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Munk Centre

Terry Martin
(Department of History, Harvard University)

"Stalin and the Ukrainian Famine"

On November 20 at the Annual Ukrainian Famine Lecture (co-sponsored with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Toronto Branch), we at CREES had the pleasure of once again listening to Terry Martin of Harvard University present a paper on the Ukrainian Famine of 1933. For the last ten years, Professor Martin's has been examining the link between ethnicity and the famine. At this point in his research, thanks in part to newly declassified archives in the former Soviet Union, Professor Martin is focussed on Stalin's personal role in the Ukrainian famine.

Highlighting the Soviet system of grain quotas and requisition, Professor Martin insightfully linked the abuse of this system with Stalin's fear of Ukrainian nationalism. Illustrating the ethnic tensions between Russians and Ukrainians in the Soviet Union, Professor Martin argued that the Soviet "affirmative action" government at first sided with the underdog Ukrainian following a policy of Ukrainization. However, in the fall of 19332, Stalin, based on his own paranoid suspicion of the weak Party apparatus in Kyiv and the possibility of a Polish insurrection, suddenly turned his back on the Ukraine. When the grain quotas from the Ukraine were not met, Stalin immediately viewed it as rebellion. Rather than assess the situation for what it was, he simply demanded that the quotas be met. Professor Martin argued that the Ukrainian Party members were in the terrible position of trying to please Stalin, while at the same time keep the population feed.

Filling the large conference room, Professor Martin's presentation generated much discussion among the mixture of students, professors, and members of the Toronto Ukrainian community. After responding to a barrage of questions, Professor Martin was invited to speak again next year, in what promises to be an insightful continuation of his exciting research.

Peter Wrinch, CREES

Content: © 2002 Petro Jacyk • Design: © 2002 dragandesign.