Was famine of MSSR of 1946-1947 organized or not? Could and wanted Soviet authorities to prevent devastating effects of this? IPN debate

The famine of 1946-1947 was organized by the then Soviet authorities. This is implied by the decision adopted by Moldova’s Parliament on April 7, 2022 by which the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Organized Famine of 1946-1947 was instituted. The same official document shows that the Soviet authorities could have saved the about 200,000 lives of the Moldovans who died then, but they didn’t do it. Why does the nostalgia for a state that starved and killed the own citizens by famine persist? These aspects were discussed by the experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Was famine of MSSR of 1946-1947 organized or not? Could and wanted Soviet authorities to prevent devastating effects of this?”.

Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, said that famine is a social disaster that leads to malnutrition and death of many people. “If we consider who is to blame for famine, there are surely objective factors, such as drought, but there are also factors related to the public authorities. Famine in the Republic of Moldova, like the Holodomor in Ukraine, has the elements of an organized famine as food is a primary necessity of the citizens, while those who are exposed to famine lose will to resist social experiments,” stated the expert.

According to him, the authorities are responsible for the food security of a state. In the Republic of Moldova, the President at the start of June called a meeting of the Supreme Security Council where it was set the task of working out a food security strategy and a plan of measures for regulating the export of products in 2022-2023. There was a drought and the farmers formulated recommendations. The international efforts to prevent a feminine are led by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

As to nostalgia, the expert said this is nothing else but a wish full of regrets for something from the past that is no longer achievable. “In the Soviet period, they made public only things that presented the then regime in a positive light, while such negative things as the organized famine, the deportations in three waves and the sufferings experienced by our compatriots were hidden. Only in the recent past, Moldovan historians started to conduct researches and these helped form the whole picture. Those who are nostalgic should treat this nostalgia, which is an absolutely normal feeling, in a decent way, by trying to recognize all the elements of the regime that was established in the Republic of Moldova in 1940 and was then reestablished in 1944,” stated Igor Boțan.

Vasile Bumacov, doctor habilitate of technical sciences, ex-minister of agriculture, said that even if he is not a historian, he has the right to pronounce on this issue as he lived and worked in a number of countries where nostalgia has other explanations than in our country. “I think nostalgia is a normal phenomenon for each person. Each time, also as a minister, I tried to determine why this nostalgia exists in our society, why the people are nostalgic for a system that died, that was inefficient and was a terrorist one. I reached the conclusion that it does not go to the system. The people are nostalgic for their youth,” stated Moldova’s ex-ambassador to Japan.

According to him, a part of nostalgia is based on recollections of people’s youth, while the rest of nostalgia is based on lie. “In the Soviet period, they spoke only about good things and even exaggerated, while the bad things were hidden, like the organized famine. But the people form in their youth. What entered their head cannot be removed. We need a real education system based on historical truth. Our system continues to be a Soviet education system and we therefore have this problem with nostalgia,” stated Vasile Bumacov, noting that this nostalgia is the result of propaganda on TV, on social media.

Doctor of history Lidia Pădureac, of the Balti University “Alecu Russo”, said the narrative about famine should not leave room for interpretations as this will definitely lead to defective communication between generations. This famine was caused by a totalitarian regime, the Communist one. The deportations are specific of totalitarian regimes and this is proven by history.

She said that about 200,000 persons died in the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic in 1496-1947 according to official statistics. This was about 10% of the then population of the MSSR. But the figure was actually higher if only the left side of the Nistru River is taken into account, without the districts from the left side.

Lidia Pădureac noted the assertions that the Kremlin authorities didn’t know about what was going on in the MSSR are not true as archive documents show that information from the MSSR about the large number of those who suffered from dystrophy was permanently transmitted in 1946. The confessions of those who died from this hunger cannot be recovered and this is the most serious thing. “The historians are making effort to recover parts of those confessions and each case study, each family has the own story of survival. During those years, there was drought indeed, but the documents concerning harvests show that the shortage of food products wasn’t big and this could have been covered by the state. But the state imposed disproportionately large taxes that were collected in the form of agricultural products,” stated Lidia Pădureac

The public debate “Was famine of MSSR of 1946-1947 organized or not? Could and wanted Soviet authorities to prevent devastating effects of this?” was the second installment of the series “100 years of USSR and 31 years without USSR: Nostalgia for Chimeras” that was staged by IPN News Agency with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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