Germany’s parliament on Wednesday passed a resolution recognizing the 1930s “Holodomor” in Ukraine, a famine believed to have killed more than 3 million Ukrainians under the repressive regime of Soviet leader Josef Stalin, as genocide.
The resolution was brought to the lower house, or Bundestag, by the three parties of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition and the main opposition bloc. After a debate attended by the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, it was approved with his show of hands, while the other two opposition parties abstained.
The vote comes days after Ukrainians marked the 90th anniversary of the start of the famine.
The resolution states that “the massive deaths from hunger were not the result of bad harvests; the political leadership of the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin was responsible for them.” He adds that everything Ukrainian was “deeply suspect” to Stalin, noting that “the whole of Ukraine was affected by famine and repression, not just its grain-producing areas.”
“From today’s perspective, a historical and political classification as genocide is evident,” the resolution says. “The German Bundestag shares that classification.”
“This horror had its cause in the Kremlin: there the dictator made the cruel decision to push collectivization by force and cause famine,” Green Party lawmaker Robin Wagener told parliament. “And the starvation killing was also aimed at the political suppression of Ukrainian national identity, Ukrainian culture and language.”
He said “the parallels with today are unmissable,” a point echoed by other speakers nine months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia’s current war of aggression against Ukraine stands in this historical tradition,” said conservative opposition lawmaker Volker Ullrich.
Scholarly opinion remains divided on whether the famine constitutes “genocide,” with the main question being whether Stalin intentionally wanted to kill Ukrainians as an attempt to quell an independence movement against the Soviet Union, or whether the famine was primarily the result of the official incompetence. along with natural conditions. Still, the “great famine” sowed lingering Ukrainian bitterness toward the Soviet Russian government.
According to the Kyiv Holomodor Museum, 16 states besides Ukraine have so far recognized the famine as genocide: Australia, Ecuador, Estonia, Canada, Colombia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal. , United States and the Vatican. Some other countries, including Argentina, Chile and Spain, have condemned it as “an act of extermination.”
Last week, Pope Francis linked the suffering of Ukrainians now to “genocide artificially caused by Stalin” in the 1930s.
Wednesday’s resolution calls on the German government, among other things, to work against “any attempts to spread one-sided Russian historical narratives” and to continue supporting Ukraine as a victim of the current war.
He points out that the famine in Ukraine occurred during a period of massive crimes against humanity in Europe, which included the Nazi Holocaust “in its historical uniqueness”, the war crimes of the German army and the systematic murder of millions of civilians as part of the “German racist war of annihilation in the east”.
The lawmakers also stressed that they had no intention of downplaying German history, including Nazi crimes in the Soviet Union. “We derive from Germany’s own past a particular responsibility within the international community to denounce crimes against human rights and work through them,” said Gabriela Heinrich of the ruling Social Democrats.
Such resolutions are not binding and do not require government action, but Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock thanked lawmakers who championed them.