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Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust
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106 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2000
Author Miron Dolot has my gratitude for writing a book about his unbelievable experiences in the Ukrain during the great famine of the early 1930's. My own father also lived through this famine, escaped to Germany and finally made his home in the United Staves. While my father retold some of his experiences, they were usually too painful for him to discuss. This book, therefore, provided me with the missing pieces of my family's history. Also, it acknowledged to the world that there was more than one holocaust during the twentieth century. Dolot's well written book, while autobiographical,was objective and amazing in its detail. Finally, this book was a lesson in good and evil. The Communists were relentless in their goal to destroy, humiliate and torture the Ukrainian farmers. In spite of this, the ordinately farm family found it in their hearts to help their fellow man whenever their physical strength and meager resources allowed them to do so.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2003
This book is a first-hand account of the forced collectivization of a Ukrainian village in the 1930s in the USSR.
It was a real nightmare for all the victims (alive or death), but also for the reader. One gets cold in the back when one sees what an ideology in a by one party controlled State can do and did with mostly innocent citizens.
All free peasants were considered as kulaks. Their farms were confiscated and they became 'State slaves' controlled by an omnipotent totalitarian bureaucracy. Millions of human beings (they were not human for the CP, only enemies) were starved or frozen to death.
One thinks of Jheronimus Bosch when one read certain passages in this book, but they portrait a nightmarish reality: "... a heap of frozen human corpses like some discarded woodpile ... Their frozen arms and legs were sticking out from under the snow like tree limbs in an intricate configuration." (p. 187)
This book contains even harder scenes.
The author stresses also another aspect of this genocide (or was it the principal one): nationalism.
The Party members, who imposed the murderous collectivization, were Russians. Miron Dolot sees the organized famine as a deliberate attempt to annihilate the Ukrainians as a people.
Apart from its uncontested historical value, this book should be read as a warning against the madness of pure ideologists, who, once in absolute power, implement their insane policies, accepting at the same time millions of human casualties without the slightest form of remorse.
For a more general evaluation of the organized famines in the 1930s in the USSR, see Robert Conquest's 'Harvest of Sorrow'.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Miron Dolot's ( nom de plume) book titled EXECUTION BY HUNGER is a depressing and tragic history of the mass murder campaign in the Ukraine region of the Soviet Union from 1928 to 1933. This book is a detailed history of the planned famine which took place approximately 400 miles south of Kiev, the Ukraine when Stalin & co. orchestrated a planned famine to destroy Ukrainian nationalism under the ruse of eliminating "Enemies of the People" especially the Kulaks. Eventually even the poorest Ukrainians were considered Kulaks or enemies of the people. The book shows the progression of the tyranny and the gradual extermination of millions of Ukrainians including women, children, and even infants.

Dolot began his study with the first attempts of the Soviet bureaucrats entering the area of the Ukraine where he lived to encourage the Ukrainians to "voluntarily" give their land to the Soviet Unions' collective farms and to "voluntarily" join the collective farms. Dolot cites examples of Soviet bureaucrats who were supposed to be agricultural experts who did not the even know the difference between a colt and a calf. The book also describes the distortions of values when a young man by the name of Pavlik Morosov betrayed his father and other family members. The surviving family members killed this fellow by the for such cowardly action, but the Soviet authorities made him a national hero for betraying his family to the Soviet police state.

Dolot continued his study with the gradual yet lethel Soviet policies of starving the Ukrainians. First those who did not join the collective farms were threatened and then arrested. The quotas demanded of the collective farmers gradually increased, and when unrealistic goals were not met, food rations and other penalties were imposed. The excuse for the crop failures was that Kulak traitors, whose numbers were always increasing, had sabotaged crop and livestock production. The balance of the quotas were met by reduction of rations to famine levels.

Then in 1930, the "Enemies of the People" changed. Even though Soviet law forbade anti-Jewish statments and propaganda, the Jews were blamed for crop failures. This may have been due to Stalin's purge of Leon Trotsky who was born Jewish. Dolot reminded readers of Soviet law against this sort of propaganda, but the "class enemies" briefly changed.

As conditions got worse in the Ukraine, other ruses were used to try to fool the Ukrainians. One example was the demonstration of a tractor whereby Soviet propagandists tried to tell the Ukrainians that only the Soviet Union had tractors. Yet when Dolot examined the tractor, he discovered it was made in a foreign country. The stupidty of the Soviet bureaucrats obviously led to failures. Dolot explained that the leadership in the area of the Ukraine where he lived led to purges. Ukrainian collaborators who turned on their own people were now purged and either shot or sent to Siberian concentration camps never to be seen again. Dolot explained that there was no sympathy of these colaborators, but there was no partcular joy in the purges.

Dolot carefully explained that with each change in political leadership, there came increased police and military personel. People who were verbally abused were now either arrested or shot. By 1930, military units guarded crop fields with towers and automatic weapons. Long boring lectures were the order of the week especially Sundays. Public accusations were made for crop failures and the decline in livestock. Prior Soviet collaborators and current Soviet appointees were publicly accused of sabotage and "wreckage" and arrested at these meeting. Also rations were cut, and those who either had private farms or gardens were raided by police and military authorities looking for hoarded food.

An amusing anecdote was the complaint that the number of horses was reduced in the Ukraine. The accusation was that Kulak traitors had deliberatly kept horses separated by tying them in barns. Dolot had the effrontery to comment that the number of horses was reduced in his area because there no stallions. Yet bureaucratic minded murderers refused to even consider such a reason.

Dolot graphically described the worsening conditions. Rations were reduced to below starvation levels. Desparate people who went to the wheat fields were shot. Survivors repeatedly had their homes raided because they survived and that they must be hoarding food. The Ukrainians finally realized that they were being "executed by hunger" when there was little they could do about it. People tried to get food in cities only to find no one who would sell or give them food. Famished people could not do hard farm work. Crop production failed, and the area was filled with men, women, and children (including infants) who starved where they fell or died trying to get to other locations. Dolot gave examples of dead women holding their dead infant children in snow banks or close to railroad staions.

What was amusing if not so tragic was the threat of arrest. Those arrested would at least get fed until the Soviet authorites realized what happend. What was particularly stupid of the Soviet authorities was the use of arrest and sentences to concentration camps in Siberia. One could ask the question why the Soviet authorities would send dissenters and "enemies of the people" to concentration camps when the entire area of the Ukraine was in effect a giant concentration camp.

The situation was so desparate that when Ukrainians killed and consumed their pets, the Soviet authorities issued quotas for dog and cat skins. Then Soviet police and troops would shoot dogs and cats to fill this quota to prevent the Ukrainians from eating their pets. Fishing and hunting were outlawed as the fish and wildlife were socialist state property, and anyone who fished or hunted was stealing from the state and therefore an "enemy of the people."

The situation was so deparate that the Ukrainians preferred suicide to starvation. The suicide of choice was carbon monoxide. The people would close chimney flues and doors, start a fire, and die peacefully from carbon monoxide poisoning. Dolot gave examples of his family checking on friends and other family members only to discover they committed suicide. Other families died of starvation and exhaustion when they too tried to discover the fate of loved ones.

Dolot was fortunate when W.W. II started. He fought for the Soviet Army and was captured. He knew if he returned to the Soviet Union, he would shot as a traitor or deserter. He remained in West Germany and was eventually able to come to the U.S. He never saw his mother or other family members ever again. Yet, he had the utmost respect for his mother who usually outsmarted the Soviet police and soldiers in providing food for her family.

One criticism of this book is that Dolot could have given a brief history of the political tensions between the Russian authorites (Czarist and Communist) which began when Czar Micheal Romanov took power in 1607. Tensions erupted again during the reign of Catherine the Great (1762-1796)when Pugachev led an Ukrainain rebellion that was finally crushed. Such history would clarify the historical tensions between the Russians and the Ukrainians which did not start with the Soviets and Lenin and Stalin.

This book took this reviewer considerable time to read because it was so depressing. Yet, the writing style is terse and lucid. Dolot does not rhapsodize or exaggerate. Some historians of Russian/Soviet History have mildly scolded Dolot for understating the number who died. During the Yalta Conference in 1945,Stalin boasted that his ordered liquadation of the Kulaks cost 17 million lives. Probably the best estimate is approximately 10 million lives. Other books to read to further understand the brulality of the Soviet system up to the time of Stalin's death(1953)are Robert Conquest's books title THE GREAT TERROR and THE HARVEST OF SORROW. Dolot's book titled EXECUTION BY HUNGER is a good book to start to understand the horror of the events in the Ukraine between 1928 to 1933.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 1999
Upon first reading the diary of Anne Frank, I have become interested in other "similar" types of narratives. Miron Dolot certainly gives us a captivating and sometimes heartwrenching account of when Stalin and his henchmen in Moscow carried out this policy against the poor Ukrainians during the early 1930s. This famine did not only effect Ukraine but Kazakhstan and possibly other areas as well. The story of the famine told by a young teenage boy is very insightful. Such a sorrowful chapter of history.
"Harvest of Sorrow" by Robert Conquest is another good book on the same subject. This one, however, is briefer compared to Conquest's book and can be read in the course of a weekend.
Dolot's book should be read by all interested in European history. I also agree, that it should be used in schools.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2000
More gripping than any historical narrative. Yet entirely truthful, forthcoming. How the author managed to survive in spite of Stalin is incredible. How he brings himself to write of such horrendous matters is amazing.
How governments can do this to their own citizens is unbelievable. Sad. Tragic. Honest. Makes you appreciate how lucky we Americans have it. Hard to imagine these things really happened, but sadly they continue to do so.
After this reading, I've stopped whining about my parent's generation's lectures on how lucky we are here.
My opinion of Joseph Stalin took another notch lower, perhaps below that of Adolph Hitler. Some of these victims were my ancestors. May he burn in hell.
God Bless America.
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53 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2004
When Hitler was asked about the possible negative consequences of the "final solution" in gassing all the remaining Jews in the world, he is reported to have responded by asking the question of "Who remembers the Armenians" who were killed by the "young Turks" at the end of the Ottoman Empire. While the numbers are in dispute, the reality is that over a million were killed outright or died of hunger during the campaign to exterminate the Armenians. But the real hidden holocaust took place over a decade later, when the Communist jackals running the "Evil Empire" in Moscow set about to eliminate the Ukrainians by systematic starvation, in far greater numbers than Hitler was able to accomplish with his ovens in concentration camps all over Europe.

Whoever Miron Dolot is, since he wrote this under a pseudonym for some reason, he lived a horror for many years that is incomprehensible for normal human beings. His description of the day-to-day struggle to exist under a system so evil that it boggles the imagination was very eloquent. Dolot talks about the neighbors who starved to death, families who engaged in cannibalism in order to survive, mothers committing suicide after the last of their children had died from malnutrition, frozen bodies stacked like firewood, roads littered with the remains of those who died trying to find a kernel of corn to ingest, and many other horrors that bring tears to your eyes. The Soviets did everything they could do to kill their opposition, including killing dogs and cats to keep them from becoming the last remaining food source for farmers who had no other option to stay alive. Even birds were shot from the trees to keep them from the starving peasants. But it was not limited to the Ukrainians; just ask the relatives of the millions of Chechens, Ingushetian's, and others who wanted independence and were rewarded with death in Soviet concentration camps called Gulags. Most of this story deals with a small Ukrainian village, but it is a microcosm of what happened in the Communist utopia under Stalin. Some of the stories from those who returned to the village after the horrors of being transported in cattle cars and escaped from the gulags are no different than the pictures of the same form of transport shown in many Holocaust movies.

But this story is far better than many of the holocaust films we have seen from Hollywood that concentrated on the one committed by Hitler. And why have we not seen this book on film to put all of the holocausts committed in the last century in context? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that McCarthyism still exists in its original form, when the communists controlled Hollywood in the 30's and apologists like Walter Duranty of the New York Times, who carries the label of "Stalin's Apologist" won a Pulitzer prize for his misreporting from Moscow about how great Stalin was. Ken Billingsley and his masterful book "Hollywood Party" shows that the real "blacklist" existed when loyal Americans veered from Moscow's party line, and explains Ronald Reagan's contempt for the communists who controlled his union until he won election to rid the union of these lice.

This is a great book. Hopefully someone like Mel Gibson will convert this to film for those who do not read, but are mislead by the Hollywood elite who condemn the USA and would have lasted two minutes under the Stalinist regime they glorify.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
I read this book for a college World Food Problem class. I had no idea that this actually happened in our world history. The book was a huge eye-opener into the evils of human nature. Warning **** this book is not a feel good, cozy fireplace read*** It is the horrifying story of a young man that survived the systematic execution of his Ukarainian people by starvation. I thank God that I do not have the ability to understand such crimes on the human race. This period in history is one of the Earth's darkest. Between this starvation of Ukrainian people and the Holocost of the Jews, we lost about 14 million people because of a couple country's leader's indifference to their people's lives. A good book and a powerful history lesson. I only gave it 4-stars because it seemed to be a little wordy at times. Then again so is my review. Oh well.
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54 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2001
This gripping and disturbing eyewitness acount of Stalin-orchestrated famine in the Ukraine leaves me horrified. Human beings and their governments can be so dogmatic and cruel that they are ready to destroy anything and anyone who stands in theier way.
The book is preceeded by a wonderful introduction written by Adam Ulam, an expert on Soviet and Eastern European politics, and a brother of the world renoun mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, whom I, as a historian of scientific and technological ideas, consider one of the co-creators of the hydrogen bomb. The book itself is written by Miron Dolot, a pen name of a survivor of Stalinist famine in the Ukraine. He vividly describes decisive actions of the communist regime against the Ukrainian peasants. These actions are underhanded and heavyhanded at the same time. No trick, no deceit, and no brutality was spared to crush the peasants and Ukrainian nationalism. The Soviet elite, almost all of which consisted of humanistic intellectuals, despised private property and the markets. They wanted to destroy every vestige of peasant independence, and they dispossessed them by forcing them into government-owned collective farms. These kolhozes were exmamples of inefficiency and apathetic attitude. In the meantime, the hunger that resulted from dispossesssion and vicious persecution of somewhat-well-off peasants who were called "kulaks" and "enemies of the people" devastated entire villages. The regime rewarded productivity and initiative with death and exile to Siberia.
This book strongly suggests that utopias do not work. They are concocted by resentful intellectuals who have no technical training (writers, historians, lawyers) and who despise what they cannot understand: the markets, rural life, international finance, and major corporations. When power is acquired by a small group, everybody outside this group is a potential victim. No more ominous sign of the truth of this statement exists than the Soviet government's successful attempt to starve millions of its subjects in the name of ideological slogans and visions.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This review is dedicated to the 75th anniversary of this tragedy. Miron Dolot is the pseudonym of a Ukrainian who went through the 1932-1933 famine, later fought in WWII and was a prisoner of the Germans, and who finally emigrated to the west after the war.

Strictly speaking, the Ukrainian farmer should not be called a peasant, because he was not a farmhand, nor a serf: "...the Ukrainian SELIANYN was a free Cossack-farmer before the Russian occupation of Ukraine." (p. xiv). Contrary to Communist propaganda, the kurkul/kulak was not usually particularly wealthy, and his success did not come from exploiting the poor. It came from initiative and hard work.

Far from being an incidental by-product of collectivization, the mass starvation of Ukrainians was very deliberate. In fact, so scrupulous were the Soviets in confiscating the last traces of feedstuffs hidden by Ukrainian farmers that they checked everything imaginable. (pp. 166-167). They overturned the cribs of babies (p. 167), tore apart the chimneys and ovens, holed the walls and floors (p. 208), destroyed the fields and gardens (p. 229), and sent horses walking all over the fields in the belief that a horse would abruptly stop at, or jump over, a buried food-storage pit. (p. 167). Dolot survived this genocide because his family had very creative hiding places for feedstuffs. (pp. 170-171).

The people ate almost anything: rotting food, dogs and cats, wildlife, frogs, weeds, tree bark, insects, etc. Cannibalism existed, and mothers cooked the bodies of their own children. (p. 199).

Suicides were quite common. Corpses lined the roads in winter. Cemeteries were overflowing, with people too weak to bury their dead. Beggars were everywhere. People bartered their last valuables, and even robbed the graves for jewelry. (p. 178).(This is reminiscent of the later poverty-stricken WWII-era Poles who dug up the sites of mass murders of Jews.) In time, villages became silent ghost towns.

Dolot refutes those who suppose that the targeting of the Ukrainians was incidental: "It finally became clear to us that there was a conspiracy against us; that somebody wanted to annihilate us, not only as farmers but as a people--as Ukrainians." (p. 175).
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2000
Author Miron Dolot has my gratitude for writing a book about his unbelievable experiences in the Ukrain during the great famine of the early 1930's. My own father also lived through this famine, escaped to Germany and finally made his home in the United Staves. While my father retold some of his experiences, they were usually too painful for him to discuss. This book, therefore, provided me with the missing pieces of my family's history. Also, it acknowledged to the world that there was more than one holocaust during the twentieth century. Dolot's well written book, while autobiographical,was objective and amazing in its detail. Finally, this book was a lesson in good and evil. The Communists were relentless in their goal to destroy, humiliate and torture the Ukrainian farmers. In spite of this, the ordinately farm family found it in their hearts to help their fellow man whenever their physical strength and meager resources allowed them to do so.
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