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[flagged] Holodomor (wikipedia.org)
172 points by tareqak 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 64 comments

My relatives, two and three generations later, flatly refuse to throw away bread. This results in a refrigerator that has a plastic bag of miniscule sliced bread heel bits of indeterminate age in it, but I honestly can't fault them. Some memories die hard.

My Grandmother can no longer get house insurance, as she has hoarded so much stuff that it's a fire hazard and worse. She's also viciously anti-government in most ways.

A while ago she showed my our family tree. Half of it was suddenly wiped out by the Holodomor. And over the next ten years it was pruned away to almost nothing as most relatives where enslaved and then murdered in The Gulag (which most people also don't know anything about). It's not something you can really argue about with her.

> Some memories die hard.

Exactly. Some behaviour lasts generations.

Not throwing out bread is a habit much older than Holodomor and is not exclusively Ukrainian either.

This gives some real chills: https://en.uncounted.ual.ua/menu/ (what people resorted to eat and their stories).

Yours is still an AMP link :)

Here's the one without: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4076244/Distressing...

The visual presentation is really powerful. A link worth clicking.

Thank you for posting. I see it briefly mentions the practice for the remembrance (although I don't know if it's specific to this initiative or whether it is more widespread):

> On November 28, 2020, light a candle in your window, as a memory of every bright soul tortured during the Holodomor of 1932-1933 – the genocide of the Ukrainian nation.

> We want everyone to be remembered – starved, unborn, numbered, and UNCOUNTED

Yes, today is the day. Candle lighting is not specific to this initiative, or this day -- it's common theme for all remembrance days to set a candle in the window for those who didn't make it through history. There is a day in May, dedicated to victims of political repression and other two dedicated to Crimean Tatars and Holocaust, all of those are marked with candles.

If you find this topic interesting, I recommend you read the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Non-fiction writings about life in the Soviet Union, mistreatment of ethnic and religious minorities, and life in gulags.

You probably want to specify that you mean Solzhenitsyn's early works, the ones written before he left for the USA. Later in life he became a reactionary writer and, while no apologist for the Holodomor as such, he insisted on the unity of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples in a way that many members of the latter found suffocating. He also wrote a book on the Jews that is still little-known internationally in translation, so shocking are its contents. So, as a defender of ethnic minorities, Solzhenitsyn's record is equivocal.

Here's an interview of Solzhenitsyn from 2007: https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/spiegel-interview...

Der Spiegel tries to pin him down as a reactionary Putinist and anti-semite. I think the attempt fails but judge for yourself. I don't think we have a category for people like Solzhenitsyn anymore but "jew-hater, authoritarian, reactionary" doesn't seem accurate to me.

I just read the article; the parts about Jews are particularly interesting. It looks like in the current climate a critical look at activities of some countries or peoples became a taboo. I understand the motivation behind that, but by stifling any reasonable discussion we might get an opposite result.

Don't you see the contradiction there? First he says it isn't helpful if foreigners criticize Russia, because Russians need to learn to criticize themselves. But later he says that his work aimed to lead the Jews to examine themselves, even though he is an outsider to that people and, by his own declared standards, it is none of his business.

Also, after the Holocaust it is extremely inappropriate for any non-Jew to suggest that the Jews as a people have done anything bad or negative. The sole appropriate thing Solzhenitsyn could have done with regard to the Jews is either say something nice or not say anything at all.

> Don't you see the contradiction there? First he says it isn't helpful if foreigners criticize Russia, because Russians need to learn to criticize themselves. But later he says that his work aimed to lead the Jews to examine themselves, even though he is an outsider to that people and, by his own declared standards, it is none of his business.

This only follows if we accept the axiom "Jews aren't Russian". I'm not convinced that he thinks that (and I certainly don't).

> Also, after the Holocaust it is extremely inappropriate for any non-Jew to suggest that the Jews as a people have done anything bad or negative. The sole appropriate thing Solzhenitsyn could have done with regard to the Jews is either say something nice or not say anything at all.

To me, this is intellectual cowardice.

As far as I know, Solzhenitsyn's controversial view about Jews in the USSR is that they were viewed as less likely to be counterrevolutionary, and therefore quickly climbed the party hierarchy...at least initially. Stalin eventually adopted various anti-semitic measures (and Solzhenitsyn mentions this in The First Circle).

For something more modern (and referencing Solzhenitsyn himself) I recommend _Bloodlands_ by Timothy Snyder.

Also Holodomor by Philip Wolny and Red Famine by Anne Applebaum.

Anne Applebaum's "Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine" is another one.

Anne Applebaum wrote a forward for Solzhenitsyn's abridged Gulag Archipelago, would recommend.

Well, "non-fiction." I'm not sure about his other writings, but Archipelago has been found in recent decades to contain many exaggerations and half-truths.

Yes, but to my knowledge (for whatever my knowledge is worth on the subject), any stretching of the truth were a function of time, simply forgetting exact details. A non-trivial amount of of Solzhenitsyn's anecdotes in Gulag Archipelago were given to him verbally from other prisoners, so Solzhenitsyn's burden became remembering all of the nitty gritty on top of, y'know, literally living in a Soviet prison camp.

To be fair, Russia only gives very limited access to its state archives nowadays, and Gulag record-keeping was far from stellar. Imagine what it was like trying to uncover the truth back when KGB and the Iron Curtain still existed, from inside the system in which many monstrous and inhuman events had really happened. Exaggerations seemed true and truth seemed exaggerated.

I knew the gulags were in fact holiday camps !

Interestingly, he does not consider the Holomodor to be a genocide against ukrainians.


Nothing interesting, typical russian scum.

Do keep in mind his work is literary and political and not a work written by a historian.

I’m yet to meet a person or heard of one, who has lived through 1917-1953 and has said the book is an exaggeration. People were sent to die in psychiatric hospitals in the 80s. The last documented resistance fighters were around til the 70s. There’s an entire generation I grew up with who went through this and nobody made a peep. Only after they start to pass away, some folks start to appear from the woodwork making statements about inaccuracies. The history of genocide is inaccurate because most people die, no records are kept and the survivors are deiven borderline mad by the experience.

Plenty of historians have taken a critical look at his work and dismissed it. That doesnt mean things didnt happen, but that his work is not to be used as a factual account. But somehow this critical look at sources just goes out of the window if it concerns something horrible or if it places an ideological enemy in a bad light. Then it is acceptable to go "well this is sorta right so good enough".

To see the full picture I also recommend checking this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dekulakization

Rich villagers were declared as enemies of the Soviets. They were killed and deported even before 1930.

Nowadays Russia still denies it was a man-made famine. With all the evidence. Think twice before giving this country any credits for its "achievements". It's all on blood and terror.

I went to a Holodomor remembrance film at the San Francisco Library. They mentioned there is still a lot of denial and they are fighting for recognition by various governments, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial_of_the_Holodomor

Highly recommend to watch "Mr. Jones" (2019), shows well how USSR produced tons of lies to cover holodomor. Hall of the fake news fame, definitely.


Very well done movie.

I would rather say it shows how The New York Times and its star reporter Walter Duranty produced tons of lies to cover the Holodomor.

The Pulitzer Prize Board still won't revoke his prize he was awarded for this propaganda, claiming he was just an unwitting dupe. The movie counters that excuse pretty well.

@dang, I believe it has to be unflagged. Not many people know about it. Also, it's a link to Wikipedia. Flagging/banning links to Wikipedia is like burning books.

Surprisingly few people know about it.

It's not that surprising USSR had top notch propaganda machine as does Russia now. Suppressing this information was/is pretty high on the agenda.

Honestly, I don't think it's that. It's just that Western History is West-centric. In general that makes sense because an arbitrary human life has value approximately zero. For instance, 2 million people died in a famine in India under British rule but no one knows about that.

If it weren't for Hotel Rwanda, the Rwandan genocide might go unnoticed. The Khmer Rouge are barely known. And everyone might joke that "Haha the North Koreans have no food" on the edgier parts of the Internet but ultimately, 3.5 million could have died there and we would barely have noticed.

That's not even because of some evil ignorance - it's just that people always see things from their reference point (and not even big vs small). American Independence was a big deal to America but not a big deal to the UK. Brexit is a big deal to the UK but no one outside really gives that much of a damn. And think about the Vietnam War - it's this massive moment in American history but to the Vietnamese it is one massive moment sandwiched between their wars with two other superpowers.

The Rwandan genocide got a great deal of television coverage in North America at the time, nearly as much as the Yugoslavian wars. It was because the Rwandan conflict was so familiar to Westerners in the late 1990s and early millennium that a Hollywood studio was willing to fund a film about it.

Of course, now the tail might wag the dog, and the film might introduce the conflict to a younger generation that missed the reportage at the time.

There is a tremendous amount of denial and revisionism that goes on with all 20th century socialism, because the modern socialists really don’t want you to know about any of it.

its kind of weird to suggest that anti-socialist / anti-communist propaganda is somehow getting suppressed by some sort of socialist leftists. What an inane delusion to think socialists have that power, when in reality the west has a long tradition of making history fit their capitalist imperialist agenda by any means necessary.

No conspiracy is required. It works the same way holocaust denial does. Any individual person who support socialism is (via selection bias) incredibly likely to be a denier of the failures and humanitarian atrocities of 20th century socialism. If enough people espouse these revisionist opinions, you get to point where you can cast doubt over the facts of history amongst the general population. The only difference between holocaust deniers and socialist revisionists is that there's not enough people who hold holocaust denial views for them to be taken seriously by ordinary people. Depending on what polls you look at, about 40% of Americans think socialism is a good thing, and about half of the population would vote for a socialist president. So clearly your estimation of socialist influence is very understated.

Actually, modern socialists tend to be better at it then modern conservatives. Modern conservatives are too focused on trying to use it politically in contemporary politics.

The New York Times helped a lot with that too

I was suprised seeing how mainstream the denial of it is on reddit. Back before I stopped looking at the front page a few years ago, it was pretty common to see college-aged communists claiming that it was either western propoganda meant to turn people away from communism, or that it was a necessary evil and you "have to break a few eggs to make an omellete".

I do. I try to bring it up when the conversation has space for it.

The media is controlled by those who want to make nazism a bigger issue despite the fact it killed many, many less.

Who, specifically?

Mao's even bigger genocides are probably even less known.

If all famines caused by economic systems are genocides, then there's a very large reckoning to be done by applying the same accounting methodology to other countries.

If you add them up in the last century, you'll see that Communist and similar regimes dominate the famine stats.

Much of it was dysfunctional economics, but much was also deliberate genocides of disposable populations.

I always got the sense that Mao's genocides are more visceral in the West because of the large Chinese immigrant population that lives in the US.

I think the West avoided using this as propaganda against the Soviets because that would only call attention to the equally massive and more recent Bengali famine, which was engineered by the British.

> which was engineered by the British.

Nonsense. The Bengal famine was caused by factors beyond British control, including the Japanese invasion of Burma and multiple natural disasters in Bengal which had a devastating effect on rice imports and grain production. The British failed to completely alleviate the famine, yes, but they did alleviate it partially by sending over 100,000 tons of grain to aid the region, and they would have sent more if shipping had been available (there was the small matter of a gigantic global war going on).

And of course if it wasn't for the British then Bengal would have eventually been conquered by the Japanese, who had far worse plans for the area than anything the British managed.

Comparing Britain's failures in Bengal to Stalin's genocide is offensive, revisionist garbage.

No offense, but curiously, those are the exact same reasons Russians tend to use to whitewash Holodomor. (Not saying you're wrong or anything)

Oh really? What gigantic global war was Russia fighting in 1932?

Thank you for the reality check on the bad faith relativists

The term Holodomor emphasises the famine's man-made and intentional aspects such as rejection of outside aid, confiscation of all household foodstuffs and restriction of population movement.

In the summer of 1930, the government instituted a program of food requisitioning, ostensibly to increase grain exports. Subsequently, in 1932, food theft was made punishable by death or 10 years imprisonment.

At every [train] station there was a crowd of peasants in rags, offering ikons and linen in exchange against a loaf of bread. The women were lifting up their infants to the compartment windows—infants pitiful and terrifying with limbs like sticks, puffed bellies, big cadaverous heads lolling on thin necks.

Why is it that the hammer and sickle and other communist symbols are still proudly worn by so many people? Why hasn't there been a severe and rightful reckoning, like with nazi symbols?

On a related note, check out the War Against Humanity series of the World War Two channel. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsIk0qF0R1j4cwI-ZuDoB... Some of its videos had been shadowbanned and age-restricted by YouTube so every view and share helps.

I wonder why this is marked as "flagged"?

Unflag this! People need to see this

I'm sure the Hacker News mods will be in to censor this definitely-not-tech and definitely-political post and all of its comments.


Why so much hate?

I'm not sure if it's appropriate to wipe out the comments about Holodomor on the Holodomor rememberence day.

Not sure why noting the hypocrisy of HN moderation counts as hate.

When I've (accurately and politely) pushed back on ahistorical anticommunist narratives in the past, I've been rate-limited and warned by HN mods. While commenting on the economics of the USSR in a post about... the economics of the USSR versus other countries, for example. And this is as someone highly critical of the USSR.

Note that there are already various ahistorical anticommunist comments above. Unfortunately, due to the way in which this tragedy entered the public consciousness in different countries, it is a very political topic.

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