Documenting the Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: Archival Collections on the Holodomor outside the former Soviet Union

November 1-2, 2019 (Edmonton)


The publication of Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror—Famine (New York‐Oxford, 1986) brought the attention of the scholarly world to the long-neglected topic of collectivization and the famine of 1932–1933 in Ukraine. At the time of the publication of this pioneering study, scholars did not yet have access to Soviet archives; however, documentary collections had already began to be published, based on materials located outside of the USSR and its successor states, particularly from archival collections associated with the ministries of foreign affairs of those countries that had diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in the early 1930s.[i]

This situation changed dramatically after the fall of the Soviet Union, when the Communist Party and Soviet government archives were substantially, if not completely, opened. An “archival revolution” commenced, stimulating the publication of many articles and monographs as well as important collections of documents in Ukraine and Russia on collectivization and famine in Ukraine, other parts of the USSR, and the entire Soviet Union.[ii]

Although many documents have been published, there are still diplomatic records that likely merit publication found in the archives of other countries, such as Germany, France, Japan, the United States, and of course Russia (which presumably also holds important parts of the German documentation). As well, there are collections associated with immigrant and diaspora communities, especially their organizations and institutions in Europe and North America, which have yet to be thoroughly investigated for Holodomor‐related materials. Besides the large Ukrainian pre-World War II immigrant and post‐World War II émigré communities, there were significant numbers of Mennonites, Jews, and other minorities who emigrated from Soviet Ukraine. Archives from these communities are another potential source given that individuals and institutions, both religious and secular, conducted activities related to maintaining contact with and aiding their compatriots in Soviet Ukraine.

The Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC) at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, will hold a conference on November 1‐2, 2019, to examine archives and archival collections located outside of the countries of the former Soviet Union containing materials related to collectivization and the Holodomor. The aims of the conference “Documenting the Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: Archival Collections on the Holodomor outside the former Soviet Union” are to bring to the attention of scholars and students these lesser known and under-researched sources and to encourage and stimulate further research and publication of such primary source materials. Papers to be presented will provide insight into these archival collections as well as analyses of materials found.

[i] The earliest collections were: Marco Carynnyk, et al., eds., The Foreign Office and the Famine: British documents on Ukraine and the Great Famine of 1932‐1933 (Kingston, Ont., 1988), Dmytro Zlepko, ed., Der ukrainische Hunger-Holocaust: Stalins verschwiegener Völkermord 1932/33 an 7 Millionen ukrainischen Bauern im Spiegel geheimgehaltener Akten des deutschen Auswärtigen Amtes. Eine Dokumentation (Sonnenbühl, 1988), and Andrea Graziosi, ed., Lettere da Kharkov : la carestia in Ucraina e nel Caucaso del nord nei rapporti dei diplomatici italiani, 1923‐33 (Turin, 1991 –originally published in French, in Cahiers du monde russe, also in 1988). Collections from Polish and Romanian archives were published later. See especially Jan Bruski, ed., Hołodomor 1932-1933 : Wielki Głód na Ukrainie w dokumentach polskiej dyplomacji i wywiadu (Warsaw, 2008); Robert Kuśnierz, ed., Pomór w “raju bolszewickim”: głód na Ukrainie w latach 1932-1933 w świetle polskich dokumentów dyplomatycznych i dokumentów wywiadu (Torun, 2009); and Vadim Guzun, ed., Foametea, piatiletka și ferma colectivă : documente diplomatice românești, 1926-1936 (Cluj‐Napoca, 2011).

[ii] In Ukraine, the earliest collection appeared while it was still a part of the Soviet Union. See Ruslan Pyrih, comp. Holod 1932–1933 rokiv na Ukraini: ochyma istorykiv, movoiu dokumenti, (Kyiv, 1990). He later prepared a much larger collection: Holodomor 1932–1933 rokiv v Ukraini: dokumenty i materialy (Kyiv, 2007). In Russia, the more important collections included Viktor Danilov, et al., eds., Tragediia Sovetskoi derevni: kollektivizatsiia i raskulachivanie : dokumenty i materialy v 5 tomakh, 1927‐1939 (Moscow, 1999–2003), and Alexis Berelowitch and Viktor Danilov, eds., Sovetskaia derevnia glazami VChK‐OGPU‐NKVD: dokumenty i materialy v 4 tomakh (Moscow, 1998–2012), and the correspondence between Joseph Stalin and his close lieutenant, Lazar Kaganovich.

Conference Programme