Ukraine has always been invaluable to Russia as a ready source of gain. For centuries, the fertile black earth of the Eastern European plains was cultivated by peasant farmers who led a traditional way of life attached to their patches of land. When Stalin came to power in 1924, he instigated a reign of terror in the Ukraine that ranks among the foremost of his crimes against humanity. Over the next few years, he imposed a ruthless policy of collectivization. The kulaks’ land was sized for state farms and they were forced to work their own land as state employees. Many rebelled and were shot. In 1928, Stalin piled on the pressure by increasing the kulaks’ taxes at the same time as requisitioning ever-larger quotas of grain.By 1932 the demand of the state had become insatiable. At the end of that year the kulaks were forced to surrender their seed grain, without which they could not plant the following years harvest. From February to August 1933 they were ordered to hand over all foodstuffs; at the same time travel restrictions were imposed and the secret police brutally sniffed out any hoarders. The effect was to create a famine of such horrendous proportions that, having devoured first their livestock then cats and dogs and rodents, then starving finally resorted to infanticide and cannibalism.
The quote demands were lifted in 1933, by which time whole villages lay deserted. Survivors were transported to the Siberian gulags (forced labour camps) and Russian settlers were sent into the Ukraine to replace the dead. For years, successive governments of the USSR denied the famine had ever happened. To this day, although Russia accepts that incompetent agricultural policies contributed to mass starvation, it still denies there was any deliberate policy of genocide – officially, Holodomor never happened.