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Historian Mark Tauger points out that the peasants shot themselves in the foot in addition to having a natural famine as well as the commissioners (who weren't Jewish but ethnic Ukrainians) being dicks. This link contains his essays showing this. However a daily beast article points this out:

Not surprisingly, Blinova makes no mention of that—or of reports on the famine by British journalists Gareth Jones and Malcolm Muggeridge two years before Walker’s fictions. (Jones, who coined the term “man-made famine,” was barred from re-entering the Soviet Union in retaliation; in 1935, he was murdered by bandits while traveling in China, in what may have been a hit organized by Stalin’s secret police.) Nor does she mention accounts by Russian Jewish writers Vasily Grossman and Lev Kopelev, who could hardly be suspected of pro-Nazi sympathies. And, of course, she does not say a word about declassified documents such as government decrees imposing draconian punitive measures on villages that failed to meet grain production quotas—including confiscation of all food and a complete cutoff of supplies.

I should point out this was happening in Russia as well...so should we really call this an ethnic genocide?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Mark C. Wallace, Bregalad, Fred, Kobunite, Gwen Apr 12 '16 at 19:35

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    Maybe this may help: history.stackexchange.com/a/5658/466 – Anixx Apr 9 '16 at 4:04
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    Who has (credibly) called it an ethnic genocide? Everything I've read (though admittedly I'm no expert) describes it as a consequence of forced collectivism. To the extent that it was deliberate (rather than a byproduct of other policies), it seems to have been intended to eliminate the farming class, who'd be natural opponents of collectivism. – jamesqf Apr 9 '16 at 4:28
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    I deleted my earlier comment because I was a jerk; the question still confuses me. The title doesn't match the question, and perhaps I'm missing who called it genocide. Which question do you want answered? – Mark C. Wallace Apr 9 '16 at 22:35
  • Here is more information for the curious: file:///C:/Users/Irene/Downloads/Tauger,%20Arguing%20from%20Errors.pdf – Jacob Blaustein Apr 10 '16 at 3:47
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    It'd be helpful to explain who is this Blinova. – Felix Goldberg Apr 10 '16 at 7:36
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What was the biggest cause of Holodomor?

Rapid Industrialization --> Need of financing long-term projects --> Food export increase. Plus bad harvest, plus criminal negligence of authorities of all kinds.

so should we really call this an ethnic genocide?

Crime? Yes. Genocide? No.

P.S. Collectivization was a (very bad) "tool", which only made things worse, but it was not a true cause.

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The biggest cause of Holodomor was the policy of Soviet authorities called collectivization. Collectivization was performed in most of the Soviet Union, not only in the Ukraine. But in the Ukraine it was especially severe, because the government wanted to punish Ukrainians whose resistance to Sovetization was perceived as more dangerous than resistance of people in proper Russia. (Ukraine was conquered by the Communist Russia only after 3-d attempt during the civil war.) Similar conditions prevailed in some other regions of Soviet Union. Collectivization in the Ukraine was accompanied by extermination of Ukrainian intellectuals.

"Should we call this ethnic genocide?" The parliament of the independent Ukraine did officially call this genocide. Elsewhere, the issue is somewhat controversial. (Like with genocide of Armenians in Turkey). One reason is that, as I wrote above, collectivization was performed in most of Soviet Union, not only in Ukraine, and there were many victims everywhere. So one can argue that this genocide was not really ethnic, but had some other nature. So "should we call" or not, everyone decides for herself.

The situation with "assigning labels" is somewhat similar to the present situation. Russia attacked Ukraine with military force and annexed its territory, violating all relevant international law and specific agreements. However Western governments are reluctant to call this with proper names, like "war" and "aggression", for political reasons. Even the Ukrainian government did not formally declare war. Though everyone calls this a "war" in Ukraine, and it is clear that this is a war. Politicians, when labeling things, always have many considerations, other than just telling truth.

References:

Governments which recognized Holodomor as genocide: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor#Statements_by_governments

Governments which recognized Armenian genocide: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide#Recognition_of_the_Genocide

Governments which condemned Russian invasion of Ukraine: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reactions_to_the_annexation_of_Crimea_by_the_Russian_Federation

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    The Genocide of Armanians is not controversial outside of Turkey. It is universally accepted that this is a genocide, except for Turkey. – Bregalad Apr 9 '16 at 19:13
  • Your statement is not true. Look at the list of governments who agreed to qualify it as genocide. – Alex Apr 9 '16 at 19:46
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    @Alex: Governments are motivated by political expedience, not fact. – jamesqf Apr 9 '16 at 20:27
  • @jamesqf: you just repeated what I wrote in the last sentence. I would like to see come comments of those who downvoted this answer. – Alex Apr 10 '16 at 15:22
  • @Alex: My comment was in response to your comment about looking at the list of governments. I'm suggesting that the only thing you'll find there is a list of governments which found it politically expedient to describe the Armenian genocide as genocide. – jamesqf Apr 10 '16 at 19:12

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