What was Joseph Stalin's justification for the Holodomor famine?

Joseph Stalin's justification for the Holodomor famine was that the Soviet Union needed to collectivize agricultural production to increase output. In actual fact, however, collectivization led to a catastrophic fall in output, which led to widespread starvation in what is now Ukraine.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Holodomor is a name given to the man-made famine inflicted on the people of what is now Ukraine by the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin. It is reckoned that somewhere in the region of 3.5 million people died of starvation as the supply of food ground to a halt as a direct result of Stalin's policy of collectivization.

Collectivization was designed to improve the Soviet Union's low level of agricultural output. It was believed by the ruling Communist Party that herding peasants into collective farms would not only increase output but break the social and economic power of the so-called kulaks, or wealthy peasants.

These overriding justifications of collectivization were also used to justify the Holodomor. Even when it became obvious that forcing peasants into collective farms was not working—mainly because it entailed the disruption of traditional harvesting methods—the authorities plowed on regardless, causing suffering on a massive scale.

Stalin also sought to justify this deliberate act of mass murder as a means of destroying Ukrainian nationalism, which remained strong at that time despite official repression. The deaths of so many Ukrainians meant that it would be more difficult for Ukraine—at that time the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic— to become an independent sovereign state.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial