement. Others are more concerned to use it to justify failure or even aggression; this is history as self-pity. Still others indulge in simple self-delusion.

Self-improvers are the most rare. Recently, only Germany, or rather West Germany, unambiguously confronted its past in order to remake itself. It took the enormity of the Holocaust to bring about the necessary self-examination. Anything less terrible might not have been enough.

For Russians, long split between Slavophiles and westernisers, victimhood vies against self-examination where history is concerned. In 1989 and 1990, as communism collapsed and glasnost took hold, many Russians hungrily sought the "facts." What caused the famines of the 1930s and were they planned? How many people died in the purges? What did Khrushchev actually say about Stalin in his secret speech of 1956? Historical facts became front-page news.

For others, the demise of the political system meant the end not merely of the only historical narrative they knew, but of an empire and a sense of national identity as well. Into that void stepped right-wing politicians and historians portraying Russians as the victims of a "false culture," with foreigners responsible for all problems. Many now find it difficult to know what to make of seven decades of communism. More have given up trying.

It will never be easy to produce a version of Russian history that all Russians agree on; competing conceptions of national identity militate against it. But some other countries sloughing off the skin of communism are only too ready to adopt a new history - even one based on fancy and invention - to suit current needs.

Ukraine provides an example of this. Does Ukraine have a history? Well, the place certainly does, but is the place a country? Ukraine means, literally, "on the edge." It is more a frontier than a region, let alone a country. So it is well suited to an invented history - and who better to supply it than a Ukrainian Diaspora eager to boost the land of their forefathers? It may be no accident that independent Ukraine's first history textbook was written in Toronto, not Kiev.

So far, Russia, a country of little moderation, has alternated between rampant discussion or absolute silence and self-deception about Stalin. These swings keep many people (not only the elderly) voting communist. German Gref, Russia's young Minister of Trade and Economics, responded to a sympathetic question about his parents being prisoners in the Gulag by saying, "So what, all were prisoners then."

In truth, few people other than the Germans are ready to be honest in their Vergangenheitsbewältigung, their coming to terms with the past. Most others dwell on the laudable, suppress the inglorious, and embellish the rest - or else pretend that the past doesn't exist at all.

Before succumbing to pessimism, however, there is something else to consider. Although it is impossible to have too much history, it is possible to spend too much time looking into it. For like the past, the future also needs to be written. If Russians are silent about Stalin, it may be because we are busy writing that history of the future.


Nina Krushcheva, the grand-daughter of Nikita Khrushchev, teaches history and international relations at the New School University and Columbia University, New York, New York,  khruschn@newschool.edu
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_4-3-2003_pg3_3


NOTE: Information About James Mace.

Prof. James Mace, author of numerous scholarly works and one of the first serious researchers of the 1933 Holodomor, was born February 18, 1952, in Muskogee, Oklahoma. In 1973, he graduated from Oklahoma State University and went on to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. in history at the University of Michigan, in 1981defending his dissertation, "Communism and the Dilemmas of National Liberation: National Communism in Soviet Ukraine, 1919-33," later published in book form (Harvard, 1983). Upon completing his graduate studies Dr. Mace was invited to join the famine project at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute where he collected material for Robert Conquest's Harvest of Despair.

In 1986-90, James Mace served as executive director of the US Ukraine Famine Commission, a hybrid body subject to Congress and the president, supervising its daily work and drafting its findings for approval by the full commission. After 1990, he held fellowships at Columbia and Illinois Universities. In 1993, Prof. Mace moved to Ukraine, working first as a supervisory research fellow at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences Institute of Ethnic and Political Studies, then teaching politics at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy National University and International Christian University. Since 1998, Prof. Mace has been consultant to the English digest, The Day.
 
 

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