Ukrainians suffered three terror famines under the Soviets not just one

Holodomor (death by starvation) 1921-1922, 1932-1933, 1946-1947 In June 1933, 34170 each day, 1420 each hour, 24 each minute died from hunger in Ukraine. At least 4 million Ukrainians perished in Stalin's genocidal famine of 1932-1933.


Analysis & Opinion, History

This week Ukrainians and all people of goodwill around the world are marking the 85th anniversary of the beginning of the Holodomor in 1932, the terror famine organized by Stalin and the Soviet system that killed more than five million Ukrainian peasants.

More than three out of four Ukrainians now view that event as a Russian genocide against their nation as do an increasing number of people and governments around the world (

But in focusing on this horror, one that has come to be better appreciated internationally thanks to the heroic efforts of Robert Conquest and Anne Applebaum, it is important to remember two other things.

Victims of starvation in Kharkiv. The Holodomor in Ukraine, 1933 (Image:

Victims of starvation in Kharkiv. The Holodomor in Ukraine, 1933 (Image:

On the one hand, as Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman points out, the Ukrainian people suffered not one Holodomor but three.

In a statement, Groysman points out that on the fourth Saturday of November, Ukrainians pause to remember the victims of the mass hunger Moscow used against Ukraine in 1921-23, 1932-33, and 1946-47 as a form of “ethnic cleansing” designed to achieve “the destruction of the entire people” (

The Holodomor of 1932-33 is better known and far better documented as an action of state-sponsored genocide against the Ukrainian nation; but Groysman is certainly correct that the two other terror famines reflected state policy and could have been avoided if Moscow had been more concerned about the population than about exporting its revolution.

The Soviet government sign in the outskirts of Kharkiv says in Russian: "Burying corpses is prohibited here categorically!" The Holodomor in Ukraine, 1933. (Image:

The Soviet government sign in the outskirts of Kharkiv says in Russian: “Burying corpses is prohibited here categorically!” The Holodomor in Ukraine, 1933. (Image:

And on the other hand, while it is entirely natural that the victims of genocides should focus on their own national tragedies, it is also important to remember that these three terror famines under the Soviets carried off millions of other victims in Belarus, the North Caucasus, the Volga region, the Southern Urals, Kazakhstan and elsewhere.

Russian historians often try to minimize the genocidal aspects of the Holodomor in Ukraine by suggesting that the causes of the famines there did not reflect any ethnic animus on the part of Soviet leaders but rather were the product of broader problems and policies like dislocation after wars and collectivization (

To honor the memory of the Ukrainian victims of the three Holodomors inflicted on them, however, is in no way lessened by recognizing the terror famines inflicted on others by the Soviet regime. Instead, it is increased because it shows that Ukrainians have moved beyond the notion that they or any other group is a unique victim.

Holodomor, Ukraine 1932-1933. A starving family in a courtyard

Holodomor, Ukraine 1932-1933. A starving family in a courtyard

Instead, the Ukrainians in this way can demonstrate that something evil remains evil regardless of who carries it out and against whom it is directed rather than being contingent on one or the other. And that puts them on the way to fulfilling the great Russian memoirist Nadezhda Mandelshtam’s standard for a truly good and happy country.

As she wrote so many years ago, “happy is the country where the despicable will at least be despised.” That is something Ukrainians and some others are capable of. Unfortunately, it is not something that everyone else yet is.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • laker48

    It’s appalling that so many countries haven’t yet recognised the 1932-1933 Holodomor as genocide.

    • Ihor Dawydiak

      What is equally appalling is the fact that most Russians and people who espouse communism refuse to acknowledge that this heinous crime perpetrated by Stalin and his henchmen was an act designed to eradicate Ukrainian resistance to collectivization as well as the intelligentsia and religious clergy in Ukraine. Furthermore, these apologists for Stalin continue to make the absurd claim that the Holodomor/Genocide was the result of bad weather and have also claimed that only 2 million people perished whereas reputable historians have estimated the actual loss of people ranged between 4 to 7 million.

      • laker48

        What the late general George Patton said about RuSSians in 1945 still rings true to the tee:
        “The Russians are Mongols. They are Slavs and a lot of them used to be ruled by ancient Byzantium. From Genghis Khan to Stalin. They have not changed. They never will and we will never learn, at least not until it is too late.”
        And further:
        “The difficulty in understanding the Russian is that we do not take cognizance of the fact that he is not a European, but an Asiatic, and therefore thinks deviously. We can no more understand a Russian than a Chinese or a Japanese, and from what I have seen of them, I have no particular desire to understand them except to ascertain how much lead or iron it takes to kill them. In addition to his other amiable characteristics, the Russian has no regard for human life and they are all out sons-of-bit*hes, barbarians, and chronic drunks.”

        • zorbatheturk

          RuSSians are like poisonous centipedes.

          • Scradje

            In Zimbabwe, which is run on the putler business model, a poisonous snake is being replaced by a crocodile. What abomination of nature will replace the chekist rodent when the time comes? We can all look forward to the rodent’s demise, but his successor not so much.

          • zorbatheturk

            RuSSians will be lost without their Vladolf. The siloviki rats will start eating each other.

  • zorbatheturk

    RuSSia has shown no remorse for its evil actions. Put simply, Putin doesn’t give a damn. Nor do any other inhabitants of the Krumlin.

  • AmounRah

    I am *so glad* that Ukrainians (at least those who support it) have finally broken off from the Russian sphere of influence.
    As soon as they bought (or bit..) into the cookies that Nuland and Co sold to the public, there have been so many great changes for Ukraine!
    Militant groups sprung all over the country….or no….wait…ok nvm
    Extremists and nationalists are [email protected] and pillaging villages and citizens….oh wait nono…nvm that one
    An ex-US informant/agent, magically turned president, using a fake name, has plowed the country into INSANE amounts of debt that will take generations to pay…oh…dang, nvm that one either..
    INSTANT EU membership though!…..oh….wait….
    Civil war, displacement, debt, broken government, destroyed economy, socially owned assets sold off to pay for those debts….wait…I did it again. I keep trying to find a positive in this whole fiasco but there are none.
    “Oh yeah!?!? Well at least Ukraine is no longer under Russian rule!!!” says the next poster.
    Very true! So all the benefits are gone, like Russia buying up Ukrainian goods that no one else wanted and still doesn’t just to appease the country; gas is now sold at EU prices, as opposed to the discount; economical ties lost, no one else taking Ukraine in ( I am sorry but a few bags of grain of sunflower oil isnt going to keep the economy running), billions in debt that Russia did not care about or pressed for.
    Yup. Go Ukraine……..