Economic_History_anim.gif (3797 bytes)    


Economic Policy and the Famine

By Gary McDonald

The economic policy of industrialization of the early to mid 1900’s was forced upon the Ukraine and it’s people.  The Ukraine would see much of its power stripped away by these new policies.  First agricultural power was savagely plundered, and then in World War II much of its capital stock was moved east to keep it out of German hands.  But after World War II, the capital was not returned.  These policies were considered by many to be the work of the Soviet leaders trying to keep the nationalistic movement of a disgruntled Ukraine down.  The Soviets rightfully feared them because the Ukrainians are the second most populous group of people in the Soviet Union. 

The Soviet Union wanted to make all land state owned.  To do this they need to liquidate all Kulaks in the Ukraine.  Kulaks are peasant farmers who own their own land and employ labor outside their immediate family.[1]  The people of Ukraine were not happy with the new policies, they protested.  These protests were met by harsh reprisals from Russia.  In June 1931, there was a riot of peasants in the village of Mykhailivka, in the Dunaivsi district of Kamianets-Podillia province the soviets sent in a cavalry regiment.  They burned the village and deported every male over the age of 15 years.  Also in Rudkivtsi in Podillia 28 rioters were arrested and two of them were executed on the spot, the others were sent to prison.[2] 

The Soviets with their industrialization plan could take care of two problems with one policy.  They would set up high quotas to take the capital out of agriculture and put it into industry and at the same time take the food out of the hands of the radical Ukrainians.  In 1932 Stalin raise the quota by 44 percent.[3]  The people of the Ukraine were not able to meet these demands.  On January 11th, 1933 Stalin made a speech condemning the local leaders of the Ukraine blaming them for the unmet quotas.  He then sent in Russians to run the groups that were in charge of collecting the quotas.  These people would carry out his orders.  At this time Stalin had already been told of the starvation in the Ukraine by Terekhov, a secretary of the KPU Central Committee.  Stalin did not believe him and said he was telling fairy tales.[4]  The central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the Ukraine had new Russian leaders put in place.[5]  At least one third of the new leaders were from Russia.[6] 

Figures for the harvest were around normal for the year of 1933[7], no signs that such a travesty was about to occur.  There are many estimates on how many people died in the great famine or Shtuchny Holod(man made hunger)[8];  they are between 5 million and 15 million.  The official census of 1926 had a population of 31,200,000.  The next census did not come out until 1939. The Ukraine had a population of about 28,100,000.  There was a census between these two but due to the fact that it showed there was something seriously wrong in the Ukraine it was not released.  Also this may have led to inflated numbers in the 1939 census due to fear of repercussions from soviet leaders.[9]  Byelorussia is a good comparison for the Ukraine because it has a similar population.  So instead of having population of around 34,626,500 (with about the same rate of population growth as Byelorussia) in 1939, they only had 28,100,000; some 6.5 million lost people.


 1926 population

 1939 population

 % change

















Stalin himself made no mention of how many people died in the Ukraine.  Once when talking to Winston Churchill, Stalin made reference to ten million people dying in the Ukraine.[10]  Death was everywhere.  In May 1933, an authorized agent in charge of meat deliveries in Murafa said, “I can fulfill your quota of meat deliveries, not with pigs or cows, but with human corpses.”[11]  This effort to industrialize the Soviet Union by decimating the Ukraine was very much intended by the leaders of the soviet party.  Stanislav Kossior, general secretary of the C.P.(B) of Ukraine said, “and the fact that we have smashed nationalism, that we have now started to perform our work in the villages properly, has actually gained the success of the year 1933.”[12]

These policies of keeping the Ukraine in check were continued into the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.  In the 1940’s most of the capital in the Ukraine was moved east to keep the Nazis from getting it.  Employment in the fuels branch decline by 13 percent between 1960 and 1975,[13] “clearly illustrating the continuing shift of heavy industry from the European part of the USSR-predominantly from the Ukraine-to the Asiatic regions, a process that began before World War II.”[14]  The additional capital obtained from these policies did build the soviet heavy industrial machine but it came at a high price for the Ukraine.    Is it no wonder why that the Ukraine has a deep seeded hatred toward communism now after suffering through so much. 


 Michael HrushevskyA History of Ukraine. Archon Books, 1970

 I.S. Koropeckyj and Gertrude E. Schroeder, economics of Soviet Regions             Praeger Publishers, 1981

 Olexa Woropay, The Ninth Circle Ukrainian Studies Fund, Inc. 1983

 The Famine: Stalin imposes a “final solution” and The man-made famine of 1933 in  Soviet Ukraine, by Dr. James E. Mace

            Posted at

 The New York Times And the Great Famine, by Marco Carynnyk

Posted at

Ukraine’s `forced famine` officially recognized by Lara Bradley

            Posted at:

Pictures from

Olexa Woropay, The Ninth Circle Ukrainian Studies Fund, Inc. 1983



[1] The Ninth Circle Author’s intro

[2] The Ninth Circle Author’s intro

[6]  By Carynnyk

 [7] The Ninth Circle Editors intro

[8] The Ninth Circle Editors intro

[9]   by Dr. Mace

    Table included

[11] The Ninth Circle  Chap 2

[12] The Ninth Circle Chap 3

[13] I.S. Koropeckyj and Gertrude E. Schroeder, economics of Soviet Regions pg 272

[14] I.S. Koropeckyj and Gertrude E. Schroeder, economics of Soviet Regions pg 272





OK Economics was designed and it is maintained by Oldrich Kyn.
To send me a message, please use one of the following addresses: ---

This website contains the following sections:

General  Economics:

Economic Systems:

Money and Banking:

Past students:

Czech Republic

Kyn’s Publications

 American education

free hit counters
Nutrisystem Diet Coupons