Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Arts (DA)

Schools and Centres

Arts & Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Deborah Gare

Second Supervisor

Professor Simon Adams


In 1936 Joseph Stalin offered what he called ‘friendly advice’ to his Communist allies in war-torn Spain: ‘One should pay attention to the peasantry, of great importance.’1 So important, indeed, was the peasantry to the security of the Communist state that Stalin had adopted ruthless, widespread policies in the Soviet Union to ensure their compliance with the centralised regime in Moscow.

The devastating famine experienced in Soviet Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 was an example of such ruthless policies of Stalin’s government. Some scholars argue that in the space of a year up to ten million people died in the famine now known as the Holodomor.

This is a research project exploring the history of Ukraine’s Holodomor, exploring popular debate, scholarly research and survivors’ memories. A small émigré community of Ukrainians settled in Western Australia in the post-war years, many of whom either experienced or witnessed the famine and now have harrowing stories to share. This research sought to further explore this relatively unknown famine through examining scholarly debate and primary source evidence, and by conducting interviews with more than forty survivors now living in Perth.

The material collated in the interviews contributes significantly to the scholarly and popular comprehension of the Holodomor. When compared to internationally accepted interpretations of the term, and compared to similar studies abroad, it is clear that the events of 1932-1933 were an act of genocide committed against the Ukrainian people.

A thesis presented to the University of Notre Dame Australia in fulfilment of the thesis requirement for the degree of Doctor of Arts in the School of Arts and Sciences.

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