The Holodomor ( Голодомор) is the name given to the famine that took place in Soviet Ukraine in the 1932-1933 agricultural season, as part of a wider famine which took place in other regions of the USSR. The famine was caused by the food requisition actions carried by Soviet authorities. The Holodomor is considered one of the greatest national catastrophes to affect the Ukrainian nation in modern history where millions of inhabitants of Ukraine died of starvation in an unprecedented peacetime catastrophe. Estimates for the total number of casualties within Soviet Ukraine vary between 2.2 million and up to 14 million .
The reasons for the famine are a subject of current scholarly and political debate: there is no international consensus among scholars or politicians on whether the famine was specifically an unintended consequence of the economic problems associated with radical economic changes implemented during the period of Soviet industrialization or whether the Soviet policies that caused the famine were designed as an attack on the rise of Ukrainian nationalism . As of March 2008, the Berkhovnaya Rada (parliament of Ukraine) and several governments of other countries have recognized the actions of the Soviet Government as an act of genocide.
The joint declaration at the United Nations in 2003 has defined the famine as the result of cruel actions and policies of the totalitarian regime that caused the deaths of millions of Ukrainians, Russians, Kazakhs and other nationalities in the USSR. In 2008 the European Parliament has recognized the Holodomor as a crime against humanity.
The famine of 1932-1933 followed the assault on Ukrainian national culture that started in 1928. The events of 1932-1933 in Ukraine were seen by the Soviet Communist leaders as an instrument against Ukrainian self-determination. At the 12th Congress of the Communist Party of Ukraine , Moscow-appointed leader Pavel Postyshev declared that "1933 was the year of the defeat of Ukrainian nationalist counter-revolution." This "defeat" encompassed not just the physical extermination of a significant portion of the Ukrainian peasantry, but also the virtual elimination of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church clergy and the mass imprisonment or execution of Ukrainian intellectuals, writers and artists.
By the end of the 1930s, approximately four-fifths of the Ukrainian cultural elite had been "eliminated". Some, like Ukrainian writer Mykola Khvylovy, committed suicide. One of the leading Ukrainian Bolsheviks,Mykola Skrypnyk, who was in charge of the decade-long Ukraininzation program that had been decisively brought to an end, shot himself in the summer of 1933 at the height of the terrifying purge of the CP(b)U. The Communist Party of Ukraine, under the guidance of state officials like Kaganovich, Kosior, and Pavel Postyshev, boasted in early 1934 of the elimination of "counter-revolutionaries, nationalists, spies and class enemies". Whole academic organizations, such as the Bahaliy Institute of History and Culture, were shut down following the arrests.
In the 1920s, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) had gained a significant following amongst the Ukrainian peasants due to the Soviet policy of weakening the position of the Russian Orthodox Church. Nonetheless, in the late 1920s the Soviet authorities closed thousands of parishes and repressed the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox church. By 1930 the church was taken off the Soviet Registry and the NKVD made sure that it did not exist unofficially.
Ukrainian music ensembles had their repertoires severely restricted and censored. Foreign tours by Ukrainian artists were canceled without explanation. Many artists were arrested and detained often for months at a time without cause. After not receiving any pay for many months, many choirs and artistic ensembles such as the Kiev and Poltava Bandurist Capellas ceased to exist. Blind traditional folk musicians known as kobzars were summoned from all of Ukraine to an ethnographic conference and disappeared.
Repression of the intelligentsia occurred in virtually all parts of the USSR. Despite the assault, education and publishing in the republic remained Ukrainianized for the years to come.
In 1935-36, 83% of all school children in the Ukrainian SSR were taught in Ukrainian even though Ukrainians made up about 80% of the population. In 1936 from 1830 newspapers 1402 were in Ukrainian, as were 177 magazines, in 1936 69 104 thousand Ukrainian books were printed.