Thursday, April 5, 2018
Excellent review of the circumstances and decisions leading up to the famine of 1932-33 that killed just under 4 million. Stalin feared Ukrainization. He worried that a deepening interest in Ukrainian culture and language could lead to a political break which would have greatly weakened the USSR and the Revolution, not to mention depriving it of its highly fertile grain-producing breadbasket. By harshly forcing family farmers (called kulaks if they owned much in the way of land, tools or livestock) onto collectives and wildly ratcheting up harvest expectations, he set the stage for a disaster. Within the USSR and now Russia, the famine is widely considered the tragic result of inevitable circumstance and the vagaries of Mother Nature. Applebaum is quite convincing in her argument to the contrary.