The following is an excerpt of an article by Luke Perry for our History section. This features in our fourth print issue, available NOW.
Find out how to get your own copy of the issue here.
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The Holodomor is one of history’s many forgotten genocides. While figures vary, some estimate the death toll to be around seven-to-ten million, which – if true – would put it on a scale greater than that of the Holocaust. This man-made famine was inflicted by the Stalin regime upon the Ukrainian peasantry in an act of ethnic cleansing between 1932-33, putting the horrors of communist central planning on full display.
In 1929, Stalin launched his policy of forced collectivisation which placed all agricultural land, households, equipment and – in effect – people under the control of the state in the form of collectivised farms. Many peasants violently resisted, causing the Soviet regime to employ its usual terror tactics of deportation to concentration camps, mass arrests and extra-judicial killings.
By 1931, roughly half of the peasantry was collectivised, but Stalin was still unsatisfied.
Whilst the gains made in collectivisation had been politically and economically beneficial in terms of Soviet dominance, Stalin needed one final blow to crush any resistance to his agricultural policies. The Ukrainian peasantry was the perfect target as the Ukraine was the main region of grain production; the ‘Bread-basket of Europe’. It was also a key area of resistance to Stalin’s forced collectivisation.
In addition, the Ukrainian peasantry was nationalistic, conservative and staunchly religious. Stalin felt as though he had to break these allegiances which were outside that of his state and of communist ideology.
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Read the rest of this article in the print issue, information on which can be found HERE.
Photo by Estonian Foreign Ministry on Flickr.