The Holodomor of 1932-1933 through the Eyes of Foreign Diplomats

Keywords: Holodomor 1932-1933, foreign consuls, reports, Ukraine, USSR


Despite the fact that the modern science of our country has a considerable number of scientific and monographic works devoted to the highlighting of the Holodomor of 1932-1933, nowadays this issue still remains relevant. Since both Ukrainian and foreign scholars, continuing advanced study of this issue, use more and more new materials which show the «enormous catastrophe» committed by the Soviet power against Ukrainian people.

In our case, the notes of foreign diplomatic representatives working in Ukraine at that time are invaluable. Just these documents make it possible to find out the circumstances of that horrific tragedy in the history of mankind and its catastrophic consequences and also to understand why the governments of those countries, knowing from the reports of their diplomats about the situation in Ukraine, remained indifferent and did not assist the dying Ukrainian people.

Foreign consuls working in Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Odesa made great efforts to collect information and inform their governments about the political and economic situation in the USSR and the inhumane policies of the Soviet authorities. The information provided was collected while going around the consular districts and during conversations with consulate visitors, as well as through collaboration with the colleagues. None of the foreign consuls in Ukraine at that time suppressed the Soviet government's policy concerning Ukrainian population, but the reports of German, Polish and Italian consuls were the most informative. Especially when we talk about German reports, which could be explained by a well-developed consular network, cooperation with all possible strata of the population and a good knowledge of Russian language.

In their reports to the governments of their own countries, foreign consuls described the policy of «rozkurkulennia» and forced collectivization. Much attention was paid to the repressions in the rural areas, especially the inhumane attitude to so-called «kulaks» – elements, unwanted for the Soviet power. In addition, information was given on the various gestures of protests of the rural population against the introduction of a new agricultural policy by the «Soviets». They also told about the policy of hushing up and denial of the Holodomor by the Soviet government.

However, although interwar Europe was aware of the mass Holodomor in Ukraine and the death of millions of peasants, this issue was not a subject of international debate, not to mention a formal condemnation of USSR policy. At that time, there was a conviction of the absoluteness of state sovereignty and the inappropriateness of interference by international organizations in the internal affairs of other countries. The reports provided by foreign consuls working in the USSR and diplomats in Moscow (Italy, England, Germany) were ignored. The governments of European countries, as well as the United States, intentionally avoided the publication of any information and statements on the Holodomor in Ukraine, prioritizing the development of bilateral relations with the Soviet Union.


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How to Cite
Vovchuk, L., & Kornovenko, S. (2019). The Holodomor of 1932-1933 through the Eyes of Foreign Diplomats. Eminak: Scientific Quarterly Journal, (4(28), 71-82.
History of Ukraine