We Will Bury You (2)

Anne Applebaum

We Will Bury You (2) 

Anne Applebaum, Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine (2017), reviewed by Frank Ellis [i]

A destruction process is a series of administrative measures that must be aimed at a definite group.[ii]

Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews

I. Soviet Genocide in Ukraine (Holodomor)
II. The 1921 Famine: Proto-Genocide?
III. Collectivization: Dekulakization (Raskulachivanie) → Special Deportation (Spetspereselenie) → Extirpation (Istreblenie)
IV. Statistical Reckoning and the Death Toll
V. The Soviet State’s War against the Peasantry and the Holodomor as Adumbration of the NS-Regime’s Implementation of the Holocaust
VI. A Question of Genocide

 I. Soviet Genocide in Ukraine (Holodomor)

Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine builds on Robert Conquest’s pioneering study of the genocide in Ukraine, The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine (1986) but does not in any way supplant it as the definitive English-language text. Both authors provide plenty of detailed background to Stalin’s war against the peasants, but the critical difference between Conquest and Applebaum is one of numbers; just how many people perished from all causes (see below). Applebaum also maintains that Stalin’s ordering the slaughter of millions Ukrainians was not genocide (more on which below).

Holodomor, the word, is made up of holod meaning famine and mor meaning extermination. The mor component is critical since we are to be left in no doubt about the causes: this was no accident, no cyclical, natural disaster: it was extermination (genocide) pure and simple.  One might ask why, when the genocide occurred ten years before the Wannsee conference (1942), and that among Ukrainians at the time the word Holodomor was already being used, it has only very recently started to become slightly more familiar in the West. In Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (2010), Snyder states that the main reason he does not use the term Holodomor is ‘because it is unfamiliar to almost all readers of English’.[iii]  Well, the same could have been said of the word Holocaust when it first started to be used in the 1970s, or other additions to the English language, such as Zeitgeist, Blitzkrieg, tsunami, penne, algebra, raison d’être and pogrom. If Holodomor is never used it, too, will always be unfamiliar to all readers of English.

The use of Holodomor in the title of Applebaum’s book would have been a marked improvement on ‘Red Famine’ since without some qualification indicating that the famine was man-made and deliberate the wording “Red Famine” implies some form of some natural disaster. Further to this point, Applebaum makes no reference to the other red famines (genocides) that have blighted the twentieth century and which were inspired by Stalin. Mao carried out his own terror famine in the late 1950s and in deaths alone it is easily the worst act of genocide in man’s history. Pol Pot, wanting to accelerate the move to the socialist anthill, slaughtered nearly 2 million and once again control of food was a vital weapon against those identified as class enemies. A process of dispossession of white farmers – pursuit of class and race war – was an essential part of Mugabe’s land seizures, with, as in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, catastrophic results for food production and the economy. Mugabe’s successor despot will not reverse the expropriations. Further, the on-going war against white farmers in South Africa, sponsored directly and indirectly by the communist ANC and its affiliates and front organizations, has all the hallmarks of the process of Soviet and Nazi genocide since it combines the motives of race and class war.

In the West I detect an almost perverse refusal to face up to the Ukrainian catastrophe. Two questions I would put to students and university faculty were very straightforward: whom do you consider to be the most evil, the most malevolent figure of the twentieth century and what do you consider to be the most evil ideology of the same century? In nearly all cases the answer to the first question was Adolf Hitler, and in answer to the second question the answer was nearly always Fascism. Very rarely did my interlocutors show any awareness of the fact that Fascism, as it existed in Italy under Benito Mussolini, and National Socialism, as it existed in Germany from 1933 to 1945, were not the same thing. Indeed, Applebaum blots her own copybook by making the same 101 error.[iv]

Here is another question: why, given the scale of the catastrophe, is the Soviet war against the peasantry and its end phase, the Holodomor, not better known in the West? There was plenty of evidence available at the time. One answer, already hinted at, is that Hitler has been promoted and propagandized as the most evil leader of the twentieth century and thus comparisons with other leaders and their deeds – Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao – are accepted without question as pointless, and so the view that Hitler was the most evil leader of twentieth century, relentlessly disseminated by the mass media and Hollywood and in university history departments, passes unchallenged.

Another question, and the answer followed ineluctably from the answers given to the first two: in your considered opinion, what was the greatest crime of the twentieth century? I am unable to recall a single instance when the answer was anything other than Holocaust.   The answer was not considered: it was reflexive. When I asked students whether they had heard about the millions that had been slaughtered in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s as a consequence of sploshnaia kolletivizatsiia, a majority replied that they had not. A handful had some vague recollection that people had died but they had no knowledge or understanding of the scale of the catastrophe inflicted by the Soviet regime. Faculty, long accustomed uncritically and lazily to accept the view that Hitler and the NS-regime marked the acme of evil and genocide, could not bring themselves, even when confronted with the evidence, to acknowledge that Stalin’s war against the peasantry throughout the Soviet Union not only resulted in more people being exterminated than in the Holocaust but also anticipated many of the procedures later adopted by the NS-regime in carrying out the Holocaust. When I drew their attention to Robert Conquest’s ground breaking study, The Harvest of Sorrow the response was often indifference. Quite a few claimed that Conquest’s book was Cold War propaganda. By coincidence, 1986 was also the year in which an essay by historian Ernst Nolte challenged the politically-correct view in German universities that the Holocaust was utterly unique. Many of his respondents asserted that the mere fact of comparing the Holocaust with other genocides – even if they could bring themselves grudgingly to acknowledge that they were genocide – was tantamount to playing down the crimes of National Socialism. That view remains the official view of National-Socialism in Germany today, especially in the universities.

The Harvest of Sorrow was, and remains, a magnificent achievement. Using all then available material, published and unpublished, Conquest described Ukraine’s sense of nationhood, its struggle for national identity and survival. He documents Stalin’s war against Ukraine, demonstrating that it was a war against its language, literature, church, customs, folkways, mores, intellectuals, poets and historians and, above all, against the peasants, whom, as Conquest notes, citing Khrushchev, Stalin considered to be ‘scum’.[v]  Maxim Gorky, cited by Applebaum, expressed the hope that ‘the half-savage, stupid, ponderous people of the Russian villages…will die out, and a new tribe will take their place – literate, sensible, hearty people’.[vi] Ukraine fared worst of all but the war against the peasantry was conducted in the Volga, Kuban and parts of Russia. In Kazakhstan, 1 million, possibly 1.5 million, Kazakhs perished from hunger when the party attempted to destroy a nomadic way of life. As in his earlier study The Great Terror (1968) and updated as The Great Terror: A Reassessment (1990), Conquest exposes the complicity of Westerners in lying about what was happening in the Soviet Union. By far the worst offender was journalist Walter Duranty, but he was not alone and the malign and cruel spirit of Holodomor-denial survived throughout the Cold War: it is still with us today. Denying the suffering of Jews, as Primo Levi noted, is an attempt to eradicate the memory, to inflict more suffering: Holodomor-denial is conducted with the same intention.

II. The 1921 Famine: Proto-Genocide?

The 1932-1933 famine (genocide) was not the first or last famine in the Soviet Union. The accepted view is that the famine in 1921 arose from causes which were not present in the famine (genocide) of 1932-1933. In 1921, the famine was, apparently, beyond party control, whereas in the 1930s the party had clearly declared war on the peasants. In describing the famine of the 1920s, Applebaum frequently uses the wording ‘Just as they would a decade later’ to indicate parallels between the two famines. The use of such wording can, if one accepts that the famine in 1932-1933 was genocide, also imply that what happened in the 1921 may also have been genocide. On the other hand, if one takes the view that what happened in 1921 was not genocide repeated parallels with 1932-1933 could imply that what happened in 1932-1933 was indeed not genocide. As becomes clear – Applebaum reserves her consideration of the question whether the 1932-1933 famine was genocide until the end of her book – she rejects the use of genocide with regard to the 1932-1933 famine. The question that requires consideration is whether the accepted view that the 1921 famine was just a natural disaster or whether it was orchestrated by the party to destroy peasant opposition. In other words, was the famine in 1921 proto or full-blown genocide?

The facts that the Soviet regime sought – eventually – foreign aid in the 1920s and that unlike a decade later news of the famine was not suppressed would seem to rule out any accusation of genocide by famine. The reason, I suggest, that foreign aid was sought in the 1920s was that the regime was far more vulnerable than in the 1930s (and knew it), and that in the 1920s Lenin and Stalin did not have complete control. One can also note that during the 1920s the Soviet regime sold food to buy foreign goods. Even during this period food was being used as a weapon and Russia got priority for food. Southern Ukraine was badly hit by famine. It was also a stronghold of opposition to the Bolsheviks, so denying this region food made sense and there is the suspicion that the Bolshevik regime did just that. To quote Conquest:

The starvation which now possessed the land followed inevitably from the ruling that, (as with Lenin’s frank admission), the peasants’ needs were not to be taken into account.[vii] Starving the peasants to death and shooting them are both examples of not taking the peasants’ needs into account. Denying aid to those who needed it most was also an act of aggression; using food as a weapon is a pattern that has been observed in many global conflicts since 1945. What happened in the 1920s must be seen, I suggest, as a trial run for what would happen in the 1930s. Something like this seems to have occurred to others, as Applebaum records:

More recently, some Ukrainian scholars have offered an even more pointed political explanation: perhaps the Soviet authorities actually used the famine instrumentally, as they would in 1932, to put an end to the Ukrainian peasant rebellion.  This thesis cannot be proven: there is no evidence of a premeditated plan to starve the Ukrainian peasants in 1920-1.[viii]

There does not have to be ‘a premeditated plan to starve the Ukrainian peasants in 1920-1’. A plan improvised at the time will serve the same purpose. On this basis one might argue that since the Nazis had no premeditated plan to kill Jews in, say, the mid 1920s or even in 1939, Nazi actions against Jews, in the absence of such a premeditated plan, cannot be seen as being an integral part of the Holocaust. Nevertheless, Applebaum concedes that ‘the regime did use the famine – as it would a decade later – to strike hard at the Ukrainian religious hierarchy’.[ix] So, yet again, she makes a parallel between the 1920s and the 1930s – cultural assault is also consistent with genocide – while at the same time arguing that what came in the 1930s was not the same.

In Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919-1924 (1994), Richard Pipes observes that in the 1920s weather ‘only contributed to the tragedy; it did not cause it’.[x] The Soviet Statistical Bureau  came up with a population deficit for the period between 1920 and 1922 of 5.1 million.[xi]  (Hilberg estimates total Jewish deaths arising from the Holocaust, from all causes as circa 5.1 million). The famine of the early 1920s also resulted in very large numbers of orphans and high rates of mortality. Overall Pipes concludes: ‘The 1921 famine in Russia was the greatest human disaster in European history until then, other than those caused by war, since the Black Death’.[xii]

Important for our statistical reckoning of the number of victims in the 1932-1933 famine (genocide) is that the American relief effort in the 1920s is ‘estimated to have rescued at least 9 million lives’.[xiii]  If that is the case one must ask what was the effect on the death toll in 1932-1933 of the Soviet regime’s not requesting any foreign aid. It suggests that if 9 million lives were saved by foreign aid in the 1920s that the lack of such aid in the 1930s may well have contributed to a death toll similar to that which would have resulted in the 1920s had aid not been available. The lack of aid in the 1930s has obvious implications for the statistical reckoning of the final death toll in the 1930s in Ukraine and elsewhere. So, too, does Applebaum’s noting that the harvests of 1928-1929 were poor and that in south-eastern Ukraine 23,000 people died ‘directly of hunger’ and ‘another 80,000 died from disease and other knock-on effects of starvation’.[xiv]  Two things are worth noting. First, shortage of food which does not lead immediately to death can, in the end, be just as deadly as no food at all. Secondly, if such an outcome is spread over a wider area the death toll can very soon reach the million mark and beyond, especially in autumn, winter and spring.

III. Collectivization: Dekulakization (Raskulachivanie) → Special Deportation (Spetspereselenie) → Extirpation (Istreblenie)

Away with Private Peasants

One of the more bizarre questions posed by Applebaum is to be found in chapter 3 of Red Famine. She asks: ‘Was forced collectivization, accompanied by violence, really the only solution? Of course not’.[xv] Blaming it all on Stalin simply avoids facing the nature of the Soviet state and its hatred of private property. Even if Bukharin’s ideas had been given a chance, the fundamental problem for the party was that the peasants were not interested in the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. They wanted to be left alone, to lead their own lives, without the interference of the party and its activists. The peasant’s commitment to his land was such that he would never abandon it to the party unless compelled to by all the measures that were indeed used: dispossession, deportation and, finally, extermination. The sole option open to the party was ‘forced collectivization’.

Also, Applebaum fails to grasp that there is no fundamental distinction between ‘forced collectivization’ and collectivization ‘accompanied by violence’. If peasants refuse to join a collective farm of their own volition, or cannot be persuaded and are then ‘forced’ to join the collective farm, they are already, at that stage, the victims of violence. The methods used by the party to collectivize peasants were, to begin with, psychological, ideological, fiscal, bureaucratic and administrative violence, which made physical violence the logical and, from the party’s point of view, next desirable step. In fact, the idea of ‘forced collectivization’ was not something that applied solely to peasants. It also applied to all forms of intellectual endeavour since any form of academic work, history, literature, music, that was not controlled by the party was fraught with danger, especially the spectre of national sentiment. Party-controlled organisations such as unions for writers were the equivalent of the kolkhoz for the peasant. The peasant was physically enslaved; the writer and artist intellectually. At all levels of society, the very idea of any activity – farming, writing history or novels – carried out independently of the party had to be crushed and brought under party surveillance.

The party’s war against the peasantry was justified in accordance with the slogan: likvidatsiia kulachestva kak klassa (‘the liquidation of the kulaks as a class’). According to Eugene Lyons, cited by Applebaum in an epigraph at the start of her fifth chapter, ‘The words “liquidation of the kulaks” carry few implications of human agony’. On the contrary, liquidation of the kulaks meant the physical annihilation of millions of people who were deemed to be blocking the path to paradise. Extermination of the kulaks was entirely consistent with the party’s obsession with class enemies and conspirators and the perceived ideological need to kill them.

The party’s mission of prophylactic extermination was brutally summed up by one of the Soviet regime’s own willing collaborators, Ilya Ehrenberg, whose remarks are cited by Conquest and Applebaum: ‘Not one of them was guilty of anything; but they belonged to a class that was guilty of everything.’ Such was the appalling psychological grip that the party exercised over its members that arrested party members accepted that the party had objective grounds for arresting them. In Grossman’s Vse techet, one prisoner is convinced of his guilt:

[…] he has not committed any crimes at all against the party but that the organs were right to have arrested him as a spy and a turncoat. Even though he had  committed no crimes, he still belonged to that stratum which was hostile to the party, one which had given rise to turncoats, Trotskyists, opportunists, whiners and sceptics.[xvi]

People who will sacrifice themselves because they have lost and surrendered themselves to some party will not shed tears about others being sacrificed since they will see this as the objective working of the party. The greater the crime, the millions slaughtered, persuades the party member that the party’s willingness to kill millions must be evidence of some higher purpose that can only be perceived by the superior insights of Lenin, Trotskii and Stalin not that it is a revelation of evil.

Consider, too, the attitude of Vsevolod Balitskii, the OGPU (secret police, precursor of the NKVD) chief of Ukraine. As Applebaum points out (her preferred spelling is Balytsky): ‘Violence, in Balytsky’s rhetoric, was often associated with cleansing and purifying, with ridding the party of “termites” and “pollution”’.[xvii]  (As Raul Hilberg records, this sort of language was standard among Nazi officials. Hans Frank, Generalgouverneur of Poland, would refer to Jews as lice).[xviii] Likewise, when Balitskii uses the word ‘liquidate’, as in ‘liquidate these counter-revolutionary bands’ which Applebaum judges to be ‘the strongest language possible’[xix] there is no doubt about what is to be understood by ‘liquidate’.  Indeed, any doubts about what Balitskii intended are removed when he instructs his subordinates ‘If the order is given to shoot into the crowd and you refuse…then I will shoot all of you. You must conform without objection to my commands, I will permit no protests’.[xx] The approach demanded by Balitskii of his subordinates – kill (liquidate) when ordered – clearly anticipates the behaviour of the Einsatzgruppen after June 1941. For his part, Bukharin, notes Robert Conquest, stated that kulaks ‘may be hunted down at will’.[xxi] Hunting down and killing Jews at will was exactly what the Einsatzgruppen would do as well.

Here is another example, recorded by Applebaum. A party boss in Pavlohrad writes to his superior in Dnipropetrovsk, requesting assistance – extra food –  in dealing with orphans: ‘I would ask you to please take this into account and direct us according to the correct Soviet policy’.[xxii] The correct Soviet policy was very simple: exterminate them. The use of euphemisms served two purposes. Firstly, it functioned as a code, offering low-level security, and made plausible denial at least possible. Secondly, it helped to insulate party officials from the core nature of the gigantic crime they were helping to administer. Exactly the same approach would be adopted by the NS-regime in planning, carrying out and trying to hide the Holocaust, Endlösung der Judenfrage being the best known example. Like so many senior Nazis involved in the later Holocaust – many senior figures in the Einsatzgruppen were lawyers – Balitskii was also a lawyer, and like so many senior Nazis who plundered Jewish assets (gold and treasures), Balitskii was succumbing to his avaricious instincts, acquiring precious stones and artefacts, so demonstrating that the spirit of private property against which the Soviet state was waging a merciless war in Ukraine was alive and well among Stalin’s killers and secret policemen.

Dispossessed and vilified peasants who were forced into the collective farm were enslaved:

Eventually, there would be different types of collective farm with different degrees of communal ownership. But most would require their members to give up their private property – their land as well as horses, cattle, other livestock and tools – and to turn all of it over to the collective. Some peasants would remain in their houses, but others would eventually live in barracks or houses owned by the collective, and would eat all their meals in a common dining room. None of them would own anything of importance, including tractors, which were to be leased from centralized, state-owned Machine Tractor Stations that would manage their purchase and upkeep. Peasants would not earn their own money, but would rather be paid  day wages, trudodni, often receiving for their labour not cash but food and other goods, and those in small quantities.[xxiii]

In providing this brief description of life on the collective farm, Applebaum answers the question she posed earlier, namely ‘Was forced collectivization, accompanied by violence, really the only solution?’ A peasant who worked hard, owned his land, animals and farming equipment and was master of his own house and life, who could take pride in his achievements and plan ahead, a man, in other words, who was accustomed to taking responsibility for himself, wife and children, could have absolutely no possible incentive to abandon a way of life in which he was largely sovereign and join a state collective farm. To make such a move would be to exchange freedom for slavery and dependence, relative prosperity for penury, to render him a figure of contempt both in his own eyes and the eyes of his slave masters. No man volunteers for slavery.

One of the apparent joys being offered to the peasant if he joined the collective farm was that he and his family, along with all the other enslaved families, could eat in ‘community kitchens’.[xxiv] Community kitchens were merely a covert attack on the peasant family, an attempt to weaken the bonds among family member, making the family dependent on the collective farm and thus very easy to control. Exactly the same method was used by Mao in his war against Chinese peasants.

Collectivization, with or without its being ‘forced’, could only be imposed on the peasant and that meant violence, extreme violence, since the party hated the peasants and their independent way of life which signalled complete rejection of collectivization and party control in any form. As the 1920s came to an end there was going to be a reckoning with the peasants, and in view of what had happened at the start of the decade, the party wanted revenge. When in December 1929, the Commissariat for Agriculture stated that ‘all of the grain-producing regions of the USSR would be collectivised within three years’[xxv], extreme violence, leading to the party’s final solution of the peasant question, genocide, was inevitable. In fact, as Conquest notes, the new head of the Commissariat of Agriculture, Yakovlev, envisaged a time frame of ‘two to three years’.[xxvi] The attitude of Ukraine’s peasants resisting state-imposed slavery was far from being something confined to Ukraine. We find the same determination to manage one’s own affairs in the rise of the English yeoman farmers, American homesteaders and among Chinese peasants who themselves in the late 1950s would become the victims of the worst genocide in recorded history.

About the Soviet activists who persecuted and terrorized the peasants and who had come to collectivize the peasants at any cost Applebaum tells us that: ‘Many felt genuine revolutionary fervour, stoked by constant, angry, repetitive propaganda’.[xxvii] Is ‘genuine revolutionary fervour’ intended to be some form of an excuse, some plea of mitigation?  Would that also apply to SA thugs smashing up Jewish shops and engaging in violent economic boycotts of Jewish businesses in Germany? If Komsomol members believed that they had no choice but to terrorise the peasants, is this intended to mitigate their behaviour? Does the same hold for members of the SA who felt they, too, had no choice but to attack Jews? The fact that Lev Kopelev admitted that he believed in the ends justifying the means is, again, irrelevant. Would a former SS guard who said that in 1942 he was fully committed to the Final Solution earn any goodwill for admitting in 1982 that he was wrong? Somehow I doubt it.

Applebaum reveals unforgivable naiveté or is being thoroughly disingenuous when she informs us that: ‘Initially, collectivization was supposed to be voluntary. The activists were simply meant to argue and harangue, and in the process persuade’.[xxviii]  The fact that these activists, little more than party thugs, had to be dispatched to the countryside ‘to argue and harangue’ tells us that the peasants were not interested in joining a collective farm so their joining could never be ‘voluntary’. From the very beginning, the party knew full well that the peasant would never voluntarily abandon his land and other goods and become a slave. Sending activists to the countryside had already been tried by Marxist students in the 1870s and had failed. In the 1930s, party thug tactics and psychological terror had no chance of success at all. Like the students of the 1870s they were also woefully ignorant of rural life. The more the party activists tried to browbeat the peasants, the more the peasants dug in. Where this leads is obvious: ‘If anything, the peasants’ stubborn opposition made the activists angrier, more prone to violence, and more convinced of the rightness of their cause’.[xxix]  All the evidence cited by Applebaum (and by Conquest before her) makes quite clear that violence was essential and intended from the very beginning, even desired as an outlet for sadistic impulses masquerading as doing the holy work of the party. To quote Applebaum:

Under pressure to fulfil quotas, inspired and terrified by the propaganda machine, the collectivization brigades [← Soviet Einsatzgruppen? FE] sometimes (sic!) resorted to outright intimidation and torture. Both memoirs and archives record multiple examples of “persuasion” involving threats, harassment and physical violence. In one Russian village a brigade raped two kulak women and forced an elderly man to dance and sing before beating him up.[xxx]  ‘Multiple examples of “persuasion” involving threats, harassment and physical violence’ do not imply a degree of infrequency which might be construed by Applebaum’s use of ‘sometimes’.

Applebaum maintains that: ‘By itself, collectivization need not have led to a famine on the scale of the one that took place in 1932-33. But the methods used to collectivize the peasants destroyed the ethical structure of the countryside as well as the economic order’.[xxxi]  In view of the peasant’s  attachment to the land he farmed and his strong sense of individualism there was no chance at all that the peasant would abandon this way of life. The Soviet state had nothing to offer him but destitution and slavery. Given this obvious point, collectivization would have to proceed against the peasant not with him and this would mean extreme violence and famine as was the case in the 1920s, and genocide in the 1930s. Also, it was the very ‘ethical structure’ of the peasantry and the institution of private property that contributed to his productivity as a farmer. Once that was destroyed productivity plummeted and the party, believing its own fantasies about sabotage and wreckers, took the violence against the peasants to a new level. In such circumstances, and in view of the fact that the party had previously used denial of food as a weapon, famine (genocide) was logical and bound to happen. This is implicitly conceded by Applebaum: ‘Old values – respect for property, for dignity, for human life – disappeared. In their place the Bolsheviks had instilled the rudiments of an ideology that was about to become lethal’.[xxxii]  Nor were the ‘rudiments’ of Bolshevik ideology ‘about to become lethal’. The murderous nature of Soviet ideology had been revealed long before the genocide in Ukraine. The policy for the 1930s, the process that lead to genocide, was clear enough: dekulakization → deportation → extermination; all accompanied by a relentless campaign of demonization and dehumanization of kulaks in the totalitarian state media.

Applebaum herself provides any number of reasons to show why violence against the peasantry was inevitable, even desirable: ‘But properly speaking, it is incorrect to say that resistance followed collectivization, since resistance of various kinds actually accompanied every stage of de-kulakization and collectivization…’[xxxiii] In other words, collectivization could not be carried out without violence. Note the following which addresses, yet again, the question she has earlier posed (‘Was forced collectivization, accompanied by violence, really the only solution?’):

From the beginning, resistance helped shape the nature of collectivization: because peasants refused to cooperate, the idealistic young agitators [cf. Hitler Youth? FE] from outside and their local allies grew angrier, their methods became more extreme and their violence harsher…At different stages the rebellion took different forms. The initial refusal to join collective farms was itself a form of resistance… All across the USSR peasants felt attached to their cows, horses and tools, which they did not want to surrender to some uncertain entity.[xxxiv]

Another form of resistance was the mass slaughter of animals which is also further evidence that collectivization had to be imposed by violence: ‘This most visceral and immediate form of resistance [slaughter of livestock] continued well into the following year and beyond’.[xxxv] The peasants worked on the assumption that no authority should be permitted to steal what was theirs. Also, some of the peasants grasped the point – as Martin Niemöller would later – that once one group has been singled out for destruction, no group is safe: ‘after the kulaks, they will de-kulakize us too’.[xxxvi]

IV. Statistical Reckoning and the Death Toll

For historians writing about the Soviet state’s war against the peasantry after the publication of The Harvest of Sorrow, and after the end of the Cold War, the number of those killed is a vital question. In chapter 16 of The Harvest of Sorrow (The Death Roll, pp.299-307), Conquest concludes that the total dead in the Soviet Union from all causes was circa 14.5 million. The figure of 14.5 million includes 11 million peasants who died over the period 1930-1937 and another 3.5 million who died in camps. Breakdown of these deaths is shown in the table below:

Breakdown of Deaths arising from the Soviet Regime’s War against the Peasantry


Deaths from Dekulakization 6.5 million
Deaths in Kazakhstan 1 million
Deaths in Ukraine from famine 1932-33 5 million
Deaths in North Caucasus from famine 1932-33 1 million
Deaths from Famine elsewhere 1932-33 1 million
Total Deaths from Famine 1932-33 7 million
Total Deaths from all Causes 14.5 million


Source: Robert Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine, 1986, p.306

Writing before Applebaum, Timothy Snyder indirectly dismisses Conquest’s statistical reckoning, asserting that a reliable estimate for the death toll is somewhere between 2.4 and 3.9 million.[xxxvii]  Snyder’s claims about deaths would have been potentially more convincing had he taken the time and trouble to argue, in detail, with reference to any new data, why Conquest’s figures are no longer acceptable. Applebaum also avoids this confrontation, failing to provide any detailed arguments why she, too, accepts the figure of 3.9 million in the famine. If, as she tells us, new archival documents merit ‘a new approach to the history of the Holodomor’[xxxviii], it is not unreasonable to expect her to set out why she does not accept Conquest’s earlier statistical reckoning. She does nothing of the sort. I am also not convinced by the following from Applebaum:

Without access to archives it was still impossible, in the 1980s, to describe the series of deliberate decisions that led to the famine in the spring of 1933. It was also impossible to describe the aftermath, the cover-up, or the suppressed census on 1937 in detail.[xxxix]

Is that really the case? Conquest provides a valuable guide and while more material has come to light on the cover-up and censorship of the scale of the genocide there was ample evidence when Conquest was writing his book to show that the Soviet regime, aided and abetted by sympathetic Westerners, Walter Duranty most prominent among them, did everything it could to cover up the genocide, to lie, to dissemble, to prevaricate and to evade. Even without access to the suppressed 1937 census, Conquest provides a very effective statistical reckoning and here, too, Applebaum is guilty of evasion. It is insufficient for her (and Snyder before her) merely to state that there is some kind of consensus forming around a death toll of 3.9 million for the genocide by starvation without demonstrating why Conquest overstates – if indeed he has – the numbers of dead. Both she and Snyder fail to meet the challenge. In fact, the differences between Conquest and her on this matter are not unbridgeable. The figure of 5 million dead in the Ukraine famine (genocide) cited by Conquest appear eminently plausible to this author. The figure may even higher than 5 million.

Applebaum explains her acceptance of a figure of 3.9 million as follows:

Thanks to their work [Ukrainian demographers], agreement is now coalescing around two numbers: 3.9 million excess deaths, or direct losses, and 0.6 million lost births, or indirect losses.  That brings the total number of missing Ukrainians to 4.5 million. These figures include all victims, wherever they died – by the roadside, in prison, in orphanages – and are based on the numbers of people in Ukraine before the famine and afterwards.[xl]

What can be said about the figure of 4.5 million in view of the fact that the record keeping was incomplete and tampered with by the Soviet regime is that while the figure of total deaths may well be higher, it will not be any lower than 4.5 million. A death toll in excess of 6 million, even as high as 10 million is not implausible. The other element to the statistical reckoning is that the genocide by starvation was the culmination of a process that started with raskulachivanie and spetspereselenie. Robert Conquest gives a figure of ‘500,000 for the Ukrainian dead of the dekulakization of 1929-32’.[xli] Thus if Holodomor is to be used exclusively to refer to the genocide by starvation we require a word, a term, which includes all deaths arising from dispossession, special deportation and genocide by starvation. That figure will be considerably in excess of 4.5 million: and this is just for Ukraine. When we take into account the extermination of 1 to 1.5 million Kazakhs and the deaths arising from dispossession, special deportation and genocide by starvation that afflicted the Kuban and Volga regions, a death toll for the entire Soviet Union of 10 million is also far from implausible.

Applebaum’s exclusion from her statistical reckoning of those who perished as part of the regime’s deportation operations will also mean that the total number of victims will be higher than 3.9 million. Applebaum justifies her exclusion of these deaths as follows:

Between 1930 and 1933 over two million peasants were exiled to Siberia, northern Russia, Central Asia and other under populated regions of the Soviet Union, where they lived as ‘special exiles’ forbidden to leave their designated villages. The story of this vast movement of people is separate from the story of collectivization and famine, though no less tragic. This was the first of what would be several mass Soviet deportations in the 1930s and 1940s and the most chaotic.[xlii]

She goes on to note that ‘Many died on the way, or during the first winter, in settlements with no access to the outside world’[xliii], though there is not a figure for the numbers of dead. I do not accept that what befell those deported peasants ‘is separate from the story of collectivization and famine’. The mass deportation with its loss of life and incalculable human misery and suffering – Applebaum’s use of ‘tragic’ does not do it justice – is an essential part of the genocide in the same way that Jews who were terrorized and deported to ghettos and slave labour and death forms part of the Holocaust. The Jewish Catastrophe did not start in 1939 or even after Göring’s coded extermination order issued to Heydrich (July 1941): it started in 1933.

A final number of 10 million for deaths throughout the Soviet Union is also suggested by Stalin’s conversation with Churchill in 1942. I note that there is no reference to Churchill in Applebaum’s index and thus no reference to his visit to Stalin and Stalin’s admission of 10 million. The American Relief Administration estimate of lives saved by its intervention in 1921 comes close to 10 million. Comments attributed to Skrypnyk provide a figure of  ‘ “at least” eight million dead in the Ukraine and North Caucasus’.[xliv] According to Balitskii, 8-9 million had perished.[xlv] Walter Duranty, publicly the leading Holodomor-denier of his age, privately confided that the death toll was as high as 10 million.[xlvi]  Walter Duranty’s figure of 10 million is also cited by Applebaum.[xlvii] That Applebaum is ready to cite the figure of 10 million attributed to Duranty suggests that she does not dismiss 10 million as far-fetched and that, therefore, she does not unequivocally accept the figure of 3.9 million: she is hedging her bets. As a close friend of the Soviet regime, Duranty would have been well placed to meet senior and knowledgeable figures and pick up rumours and hints, and could be relied upon, publicly, to keep his mouth shut.  Skrypnyk and Balitskii are important sources since they would have had access to top secret data and numbers. In view of Balitskii’s warning to his officials not to put too much detail about the famine in writing, any documentary assessment compiled by Balitskii on the number of deaths would have been restricted to the very highest level of the party. It is entirely possible that after Balitskii was shot (he was shot on 27th November 1937 and Skrypnyk committed suicide) that all his records were destroyed or transferred to Moscow. Will these records ever be made available?

Although propagandized as a war against class enemies – liquidation of the kulaks as a class – there is substantial evidence that party measures were also motivated by racial hatred, and not just against Ukrainians. To quote Applebaum:

In 1929 and 1930 many Ukrainian officials believed that all of the ethnic Germans in Ukraine, who had been there since the eighteenth century, should be classified as kulaks. In practice, they were de-kulakized and deported at about three times the rate of ethnic Ukrainians, and were often targeted for special abuse.[xlviii]

Referring to ethnic Germans as ‘destructive insects’ is also not exactly an example of a warm and welcoming invitation to join the Soviet collective farm. That ethnic Germans were singled out in this way is also evidence that elements of class and racial persecution were part of the genocide. Deportation of ethnic Germans from Ukraine anticipates the mass deportation of some 442,000-450,000 Volga Germans in September 1941. The racial element is also present in the catastrophe inflicted on the Kazakhs, known today in Kazakhstan as the Goloshchekin Genocide:

In Kazakhstan the regime blocked traditional nomadic routes and requisitioned livestock to feed the Russian cities, creating terrible suffering among the ethnic Kazakh nomads.  More than a third of the entire population, 1.5 million people, perished during a famine that barely touched the Slavic population of Kazakhstan. This assault on the nomads, sometimes called “sedentarization”, was another form of Sovietization and a clear attack on a recalcitrant ethnic group.[xlix]

The Kazakhs were singled out not solely because they belonged to a class deemed to be hostile to Soviet power – they were class enemies – but also because they were racially distinct. It can be noted that the number of 1.5 million Kazakh victims is about the same as the number of Armenians who perished in the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Thus the Soviet regime acted in a manner that was entirely consistent with the NS-regime’s future targeting of those – Slavs and Jews – considered to be racially undesirable.

I am also bound to dissent from Robert Conquest’s assessment of the Kazakh catastrophe: ‘The famine in Kazakhstan was man-made, like the famine of 1921, in that it was the result of ideologically motivated policies recklessly applied. It was not, like the Ukrainian famine, deliberately inflicted for its own sake’.[l] The fact that the 1921 and Kazakh famines were man-made and ‘the result of ideologically motivated policies recklessly applied’, whereas the Ukrainian famine was ‘deliberately inflicted for its own sake’ is an artificial distinction. All three famines were caused by ‘ideologically motivated policies’. The very fact that policies were recklessly applied – regardless of circumstances – reveals more than recklessness, it reveals the typical Bolshevik attitude towards certain types of human beings deemed to be class enemies for whom established legal norms do not apply. Peasants are expendable: they are to be exterminated. When people are deported from ghettos to death camps and gassed in buildings planned and built in advance of the victims’ arrival expressly for this purpose there can be no doubts about the motives of the killers. Genocide by starvation has the advantage over genocide by gassing in that it can explained away as an outcome of factors beyond the executioners’ control, drought, locusts, flooding, human incompetence, or excess zeal or that the executioners were “Dizzy with Success”, for example, so providing a plausible cover for what it was: planned genocide.

Citing the figure of 3.9 million dead in the Holodomor as the one accepted by various Ukrainian demographers, and with it the implied claim that this is the figure the reader of Red Famine should accept, Applebaum fails to make clear whether she actually accepts that the figure of 3.9 million is more reliable than that given by Conquest and, if so, why. This may be a sensible approach since despite her implied acceptance of a figure of 3.9 million, she provides a great deal of evidence (Chapter 14 The Cover-Up) that shows that there can no certainty at all about the reliability of 3.9 million as the upper figure for the death toll and that, as a consequence, the figure may be substantially higher than 3.9 million, since as she notes: ‘Census records were destroyed, but today the archives are accessible’.[li]  If  census records were destroyed what remains in archives will not be a complete record. And how much vital material was taken to Moscow and has yet to be accessed?

With obvious relevance for the Holocaust as well, Applebaum notes that: ‘Unlike the other measures aimed at Ukraine in 1932-3, no written instructions governing the behaviour of activists have ever been found’ and ‘Nevertheless, a remarkably consistent oral history record shows a sharp change in activists’ behaviour on the eve of the Holodomor’.[lii] The wording ‘on the eve of the Holodomor’ is significant for purposes of statistical reckoning since if the statistical reckoning of death concentrates on the actual genocide by starvation – the Holodomor – as does Applebaum, then the deaths arising from raskulachivanie, spetspereselenie and other causes which occurred prior to, and after, the Holodomor are excluded from the reckoning. The Soviet state’s war against the peasants in Ukraine (and elsewhere in the Soviet Union) did not begin with the Holodomor. The Holodomor was the culmination of a process that began with raskulachivanie then moved to spetspereselenie and ended in genocide by starvation (istreblenie golodom). The NS-regime moved against Jews in much the same way, progressing from definition of Jewish status, demonization, social exclusion, cruel and public mockery, fiscal persecution, dispossession, ghettoization and deportation to extermination; and the deaths occurred in and outside the Vernichtungslager.

Under Holocaust we are to understand the totality of those exterminated by small-arms fire, gassing, disease, starvation, loss of will to live and forced labour. Any statistical reckoning of the Holocaust that concentrated on deaths by gassing in the Reinhard camps and excluded deaths due to mass machine gunning Aktionen in Berdichev, Minsk and Babii Iar, for example, and many other smaller-scale killings, would understate the total death toll. By the end of 1941 operations carried out by Einsatzgruppe A in Ostland (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) had accounted for 229,052 Jews. If the use of Holodomor is to be confined to what happened in Ukraine in 1932-1933, and not to be used to include all deaths arising from Stalin’s campaign against the peasants throughout the Soviet Union, we are in need of a term that covers all those who perished in Stalin’s war against the peasants, including the Holodomor, or, we use Holodomor to include all deaths, in the same way that Holocaust is used today to apply to all victims regardless how, when and where they died. The same would apply to those who can be plausibly described as Holodomor-survivors. Dispossessed peasants made up the bulk of those on slave-labour projects such as the White-Sea Canal, and many died. These deaths must also be included in the final death toll of Stalin’s war against the peasants.

The Soviet regime made great efforts to hide the catastrophe, and Applebaum adds to the corpus of evidence of deception and lying earlier adduced by Conquest. All kinds of methods were used by the regime. The first and obvious approach open to Stalin was to censor all mention of a famine, to kill the event by silence. To quote Applebaum: ‘It did not exist in the newspapers, it did not exist in public speeches. Neither national leaders nor local leaders mentioned it – and they never would’[liii] and, again, ‘The aim was to make the famine disappear, as if it had never happened’.[liv] The NS-regime would later adopt the same procedures to hide and to deny what was happening in the occupied territories of the East.

Mail intended for Ukrainian soldiers serving in the Red Army was held back and soldiers and civilians alike were told that there was no famine. People who asked awkward questions faced real danger (as did Germans were they not to maintain the conspiracy of silence, the open secret, surrounding the fate of Jews). Medical records were also falsified which has obvious implications in assessing the numbers of dead:

The taboo on speaking of the famine in public affected medical workers too. Both doctors and nurses recall being told “to invent something” for death certificates, or to write down all cases of starvation as the result of “infectious diseases” or “cardiac arrest”.[lv]

The following is also critical for our assessment of archival and documentary evidence in determining the death toll:

As the emergency passed, official vigilance spread to record-keepers. In April 1934 the Odessa provincial leadership sent out a note to all the local party committees, warning them about “the criminally outrageous manner” in which births and deaths were being registered: “In a number of village councils this work is actually in the hands of class enemies – kulaks, Petliura henchmen, special deportees etc”.[lvi]

One has to ask how those who had been deported could be doing this work. Applebaum records similar bureaucratic ranting about these matters being dealt with by class enemies and so on in Kharkiv province. Note the following the importance of which in assessing the death toll is obvious:

In reality, both types of document [death registries and books] conformed to an identical formula, probably the result of an order from the Ukrainian authorities and both were intended to destroy evidence of the famine. Although mortality numbers compiled at the provincial and national level did remain in statistical archives, at the village level many records were physically destroyed. Eyewitnesses from Zhytomyr and Chernihiv provinces have described the disappearance of death registries from their villages in 1933-4. In Vinnytsia, Stepan Podolian recalled that his father had been asked to burn the village registry books and rewrite them, eliminating references to hunger … At the highest levels the cover-up functioned as a form of party discipline: it was a means of controlling officials, even testing their loyalty. To prove their dedication, party members had to accept and endorse the official falsehoods….But although no written record  exists of an order  not to use  the word “famine” in public, it is striking how rarely it was used.[lvii]

On the question of the 1937 census, she notes that employees of local statistical offices were told that no data could be published. ‘Even so’, she records, ‘the final result of the 1937 census was shocking’.[lviii] The propaganda narrative was of population increase, to be interpreted as evidence of the successes of socialism.

Conquest cites a Soviet source noting that the population deficit in January 1937 was 15-16 million.[lix]  The source cited by Conquest is V. P. Danilov in Arkheograficheskii Ezhegodnik za 1968 god, Moscow, 1970, p.249, whereas Applebaum states that 8 million were missing.[lx] This is the moment when she needs to mount a direct challenge to the approach adopted by Conquest and demonstrate why Conquest is wrong (or not). She continues:

The real numbers [1937 census], when they finally arrived, were quite different. The total population figure of the USSR came to 162 million – meaning that (for those who expected 170 million) some eight million people were “missing”. That inexact number included victims of the famine and their unborn children. It also reflected the genuine chaos of the famine years. The peasants dying by the roadsides, the mass migration, the deportations, the impossibility of keeping accurate statistics in villages where everyone was starving, including public officials – all of these things made the census-takers’ job more difficult.  In truth, nobody was absolutely sure how many people had really died and how many lived, counted or uncounted.  The census-takers had erred on the side of caution.[lxi]

If Soviet census officials estimated that in 1937 the Soviet population ranged from 170 to 172 million, then the real deficit when it finally arrived could also show 10 million missing (for those who expected 172 million). Once again the figure of 10 million emerges and is, when one takes the party’s war against the peasants throughout the Soviet Union into account – raskulachivanie, spetspereselenie and istreblenie golodom – entirely plausible. In fact, it may understate the death toll and be closer to that tabulated by Conquest than many are prepared to admit. That Stalin took such measures to suppress the results of the 1937 census speaks for itself. Again, note the following, which has critical implications in assessing the final death toll: ‘By November an entirely new cadre of officials had replaced these men every one of whom now understood that it was extremely dangerous to produce accurate numbers. A new census was duly commissioned’.[lxii] Various ruses were adopted by Soviet statisticians to inflate the numbers. Thus, ‘Census forms for more than 350,000 people residing elsewhere were assigned to Ukraine’ and with an allusion to Gogol’s famous scam, she notes that ‘Another 375,000 dead souls were allocated to Kazakhstan’.[lxiii] The 1939 census marked not the triumph of statistical reckoning but the triumph of state-organized mendacity; the triumph of the censorship apparatus:

With publication of the 1939 census the great famine vanished not only from the newspapers but from Soviet demography, politics and bureaucracy. The Soviet state never kept any record of the victims, their lives or their deaths. For as long as it existed, it never accepted that they had died at all.[lxiv]

Applebaum notes, as Conquest did in detail, the role played by the Westerners who were ready to lie for Stalin. So successful, in fact, was Duranty that he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his lying. In 2003, the seventieth anniversary of the terror famine, an attempt was made to get the Pulitzer Prize Committee to strip Duranty of his award. The attempt was unsuccessful. One of the heroes amid the squalid and disgusting lying is Gareth Jones who witnessed the famine and wrote about it truthfully, so exposing the servility and mendacity of Duranty et al.

Lying and falsification about the Holodomor continued even as Gorbachev initiated the policy of glasnost’. Robert Conquest’s Harvest of Sorrow led to a riposte by a one Douglas Tottle, Fraud, Famine and Fascism: The Ukrainian Genocide Myth (1987). The title speaks for itself. It can be noted that when Applebaum refers to Conquest’s book it is always Harvest of Sorrow, not the full title, even on a first citation, Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine, whereas Tottle’s title is cited in full. I suspect that the reason she does this is because she wants to play down Conquest’s use of “Terror-Famine” which supports the claim of genocide, whereas the wording of Tottle’s sub-title “The Ukrainian Genocide Myth” reflects Applebaum’s own view that what Stalin inflicted on Ukraine was not genocide. Conquest’s sub-title leaves no doubt about where he stands; collectivization was part of the catastrophe inflicted on the peasants; a staging post en route to the “Terror-Famine” and extermination. It is a measure of the hypocrisy and double standards that protect Soviet crimes against humanity in 1987 and in 2017 that Tottle was never denounced as a Holodomor-denier. What, one asks, would have been the reaction to a book with the title Faking History and the Holocaust Fraud: The Jewish Genocide Myth? In Germany and France in 2017 the author would be imprisoned but denying the Holodomor incurs no penalty, just indifference.

Even Gorbachev, regarded by some in the 1980s as a secular saint, played his part in denying the full scale of what happened. I cite from his book, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World which was also published in the same year as Tottle’s masterpiece:

Or take collectivization. I know how much fiction, speculation and malicious criticism of us go with this term, let alone the process itself. But even many of the objective students of this period of our history do not seem to be able to grasp the importance, need and inevitability of collectivization in our country.

If we are to take a really truthful and scientific look at the circumstances of the time and the special features of the development of our society, Soviet society; if we do not close our eyes to the extreme backwardness of agricultural production, which had no hope of overcoming this backwardness if it remained small scale and fragmented; if, finally, we try to make a correct assessment of the actual results of collectivization, one simple conclusion is inescapable: collectivization was a great historic act, the most important social change since 1917. Yes, it proceeded painfully, not without serious excesses and blunders in methods and pace. But further progress for our country would have been impossible without it. Collectivization provided a social basis for updating the agricultural sector of the economy and made it possible to introduce modern farming methods. It ensured productivity growth and an ultimate increase in output which we could not have obtained had the countryside been left untouched in its previous, virtually medieval state. Furthermore, collectivization released considerable resources and many workers needed in other areas of development in our society, above all in industry.

Collectivization changed, perhaps not easily and not immediately, the entire way of life of the peasantry, making it possible for them to become a modern, civilized class of society.[lxv]

According to Applebaum, Gorbachev, the grandson of kulaks, described the collective farm as serfdom.[lxvi] She is obviously unaware of, or has decided to ignore, his grotesque neo-Stalinist assessment of collectivization that does not sit too comfortably alongside his claim that the collective farm was serfdom. Just one small indicator of the Soviet state’s genocidal intentions is evident in the decree of 7th August 1932. Taking even small amounts of wheat rendered a person liable to 10 years in a forced-labour camp or execution. By the end of 1932, 100,000 had received 10 year sentences and 4,500 had been executed.[lxvii]

While it was true that the party made great efforts to suppress all mention of the famine and to corrupt census data and to destroy other records, literary works, certainly after Stalin’s death, provided an abundance of clues for the alert reader. Robert Conquest exploited this resource very effectively: Applebaum ignores it. Conquest cites Mikhail Sholokhov, Viktor Astaf’ev, Vasilii Belov, Valentin Rasputin, Varlam Shalamov, Sergei Zalygin, Boris Pasternak, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Boris Mozhaev and Vasilii Grossman.  Pasternak, Sholokhov and Solzhenitsyn all won the Nobel Prize for literature. Those known as the village prose writers, derevenshchiki, took an intense interest in the fate of the village and its decline and while their works are not intended to be statistical studies, they nevertheless impart under the guise of fiction the scale of the catastrophe.

Two writers that really stand out are Andrei Platonov (Kotlovan/The Foundation Pit, 1987) and Vasilii Grossman (Vse techet/Everything Flows/Forever Flowing, 1970 & 1989). Platonov portrays the collectivization as a form of mass insanity in which all established norms are inverted and subverted by the grotesque behaviour of barely literate party activists spouting politically-correct slogans (exactly what happened in Mao’s Red Terror in the 1960s). This inculcation of an atmosphere of the grotesque and the absurd is quite deliberate. It is intended to disorientate the objector by denying him the tools of rational objection since any rational objection is itself now denounced as ‘wrecking’ and ‘sabotage’ and evidence of harbouring ‘incorrect thoughts’. Truth becomes a class enemy. Grossman’s essay is a remarkable achievement in which he chronicles the scale of the catastrophe, the process from dispossession to extermination. The psychologically devastating effects of relentless, hysterical hate propaganda in conditions of a totalitarian state on party activists are also quite clear from Grossman’s essay, and the parallels between the Soviet state’s extermination of peasants (‘samyi strashnyi mor’ and ‘sploshnoi mor’,[lxviii]) and the NS-state’s extermination of Jews are asserted and made absolutely clear by the author. May his memory be a blessing.

V. The Soviet State’s War against the Peasantry and the Holodomor as Adumbration of the NS-Regime’s Implementation of the Holocaust


Einsatzgruppe in action

The various measures adopted by the Soviet regime to prosecute its war of extermination anticipate many of the basic procedures later used by the NS-regime in the Holocaust.  These pioneering Soviet measures may be summarised as follows:

(i). Soviet propaganda asserted that the peasants – the despised kulaks – were deadly enemies of the Soviet state and had to be eradicated. Hate propaganda which could never be challenged was essential to compelling party activists to believe that the kulaks were sub-humans and their destruction was necessary and desirable. To this end, the peasants were accused of counter-revolution, wrecking, sabotage and espionage, of being deadly enemies of the workers’ state. Thus dispossessing and killing them was to be justified as an act of self-defence. NS-propaganda used much the same approach, citing Jews as inveterate and deadly enemies. References to so-called Zionist plots, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, for example, played the same sort of role in NS-demonization of Jews as did bizarre OGPU inventions and accusations of counter-revolutionary plots, organizations and conspiracies being fomented by the peasants and Ukrainian intellectuals, and, of course, ubiquitous Trotskyites and Bukharinites;

(ii). Dispossession of the peasants, the theft of property and livestock and the imposition of special taxes and duties clearly anticipates the same economic and fiscal methods used by the Nazis to target Jews, economic boycotts, under the slogan, for example, of Kauft nicht bei Juden! as well as expropriation of Jewish businesses and property. The policy of Sovietization which was implemented in Ukraine, in the Baltic states and at the end of World War II in states occupied by the Red Army, has an obvious counterpart in Germanization which was cited by the International Military Tribunal (IMT) as a war crime;

(iii). Endless searches for hidden food carried out by party fanatics betrays the same level of uncompromising hatred manifested by the agencies of the NS-state in the search for Jews. Party activists functioned as Soviet Einsatzgruppen;

(iv).   Both states attacked the victims’ religions: churches were defiled and desecrated so were synagogues;

(v). Soviet targeting of kulaks also caused problems in defining who was a kulak. A Party sub-commission established three categories of kulak: those to be shot or imprisoned; families of this group to be deported; and a third group classed as loyal.[lxix] The party also invented the category of subkulak. Again, when Heydrich and Eichmann were laying out the groundwork for the extermination phase of the Holocaust a great deal of attention was focused on determining various categories and definitions of Jews. The Soviet attitude towards the kulaks, summarized by Applebaum – ‘The brave new world would not have space for so many useless people’ [lxx] – reveals an emphasis on struggle and the elimination of the weak, which was obviously not confined to NS-racial theory. It anticipates the Nazi policy towards superfluous population in the German Reich and in the occupied territories who were regarded as ‘nutzlose Esser’ and would be left to starve. In one critical regard the Soviet and Nazi approaches differed. The Nazis defined Jews in very specific terms whereas any Soviet or non-Soviet citizen was a potential class enemy and thus liable to extermination. The slogan “Proletariat of the world unite” is a call for global class war and the extermination of all class enemies wherever they are on Planet Earth;

(vi). Nothing separates the state of mind of Soviet party fanatics who tormented and murdered peasants in the early 1930s from those in the German Einsatzgruppen, who a decade later revelled in tormenting and killing Jews:

Whether they were locals or outsiders, all those who carried out orders to confiscate food did do with a sense of impunity.  They may have felt some personal sense of guilt in the years that followed, or they have been aware of the anger and despair of the peasants who they left to starve. But they were also certain that their actions were sanctioned at the very highest levels. Over and over again they had been told that their starving neighbours were kulak agents, dangerous enemy elements.[lxxi]

This sort of behaviour was later highlighted in the Milgram experiment, the Californian Prison Experiment and in the 1950s by Solomon Asch. As Applebaum notes, the party, exactly as Himmler and the SS would behave a decade later, combined quasi legal and administrative measures with incitement to class hatred and the language of demonization and dehumanization.

(vii). The genocide in Ukraine, the Holodomor, raises the question whether Stalin issued any written orders for the genocide (no specific order from Hitler ordering the mass extermination phase of Jews has ever been found). However, Applebaum notes that Stalin’s telegram to the leaders of the Ukrainian Communist Party on 1st January 1933 is considered by some to be the crucial document:

The historian Stanislav Kulchytsky has argued that this telegram, coming from the party leader himself at that overwrought moment, was a signal to begin mass searches and persecutions. His view is an interpretation, rather  than solid proof: Stalin never wrote down, or never preserved, any document ordering famine.[lxxii]

That no document issued by Hitler ordering the killing of Jews has ever been found has been claimed by some, David Irving, for example, to show that Hitler was somehow unaware that Jews were being exterminated or that there was no plan to exterminate them.  That no Stalin order specifically calling for genocide in Ukraine has ever been found is not evidence that Stalin did not issue orders for genocide. Robert Conquest is especially convincing on this matter:

As to Stalin’s personal guilt (and that of Molotov, Kaganovich, Potyshev and the others) it is true that, as with Hitler’s responsibility for the Jewish holocaust, we cannot document the responsibility in the sense that any decree exists in which Stalin orders the famine. But the only possible defence, such as it is, would be to assume that Stalin merely ordered excessive requisitions out of ignorance of the true position, and had no mens rea; and this is contradicted by the powerful considerations which we have examined.We may add that the banning of foreign reporters from the famine areas is, indeed, a further tacit admission by the authorities of what was going on.[lxxiii]

Compared with Robert Conquest’s analysis of the same problem, Applebaum’s lacks incisiveness but she does concede that ‘Stalin knew that the methods being used were damaging (sic!), and he knew they would fail. But he allowed (sic!) them to continue for several fatal months, during which time millions died’.[lxxiv] Stalin did not allow these measures to continue, as if he was persuaded by other party members against his own judgement: Stalin demanded that these measures be continued;

(viii). As in the Armenian Genocide before the Holodomor, the Soviet regime incited economic envy of kulaks as justification for seizure of private property. Exactly the same motives were used by the NS-state;

(ix). The blockade of Ukraine and closing the border, Ukraine, in effect, became a massive  ghetto -‘like one vast Belsen’[lxxv] – anticipate the creation of large ghettos by the Nazis so as to concentrate, to control and to expedite the efficient killing of the Jewish populations held captive;

(x). Applebaum notes that even some Ukrainian nationalists found it difficult to accept that Stalin could cause so many people to be killed by starvation: ‘The thought that Stalin had deliberately allowed people to starve to death was too horrible, too monstrous, even for those who hated him’.[lxxvi] Allied officials reacted in much the same way when they received Gerhard Riegner’s early warnings about the fate of Jews.

Himmler with SS men

VI. A Question of Genocide

The party’s determination to liquidate the kulaks as a class, no more than a very transparent and flimsy euphemism for physical extermination, as well as the various measures taken by the Soviet state psychologically and physically to isolate the peasants before proceeding to extermination, measures which anticipate those that the NS-regime later deployed against Jews, would suggest that the charge of genocide against the Soviet state is unassailable or at the very least established beyond reasonable doubt. Raphael Lemkin who did so much to get the crime of genocide recognised in international law had no doubts at all.

It should be noted that Count One and Two against the defendants in the International Military Tribunal (IMT) Einsatzgruppen Case and the RuHSA Case stipulated that:

  1. Between May 1941 and July 1943 all of the defendants herein committed crimes against humanity, as defined in Article II of Control Council Law No. 10, in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, were connected with plans and enterprises involving, and were members of organizations or groups connected with, atrocities and offenses, including but not limited to, persecutions on political, racial, and religious grounds, murder, extermination, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts committed against civilian populations, including German nationals and nationals of other countries.

2. The acts, conduct, plans, and enterprises charged in paragraph 1 of this count were carried out as part of a systematic program of genocide, aimed at the destruction of foreign nations and ethnic groups by murderous extermination.[lxxvii]

In what significant way did Soviet actions against peasants which culminated in genocide in 1932-1933 and which involved all the crimes listed in Counts One and Two against the Nazi defendants at Nurnberg differ from their partners in genocide?

In Red Famine, Applebaum maintains that the Holodomor was not genocide. On Stalin’s obsession with hidden grain, she states: ‘The insistence that the peasants deliver grain that Stalin believed should exist created, in turn, a humanitarian catastrophe’[lxxviii] Genocide is, of course, a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ but all humanitarian catastrophes (tsunamis, earthquakes and pandemics) are not genocide. Applebaum arbitrarily separates the Holodomor from what preceded it and also asserts the dubious claim that Stalin did not want to kill all Ukrainians. To begin with, I can note Applebaum’s assessment of the role played by collectivization in the deaths by starvation:

Although the chaos of collectivization helped create the conditions that led to famine, the high numbers of deaths in Ukraine between 1932 and 1934, and especially the spike in the spring of 1933 were not caused directly by collectivization either.[lxxix]

Genocide by starvation was the culmination of the party’s war against the peasants. Without the failure of collectivization and the increased hatred and rage that this created among the party fanatics on the ground and their master in Moscow there would have been no famine. The genocide by starvation cannot be separated from the previous measures taken by the party to break the peasantry, no more than the physical extermination of Jews in Eastern Poland can be divorced from the propaganda war against Jews and the dispossessions and other measures that were inflicted on Jews in the 1930s before the outbreak of WWII. In both the Holodomor and the Holocaust we observe the same processes at work before the killing commences. This is a common denominator in all the genocides of the twentieth century.

Her claim that ‘Stalin did not seek to kill all Ukrainians’[lxxx] is also intended to detach any comparison of the Holodomor from the Holocaust based on the assertion that since Hitler did seek to have all Jews killed within reach of the SS and Einsatzgruppen in the German-occupied territories and Stalin did not seek the death of all Ukrainians, the Soviet state is not guilty of genocide. There are six objections to Applebaum’s claim:

(i). There is evidence that German agencies did not kill all Jews where certain individuals were deemed to be useful;

(ii). Stalin intended to kill all kulaks, so as to make Ukraine, to adapt Nazi terminology, kulakenfrei/kulakenrein. However, since the definition of a kulak was so open-ended, any Ukrainian was a potential kulak, an “enemy of the people”, and, therefore, liable to be killed (‘after the kulaks, they will de-kulakize us too’);

(iii). In order to kill Ukraine’s sense of nationhood, it was not necessary to kill all Ukrainians. What is clear is that Stalin intended to kill millions of Ukrainians;

(iv). If Stalin ceased trying to kill Ukrainians at a certain stage, this provides clear evidence of premeditated killing before the killing was stopped. It means, further, that the killing was being directed and controlled; that it was not due to so-called excesses carried out by activists who were dizzy with class rage and bloodlust; that it could be stopped or resumed at any time;

(v). Even if all Ukrainians were not killed that is not evidence that Stalin was not seeking to kill all Ukrainians: it is evidence that Stalin failed in his attempt or that he was not bothered whether his war against Ukraine resulted in wholesale extermination (sploshnoi mor) or whether it resulted in millions of deaths and some cowed survivors;

(vi). Applebaum’s claim that ‘Stalin did not seek to kill all Ukrainians’ is also completely inconsistent with the Stalin line calling for the ‘liquidation of the kulaks as a class’. Liquidation of the kulaks as a class meant the destruction of a rural way of life, demonizing and dehumanizing the peasants, stealing their property, turning them into slaves (vtoroe krepostnoe pravo, as some peasants quipped), deporting them and then extermination. Balitskii and other Soviet killers of peasants used ‘liquidate’ (likvidirovat’) in exactly the same way as the Einsatzgruppen and SS would use liquidieren in the context of the mass killing of Jews.  An extract from a report with details of murder operations carried out by Einsatzgruppe A makes this absoutely clear: ‘Der Kommandeur in Weissruthenien ist trotz der schwierigen  Lage angewiesen, die Judenfrage bald möglichst zu liquidieren.[lxxxi]

Any doubts about Applebaum’s claim that ‘Stalin did not seek to kill all Ukrainians’ loses any value at all when she comments on the plan drawn up by Herbert Backe, a senior NS-official, for the economic and agricultural exploitation of the Ukraine after the start of Barbarossa. Backe anticipated that millions would die. In Backe’s own words:

Many tens of millions of people in this area will become superfluous and will die or will have to emigrate to Siberia.  Attempts to save the population there from starvation by bringing in surpluses from the Black-Earth zone can only be carried out at the cost of supplying Europe. Such measures undermine Germany’s resilience in the war and undermine Germany’s and Europe’s ability to withstand the blockade. There must be absolute clarity in this matter.[lxxxii]

To which Applebaum responds: ‘This was Stalin’s policy, multiplied many times: the elimination of whole nations through starvation’.[lxxxiii] So she now acknowledges that Stalin did seek to kill all Ukrainians and not just Ukrainians. Given that the Backe document (and others like it) were submitted as evidence of NS plans for genocide at Nurnberg and the conclusion drawn by Applebaum that Stalin’s policy anticipated that advocated by Backe it is not at all clear why Applebaum seeks to deny the charge of genocide levelled at Stalin. Another point is that the Applebaum view that what happened in 1932-1933 was not genocide is obviously inconsistent with her earlier observations in which she notes that local people collaborated with communist party activists (fanatics) in killing peasants. Thus: ‘As in other historic genocides, they were persuaded to kill people whom they knew extremely well’.[lxxxiv]

The judgement of the US counsel, Samuel Harris, on Backe’s plan is also significant for Red Famine and Applebaum’s rejecting that the Holodomor was genocide:

It is submitted, Your Honors (sic), that this document discloses, on its face, a studied plan to murder millions of innocent people through starvation. It reveals a program of premeditated murder of millions of innocent people through starvation. It reveals a program of premeditated murder on a scale so vast as to stagger the human imagination. Major Elwyn Jones, of the British Delegation, will subsequently show that, this plan was, in effect, the logical culmination of general objectives clearly announced by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf. Each defendant in the box was fully aware of these general objectives when he committed the acts with which he is charged.[lxxxv]

The Nazi crime was ‘to murder millions of innocent people through starvation’ and ‘premeditated murder of millions of innocent people through starvation’, the very crime which Stalin’s regime oversaw and executed in the 1930s. ‘Murder through starvation’ is no famine or natural disaster: it is murder. One can note, too, the prosecution’s contention that these plans were ‘the logical culmination of general objectives clearly announced by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf’. Soviet plans to exterminate all opposition were also the logical and ideological culmination of the ideas of class war and ‘the liquidation of the kulaks as a class’ (and all other class enemies). The progenitor of these ideas was Lenin, the founder of the totalitarian state.

In the summary of National-Socialist crimes at Nurnberg the prosecutors noted that the NS-occupation regime ‘conducted deliberate and systematic genocide, viz., the extermination of racial and national groups, against the civilian populations of certain occupied territories in order to destroy particular races and classes of people and national, racial or religious groups, particularly Jews, Poles and Gypsies and others’. In other words, the genocide was aimed at groups other than Jews. In the Soviet Union the main targets in the 1930s were Soviet citizens who were ethnic Poles and kulaks, overwhelmingly Ukrainians.[lxxxvi]

Applebaum notes that ‘Lemkin defined “genocide” (“sic”) in Axis Rule not as a single act but as a process’.[lxxxvii]  This is important, since observing Stalin’s war against the peasants in Ukraine (and elsewhere), that is precisely what we find: a process. This process begins with dispossession, special deportation and ends with extermination. Further, the whole process is accompanied by concentrated and relentless propaganda of hatred in which the peasants are demonized and dehumanized, rendered sub-human, their culture, mores, religion, history and way of life are propagandized as degenerate (entartet was a favourite word of NS-propagandists). In a totalitarian state with censorship this torrent of hatred cannot be challenged and makes it all the easier for communist party activists to commit their crimes.

Another problem, as Applebaum remarks, is that during the Nurnberg War Crimes Trials the Soviet delegation sought – successfully, as it turned out – to link genocide to behaviour that was allegedly unique to fascism and national-socialism. The Soviet delegation also refused to consider the Katyn massacre. Applebaum further comments that the term genocide ‘came to mean the physical elimination of an entire ethnic group, in a manner similar to the Holocaust’ and that ‘The Holodomor does not meet that criterion’.[lxxxviii]  Two points can be made here. First, the definition of genocide, the one used to prosecute and to convict Ratko Mladić, the Bosnian Serb commander, marks a return to that formulated by Lemkin. The definition of genocide recognizes various measures ‘committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group’.[lxxxix]  Second, if genocide is to mean what Applebaum claims, ‘the physical elimination of an entire ethnic group’, then neither the Holodomor nor the Holocaust are genocide. All Jews in the territory under German control were not eliminated (though not for lack of effort). The obvious solution is to revert to the original definition used by Lemkin or to recognise that what Stalin inflicted on the peasants was a greater crime than the Holocaust. In fact, R. J. Rummel has suggested the terms of democide or politicide. Another objection to Applebaum’s position is that the deaths of over a million Kazakhs is regarded by Kazakhstan as genocide and that a number of states do recognise the Holodomor as genocide, something she omits to mention. Further, the killing and deportation operations overseen by Mladić were characterized as being ‘organised and opportunistic’, so recognizing that the killers, as in the Holodomor and Holocaust, engaged in premeditated killing and seized opportunities to kill where and when they arose.

One possible way to defend the Soviet regime from accusations of genocide would have been to adopt the approach of Ulrich Greifelt’s defence counsel at Nurnberg. (Greifelt was one of Himmler’s deputies and responsible for the Germanization programme. I record in passing that Germanization was treated as a war crime yet Sovietization was not). His counsel argued that at the time the crimes of which Greifelt was accused ‘the legal concept of genocide had not yet been formulated by any of the authoritative international organizations at the time of the alleged criminal conduct, or even at the time of the trial, and hence that a charge of genocide could not be considered legally valid’.[xc] Thus, if the legal concept of genocide could not be applied to the NS-state, for the reasons given, the Soviet state could also not be charged with genocide. The reason the crime of genocide was retrospectively applied to the NS-state, but not to the Soviet state was because the Soviet state was one of the victors of World War II and was able successfully to obstruct not just the application of genocide to the behaviour of its own terror and killing apparatus before, during and after the war but also to ensure, had any formal charge of genocide been preferred, that no witnesses or evidence would ever be made available. It was only in the last months of the Soviet Union’s existence, for example, that Gorbachev, a defender of collectivization, finally admitted that the NKVD had murdered Polish prisoners of war at Katyn and other sites (considered by the Polish government to be genocide).

Given that the Soviet delegation did so much to define genocide so as to exclude and to shield much greater crimes committed by the Soviet state from being subjected to international scrutiny, and that Applebaum uses the Soviet-influenced definition of genocide to exclude the Holodomor from being defined as genocide, is not only highly embarrassing but also potentially devastating for her entire book, since in the course of nearly 400 pages, even though she provides a mass of evidence to show that what happened was indeed genocide committed by a monstrous regime, even if she cannot bring herself to admit it, she then relies on the machinations of the same regime to define away its crimes as genocide so as to exclude the Holodomor – let alone the dispossession and special deportations – from being considered as genocide.

Another approach adopted by Applebaum is to tell us that it is not that important whether we refer to the deliberate starvation as genocide:

But the genocide debate, so fierce a decade ago, has subsided for other reasons too.  The accumulation of evidence means that it matters less, nowadays, whether the 1932-33 famine is called a genocide, a crime against humanity, or simply an act of mass terror. Whatever the definition, it was a horrific assault, carried out by a government against its own people.[xci]

If the accumulation of evidence is such that according to Applebaum it matters not ‘whether the 1932-33 famine is called a genocide, a crime against humanity, or simply an act of terror’, Applebaum is effectively conceding that the use of genocide is appropriate in all recognized cases. Further, it most certainly does matter whether one refers to the terror-famine as genocide since if genocide is accorded some unique status by the courts, international law, mass media and even Hollywood, the pinnacle of inhumanity, and crimes against humanity and mass terror are not accorded the same status then Ukraine’s suffering is downgraded in the eyes not just of the Holodomor-survivors but of today’s Ukraine. It is about memory as much as anything else and, of course, recognition of a hideous crime. It is even more important for Ukrainians since for so long after the genocide it was a crime to talk about the crime itself.  To cite Applebaum:

In the years that followed the famine, Ukrainians were forbidden to speak about what had happened. They were afraid to mourn publicly. Even if they had dared to do so, there were no churches to pray in, no tombstones to decorate with flowers. When the state destroyed the institutions of the Ukrainian countryside, it struck a blow against public memory as well.[xcii]

This is, of course, in complete contrast to the way Western societies have become saturated with information and images of the Holocaust since the 1970s. Ukrainians trying to get the message across about the Holodomor have experienced a desperate struggle, since they had to contend with the fact that far too many Westerners accepted the propaganda, entertainment and mass media narrative of Hitler as the supreme evil of the twentieth century and could not conceive of the possibility that Stalin was even worse. Lack of imagination? Indifference? Appalling ignorance? Moral and intellectual cowardice?  A politically-correct educational curriculum? Deliberate suppression of the truth?

It also matters whether a crime against humanity or mass terror is recognised as genocide, when the early definition drawn up by Lemkin recognized that what the Soviet state inflicted on Ukraine was genocide. That the Soviet state, the very entity responsible for the genocide, was allowed to play a role in ascribing uniquely evil, sole-state-guilty-of-genocide status to the crimes of “fascist” Germany in order to deflect attention away from its own far worse criminal record is insulting – to put it mildly – to the memory of those who died. It also clearly distorts and perverts our understanding when the evidence of history shows that communist regimes were far more willing to commit genocide. If it does not matter whether the Holodomor is considered to be genocide – because such is the evidence of evil-doing that the term used to describe the evil is not that important – then Applebaum might like to consider whether the term genocide should continue to be used with regard to the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide. Why not just refer to all these as crimes against humanity? Genocide is a crime against humanity, as is mass terror, but all crimes against humanity and mass terror are not genocide. What the Soviet regime inflicted on Ukraine, culminating in the Holodomor, was genocide and all historians and nations should now formally recognize this crime for what it was.

Holodomor Victims Memorial, Kiev


[i] Anne Applebaum, Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine Allen Lane, Penguin Random House, London, 2017, xi-xxviii + pp. 1-367, Illustrations, Notes, Bibliography, Index, ISBN 978-0-241-00380-0
[ii] Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, Student Edition, Holmes & Meier, New York and London, 1985, p.27
[iii] Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, The Bodley Head, London, 2010, p.412
[iv] Applebaum, p.311
[v] Robert Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine (1986), Arrow Books Ltd, London, 1988, p.20
[vi] Applebaum, p.189
[vii] Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow, p.55
[viii] Applebaum,p.67
[ix] Applebaum, p.67
[x] Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919-1924 (1994), Fontana Press Edition, London, 1995, p.411
[xi] Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, p.419
[xii] Pipes, p.419
[xiii] Pipes, p.419
[xiv] Applebaum,p.109
[xv] Applebaum, p.92
[xvi] Vasilii Grossman, Vse techet, Possev-Verlag, 2nd edition, Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, 1974, p.91
[xvii] Applebaum, p.80
[xviii] Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, p.287
[xix] Applebaum, p.157
[xx] Applebaum, p.95
[xxi] Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow, p.65
[xxii] Applebaum, p.276
[xxiii] Applebaum, pp.114-115
[xxiv] Applebaum, p.125
[xxv] Applebaum, p.115
[xxvi] Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow, p.114
[xxvii] Applebaum, p.116
[xxviii] Applebaum, p.118
[xxix] Applebaum, p.120
[xxx] Applebaum, p.130
[xxxi] Applebaum, p.139
[xxxii] Applebaum, p.139
[xxxiii] Applebaum, p.141, emphasis in the original
[xxxiv] Applebaum, p.141
[xxxv] Applebaum, p.142
[xxxvi] Applebaum, p.141
[xxxvii] Snyder, Bloodlands, p.53
[xxxviii] Applebaum, p.xxi
[xxxix] Applebaum, p.346
[xl] Applebaum, p.285
[xli] Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, p.303
[xlii] Applebaum, p.132
[xliii] Applebaum, p.133
[xliv] Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, p.303
[xlv] Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, p.303
[xlvi] Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, p.320
[xlvii] Applebaum, p.317
[xlviii] Applebaum, pp.125-126
[xlix] Applebaum, pp.209-210
[l] Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, p.196
[li] Applebaum, p.367
[lii] Applebaum, p.226
[liii] Applebaum, p.302
[liv] Applebaum, p.303
[lv] Applebaum, p.304
[lvi] Applebaum, p.304
[lvii] Applebaum, pp.304-305, emphasis added
[lviii] Applebaum, p.306
[lix] Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, p.301
[lx] Applebaum, p.306
[lxi] Applebaum, p.306
[lxii] Applebaum, p.307
[lxiii] Applebaum, p.308
[lxiv] Applebaum, p.308
[lxv] Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World, Collins, London, 1987, p.40
[lxvi] Applebaum, p.144
[lxvii] Applebaum, p.186
[lxviii] Grossman, Vse techet, p.128 & p.129
[lxix] Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, pp.120-121
[lxx] Applebaum, p.236
[lxxi] Applebaum, p.241
[lxxii] Applebaum, p.195
[lxxiii] Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, p.328
[lxxiv] Applebaum, p.196
[lxxv] Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, p.3
[lxxvi] Applebaum, p.335
[lxxvii] “The Einsatzgruppen Case”, “The RuSHA Case”,  IMT, Green Series, Vol IV, p.15
[lxxviii] Applebaum, p.193, emphasis in the original
[lxxix] Applebaum, p.354
[lxxx] Applebaum, p.354, emphasis in the original
[lxxxi] IMT, Blue Series, vol XXX, Document 2273-PS, p.79, emphasis added (pp.71-80)[lxxxii] See Wirtschaftspolitische Richtlinien für Wirtschaftsorganisation Ost, Gruppe Landwirtschaft, dated 23rd May 1941. IMT, Blue Series, vol XXXVI, Document 126-EC, p.145, emphasis in the original, pp.135-157
[lxxxiii] Applebaum, p.329, emphasis added
[lxxxiv] Applebaum, p.238
[lxxxv] IMT, volume IV, Blue Series, p.9
[lxxxvi] IMT, volume V, Red Series, pp.31-32
[lxxxvii] Applebaum, p.355
[lxxxviii] Applebaum, p.357
[lxxxix] Article 4, Updated Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, as amended 7th July 2009 by Resolution 1877
[xc] IMT, “The Einsatzgruppen Case”, “The RuHSA Case”, Green Series, Vol V, p.1
[xci] Applebaum, p.362
[xcii] Applebaum, p.326

© Frank Ellis 2017

Dr Frank Ellis is a historian and author

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2 Responses to We Will Bury You (2)

  1. David Ashton says:

    Whatever the statistical scale of deaths from Communism, the victims are generally unknown and unmourned. The term “Holodomyr” is rejected because it looks like a Ukrainian Nazi attempt verbally, and offensively, to put it in the same category as the unique “Holocaust”, the worst crime in the entire history of people-kind and deserving of legal protection from criticism, and universal reverential regard as an icon of political correctness, beyond any other evil; a pole event infinitely more sacred and important than the Good Friday Event which, especially as the chief cause of western antisemitism, from St Matthew and St John to Chrysostom and Luther, it must asap supplant, with the resurrected State of Israel replacing Easter. Or have I got this wrong somehow?

  2. David Ashton says:

    PS – (1) The death-toll in Ukraine remains controversial, but murder is murder. So also the fatalities in Soviet gulags and purges where the guesstimates of Dallin, Solzhenitsyn, Conquest & Rummel have been revised downwards (as have those in Auschwitz, incidentally).
    (2) In 1953 Raphael Lemkin himself described the “Holodomyr” as genocidal by his own definition.
    (3) Norman Naimark’s “Stalin’s Genocides” (2011) follows suit; and Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar” (2014) specifies a large number of other ethnic/national groups that suffered directly from Stalin’s “peacetime” deportations & decimations.
    (4) Steven Rosefielde’s “Red Holocaust” (2009) surveys most (not all) global mortalities from Marxism-Leninism, to which can be added more careful figures from Frank Dikoetter’s trilogy on Maoism.
    Will the huge Holocaust Museum & Education Centre to be erected close beside Parliament as a perpetual warning against (English) “xenophobia” and (Western) “imperialism” &c have any room for the victims of communism (other than Khmer Rouge “racists” and, perhaps, the east European post-WW2 “cosmopolitans”)?

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