Friday, February 05, 2010

History Lesson: Stalin Was a Bastard

It seems that people really don't like history. This isn't about some anniversary, just a realization that a lot of people have never heard of the Holodomor. Estimates I believe come in at around 10 million and as high as 14 million dead. That compares with the 9 million the German's killed in the Holocaust.

The Holodomor - that's Ukrainian for "starvation" - was an early genocide that seems to be mostly absent from the average American's understanding of the world.

Stalin decided to "prove" that Communism was good by collectivizing agriculture. And then he was going to use the "gains" in output to finance his industrial dreams.

Of course there were a few problems. Starting with the fact that the Ukrainian farmers, an independent bunch, didn't want to join the collectives. (Which weren't doing very well anyway.) So in 1929, Stalin sent in the secret police and eventually decided he could do without Ukrainian farmers.
Hundreds of thousands are expropriated, dragged from their homes, packed into freight trains, and shipped to Siberia where they are left, often without food or shelter. In the end, 1,000,000 Ukrainian peasants are seized and more than 850,000 deported to the frozen tundras of Siberia, where many perished.

The Soviet government increased Ukraine's production quotas by 44%, ensuring that they could not be met. Starvation becomes widespread.

Ukrainians are dying at the rate of 25,000 a day. In the end, up to 10 million starve to death.
This was largely ignored by the West, at least in part because the American Left was in favor of Communism and didn't want to paint the Soviet Union in a bad light.
“Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda. There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.”
(as reported by the New York Times correspondent and Pulitzer-prize winner Walter Duranty)
The fish-wrap-of-record wasn't alone in denying what was going on. Even governments decided to look the other way.

And on the subject of "being doomed to repeat," history you don't understand, this piece of history was recently re-enacted in Zimbabwe, when farms were collectivized, and famine ensued.

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