¡Hola a todos!
Resulta curioso que Weatcroft critique a Applebaum de moralista, cuando él hace lo propio.
Yo no sé en qué parte de los pasajes que he traducido del artículo de Wheatcroft hace éste de moralista. Lo que dice es que “existe una tendencia cada vez más popular en la historia soviética de ignorar o simplificar demasiado las complejas explicaciones económicas y reducir todo a juicios morales
”. Y dentro de esa tendencia sitúa a Appelbaum, con razón en mi opinión.
Ahora bien, de ahí a decir que fue un "accidente", o un "daño colateral", va un trecho. Los accidentes ocurren por casualidad, o por un fallo humano. Y la hambruna ucraniana fue fruto de una determinada política, que directamente provocó esa situación o que la agravó ostensiblemente. Si Stalin se hubiera quedado quieto no habría habido hambruna, al menos de esa intensidad. Y punto.
Lo que dice literalmente Wheatcroft es “Es más fácil comprender y aceptar una tragedia causada por un villano identificable que comprender un problema complejo en el que intervienen factores impersonales y en el que las muertes son en cierta medida accidentales o fueron daños colaterales de otro proceso en conjunto
”. “En cierta medida” no significa en toda medida. Es mucho más fácil culpar de la hambruna y de todas sus consecuencias a Stalin (como parece que también haces tú) que tratar de comprender un asunto efectivamente muy complejo en el que intervinieron muchos factores. Con o sin Stalin, la hambruna habría existido igualmente, y también las muertes, aunque con una política de rescate (que diríamos hoy) poshambruna no cabe duda de que se habría reducido la cantidad de muertes. El problema viene dado cuando tomamos en consideración la política económica emprendida en 1927 y sus objetivos, de una parte, y consideramos si Stalin y sus colaboradores más cercanos estaban dispuestos a renunciar a sus objetivos para salvar el máximo de víctimas una vez hubo sobrevenido la hambruna. La respuesta a este problema no es tan fácil como pudiera parecer hoy en día. Desde luego, desde mi perspectiva actual yo no tengo ninguna duda de que la mejor respuesta a la hambruna era salvar vidas. Pero saltemos un poco en el tiempo con un ejemplo de la reciente actualidad. Cuando la Gran Estafa Financiera Internacional de 2008 (que a mi juicio es la descripción real que esconde el eufemismo “crisis financiera” que se le aplica por doquier), la política que adoptó la UE fue la de una “austeridad”, que produjo un montón de calamidades sociales y laborales difíciles de cuantificar, incluidos los suicidios. La pregunta es si no sería más decente aplicar una política de rescate de los millones de seres afectados en vez de rescatar los objetivos financieros de esa política de austeridad, que no fueron otros que las propias élites financieras que habían causado la estafa? ¿No sería más decente aplicar entonces la política de rescate que parece ser se aplica hoy ante la pandemia de la Covid-19? Bien, dejemos esta abstracción.
La clave de todo el asunto de la llamada hambruna ucraniana de 1933 está en la siguiente frase tuya, muy optimista por cierto:
Que la hambruna no fue un asesinato dirigido a exterminar directamente una parte de la población ucraniana, es bien sabido. No veo qué discusión, sería al menos, hay al respecto.
Lo del optimismo (no creo que sea ingenuidad) viene por lo de “es bien sabido”. No sé si será bien sabido, pero es evidente que no es comúnmente aceptado en Occidente a uno y otro lado del Atlántico. Es bien sabido entre una mayoría de los contados historiadores especialistas en la materia (Appelbaum no está entre ellos). Pero hay bastantes más que -pese a la rectificación de su maestro, Conquest, en 2004 al reconocer que no se podía hablar de genocidio- y dejando al lado el rigor de una investigación académica se alinean con los movimientos nacionalistas ucranianos, dentro y fuera del país, y el fervor patológico anti-comunista todavía existente y generalizado para clasificar esta hambruna como un genocidio, el llamado Holodomor. Parece que necesitaran un genocidio de Stalin para lograr igualarlo a Hitler. Y esta es la clave del asunto (como en tantos otros), y el medio es retorcer la historia y, con la ayuda de los grandes medios, propagarla. Con ello, el trabajo de los auténticos investigadores académicos (que ni por asomo recibe el mismo eco mediático) pasa desapercibido para el público en general.
En fin, es mejor leer a Wheatcroft que leer mis opiniones. Pensando que tal vez no todos los usuarios puedan acceder al artículo de Wheatcroft, voy reproducir el resto que dejo en su original:
At a time when the government denied that a famine existed, when there was no access to archival materials and when only censored reports were available, eyewitness accounts were of particular importance. But even in the 1930s there were sufficient uncensored accounts of the famine to indicate the complex nature of the agricultural crisis. The reports of Andrew Cairns and Otto Schiller were particularly important. In addition, the results of the 1939 census showed clear signs of a major demographic crisis with the population in 1939 16 million lower than planned. In 1949 the demographer Frank Lorimer identified a population loss of 4 to 6 million that he thought was caused by the famine. The official revision of Soviet grain production data in the 1950s, immediately after Stalin’s death, provided another indication that there had been a major agricultural crisis which had been concealed at the time. Even in the Soviet Union it was officially admitted that contrary to the official claims of a 30 per cent growth in grain production from the mid 1920s to the early 1950s there had been no growth at all. All these materials were available to allow a relatively reliable explanation of the overall economic causes of the famine and its scale to be drawn up in the 1970s. (See Melgrosh www.melgrosh.unimelb.edu.au
, especially the sections demography and famine). Despite this, the works of Mace and Conquest in the early 1980s generally ignored or underestimated the importance of the crisis in grain supplies of these years. Conquest mentioned the food crisis but claimed that it could easily have been resolved.
With the opening up of the Soviet archives in themid 1980s, the number of sources of data available on the grain crisis were totally transformed. Professor Danilov and his former students Elena Tyurina and Viktor Kondrashin ensured that many of these materials were published in the major archival series The Tragedy of the Soviet Village, 1927–39, in five volumes (1999–2006), The Soviet Village in the Eyes of VChK-OGPUNKVD, in four volumes (1996–2012) and Famine in the USSR 1929–34, in three volumes (2011–13). Reliable demographic data also became available in the archives, including data from the 1937 and 1939 censuses. This enabled more detailed estimates than those of Lorimer to be constructed. I have found that the most reasonable estimates of mortality rates caused by the famine in Ukraine (based on these new data sources analysed by myself, Davies, Vallin et al) place the figure around 3.5 million. Attempts to claim the largest genocide in the world with 7 to 10 million victims are hard to justify. Appelbaum’s claim that ‘the Ukrainian scholarly community is now coalescing, with some exceptions, around [Wolowy’s] number just below 4 million deaths’ would be good, if it were true, but her qualification ‘it is still possible to hear numbers as high as ten million deaths’ (360) seems to indicate that some diehards are finding it difficult to move closer to a realistic assessment. Using a team of Ukrainian demographers may make this move more palatable to Ukrainian nationalists, but I see no reason why academe in general should move away from 3.5 million.
As regards the grain problem, the archival data published in TSD, Golod v SSSR 1929–34 and in Kak Lomaly NEP all provide confirmation of the views of Lewin, Carr, Davies and their colleagues of the central importance of the grain problem in the economic and political decisions of the time. Davies and I have (2004) produced the most detailed account of the grain crisis in these years, showing the uncertainties
in the data and the mistakes carried out by a generally ill-informed, and excessively ambitious, government. The state showed no signs of a conscious attempt to kill lots of Ukrainians and belated attempts that sought to provide relief when it eventually saw the tragedy unfolding were evident. The relief measures that were given were of course too few and too late to make much difference and they were also given in secret with most concern over covering up the catastrophe that had occurred.
(...) Many historians who have examined the famines do not understand the level of genuine uncertainty that there was regarding grain statistics. They also fail to understand the complexity of the problem over the possible level of harvesting losses and how these impacted on the food supply problem, which has led to a
misrepresentation of how the famine progressed.
Anne Appelbaum’s treatment of grain availability in Ukraine epitomises the dangers of misunderstanding the data. She uses the official grain production figures of the time (for 1930–2) as if they were reliable indicators of the scale of production. She then (for the years after 1933) switches to the official Soviet post 1954 series
of data which were 20 to 30 per cent lower than those officially used at the time. This provides her with the startling, but unjustifiable, conclusion that the level of grain production in 1931 and 1932 was about the same as in 1933 and that therefore there was no grain shortage in these years. This is incorrect. All experts, including Prokopovich, Jasny, Tauger, R.W. Davies and myself, agree that the official grain harvest figures for the late 1920s to 1932 need to be deflated, and that the levels in 1931 and 1932 were dangerously low.
But it is not just confusion over the scale of harvesting losses; most historians who have studied the famines in recent years are unaware of what is involved in the harvesting process and how harvesting losses might arise. Anne Appelbaum even thinks that ‘Ukraine has two harvests a year with Winter wheat harvested in July and August, and Spring grains harvested in October and November’ (4). This is factually incorrect. In Ukraine and other parts of the Soviet Union the two different sowings are basically for the same harvest period. The only difference is that autumn sown grain lies dormant throughout winter but can then start to germinate immediately when the appropriate spring sowing period begins. This normally gives it a few
extra days of growth before the onset of hot weather in the summer, which can be damaging to the plant, especially in the flowering period. Winter grains therefore normally have a slightly higher yield than spring grains. Harvesting of winter and spring grains occurs at roughly the same time with winter grains just a few days earlier than the spring grains.
The famine was associated with two years of harvest failure in 1931 and 1932. 1931 was a year of drought with demonstrably excessive temperatures and low rainfall in the early summer injuring the flowering and filling out of the grain. 1932 was a year in which the biological yield (prior to harvesting) was relatively normal, but in which harvest losses were excessively high as a result of damp weather during the harvest period, and a slow progression of the harvesting which greatly increased harvest losses.
(...) Appelbaum makes two references to the above text, although she preferred to cite grain production figures from a certain Bashkin (whose work is not listed in the bibliography) indicating that production only fell from 69.9 million tons in 1932–3 to 68.4 million tons in 1933–4. Our detailed, critical data analysis, however, estimates grain production in 1932–3 to have been 55 to 60 million tons, and that this was 15
to 17 million tons less than the following year when we estimate it to have grown to 70 to 77 million tons. It is this failure to understand that there really was a shortage of grain at this time that leads to the conclusion that there was an easy solution to the problem, and that if Stalin failed to implement this easy solution, there must have been a political reason why he did. This is the reasoning for thinking that Stalin must have wanted to kill Ukrainians.
Robert Conquest had similarly originally underestimated the extent of the crisis and had earlier written that ‘Stalin could, at any time, have ordered the release of grain, and held off until the late Spring’ (Harvest of Sorrow
, 326), but when confronted with the evidence, he changed his mind. When Davies and myself provided him with documented details about the scale of the crisis and the large number of secret relief measures carried out by the Politburo, and when we argued that we disagreed with Conquest’s published view that Stalin ‘wanted a famine’, and that ‘the Soviets did not want the famine to be coped with successfully’, he responded by modifying his earlier criticisms. He asked us to state publicly that it was not his (Conquest’s) opinion that ‘Stalin purposely inflicted the 1933 famine. No. What I argue is that with resulting famine imminent, he could have prevented it, but put “Soviet interest” other than feeding the starving first-thus consciously abetting it’ (Conquest letter toWheatcroft, September 2003). We complied with Conquest’s wishes and included that statement in footnote 145 on page 441 of our book, which then received an approving blurb from Conquest. (Unfortunately Conquest’s blurb was only reproduced in the first
edition). It is consequently wrong to cite the views of Conquest as a justification.
With regards to broadening the narrative to include other regions than Ukraine in discussions of the famine, I would welcome such a move including a broadening of the maps of district (raion) level mortality, below Oblast level. My map of 1933 district level mortality in Ukraine and in neighbouring Russian oblasts was published in two Ukrainian books in 2013 and are available on Melgrosh. They clearly demonstrate that
claims that mortality fell immediately the Ukrainian border was passed are incorrect. It is unfortunate that Appelbaum uses the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI) map, which fails to include mortality patterns in neighbouring Russian districts. for accepting that the famine was a genocide, caused on purpose to kill Ukrainians. We all agreed that Stalin’s policy was brutal and ruthless and that its cover up was
criminal, but we do not believe that it was done on purpose to kill people and cannot therefore be described as murder or genocide.