Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Taras Kuzio is a senior fellow at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta.
This month, as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his aggression against Ukraine, Ukrainians around the world commemorate the Holodomor, the terror-famine of 1932-1933. The murder of upwards of five million people in Ukraine by Stalin’s Communist regime came about from forced collectivization of agriculture, where starving peasants were denied the food that was exported for hard currency.
The Holodomor targeted Ukrainian national identity that had flowered during the 1920s and sought to crush widespread anti-Soviet feelings in Ukraine. Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev recalled during his famous 1956 speech that Stalin had wanted to deport all Ukrainians after the Second World War but there were too many of them.
The Holodomor set the stage for mass repression, the Great Terror, the Katyn massacre and the world’s largest concentration-camp system, the Gulag. Entire regions of depopulated eastern and southern Ukraine were re-populated by Russians, changing the ethnic and linguistic identity of the region.