Tuesday, November 17, 2009

History: The Ukrainian Famine Under Stalin

Via Ninme comes this news link both to a reminder of the horrific misery caused by Stalin and to the courage of a British journalist who documented it. Journalist Gareth Jones' diaries went on display at the University of Cambridge on November 13. He had illegally sneaked into Ukraine from Russia in 1933. The estimated number of Ukrainians who died in the famine of the 1930s is 4 million.

Here is one scholar's assessment of the Jones diaries:
Rory Finnin, lecturer in Ukranian studies at Cambridge, said that Jones’s diaries finally give a voice to the peasants who died as a result of Stalin’s collectivisation policies. Grain was requisitioned for urban areas and for export to countries including Britain.

Historians continue to debate whether Stalin was deliberately punishing Ukranian nationalists, but it is clear that he allowed the famine to occur. He sealed the border between Russia and Ukraine and punished peasants accused of “hoarding grain”.

Mr Finnin said: “There were a smattering of stories here and there [but] but I don’t know if Western historians gave [the famine] the serious attention that it receives today.”

Alas, the Ukrainian famine is largely forgotten history here. On a related matter, you'll recall how many millions, largely peasants, starved in China because of Mao's policies.

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