Scholarly works on the Holodomor
Holodomor studies are a wide and growing body of work! Here we include just a selection of resources that are available either online or in print. They offer a core understanding of the historical circumstances of the Holodomor based primarily on scholarly research among documents, newspaper accounts, survivor and witness testimony, and related primary sources. See also other categories in the Information Links list. Many additional scholarly works are accessible or identified focusing on these particular topics: Primary sources related to the Holodomor; The Holodomor as Genocide; and Holodomor denial, propaganda, role of the media
This rather long list of entries is subdivided as follows:
I) Classic “go to resources” on the Holodomor and others offering a broad treatment of the topic.
- Brief historical summaries
- Some early works
- Full-length monographs devoted to the Holodomor
- Collected works on the Holodomor
- Selected journal articles and papers
II) General books on history, genocide, or other topics with chapters on the Holodomor
- Chapters in books devoted to Ukrainian history
- Chapters in other monographs and collections
III) Some special topics related to the Holodomor
“…until 1986, when Robert Conquest published his Harvest of Sorrow, historians had almost completely ignored this extraordinary event. This is not to say that there was no documentation available, as I realized when reading Italian diplomats’ reports to Mussolini—in fact such documents prove that it had always been possible to know. Thanks to the twentieth-century mass population movements—migrations, forced or otherwise, displacements, etc.—and the traces that they left, such as diplomatic dispatches, travel accounts, memoirs of witnesses and victims, much was there, ready to bear witness. In this light it is startling to recall how little we knew before Conquest’s book appeared…”
“That is why Conquest’s book, … has been of crucial importance: it forced a reluctant profession to deal with a fundamental question, and it did so by stressing the connection between famine and the national question …”
“…historians finally became aware of these events’ extraordinary human and intellectual dimensions. This process was, and still is, especially painful because it took and is taking place after a historical judgment had already been made and a “collective memory” had set in, all without the Soviet famines entering the picture. This was both a consequence of the successful Soviet attempt at concealment and a manifestation of one of the European twentieth century’s key features—the logic of “taking sides” that dominated the discussion. Therefore, the famines had to, and today still have to, be brought into our representation of the past at the price of a complete restructuring of commonly held beliefs.” Andrea Graziosi, “The Soviet 1931-1933 Famines and the Ukrainian Holodomor: Is a New Interpretation Possible…”, in Hunger by Design, 2008. p. 2.
Brief historical summaries
~ Holodomor Basic Facts
Includes two excellent, brief summaries by the staff of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium. The Genocide article was prepared by HREC research director Bohdan Klid for the ABC-CLIO Modern Genocide database, and is available on the HREC website, courtesy of the publishers.
~“Famine Story Map Journal,”
A project of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. A brief chronology of the famine through maps, photos, and narrative. Emphasis on the demography, as well as the economic and political geography of the Holodomor.
~“Non-Soviet Scholarship on the Ukrainian Famine,” Chapter 1, in: United States. Commission on the Ukraine Famine. Investigation of the Ukrainian Famine, 1932-1933: Report to Congress. U.S. G.P.O., 1988. pp.1-36.
~ The Holodomor Reader; a Sourcebook on the Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine, compiled and edited by Bohdan Klid and Alexander J. Motyl. Toronto: CIUS Press. 2012.
Particularly “Introduction” and Chapter 1: “Scholarship.”
Selection of early works
Includes the first full length report on the famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine; the 1984 reprint edition includes an historical forward by James Mace. It was originally published in German in 1935 as Muss Russland Hungern? Menschen- und Völkerschicksale in der Sowjetunion (Vienna), with authentic photographs by Alexander Wienerberger. In 1936 it was published in English translation by Allen and Unwin in London. The 1936 English edition as well as the 1984 reprint replaced some of the authentic Wienerberger photos with others, some from the 1921-22 famine, that unfortunately are not labeled as such.
~ Stalinist Rule in the Ukraine : A Study of the Decade of Mass Terror (1929-39) , by Hryhory Kostiuk. Praeger, 1960.
~ The Ukrainian Holocaust of 1933, by Vasyl Hryshko, translated and edited by Marco Carynnyk. Toronto: Bahriany Foundation, 1983.
Chapter 8: “The Tragedy of 1933 in Samvydav,” pp. 125- 143, describes the work of some early Ukrainian dissident writers in the 1960’s who dared to reflect on the long taboo subject of the artificial famine in Ukraine.
~ Famine in Ukraine, 1932-1933, ed. by Roman Serbyn and Bohdan Krawchenko. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, 1986.
A collection of papers. Table of contents and overview.
~ The Great Famine in Ukraine: the Unknown Holocaust, compiled by the editors of the Ukrainian Weekly; Ukrainian National Association, 1983; 2nd ed: 1988. (click on the pdf button).
Booklet of articles by James Mace, Myron Kuropas (on the “Red Decade”), Marco Carynnyk (on Malcolm Muggeridge), along with a selection of survivor and press accounts and comments from Ukrainian dissidents.
Full-length monographs devoted to the Holodomor
~ The Red Famine; Stalin’s War on Ukraine, by Anne Applebaum. Doubleday, 2017.
From the introduction:Ukrainians “perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them. Devastating and definitive, Red Famine captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil. Today, Russia, the successor to the Soviet Union, has placed Ukrainian independence in its sights once more. Applebaum’s compulsively readable narrative recalls one of the worst crimes of the twentieth century, and shows how it may foreshadow a new threat to the political order in the twenty-first.” Table of contents and preview
First comprehensive English language scholarly analysis. Table of contents and other search options.
“a distillation of thirty years of study of the topic by one of Ukraine’s leading historians.”
Collected works on the Holodomor
~ After the Holodomor : the Enduring Impact of the Great Famine on Ukraine, edited by Andrea Graziosi, Lubomyr A. Hajda, and Halyna Hryn. Cambridge, MA : Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University. 2013.
A collection of papers. Table of contents and other information.
~ Contextualizing the Holodomor:The Impact of Thirty Years of Ukrainian Famine Studies, edited by Andrij Makuch and Frank Sysyn. Toronto: CIUS Press, 2015. Table of contents and access options.
~ Famine-genocide in Ukraine, 1932-1933: Western Archives, Testimonies and New Research, by Wsevolod W Isajiw. Toronto, ON: Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre, 2003.
A collection of papers. Table of contents and overview.
Articles by Huttenback, Hunczak, von Hagen, Serbyn, Shapoval, and Wolowyna; also newly translated archival decrees, correspondence, and survivor testimony.
~Famine in Ukraine, by David R. Marples. Saskatoon: Heritage Press, 2011.
Clearly presents the progression of decision and events that resulted in the Holodomor. This limited print edition that is part of the “Mohyla Lecture Publication” series, includes 12 daring illustrations by Vasyl Sedliar which first appeared in 1933, and led to the artist’s eventual execution. (see also Photodocumentations, art, exhibits).
~ Holodomor: Reflections on the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine, by Lubomyr Y. Luciuk and Lisa Grekul. Kingston, Ont: Kashtan Press, 2008.
Scholarly essays and opinion pieces reflecting a range of contemporary perspectives on the topic.
~ Hunger by Design; The Great Ukrainian Famine and Its Soviet Context, ed. by Halyna Hryn. Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. 2008.
Revised papers from a 2003 conference at the Institute; particularly those by Andrea Graziosi Hennadii Boriak, Sergei Maksudov, and George G. Grabowicz. Description of contents.
Selected journal articles and papers
~ “Ukraine 1933: The Terror Famine,” by Robert Conquest.
Paper delivered as part of the series: Genocide and Mass Murder in the Twentieth Century: A Historical Perspective, sponsored by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. 1995.
Very readable presentation on Stalin’s imposition of the famine, with a particularly good description of the social aspects, such as the demonization of the peasants, and the consequences of living the lie of denial.
~Dancing with Stalin by Steve Komarnyckyj.Speech presented at the Cambridge University Ukrainian Society Meeting in Cambridge, England, February 6, 2009.
Beautifully expressive narrative of the Holodomor – its causes and consequences. Thoroughly researched with references.
~ “Stalin and the Soviet Famine of 1932-33 Revisited; Discussion Article,” by Michael Ellman. Europe-Asia Studies, v.59, 2007, pp.663-693.
Argues against the position of Wheatcroft and Davies (see also Years of Hunger below) regarding Stalin’s intentions, and also weighs in on the genocide issue.
~ “Towards a Decentred History: The Study of the Holodomor and Ukrainian Historiography,” by Olga Andriewsky in East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies, Vol. 2 No. 1 (2015)
Very insightful overview of the major topics of Holodomor study, how they intersected, differed, and matured. Suggests, with examples, that more attention go to critically analyzing the evidence offered by survivor testimonies and other local data in order to build a more robust social history of the Holodomor.
General books on history, genocide, or other topics with chapters on the Holodomor
History of Ukraine and Soviet Union:
~ A History of Ukraine: The Land and Its Peoples, by Paul R. Magocsi. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010. Table of contents and preview.
Particularly, Chapter 43: Soviet Ukraine: the Struggle for Autonomy, andChapter 44: “Soviet Ukraine: Economic, Political, and Cultural Integration.” pp. 585-610.
~ Ukraine : A History, by Orest Subtelny. 4th ed., University of Toronto Press, 2009. Table of contents and preview.
Particularly, Chapter 20: Soviet Ukraine: the Innovative Twenties; and Chapter 21: Soviet Ukraine: the Traumatic Thirties.
~ Total Wars and the Making of Modern Ukraine, 1914–1954, by George O. Liber. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016.
Particularly, Part 2: “The Second Total War: Social Engineering,” pp. 111-200. Table of contents and introductory pages.
~ Heroes and Villains: Creating National History in Contemporary Ukraine, by David R. Marples. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2008.
Particularly, Chapter 2: “The Famine of 1932-33,” pp.35-78. Table of contents and overview.
U.S. and European History:
~ The Affirmative Action Empire; Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939, by Terry Martin. Cornell University Press, 2001.
Particularly Chapter 7: “The National Interpretation of the 1933 Famine,” pp.273-308; although related material is found throughout the book. Table of contents and Chapter 1.
~ Stalin’s genocides, by Norman M Naimark. Princeton University Press. 2010.
~ Bloodlands; Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, by Timothy Snyder. New York: Basic Books. 2010.
Particularly, Chapter 1: “The Soviet Famines,” pp. 21-58. Groundbreaking work by Yale scholar that describes the development and interplay of Europe’s two most murderous regimes of the 20th c. that annihilated tens of millions of civilians in Eastern Europe. Presents the full complexity of the era while appreciating the enormous tragedies suffered by all the victims. Table of contents and more.
~ Friends or Foes? The United States and Soviet Russia, 1921-1941, by Norman E. Saul. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006.
Though in no way specific either to Ukraine or the Famine, provides a detailed description of the US’s extensive private sector involvement in the USSR’s industrial, financial, trade, and overall economic development during this period. Cultural exchange and diplomatic relations are also discussed.
Communism and Genocide:
~ The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, by Stephane Courtois and Mark Kramer. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1999. Table of contents and preview.
Particularly Part I: “A State against Its People: Violence, Repression, and Terror in the Soviet Union,” by Nicolas Werth; sections 7-9, pp. 146-179.
~ Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century, by Benjamin A. Valentino. Cornell University Press, 2005.
Particularly, Chapter 4: “Communist Mass Killings: The Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia,” pp. 91-151. Rather than focusing on standard definitional arguments, Valentino examines the commonalities and distinguishing features of leaders and their perpetrators across a broad spectrum of genocidal violence. Table of contents and more.
~ Reigns of Terror, by M P Marchak. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003. Table of contents and preview.
Particularly, Chapter 8: “The USSR, 1932-33,” beginning with “Genocide/Politicide in Eastern Ukraine,” pp. 177-189.
~ Communism and Hunger: The Ukrainian, Chinese, Kazakh, and Soviet Famines in Comparative Perspective, edited by Andrea Graziosi and Frank Sysyn. Toronto: CIUS Press, 2016. Table of contents and access options.
Read online as individual articles from its original publication as a special thematic issue of East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies, Vol. 3 No. 2 (2016). Or purchase as published volume.
~Famines in European Economic History: The Last Great European Famines Reconsidered, by Declan Curran, Lubomyr Y Luciuk, and Andrew G Newby. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015. Table of contents and preview.
A scholarly examination of the Irish, Finnish, and Ukraine famines; section 3 is devoted to the Holodomor and includes 3 chapters on the subject: Chapters: 7. “The origins and course of the famine of 1932–1933 in Soviet Ukraine;” 8. “1932–33 famine losses in Ukraine within the context of the Soviet Union;” 9. “The uses of hunger: Stalin’s solution of the peasant and national questions in Soviet Ukraine, 1932-1933.” pp.192-222.
~ Holodomor and Gorta Mor: Histories, Memories and Representations of Famine in Ukraine and Ireland, ed. by Vincent Comerford, Lindsay Janssen, and Christian Noack. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Table of contents and further information.
Based on a conference held in 2009; includes important papers by Kulchytskyi, Marples, Kasianov, and Papash.
~ Hungry Ghosts: Mao’s Secret Famine, by Jasper Becker. New York: Henry Holt, 1998. Table of contents and preview.
Particularly Chapter 3: “The Soviet Famine,” pp. 37-46; and referenced throughout in comparison to the Chinese famine. Though some inaccuracies are apparent, nonetheless, offers a valuable comparative perspective.
Other Special Topics
~ “Blacklists as an Instrument of the Famine-Genocide of 1932–1933 in Ukraine,” by Heorhii Papakin. Translated from the Ukrainian by Marta D. Olynyk. locate title here for online text.
~ ”’Capital of Despair’ : Holodomor Memory and Political Conflicts in Kharkiv after the Orange Revolution,” by Tatiana Zhurzhenko. East European Politics and Societies v. 25, 2011, pp. 597-639. Download available via Researchgate.
In-depth examination of the deep conflicts from political, ideological, religious, and popular perspectives that impacted how the Holodomor was to remembered against long-standing Soviet narrative priorities.
~ “Defying Death: Women’s Experience of the Holodomor, 1932-1933,” by Oksana Kis. Aspasia; 2013, Vol. 7 Issue 1, pp. 42-67.
The author writes (p. 48): “I believe that by exploring and highlighting women’s practices of resistance and survival strategies in the harshest circumstances this article shows that women were not submissive victims passively accepting their fate. On the contrary, they defied death. I hope to contribute to restoring the human dignity of those who died and those who survived.
~ “Dekulakisation as mass violence,” by Nicolas Werth. Published in Mass Violence & Resistance (MV&R); formerly the Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, 23 September 2011.
In concluding, states how this mass crime was an act of “class genocide.”
~ “Ethnic Issues in the Famine of 1932–1933 in Ukraine,” by David R. Marples. Europa-Asia Studies, Vol. 61, #3, May 2009, pp. 505-518. (Also as Chapter 2 in Holodomor and Gorta Mór: Histories, Memories and Representations of Famine in Ukraine and Ireland
Offers compelling examples from archival documents of the significance of “the national question” for a true understanding of the Holodomor as specific to Ukraine, and how this must be included in the research and writing of today’s English-speaking academic community, which has tended to focus on agricultural data within pan-Soviet perspectives.
~ Freedom and Terror in the Donbas: A Ukrainian-Russian Borderland, 1870s-1990s, by Hiroaki Kuromiya. Cambridge University Press, 1998. Table of contents and preview.
“Presents the tumultuous history of the steppe frontier land from its foundation as a modern coal and steel industrial center to the post-Soviet present.”(from the editor). Of particular Holodomor relevance is his discussion of the transitions, conditions, and interrelations of the labor population in Chap. 4: “The New Economic Policy,”and Chap. 5:”The Famine Crisis.”
~ The Generation of Power : The History of Dneprostroi, by Anne Dickason Rassweiler. Oxford University Press, 1988. Table of contents and preview.
Presents the history from concept to completion in the fall of 1932 of the largest dam in Europe – built across Ukraine’s largest river, the Dnipro. Particularly interesting with regard to the Holodomor is the description of the conditions endured by the labor force and their families in chapters 4 and 5, pp.91-155.
~ “The GPU-NKVD as an Instrument of Counter-Ukrainization in the 1920s and 1930s,” by Yuri Shapoval. In: Culture, Nation, and Identity: The Ukrainian-Russian Encounter, 1600-1945, ed. by Andreas Kappeler, Zenon E Kohut, Frank E Sysyn, and Mark Von Hagen. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 2003. pp. 325-343.
~ “The House of Writers in Ukraine, the 1930s: Conceived, Lived, Perceived,” by Olga Bertelsen in The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies [Online], 0.2302 (2013).
“This study analyzes how the meaning of the place was transformed from an oasis of intellectual freedom to one of the most agonizing and tragic sites in Kharkiv, a place of suffering, and how the changes in human perceptions of places and their meanings altered people’s group identity as well as individual convictions and behaviors.” (from the abstract)
~ “Mass Crimes under Stalin (1930-1953),” by Nicolas Werth. Published in Mass Violence & Resistance (MV&R); formerly the Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, 14 March 2008.
Focuses primarily on the mass deportation of kulaks, the Famine in Ukraine, and a chronology of later crimes.
~ Soviet Nationality Policy, Urban Growth, and Identity Change in the Ukrainian SSR, 1923-1934, by George O. Liber. Cambridge University Press, 1992.
From the publisher: ” The author shows how the interplay between industrialization, urbanization, and Soviet preferential policies produced a modern, urban Ukrainian identity. This, he argues, explains why the Stalinist leadership changed its course on the nationality question in the 1930s and gave precedence to the Russians in the USSR.”
~ “The Soviet Regime’s National Operations in Ukraine, 1929–1934,” by Myroslav Shkandrij and Olga Bertelsen in Canadian Slavonic Papers, Vol. 55, 2013, pp. 417-447. Download available via Researchgate.
“archival materials indicate that a counter-Ukrainization was already being planned in the mid-1920s. The article argues that trials of “nationalists” were organized in order to prevent the crystallization of a political opposition in Ukraine at a time of crisis brought about by collectivization and famine. The repression of Ukrainians had a national component, was inspired by the centre, carefully organized by the secret police, and implemented through a steady flow of group criminal cases.” (from the abstract)
~ “‘Torgsin’: The Price in Gold of the Lives of Ukrainian Peasants during the Famine Years (1932–1933),” by Vasyl Marochko (n.d.); translated by Marta D. Olynyk. locate title here for online text.