The Great Famine - Genocide in Soviet Ukraine

The Genocide of German Ethnic Minorities in Russia And The Soviet Union (including Ukraine), 1915-1949 -- And Beyond (Der Genozid An Russlanddeutschen 1915-1949), by Samuel D. Sinner, Ph.D., Germans from Russia (including Ukraine) Heritage Collection North Dakota State University Libraries Fargo, North Dakota, 353 pages, 2000, hardcover and softcover (English and German languages)

Information taken from the website:

Short excerpts from the book "The Open Wound"

FOREWARD-------------------------------------------Page V

I would like to dedicate this book to my relative Peter Sinner (Petr Ivanovich Zinner), Saratov and Leningrad professor, poet, and early 1930's Stalin victim, as well as to my late father's uncle and aunt Joshua and Pauline Davidian, whose Armenian people lost an even greater percentage to genocide than did the Russian (ed: including Ukraine) Germans. Indeed, I have borrowed the phrase "The Open Wound" from an Armenian author, Robina Peroomian, describing her nation's holocaust.

CHAPTER TWO----------------------------------------Page 15
The Age of the Great Massacres, 1917-1921

After the Bolshevik Revolution of October 25, 1917, the ethic Germans of the former Tsarist empire (Russia and Ukraine) were immediately confronted by an organized campaign of terror. The best documented reports detailing the atrocities committed against these various groups of Germanic heritage cover the Volga, Ukrainian, and North Caucasus regions...........(page 15)

...........The eruption of massacres manifested itself in a combination of small and large killing operations involving, among other cruelties, the mass rape of the elderly, women and children, mass drownings, prolonged torture sessions, mutilations, hacking up of bodies, mass shootings of
hundreds, even thousands in a single action, the holocaust of entire villages---including the burning of all inhabitants and building structures, and the complete robbery of entire villages in the name of "requisition" and extermination of the "German kulaks, big farmers and counter-revolutionaries." (page 15)

"Better to die fighting than to starve slowly to death," was a common cry of the Russian Germans as they armed themselves with shovels and rakes. (Page 16) ...........

The argument is often made, even by some Russian-German authors, that the Germans, especially in Ukraine, were targeted solely for economic reasons, namely on account of their extensive land holdings. This overlooks the fact, however, that to label an entire ethnic group as "rich" or as "kulaks" is in itself a racial slur. For instance, Nestor Ivanovich Makhno, the Ukrainian anarchist from Gulyai Poyle, who wrecked more havoc in the German villages than any other single individual, was, according to Ingeborg Fleischhauer, from childhood on an "embittered hater of Germans." (page 16)

Fleischhauer remarks that as a child, he had worked as a shepherd for wealthy Germans in the Yekaterinoslav region, noting that it was at that time his hatred for and envy of the Germans and their land holdings began. After being in independent anarchist, Makhno joined forces with the Red Army in the first months of 1919. He and his followers were strongly nationalist oriented. Johannes Philipps writes concerning his activities: "No population in Ukraine suffered as much under them as did the Germans......What they couldn't take with them, they destroyed." Those who resisted ".....were harassed, beaten, and not seldom, the male head of the household was shot. Women were raped repeatedly." Johannes Schleuning writes, "Makhno went through the land wreaking vengenance on the Germans." (page 16-17)

CHAPTER THREE---------------------------------------Page 35
Enforced Starvation, 1920-1925

...................Indeed, in order to stress the terror of the famine of 1932-1933, some authors claim that nature was responsible for the 1921 famine. In the light of available evidence, however, this argument is untenable. Thus, Donald Raleigh correctly criticizes V. V. Kondrashin for naively emphasizing failed harvest and droughts as the main causes of the 1921 famine. Any arguments for an unqualified exclusiveness with regard to the "man-made" famine of 1932-1933, be it in Ukraine or in the Volga-German ASSR, are shown to be untenable in light of the above testimonies stemming from an entire decade earlier. (page 40)

The requisition of 1917-1921 also gave rise to a crisis threatening the very existence of the Ukrainian-German villages. In Kandel, 450 were starved to death. In GroBliebental, 16 to 20 died every day and were buried in mass graves. In Franzfeld, 45 perished from starvation. Another 151 died in Josephtal. In Landua, over 350 died from starvation.

During this mass starvation, approximately 10,000 Volga-German children were forcibly taken from their parents and transferred to Slavic families in Ukraine. The parents were told that conditions were better in "brotreich" Ukraine. The government was fully aware, however, that conditions were even worse in some areas in Ukraine than in the Volga region. (Page 40)

CHAPTER FOUR-----------------------------------------Page 51
Starvation, Deportation, Execution, 1930-1939

The loss of human life during collectivization again in the late 1930's was not caused solely by starvation. Mass executions and deporatations also claimed the lives of thousands of German village inhabitants......... (page 64)

The exact number of the Russian Germans (Russia and Ukraine) who fell victim to the Stalinist "purges" still remains unknown. However, in 1991, an NKVD list of 1937-1938 executed citizens of Odessa was published. The list reveals that, whereas the ethnic Germans in the city represented only 8.3 percent of the population, they nevertheless constituted 28 percent of those shot........(page 64).

With regard to the deportations of the early 1930's, eyewitness reports substantiate Alexandr I. Solzhenitsyn's claim that the intent behind the kulak expulsions was murder. According to a letter from April 18, 1930: And everywere, when one asks about demanding their children back, the answer is received: "Just as you never got to see Nikolai II again, so those deported will never be returned to you." They proclaim openly: "We have sent the people out there so that they will die in misery."

A similiar report reads: "Soon it will be as a Communist told me: "You should die a wretched death! We can't kill you all, but you will all die a wretched death!" Therefore a planned extermination, a cold-blooded murder of many thousands." According to Russian historian Dmitri Volkogonov, around one-fourth of the deported kulaks died in the space of a few months, and an additional one-fourth within only a year. (page 65).......................

According to Richard Walth, 350,000 Russian Germans (in Russia and Ukraine) perished in the famine of 1932-1933. Heinz Ingehorst puts the figure at 300,000 for the entire collectivization period. Working independently of Ingehorst, the author of this essay, using the 1937 census and other Soviet materials as a data base with certain additional modifications, arrived at the same figure. The number of all Russian Germans in 1930, on the eve of the catastrophe, can be calculated at 1,390,000 to 1,400,000. Therefore between 1930 and the beginning of 1937, the Russian Germans lost approximately one-fourth of their entire population---one out of every four was exterminated through deliberate starvation, deportation, or shooting. (page 65)

On the collectivization famine in the Volga-German ASSR, Volga- German professor Adolf Gersch writes, "The.....famine, which had been knowingly prepared by the Soviet leadership and the Communist Party, and which had as a consequence mortality on a massive scale among the Volga-German population, was also a planned mass murder. This statement is corroborated
by Khrushchev himself, who admitted the famine of 1933 was an act of "murder"on the part of the government. In 1990, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine confessed that the famine had been deliberately created by the Soviet leadership. Yet some historians still argue that the famine of 1933 should not be classified as murder. (page 65)

CHAPTER SIX--------------------------------------------Page 97
The Historiography of the Genocide of Russian Germans A Critical and Interpretative Analysis

Enforced Starvation, 1920-1925

Regarding the 1920's enforced starvation, Matthias Hagin wrote in 1981 of how the Russian government blamed the famine deaths on draught, despite the fact that the government alone was responsible for the catastrophe. Under the heading, "The Destruction of a Class," Heinrich Roemmich wrote in 1958: "The famine of 1921 vividly showed the Communist leaders what the destruction of the propertied class and the violent carrying out of Socialism leads to. Stressing that the government's requisition policy was the main, if not sometimes the sole cause of starvation--especially in the Volga-German area--R. J. Rummel writes that in accordance with standard legal theory and definition, the deaths of the early 1920's should be labeled "murder." Professor Kohnstantin Emich writes of the "organized famines of 1921-1922," Professor W. R. Durow-Wasenmuller writes similarly: "The famine of 1921 was well planned and successfully carried out. The drought merely intensified the famine. Volga-German author Adolf Bersch states that the 1921 famine was "artificially prepared" by the Communist regime........(Page 102)

In much of the historiography on the 1932-1933 famine during Stalin's collectivization campaign, the starvation crisis is labeled "man-made," whereas the 1921 famine is often explained as the result of drought. Available evidence, however, demonstrates that the main cause of the 1921 famine among the Russian Germans was the requisition policy of the government, not the failure of crops or drought. Thus Donald J. Raleigh correctly criticizes the argument that the main causes of the 1921 famine were drought and bad crops. The historian Charles M. Edmondson holds that the repressive nature of both the Lenin and Stalin era famines is comparable. (Page 103)

Collectivization under Stalin

Aleksandr J. Solzhenitsyn writes that the kulaks were deported in the 1930's during collectivization "with murderous intent." Of all the Volga Germans exiled to Kazakhstan, he writes: "(B)y the spring of 1932 the children and the old had all died of dysentery and mal- nutrition." The extermination of the peasants during collectivization is prefaced by the statement, "Hitler was a mere disciple, but he had all the luck: his murder camps have made him famous, whereas no one has any interest in ours at all." (page 104)

Lyman Legters argued in 1984 that the extermination of the kulaks during collectivization, characterized as it was by an overrepresentation of national minorities, fits the definition of genocide as found in the United Nations Genocide Convention. (page 104)

Recently, the argument has been advanced chiefly by Stephen Wheatcroft that the 1933 famine was not an act of murder. The falsity of the argument is made clear by a confession to the contrary by Khrushchev himself, as well as by a 1990 admission from the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party....(page 104).

......In 1970, Johannes Schleuning wrote on collectivization and the Russian-Germans: "The German peasants recognized instinctively in these measures the complete hopelessness of their situation. They saw that it was planned with a view of their complete destruction as an ethic body, for everything that until then had been sacred to them, and which had constituted their was of life--family, faith, customs, possessions, individual freedom---they way everything doomed to destruction." (page 104)

Germans from Russia (including Ukraine) Heritage Collection Website

"The Open Wound" A Book Review By J. Otto Pohl

How to order the book "The Open Wound" by Samuel Sinner

How to order the book "We'll Meet Again In Heaven"..Germans In the Soviet Union Write Their American Relatives 1925-1937" by Ronald J. Vossler. Most of the letters are from the German Ukrainian villages in southern Ukraine

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller