Gov’t must join allies in recognising the Soviet genocide of the Ukrainian people
3 min read
Pauline Latham MP says the Government owes it to the large Ukrainian community in the UK to recognise the extermination of millions of their ancestors who died during Holodomor for what it is: a genocide.
Between 1932 and 1933, a man-made famine, instigated in Ukraine and neighboring Kuban by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, resulted in the deaths of between seven million and 12 million people.
This Ukrainian Holodomor ran in parallel to waves of deportation and executions of prospering farmers, as well as religious, academic and cultural leaders.
In a nutshell, Stalin sought to impose his will on Ukraine by starving and murdering its people.
In 1932, The Soviet leader increased the basic grain procurement quota for the Ukraine by 44%, knowing that such an extraordinarily high quota would result in a shortage and the inability of peasants to feed themselves.
Such a goal would not have been achievable had the communists not already ruined the nation’s productivity by eliminating the best farmers.
At the height of the genocide, Ukrainians died at a rate of 25,000 per day and nearly one in four rural Ukrainians perished as a direct result.
During the winter of 1932-33 wore on, Ukraine became a panorama of horror. The roadsides were filled with the corpses of those who had died seeking food. The bodies, many of which snow concealed until the spring thaw, were unceremoniously dumped into mass graves by the communists.
Many others died of starvation in their homes, with some choosing to end the process by suicide, commonly by hanging—if they had the strength to do it.
One American correspondent reported: “The bodies of some were reduced to skeletons, with their skin hanging grayish-yellow and loose over their bones. Their faces looked like rubber masks with large, bulging, immobile eyes. Their necks seemed to have shrunk onto their shoulders. The look in their eyes was glassy, heralding their approaching death.”
At the same time, the Soviet Union dumped 1.7 million tonnes of grain on western markets. Nearly a fifth of a tonne of grain was exported for each person who died of starvation. More than 3 million children born in 1932 and 1933 died of starvation.
The Holodomor was kept out of official history until 1991, when Ukraine, a country of 47 million people, finally won its independence.
Since then, it has been recognised as a “crime against humanity” by the European Parliament but as genocide in Ukraine and 16 others countries, including the United States, Canada and Australia.
Meanwhile, the Russian Federation only considers it part of the wider famine across the Soviet Union.
So, why is it important for the Government to adopt the word genocide to describe the Holodomor?
Since 1932, using starvation as a weapon to control people has become standard among communist regimes. We have seen it in China, North Korea, Ethiopia, Cambodia and Zimbabwe. We need to send the strongest possible signal that it can never happen again.
We also owe it to the large Ukrainian community in the UK to recognise the extermination of millions of their ancestors who died.
We need to demonstrate our support for basic human morality and respect for life.
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.