Anti-communism and falsification of history: recognising the myth of the ‘Holodomor’ as ‘genocide’

11 July 2023

Editors of Manifest (newspaper of the NCPN)

On Thursday 6 July, the Lower House adopted a motion by the coalition parties VVD, D66, CDA and Christian Union regarding the famine in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s. Against all historical facts, the famine is labelled a ‘genocide’ of the Ukrainian people. The motion claims that the famine was deliberately “planned and carried out by the then Soviet regime to oppress the Ukrainian people and identity.” The purpose of this unprecedented falsification of history is nothing but to further demonise communism.

This falsification of history from the Dutch state comes in the wake of a European Union anti-communist resolution with roughly the same content from 15 December 2022. However, this is not the first attempt to distort the history of the early 1930s famine. The first such attempts were made by the Nazis, who began a propaganda campaign about the famine in 1933, with the aim of preparing public opinion for the ‘liberation’ of Ukraine by Nazi Germany. The first publication about an alleged ‘genocide’ appeared in 1933 in the NSDAP’s party newspaper, the Volkischer Beobachter. The Nazi propaganda was adopted by American media, mainly those owned by media magnate and Nazi sympathiser William Randolph Hearst.

The famine – which affected not only Ukraine but also other parts of the Soviet Union – had nothing to do with a conspiracy to “oppress the Ukrainian people and identity,” as the motion states. The real causes were of a very different nature.

The real causes of the famine

Apart from the extreme drought and a severe typhus epidemic that hit the Soviet Union in the period 1930-1932, a veritable civil war was raging in the Soviet Union during that period. Collectivisation of agriculture had begun in the late 1920s. This was fiercely resisted by the rich peasants, the so-called kulaks. The kulaks enriched themselves through the exploitation of land labourers and poor peasants, who had lived in poverty and hunger for years due to the oppression of the kulaks. The kulaks wanted to continue that exploitation. On a huge scale, the kulaks sabotaged the agricultural production of collectivised agriculture (the cooperatives and state farms) in order to sell their own products at the top price. In large parts of the Soviet Union, cooperatives’ crops were sabotaged, agricultural machinery destroyed, grain stores set on fire and millions of cattle, horses and other livestock killed. Reactionary, counter-revolutionary organisations were set up. Hundreds of Bolsheviks and peasants at the forefront of collectivisation were murdered.

In this very difficult context, which was complicated by a host of other factors, mistakes were undoubtedly made in collectivisation. Such mistakes were also pointed out by the communist party, which sought to find solutions to these problems.

Be that as it may, it is historically demonstrable that Soviet power undertook numerous initiatives to supply famine-affected areas, including regions in Ukraine, with as much food as possible. Thus, the famine in the early 1930s was by no means a deliberate and planned act directed against the Ukrainian population. The ‘holodomor’, i.e. the fascist conspiracy theory that there was a plan to starve Ukrainian people, is a myth. It is a gross falsification of history.

The purpose behind the anti-communist motion passed by the Lower House is purely politically motivated. The aim is to further ramp up anti-communism. They demonise the class struggle and the attempt to build a better society that is not based on the exploitation of people.

From 1930s Nazi propaganda to anti-communist motions anno 2023

Hearst’s media conglomerate spread stories in the United States in the 1930s of a so-called ‘Thomas Walker’, who allegedly experienced the ‘genocide’ during his stay in Russia. However, these stories turned out to be fiction. ‘Thomas Walker’ was a pseudonym of Robert Greene, who was convicted of forgery and had not been to Ukraine at all. Greene sold anti-Communist stories to Hearst’s media conglomerate and to the Nazis, including pictures that had nothing at all to do with the famine of the early 1930s, but were of the famine during the civil war in the early 1920s or even pictures from other countries.

The falsification of history regarding the famine in the early 1930s was promoted in the US in the post-war period in the context of the so-called ‘cold war’. Anti-communist historians such as Robert Conquest were put to work. ‘Testimonies’ were collected from Ukrainian fascists; people who had collaborated with the Nazis or were involved in the fascist ‘Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists’ of Stephan Bandera, the Ukrainian fascist who was posthumously honoured in 2010 as a ‘hero of Ukraine’.

In recent years, anti-communist propaganda surrounding the ‘holodomor’ has been widely promoted by the reactionary Ukrainian regime, which in 2006 passed a resolution recognising the famine as ‘genocide’. Interestingly, polls by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology at the time showed that only a minority of the Ukrainian population supported the anti-communist interpretation of the famine. Exhibitions and other ways were used to try to influence public opinion – exhibitions which, by the way, included photos of starving people that were not even taken in Ukraine or not in the 1930s, for example, a photo of a family from Oklahoma.

Furthermore, in the context of the imperialist war in Ukraine, the motion relates the invasion by the capitalist Russian Federation to the socialist Soviet Union. The current imperialist war in Ukraine is a war between imperialist powers, between capitalist Russia and its allies on the one hand, and NATO, US, EU and their allies on the other, competing over control of markets, raw materials and spheres of influence. It is disgusting that attempts are being made to associate this war with the Soviet Union and socialism. The cause of this war lies precisely in capitalism that was restored with the counter-revolutions. In the Soviet Union, Ukrainian, Russian and other peoples lived peacefully together for decades, building a world free of war, poverty, discrimination and exploitation.

Such anti-communist motions are used by the government and the EU to vilify communism. Through falsification of history and reactionary theories such as totalitarianism, attempts are being made to equate communism with fascism. An attempt is being made to influence public opinion in such a way as to make it easier to ban communist parties, symbols and press, as is already happening in many European Union member states. Parenthetically, the government of capitalist Russia is also guilty of falsification of history and anti-communism in other forms, which go hand in hand with the repression of the labour movement.

All parties in the Lower House support anti-communism

With the exception of the fascistoid FvD, all political parties in the Lower House voted in favour of the anti-communist motion, including parties pretending to be progressive, leftist or even socialist, like the SP and BIJ1. Naturally, the FvD did not vote against the motion to defend the historical truth. After all, the FvD is at the forefront when it comes to anti-communist conspiracy theories, for example with the anti-communist theory of ‘cultural Marxism’. The FvD voted against for reasons of party politics and in connection with the support for the capitalist Russian Federation by this fascistoid party. This reflects the orientation of parts of the Dutch bourgeoisie towards collaborating with Euro-Asian capital.

The hypocrisy is also evident in the fact that a series of famines that took place under imperialism, such as in India among others, where countless people starved to death at the time with the knowledge of the imperialist government, are not recognised as genocide.

The falsification of history by the (now outgoing) government and all other political parties in the Lower House that go along with it are utterly reprehensible. Labelling the famine of the 1930s as genocide is not only a lie but also disrespectful towards the people who went hungry due to drought and large-scale sabotage activities by the big capitalist landowners. The history of the Soviet Union is not one of genocide, war and rivalry, but rather of cooperation, comradeship and solidarity. Russians, Ukrainians and other ethnic groups lived in peace with each other for more than 70 years in the Soviet Union. In contrast, capitalist restoration brought war, hunger and fascism back to this area of the world.

The NCPN and CJB completely reject this distortion of history by the Dutch state and the EU. The achievements of the Soviet Union and the October Revolution cannot be erased from history with such lies. As communists, we will continue to do what communists have always done: fight for a world where people can live together in peace in a world without exploitation, poverty and war.