Starting from the late 1920s with a centrally planned economy, Ukraine was involved in Soviet industrialization and the republic’s industrial output quadrupled during the 1930s. The peasantry suffered from the program of collectivization of agriculture which began during and was part of the first five-year plan and was enforced by regular troops and secret police. Those who resisted were arrested and deported and agricultural productivity greatly declined. As members of the collective farms were sometimes not allowed to receive any grain until unrealistic quotas were met, millions starved to death in a famine known as the Holodomor or the “Great Famine”.
Scholars are divided as to whether this famine fits the definition of genocide, but the Ukrainian parliament and the governments of other countries have acknowledged it as such.
The Communist leadership perceived famine as a means of class struggle and used starvation as a punishment tool to force peasants into collective farms.
Largely the same groups were responsible for the mass killing operations during the civil war, collectivization, and the Great Terror. These groups were associated with Yefim Yevdokimov (1891–1939) and operated in the Secret Operational Division within General State Political Administration (OGPU) in 1929–31. Yevdokimov transferred into Communist Party administration in 1934, when he became Party secretary for North Caucasus Krai. He appears to have continued advising Joseph Stalin and Nikolai Yezhov on security matters, and the latter relied on Yevdokimov’s former colleagues to carry out the mass killing operations that are known as the Great Terror in 1937–38.
On 13 January 2010, Kyiv Appellate Court posthumously found Stalin, Kaganovich and other Soviet Communist Party functionaries guilty of genocide against Ukrainians during the Holodomor famine.