1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany declares Ukraine's Holodomor famine a genocide

November 30, 2022

Germany's parliament has declared the famine in Ukraine in the 1930s under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin a genocide. It comes as Ukraine warned Russia is using similar tactics in its war today.

The memorial to commemorate the victims of the Holodomor in Kyiv shows a statue of a young girl with a sad expression, standing against a backdrop of snowy trees
Millions of Ukrainians died in the famine in Soviet Ukraine from 1932 to 1933Image: Andre Luis Alves/AA/picture alliance

German lawmakers on Wednesday passed a resolution declaring the starvation of millions of Ukrainians under Soviet leader Josef Stalin a genocide.

The Soviet leadership oppressed the Ukrainian way of life, language and culture in its efforts to control local farmers, according to a press release by the German parliament.

"From today's perspective, this suggests the historical-political classification as genocide. The German Bundestag shares such a classification."

The three parties in Chancellor Olaf Scholz's governing coalition, the Social Democrats, Greens and the Free Democrats as well as the main opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) and allied conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) all voted in favor of the resolution in the Bundestag.

Green Party lawmaker Robin Wagener told parliament, "the killing by hunger also had as its aim the political repression of Ukrainian national identity, Ukrainian culture and language." He said that "the parallels with today are unmissable,'' a point echoed by other speakers nine months into Russia's war in Ukraine.

"Russia's current war of aggression against Ukraine stands in this historical tradition,'' said conservative lawmaker Volker Ullrich.

What was the Holodomor?

Ukraine's description of the deaths of an estimated 4 million people in the famine of 1932-33 as the Holodomor roughly translates to death by starvation.

In 2006, the Ukrainian parliament classified Holodomor as a genocide against the country's people.

In November 1932, Soviet leader Stalin dispatched police to seize all grain and livestock from newly collectivized Ukrainian farms, including the seed needed to plant the next crop, and millions died.

Russia has categorically rejected the charge of genocide, saying it was not only Ukrainians but also Russians, Kazakhs, Volga Germans and others who were victims of great hunger in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s.

'We cannot be broken': Zelenskyy

Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy charged that Russia was using similar tactics in its war in Ukraine today.

"Once they wanted to destroy us with hunger, now, with darkness and cold," Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram. "We cannot be broken."

Russia has targeted critical infrastructure across Ukraine in recent weeks through waves of airstrikes that have killed civilians and sparked widespread power outages.

Among other things, Wednesday's resolution calls on the German government to work against "any attempts to spread a one-sided Russian historical narrative'' and to keep supporting Ukraine as a victim of the current war.

According to the Holodomor Museum in Kyiv, 16 states in addition to Ukraine so far have recognized the famine as genocide: Australia, Ecuador, Estonia, Canada, Colombia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the United States and the Vatican.

Is Russia using wheat as leverage?

lo/jcg (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)