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Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine puts Ukraine’s Holodomor in context

Applebaum argues that the Holodomor was not just a humanitarian disaster—it was a systematic attack on the country itself.

By Catriona Kelly   October 2017

The 1932-33 famine precipitated by forced collectivisation is Ukraine’s principal national tragedy. Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine draws on an impressive range of published primary sources and recent secondary literature to put the Holodomor, as it is known, in context as well as evoking the terrible months during which around 4.5m people died. Already in 1920, Soviet procurements commissars requisitioning grain decided that “state interests must always come first.” A decade later, such callousness, plus grotesque over-estimates of grain supposedly hidden, made Stalin and his henchmen dismiss evidence of mass starvation.

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