Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Kiev

Ukrainians around the world are marking the 75th anniversary of Holodomor, or Death by Hunger, the term used to describe the horrific famine engineered by Josef Stalin in the early 1930s to force peasants to give up their land and join “collectivised” farms.

In true Communist style, Stalin set off the famine in late 1932 by ordering his henchmen to confiscate all grain, livestock and other food across the region after peasants there had failed to meet grain quotas dictated by Moscow.

The death toll from this lunatic enterprise – which was accompanied by forced exile, arrests, show trials, torture and murder - is estimated to have been as high as seven million people, as you can read in this brief summary compiled by the US Library of Congress.

During the Soviet era, the famine and its devastating impact remained a strictly forbidden topic not just in the Soviet Union and its satellite states (hello, Fidel!), but among the happy band of Moscow apologists and fellow travellers in the West.

Photograph: Candles surround a monument to victims of the Great Famine in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008. AP


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