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Bill Thayer

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Public service message, 24 Feb 22: A Ukrainian historical researcher who has contributed to this site has advised me that The Ukrainian Red Cross Society is accepting donations from abroad in relief of civilian populations in Ukraine and persons displaced due to the Russian war against that country, and has set up a page for those wishing to donate. (And yes, I've donated a bit myself, about $350 thru Oct 2023.)

Stalinist Rule in the Ukraine
A Study of the Decade of Mass Terror (1929‑39)

Hryhory Kostiuk

The Author and the Book

Literary scholar Hryhory Kostiuk, born in 1902 in Ukraine and educated there, fell afoul of Soviet Russian authorities like pretty much everyone else, and spent five years in Soviet prisons and concentration camps, escaping to Germany in 1944 and ultimately settling in the United States; he died in 2002. A good biographical sketch with a short bibliography is given at the Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine.

Stalinist Rule in the Ukraine is Prof. Kostiuk's best-known book. It draws for the most part on the Russian and Ukrainian Communist regimes' own documentary sources, supplemented here and there by the author's interviews of some of the key players and very occasionally, by his own first‑hand recollections. Because of the nature of these sources, although the book does document to some extent the actual Russian terrorist campaign against Ukraine in the 1930's and in particular the partly success­ful genocide by starvation of the Ukrainian people known as the Holodomor, and its concomitant attempt to erase Ukrainian cultural identity, we have before us mostly just an account of the mechanics of how these things were accomplished: how Stalin and his principal subordinates (chief among them the odious Pavel Postyshev sent to rule Ukraine for a time before he too was liquidated by Moscow) created and worked the political system to subjugate Ukraine: on balance, a success­ful piece of work the results of which would last for half a century.

When Ukraine was able to free itself of the Soviet Union in 1991 along with some of the other nations submerged by Russia (not all, as the Chechens, the Buryats, the Yakuts, the Kalmyks and many others might testify), it looked to many that the days of these horrors were over; but in 2023, we can recognize once again all too easily the motivations, paranoia, propaganda, and to some extent even the methods of Soviet Russia and before her those of tsarist Russia going back to Catherine II: as a result, Prof. Kostiuk's book remains firmly relevant in our own time, and some passages even read like today's news reports.

For technical details on how this site is laid out, see below, following the Table of Contents.

 (p11)  Table of Contents







Terms and Abbreviations

Part One: Stalinist Centralism and the Ukraine

Stalin's Plans


The Plans in Action


The Collapse of Agriculture


The Drabove Incident


The Failure of a Mission: V. Molotov and L. Kaganovich at the Third All-Ukrainian Party Conference


The Deepening Crisis: From the Third Party Conference to the Resolution of the Central Committee of the All-Union CP(b) on January 24, 1933


The "Historic Resolution"


The Official Mission of Pavel Postyshev


New Methods of Leader­ship


The Campaign for "Ukrainization"


First Signs of a New Course


Before the Final Assault


The Objectives of the Purge of the CP(b)U in 1933


The Suicide of Mykola Skrypnyk


A New Phase of Soviet Nationality Policy:
The November Plenum of the CC CP(b)U


Parade of the Victors and the Vanquished

Part Two: The Consolidation of Stalinism in the Ukraine

Two Documents


Ways and Means of Terror


The Fall of Postyshev


Storm over Kiev


The Fulfillment of Stalin's Plan




Appendix Note: The Assassination of Kirov




Technical Details

Edition Used and Copyright

The text I transcribed is that of the first and maybe only edition, published for the Institute for the Study of the USSR by Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., New York, and © 1960 "by the Institute for the Study of the USSR, Munich, Germany". It is unillustrated.

Though claiming U. S. copyright, the book was printed in Germany. At the time American law required English-language books to be printed in the United States to benefit from copyright (a measure designed to protect the American printing industry, which did not apply to books published in foreign languages), so it may never have held a valid U. S. copyright. But if it ever did, such a copyright was not renewed in 1987/88, as then required by American law to maintain it, so that either way the book has been in the public domain since at least January 1, 1989: details here on the copyright law involved.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree; a red background would mean that the page had not been proofread. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was very well proofread. Serious mistakes have been corrected with a bullet like this;º the other errors were trivial, and I marked them with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words to read what was actually printed. Similarly, glide your cursor over bullets before measurements: they provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

Some odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

An important note is in order. As most of us know by now, the correct form of speech is "Ukraine" — not "the Ukraine", which latter, here too, is the work of Russian and Soviet propaganda (for why it matters, see Kathryn Graber's excellent explanation at Sapiens.Org). It is only recently that this standard has been generally adhered to: earlier English-language writers almost invariably included the article; our book reflects its time, and I have not edited it to conform to modern usage.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

[image ALT: An outline map of Ukraine. The image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'Stalinist Rule in the Ukraine' by Hryhory Kostiuk.]

Since the printed book is unillustrated, for an icon to indicate this subsite I used a map of Ukraine, eviscerated and surrounded by Soviet red. The map is of the "Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic" as it was under Stalin before World War II, that is, excluding Galicia which belonged to Poland, and Crimea which belonged to the Russian Federative Republic.

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Site updated: 27 Jan 23