Holodomor

The Ukrainian Genocide that killed the masses.

“Our father used to read the Bible to us, but whenever he came to the passage mentioning ‘bloodless war’ he could not explain to us what that term meant. When in 1933 he was dying from hunger he called us to his deathbed and said “This, children, is what is called bloodless war...”

(as remembered by Hanna Doroshenko)” - (Holodomor 1932-33)



Statue from the Holodomor Memorial

In Ukrainian, Holodomor means “killing by hunger”. The Holodomor was a Ukrainian genocide/famine that was caused mainly by Joseph Stalin, who at this time, ruled the Soviet Union. This famine lasted one year, from 1932 to 1933, but began in 1929. In this tragic event, a copious amount of people died and people would do whatever they could to survive. At the time, Ukraine was experiencing a famine and it could be easy for Stalin to make Holodomor look like an accident or passive justice for rebellious people that Stalin feared. Stalin would do everything in his power to keep Ukraine from getting food. Not only did many people die, but many were also deported.



Picture of Joseph Stalin

This famine was a, “means to undermine the nationalistic pride of the Ukrainian people,” - (United Human Rights Council). At the time, Ukraine wanted independence from the Soviet Union and the Communist Regime was absolutely terrified that these Ukraine nationalists would end up rebelling. This famine was to try to keep this rebellion from happening. “More than 5,000 Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested and later were either murdered or deported to prison camps in Siberia,” - (United Human Rights Council). The intellectuals that were arrested were falsely accused, but part of Stalin’s plan was to remove Ukrainian leaders. Doing so would leave Ukraine without any guidance or direction, leaving a mass of confused people. Unfortunately, the intellectuals were not the only leaders and helpers either deported or killed.
In 1929, there was a large amount of successful farmers that were deported and there were many deaths during the deportation. These farmers are called Kurkuls or Kulaks in Russian. People who would help the Kulaks were punished under the law. There was now a false and negative image made about these farmers and they were made to look like a danger to society. There were also, “deportations and executions of Ukraine's religious, intellectual and cultural leaders, culminating in the devastating forced famine,” - (Holodomor 1932-33). Eliminating the farmers allowed Ukraine even less food, aiding in the famine. The death toll is said to be 1.8 million to 12 million. “Some scholars have narrowed this down to about 4 to 5 million,” - (LISTVERSE).



People walk by a starved man laying in the street.

Many frightened Ukrainians would attempt to flee to other countries or Russian states, but they would either get shot or would be captured and then returned to Ukraine so they could starve. After the first year, 190,000 people tried to escape Ukraine. Many everyday people’s desperation and agony led to them eating their own child or parts of their bodies, such as their foot. Many isn’t just a small group of people, but tens of thousands people resorted to doing very sad and tragic things. One memory recalled by Motrya Mostova was, "People were dying all over our village. The dogs ate the ones that were not buried. If people could catch the dogs they were eaten. In the neighboring village people ate bodies that they dug up,” - (Holodomor 1932-33)



Starving children during famine photo by Gareth Jones

At the height of this famine, people were dying left and right. In 1933 when the famine was at its higher point, “people in Ukraine are dying at the rate of 30,000 a day, nearly a third of them are children under 10,” - (Holodomor 1932-33). All of these deaths didn't even include the executions, deportations of leaders, and any other possible natural or regular causes. Between 1932 and 1933, more than 3,000,000 children that were born died because of the famine.
The Holodomor didn’t end until, “Stalin’s implementation of forced collectivization of grain threatened to destroy all of Russia, not just the Ukraine,” - (LISTVERSE). Now that the police and military quit taking all of the grain from everyone, small farmers were able to grow their food for everyone like it had been before. Even after the famine had ended, the destruction of Ukraine continued. This demolition kept going with, “further destruction of Ukraine's political leadership, the resettlement of Ukraine's depopulated areas with other ethnic groups, the prosecution of those who dared to speak of the famine publicly, and the consistent blatant denial of famine by the Soviet regime,” - (Holodomor 1932-33). Stalin denied that there was ever a Ukrainian famine and exported millions of tons of grain, which would have been more than enough to save everyone in the famine.



"Mourners visit the Holodomor memorial in Kyiv, Ukraine." - (Kiyiv Post)

The Milgram Experiment

In the Milgram experiment, people would be told to give a man an electric shock for each question he answered wrong. Each time he answered a question wrong, they would have to move up a notch on the voltage and then shock him. The man was not actually being shocked, but the person in control would believe the man was being shocked. They made this authentic with prerecorded screams and yells. Some people would stop, but many would end up going to the highest volt setting. These people were never told that if they wanted to quit they would lose their money. Most people go all the way to the highest voltage, proving that under an authority figure, people can and may do cruel things.

The Milgram Experiment Connection

Holodomor relates to the Milgram experiment because it shows that under an authority figure, the majority of people are likely to follow the orders given, no matter how horrible and cruel they may be. “People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and / or legally based,” - (Milgram Experiment). The authority figures giving people orders would have appeared to be legally based. Stalin would need people to steal grain from the Ukrainians and would need help to keep the famine going. Stalin wouldn’t be able to go to each farm and take grain and he wouldn’t be able to catch each person trying to escape and kill them himself. Stalin would need people to help him with all of these jobs. Not only would Stalin’s helpers have to do horrible acts and implement extremely harsh punishments, but they would be doing all of this while people are dying left and right. Those who helped Stalin would have to carry out with very heinous acts and tasks. It would be very easy for us to think that each person is absolutely terrible and such, but obedience to the authority is how most of us have been raised. “Obedience to authority is ingrained in us all from the way we are brought up,” - (Milgram Experiment). It's human nature to obey a person in a higher position. This shows that people are willing to do despicable things under direction from an authority figure.



Photo from Milgram Experiment (man shown is the controller).

The Stanford Prison Experiment

In the Stanford Prison Experiment, a group of mentally stable students with no criminal background were picked to participate in an experiment that would put these students in a prison-like setting. Guards and prisoners were randomly chosen with the flip of a coin and any person could be in either position. As the experiment went on, the guards would harshly punish the prisoners for any wrongdoings. The prisoners would feel completely humiliated and dehumanized and would occasionally attempt to fight back. As time went on, the punishments from the guards were getting more and more traumatic. After a while, even the prisoners were beginning to turn on each other and were no longer together. One group of prisoners began chanting that one inmate was a bad prisoner because he was causing everyone a little trouble. This caused the two week long experiment to be cut short to six days since things were getting so out of hand.

Would there be such harsh situations if they weren't in this situation? Probably not. Would these healthy and mentally stable students act this way in a different setting? That's also probably a no. This is the fundamental attribution error. The situation that the students were put in brought on the harshness and cold feelings between everyone. People would normally want to blame the person, such as blaming the guards for their actions. Facts have to be faced, everyone in the experiment was mentally stable and the situation they were put in brought out these evil acts.

The Stanford Prison Experiment Connection

This relates to Holodomor because people were no longer working as a group and were now turning on each other just to survive. Everyone that was involved in creating Holodomor would have to basically abandon all morals just to carry out the task. “The experiment showed that one third of the guards began to show an extreme and imbedded streak of sadism,” - (Stanford Prison Experiment). All of the very harsh punishment from people helping create Holodomor caused people to turn on each other just to survive. In the experiment, “The prisoners began to suffer a wide array of humiliations and punishments at the hands of the guards, and many began to show signs of mental and emotional distress,” - (Stanford Prison Experiment). This shows that situations like this will make people turn to very insane acts. For example, people were resorting to eating their own children in Holodomor.

There has to be very drastic measures for someone to be willing to eat their own child. The fundamental attribution error from the Stanford Prison Experiment could relate to this. The main reason these people ate their own families and children was due to the fact that they were in a situation that required it. Stalin put everyone in the position where it was either die or do horrible things to survive. “The experiment appeared to show how subjects reacted to the specific needs of the situation rather than referring to their own internal morals or beliefs,” - (Stanford Prison Experiment). People will do whatever is necessary in order to survive. It's obviously easy to blame the people for their actions, but that's not the case. If you put these Ukrainians in any other situation, they wouldn't have eaten the people they cherished. People would be searching every nook and cranny for any possible food they could find. Plus, the conditions at this time were getting worse and worse. The Stanford Prison Experiment was very similar to Holodomor in the sense of abandoning morals for a certain situation.



Photo from Stanford Prison Experiment. Guards is punishing a prisoner.