At this writing, Russian troops are staged on the Ukraine border and the concern is that they will enter the Ukraine soon. What they do next is anyone’s guess, but the prognosis is not good, based on Ukrainian history. The soil there is soaked in blood from other periods, which includes the period called the Holodomor. The Holodomor was only recognized by the Ukrainian government in 2006. The word combines the Ukrainian word for hunger, holod, and the word for plague, which is mor.
There are many reasons cited for the famine that overtook both the Ukraine and other Soviet republics in 1933, but none discount the effect of the Soviet industrial policy of the time. The Soviet government under Joseph Stalin had several aims, and one was to advance the largely agricultural Soviet states to the point of mass industrialization. This policy took areas dedicated to growing food and converted it to making things in factories.
The other policy was what was known as ‘collectivization’ of farm land which took the land out of the hands of the peasants that had been farming it for generations and put it in the hands of large collective farms that the state controlled. This was the industrialization of farming and it was so poorly handled that millions of acres of farmland simply was not planted properly or not planted at all. What grain was produced was seized by the state as part of a quota system. The end result was no food for millions of Ukrainians. Whither it was a deliberate policy of the Russians to starve Ukrainians is still under study. No one denies anymore that millions died and that their deaths were the result of government policy, deliberate or not.
There were disasters and deaths in the Ukraine as a result of Soviet policy in the years before 1933, but 1933 stands out. The Soviets denied any problem exactly as they did 53 years later at Chernobyl, also in the Ukraine, in 1986. But projections made later when records were more widely available show mass depopulation of areas of the Ukraine. The projections show somewhere between 3 million and 10 million died of starvation in a 36 month window.
Of course, for the Ukraine, the death march was just getting underway in 1933. By 1943, the area was occupied by the Nazis who, at first, were supported by the Ukrainians who hated the Soviets. But, the Nazis quickly showed that they had no less bloodlust then the Soviets. Under Nazi rule, the Ukraine was yet another killing field, and many of the largest battles and most brutal fighting of all World War 2 was in the Ukraine between the Soviets and Nazis.
These days, the Nazis are long gone and the Germans are highly unlikely to ever field an army of occupation again. They are forbidden by treaty, and they have falling populations like the rest of Europe. An enormous number of young German men died in the war, many in the Ukraine, and the German population has never recovered, and never will. The Soviets are gone as well, and the Russian states have the same deathbed demographics as the Germans, but this doesn’t mean they can’t seek to revive Soviet glory in the time they have left. Under the unrepentant KGB man, Vladimir Putin, the Russians are restive and clearly see the Ukraine as part of their near-aboard if not lost territory. What they do next is unknown, but Russian forces have never brought peace and prosperity to the Ukraine and never will.