Friday, 9 October 2009


It was time to industrialise, to enter the world market. You made a five-year plan. Russia would expand its farming so it could feed its rapidly-growing cities. You would trade the rest of the grain on the world market to get the industrial tools and equipment you needed to build a modern nation.

You needed more grain. You sent 25,000 of your best men to every locality, each with secret police, to convince the people to join the cause. Collective farms were the only way forward, the only way to support the state. But the people were stubborn, wanted to keep hold of their own land, had to be ‘persuaded’ to agree.

The 1931 harvest was poor. You took 42% of Ukraine’s grain, irritated when local officials said there’d be no seeds for planting. When people spoke of starvation you called them unpatriotic. Ukrainian farmers tried to hide grain from your collectors, and furious, you took everything: every bit of grain, every bit of food, killing anyone who resisted. You would crush Ukrainian insurrection, create loyalty by force. Your vision for Russia would not founder.

You sent some grain in that terrible winter, but not enough. 14.5 million people died, about half were executed or sent to gulags; the famine claimed the rest.