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How many people were affected during the famine? Are there any sources for Soviet records on the Golodomor?

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Hm, I'm not so sure that you'll find a good answer to this, especially from Soviet records, given that the Soviet Union denied the famine even happened for quite some time. – Yannis Nov 19 '12 at 22:49
This is a great question, but I agree with Yannis that you should not really hope for a good answer. Soviets denied its existence as a matter of policy, and Western intelligentsia happily denied it out of their deep and abiding love of Stalin/USSR (I'm looking at you, New York Vremya) – DVK Nov 20 '12 at 17:26
Also, it's "Golodomor", "Golod" being "hunger" and "Holod" being "cold". No matter what Wikipedia calls it – DVK Nov 20 '12 at 17:27
@DVK In 6 popular transliteration standards (including Ukrainian's national), the "cold" is "kholod" or "cholod". Quite unlike usual Russian transliterations. There is only one standard (ISO 9) in which Ukrainian "cold" is "holod". – kubanczyk Nov 20 '12 at 19:22
@DVK: you are right in principle. But the standard transliteration of Ukrainian Г in English is H. English transliteration does not distinguish between Ukrainian letters Г and Х. – Alex Apr 11 at 5:08
up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to the official internal Soviet statistics, the number of excessive mortality in Ukraine in 1932-1933 was 1,532,700 people, of which 1 million 385 thousand in 1933.

A paradoxical fact of this is that in 1933 the total harvest for the USSR was 69 million tonnes (some think this number is overestimation due to the counting method used in the USSR and the actual harvest was about 50 million tonnes), compared to average 35 million tonnes during the war, which did not cause a hunger. The shipment of grain abroad was also drastically cut in 1933. The harvest of fish in 1933 was also very good.

From 19 March 1932 to 4 July 1933 the government shipped additional 1 million tonnes of food to Ukraine at expense of other regions.

It should be noted also that the most of deaths happened in June and July of 1933, during the summer, an non-typical time for hunger.

Another peculiarity of the deaths was that there were no reports of dystrophy which is typical for any historical hunger, including that of 1920s in Volga region, of 1947 and of the siege of Leningrad, as well as hungers in India. Instead, there were numerous reports of widespread tumescence.

It was conjectured by some historians that the actual reason for the excess deaths was a liver disease due to consumption of defective grain.

This could happen because a serious portion of grain was hidden from the state agents or stolen from the kolkhoz fields. The farmers could not purify and winnower their grain themselves because the necessary equipment was transferred to the kolkhozes in the course of collectivization.

It is known that consumption of such grain leads to exactly the same symptoms as those reported for the victims.

Also there were no reported cases of mortality in cities, which always consumed properly processed grain.

Kosior in his report to Stalin wrote:

Why they starve in Kiev oblast where we did virtually no grain procurements?

Overall the picture was the same: where the less were procurements, the higher was mortality.

It should be noted also that there were reported numerous cases where grain storages were found in households where all the family members were found dead.

Kosior wrote to Stalin:

There are facts that many kolkhoz and individual farmers under the influence of panic have hidden their grain, but at the same time they starve themselves. Only in Dnepropetrovsk oblast there were uncovered over 50 such cases.

According to one GPU repot,

At the household of kolkhoz woman Yurchenkova who reported that she was tumescending due to hunger it was discovered 8 poods of rye.

Given these reports and the harvest statistics (which was known to Stalin) it is possible to suggest that Stalin possibly thought that there was enough food available and the farmers intentionally had hidden it and starved due to their own greed.

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OP asked about two things: the numbers and the sources. What question was on your mind when answering? – kubanczyk Nov 25 '12 at 10:22
"Overall the picture was the same: where the less were procurements, the higher was mortality." That's a mind-boggling statement that would have to be substantiated with statistics before one can even start to believe it. – Felix Goldberg Jan 4 '13 at 12:05
Anixx, you fail to give a reference to a document giving your numbers. Merely calling the numbers "official Soviet" isn't sufficient. – jjack Apr 9 at 12:14
I'd like to see sources on this also. – axsvl77 Jul 26 at 5:22

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor#Death_toll

A 2002 study by Vallin et al. utilizing some similar primary sources to Kulchytsky, and performing an analysis with more sophisticated demographic tools with forward projection of expected growth from the 1926 census and backward projection from the 1939 census estimate the amount of direct deaths for 1933 as 2.582 million. This number of deaths does not reflect the total demographic loss for Ukraine from these events as the fall of the birth rate during crisis and the out-migration contribute to the latter as well. The total population shortfall from the expected value between 1926 and 1939 estimated by Vallin amounted to 4.566 million. Of this number, 1.057 million is attributed to birth deficit, 930,000 to forced out-migration, and 2.582 million to the combination of excess mortality and voluntary out-migration.


According to historian Timothy Snyder, the recorded figure of excess deaths was 2.4 million. However, Snyder claims that this figure is "substantially low" due to many deaths going unrecorded. Snyder states that demographic calculations carried out by the Ukrainian government provide a figure of 3.89 million dead, and opined that the actual figure is likely between these two figures, approximately 3.3 million deaths to starvation and disease related to the starvation in Ukraine from 1932–1933. Snyder also estimates that of the million people who died in Soviet Russia from famine at the same time, approximately 200,000 were ethnic Ukrainians due to Ukrainian-inhabited regions being particularly hard hit in Russia.


According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the overall number of Ukrainians who died from 1932–1933 famine is estimated as about four to five million out of six to eight million people who died in the Soviet Union as a whole.

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The wikipedia article is rubbish on this topic, as it is on any Central or Eastern European topic where nationalist mythologies are in play—the holodomor is a specific mythic imagination in the minds of Ukrainian nationalists, and ignores the real extent of the famine that year in other SSRs. You need to cite the EB edition, as scholarship in this area has moved rapidly since archival opening. (ie: EB is probably over-estimating) – Samuel Russell Nov 20 '12 at 21:00
@SamuelRussell - You may have notice that Wiki cited TWO OTHER studies aside from EB? And unlike you, I actually spoke to people who survived that and it was not a "mythic imagination" in any way shape or form, much as it galls you to acknowledge that a benevolent left wing regime may do something like that on purpose – DVK Nov 20 '12 at 23:07
Yes, I am very familiar with that wiki article; and with the attempt by Ukraine to portray a generalised famine as a unique national experience only suffered by Ukrainians. – Samuel Russell Nov 24 '12 at 8:29
@SamuelRussell: Perhaps instead you could present sources that talk about this "generalized famine" in 1932-3? – Felix Goldberg Jan 4 '13 at 12:07
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_famine_of_1932%E2%80%931933; Contains an extensive bibliography including 2004 book by R.W. Davies and S.G. Wheatcroft, The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture, 1931–33 2004. Not known for their left sympathies either. Also three peer reviewed journal articles in the last 10 years from American journals characterising it as a general famine. – Samuel Russell Jan 5 '13 at 1:47

The Western authorities on this are Robert Conquest (Harvest of Sorrow) and Timothy Snyder, already mentioned. Robert Conquest gives an estimate of 4 millions. Snyder is somewhat more conservative.

But we will never know the exact number: the earliest census after this was forged, and those who did it exterminated.

EDIT. In one comment a method of "asking random Ukrainians" is proposed. I am a Ukrainian, and my grandparents survived it, by escaping from a village to a large city (Kharkiv) shortly before it began. I lived in Ukraine for 36 years, and have heard plenty of eyewitness accounts.

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I took the liberty of adding a hyperlink to wiki, hope you don't mind. – Felix Goldberg Apr 10 at 7:33
@Felix Goldberg. Thanks. Of course I don't mind when someone improves my ans:-) – Alex Apr 11 at 5:02
Robert Conquest writes propaganda. It is best to look at population figures, and do a survey by asking random Ukrainians you meet about the fate of relatives. This produces a rough statistical assessment which disproves the ridiculous figures of Western propagandists extremely easily. – Ron Maimon Jul 18 at 1:43
@Ron Maimon: I strongly disagree with all your statements. Robert Conquest is not a propaganda, but the population figures from the Soviet census are definitely forged (read the story of this census). Concerning people that I meet, I lived in Ukraine for 36 years and met many people. – Alex Jul 25 at 16:01

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