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Stalin's Intention and Lemkin's Silence

  • ALEXANDER ETKIND
Extract

Can we distinguish between those historical events – wars, revolutions or man-made catastrophes – that were intentional and those that were not? Does this distinction matter, and in what way? Somehow the issue of intention has become central in the debates about the Ukrainian Famine. Writing her review in The Guardian, Sheila Fitzpatrick puts the question in the title: ‘Did Stalin Deliberately let Ukraine Starve?’. In this forum J. Arch Getty pronounces that ‘the question of Holodomor is a question of intention’. Since ‘we still do not have a single document directly stating [Stalin's] motivations and intentions’ – we cannot blame him of this catastrophe. The historians of the Soviet Union cannot use the concept of genocide because the Soviet leaders did not articulate their intention to kill the millions of their compatriots.

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Contemporary European History
  • ISSN: 0960-7773
  • EISSN: 1469-2171
  • URL: /core/journals/contemporary-european-history
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