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Interior Ministry discloses archived files on Holodomor cannibalism cases

by Martin Fornusek November 25, 2023 11:51 PM 2 min read
The memorial commemorating the victims of the Holodomor, a man-made famine engineeered by the Soviet Union (1932-1933) that killed millions of Ukrainians, despite the snow in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Nov. 27, 2022. (Andre Luis Alves/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's Interior Ministry published on Nov. 25 documentation on individual cannibalism cases investigated during the Holodomor in 1932-33, illustrating the suffering wrought by the man-made famine.

The ministry's archive contains files of 1,022 criminal cases opened by the Soviet police in connection to cannibalism during the time of Holodomor.

The evidence is now being made public through the "Real History" project on the Holodomor Memorial Day, 90 years after the famine.

"I would very much like for the materials made public today to give impetus to serious historical, legal, and other scientific research," said Interior Ministry's State Secretary Inna Yashchuk.

"This is an important layer for the research of physiologists and psychiatrists... People who resorted to cannibalism are victims of the Holodomor," she emphasized.

Some 3.5 to 5 million people died in Ukraine as a result of the man-made famine that took place during dictator Joseph Stalin's rule. Historical evidence shows that acute hunger drove some people to cannibalism.

Based on archival documentation, criminal cases related to cannibalism were heavily politicized and falsified, the ministry noted.

Soviet investigators did not take into account the artificial causes that drove people toward cannibalism and almost never carried out psychological examinations. Cannibalism suspects were regularly sentenced on murder charges, the documents show.

Documents also show that Soviet repressions focused on people of "wrong" class background or those unwilling to join collective farms.

The absolute majority of the sentenced were sent to labor camps run by the Soviet secret police (NKVD), while only a small number were referred to psychiatric treatment, the documents show.

"It is important that the Interior Ministry was able to preserve these historical documents. Each family has its own story of the Holodomor when five or even 10 children died," Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko commented.

The Ukrainian government has called on the international community to recognize the Holodomor as a genocide. Around 30 countries have taken this step so far.

Holodomor: Soviet Union’s man-made famine in Ukraine
Editor’s Note: This article contains graphic photos and descriptions. The Holodomor, which means “murder by starvation” in Ukrainian, is widely considered to be one of Ukraine’s most devastating national tragedies. A man-made famine brought on by the agricultural collectivization policies and acti…
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