Because of numerous requests of foreign citizens we are introducing an English version of Internet portal “Golodomor of 1932 – 1933. Kharkov oblast”. Placing on the site archival documents, photo materials, memoirs of people who survived one of the most terrible Ukrainian history periods will contribute to distribution of information about Golodomor of 1932 – 1933 in Ukraine. We hope it will help professional historians, teachers, students, pupils and all not indifferent to familiarize themselves more deeply and widely with the events connected with genocide of Ukrainian people, to feel the pain of its unhealed wound from the loss because of organized by communist regime extermination of one third of its sons and daughters; to understand Ukrainian national politics in the field of recovery and preservation of national memory and activities on commemoration of the victims of Golodomor of 1932 – 1933 in Ukraine.
Golodomor of 1932 – 1933 in Ukraine.
In public opinion Golodomor of 1932 – 1933 in Ukraine is called a XX century Ukrainian disaster. Terror of famine which Stalin totalitarian regime put into practice in Ukraine caused death to millions of farmers. After all Ukrainian losses from famine, mass repressions and deportations exceeded the ones during World War I and civil war.
Only after December 1987 it became possible to talk about Golodomor in Ukraine. And only nine months later, on November 26, 1998, the President of Ukraine’ Decree established Victims of Golodomor Remembrance Day (every fourth Saturday in November). In May 2003 the Verkhovna Rada оf Ukraine in its official appeal to Ukrainian people have recognized Golodomor of 1932 – 1933 an act of genocide. Though this decision went off with a minimal result – 226 voices. In 2003 U.N.O. General Assembly spread a declaration which called Golodomor of 1932 – 1933 a national tragedy of Ukrainian people. Eleven governments of world countries (including Australia, Hungary, Vatican, Lithuania, USA) had officially recognized the fact of Ukrainians’ genocide by Stalin regime in 1932 – 1933 was. On the 4th of November, 2005, the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko in his Decree “About the commemoration of Golodomor victims in Ukraine” called Golodomors of 1921 – 1923, 1932 – 1933 and 1946 – 1947 a genocide for Ukrainian people. On November 28, 2006, under President’s proposal Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law “About Golodomor of 1932 – 1933 in Ukraine” in which Golodomor of 1932 – 1933 (according to U.N.O. convention of November 9, 1948, about prevention of genocide crimes and its punishment) was qualified as an act of genocide to Ukrainian people (according to Art. 2 of the Convention definition “genocide” means “any act which is committed in order to destroy totally or partially any national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such”).
The 34th session of UNESCO General Conference declared its attitude to the events related to Golodomor of 1932 – 1933 by adopting on November 1, 2007, a resolution on Golodomor victims commemoration in Ukraine.
On November 2 the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko in his interview to Ukrainian journalists noted that it’s the first time international community on such a global scale (193 countries) had taken a consolidated decision on recognition of the Great Famine of 1932 – 1933. The President welcomed the adoption of this resolution by UNESCO and expressed an assurance that one day most of the world countries will recognize Golodomor an act of genocide for Ukrainian people.
The 1st of July is an official beginning of grain procurements campaign. Procurements plan for Ukraine was approved by the III All-Ukrainian conference of the C.P.(B.)U. (Communist party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine) which took place on 6 – 9 of July in Kharkov in the State Opera building. V. Molotov and L. Kaganovich represented at the conference a Central Committee of C.P.S.U.(B.) strategic line. “Set by the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) grain procurements plan on country sector of Ukraine in the volume of 356 millions poods” was adopted “for implicit fullfilment”. After the III party conference Politburo of Central Committee of the C.P.(B.)U. added a 4% increase to procurements plan and also allowed to put 2% increases into regional plans. The grain procurements plan was compiled basing upon productivity norms of 1932. For July 5 the norm came up to approximately 48.4 – 52.7 poods per hectare, since October 1 – to operative 42.1 – 46.5 poods per hectare. Though it also was set too high, same as the official figures of Ukraine harvest in 1932 – 912.5 poods or 14.6 million tons (M.B. Tauger, “The harvest of 1932 and the famine of 1933//Fates of Russian peasantry” – Moscow, 1996. – p. 306, 308). According to V. Marochko, Doctor of Historical Sciences and one of the most authoritative Ukrainian Golodomor researchers, the gross grain crop in Ukraine in 1932 amounted 12.8 million tones (about 800 million poods). In comparison with 1931 it has decreased by 306.3 million poods.
Nevertheless harvest situation in itself couldn’t have caused total starvation that provoked the death of almost half Ukrainian country population. Gathered grain was enough to satisfy people’s food requirements as well as to create a seed-stock. Ukrainian researchers of Golodomor had proved that “physical destruction of Ukrainian farmers by means of golodomor is a deliberate and purposeful act of terrorism the Bolsheviks regime carried out in Ukraine” (V. Marochko, “Golodomor of 1932 – 1933”, Kiev, 2007. – p. 3). Archival documents of the party, soviet and punitive bodies are an undoubted evidence for it.
Since 1929 Stalin started an open struggle against Ukrainian farmers, labeling them as speculators – it automatically ranked them among class enemies. A four-year war by means of “elimination of the kulaks as a class” and generalization of country farms culminated in autumn of 1932 when numerous brigades with well-defined grain procurements plans were sent to countryside. These plans were only one of various modes to make farmers deliver grain and food to state. In addition to grain procurements itself farmers had to pay milling-paying duty, do various meat, butter, eggs and other foodstuff purchases; seed borrowing repayment, kolkhoz payments to MTS (machine and tractor stations) for their work, etc.
Labour units – the so-called workday units, not the money, – were a single payment form for kolkhozniks’ work. A common payment in kind for workday unit in Ukrainian kolkhozes in 1932 was from 1 to 1.5 kg of grain. Its monetary equivalent – from 50 kopecks to 1 ruble 20 kopecks. As V. Marochko declares, according to official statistics in 1932 one able-bodied kolkhoznik worked out 143 workday units. Incapacitated kolkhoz members didn’t get workday units and the secretariat of All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee considered it right. However in the end of 1931 Ukrainian kolkhozniks hadn’t been paid off even these, for example, in Kharkov oblast 15% of kolkhozes hadn’t reckoned with kolkhozniks in full and 28% – in Kiev oblast.
The individual sector was ruled by taxation norms the Single agricultural tax Law had set for 1930-1931. In comparison with other soviet republics these norms were much higher for Ukraine. Ukrainian grain-growers had to pay 58 rubles for hectare of land under crop, Byelorussian – 55 rubles, Transcaucasian – 52 rubles, Russian – 46 rubles. In Ukraine cattle was valued in 21 rubles, in Byelorussia – 17.5 rubles, in other republics – from 13 to 15.5 rubles. Kharkov region, as a metropolitan area, within Ukrainian borders was taxed even at higher level. Under the Mandatory resolution of Kharkov Regional Executive Committee №50 of May 29, 1930, “About the procedure of single agricultural tax levying in Kharkov okrug in 1930-1931” profitability norms (and taxation rate) were set in such a way that the areas nearest to Kharkov – Kharkov, Merefa, Lubotyn, Olshana regions, and agricultural lands in Kharkov suburban zone (from 80 to 88 and 110 rubles for hectare accordingly) got the highest taxation rate. With the end of total collectivization money tax had been mostly replaced by natural equivalent.
As grain procurements range in 1931 (39% of the total yield) had reached crucial line for Ukrainian grain-forage balance, in spring of 1932 famine started in countryside, cattle was dying out. 2.5 million hectares of land were left unsown. We should also take into consideration the tremendous losses during the harvest of 1932 and 1.1 million hectares of generally unharvested lands. Bolshevistic agricultural policy without economical basis had deprived farmers of work motivation that resulted in decreasing farm production. According to the documents that are kept in former Kremlin archive of Politburo of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. average crop capacity in 5 years before 1932 had decreased in almost 30%, in Ukraine this index was equal to more than 43% (in 1927, before collectivization – 11.2 centners per hectare, in 1931 – 8.3 centners per hectare). Meanwhile, grain procurements had been growing from year to year. In Ukraine their increase in 1931/32 made up 36.7% in comparison with 1929/30.
Under such circumstances settlings with kolkhozniks for workday units in 1932 (compared with past year) became even worse. According to the documents of the Central Committee of the C.P.(B.)U. plenum (dated the 15th of February, 1933) from August 1932 to February 1933 88% of kolkhozniks in Odessa oblast, 94.8% in Dniepropetrovsk oblast, 81.6% in Kharkov oblast and almost 70% in Vinnitsa oblast hadn’t a single gram of grain. The same situation could be observed in other Ukrainian regions. Of nearly 20 millions country population of Ukraine only 6.3 millions were able-bodied kolkhozniks, and half of them got nothing for earned workday units, and 13 millions of incapacitated (children, aged people, invalids) weren’t supplied from kolkhoz funds at all. In case of kolkhoznik’s death his family didn’t get the grain earned by him for his workday units.
In spite of all “efforts” of procurement brigades, repressive measures based on the law about public property protection of September 7, 1932, (written by Stalin with his own hand), sending of all leading membership of the Central Committee of the C.P.(B.)U. and regional committees to regions for grain procurements (to deprive local leadership of “tail-end moods”), banning of corn market for kolkhozes and grain milling without permission of village soviet and also the fact that procurements plan had been forcedly reduced three times, on November 1, 1932, Ukrainian country sector delivered only 136 million poods of grain. (Y. Shapoval. “Imperative necessity”: Year 1932. On the occasion of remembrance day of victims of golodomor and political repressions. Kiev. 2003. p. 283 – 284).
Although Stalin was aware of crisis scale in the republic and had been afraid of social outbreak, he had no intention to let procurements campaign to stop. Rejection of grain procurements would have caused currency shortage, reducing of equipment purchases for new plants from abroad and recognition “great leap” policy wrong. For Stalin the question “to be or not to be” was settling in Ukraine in autumn of 1932. In view of discontent with his politics degree in society and in governed by him party Stalin and his followers wanted to condemn millions to famine and death just not to give up power.
On October 22, 1932, Politburo of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) made a decision: “To intensify the process of grain procurements send on twenty-days mission plenipotentiary commissions headed by V. Molotov – to Ukraine, and L. Kaganovich – to North Caucasian territory”. On October 29 the commission of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) with V. Molotov at the head arrived to Kharkov. He had immediately proceeded to work: sent Ukrainian leaders to regions, asked Stalin by cable to send for procurements realization 50-70 experienced communists to Ukraine for month, made an order to stop selling manufactured goods to kolkhozniks and individual farmers, demanded from local leaders to establish grain calculation near the threshers and personally departed for south regions of Ukraine. With Molotov’s arrival to Ukraine repressions had became the principal method of grain procurements. There is a directive of the Central Committee of the C.P.(B.)U. (adopted by order of this Stalin’s accomplice) in the Russian State Archive of socio-political history. This directive obliges judicial bodies to examine procurements cases out of turn, “usually by circuit courts straightly at place using severe repressions”. For this purpose not less than 5 – 10 mobile court groups were additionally organized in every region. Regional committees got a warning that “in this case passivity would be regarded by the Central Committee of the C.P.(B.)U. as the worst kind of rotten liberalism, which is intolerable for Bolsheviks party” (V. Vasiljev. “The price of hungry bread”. – In the book “Commanders of great famine: The journeys of V. Molotov and L. Kaganovich to Ukraine and Northern Caucasia. 1932 – 1933.”/Ed. by V. Vasiljev, G. Shapoval. – Kiev, 2001. p. 36).
Thus putting in order the procurements affair in Ukraine, on November 6 Molotov had departed to Moscow. But Stalin considered his actions insufficient. Molotov had returned to Kharkov and on November 18 assembled the meeting of Politburo of the Central Committee of the C.P.(B.)U. that under his pressure adopted the resolution “About the methods of grain procurements intensification”. To carry it out 600 communist workers (in brigades of 3-4 men) were sent from Kharkov and other industrial centres to countryside. They were empowered to search country farms and seize not only grain but food in general, using natural fines at the rate of 15 months meat-paying norm. This resolution also established an unknown to any system of legal proceedings punishment: listing of kolkhozes, villages and whole geographic areas to the so-called “black board”. Deprived of all foodstuffs, without a chance to escape through the GPU stop-the-way detachments that surrounded listed to “black board” territory, people were doomed to starvation. Till December 5 six villages were listed to “black board” by the decision of the Central Committee of the C.P.(B.)U. and The Council of People's Commissars of USSR (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic), by resolutions of regional executive committees – 400 kolkhozes. Villages Lutenky and Kamyani Potoky were among the first listed to “black board” in Kharkov oblast.
Since November 19 a special GPU operation had started in 243 regions of Ukraine. It also implied a plan for the arrest of 3525 farm-hands. On November 22 Politburo of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) at Molotov’s suggestion created a “troika” consisting of Kosior, Redens and Kiselyov, enabled to pronounce death sentences in the cases of people who became subject to repressions during grain procurements. Commissions with similar functions were established in every Ukrainian region. In order to prevent uncontrolled migrations of population on December 27, 1932, a resolution about introduction of passport system had appeared. Farmers had been expelled from the ranks of soviet citizens who were able to get passports.
The harvest of 1932 grain procurements in grain-producing regions lasted till January 1933. All long-term storage products were confiscated from the “debtors”. As a result, without any possibility to escape and help from the outside on legal grounds people in Ukrainian villages were dying off in mass. Meanwhile, P. P. Postyshev, the new first secretary of Kharkov regional committee of the C.P.(B.)U. during his speech in the united plenary session of Kharkov regional and city committees of the C.P.(B.)U. on February 4, 1933, made a statement: “You know that grain procurements campaign in current year was carried out and unfortunately is still carrying out in Ukraine in utterly unsatisfactory way. State didn’t get the grain in the quantity it had all reasons to expect from Ukraine, not to mention the fact that Ukrainian party organizations, first of all the party organization of Kharkov region, are far from the first place in the Union concerning time of execution of grain procurements plan”.
Postyshev devoted one third of his report to the analysis of the Kharkov party organization’s “mistakes” in farming management and grain procurements organization. But he said no word about the fact that during several months almost one third of rural population in the region had died a fearful death. For such mentioning Postyshev’s predecessor R. Terekhov (whom Stalin called a tale-teller) had paid with his own post.
Kharkov region kept the sorrowful leading place for the number of starved to death. Only in the course of 3 months in Kharkov oblast (that time in addition to today's territory it included the greater part of Sumy, Poltava and some areas of Kiev oblast) more than 600 thousands people had died. Scientists of Karazin Kharkov National University derived a death-rate coefficient for 1929 – 1933 in Ukrainian-populated regions. In Kharkov it had exceeded 25%.
A letter of Shelekhes, the head of Kharkov regional committee to the Central Committee of the C.P.(B.)U. dated May 30, 1933, is an evidence of a death-rate scale in Kharkov and region. Furthermore it points out that according to incomplete (due to the fact that civilian registry offices didn’t record death at all) data from the regions there were villages where 450 – 600 people had died during last 3 months; in many villages special carts were provided to go around and pick up corpses. 5447 men and 147 dead bodies had been picked up in streets of Kharkov only over 27 – 28 of May, 1933. The influx of begging and starving element had been growing up lately; only at 5 months in 1933 children's contingent in children's homes of Kharkov and the region increased by 14185 children (more then twice). The flow of homeless children goes on without stop and undoubtedly it will be so later on, Shelekhes reports. He pointed to the fact that only during 1 day –May 25 – 2 thousands of children had been picked up in Kharkov railway station, and for the night of 27th to 28th of May– 700 children throughout Kharkov.
All-Union national census of 1937 would have revealed the refined toll data but its results were destroyed and its performers became a subject to repressions. At the same time All-Union national census of 1939 carried out under the closer watch of the regime couldn’t conceal entirely the disastrous effects of golodomor of 1932 – 1933 in Ukraine which hadn’t been overcome even till the end of 1930s. According to its data population of Ukraine counted 30 960.2 thousands people (against 31 901.4 thousands people at the beginning of 1933, i.e. 941 thousands less). The number of Ukrainians who resided in 1939 throughout the USSR in accordance with it equaled to 28.1 millions, while in 1926 – 31.2 millions.
We can also judge the scale of Golodomor by such information: the USSR population since autumn of 1932 till April 1933 had decreased from 165.7 millions people to 158 millions or by 7.7 millions mainly at the expense of rural population. B. Urlanys gives the number of 158 millions people with warning as “approximate”.
The dynamics of deaths (but not their actual quantity) in Kharkov region can be observed owing to the calculations carried out in 2002 by the staff of regional departments of civilian registry offices of Kharkov region (in its present-day borders) on the basis of death registration books by request of the Organizational committee on preparation and realization of actions in the region in view of the 70th anniversary of golodomor in Ukraine. The incompleteness of these data results from the following: firstly, many books hadn’t been kept safe, secondly, - not all deaths were registered. It is significant that such calculation had been done twice. (The results of a first one are kept in the documents of scientific and auxiliary fund of Kharkov museum of history and published in the book “Black harvest. Famine of 1932 – 1933 in Valky and Kolomak regions of Kharkov area (documents, memoirs, list of the dead)”. Ed. by T. Polyshuk. Kiev – Kharkov – New-York – Philadelphia. – 1997). Last years calculations showed somewhat different figures but the tendency hasn’t changed. The total number of registered deaths in 1933 in territory of present-day Kharkov region makes up more than 120 thousands (along with Kharkov itself, where 33 900 deaths were registered). As against NEP year 1925 it’s more than four times greater; as compared to 1935, the last year before the mass political repressions – six times.
For the purpose of proper organization and realization ensuring of activities in connection with the 75th anniversary of Golodomor in Ukraine the President V. Yushchenko by his Decree dated March 14, 2007, created the Coordinating council on preparation of activities in connection with the 75th anniversary of Golodomor of 1932 – 1933 in Ukraine and in 2 weeks these activities were approved by the President’s Decree № 250. For the time being two meetings of the Coordinating council took place; the second one was held on October 23 in Kharkov, from where in 1932 started out the realization of Bolshevist imperial leadership’s inhuman plan in Ukraine – the destroying of 7 millions of Ukrainian farmers by means of starvation genocide. The Ukrainians as a historical nation should revive the names of Ukrainian grain-growers, victims of purposeful state terror.
The hungry and evil time of 1933 – it’s not only a historic past but a nonhealing physical and spiritual wound of Ukrainian people with a smarting pain piercing the memory of numerous generations. Today we should speak about the past for the future as the unconsciousness causes unspirituality which like a cancerous growth eats away nation’s body and soul – crosses out its history, abuses traditions and destroys social and cultural originality of the nation.
N. Lapchynskaya, the portal “Golodomor of 1932 – 1933. Kharkov region” editor-in-chief, the leadership member of V. Stus All-Ukrainian Society “Memorial”