Holodomor means “death inflicted by starvation.” In 1932 and 1933, a famine engineered by Josef Stalin killed millions of Ukrainians, the primary victims being rural farmers and villagers who made up about eighty percent of Ukraine’s population in the 1930s. Ukraine has always been the breadbasket of Russia and much of Europe due to its agriculture. Although Ukraine suffered the most, Soviet policies caused Holodomor in other grain-growing regions of Russia. While peasants were dying by the millions, the Soviet secret police agents targeted the Ukrainian political establishment and intelligentsia. Starved parents cooked and ate their children, and other parents begged their children to eat them when they died. Cannibalism became the only alternative to starvation. Peasants were forbidden to leave the Ukrainian republic in search of food.
Under communism, there is no personal property. The Communist Party controls everything. In a free-market capitalistic economy, the price mechanism provides signals that convey information to the producer as to what the consumer wants, how much the consumer wants and gives incentive to the producer to satisfy consumer wants. But if we eliminate private property and the free market, if we forsake the price mechanism, then we are only left with the government. Gosplan was a committee that decided what and how much to produce. Centralized control of the economy has always led to the loss of personal freedom, mass starvation, and subsistence living for most people. When Stalin collectivized the farming sector, the peasants had a common saying “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”
In early 1930, Stalin had announced his intention to “liquidate” prosperous peasants (“kulaks”) as a class so that the state could control agriculture. In his pursuit to industrialize, Stalin needed to import industrial products from the West. When the United States refused to accept gold as payment for its industrial products and only wanted grain, Stalin had a reason to confiscate Ukraine’s grain. Most economies went under with the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression. But instead of accepting gold, France and Britain continued their grain policy. Stalin could either stop importing – which would mean halting industrial development, as was intended by the capitalist powers – or continue the modernization by exporting grain. Whichever road he chose, the West would remain victorious.