The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)


Benjamin M. Weissman, Rutgers University
Newark, New Jersey
Hoover Institution Publications 134
Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University
Stanford, California 1974
Library of Congress Card Number 73-75888
International Standard Book Number 0-8179-1341-6

In 1921 one of the most devastating famines in history threatened the lives of millions of Russians as well as the continuance of Soviet rule. Responding to a plea for help form the Soviet government, the American Relief Administration (ARA) agreed to provide famine relief in the stricken areas.

The ARA was a private relief organization headed by Herbert Hoover, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and one of the best-known Americans of his time for his spectacular success in rescuing the population of Belgium during World War I and in feeding millions of Europeans during the Armistice.

(Click on image to enlarge it)

Hoover was also a retired capitalist of considerable wealth, a champion of Republic liberalism, and a leading opponent of recognition of Soviet Russia. Lenin--head of the Soviet government, and a living symbol of world revolution--was the antithesis of ARA's Chief. This book studies the personalities, motives, and modi operandi of these two celebrated figures, both as individuals as representatives of their societies.

At the same time it considers the relief mission itself, which has been the subject of continuing controversy for fifty years. Its partisans see it as a charitable, nonpolitical enterprise, while its enemies judge it as anti-Soviet intervention entirely devoid of humanitarian purpose. "Herbert Hoover and Famine Relief to Soviet Russia" is the first major attempts by an American scholar to reexamine the ARA mission, on the basis of much material made available since the ARA's 1927 official history.

What emerges is, on the one hand, a painstaking examination of the historical details of ARA's mission and, on the other hand, a philosophic essay relating the ARA to broader questions of U.S.-Soviet relations and the ideological antitheses of Hoover and Lenin. The author concludes that both sides overcame their ideological antagonisms and made possible a spectacularly successful relief mission that inspired the vain hope that a new era in Soviet-American relations had begun.

Benjamin Weissman is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. In addition to contributing to such scholarly journals as the Slavic Review and the Russian Review, he has done free-lance writing and has worked on the old "New York Sunday News."


    List of Abbreviations
    1. The Politics of Famine Relief
    2. The Roles of Herbert Hoover
    3. Confrontation at Riga
    4. The Unique Encounter
    5. Expansion of the Mission
    6. The Politics of Retreat
    7. Disengagement with Russia
    8. The Aftermath
    9. Summary and Conclusions

Material prepared and posted by the  Information Service in Kyiv, Ukraine and Washington, D.C.