posts 1 - 15 of 17
Boston, US
Posts: 288

There is a museum in central Kyiv called the Holodomor Museum. As I’m writing this, I hope it’s still there.

It documents one of the most horrific events in history: the deliberate starvation—via famine--of the people of Ukraine. Who were the perpetrators? The Stalinist regime that controlled the then Soviet Union.

What I’d like you to do is to take a look at as many of these sources as you are able on the Holodomor:

And then, using the readings and what you know, let’s post on this:

  • What does the Holdomor show us about the relationship between Russia (the former Soviet Union) and Ukraine?
  • What do these events reveal about using food and deprivation as weapons to destroy a population?
  • How do you think these events factor into the legacy of the Russian role in Ukraine today, 90 years after the fact?
  • And what are you left wondering about with respect to Russia and Ukraine in 2022 and beyond?
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

learning from Holodomor

The articles and information on Holodomor really helped me to deeper understand the connections and relationships of countries that are far away from the US. They painted a picture of powerful Russia, and leaders like Stalin using the Ukraine to their own benefit. They used Ukraine’s resources--in this case, food--so much that Ukranians starved. BBC news writes, “‘The brigades took all the wheat, barley - everything - so we had nothing left,’ says Ms Karpenko. ‘Even beans that people had set aside just in case.’” This deliberate denying and stealing of basic human resources that Russia’s government used is nothing short of genocide.

This event reveals that genocide is so much broader than what many of us thought before taking facing. Instead of shooting or burning Ukranians, Russia used starvation, making it much harder for the event to be identified as the atrocity it really was. Also, at the time, news outlets outside of the Soviet Union rarely covered what was going on. Even the impressive photographers who found their way onto the front lines of history, and made it back to the US safely, could barely get their photographs published. US news outlets instead told a tale of, “Russians Hungry But Not Starving,” (the Atlantic) mostly out of fear.

This is where the similarities between this event and what is happening with Ukraine and Russia begin to show similarity. The US and other members of NATO, like we discussed in class, are quick to “send support to” Ukraine, but when it comes to standing against Russia’s impressive power, no one says a word. During Holodomor, as the images portrayed, it was a daily occurrence for families to lay starving in the streets. Now, we open our phones and see billions of these similar pictures of terror going on in the exact same location. Because of this new access to information, NATO needs to actually stand up this time, and not let the Russian government get away with yet another act of violence against their neighbors.

Holodomor taught us that Russia is capable of full, violent control over Ukraine, as well as the unique relationship the two countries have sustained. There is still so much to learn every minute as this situation continues to unfold, and personally I knew very little about it until today’s class. The best thing to take away from the atrocities 90 years ago is that we should continue to seek information and photographs, and continue to learn, before it is too late.

Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 17

Post on the Holodomor

The events of the Holodomor were perhaps the most despicable of Stalin's reign. Stealing food just so that the USSR could export it and make money shows how little the Soviet Union has cared for Ukraine. Stalin and the USSR caused this famine, caused people to starve, and caused genocide through starvation. It is obvious that this event was a deliberate action by Stalin to try and increase his power and lower the power of the soviet bloc, possibly to make them more dependent on the USSR. This event shows the power that larger countries have to bully smaller countries and the power that they have that are more passive-aggressive. Russia might not have sent troops to Ukraine like they are now but they were killing them in the same way and the people that died then were just as real as the people that are dying in Ukraine today. This moment is another part of the long and often rocky relationship that the two nations have had. The relationship between the two has rotated from, times of alliance, times of occupancy, times of invasion and war, and times of cold war. This event is another tragic event in history between the two nations. The next weeks, months, and perhaps years will cause the deaths of far too many Ukrainians and Russians. It seems inevitable that Russia with its overwhelming power will win but at what cost to them and what will they cost Ukraine. How will the world react? Will it treat this event like how it treated the annexation of Crimea. or will it respond similarly to how the British and french treated Hitler before WWII by using appeasement. Will Russia eventually feel emboldened enough to attack Nato countries and if they do does Nato hold if Russia is willing to use nuclear force. There are many questions that can't be answered until more time passes. One thing is clear just as during the Holodomor, the millions of deaths that this could cause will never be worth whatever goal Russia has.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

I think the Holodomor is a perfect example of the complicated relationship between Russia (USSR) and Ukraine. The tensions between Russia and Ukraine have, since the 1900s, been dangerous and unfriendly.

The deliberate starvation of the Ukrainian people by Josef Stalin was a tool to try and gain control of Ukraine. Using starvation to kill people was used to keep the people of Ukraine weak and unable to fight back. It was relatively easy for Stalin to starve them by seizing all their crops, which made it more dangerous because it was so easy to do. I think even 90 years after, it is still a widely unknown genocide that gives Russia more power and influence. Not a lot of countries have recognized it since Stalin manipulated statistics to keep the genocide quiet to the rest of the world.

Today, this shows that Russia is not taking responsibility for the crimes against Ukraine yet again. Since there is another war going on between Russia and Ukraine, it proves their relationship is still incredibly unwell. Vladimir Putin is slaughtering hundreds of Ukrainians even though he had stated he didn’t want a war. I don’t know how the war will end, but there is no way it will be an easy or safe conclusion.

Boston, MA
Posts: 27

The Holdomor reveals that Russia and Ukraine have never been neighboring countries who existed as equals, but instead a smaller country that has been repeatedly invaded and oppressed by a larger country. The deprivation of food from Ukrainian citizens was horrific and quickly destroyed much of their population. There was a statistic on the Holodomor Museum website that said 20 people died a minute in the peak of the famine in June. For some perspective, around 2 Americans have died a minute since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the famine killed 10x that in its peak. It also showed us through Whiting Wiliams work that it was effective at killing off the next generation of Ukranians, as detailed in many of his photographs, one of them showing just a couple of the 18,000 boys who were rounded up and then released or ignored after fleeing their homes in search for food, many of whom died. Although this was effective at destroying their population, it wasn’t effective in killing Ukrainian nationalism, if anything strengthening it, showing that Russia didn’t view Ukraine as part of their Communist utopia where all national pride is dissolved, but instead another nation to oppress and destroy.

Now, 90 years later, as Russia invades Ukraine the events of the Holdomor are incredibly timely. The national pride of Ukranians has not been destroyed, even after all of Russia’s attempts, and now thousands of Ukrainians from around the world are coming back to keep Russia from invading their nation again. Ukranians remember what happened 90 years ago, to their grandparents and great-grandparents, and know that Russia is not a friendly neighbor, but a colonizing force intent on capturing the nations the USSR once invaded.

Although this isn’t directly related to the Holdomor, this makes me worry if Russia is going to attempt to invade other previously soviet countries, after the invasions of Crimea and Georgia in the 2000s and 2010s.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

The Holodomor was the intentional starvation of the Ukrainian people by Josef Stalin and the USSR (Russia). Although the famine swept across the entire Soviet Union, Ukrainians were deprived of food and were not allowed to escape. I think that this event puts into perspective that the relationship between Russia and Ukraine has been strained, to put it lightly, for a long time. Today’s conflict is not a random occurrence, rather a long and deep one between the two nations coming to a surface.

Using food deprivation as a weapon was very effective in destroying a population. Although when you think of a massacre typically weapons, blood, bombs, etc. come to mind, this murder method killed nearly 4 million Ukrainians. I think that the scariest part is that Russia was able to hide it. The famine was never recognized by the USSR officially, it was not discussed even in Ukraine after the fact, data was changed, and the press was suppressed.

The Holodomor factors into the legacy of the Russian role in Ukraine today, 90 years later, because for as long as they can remember, Russia has been an opposing force to the Ukrainian people. Today weapons and military forces are being used by Russia in an attempt to gain control of Ukraine and to me, it shows that Russia is not going to ever give up this fight if they can help it.

Thus, I am left wondering how this conflict between Russia and Ukraine can be resolved. The relationship between the countries has been an issue for a long time and I struggle to imagine a resolution. I cannot picture Russia backing out and I also do not think it is likely that no other countries will get their militaries involved if it comes to Ukraine needing support. When this conflict eventually comes to an end, will any sort of “peace” last long?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

The Holodomor shows that there is a historical relationship of oppression between Russia and Ukraine, one that I believe motivates many of the tensions and events today. In general, the conflict has a strong basis in history, even all the way back to medieval history: Putin and the Russian government seeks to eliminate the idea of a Ukrainian "national identity". Having spoken with my Ukrainian friend, there are some tensions in Ukraine over Russia attempting to take over their history (going back to the KYIVan Rus') and be seen as the historical center of the Slavic world. These events show how damaging and brutally effective the use of deprivation of resources can be as a weapon, while it often absolves those who intentionally cause the famine of culpability since it is seen as a "natural occurrence". The same can be said of famines in Imperial British India, the Belgian Congo, and perhaps Maoist China. These events have not been forgotten by the Ukrainian people and surely contribute to the conflict that is occurring today. As the Ukrainian Holodomor memorial website states, "an important task of the Holodomor Museum is to remind of Ukrainian identity, which was tried to be replaced by the Soviet identity." This idea of maintaining a national (and religious: Ukrainian Christians as opposed to the official Soviet atheism) identity may play a large part in Ukraine's motivations and goals. I wonder, whether or not Russia manages to topple the Ukrainian government, how this relationship will continue in the future. If Russia does annex Ukraine, will they be willing participants in the Russian state, or will there be continued resistance like in the wars in Chechnya and Dagestan? If they fail, how will Ukraine-Russia relations exist in a post-invasion world? It seems hard for me to imagine any sort of return to normality following these events, but I hope that for the people of both nations there can be peace.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

The Holodomor, along with other events mentioned in the articles, explains the strained relationship between Russia and Ukraine. Russia’s oppression of Ukraine is painfully evident in this event, Russia’s actions leaving a lethal stain on Ukraine’s history. This provides some backstory for what is happening today- it isn’t some isolated event that is coming out of nowhere, the relationship between the two countries has been grim for a long time.

This event revealed that using food deprivation as a weapon has disastrous and lasting effects. The extreme death toll was absolutely devastating to read about- dozens of people were dying a minute- even children, babies. One piece of information that stuck with me was from the BBC News article, the part that said when school resumed in the fall, two thirds of the seats were empty. That is two thirds of a generation gone. Not only did it kill millions, it also took away any opportunity to resist- given that people were so weak from malnutrition that fighting back was not an option, which just gave more power to Russia.

Russia gained power from the death of millions. Suffering through an event like the Holodomor can severely impact the development of a country. Like we talked about earlier in the year, colonized countries in Africa were stripped of resources and populations plummeted- leaving them at an immense disadvantage on the world stage. This is a different situation, but one that had similar effects- Ukraine had to struggle with being dominated by Russia while also recovering from the devastating blow that was dealt to them.

A concern of mine is how this will end- more specifically if it ever actually will. It doesn’t seem like there is a good solution- NATO could retaliate, and help the Ukrainian people, but that runs the risk of nuclear war. But leaving the Ukrainian people to fend for themselves isn’t a good option either. It also doesn’t seem like there could even be a compromise, because doing so only tells Russia that the invasion was an acceptable thing to do.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

The Holodomor gives us an even further dive into the oppressive relationship between Russia and Ukraine. Russia has always used Ukraine to benefit, no matter how much the Ukrainians might oppose it.

Using food and deprivation as weapons to destroy a population is extremely effective. It serves as a weapon that will end up (not really slowly but I can’t think of a better phrase) slowly but surely killing the population. And not only will it end up taking the lives of thousands, it will most definitely scar those who survived it. The same way any physical, violent weapon would.

I believe that the events that took place are things that can potentially serve as a reminder for both Ukraine and Russia. It would be a reminder to the Ukrainian people of the oppression and struggle they’ve gone through because of Russia, therefore strengthening their sense of national identity, and it could be a reminder to Russia that if they have been able to do these things to Ukraine previously, they probably could try to do something at that scale again today. You can partially see this today with the war. Russia knows that it can cause the devastation of Ukraine and invade it, and is threatening other countries not to join with nuclear warfare and ultimately creates a situation for them that could potentially push them further towards their goal.

I think I’m wondering if Russia will actually go as far as using nuclear weapons if there is any direct involvement from other nations. I know that the chance is pretty high, but technically the Russians should know how devastating nuclear warfare can be, so would they really go for it?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

The Holdomor was a genocide of the Ukrainian people which took place between 1932 and 1933. Although it was highly disputed, there is ample evidence that the starvation of the Ukrainian people was intentional and planned in advance by the USSR, especially the senior officials and Joseph Stalin. The Soviet Union, now Russia, used their power to oppress the Ukrainian people, not through traditional weaponry and violence, but instead through the confiscation of all food and deliberate starvation. During the Holdomor, the Soviet Union intentionally prevented the world from becoming aware of what was happening. There was already the suppression of information due to the Iron Curtain, and this moratorium on all news of what was happening only increased due to the genocide. Throughout their history, Ukraine has always had less power than the USSR. At the time of the genocide, there were efforts by the Ukrainian people to separate from the Soviet Union, and this was likely one of the factors that influenced Stalin’s decision. The Holdomor was a demonstration of the Soviet Union's dictatorial relationship with Ukraine; the exploitation and cruelty continues into the modern day, as shown by Putin's decision to attack Ukraine.

Generally, when we consider genocide, it is most common to think got violence is the only way to destroy a population. However, the Holdomor demonstrates that food deprivation and starvation result in large-scale murder as well, and as such, is equally successful in oppressing a population and destroying their cultural heritage. Ukraine is commonly known as one of the most fertile places, and home to many prosperous farming communities, which thrived due to the abundance of food that was grown there. Without the intentional intervention and confiscation of food under the Five Ears of Grain Law, there should have never been a lack of food in a year when the harvest went as usual. The slow death resulting from the intentional creation of a famine truly demonstrates the horrific nature of any kind of genocide, including the Holdomor.

There are many similarities between the Holdomor and what is happening now in Ukraine. Despite its independence, Ukraine is still being negatively impacted by Russia, and furthermore has knowledge of what the Soviet Union has done in the past, and that it could do similar things in the future. Russia believes that Ukraine is rightfully a part of their country, but their past cruelty against the Ukrainian people shows that even if that was true, they do not deserve to retake Ukraine. There is still denial of Russia's role in the genocide by its government, and it seems likely that unless NATO decides to actively support Ukraine, there will be no acknowledgement of the Soviet Union's past cruelty, and therefore a high likelihood of it happening again.

I am still wondering, after learning all of this, what the future ramifications of Putin's invasion of Ukraine will be, and how the Ukrainian people and the world will respond to either the scenario where Ukraine falls or where Russia backs down.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

What was the Holodomor and what does it have to do with the Ukraine in 2022?

The Holodomor shows us that the relationship between Russia and Ukraine is unbalanced and fraught with past conflict, and Russia has historically had power over Ukraine. Although we may have once thought of Ukraine and Russia as close nations, the Holodomor shows that this was definitely not the case. From the very beginning of the USSR, the nations within called it the “prison of the nations”, and saw this “unification” under Russia as a loss of sovereignty.

These events reveal that using food and deprivation as weapons to destroy a population are terribly effective and these are tools that were used to silently take the lives of millions of people. As Nina Karpenko, a survivor of the Holodomor said there was “nothing left to do but die” when the brigades went through every house and took every crumb of anything edible. There wasn’t a way to fight back starvation when they had no means of obtaining food. When people are starved, silenced, and trapped within borders of their murderers’ designation there is little that can be done, but some “lucky” people did survive.

These events are important to the story of the Russian role in Ukraine because it shows that even 90 years ago Russia had a hand in causing suffering for the Ukrainian people, and stunting the growth of the nation. There’s something deeply personal about what Russia did to Ukraine in the Holodomor, seeing as they didn’t do anything like this to any other region of the USSR. There's a history of genocide committed by Russia and it's been covered up and denied to fabricate a scene of equal players on an equal playing field, when in reality there is nothing equal about the relationship of Ukraine and Russia.

I wonder if Russia and Ukraine may ever maintain a diplomatic and peaceful relationship in the future after all that Russia has done to the Ukrainian people- in 1932-1933, and in the present- or if there will continue to be violence and death caused by the Russian government in Ukraine.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Ukraine and Russia have had a long history of being two separate nations, and the Holdomor shows that. One of Putin’s reasons for invading Ukraine was because he believed that Ukraine was nothing more than an extension of Russia rather than a nation with its own unique culture, however, the Holdomor highlights this stark difference between the two. In the past, Russia themselves have ostracized Ukrainians, making them a target. Ukrainians were considered resources that the Russians could steal from without needing to worry about their wellbeing. The USSR saw Ukraine as nothing more than a resource to be used. The USSR’s use of food deprivation to destroy a population showed immense results. Although the USSR intentionally stole food and resources from the Ukrainians which ultimately led to the starvation of 3.3 million, they have not been charged with the crime of genocide. Food deprivation has the advantage of seeming unintentional if the country uses the right excuses. Even now, these strategies of cover-up can still be seen today, seeing as the Holdomor is still not recognized as a genocide. Whether it was a genocide or not, it was able to silence a population which the Russians believed was too rebellious. This famine wiped out whole villages and destroyed much of Ukrainian culture. This relationship between the USSR and Ukraine can be translated into modern day as well. The relationship of supply and demand is still present between Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine is a gold mine of resources for the Russians, and Putin recognizes that. The invasion of Ukraine is purely for the benefit of Russia, expanding their access to a variety of resources. 90 years later, nothing has changed and that fact makes Russian justification for invasion so much more sickening.

I can’t help but worry for Ukraine. In the event that Russia is able to conquer Ukraine, I don’t believe that Ukrainians will be treated so well. With history proving my previous doubts, I believe that the Russian government will not be so welcoming towards the Ukrainians, and that is terrifying. Everything just feels so surreal right now and my fears for the world are hard to ignore.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

The Holodomor and Ukraine in 2022

The Holodomor shows us that the relationship between Russia and Ukraine was unequally dominated by Russia. During the early days of the Soviet Union, the Russian government attempted to dominate and completely destroy any semblance of independence for the Ukrainians. They use the secret police and the local government to force the pheasants into collectivization farms and ship their food even when they were starving en masse. In addition, the Russian government began to weed any politician or official that presented a danger to Russian domination by killing, deporting, and disappearing any official that pushed for or had pushed for Ukrainian independence. The Russian government wasn’t looking to work with the Ukrainian government in order to help support and progress their individual countries, the Russian government hoped to control the Ukrainian government and people in order to use them to increase their own power and standard of living for their own people by treating the Ukrainians as second class people. Instead of working towards improving their lives and stabilizing their government, the Russians worked to secure their control by slaughtering the people and removing opposition. The Holodomor shows us that government can use food deprivation to radically change civilization and destroy their culture. The Russians were able to use the famine to destroy any renaming Ukrainian independence factions left in the government. In addition, they were able to decimate the population, allowing them to destroy any opposition forces that remained in the population. I believe that many Ukrainians still do not trust Russia and consider them enemies to Ukrainian culture and individuality. While there are very few survivors and citizens that personally remember the genocide, the Ukrainian government’s attempt to memorialize the genocide by creating monuments and a national holiday have led to the current population understanding the genocide. Combine this understanding of the Russian government’s attempts and decisions to devastate the Ukrainian population with the knowledge that the Russian government covered up and hid the truth surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown facility, many Ukrainians have begun to hate the Russian people and have considered them a threat to their independence and security.

caramel washington
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

The Holdomor makes it clear that Russia simply cared about Ukraine because of what they could obtain, and because they wanted to exercise control. When Ukrainians began protesting and attempting to control their own land and ability to provide food for their families, Russia began heavily shutting them down and working to deprive them of any ability to get food. These tactics were used to deprive them of any power and autonomy they had over their own livelihood, and strip them of their ability to provide for themselves, making them entirely dependent on the USSR for everything.

Food is a basic necessity that humans need to live, and has frequently been valued as the basis for any sort of civilization from the beginning of humanity. Therefore, depriving a country of food will not only kill its people, but it will crush their spirits. In the BBC report, they mentioned that the USSR soldiers would invade Ukrainian villages and rob families of any food they could find, and they would completely close off borders to prevent people from traveling to other places in search of food. This genocide was almost a silent killer, because when people are starving, their focus is going to be on feeding their families, not on protesting and trying to rebel. Additionally, deprivation, compared to other kinds of forced killings, is easier to cover up or blame on external factors.

To this day, Ukraine is a huge supplier of grain throughout the world, and that is still a major industry there. Likewise, Russia still sees itself as being in control of Ukraine, and having a right to that territory due to their connected history. The Russian government's invasion of Ukraine has the potential to cause widespread food shortages, as Ukrainians focus on defending their land instead of farming. Additionally, Russia is once again trying to isolate Ukraine from outside aid and support, which has the potential to cause food shortages. I am left wondering about whether Russia will try to repeat history, and purposefully starve Ukrainians to weaken their rebellion. Additionally, I am concerned about whether the current media environment globally will grow tired of covering this conflict, and it will fade into the background while people continue to die every day.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

What was the Holodomor and what does it have to do with the Ukraine in 2022?

I think that the Holodomor is certainly proof of an unstable relationship between Russians and Ukrainians that has existed for a very long time, and it shows us that this war is by no means Russia's first time targeting Ukraine unprovoked. Russia, whether as the modern state or the Soviet Union, has eyed the Ukrainian territory for its fertile lands and access to the Black Sea for more than a century, and whether it be genocide or a declaration of war with no cause other than imperialistic desire, the Ukrainians have long suffered under Russian rule and the threat of invasion. This does some to help explain Russia's unprovoked attack, as it was the result of tension and aggression that has built up since Ukraine gained independence from Soviet control in 1991.

Food is what keeps us alive and it is a basic necessity for every single human, and purposefully taking this necessity away dehumanizes the people it is being taken from. It drives people to madness, cannibalism, and eventually death, and is a tortuous and horrific way to die. Famine leads to desperation which then in turn does much of the work for the aggressor as people begin to die off on their own or turn against one another. Deprivation was an easy way for Stalin and his Soviet regime to exterminate the Ukranians without much resistance, with the added bonus of more food for whomever they wished it to go to. Such horrifying acts led to severe tension between Russian and Ukrainian people, even before an official border was established. The Russians want and have always wanted control of the Ukrainian land, and the Ukrainians just wish to live as their own free nation, and I believe that Russia has once again taken a stance not only against the Ukrainian government, but the existence of Ukraine as a nation, culture, and people.

What I wonder about the most, depending on whether or not Russia emerges victorious, is if they will stop at Ukraine. The Russians (Putin in particular) are notoriously unpredictable and extremely powerful, so who is to say that they won’t continue on to try and recapture all formerly Soviet territories? What will happen to the civilians of those countries? Will there be a global refugee crisis the likes of which we have never seen? This entire situation brings so many questions, uncertainties, and fears to mind, and I have no doubt this is even more the case for those who could become directly involved in this conflict. Russia feels threatened by NATO and the western superpowers and there is no clear idea of what lengths they will go to to make themselves more of a danger to the rest of the world.

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