Was the Holodomor a Genocide? München (Zoom-Webinar), 24. September 2020



Martin Schulze Wessel: […] annual conference. Due to COVID-19 we had to postpone our planned conference about Holodomor until the next year. Together with my Ukrainian co-chair Yaroslav Hrytsak, Professor at Catholic University of Lviv, we have invited four international experts whom I will introduce in the order in which they will speak later. Professor Andrea Graziosi, professor at the University of Naples, who wrote a great monograph on the Bolsheviks and the peasants from 1919 to 1933. He has published many other books and has been translated into many languages. In 2005 he was awarded the Order of Yaroslav the Wise by the President of Ukraine. Welcome to you.


Andrea Graziosi: Thank you, thank you. I am very happy that you’ve invited me. That’s a very good discussion.


Martin Schulze Wessel: Doctor Daria Mattingly from Cambridge University, the next speaker, is working on the first source-based study of local perpetrators of the Holodomor in Ukraine. She has many publications and conference appearances, including two conferences co-organized in cooperation between LMU Munich and University of Cambridge in 2018 and 2019. Hello, welcome to you.


Daria Mattingly: Thank you for inviting me.


Martin Schulze Wessel: The next speaker will be then Professor Doctor Georgiy Kasianov. He is the Head of the Department of Contemporary History and Politics at the Institute of History of Ukraine in Kyiv and Professor at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy. He has held fellowships, for example in Harvard. He is a member of Ukrainian-Austrian Commission of Historians and he was the first fellow of the Basel Center for Ukrainian Studies. He has published widely in many languages, including on Stalinism in Ukraine and on the Holodomor in politics and consciousness of Ukraine. Hello, welcome to you.

Last but not least, Doctor Liudmila Grynevych, who works at the Institute of History of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, in Kyiv, and has published the important monograph on hunger in Ukraine in 1928-29, and she is one of the most respected scholars and experts of the Holocaust in Ukraine. Hello, welcome to you!


The Gulag, to have a very short introduction, has become the central symbol for the Soviet crimes of the Stalinist period. However, the western public has been long ignoring what is probably the greatest single Soviet Crime. The Holodomor, the famine that cost some 3.9 million victims in the Soviet Republic of Ukraine alone in 1932 and 1933.


The Holodomor was not the result of unfavorable climatic conditions, nor was it a mere consequence of modernization. But from a certain point, in time at least, it was deliberately brought about by Stalin.


Anyone who describes the Holodomor as a mere tragedy, with no concrete perpetrators, as it did the Russian ambassador last year, or who declares it to be an unintended consequence of the great Soviet transformation, is playing down the Holodomor.


On the other hand, the Holodomor as a crime against humanity cannot be put on the same level as the Holocaust because of the number of victims and above all, because of incomparable systematic nature of the murder the Jews. Because between these two positions there is much room for reasonable discussions about the causes of the violent dynamics about perpetrators and victims of the Holodomor. We want to have such a discussion today.


Because of the petition to the Bundestag to recognize the Holodomor as a genocide, to acknowledge it as a genocide, our workshop today is moving in a political view that we cannot ignore.


One can raise many objections to the wording of our title “Was the Holodomor a Genocide?” If it is clear from the outset that it was a Genocide, it may be considered inappropriate to even ask the question.


This criticism is, however, based on a more popular understanding of genocide, which sees genocide as mere the superlative of mass murder. However, this understanding, I would say: this misunderstanding of the concept of genocide, cannot be the guiding principle for us if we, as historians, plan to inform the public properly.


According to the UN definition of 1948, genocide is characterized by the intention to destroy, directly or indirectly, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such, in whole or in part. One must, of course, know that the Soviet Union had a major influence on this definition after the Second World War. It ensured that political groups or classes, i.e. typical victims of Soviet mass-violence, were not protected by the Convention. And Soviet influence enforced the criteria that national groups or racial groups were attacked as such.


For historians, this poses a double problem. In the discussion about the genocidal nature of mass-crimes, we are actually only auxiliary scholars. The question itself is and remains a legal one, a question of international law. The second problem for historians is the fact of the political interest in historical studies. If one uses the concept of genocide in historical studies, certain questions come to the fore very strongly, such as the question whether Stalin left the victims to die as Ukrainians or as peasants. In other words, it is the question is not even about the identity of victims, whether they felt primarily as peasants or as Ukrainians but about the perspective of a main perpetrator. Historically, this is not necessarily an interesting question, but legally, it is highly relevant. The focus on the perspective of a main perpetrator, Stalin, tends to make other questions to recede into the background, such as the local perpetrators in Ukraine, and so I am very happy that Daria Mattingly is taking part in the discussion. This participation is particularly important.


Because the accusation of genocide is so serious and because there is no comparable criminal offence to protect classes or political groups, the legal concept has such a strong impact on the political debate. Ever since Robert Conquest described Ukraine in 1932-1933 as a great Bergen-Belsen, a large part of historical studies have been positioned itself for or against the genocide thesis. Thus, historical studies are in danger of ending up as a plea in a criminal case.


To sum up the problem of the concept of genocide for the historical discourse lies in the fact that it is both a concept of international law and a political slogan or, to say it in German, “ein politischer Kampfbegriff”


Perhaps, an unavoidable political charge of the discussion about the Holodomor, we too experienced in the preparation of this conference. Some of you might have seen that just today, on the eve of our conference, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has withdrawn its patronage from the German-Ukrainian Historical Commission.


Reasons, which we are given for this decision I leave to you if they’re convincing or not. We are accused of a lack of academic activity, and indeed we’ve done a lot, and we are accused of a lack of public interventions and we have done a lot in this field as well. This webinar is only one example. The real reason for the withdrawal from patronage is another one. The Ukrainian Ambassador in Germany, Melnik, accused me on Wednesday by SMS for having invited professor Kasianov, who was, as he said, a denier of the genocidal nature of the Holodomor, and this for ideological reasons. Well, I doubt that this is a right description of Kassianov’s position. Already this SMS was connected with threats that our behavior will not remain without consequences.


We cannot and we will not give in to political pressure, as we want to defend our scientific independence. Historians have to defend their autonomy from politics; otherwise they will lose their credibility and intimately the ability to have some impact on the political public discourse.


Thank you for your [attention]. I will pass now the word to Yaroslav Hrytsak, the second speaker and co-speaker of the German-Ukrainian Historical Commission.


[00° 11’ 59’’] Yaroslav Hrytsak: Thank you so much, Martin! I will be talking in two languages, and wearing two hats. One will be the hat of the speaker for the Ukrainian members of the German-Ukrainian Historical Commission. The second hat will be my personal, I’ll be talking on my personal behalf. So, as the speaker for the Ukrainian part, Ukrainian-German [Historical] Commission, I would like to support the statement made by Martin that we should not give in to political pressure from outside and we have to defend our academic freedom. This is my own position, and as well as the position of every and each Ukrainian member of the Ukrainian German [Historical] Commission.  I make it very clear.


Secondly, having said that, I also have to say that each and every member of our Commission believes that the Holodomor, was a genocide. We have made this statement a year ago, and here I just want to repeat it for a variety of reasons. It’s rather rare among historians that they could come to the joint position - they have different opinions, but this is one of the few exceptions. Each and everyone of us, we do believe that the Holodomor is a genocide. Of course, we are not specialists on this issue. The only member, who could be considered specialist on the issue, is the professor Yurii Shapoval who wrote a lot on history of Stalinism and the Holodomor. In a contrast to him, we are not specialists. By this token, we could not base our position directly on our studies. But, as historians, we are reading a lot of historical literature -- this is our professional duty. And in this case, based on our readings, our opinions converge. So, let me just state it again clearly, explicitly, that we do believe that the Holodomor was a genocide.


And now I will switch into Ukrainian, to express my personal position, why I believe the Holodomor was a genocide. As I said, I am not a professional in this area, it is not my field of expertise. It just happens that I keep writing and rewriting a synthesis of Ukrainian History in the 19th and 20th century. And this writing requires a lot of reading from me. I read a lot. Everything that pertains to the 20tth century. Increasingly, I move to direction of global history because I believe that global history is the kind of context that lets us understand much better what is going on in Ukraine. I am particularly certain that the global context helps us better understand why the Holodomor can be considered genocide. My personal opinion on the Holodomor was most affected by Professor Andrea Graziosi. I believe that Professor Andrea Graziosi is the best expert in the history of the Holodomor.


And I guess no one has done quite as much not just for the study, but also for the conceptualization. I will not repeat his arguments because of believe, he’ll provide you with his arguments much better than I can. But I would like to use one of his argument as a starting point.


He suggest to view genocides each one separately, not per se, but as a pyramid, where at the very top, at the very summit we have the Holocaust, which surely is a unique, exceptional. If we might say so, it was the ideal genocide, the perfect genocide. Below it, we have genocides that are less perfect, less pure, more moderate genocides, so to say. So it is difficult to say clearly are they or are they not genocides. Social scientists know that when we discuss a particular phenomenon, “this or that” [This or that] is not a good way to set a question. The answer is neither “yes” nor “no”. But the right question is, on a scale of one to ten, where do you place Holodomor? So, in on the scale from 1 to 10, I think, Holodomor was a genocide of around 8 point, and the more we introduce the global context, the closer it slides to 10.


 People, who study history, understand that, as soon as we start delineating a particular phenomenon, the more elusive it proves to be. So, people who study revolution, for them it is very difficult for them to define exactly what revolution is. They look at the French Revolution, they look at the Russian revolution as archetypes. They look at the periodizations and the attributes of this revolution, and then they try to apply this argumentation to other revolutions.


Once this happens, the subject disappears because often we cannot say, well, was the Arab Spring a revolution or was it not, was the Euro-Maidan a revolution or not. It simply recedes into the distance. I am more prone to the approach of Charles Tilly, the American historian and political scientist, who says that in history, revolution as not as rare as solar eclipses, they are more like traffic jams. They’re irregular but frequent - more frequent than we can imagine. They are rather banal.


So, I think, in my opinion, genocides are much more banal than we can imagine. And, in my opinion, again, Ukrainian history is unfortunately a good example. If we look at the 15 years in Ukraine from 1932 to 1947, we see that Ukraine had several genocides. Not perfect genocides, but still genocides. We have the Holodomor of 1932. We have the destruction of the Soviet prisoners of War, the Holocaust, the destruction of the Roma, the Volhynia Massacre and the revenge of Polish Army (Armia Krajowa) on Ukrainian population, the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, the deportation of the Poles and Ukrainians from (vice versa) from the Polish and Ukrainian lands at the Akcja Wisła. All of these were, to an extent, acts of genocide.


This says something about the Ukrainian history, the territory of Ukraine. I am not going to go into great details, but I think it is very important: it is no accident that those who have studied genocide and tried to conceptualize mass violence, many of them are from our region. Raphael Lemkin comes from Lviv, Lewis Namier and Hersh Lauterbach are from Galicia, and so many others.


So, it seems to me that the genocides are “native” Ukraine, forgive me for this unfortunate choice of the word. Since there were so many genocides in Ukraine, studies of the Ukrainian cases are very important to the conceptualization of Genocide. I think it is no accident that Lemkin took the Ukrainian case as an example of genocide and wrote this in his articles, as we now know from his post-humous publications.


In my understanding the Holodomor as a genocide, I was also very influenced by the book of Alfred Rieber. This book is a conclusion of his long project “Stalin, Man of the Borderlands”. It has two volumes, and the first one conceptualizes what borderland is.


I think it conveys the specificity of Ukraine and the specificity of the ways Stalin thought on Ukraine. One of the usual arguments against the Holodomor as a genocide is that the Holodomor was one of many famines, so there is no reasons to separate it from other waves of hunger or famines in the Soviet Union. Reading of Rieber helps me think why the Ukrainian Hunger was different. It was different because it took place under different conditions. These were conditions of particular borderlands – borderlands that Timothy Snyder branded as “Bloodlands”.


These were borderlands that played a key role in the fate of Eastern Europe and Europe in general. We forget the important significance of Ukraine for the Bolsheviks. In the context of the World Communist Revolution, as Karl Radek put it, Ukraine was supposed to serve as a bridge to transfer the revolutionary fire from Russia to the West, most importantly to Germany.


Stalin wrote in 1918 that Ukraine is a key territory for the World Revolution. There are other texts for Bolshevik leaders who emphasized importance of Ukraine. Now, Rieber makes a very, very important point. He says that Stalin first of all had a strong sense of the borderland because he himself was a borderland man. He was a man from the Caucasus. He understood the logic of the borderlands. The borderlands are particularly conflictogenic. They are particularly prone to conflicts. To subdue and to control them, one has to apply specific measures. Very importantly, Stalin himself had a direct experience with Ukraine. In 1917 – 1920 as a member of Politburo, he dealt with Southern Russia and Ukraine. He is considered responsible for the collapse of the Bolshevik-Polish war in 1920-1921.  Ukraine was be a personal trauma for Stalin, and this trauma was recurrent, especially once Ukrainian peasant uprisings started in 1930, in a resistance to collectivization. The peasant resisted to collectivization everywhere, but in Ukraine their resistance was the strongest. More so - as Lynn Viola shows in her book on the peasant rebellions against Stalin - these Ukrainian peasant uprisings had national dimension, and the national dimension was the stronger, the closer it was to the western border of the Soviet Union with Polan.


The Ukrainian question was the question of the big game between Pilsudskyi and Stalin. And Stalin looked at scale and intensity of peasant revolts in Ukraine as a proof that Pilsudskyi and his Ukrainian agents were behind that. All of this allows us to see the extent to which the Ukrainian situation was entirely different - how much more geopolitically vulnerable it was and why Stalin had to set it apart from other situations. Obviously we can not know what was going in the Stalin’s head. But there is more than one reason to think that Stalin set Ukraine aside and that was behind his idea to deliver a separate famine for Ukrainians, in addition to the wave of famines that were in Soviet Union.


I would like to conclude by stress again that we cannot fully discuss the history of the Holodomor without considering the broader context of history - what the historians call “global history”. And this broader context provides with further arguments, I think, why the Holodomor should be considered a genocide.


Thank you for attention.


Martin Schulze Wessel: Next speaker will be Professor Graziosi


[00°23’48’’] Andrea Graziosi: Yes, thank you. I again thank you for inviting me and I will begin as professor Hrytsak did by saying that I’m too totally in favor of a strong and firm defense of academic freedom and support the position of the committee. I’m also grateful for the good words that professor Hrytsak had about me, I don’t know if I deserve them. Actually, I agree with him very much and not just because he says that he took some inspiration from my work, but because the last two-three concepts he introduced are very true in the sense that if one takes the Holodomor only on its own, it becomes very difficult to construe a general argument and to conceptualize about it. Of course, “longue durée” and general comparisons are very important, but I cannot deal with them now, in ten minutes.


Therefore, I will limit myself to a very specific fact, of which we now are sure. In the USSR of early 1930s we can observe the repeated use of hunger, deadly hunger, as a political tool. This is sure, on this there can be no doubt, and we acquired the capacity to see these different episodes over the past twenty years. However, as I will say at the end, there were people that did understand this multiplicity many, many years ago, because victims do tend to see what happens to them, even if they, may be, are but rarely able to produce strong interpretations. This must be said so as not to be too proud of what we did as historians.


But what did we learn to see? When I started to study the early 1930s the discussion  was about the Soviet famine, in the singular, and all the polemics were about was there a Soviet famine or not, because there were even people who denied this famine’s existence, or was this famine a genocide. But if you stay with this single category, “the "Soviet famine", you cannot get anywhere.


In fact, thanks to a number of great works by colleagues that I don’t have the time to mention, not only historians, but also demographers or historians of languages and of culture, we became for instance capable to understand the double blow that Stalin gave Ukrainians in 1932-34.


Thanks to them we started to see, to acquire a capacity to see. And what did we see, and this is unquestionable by now, on this there can be no question between serious historians? You know that by now famine specialists use two categories: great famines, that provoke more than one hundred thousand deaths, and catastrophic famines that provoke more than one million deaths. Well, we now know for sure that in the Soviet Union between 1930 and 1933, there were five different great famines, and two catastrophic famines, the Kazakh and the Ukrainian.


I will just mention them very briefly.  They raised a great problem: the fact that there are so many famines, generally different one from the other, though the Kuban is similar to the Ukrainian one, and the Kuban and the North Caucasus ones are also similar. So, you have, first of all, about two hundred thousand "kulaks” who died of hunger in between their deportation and their arrival and their first months in the special settlements, and then again in 1932. This was a specific category that was singled out, deported, that suffered famine in horrible conditions in deportation places and we know that about two hundred thousand, possibly, two hundred fifty, died. I say two hundred, because many were able to flee, it seems. We don't know this very well.


Then we have the general, let’s say, Soviet famine, because there was indeed a general Soviet suffering, a time of hardship provoked by Stalin’s ”Velikiy Perelom,” or revolution from above. I would say that this general hardship caused may be a few hundred thousand victims all over the country, in Siberia, in industrial cities, in minor shtetls, in small towns and villages. Even in the big cities that were the most privileged or in the rayony, the regions, bordering on foreign countries, where the state was very careful to give food, even there people died and suffered.


Then you have, of course, the Kazakh famine that is, I think, extremely interesting besides being in relative terms the largest one, relative to the population. And we now know for sure, the mechanism that caused it was extremely brutal and simple. Since Soviet peasants had killed their herds, their animals, because of collectivization, and the state needed meat for the rations in the cities, for the army, the industry, for the bureaucratic apparatus, animals were taken away from nomads. About one million and half people, mostly Kazakh nomads, thus died because food was taken out of them. It was not a modernization project, it was the most brutal colonial famine imaginable. I’m pretty sure that you could call this famine a genocide as well, from many points of view.


Then there is a famine whose importance I like to stress since I am speaking with German colleagues, and it is the one [that affected] the Volga German republic, which was the only place with mortality rates that were as high as the ones in Kharkiv and in Kyiv [regions]. I know of no serious study dealing with this famine. Maybe it’s my ignorance, because I’m not a great specialist in German [historical research], but the few things I’ve read about this disastrous famine, that provoked more than a hundred thousand victims, with extremely high mortality rates, [indicate] that has not been studied seriously. We have Mennonites’ letters etc. that were collected in Canada or in the United States. But I never saw a serious scholarly work on the [famine in the] German Volga Republic, which is really to me incomprehensible. Given that the republic was also disbanded and, as you know, its inhabitants were deported in 1939-1940, it is really [a history] that someone should take into consideration [as a topic for an important book].


Then we have, of course, the central "Black Earth" region with, again, more than one hundred thousand [victims]. Its Ukrainian-speaking provinces suffered more than the others, but there was a general famine all over the region and [the same applies to] the Northern Caucasus. Finally, you have the Ukrainian [Holodomor], which is the largest Soviet famine in absolute terms. About 3.5-4 million people died.


We are therefore facing the repeated use of hunger to target specific groups in specific places, not just a [general famine] provoked by industrialization and collectivization. This, I think, it’s what one has to understand. I don't know if you’ve ever read the terror decrees, the secret decrees of the [1937-38] terror or guiding the passportization of the cities in 1932-33, with their long list of categories. We are dealing with a state and with the despot, Stalin, that “cut” the population in many, many categories and then decided what to do with each one of these categories. His [Stalin] was a very categorical mind, I don’t know if this can be said in English…


From this point of view, the Soviet Union in the Stalinist period of  the thirties is possibly one of the hotbeds of genocides in the twentieth century because there was picking groups and hitting groups one after the other. You can think of the priests belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church. 85% of these priests were wiped out, which means that according to the Genocide Convention actually the Orthodox Church was a victim of genocide, because it was [a group identified and exterminated] on religious grounds.


If one enters this dimension one discovers that we’re dealing with a very complex affair. I think, and I agree, of course, with Yaroslav, that you don’t have to reason in “yes” or “no” [terms]. It doesn’t work, also because history is not a morality play, it is not a binary phenomenon. There is not capitalism versus socialism, genocide versus non-genocide. There are chains that go from one extreme to the other, and phenomena position themselves in this or that place [in the chain]. From this point of view, and I totally agree with Yaroslav, the Holocaust is different because the Nazis wanted to kill all of them [the Jews]. Neither the Kazakhs or the Ukrainians were targeted [this way] because Stalin didn’t want to kill all the Ukrainians or all the Kazakhs. But the [UN Genocide] convention states that [the concept applies] when either the population or part of it, or a group of it [is targeted].


So, from this point of view, even though I would not as a historian who doesn’t like the idea of reducing history and research to was it genocide, was it socialism, was it capitalism [or not] etc. because binary options, from a research point of view, are not interesting, frankly speaking, because if you want to interpret things, you want to be sophisticated. You do not want to go around with a hatchet … But certainly, since the Convention uses the word groups, and speaks of an intent to kill both the Kazakh famine and the Holodomor do belong in the genocide category the Kazakh one is a genocide even if it was a genocide that was not even “willed” [for political or ideological reasons], in the sense that they took the meat [the herds] from the nomads and left the nomads to die. So, it is quite impressive, from this point of view. But, certainly, all the genocide students the world over would call it a genocide, as they tend to call a genocide what happened to the “natives”, a horrible expression, in the United States, where they died over hundreds of  years. They died in one year, the Kazakhs, in that event.


I do not want to make extreme comparisons [between the Kazakh and the Ukrainian cases] but what is really impressive to me is that the Kazakh case is very brutal: we need the meat, we take the meat, we don’t care... The Ukrainian case, instead, is a very sophisticated operation. It is horrible to say this, but Stalin was a very intelligent man, he was not an unsophisticated person. And clearly he was, by the way, a great specialist in nationalities the world over. As you know, the Oxford dictionary still uses his definition. Stalin learned to build nationalities [in the 1920s], he believed that it was possible to build nationalities. And [he knew that] if you can build nationalities, you can unbuild nationalities. Or you can distort them because you have instruments, such as hunger, as he said openly in 1952 to the Ukrainian Politburo members, and you have cultural tools, like language, education, etc. In 1933 he withdrew the dictionaries in Ukraine to change the roots of the words, [to make them closer] to Russian ones, while he was letting the peasants die. It is clear that he was using national and social tools at his disposal to distort the national life of a population, if you want acting as a scientist, a mad scientist, but a very effective one.


For example, you know --I still have two minutes and then I’ll finish-- the anti-Ukrainian and anti-Ukrainization measures are in a decree on the “zagotovki”, the grain requisition decree. There clearly Stalin was putting the two things [social and national] together. It is we that are stupidly, if I may say so, separating the social and the national, which should never be separated if you want to understand society.


I just want to add two more things, very briefly. I started to say that we acquired this consciousness of what happened [in the early 1930s] recently. For instance, I changed my mind over time, and though I was lucky enough to find very good sources about Holodomor when I was very young, and it was very soon clear to me that something terrible had happened, I still changed my mind about how to interpret those events [as group targeting and destruction]. Only later, I started to see this nature of Stalinism, not of the Soviet system, because under Brezhnev, this didn’t happen, one has to be open-eyed. Even during the NEP-period such things didn’t happen, up to 1927, I would say. In the Civil War, they happened a lot, as they did in the Stalinist post-1945 years.


But there were people who “saw” this much earlier. I was very impressed when my friend Frank Sysyn sent me a publication that I want to mention because this is a Ukrainian-German Commission, a publication of the Munich Institute for the study of the Soviet Union in 1958 that is called "a study in group destruction.” There are not only Ukrainians, they list all these groups, all of them. So they were seeing this, because victims can see the picture, even though they cannot see what is behind it, for which you need sources, you need to study, you need archives - but as a victim the picture you can see. And I was very impressed [by their capacity to see]. And I would like just to end this talk [by stressing that] what Yaroslav said is extremely important. You should never reduce history to a binary option but in very extreme cases, which do happen, but rarely. When you study history you should always reason on the basis of the fact  that there are varieties, similarities, there are differences and you do not want morality plays, you do not want [simplistic scheme based on] was it this or that or not. You want to understand differences, you want to understand similarities, you want to compare, you want to go global in the sense of macro-regions, as again Yaroslav was saying, because clearly we had a macro-region there, the one in-between Russia and Germany and the Ottoman Empire, I would say.


So, this is what I would say, and to answer the question [our webinar’s title asks], a question that as I told you I personally do not like (I even organized a conference to [criticize this way of reasoning], I do believe that Holodomor was a genocide as Yaroslav does, and, as I understand the Commission does. But this is just a moral and legal starting point. For a historian, it is much more important to discover new things. Thank you very much.


Martin Schulze Wessel: Thank you so much, Professor Graziosi. One technical remark […] and the next speaker will be Daria Mattingly. The floor is yours, Daria.



[00°40’16’’] Daria Mattingly: Thank you for having me in this webinar. It is a real honor.


Most scholars of the Holodomor inevitably ponder the question whether or not the Holodomor was a genocide, even though it is a legal term as it has already been mentioned. Key questions for historians usually start with the words “what” or “why”: “what happened”, “why it happened”, and answering “why” leads to the intentions behind the Holodomor. And that is what I would like to explore in my opening statement – the intentions which is crucial for the question of genocide.


Like previous speakers, I do believe that the concept of genocide as the theoretical framework is applicable to the study of the Holodomor though it is not exhaustive. In fact, it is quite reductive for historians. I also share the definition of the genocide according to the UN Convention as acts committed with an aim to destroy [the nation …] in whole or in part, but here I would define Ukrainians as a political nation. If we look at the Holodomor not just as famine, but as a genocide, then we would see how Ukrainian nation was being destroyed not in the narrow understanding of an ethnic group but a political nation, with Benedict Anderson's understanding of the nation as an imagined community.


So, back to the intentions. Firstly, we have to establish the intent. Obviously, there are no smoking gun documents and Stalin did not leave a long paper trail with a clear articulation of the intent. But once we establish the intent, we can see a clear link to the national component of the Holodomor. And this what Andrea already said: you can’t separate social and national and here there is a very clear example of such a combination.


The intent could be discerned from the actual process of genocide, which is a fluent, complex process and not formally defined period of starvation. Intention could be revealed through the policy rather than pre-mediation of the Holodomor. It could be revealed in the response to the initial results of the disastrous policy which collectivization was. Also, I would like to stress that a political leader can intend the results of the policies or not, they could articulate their intentions or not, but they are always responsible for the results, regardless of their motivation.


This is where I engage with the argument of revisionist the school of historiography on the subject. I would like to explore a little bit more here. For example, if I drive down the road and run over a pedestrian, I am still responsible for their death. It would be a manslaughter. But if I not only run over a pedestrian but reverse and make sure that the pedestrian is dead, flee from the scene and deny it happened, then I am responsible for the murder. This is what arguably took place in the Holodomor.


So, when historians argue that Stalin did not want to kill the peasants, he wanted just to squeeze as much grain as possible out of them, it is to ignore the direct results of the policy he pursued. Nobody can survive without food. The Soviet government did not accept the aid from outside, international aid, they denied the famine. Revisionist historians point out the contemporary geopolitical context, Soviet concerns for security, fear of imminent war”. However, when we look at the famine of 1921, they did accept help right after foreign intervention. So, they could have shifted their trade priorities, stopped exports but they have done none of it. That it is not to say that there was enough grain. There were people, as Andrea pointed out, starving in the cities. It is to say that less people would have died. Clearly, there was an intent in those policies.


Also, there is an argument of ill-informed leader, dysfunctional bureaucracy (and here I am moving towards my research of the rank-and-file perpetrators), that they were volatile on the ground, – it does not stand scrutiny either.


Indeed, we now have enough evidence, archival evidence (published by Khlevniuk, Kuromiya, Shapoval, Vasyliev, two name a few) – correspondence between Molotov, Kaganovich and Stalin, between Stalin and Sholokhov, intelligence he received. It suggests that he was indeed very much well-informed and, as the Purges show, very much involved in the process on the ground. When he sent Molotov and Kaganovich to Ukraine, we see the telegrams flying back and forth on what Molotov should tell the district officials, for example, to Rechitskyi in Odesa province. It is a good, well-published case study on local perpetration. We can see all these orders disseminated from the top of pyramid of perpetration, from Stalin to people on the ground. So, to say he was misinformed, blame on dysfunctional bureaucracy, is to downplay his political prowess and how involved he was.


On the account of the rank-and-file perpetrators, for example, there were disobedient officials. Terry Martin published the document that illustrates that there was dissent in August 1932. But then we see how this disobedience was crushed: with show trials, with orders, with pressure from above. By February 1933 there was no such dissent. Stenograms [transcripts] of the party conference in early July 1932 and in February 1933 are very important as we see no such dissent in 1933.


Also, in these telegrams we see how this disobedience was attributed to Petliurite movement, how references were made to the 1919 peasant uprising. In the correspondence between Kossior and Stalin in March 1933 the famine is likened to a lesson, hard learned by Ukrainian peasants - kulaks. Kossior also stresses that “our kulaks are different to those in Russia proper. They are more cultured.” He refers to their political experience during the Civil War. That is quite striking. That is where a link between intent, social and national, comes to the fore.


Some historians argue that the republican leaders, district leaders were eager to overfulfill the plans. This is where comparative analysis with other cases of genocide and mass violence is so important to show that in other cases of genocide and mass violence we have the same number of eager profiteers, fanatics, sadists and followers, about 60% of the latter. My research into the rank-and-file perpetrators confirms this too.


Regardless of their motivation, most understood what was taking place. This is an anecdotal evidence, or rather a vignette that encapsulates the understanding of what was happening by the rank-and-file. Six years ago, I interviewed a 100-hundred-year-old person, who was a Komsomol at the time and working on the ground. While told me that he believed in everything he had done, rationalized and made a sense of his experience, at the end of the interview he added, that the purpose of all this whole catastrophe was to stop Ukrainian peasants resisting. So, here it is –Ukrainian and social. There was a clear link between the two.


Finally, I'd like to address the issue of not articulating intention of killing the millions, being used as an argument against the genocide. But that was exactly what happened, so we can judge by the results of the policies adopted which was the political choice. They clearly show the intent. Stalin wrote and said many beautiful words about improving lives of ordinary people and life becoming jolly. In Dizziness with Success he eloquently accuses the rank-and-file perpetrators of the excesses and defends collectivization as a popular policy, which we know, it was not. We should not take political propaganda at face value. It is more important to see what was happening in the correspondence and archival evidence, in the intelligence reports.


Why he did it? Let us answer the question about intentionality from historical perspective. As I mentioned, Ukrainians were becoming a political nation and that was a problem for the Soviets. Ukrainian peasants were political base for Ukrainian nationalism if you think of Stalin’s definition of a nation. He distrusted peasants, he distrusted Ukrainian peasants in particular, for supporting Ukrainian parties in the Constituent Assembly elections. They voted overwhelmingly for non-Bolsheviks. They resisted collectivization more actively, compared to Russia proper. From his perspective, they were obviously not to be trusted. So, it could be an interplay of many factors not just one. If you take a look from Stalin’s perspective, the famine did make sense.


Stalin addressed the issues of disobedience on the ground, from top down. There was, obviously, geopolitical context as well, the fear of Polish intervention, hence apart from the Petliurites in his famous telegramme, or rather, references to the Petliurites, there is fear of Pilsudskyi’s agents, and this intention to turn Ukraine into a “fortress”.


When it comes to the mechanism, we can see that a number of policies were indeed applied in Ukraine more extensively: closure of the borders took place earlier than in other parts of the Soviet Union, extensive blacklisting, returning of the refugees from Ukraine. Also, as Andrea noted, it is far more complicated to organize a famine in Ukraine than it is in Kazakhstan. In Ukraine, you have to ensure that people have no foodstuffs whatsoever, they have no access to the fields, to prosecute them for trying to obtain it elsewhere, so it was enforced on a far greater scale. So, indeed, we can argue it was a unique case. In order to do so, however, we need to compare Ukrainian case not only with other famines within the Soviet Union but also within the global context, with other cases of genocide and mass violence. And that will reveal uniqueness of the Holodomor more acutely.


To conclude, I would to reiterate that my analysis of the actions of rank-and-file perpetrators is in alignment with the analysis of genocide. On this I would like to finish. Thank you for your attention.




[00°53’02’’] Georgiy Kasianov: Can you hear me? Yes. OK, so I am following the discussion and I see that those who expected that... they would have a bunch of Holodomor deniers might be unsatisfied and disappointed by the fact that all people who are presented here speak in favor of the genocide version of Holodomor. So, I have also to invest to this disappointment.


I heard that one of the top officials [inaudible] expressed an opinion that I am a Holodomor denier...So, I would advise this top official to read something, not to believe, not to trust people, who says something about scholars. So, if you have time, Mister Melnyk, please, read this book Rozryta mohyla: holod 1932 – 1933 rokiv u politytsi, pamiati ta istorii (1980s – 2000s)  And I will read several sentences from there in Ukrainian. For those who believe that they see Holodomor denier. I will read it in Ukrainian: Page 5. I do not deny the fact of the famine 1932 - 1933 in the Ukrainian SSR and its particularity in comparison to other  regions of the USSR


I do not deny interpretation of the famine of 1932 - 1933 as a genocide of Ukrainians and I am fully aware of the importance of such interpretation for political promotion of the problem, for instance, for delivery of information about the tragedy to the 'world community' 


I concede that the 'genocide version' has a right to existence in the academic space. As one of the interpretations. However, I suppose that  uncritical use  of the term 'genocide' determined by the political interest in academic research  blocks qualitative development of the scholarship of the famine of 1932 - 1933 in Ukraine. Political discourse restrains the capacity of an academic one. Apart from this, in many cases, such an interpretation in its ethnocentric variant provokes xenophobia and unhealthy passions, provide a means for cynical manipulations with the memory of the victims, nurtures and strengthens the victim and inferiority complex.' Page 5, I have shown you the book. Please go ahead, read it and draw your own conclusion.


Now I will return to the topic of my talk. And this is about, exactly about the political use of the memory of Holodomor. Andrea [Graziosi] has just mentioned that Holodomor was used as a political tool. I will talk about use of memory of Holodomor as a political tool. So, Ukraine has a history of 13 attempts of imposition of criminal liability for denial of Holodomor or denial of Holodomor as a genocide. The first attempt coincided with passing the law on the Holodomor itself, and the first project of this document included the point about administrative or civic liability for denial of Holodomor. After a very heated political debate, it was excluded from the text of the law. The second attempt happened the same year in 2006, when two MPs from "Nasha Ukraina" proYushchenko block just tried to introduce a criminal liability for the denial of Holodomor as genocide. Not the Holodomor itself but denial of Holodomor as genocide.


In March 2007, Yushchenko submitted another law draft and that was about denial of Holodomor as genocide of Ukrainian people and denial of Holocaust as genocide of Jewish people. The sanctions for this kind of denial were either fine for the first case and then imprisonment for up to two years and, if committed by the officials or for the second time, the imprisonment for up to four years. In December 2007, the same law draft was repeated by Yushchenko because Verkhovna Rada was dispersed due to political crisis. And it is also important that all attempts to criminalize Holodomor or denial of Holodomor as genocide... so, I would emphasize on this — as а genocide because… it was interpretative part.


So, they were also contextualized by political struggle between Yuschenko and his opponents, the Party of Regions and Communists. So, in January 2008, "Nasha Ukraina" once again as Yushchenko’s party… also once again submitted the law draft, and this time the Holocaust was excluded. So, there was denial of Holodomor as genocide again, and it’s interesting publication of relevant material… that would be perceived as a denial of Holodomor as genocide. So, that time it was the proposal to punish it with arrest for up to six months or imprisonment up to three years. In December 2010, the MP from Yulia Timoshenko block proposed to introduce administrative, civic liability, so it was relatively soft punishment, so, once again as this time denial of Holodomor as a fact of genocide … proposed to community service or manual labor for rom twenty to sixty hours.


In November 2014, well, that is already new situation in Ukraine. This time Svoboda, right-wing nationalist party, proposed, it is interesting that Svoboda proposed this, public denial of Holodomor and public denial of Holocaust as a fact of genocide and for dissemination of [relevant] printed materials. So on, and on and on... Then the situation really changed once again in April 2015, when four memory laws were passed by the Ukrainian parliament, and among them there was a law on legal status and honoring the fighters for independence for Ukraine, followed also with attempts to criminalize the public denial of the fact of the fight for independence. I still do not understand this formulation but people meant something when they tried to introduce this.


In April 2015, another attempt, this time by...there was no party label on this proposal. Once again, this public denial of Holodomor as genocide and Holocaust as genocide, once again, fine or imprisonment once again, imprisonment for four years for the second time. April 2016, the coalition of Block Yulia Timoshenko, Poroshenko Block, Radical Party and People’s Front proposed now - that was a novelty - to introduce once again criminal liability for denial of Holodomor as a genocide of Ukrainian people, Holocaust as genocide and genocide of Crimean Tatars in the form of deportation. So, added Crimean Tatars to the denial of the genocide of Crimean Tatars. Fine or imprisonment up to five years. 2016, May, coalition now, this time without BYuT [Yulia Tymoshenko Block] and Radical Party. They tried to...well...all previous attempts were proposals to introduce amendment to Article 442 "Genocide” of the Criminal Code. This time, there was attempt to amend another article of the Criminal Code, which was introduced a year before by the memory laws. Article 436, and then it was a...this article introduced the criminal liability for protection, dissemination and public use of Communist and Nazi symbols. And then, they tried to make amendments to this article. Then that was the denial or justification of Holodomor. Now this time the formulation was much clearer. So denial or justification of Holodomor, Holocaust, the deportation of Crimean Tatars and crimes of totalitarian Communist and Nazi regimes and crimes against humanity, war crimes and then ... the most interesting thing for me, and “other crimes”. What crimes was not specified, just “other crimes”.


So, once again, either fine or arrest, or community service, or involuntary detention or imprisonment for from two to five years. In January 2017, once again, this time the member of  Parliament from block Julia Timoshenko, Yuriy Shukhevich, well...very famous figure, proposed to introduce criminal liability in form of fine, arrest up to six months or imprisonment up to five years for, this time, denial of the fact of legitimacy of the struggle for independence and the fact of Holodomor. Then, in November 2017, and in November 2019, once again MPs from Svoboda, well, just repeated their law drafts. So, thirteen attempts in 14 years to introduce criminal liability not for the denial of Holodomor as such, but for the denial of Holodomor as a genocide. Two attempts on the denial of Holodomor as such and then attempts to attach other forms of cases of genocide to the Holodomor.


So, in all cases, these attempts, all attempts failed, by the way. In all cases, all these law drafts received negative expertise from the special department of Verkhovna Rada, and in all cases they were treated by the lawyers as a violation of the freedom of speech, one of the basic constitutional rights of Ukrainians.


So, in all cases they were contextualized by political struggle between different political actors and were instrumentalised in terms of trying to apply these initiatives to somehow discredit political opponents. So, it is exactly about politics. And the question about was Holodomor genocide or was not, it is absolutely … Andrea told about this in details.


If we talk about political discourse, it is fully justified to do this to promote this international level, to ask Parliaments of different countries to recognize Holodomor as genocide, and it is absolutely legitimate for Ukrainians for instance not to recognize Armenian genocide as genocide… Well, you know this story...or to go into controversies with Poles who believe that Volhynian Massacre was a genocide of Poles, committed by Ukrainian nationalists. So, it is politics...When this political speak, political language comes to the realm of scholarship, then we have the inevitable reduction of not just of academic freedom, but also of any options for further development of Holodomor studies itself. Because in this case we have the cognitive procedure when we have a conclusion put before premise. So, it ruins the very essence of scientific research.


So, to make some final conclusions, for instance in scholarship, we have three positions. One position is that Holodomor was a genocide. In terms of the UN Convention 48, in terms of Lemkin’s writings etc., it was a genocide. Then here we have two fluctuations. One is that it was genocide of ethnic Ukrainians. Another is that it was genocide of Ukrainians as a political nation. Unfortunately, both versions exclude other ethnic groups, which lived in Ukraine this time and who also suffered from genocide, for instance, Poles, Germans, Jews and whose losses were comparable to those in proportion to the losses of Ukrainians as ethnic group.


Then, another idea is that it was not genocide. For instance, you can read that some American scholars do not believe that it was genocide. Some American scholars believe that it was genocide. The third option was formulated by Anne Applebaum, she is not a historian, but she based her findings on the works of Ukraine historians, or Tim Snyder, who is historian — that the concept of genocide is not very much relevant to scholarship [?], to this particular case and it would better to use other concept.


And finally, my point, about my position, I have started with this. So, I recognize the right of other scholars to consider this as genocide. I absolutely believe that it is absolutely legitimate to do this at the levels of international politics or international law. Whatever you want, just do it.


However, what I strongly object is that those who believe that it is genocide in whatever form, that they should, that they would impose their opinion on others who have probably different point of view, particularly in scholarship. This is ... this legislation is exactly about this. Unfortunately, we have this. Fortunately, none of these attempts were successful. However, they were continue, they were persistent, and they manifest the situation that we have a certain segment, a political segment in society of those who want to use the politics and political tools and tools of law to reduce the freedom of speech and academic research. Fortunately, they were not successful. And I hope they would never be successful. Thank you very much for your attention and I, well, I have to stop there.


Martin Schulze Wessel: Thank you, Georgiy Kasianov, and the floor is yours, Liudmyla Grynevych.


01°10‘00‘‘Liudmyla Hrynevych: Good evening, colleagues! First of all, I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me to this webinar. I will be speaking Ukrainian. I have very little time, so I will come to the point. But first, a remark on Heorhii Kasianov’s comment concerning Anne Applebaum’s assessment of the Holodomor. As the scholarly editor and publisher of the Ukrainian-language version of the book Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine, 1921–1933, I would like to say that in her public appearances Anne Applebaum has repeatedly underlined that she considers the Holodomor an act of genocide.


Like my colleagues, I unequivocally support academic freedom. Scholars have the right to engage in open discussion. The conceptualization of the genocidal nature of the crime of the Holodomor cannot be an exception. Today we are here for a discussion, which was occasioned by the petition submitted to the German Bundestag to recognize the Holodomor as genocide. The petition was signed by 56,000 people. We must admit that this petition was a complete surprise both to German politicians and to the German-Ukrainian Commission of Historians, in particular. I see some positive things here. Finally, the Holodomor is the focus of attention not only of Ukrainian scholars but German ones as well. We already have the first concrete results: articles by our colleagues,  Professor Martin Schulze Wessel in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Guido Hausmann and Tanja Penter in Osteuropa. Today’s webinar is also a step in the direction of launching the Ukrainian-German academic dialogue. It must be acknowledged that at the present time this dialogue is at an early stage and no easy task.


The key questions of the discussion are the grounds for classifying the Holodomor according to the articles of the United Nations’ 1948 Convention as a crime of genocide and identifying the target of this genocide. I agree with my colleagues that these questions lie, above all, in the legal sphere. I think that this topic could be a special, interesting discussion held by German and Ukrainian jurists.


I personally believe that the Holodomor was an act of genocide, and I support the position held by those Ukrainian jurists who reckon that the target of the genocide was a national group: a proportion of citizens of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, regardless of their ethnic, religious, or other characteristics, as well as an ethnic group—Ukrainians in the Kuban region. I will add a clarification to this—an important one, in my opinion. When we say that the target of the Holodomor genocide was a national group—a proportion of citizens of the Ukrainian SSR, regardless of ethnic, religious, and other characteristics—we must also take into account the fact that the genocide was aimed, first and foremost, at ethnic Ukrainians, inasmuch as they were the pivot, the cultural nucleus around which were taking place the consolidation of the national group and the formation of what we can define in modern parlance as the shoots of a political nation. Obviously, it is worth reminding the participants of our discussion that Raphael Lemkin, the distinguished lawyer and author of the term “genocide,” wrote about the Soviet genocide in Ukraine and also considered the famine that was organized there, as well as the destruction of the intelligentsia and the church, a component of this genocide.


Of course, every new generation of scholars brings new understanding to facts, dates, and events, as well as to the context of conceptualizing the Holodomor. My distinguished colleagues, Stanislav Kulchytsky from Ukraine, Andrea Graziosi from Italy, and Norman Neimark from the USA define the Holodomor as a Stalinist, communist genocide, and this is absolutely correct. And here we can draw certain analogies, say, to the famine in China during the Great Leap Forward or to Cambodia, during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. At the same time, I am convinced that the Holodomor should be defined not just as a communist genocide but an imperialist one as well. There are many analogies to the mechanisms behind the Bengal famine during the period of British rule. I am currently preparing a lengthy article on this topic at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies.


The key to understanding the Stalinist policy to engineer the famine as an imperialist one is offered in an article by Andrea Graziosi, who differentiates between the famine as an All-Union phenomenon and the Ukrainian Holodomor.


My research proves the suitability of theoretical models of dependence and imperialism for analyzing the dynamics and consequences of the policy of collectivization of agriculture and the famine in national regions, particularly in Soviet Ukraine. It is completely obvious that pressure—which was common to all regions of the USSR as a result of carrying out the “communist experiment”—on the dependent territories (Kazakhstan, Ukraine, etc.; the question of whether Ukraine was a colony or a dependent territory remains debatable; at the present time, I personally define it as a dependent territory) was not only supplemented and strengthened, but in some key points was defined by a system of dependence on the “center–periphery” vertical, which is impossible to understand if the imperialist discourse is ignored.


The central government’s appropriation of the sovereignty of the Ukrainian SSR, the clear-cut asymmetry in relations on the “center–periphery” vertical, Moscow’s complete control over the use of food resources, including determining the volume of grain procurement and distribution, the permanent exploitation of Ukrainian economic resources against the background of depriving the regional nomenklatura of even minimal “floating resources,” combined with entirely distinct anti-Ukrainian terror, clearly became a significant factor in the emergence of the Holodomor.


Of course, we must talk about the entire vertical of perpetrators—instigators of the Holodomor, especially the nomenklatura in the peripheries, as well as ordinary Ukrainians: activists who confiscated food from their neighbors. However, this in no way contradicts the fact that the Holodomor was not just a communist crime but an imperialist one as well.


I would like to say a few words about the element of intent. I agree with my colleagues that Stalin had both motives and intentions to organize a genocide. First of all, they were determined by Ukraine’s importance in geopolitical terms, the Soviet Union’s high level of dependence on Ukrainian energy resources and grain, and, against this background, Stalin’s distrust of Ukraine because of the disloyalty of a significant part of its population


I also agree with Yaroslav and Andrea that in the discussion about the preconditions for the Holodomor we should include the events that took place in 1917–1920. Stalin’s fear and distrust of Ukraine became deeply engrained in his psyche precisely during this period, when, in the conditions of the general process of the Russian Empire’s destruction, Ukrainians set forth on the path to national state building; when the process of consolidating the Ukrainians as a nation accelerated. I am thinking today about Mark von Hagen, who appealed to Western scholars not to underestimate these events or the role and importance of the Ukrainian National Republic.


Soviet power was not the choice of Ukraine, which was brought into the sphere of Soviet power by the Red Army of the RSFSR in 1920. At the Russian State Military Archive in Moscow I discovered materials pertaining to the census of the national composition of the Red Army as of August 1920. At the time, there were 1.2 million Red Army troops on the territory of Ukraine, 995,000 of whom had been mobilized in Russian guberniyas. Therefore, the mistrust toward Ukrainians could also have been determined by these events and Stalin’s realization of the risks and potential associated with the artificially interrupted process of Ukrainian national state building.


Finally, there is a map that demonstrates, in comparative terms, the situation surrounding the mass anti-Soviet protests that took place in all regions of the USSR in 1930. The map was created by the well-known Ukrainian cartographer Dmytro Vortman with the aid of published OGPU documents, with which we are all very familiar. As we can see, the largest anti-Soviet protests on the eve of the Holodomor took place precisely in Ukraine. According to incomplete data collected by the Soviet secret services, nearly a million people took part in anti-government actions in the Ukrainian SSR, and in a number of districts in Right-Bank Ukraine Soviet power was totally liquidated for a brief period of time.


In my opinion, there is another thesis that is important for the discussion with our German colleagues. The question arises: In seeking recognition of the Holodomor as an act of genocide, is Ukraine aiming to set the Ukrainian national group apart from other victims and thereby deny a possible genocide in other regions? No, it is not trying to do this. Ukrainian scholars who offer an evidentiary base indicating that a genocide took place in Ukraine are not denying that a genocide in the early 1930s could have taken place in both Kazakhstan and the Volga region, in the latter of which lived many Germans. In other words, perhaps we should be speaking about several genocides, not just in Ukraine. This must be researched.

Nevertheless, I would like to caution our German colleagues against falling into the trap into which we can stumble, consciously or unconsciously, in retransmitting ideologemes that were constructed during the Soviet period. The first of these is: “The singular Ukrainian famine is a construct of wartime Nazi propaganda” or its variant, “It is an invention of Ukrainian nationalists, who emphasize the famine topic in order to conceal their cooperation with the Nazis during the war.” The second one is: “The famine is a shared tragedy of all the Soviet peoples.” In the latter case, we are talking about an ideological construct of the mid-1980s, which was operationalized in order to deny the genocidal nature of the Holodomor. Today it is a defining one in Russian historiography.

Finally, there is the question of Germany’s indirect involvement in the Holodomor and thereby of contemporary Germany’s moral responsibility toward Ukraine. I am grateful to my colleagues, Guido Hausmann and Tanja Penter, who in their article in Osteuropa mentioned that in 1931–1933 the German government was exporting grain and other food products from the USSR, even though it had information about the famine, especially in Ukraine.

Admittedly, my colleagues are using generalized statistics of grain exports from the USSR; however, these statistics need to be further specified, especially with regard to Germany. At the same time, one should also take into account that, according to some data, nearly 70 percent of All- Union grain exports during the final years of the first Five-Year-Plan were supplied precisely by Ukraine and the North Caucasus, meaning, the Kuban as well, with its significant Ukrainian population.

Of course, food products were exported not only to Germany but also to England, Belgium, and other European countries. But if we examine just the statistics on grain exports in 1932–1933, which our colleagues, Guido Hausmann and Tanja Peter use—1.8 million tons and 1.7 million tons, respectively—then, according to the annual rate of bread consumption per person of 256 kilograms, these export statistics are dramatically stark: 7 million people in 1932 and 6.6 million people in 1933 could have had food to eat throughout the year, but this grain was exported abroad and millions of people starved to death.

I would also like to make the following comment. In determining the mechanisms behind the emergence of the Holodomor, I consider it a serious mistake to restrict ourselves to an exclusive analysis of the situation that arose in 1932 and 1933. Agriculture functions according to its own laws. An important role is played here by emergency reserves. For example, before the Revolution, Ukrainian peasants were able to keep up to two annual harvests as emergency reserves. Emergency reserves create stability in agriculture. The scale of the 1932–1933 catastrophe could only have happened as a result of a synchronized confiscation of grain. In my opinion, the path to the Catastrophe in the Ukrainian countryside has its beginnings in December 1927, when a number of extraordinary measures were introduced in the agrarian sphere. In the 1928/29 agricultural year there was already a famine in the Ukrainian SSR. In other words, in order to understand the mechanisms behind the derangement and destabilization of the Ukrainian grain market and therefore the mechanisms behind the emergence of the Holodomor, one has to analyze the situation in 1927–1933, as a minimum. Parenthetically with this approach, the statistical indicators of “famine exports” to European countries rise significantly.

In addition to cereals, as my German colleagues have rightly noted, the USSR exported, especially to Germany, various food products, including meat and meat products, butter, vegetables, fruits, and sugar. The question is rhetorical: How many people could this food have fed?

Therefore, I think there are grounds for considering that some responsibility for the losses resulting from the Holodomor are borne by the European states, particularly Germany, whose governments were fully apprised of the dramatic situation unfolding in Ukraine and other regions, yet did not disdain these “famine exports.”

Thank you for your attention.