The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

["We are tired enough of you, false friend of Ukraine. Go home, Mr. Mace!"]

By Prof. James MACE, Consultant to The Day
The Day WEEKLY DIGEST, Kyiv, Ukraine, December 2, 2003

This writer is always happy to respond to readers, especially when they disagree. It means, after all, that they have read what I wrote and thought about it enough to respond. As a scholar I cut my teeth on the historical problem of Ukrainian Communism when the very word Ukrainization was forbidden here and whole periods of Ukrainian history were erased, national memory banned, and writers murdered. This makes particularly welcome the article by one Professor Ivan Hrushchenko (professor of what is not indicated) in Komunist on November 19.

It seems that in the learned professor's view I have been speculating on the Holodomor for some thirty years, which would have been when I was 21 years old, busy earning my bachelor's degree, growing my hair long, smoking marijuana (I confess), enjoying the favor of similarly inclined ladies, and marching against the Vietnam War. But, as the professor continues it becomes clear that we can expect little in the way of accuracy from our Communist readers.

Photo By Mykola LAZARENKO, The Day

Many people, our learned reader tells us, went hungry in the early 1930s because of "inauspicious climatic conditions and also mistakes in carrying out the collectivization of agriculture and grain procurements." What kind of bad weather was there? Let us perhaps ask one Mr. Stalin, who was General Secretary of the All-Union Communist Party for a number of years. In his Sochinenniya (Works), volume XIII, pp. 216-217, he stated that, while in 1932 there had been some losses due to bad weather in the Kuban, Terek regions, and some parts of Ukraine, they were not half that of the previous year.

Should our professor wish to learn about the history of weather, he might also consult a volume edited by A. I. Rudenko, Zasukhi v SSSR (Droughts in the USSR), published by Leningrad's Hydrometeorological Publishing House in 1958. On page 168 he will find that there were droughts in some areas of the Soviet Union in 1931 and 1934 but not in 1932-33.

The drought of 1931 was addressed by Chairman of People's Commissars of the USSR Viacheslav Molotov, who announced in Pravda on February 6, 1932 that aid would indeed be mobilized for the Russians of the Volga Basin, and on March 20 of that same year the same paper announced that 40,000 tons had been obtained through "shock work methods" from people in the North Caucasus (mainly Cossacks) who had already met their quotas. Translated into simple language, this means that those who had earlier taken the required amount of foodstuffs before simply came around again and took more.

On October 22, 1932, this same Mr. Molotov (his real name was Skriabin and his uncle a composer) was named to head a special commission on grain procurements to Ukraine, and on November 18 he pushed a resolution through the Communist Party (bolshevik) of Ukraine to the effect that all bread resources in all collective farms in Ukraine would be audited and all grain from those that had not met their quotes completely would be seized. Moreover, those outside the collective farms that were "maliciously" short of bread were to be fined by having other edibles taken from them.

The decree in question may be found in the book, Holod 1932-1933 rokiv na Ukrayini: Ochyma istorykiv, movoyu dokumentiv, which was published in accordance with a special decree adopted by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine on January 26, 1990. Or shall we assume that the Communist Party of Ukraine in 1990 that opened its archives is some different one from what our learned professor defends? In any case, I can discern no error here.

Those who took the food and starved the people were doing precisely what they had been ordered. That millions died could only have been the only intended result. What else could one expect if one takes the potatoes, beans, and meat from one "maliciously" short of bread? Of course, the learned professor counters this with figures from years for which there were no censuses in an attempt to show that the population was growing while nobody could find them when the actual counting was done. One thinks of certain German propagandists who came to prominence in the years under discussion who would have been proud of such argumentation.

Still more in the vein of one Mr. Goebbels is that charge that I was accompanied in my campaign of disinformation by citing actual official Communist documents by such allegedly venal scholars as Ivan Kuras, Dmytro Tabachnyk, and Stanislav Kulchytsky. Was I supposed to have bought them? I never had the money to attempt it, and, in fact, the only one of these gentlemen with whom I have ever had anything remotely resembling financial dealings was Academician Kuras, in whose institute I once worked.

Here I become confused. Was I supposed to have bought him or he me? In any case, I must admit that it was his institute that paid me when I was employed there and not the other way around. Who is supposed to have sold out to whom?

Nobody can possibly be against social justice, which our Communist friends have sought in what I think has been demonstrated to have been a misguided way. There are problems with Nietsche's project of an art of forgetting as an antidote to the art of history, of remembrance. Starving to death the innocent is not justice, nor is jailing a nation's writers and historians. Memory has an important place, and I am honored by the calumny brought against not only me but against all who have sought to recover from documents the memory of those to whom their memory was denied.

Whether one believes in humanity or the God who created it, there are things that were and that deserve to be part of a nation's memory. Those who justify or deny the crimes of the past also deserve to be remembered, but God alone is qualified to judge them. I am thankful that this is not my burden.

The author calls upon me to go home. And where is his home? What country does he defend if not a Red Fourth Reich?