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Friday, December 4, 2009

Holod '09: Unsettled about Resettlement

Source: Typescript, Raphael Lemkin's unpublished History of Genocide, NYPL

Raphael Lemkin’s exposure of the Soviet genocide of Ukraine describes how a people were targeted for death in four steps. The Holodomor of 1932-33 – when millions died of starvation in the breadbasket of Europe – was step number three in a process that was repeated and spanned decades.

“The systematic destruction of the Ukrainian nation” by the Soviets, according to Lemkin, began with a “blow aimed at the national brain – teachers, writers, artists, thinkers, political leaders were liquidated, imprisonment or deported” between 1920 and 1933.

Simultaneously Ukraine’s “soul” was targeted in an “offensive against the churches, priests and hierarchy” – a process Lemkin described as ongoing in 1945, when the Soviets established rule in Western Ukraine.

The “third prong of the Soviet plan was aimed at the farmers, the large mass of independent peasants who are the repository of the tradition, folk lore and music, the national language and literature, the national spirit, of Ukraine. The weapon used against this body is perhaps the most terrible of all – starvation. Between 1932 and 1933, 5,000,000 Ukrainians starved to death, an inhumanity which the 73rd [U.S.] Congress decried on May 28, 1934.”

Thus, the United States recognized the Holodomor. But back in 1934, the word "genocide" was not around to describe the grave crime against humanity. Only fifteen years later would the UN would adopt the 'legal' term genocide.

“The fourth step in the process consisted in the fragmentation of the Ukrainian people at once by the addition to Ukraine of foreign peoples and by the dispersion of the Ukrainians throughout Eastern Europe. In this way, ethnic unity would be destroyed and nationalities mixed. Between 1920 and 1939, the population of Ukraine changed from 80 percent Ukrainian to only 63 percent,” Lemkin wrote.

The criminal intent on part of the Soviet state is evidenced by its plan to re-populate the purposefully-depopulated areas. It shows that genocide was designed and executed by governmental order.

Evidence of this can be found (inter alia) in the documents of the aptly-named All-Union Resettlement Committee of the Council of Peoples’ Commissars. The documents – found in declassified Soviet archives in Russia and Ukraine – show that the government was literally counting on the deaths of hundreds of thousands in Ukraine in order to make room for “resettlers” from abroad. This was government-run ethnic cleansing.

A government resolution dated August 1933 orders AURC to “organize the resettlement of 10 thousand families to Kuban and Terek, and 15 to 20 thousand families to Ukraine… by the beginning of 1934.”

Four months later, the AURC reported the plan for resettling Ukraine was over-performed at 104 percent. The December 29, 1933 report is very detailed: “In total, 21,856 collective farm, 117,149 persons, 14,897 horses, 21,898 cows and 38,750 heads of other livestock have been relocated.”

A table in the doucment shows the “source” and “destination” oblasts. The sources are five oblasts in what are modern-day Russia and Belarus. The destination oblasts are four in Ukraine: Odesa, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk.

This is just one resettlement. In the course of seventy years, the Soviet Union not only killed millions of its own people, it forcedly resettled unfathomable millions as well. It was a great shuffle of humanity and cleansing of ethnicities on the quest to create a “denationalized” homo sovieticus.

For AURC reports, see: Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine: Documents and materials (Kyiv, 2008). Compiled by Prof. Ruslan Pyrih, Documents #68 (p.116) and #73 (p. 121)

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