From 1932-1933 the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Marxist-socialist dictator Joseph Stalin, orchestrated one of the greatest famines in modern history. Most famines happen due to changing weather or some other natural phenomenon. This famine was created by a command and control government that believed it knew agriculture better than farmers. Better yet, the “central planners” of the Soviet Union (i.e. Stalin) believed that if all the farmers would just give up their land for the “good of the collective” and plant new crops that they had never grown before, all would be well. Farmers throughout the Soviet Union, but especially in Ukraine, rebelled at giving up their lands and handing over their crops to the central government (which would then redistribute to others whom they deemed more deserving of food). Stalin also ordered the farmers who had been planting and harvesting grain for centuries, to now get rid of that nonsense and grow cotton and sugar beets (even though the farmers had never before grown cotton or sugar beets). Ah, Comrade Stalin knows what is best.

And what did the benevolent Stalin do to those who resisted? He had them shot. He had others sent away to the gulags in Siberia. And what happened to the grain that had been planted? With so many farmers shot or exiled to slave labor camps, the grain rotted in the fields. Or it was “lost” in the transportation. Or it rotted in storage. And the people starved to death. Millions and millions in Ukraine starved. The Ukrainian people have even come up with a word to describe this man-made famine: “holodomor”. It is a combination of two Ukrainian words meaning “to kill by starvation.” Ukrainian exiles living in Czechoslovakia at the time wrote about it, but the USSR simply dismissed it as pure propaganda. Western journalists such as Arthur Koestler, Gareth Jones, Malcom Muggeridge, Rhea Clyman (who was expelled from the USSR in 1932), and photographer Alexander Wienerberger tried to get people’s attention about the genocide. Wienerberger even compiled a photographic essay that showed massive starvation.

Stalin simply brought in his own pet Western allies such as George Bernard Shaw and Walter Duranty, showed them special villages in the Soviet Union where people had plenty to eat, and they dutifully reported back to the West that there was nothing to see here in the socialist paradise. There was no starvation; Comrade Stalin was right!

Arthur Koestler was there in Ukraine at the time and wrote: “At every station there was a crowd of peasants in rags, offering ikons and linens in exchange against a loaf of bread. The women were lifting up infants to the compartment windows—infants pitiful and terrifying with limbs like sticks, puffed bellies, big cadaverous heads lolling on thin necks (Martin, Kati. Great Escape, 2007, p78).” Even Mikhail Gorbachev, former head of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, wrote that in his Ukrainian village, half the people died in 1933. He remembered losing two aunts and one uncle to starvation.

How many died from Stalin’s famine? No one knows for sure. Some estimates are as high as ten or twenty million. The most recent historical scholarship puts the number closer to four million. Even then…four million people…starved to death…in the socialist workers paradise. And that’s not counting those who were shot or exiled simply because they believed the government was stealing from them and did not know what they were doing in agriculture.