John C. Campbell

imagesThe Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine; Famine in the Ukraine, 1932-1933
by Robert Conquest
Two books remind the world of Stalin’s campaign against the kulaks and the drive for farm collectivization accompanied by force, terror and famine, especially in the Ukraine. Conquest’s study places these events in the context of Bolshevik politics and policy and describes the famine in grisly detail. On one of his main themes, the deliberate destruction of the independent peasantry for reasons of ideology and power, the record is indisputable; on his other theme, that the famine was an act of genocide directed against the Ukrainian nation, the case is less clear, although Ukrainian nationalism was a constant concern of the Bolshevik leadership. As the Soviet government then and later denied the existence of the famine, there is no official body of evidence on which the story can be based, but Conquest has done a masterful job in collecting material from eyewitness accounts of foreign journalists and emigrés, and also from fact and fiction published in the U.S.S.R. itself. The volume edited by Serbyn and Krawchenko, less ambitious but covering some of the same ground and with similar sympathy for the Ukrainian cause, has a useful chapter on sources. It also describes fully how the famine was often dishonestly reported to the West (especially by Walter Duranty of the The New York Times) and how the Western governments chose to close their eyes and ears.

2 thoughts on “John C. Campbell

  1. shinichi Post author


    The Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомор) was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR between 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the “Terror-Famine in Ukraine” and “Famine-Genocide in Ukraine”, millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine.

    The estimates of the death toll by scholars varied greatly. Recent research has narrowed the estimates to between 1.8 and 7.5 million, with modern consensus for a likely total of 3–3.5 million. According to the decision of Kyiv Appellation Court, the demographic losses due to the famine amounted to 10 million, with 3.9 million famine deaths, and as 6.1 million birth deficit.

    Scholars disagree on the relative importance of natural factors and bad economic policies as causes of the famine and the degree to which the destruction of the Ukrainian peasantry was premeditated on the part of Joseph Stalin. Some scholars and politicians using the word Holodomor emphasize the man-made aspects of the famine, arguing that it was genocide; some consider the resultant loss of life comparable to the Holocaust. They argue that the Soviet policies were an attack on the rise of Ukrainian nationalism and therefore fall under the legal definition of genocide. Other scholars argue that the Holodomor was a consequence of the economic problems associated with radical economic changes implemented during the period of Soviet industrialization.


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