Communist Cannibalism

One contradiction of modern societies is that whenever an attempt is made to ensure a well-fed populace by fiat, starvation and famine inevitably result, whether by political blundering or by intentional design. But when individuals are given freedom to carry out voluntary exchange and form civil associations, food becomes available in heaps and stacks. In places in which some authority took power to fairly distribute food, people have starved in large numbers.

The Ukrainian famine of the early 1930s was created by Stalin to wipe out the kulaks. Starvation was so widespread that many resorted to cannibalism. In The Black Book of Communism, one caption of a picture depicting the famine reads,[1]

To collectivize the land in a "great assault on the peasantry," Stalin used starvation as a weapon, particularly against the Ukrainians. This policy resulted in the death of roughly 6 million people, including 4 million in Ukraine. Here in kharkiw in 1933, the peasants became indifferent to the daily phenomenon of death. Cannibalism was so widespread that the government printed posters that said: "Eating your children is an act of barbarism."

A narrative of the Ukrainian famine by Askold Krushelnycky provides more evidence of cannibalism.

He said, 'Thank you to Father Stalin for depriving us of food. Our mother died of hunger and we ate her, our own dead mother. And after our mother we did not take pity on anyone. We would not have spared Stalin himself.'

-- Fedir Burtianski, recounting the words of a boy from a trial he attended

[Mykhaylo] Naumenko also witnessed instances of cannibalism. He said he first discovered that his neighbors were eating human flesh after one of them, called Tetyana, refused to share her meat with him despite the fact he had just helped bury her father.

"I saw Tetyana eating chicken meat and saw there was a lot of it. I approached her and asked her for some, but she refused to give me any. Because it was human flesh."

Hundreds were executed or killed by other villagers for cannibalism. Soviet records show that around 1,000 people were still serving sentences for cannibalism in prison camps on the White Sea at the end of the 1930s.

While these stories are horrific, they pale in comparison to the history given by Wei Jingsheng about China's Great Leap Forward.[1]

As soon as I arrived here, I often heard peasants talking about the Great Leap Forward as though it was some sort of apocalypse that they had by some miracle escaped. Quite fascinated, I questioned them in detail about the subject so that soon I too was convinced that the "three years of natural catastrophes" had not been as natural as all that, and had rather been the result of a series of political blunders. The peasants said, for example, that in I959-60, during the "Communist Wind" [one of the official names for the Great Leap Forward] their hunger had been so great that they had not even been strong enough to harvest the rice crop when it was ready, and that it would otherwise have been a relatively good year for them. Many of them died of hunger watching the grains of rice fall into the fields, blown off by the wind. In some villages there was literally no one left to take in the harvest. One time I was with a relative who lived a small distance away from our village. On the way to his home, we went past a deserted village. All the houses had lost their roofs. Only the mud walls remained.

Thinking it was a village that had been abandoned during the Great Leap Forward, when all the villages were being reorganized and relocated, I asked why the walls hadn't been knocked down to make room for more fields. My relative replied: "But these houses all belong to people, and you can't knock them down without their permission." I stared at the walls and couldn't believe that they were actually inhabited. "Of course they were inhabited! But everyone here died during the `Communist Wind,' and no one has ever come back. The land was then shared out among the neighboring villages. But because it seemed possi­ble that some of them might come back, the living quarters were never shared out. Still, that was so long ago, I don't think anyone will come back now."

We walked along beside the village. The rays of the sun shone on the jade-green weeds that had sprung up between the earth walls, accen­tuating the contrast with the rice fields all around, and adding to the desolation of the landscape. Before my eves, among the weeds, rose up one of the scenes I had been told about, one of the banquets at which the families had swapped children in order to eat them. I could see the worried faces of the families as they chewed the flesh of other people's children. The children who were chasing butterflies in a nearby field seemed to be the reincarnation of the children devoured by their par­ents. I felt sorry for the children, but not as sorry as I felt for their parents. What had made them swallow that human flesh, amidst the tears and grief of other parents-flesh that they would never have imag­ined tasting, even in their worst nightmares? In that moment I under­stood what a butcher he had been, the man "whose like humanity has not seen in several centuries, and China not in several thousand years":" Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong and his henchmen, with their criminal political system, had driven parents mad with hunger and led them to hand their own children over to others, and to receive the flesh of others to appease their own hunger. Mao Zedong to wash away the crime that he had committed in assassinating democracy (an allusion to the Hundred Flowers trap], had launched the Great Leap Forward, and obliged thou­sands and thousands of peasants dazed by hunger to kill one another with hoes, and to save their own lives thanks to the flesh and blood of their childhood companions. They were not the real killers; the real killers were Mao Zedong and his companions. At last I understood where Peng Dehuai had found the strength to attack the Central Com­mittee of the Party led by Mao, and at last I understood why the peas­ants loathed Communism so much, and why they had never allowed anyone to attack the policies of Liu Shaoqi, “three freedoms and one guarantee." For the good and simple reason that they had no intention of ever having to eat their own flesh and blood again, or of killing their companions to eat them in a moment of instinctual madness. That reason was far more important than any ideological consideration.

Love towards, and protection of, one's offspring is perhaps the strongest human drive. Yet, the sheer madness triggered by Mao's prolonged famine was able to drive parents to their basest survival instincts. The only shred of humanity remaining allowed them to at least trade other parents for their children before murdering and eating them.

Even today, while the West overflows with food and obesity is the affliction of the modern age, reports of cannibalism in communist North Korea have surfaced.

Aid agencies are alarmed by refugees' reports that children have been killed and corpses cut up by people desperate for food. Requests by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to be allowed access to "farmers' markets", where human meat is said to be traded, have been turned down by Pyongyang, citing "security reasons".

Anyone caught selling human meat faces execution, but in a report compiled by the North Korean Refugees Assistance Fund (NKRAF), one refugee said: "Pieces of 'special' meat are displayed on straw mats for sale. People know where they came from, but they don't talk about it."

The NKRAF, an aid body set up in China five years ago which helps to smuggle food and medicines into parts of North Korea off-limits to WFP officials, interviewed 200 refugees for the report.

"If a funeral takes place during the day and the burial is performed that evening, the grave may be dug open and the body stolen before morning," said one refugee.

Another witness, named only as Lee, 54, said he feared that his missing grandsons, aged eight and 11, had been killed for food. As he searched widely for them, they boys' friends said they had vanished near a market.

Mr. Lee said police who raided a nearby restaurant found body parts. The business's owners were shot.


fn1. Courtois et al. The Black Book of Communism. Harvard University Press.1999.


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