The Impact of Holodomor Studies on the Understanding of the USSR


  • Andrea Graziosi University of Naples Federico II



This paper investigates what the Holodomor tells us about the development and dynamics of Soviet history. It starts by examining the evolving relations between Stalin and the peasantry during the Soviet Union’s first decades as well as the social, economic, moral, and psychological consequences in the USSR after 1933 following the destruction of traditional rural society. The relationship between the Holodomor and the viability of the Soviet system will then be discussed along with the opportunities that history presented to the Soviet leadership after 1945 to reverse the country’s critical 1928-29 decisions. This leadership’s awareness of the tragedies of the 1930s in the countryside, as well as of their consequences, will then be raised, before shifting the focus to the linkage between the peasant and the national questions in Soviet history. In this context the Holodomor will be discussed as a tool to solve both the peasant and the national “irritants” caused by Ukraine to both the Soviet system and Stalin’s personal power. The legacy of such a “solution” will then be addressed, including a consideration to the background of the collapse of the Soviet system from the perspective of the sustainability of a state whose past is marred by unacknowledged genocidal practices. Finally, the consequences of the growing awareness of the Holodomor’s importance and nature on the USSR’s image will be discussed. In particular, the question of the “modernity” of the Soviet system and of the “modernizing” effects of Stalin’s 1928-29 policies will be raised.


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