Stalin killed more Ukrainians than Hitler killed Jews, says congressman


(JTA) — An American lawmaker appeared to minimize the Holocaust this week, comparing it to a man-made famine that decimated Soviet Ukraine in the early 1930s.

Speaking at a conference organized by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) stated that “Stalin killed more people in Ukraine than Hitler killed Jews in World War II. They basically worked them to death for the bread and the food that they made in Ukraine.”

Known as the Holodomor, the massive famine which lasted from 1932-33 was brought on by Stalinist collectivization policies. During the famine, Moscow insisted on increasing production quotas and confiscating seed grain while peasants starved.

While it affected citizens across the the Soviet Union, Ukraine was hit especially hard. While millions starved to death, the exact tally of victims has been a matter of dispute. Some scholars, such as Ukrainian-Canadian historian John-Paul Himka, have placed the number at around four million while Ukrainian nationalists claim more than twice as many.

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This nationalist historiography began to take off in Ukraine during the early 2000s when then-President Viktor Yushchenko began a campaign of public commemoration, claiming that the famine had been a “genocide that had wiped out more than 10,000,000 victims.”

Speaking at a memorial ceremony last year, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko claimed that 7 to 10 million Ukrainians had died and asserted that “not recognizing the Holodomor is as immoral as denying the Holocaust.”

Nationalist discourse related to the Holodomor is often combined with anti-Semitic sentiments in what some critics have described as a competition for victimhood. In 2009, Ukraine’s security service released a document naming those who it alleged to have been responsible for the Holodomor. Most of the names on the list were Jewish.