The Ukranian Genocide Essay

1598 words - 6 pages

The Ukranian Genocide

"When one man dies it's a tragedy. When thousands die it's statistics"-these are the words of Joseph Stalin, a man who understood that "killing was a tool; properly used it could eliminate enemies, terrorize survivors into submission, and overwhelm outsiders beyond their ability to intervene" (Altman 41). The Soviet government claims that the famine of 1932-1933 was due to "conditions beyond human control," that it was an unfortunate but unintended consequence of the collectivization effort (Altman 47). The reality is that this disaster was not the result of inflation, crop failure, natural disasters, nor war. The shocking truth, which has been buried under sixty-five years of Soviet propaganda and Western corruption, is that the famine was engineered by Stalin and used as a weapon to annihilate between seven and ten million Ukrainians.
Realizing that the Soviet Union was fifty to one hundred years behind the advanced countries, Stalin devised a Five-Year Plan to industrialize the nation. Modernization was expensive, and in order to fund his new project, Stalin knew that the Soviet Union needed to increase its agricultural exports. To accomplish this he outlawed the private ownership of land and organized collective farms. Stalin demanded collective workers give a huge majority of their crops to the government.
The Ukrainians, a fiercely independent group, opposed Stalin's plan. Many refused to surrender their land. Some burned their crops and slaughtered their cattle in protest (Glennon 207). Millions more left the farms for cities, seeking jobs in the developing industry, which drastically hurt food production. Penalties for resisting the collectivization drive were forced labor camps or execution (Glennon 207).

Stalin's first attempt at collectivization failed. Collectives produced less food than independent farms had. Determined to succeed in his efforts, in July of 1932, he raised the grain quota to an impossible 6.6 millions tons (Altman 44). Even after Stalin ordered all peasants to surrender their entire grain crop, leaving nothing for themselves, the quota was not met. In one year seven to ten million Ukrainians perished from starvation. Of these, three million were children under the age of seven ("Spiking the Ukrainian Famine, Again" 33).
The Soviet government denied any existence of a terror famine, although it did admit that Stalin continued with the campaign even after learning of its toll on the peasantry ("Denying the Terror Famine" 2). It estimated a death toll only in the thousands and regarded these as necessary casualties in the interest of increased productivity. The Soviet Union also insisted that it was "misfortune and not malice that caused the Ukrainian difficulties" (Altman 47). It called Ukrainian accusations of genocide "fraudulent," claiming such allegations were a ploy to conceal Ukrainian-Nazi collaboration ("Denying the Terror Famine" 4).
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