When Food Becomes A Weapon

Do you know this word – Holodomor ? It is the word that was chosen to describe one of the most pivotal and historically important events to occur in the 20th Century. Holodomor translates into ‘the deliberate act of mass murder by famine.’ It was a time when food became a weapon or rather the withholding of food. Ukrainians remember the famine of 1932-1933. Politically it was a national catastrophe; legally it was a crime; morally and ethically it was announced to the world as ‘”genocide”.

The pain, sorrow, hatred, repulsion, and anger that this event generated still simmers and boils within the souls that survived and the minds that speak of genocide today.

During the 20th Century, the fertile black soil, the wealth of vital minerals and the agricultural abundance of this remarkable land called Ukraine was referred to as ‘a land whose rivers flowed with milk and honey’. It was spoken of by Europeans far and wide as ‘the breadbasket of Europe’. As such, it was highly esteemed and of great merit to the Russian Empire and to its’ economy. When fighting began between Ukraine and the Bolsheviks (the Red Terror) Kyiv was attacked and captured along with a large portion of the productive land that Ukraine was famous for owning. Lenin’s Russia and his style of Communism spread across the land introducing policies that commandeered the industry, trade and finances of the Ukraine. Its’ people were mobilized into a nationalized labor force under a centralized dictatorship. To get his way Lenin terrorized the Ukrainians.

Farm Tools

Then came the Drought of 1921-1923.

The Bolsheviks were aware that they were initiating an economic crisis implementing the policies of the “War Communism”. The year was 1920. To avoid an all out armed war with the Ukrainian farmers a modified five year temporary program was introduced titled “NEP” (new economic politics); a plan they hoped would attract Ukrainians to the communist way of life. It soon became known as Ukrainization. By the close of the decade the Central Communist Party was the only political party. Stalin had succeeded in personally consolidating what was referred to as absolute power over all of the country’s valuable resources.

In the 1920’s 85% of the population in Ukraine were farmers. Before the end of the decade, forced grain confiscation was started, the large number of Ukrainian farmers were replaced by Russian Kurkuls, heavy fines were put upon them, fictional court cases were conducted against Ukraine’s cultural, scientific, artistic and technical members of society. Next, they collected Ukraine’s writers, teachers, students, and academics and accused them of belonging to a secret illegal anti-communist group known as ‘Union to Liberate Ukraine‘. The main goal of all Soviet activity at this time was the total destruction of the Ukrainian identity. The People of the Ukraine resisted and revolts took place throughout the country eventually reaching a peak in 1930. Stalin became hesitant to proceed with his campaign. The people were fighting back. He became frightened. Many farms were returned to their owners, but, not for long.

Famine approached. Starvation was at their doors. So much grain had been exported, almost all of it, leaving the farmers to die from hunger. Without food, the will to work, the ability to live, disappeared. Despite all their efforts, and planning, the Russians’ own incompetence defeated them. Their system resulted in a bankrupt country. Communist party members tried to explain away their failures by claiming sabotage by the farmers, by their intelligentsia and by traitors within the party. The economic problems of the people paled in comparison. Stalin’s answer to them was the complete mass extermination of the farmers and intellectuals and the transformation of those who might remain into “Soviets“.

So began the Holodomor. All grain removed from villages. This was the first crime. A procession of crimes followed. Groups called “towing brigades” were sent out to remove all edible supplies from the farmers’ homes. People were condemned to starvation. The starving were prevented from leaving. Trade was prohibited. The death sentence was passed on all Ukrainians. Train tickets and water were denied, and if any tried to escape they were arrested. Roads to cities were blocked. Outsiders were not helping because Russia made doubly sure no-one knew. The words “hunger” and “starvation” were forbidden. More than one million Ukrainians died. Their names removed from records. Genocide

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