(Reuters) – Russia said on Thursday the German parliament’s move to recognise the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine as a Soviet-imposed genocide was an anti-Russian provocation and an attempt by Germany to whitewash its Nazi past.
In a decision welcomed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, German lawmakers passed a resolution on Wednesday declaring the death by starvation of millions of Ukrainians – the Holodomor – was genocide.
In November 1932, Soviet leader Josef Stalin dispatched police to seize all grain and livestock from newly collectivised Ukrainian farms, including the seed needed to plant the next crop. Millions of Ukrainian peasants starved to death in the following months from what Yale University historian Timothy Snyder calls “clearly premeditated mass murder”.
Russia on Thursday rejected the claim that this was a genocide and said millions of people across other parts of the Soviet Union, including in Russia, also suffered.
“There is another attempt to justify and push forward a campaign – being planted in Ukraine and sponsored by the West – to demonise Russia and to pit ethnic Ukrainians against Russians,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The Germans are trying to rewrite their history … downplay their own guilt and muddy the memory of the unprecedented nature of the countless crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War Two,” it added.
The ministry accused the German parliament of “reviving the fascist ideology of racial hatred and discrimination and attempting to absolve itself of responsibility for war crimes” by passing the declaration.
Several European countries, including the ex-Soviet Baltic States, also recognise the Holodomor as a genocide.
For Ukrainians, the Holodomor forms a central part of the country’s identity as an independent nation state, and proof of historical injustices inflicted upon Ukrainians by leaders in Moscow.
Zelenskiy said the German parliament’s resolution was a “decision for justice, for truth” and an “important signal to many other countries of the world that Russian revanchism will not succeed in rewriting history.”
(Reporting by Jake Cordell; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)