The Wailing of the Pharisees: How Ukraine Turns “Hard Times” Into Holiday Times – Part I


Class war in the Soviet countryside:  There were winners, and there were losers.

For my next post, I have this serious historical piece from PolitNavigator.  I plan to do this in two parts, today and tomorrow.  The piece tackles a difficult and controversial subject, the so-called Ukrainian “Holodomor”, or famine (or just “hunger”) which occurred in the years 1932-1933 in various regions of the Soviet Union, including the Ukraine.  Since the end of WWII, Ukrainian nationalists have used this historical event  in order to offer many accusations, claims and pretensions (seeking, in part, monetary damage and international condemnation), first against the Soviet Union, and then its successor state, the Russian Federation.

First, as to the name itself:  the Russian word for “hunger” is голод (“golod”).  In many Russian dialects, as in the official Ukrainian dialect, the “g” phoneme is pronounced with an allophone similar to English “h” sound, only breathier; hence “golod” is pronounced something like “holod”.  Add to this the suffix “-mor” which means something like “death by”, and you get “Holodomor”.  Which also, conveniently, summons up subconscious associations with the term “Holocaust”.  The word often used by historians to describe the Nazis’ murderous eugenics policies which led to the destruction of European Jewry during WWII.  The ideological intent is to associate and make equivalent in the minds of readers; to put it crudely:  Hitler killed Jews, and Stalin killed Ukrainians.  Hitler = Stalin.  QED.

Hitler enjoyed killing Jews, whereas Stalin took pleasure in the deaths of Ukrainians.

The ideological intent is to make the world feel sorry for Ukrainians as a people.  Innocent victims of Stalin’s genocidal tendencies.  People who had no choice except to participate in the “Resistance” activities of Stepan Bandera, the man who led groups which massacred literally hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles in 1943.  A couple of years later, after the Victor Nations had defeated the Nazi coalition, Ukrainian Banderites were forced to flee to the U.S. and Canada.  Where some of these diaspora elements, encouraged by Western governments, began to popularize the idea of the “Holodomor”.  Partly as a component of the anti-Soviet ideological crusade.  And partly to justify their own actions during the war.  As in, “Stalin attempted to genocide the Ukrainian people, therefore we were justified to fight back in any way possible”.  This ideology was promoted and gained more traction after the Ukraine gained its independence in 1991.  In fact, every subsequent Ukrainian government, but especially the two Orange ones, employs the so-called “Holodomor” as a key element of Ukrainian national identity, and in order to whip up hatred against Russia and Russians.

Russia has been slow to address the ideological pretensions and accusations directed against itself as a state.  But that is changing now; as real historians take up the topic and begin to refute some of the wilder claims of the Ukrainian nationalists.

This piece is by Ivan Yarmosh, who lives in Kiev.  It is a long piece, I don’t have time to translate word for word.  Instead, I summarize and paraphrase, being careful not to introduce my own thoughts or commentary.  I begin it today, and will finish it tomorrow.

The Wailing of the Pharisees:

How Hunger Becomes Genocide, and Tragedy Is Turned Into a Holiday

At the end of November, the Ukraine, as usual will commemorate the Anniversary of the so-called “Holodomor”.  The oligarchs and neo-Nazis will make a big show of “grieving” for Ukrainian peasants who died 82 years ago.  Crawling around on the graves of these people, the governmental hypocrites and politicians will narrate to the currently-hungry people about the bestial acts committed by Stalin, the Bolsheviks, and the “Moskali”.  Who all had a single goal in mind:  To wipe out the Ukrainian people.

Bolsheviks built big HydroElectric Station on the Dnipr River.

These hypocrites will ignore the fact, that the years 1932-33 precisely saw the peak of “Ukrainization” promoted by the Bolsheviks, and adopted at the Communist Party Congress of 1923.  It was the Bolsheviks who heavily promoted Ukrainian language, literature, and culture as a distinct national entity.  In 1932, the same year the Bolsheviks were supposedly genociding the Ukrainian people, they were actually building the “Dnepro Hydro-Electric” company to supply the Ukraine with electricity.

The nail in the coffin of the once-flourishing “Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic” was a series of “revelations” which came out just in time for the “independence referendum”.  On December 1, 1991, on the eve of the referendum, Ukrainian television viewers were treated to a film made by Oles Yanchuk, about the “hunger” of the 1930’s.

[Next there is a photo showing ex-President Viktor Yushchenko, commemorating “Holodomor”, by wearing expensive “Zilli” raincoat which cost more than 30,000 Euros.]

In 1930, Soviet writer Alexander Dovzhenko wrote:  “The October Socialist Revolution approached the village under the banner of ‘collectivization’.”  The country had been utterly destroyed by war and Civil War.  Everywhere was poverty, hunger, disease.  The nation could only be saved by jump-starting the industrial sector.  Catch 22:  Industrialization required grain.  Grain required tractors.  There were no tractors.  Tractors had to be purchased from abroad.  But, in order in order to purchase tractors from abroad, the Soviet Union needed to export grain.  Therefore it was necessary to build an agri-business as well, at the same time as industrialization.  And it all had to be done at the same time, and immediately.

Ukrainian writer Mikhail Stel’man wrote a novel called “Geese and Swans Are Flying”.  From which a film was made later, and can even be viewed on Youtube.  The story was autobiographical, about collectivization as seen through the eyes of a young boy growing up on a farm.  The hero is Sebastian, the Chairperson of the “Committee to End Poverty”.

[Photo of actual Poverty Committee, taken in the town of Novosergeevka, Donetsk Oblast, start of the 1930’s.  The members of the Committee are shown sitting around a table with an abacus, rubber stamps, and other equipment, as they work out a plan for collectivizing local agriculture.]

The “villain” of the story is a man named Porfiry.  Unfairly accused of being a kulak, his grain stolen by his neighbors, Porfiry, out of resentment, joins a criminal gang.  Later, Porfiry gives himself up, and is pardoned by Sebastian.  But this causes other people to denounce Sebastian as a “counter-revolutionary”.

The point the author is making in retelling this work of fiction is that nobody, not even Soviet writers of the time, was a kiss-ass apologist for all the horrible things that happened, all the things that went wrong, during the complex collectivization process.  There were heroes, there were well-meaning people, there were selfish people, there were stool pigeons and rat-finks as well.

[to be continued]


This entry was posted in Human Dignity, Russian History, Russian Literature and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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