Putin continues Stalin’s legacy: his Russia is built on 10 million bodies

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On October 27, 2017 University of Toronto News at St. George campus published an article by a U of T reporter Peter Boisseau, titled “Secret Documents Enable U of T Historian to Shed New Lights on Stalin’s Great Terror”.

The article discusses a book by a U of T professor Lynne Viola of the department of history in the Faculty of Arts & Science; the book describes the terrors Joseph Stalin implemented upon the Ukrainian nation before World War II. Boisseau writes that

“From 1930 to 1939, close to 725,000 people were executed and millions more were interned in prisons and labour camps or exiled to the most remote parts of the Soviet Union.”

Information like this, he says, became available thanks to the release of the secret files by the Ukrainian Parliament in Kyiv.

The 1930-1939 period in the Ukrainian history was truly horrid, yet those familiar with the true, untwisted history of 1930-1939 would recognize that Boisseau is missing a very crucial detail that dramatically changes the number of deaths.

At the end of 1932, Joseph Stalin ordered a thorough sweep of the villages in the Eastern Ukraine, ordering the secret police to strip the villagers of every piece of food, grains, fruits and vegetables, seeds, cattle and other edibles. This was a punishment for their inability to meet production quotas as well as for un-cooperation with his malicious, discriminating and imprudent communist regime. This sweep led to starvation and deaths of millions men, women, children, and the elderly. Today, the Government of Ukraine estimates that up to 10 million Ukrainians were starved to death in 1932-1933 – twenty-five percent of the entire population, of which at least three million were children.

Boissueau’s article omits this information. Upon trying to reach him for an explanation, he gave no response. Prof. Viola’s book, which Boisseau discusses, focuses on 1937-1942, a period after the Great Famine. In an email exchange, Prof. Viola commented that “the figure of 725,000 is widely used for the number of executions [and] certainly does not include famine victims or victims who died in the Gulag.” Why Boisseau decided to widen the years range, and consequently to twist the number of Ukrainian death from Stalin’s hand, is beyond understanding.

According to various historic documents, Stalin ruled by ruthlessly eliminating anyone he perceived as a threat to the newly formed Soviet Union, which at that time included the independent minded farmers and supporters of cultural freedoms in Ukraine. In 1928 he put together the First Five Year Plan of the Soviet Union, which aimed to rapidly industrialize the USSR at any cost. A part of this plan was to reorganize privately owned farms into collective farms (state-owned farms), and then to impose high crop requisition quotas for each.

Independent Ukrainian farmers were forced to give up to the state their private lands, livestock, and equipment without compensation. This led to widespread and vocal opposition to collectivization, but the leaders of such shenanigans were targeted and demonized in the press, executed, or deported to Siberia. Stalin’s forced collectivization of agriculture was executed by the secret police, or “NKVD” – abbreviated Russian for “The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs”.

Left literally without any food supply just before winter, Ukrainian villagers were forced to search for edibles elsewhere, such as forest berries, herbs, wild game, bird nests; they would go to the barren fields hoping to find some leftover grains, but Stalin ordered the NKVD to shoot anyone who would approach the fields.

Did you know that it was the first “silent” winter, where no birds sang and no wild animal graced the barren fields? Did you know that whole families died out? That whole villages were left empty? That people were starving and dead rotting bodies were scattered on the streets? That it became impossible to bury the dead because there were so many bodies?

Did you also know that people became so desperate, they began eating each other? Imagine cooking a dead child in order to feed whoever survived of your 15 people family. Imagine walking down the street and seeing your neighbors and their children laying dead.

How do I know this? Because those, who survived this endless cycle of murder and starvation share their stories with the world. They live today, among us, and they tell the horrors they have witnessed and to what extents people went in order to survive.

Stalin’s forced collectivization of agriculture was labeled as “Holodomor”, which translates to “death by starvation” in Ukrainian. In 2017, Ukraine marked the 84th anniversary of Holodomor. The 84th anniversary of Stalin’s brutal, ruthless murder of 10,000,000 innocent people, who could not comply with his idiotic communist regime and quotas. The 84th anniversary of ten million souls, who had families, who loved and were loved, who had dreams, who could have changed the history, but lost their chance to live.

Boisseau’s article ends with the following words: “This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, and President Vladimir Putin is busy re-framing Stalin as a man who helped move the country forward”. Re-framing Stalin is necessary in order to hide the terrible things he did. Those who believe that Stalin was a great man are fools, because his way of building a (failed) state is based on the bodies of millions of people, and not just of Ukrainian origin.

Holodomor was Soviet Union’s best kept secret. Stalin claimed that there was no famine in Ukraine, but thanks to the release of the documents from Ukraine, historians like Prof. Lynne Viola can tell a more detailed story of the era. Still, many archives from the period remain closely guarded by the Kremlin, hiding many more horrors that were going on under the cunning eye of Joseph Stalin.

This article first appeared in UTSC’s The Underground December issue.

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