Ukraine To Probe Whether 1932 Famine Was Genocide

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Ukraine plans to open a formal investigation into a Soviet-era famine that killed millions of people to see if it can prove the famine was an act of genocide.

The 1932-33 famine was engineered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to force peasants to give up their private plots of land and join collective farms.

Ukraine, which has rich farmland, suffered the most of all Soviet regions and President Viktor Yushchenko has led efforts to win international recognition of the tragedy as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation.

In 2006, the Ukrainian parliament declared the famine a genocide. Vladislav Verstyuk, deputy head of the government's Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, said Thursday that prosecutors and the state security service will now seek to prove that in court.

Historians are divided on whether "death by hunger" _ or "Holodomor" as it is known here _ was an act of genocide.

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William Mandel - 7/19/2008

I sent this comment previously, worded slightly differently only because I do not have the original, and it has not been posted.
Stalin was trying to modernize the Soviet Union by introducing industry into what was a very backward peasant country. That required, among other things, bringing into existence a surplus labor force to work in town. Collectivizing agriculture, thereby reducing the number of people needed to produce crops per unit of land, would make part of the farm population redundant.
It was also necessary to find the money to purchase machine tools and other basic necessities of industry. That required a form of taxation byholding the price paid peasants for grain to a level making this possible.
When peasants refused to sell on a basis other than supply and demand, the Communist Party organized a force of 25,000 urban workers to go to the breadbasket, which was the Ukraine, and simply take the grain so as to feed the cities. If the peasants had sold, they would have retained enough grain for seed. As they did not, the urban collectors took all they saw.
That resulted in an inadequate crop the next year, and famine.