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Historical and Legal Aspects of Counting the Losses from the 1932–1933 Holodomor-Genocide

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The authors of the publication:
Serhiychuk Volodymyr
Bibliographic description:
Serhiychuk, V. (2020). Historical and Legal Aspects of Counting the Losses from the 1932–1933 Holodomor-Genocide. Folk Art and Ethnology, 4 (386), 11–25.


Volodymyr Serhiychuk

a Doctor of History, a professor, a head of History of World Ukrainians Department at the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University


Historical and Legal Aspects of Counting the Losses from the 1932–1933 Holodomor-Genocide



The article considers historical and legal aspects of counting the number of victims of the 1932–1933 Holodomor-Genocide, given that the exclusively demographic approach to this research area has not justified hopes. In particular, an attempt to reckon the 1926 and 1939 All‑Union censuses as the basic materials has failed, as migration processes during this period have not yet been reconstructed. First of all, there is still no investigation of the issue of the number of labour force imported from the Soviet republics – the number, which was taken into account in the Ukrainian SSR during the 1937 census. Also, there are no exact numbers established of those deceased starving Ukrainian peasants living in frontier areas adjoining the RSFSR and BSSR bordering on the Ukrainian SSR, as well as those between them who either were shot to death while their fleeing across the Soviet border or drowned in the Dniester and Zbruch. Unconvincing are also the proposals to include the year 1934 within the framework of this tragedy, when the Moscow authorities ceased to issue genocidal orders against Ukrainians, while the mortality rate of the Ukrainian SSR’s rural population sharply decreased compared not only to the tragic 1932–1933 period, but also to the pre-famine 1930–1931.

Under the circumstances, a historical and legal approach proves to be more realistic in terms of counting the Holodomor-Genocide victims, when on the ground of archival documents one can obtain statistical data on the population of the Ukrainian SSR as of January 1, 1932 and January 1, 1934. The difference between the mentioned indicators on these dates serves as the minimum death toll in 1932–1933, totalling 7,121,400 people.

The actuality of the number indicated is corroborated by the recorded indices of infant mortality as well, which, based on analyzing the documents, reached in some settlements from 38 to 52 percent. In addition, favouring the proposed approach towards estimating the famine losses is the statistics with the fullness of the primary school classes: on September 1, 1932, 1,737 children entered their schools in Petrykivka District of Dnipropetrovsk Region, while in a year, the following, second classes were attended, according to the refined data, by only 867 pupils out of those first-formers. The same trend was observed regarding second-formers and third-formers: from 1,275 to 695 and from 1,126 to 693, respectively.

The version on disastrous effects of infant mortality in this period is especially supported by the comparative analysis of births in the respective population centres in accordance with the fullness of the first classes eight years later in schools of Orativ, Plyskiv and Pohrebyshche districts (Vinnytsia Region), Baryshivka and Ivankiv ones (Kyiv Region), and Irkliyiv District (Poltava Region, now – Cherkasy Region).

Further study of the primary documents of the Ukrainian archives will make it possible to ascertain more accurate total losses of the Ukrainian nation from the Holodomor-Genocide.



1932–1933 Holodomor-Genocide, calculation of total losses, infant mortality.



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