By Matt Bivens, from Washington, The Moscow Times
Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 23, 2003
My assertion in last week's column that the famine of 1932-33 stopped at the
Ukrainian-Russian internal border was problematic for some; others objected
that the famine itself was not necessarily engineered by a malevolent
No one can seriously claim the 1932-33 famine was not an intentional,
planned assault. The same goes for the prelude to that famine: the
dekulakization and collectivization campaigns of 1929, 1930, 1931 and 1932,
which led to the killings or deportations of millions across the Soviet
What historian Robert Conquest has described as the terror-famine of 1932-33
was a wave of starvation "inflicted" upon Ukraine -- and accompanied by a
Party attack on all things Ukrainian, from learning centers to the church.
Starvation also raged south into the Caucasus and up along the Volga
River -- but it was indeed checked at the sealed Russian-Ukrainian border,
by the same Kremlin-directed agents who had removed "every handful of food"
in Ukraine and blocked out all help from outside -- "even from other areas
of the U.S.S.R."
The 1932-33 terror-famine was the climax of Stalin's drive to crush the
Soviet peasantry in general, and the Ukrainian nation in particular. It was
a stab at genocide, and at its height, while Moscow exported grain, millions
of men, women and children in Ukraine lay dead or dying under the eyes of
well-fed police and Party officials.
Ukraine itself, Conquest writes, was "like one vast Belsen." (Bergen-Belsen
was the Nazi camp where starvation claimed thousands, including Anne Frank.)
This is exhaustively documented. Nearly 20 years ago, Conquest could write
that "No serious doubts remain" about any of it.
Matt Bivens, a former editor of The Moscow Times, writes the Daily Outrage
for The Nation magazine. The Moscow Times, June 23, 2003
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