The shocking truth, which has been buried under sixty-five years of Soviet propaganda and Western corruption, is that the famine was engineered by Stalin and used as a weapon to annihilate between seven and ten million Ukrainians. Realizing that the Soviet Union was fifty to one hundred years behind the advanced countries, Stalin devised a Five-Year Plan to industrialize the nation. Modernization was expensive, and in order to fund his new project, Stalin knew that the Soviet Union needed to increase its agricultural exports. To accomplish this he outlawed the private ownership of land and organized collective farms. Stalin demanded collective workers give a huge majority of their crops to the government.
The Ukrainians, a fiercely independent group, opposed Stalin’s plan. Many refused to surrender their land. Some burned their crops and slaughtered their cattle in protest (Glennon 207). Millions more left the farms for cities, seeking jobs in the developing industry, which drastically hurt food production. Penalties for resisting the collectivization drive were forced labor camps or execution (Glennon 207).
Stalin’s first attempt at collectivization failed. Collectives produced less food than independent farms had. Determined to succeed in his efforts, in July of 1932, he raised the grain quota to an impossible 6. 6 millions tons (Altman 44). Even after Stalin ordered all peasants to surrender their entire grain crop, leaving nothing for themselves, the quota was not met. In one year seven to ten million Ukrainians perished from starvation.
Of these, three million were children under the age of seven (“Spiking the Ukrainian Famine, Again” 33). The Soviet government denied any existence of a terror famine, although it did admit that Stalin continued with the campaign even after learning of its toll on the peasantry (“Denying the Terror Famine” 2). It estimated a death toll only in the thousands and regarded these as necessary casualties in the interest of increased productivity. The Soviet Union also insisted that it was “misfortune and not malice that caused the Ukrainian difficulties” (Altman 47). It called Ukrainian accusations of genocide “fraudulent,” claiming such allegations were a ploy to conceal Ukrainian-Nazi collaboration (“Denying the Terror Famine” 4). No amount of Soviet sugar-coating can hide the evil truth behind the government-created famine of 1932-1933.
There is no denying that it was an attempt to destroy the independently spirited people of the Ukraine who were a threat to Stalin’s revolution and Russian domination. The well-fed, smiling farmers on Soviet propaganda posters never existed (Procyk 31). Instead, hunger-stricken men, women, and children lay swollen and dying on land that used to be their own (Glennon 207). Stalin dispatched special brigades to the Ukraine to find and seize private food stashes. These brigades consisted of 100,000 terrorists, ex-convicts, and Communist party officials (“Spiking the Ukrainian Famine, Again” 33; Altman 45). They entered the homes of every peasant, breaking into walls and digging up earth, in which peasants tried to hide their last handfuls of food.
Officials also analyzed fecal matter to learn whether the peasants had stolen government property and were eating grain (Altman 45). Anyone found possessing government crops was considered an “enemy of the people” and was subject to execution (Altman 45). All food was forcefully removed from Ukrainian villages. Food was so scarce that people began eating anything they could find: roots, bark, corn stalks, clover, even tadpoles (Procyk 31). Dogs and cats quickly became less likely to be seen roaming the streets and more likely to be seen on the dinner table.
When Soviet officials became aware that pets were being eaten, they too were removed (“Spiking the Ukrainian Famine, Again” 33). Nightingales, the Ukrainian symbol, were trapped in large quantities and slaughtered by .