It was one of the most terrible crimes of mankind, so horrible that people don’t even want to believe it happened

Rewrite this content

  • In 2022, Park Kiadó republished historian Timothy Snyder’s 2010 book, the Bloody Zone, in Hungarian. Not by chance. It has become relevant.
  • The grandiose work presents the area where German and Soviet mass murder policies overlapped.
  • In one chapter of the book, the American historian writes in great detail about how Stalin systematically starved millions of Ukrainian peasants to death in 1932 and 1933.
  • This is the Holodomor, the greatest catastrophe in the history of the Ukrainian people.
  • This article is based on the writing of Timothy Snyder.
  • Cover photo: Dead bodies of starving peasants on a street in Harkiv (1933). Photo by Alexander Wienerberger from the collection of Archbishop Theodor Innitzer of Vienna.

The mass famine was the result of Stalin’s first five-year plan, implemented between 1928 and 1932. The plan consisted of two grandiose political projects: industrialization and collectivization. “Building socialism is as big a job as stirring up the ocean,” Stalin said, and in December 1929 he announced that the kulaks as a class had to be liquidated. A poster was made of Stalin’s program, and it flourished in all important places: one kulak hides behind the wheel of a tractor, another piles up wheat in the image of a monkey, and the third sucks milk from a cow’s udder with his mouth. The state decided who was considered a kulak. In January 1930, the Political Committee of the CPSU commissioned the OGPU to screen the most populous social group in the entire Soviet Union, the peasantry. The political police set up a three-member committee (troika) in each locality, which decided the fate of the peasantry. The troika, which consisted of a representative of the state police, a local party leader and a prosecutor, had the right to make quick judgments, even death sentences, which could not be appealed. In the first four months of 1930 alone, 113,637 persons declared as kulaks were deported from Ukraine to prison camps in the Urals, Kazakhstan or Siberia. In this way, the more sophisticated, influential peasants capable of resistance were eliminated, and the rural people were deprived of their natural leaders. In parallel with the “filtering”, they started a rapid collectivization. The Ukrainian party leadership promised to collectivize the entire republic within a year, but the local party activists tried to go beyond that, they wanted to implement the program in 9-12 weeks. They forced the peasants to surrender their lands and join collective farms through threats and often murderous violence.

By March 1930, 71% of the Soviet Union’s arable land had been annexed to collective farms. In principle, this meant that the peasants no longer had the right to produce for themselves. The leaders of the state, i.e. the party, told them what, how much and when to produce, they got their salaries and tools from them.

Enter the Circle and read on!

Be part of our community, help the newspaper operate!

Already a member of the circle?


Write an article about It was one of the most terrible crimes of mankind, so horrible that people don’t even want to believe it happened