Holodomor: Understanding Joseph Stalin’s Genocide

  • Matthew Kerr


The Holodomor, Ukrainian for “death by hunger,” was one of the deadliest famines known to man: over 4 million Ukrainian lives perished during this famine. Ninety years later, this famine remains an important reminder of the brutality suffered by people under the regime of Joseph Stalin. As a result of the push for increased industrialisation in the wake of World War I, collectivisation was implemented under Stalin’s Five Year Plan. This practice saw the collectivisation of peasant-run farms into state-owned farms, removing individual autonomy and leading to popular outrage. By 1932 harvests had taken a large hit, leading to several years of poor grain production. Needing food to fuel industrialisation, Stalin brought forth brutal measures of food procurement targeted against the peasant farmer population, taking personal food stores and retaliating against those who resisted. The Ukrainian peasant population, which was the single largest producer of grain, was hit much harder than other areas within the USSR and suffered unique discrimination not felt by other groups. Based on the United Nations’ definition of “genocide,” this paper analyses how Stalin purposely targeted the Ukrainian peasant population with food procurement, internal isolation, and refusal of aid to answer the question: is the Holodomor definable as genocide?

How to Cite
Kerr, Matthew. 2024. “Holodomor: Understanding Joseph Stalin’s Genocide”. the Ascendant Historian 3 (June), 66-71. https://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/corvette/article/view/22017.