Sunday, April 13, 2008


After Svitlana introduced this topic in class, I thought it was important that we each got a better understanding of exactly what happened and the toll that it took on Ukraine and its people. In short, Stalin issued a grain quota increase of approximately 44%. This left the Ukraine peasantry with no food for themselves, causing the death of about 7-10 million Ukrainians. This "famine" is referred to as artificial because there was no need for a quota increase, for the grain was merely collected and stored in huge grain elevators that were guarded by Soviet military. Instead, Stalin's main objective was to break the cultural renaissance of the Ukrainian people, for he saw it as a threat to the success of Communism. Two main reasons that were given for why Stalin and the Kremlin instigated this famine were: 1. Ukrainians opposed collectivization and 2. Ukrainians were becoming culturally independent. Both of these reasons posed a threat to Communism. One group in particular stood out as a potential threat in Stalin's mind. The Communist party refered to them as the Kulaks. These people were the wealthy independent farmers who owned either a land mass of over 24 acres or who employed workers of their own. To exterminate these people, Stalin sent an approximated number of 10 million of them to Siberia by railroad box cars. In all, about 1/3 of these people died after the brutal winter and starvation. It was odd to discover, however, that these people (Kulaks) only contributed to about 5% of the peasant population. My question, after reading various literature about the famine, is: What kind of propaganda techniques were employed for people to carry out the famine?

One technique was to send young Communist activists to country regions to hype up support for the Soviet regime. Another depiction of the ideal Communist Party consisted of greater than life images of Stalin. In my opinion, this either made Stalin appear as someone to admire because you were forced to look up to him or as someone to fear because he was larger than life. Another form of propaganda was the denial of a famine by the Soviet regime. This included resistance of any foreign help in the form of food shipments. Also, anyone found using the words "famine", "hunger", or "starvation" could be arrested, since the famine did not exist in the eyes of the Soviet regime. The most prominent form of propaganda was the attack against the Kulaks. They were characterized as being as equally dangerous as an invading foreign enemy.

I end in leaving a quote, that describes the torture that was inflicted to not only adult men and women, but children as well:

"The most terrifying sights were the little children with skeleton limbs dangling from balloon-like abdomens. Starvation had wiped every trace of youth from their faces, turning them into tortured gargoyles; only in their eyes still lingered the reminder of childhood. Everywhere we found men and women lying prone (weak from hunger), their faces and bellies bloated, their
eyes utterly expressionless." --Victor Kravchenko, Soviet official who escaped from the USSR Embassy in the United States

1 comment:

Dan Nye said...

I think people really underestimate Stalin as one of the worst things to ever happen to human kind. He had more than 20 million people killed under his reign, obviously Holodomor was a part of that, killing his own countrymen because they did not conform. Also I wanted to comment on the propoganda and add a few things. Stalin had many cities named after him, had statues all over the USSR and even had his name in the country's national anthem. He was a cult of personality, and it took decades to get rid of his influence, some of it will never be gone.