Germany will recognise the 1930s famine in Soviet Ukraine under Joseph Stalin as a “genocide”, according to a draft resolution unveiled on Friday.
The document, tabled by Germany’s ruling coalition, will be debated next Wednesday in the Bundestag, the German parliament.
Between 1932 and 1933, some 3.5 million Ukrainians died in a man-made famine known as the Holodomor, meaning “extermination by starvation” in Ukrainian.
Some historians claim Stalin purposely orchestrated the famine to eliminate a Ukrainian independence movement. Others say it resulted from his botched policies to collectivise agricultural land.
Coined during the Second World War in 1944, genocide is the deliberate annihilation of a people, be they an ethnic, national, racial or religious group.
Ukrainians hold a national memorial day for the Holodomor — considered a genocide by 16 countries – on the fourth Saturday of November, which this year falls on 26 November.
Russia categorically refuses the classification of the Holodomor as a genocide. It claims the great famine which ripped through the Soviet Union during the early 1930s killed not only Ukrainians but also Russians, Kazakhs, Volga Germans and a number of other peoples.
The famine is one of the most “inhuman crimes committed by totalitarian systems … in the first half of the 20th century”, read the draft resolution.
It continues: This crime “is part of our common history as Europeans. All of Ukraine [was] affected by famine and repression, not just its grain-growing regions.”
“From the current perspective, it is therefore obvious that this is a genocide on the historical and political level.”
Classifying the famine as “genocide” is significant amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine launched in February.
“Once again, violence and terror must deprive Ukraine of its vital bases and submit the whole country,” said Robin Wagener, a green MP who helped bring about the text.
He described calling the Holodomor a “genocide” as a “warning signal”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin “is part of the cruel and criminal tradition of Stalin”, Wagener continued.
Ukraine has campaigned for years to have the Holodomor recognised as a genocide.