"HOLOCAUST AND HOLODOMOR
by Nicholas Lysson
One might think the worst holocaust deniers—at least the only ones who command serious attention—are those who insist the Nazi holocaust, as it involved the Jews only, was without parallel.
Guenter Lewy argues for example in The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies (Oxford University Press, 2000) that while the Gypsies were gassed, shot and otherwise exter-minated in great numbers,right alongside the Jews, they were not true victims of “the” Holocaust (capital “H”) but only of something collateral. Lewy even suggests the Gypsies invited their own destruction with certain cultural traits—in particular, sharply divergent moral standards for dealing among their own and with outsiders.
But pre- or anti-Enlightenment Judaism is hardly a less ethnocentric or hostile moral system. As Edward Gibbon correctly notes in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1, ch. 15 (1776), “the wise, the humane Maimonides openly teaches [in The Book of Torts, 5:11] that, if an idolator fall into the water, a Jew ought not to save him from instant death.” See also Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai’s remarkable second-century exercise in ejusdem generis: “The best of the heathen merits death; the best of serpents should have its head crushed; and the most pious of women is prone to sorcery” (Yer. Kid. iv. 66c; Massek. Soferim xv. 10; comp. Mek., Beshallah, Wayehi, 1, and Tan., Wayera, 20, all as cited by JewishEncyclopedia. com). For “heathen” some translators simply write “goyim”; for “prone to sorcery” they write “a witch.” Rabbi Simeon is mentioned more than 700 times in the Talmud.
Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, in Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (2d ed. 2004), say (p. 1) “that in the usual English translations of talmudic literature some of the most sensitive passages are usually toned down or falsified,” and indeed (pp. 150-51) that “the great majority of books on Judaism and Israel, published in English especially, falsify their subject matter,” in part by omitting or obscuring such teachings. For a fuller discussion of the point, see Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, esp. ch. 2 (1994), available online. As to Jews, Gypsies or anyone else, of course, ethnocentrism or even outright cultural hostility as a rationale for genocide is obscene.
A particularly relevant parallel to the Nazi holocaust is the Ukrainian holodomor of 1932-33, a state-created famine—not a crop failure—that killed an estimated five million people in the Ukraine, one million in the Caucasus, and one million elsewhere after the Soviet state confiscated the harvest at gunpoint. Throughout the famine, the state continued to export grain to pay for industrialization. See Robert Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow (Oxford University Press, 1987). Norman Davies gives the following description in Europe: A History, p. 965 (Oxford University Press, 1996). His first paragraph assembles quotations from Conquest; the bracketed phrase is his own:
“A quarter of the rural population, men, women and children, lay dead or dying” in “a great stretch of territory with some forty million inhabitants,” “like one vast Belsen.” “The rest, in various stages of debilitation,” “had no strength to bury their families or neighbours.” “[As at Belsen] well-fed squads of police or party officials supervised the victims.”
. . . All food stocks were forcibly requisitioned; a military cordon prevented all supplies from entering; and the people were left to die. The aim was to kill Ukrainian nationhood, and with it the “class enemy.” The death toll reached some 7 million. The world has seen many terrible famines. . . . But a famine organized as a genocidal act of state policy must be considered unique.
See also Oksana Procyk, Leonid Heretz and James E. Mace, Famine in the Soviet Ukraine, 1932-33 (Harvard University Press, 1986); Nicolas Werth, “The Great Famine,” in Stephane Courtois, et al., The Black Book of Communism, pp. 159-68 (Harvard University Press, 1999); Edvard Radzinsky, Stalin, pp. 257-59 (1996); Miron Dolot, Execution by Hunger (1985); Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, pp. 84-85 (2003); and the Commission on the Ukrainian Famine, Report to Congress (1988). That report, at pp. 6-7, cites estimates of the number killed that range as high as 8 million in the Ukraine and 9 million overall.
Piers Brendon, The Dark Valley, pp. 248-49 (2000) gives this description, drawn from still further sources, all cited in his notes:
A population of “walking corpses” . . . even ate horse-manure for the whole grains of seed it contained. . . . Cannibalism became so common-place that. . . local authorities issued hundreds of posters announcing that “EATING DEAD CHILDREN IS BARBARISM.”. . .
They staggered into towns and collapsed in the squares. . . . Haunting the railway stations these “swollen human shadows, full of rubbish, alive with lice,” followed passengers with mute appeals. . . . [They] “dragged themselves along, begging for bread or searching for scraps in garbage heaps, frozen and filthy. Each morning wagons rolled along the streets picking up the remains of the dead.” Some were picked up before they died and buried in pits so extensive that they resembled sand dunes and so shallow that bodies were dug up and devoured by wolves.
Boris Pasternak says “what I saw could not be expressed in words. . . . There was such inhuman, unimaginable misery, such a terrible disaster, that it began to seem almost abstract, it would not fit within the bounds of consciousness.” See Brian Moynahan, The Russian Century, p. 130 (1994). Nikita Khrushchev, in Khrushchev Remembers: The Final Testament, p. 120 (1976), says “I can’t give an exact figure because no one was keeping count. All we knew was that people were dying in enormous numbers.”
According to S. J. Taylor, Stalin’s Apologist: Walter Duranty, The New York Times’s Man in Moscow, p. 202 (Oxford University Press 1990), “. . .Soviet authorities
. . . require[d] that the shades of all windows be pulled down on trains traveling through the North Caucasus, the Ukraine and the Volga basin.” At pp. 239-40, Taylor says this famine “remains the greatest man-made disaster ever recorded, exceeding in scale even the Jewish Holocaust of the next decade.”
In September 1933, Duranty—who cultivated his relationship with Stalin, and is remembered today for his public denials that any such thing was happening—privately told fellow journalists Eugene Lyons (United Press) and Anne O’Hare McCormick (herself from the New York Times) that the death toll was 7 million, but that the dead were “only Russians.” (Sic: mostly Ukrainians; and note the word “only.”) See Lyons, Assignment in Utopia, pp. 579-80 (1937). Duranty’s number is described in Lyons’s book only as “the most startling I had. . . heard,” but is revealed in Lyons’s “Memo for Malcolm Muggeridge” (Dec. 9, 1937), quoted by Marco Carynnyk in “The New York Times and the Great Famine, Part III,” available online.
Several days after giving the 7-million number to Lyons and McCormick, Duranty told the assembled staff at the British chancery in Moscow that the toll for the Soviet Union as a whole might be as high as 10 million. See the report of William Strang, the charge d’affaires (Sept. 26, 1933), quoted by Carynnyk in the text accompanying n. 46. The British government referred publicly to the ongoing situation as an “illegal famine.” Id., n. 46.
Duranty’s 10-million number may have come from Stalin himself. It’s reputedly the same number Stalin gave Winston Churchill a decade later; see, e.g., Eric Margolis, “Remembering Ukraine’s Unknown Holocaust,” Toronto Sun, Dec. 13, 1998 (available online).
According to Arthur Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine, pp. 261-62 (1967):
In 1932-3, the years of the great famine which followed the forced collectivisation of the land, I travelled widely in the Soviet Union, writing a book which was never published. I saw entire villages deserted, railway stations blocked by crowds of begging families, and the proverbial
starving infants. . . . [T]hey were quite real, with stick-like arms, puffed up bellies and cadaverous heads. I reacted to the brutal impact of reality on illusion in a manner typical of the true believer. I was surprised and bewildered—but the elastic shock-absorbers of my [Communist] Party training began to operate at once. I had eyes to see, and a mind conditioned to explain away what they saw. This “inner censor” is more reliable and effective than any official censorship. . . .
Some Ukrainian accounts, and that of Muggeridge, who covered the holodomor for the Manchester Guardian, take the trouble to say that this mass starvation was imposed largely by Jews. Lazar M. Kaganovich is often identified as an architect of the policy. A photograph in Montefiore, Red Tsar, above, shows him personally searching a farm for concealed food. In Muggeridge’s novel Winter in Moscow (1934) he appears as Kokoshkin, “a Jew” and “Stalin’s chief lieutenant.”
In 2003 Levko Lukyanenko, the first Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, was said to have made an anti-Semitic embarrassment of himself on this subject. But see Orest Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, p. 363 (2d ed. 1994)(“Jews were . . . disproportionately prominent among the Bolsheviks, notably in their leadership, among their tax- and grain-gathering officials, and especially in the despised and feared. . . secret police [emphasis added]”); Montefiore, Red Tsar, above, p. 305 (as late as 1937, Jews accounted for only 5.7 percent of Soviet party members, but “formed a majority in the government” [emphasis added]); Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century, p. 254 (Princeton University Press, 2004)(the secret police was “one of the most Jewish of all Soviet institutions”); and Arno J. Mayer, Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?, p. 60 (1988)(“As of the late twenties . . . [a] disproportionate number of Jews came to hold high posts in the secret police and to serve as political commissars in the armed services. They. . . were. . . appointed to high-level and conspicuous positions which called for unimpeach-able political loyalty. . . ”). Mayer, a professor emeritus of history at Princeton, is himself Jewish, and had to flee the Nazis as a refugee.
The Israeli writer Boas Evron says the leaders of the Soviet revolution were scarcely less Jewish than the Zionists. See his book Jewish State or Israeli Nation?, p. 107 (English tr., Indiana University Press, 1995): “The backgrounds of the two groups were much the same. . . . Only differences of chance and temperament caused the one [individual] to be a Zionist and the other a revolutionary socialist.”
On February 8, 1920, Winston Churchill published an article, “Zionism Versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People,” in the Illustrated Sunday Herald (London), reprinted in Lenni Brenner, ed., 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis, p. 23 (2002). Among other things, Churchill said (pp. 25-26):
There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshe-vism. . . by. . . international and for the most part atheistical Jews. . . . [I]t probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin [who had a Jewish grandfather and by some accounts a Jewish wife], the major-ity of leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders. . . . And the prominent, if not indeed the principal, part in the system of terrorism. . . has been taken by Jews. . . . The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in the brief period of terror during which Bela Kun ruled in Hungary. The same phenomenon has been presented in Germany (especially in Bavaria), so far as this madness has been allowed to prey on the temporary prostration of the German people. (Emphasis added.)
Churchill’s views, as expressed here, resemble those of the Times of London’s correspondent in Russia, Robert Wilton. See George Gustav Telberg and Robert Wilton, The Last Days of the Romanovs (1920), esp. pp. 222-30, 391 (“[t]aken according to numbers of population, the Jews represented one in ten; among the komisars that rule Bolshevik Russia they are nine in ten—if anything, the proportion of Jews is still higher”), 392-93 and 400. The French version of the book, Les Derniers Jours des Romanofs, also published in 1920, contains a list of 556 top figures in the Bolshevik regime, classified by ethnicity. The Jewish proportion is a bit over eight in ten, including two-thirds of the leadership of the secret police. The non-Jews are divided among various small categories—Russian, Lett, Armenian, German, Georgian, etc. The list is absent from the slightly later English and American editions, but is available online. See also John F. O’Conor, The Sokolov Investigation (1971)(a translation, with commentary, of sections of Nikolai Sokolov’s Enquête judiciaire sur l'assassinat de la famille impériale Russe), especially for the comments of O’Conor and his sources on Wilton. ....