Dr. Burkitbay Ayagan,
Professor, Director of the
Institute of State History
THE MEETING OF SCHOLARS HAVING HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
On May 31, 2012 people in Kazakhstan pay tribute to victims of political repression. The participants of the fourth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, prominent social fi gures and the leading scholars-historians representing the various countries attended the opening ceremony of the monument. Most of them were the participants of conference which took place on June 1st, 2012 in the Palace of Independence in Astana. The hall of the Palace of Independence has been jam-packed. The employees of the Institute of State History, who has spent registration, said to me later that more than one and a half thousand persons were in a hall. Before the conference beginning the fi lm «Zobalan» which was created with the assistance of scholars of the
Institute has been shown. Kazakhstan has been presented by a deputy corps, well known public fi gures. Famous foreign scholars having solid researches not only on contemporary history, but also studying of a Stalin policy, including on carrying out of a course of collectivization in the USSR took part in the conference work. They are Sara Kameron (USA), Stephen Wheatcroft (Australia), Robert Kindler (Germany), Xavier Hallez, Izabel Ohayon (France), Vladimir Kozlov, Elena Tyurina and Alexey Ozerov (Russia), Zajnidin Kurmanov (Kyrgyzstan), Kahramon Razhabov (Uzbekistan), Abdezhemil Abdulhairov (Ukraine) Martha Brill Ollkott (USA).
The great work on the organization and conference carrying out was spent by the Republic of Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science. Financing problems, payment of hotels dared operatively and very qualitatively. But the most important is the fact that all the leading historians of Kazakhstan have taken active part in conference work. The impressive delegation has been presented by the historians of al-Farabi University, Abai ASPU and the representatives of scientifi c research institutes. All corps of historians and politologists of ЕNU by L.N. Gumilyev led by the rector of the University, Professor E.B. Sydykov has been presented in a hall. At this scientifi c conference not only the whole complex of problems of carrying out of a course of collectivization, and the famine which has comprehended the country in the late twenties and the beginning of 30s of the XXth century was considered, but that is very signifi cant, the special resolution by a scientifi c estimation of tragic events had been accepted.
Great value of the conference is that for many years, for the fi rst time, I repeat – for the fi rst time, at one table in Astana the historians of many countries representing absolutely various schools and the centers have gathered. «The small summit» of historians has united of those who were on the different sides of barricades earlier: «the western» scientists and representatives of «the Soviet school». The power and ideology divided them, and it seemed this precipice will be not soon overcome. But conference in Asta375 na on June, 1st has dispelled many doubts. All the auditory listened with watchfulness and curiosity the reports of the leading historians of the world.
The plenary session of this major forum of historians was opened by the Minister of Education and Science, Academician B.T. Zhumagulov. He has underlined an importance and an urgency of a discussed topic and has called scholars for the deep analysis of a problem.
Speech of State secretary of RK, Professor Muhtar Kul-Muhammed has set the fashion to this conference. A leitmotif of M. Kul-Muhammed report became, on the one hand, gratitude to all foreign scientists whom, being for thousand kilometers from Kazakhstan, have told to the world all about comprehended great tragedy of the nation. At the same time Muhtar Abrarovich, hasn’ted a huge merit of the President of the country N.A. Nazarbayev in disclosing of a theme of starvation in Kazakhstan and gave an appreciation of a construction of a monument to the victims of famine in Astana.
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The reports of scholars at plenary session were deep and thought over. Despite of a difference in the research technique, some difference in fi gures, the scientists were unanimous in one: «Great Famine» of 30s of the XX-th century was a consequence of a policy of the Soviet authorities. Sources clearly testify – noticed M. B. Ollkott, S. Wheatcroft, E. Tyurina and others that, despite some cases of adverse weather, famine was completely artifi cial, caused by an agrarian policy of the Soviet power. Works of the known Anglo-American historian Robert Conquest, one of the famous researchers of the Stalin policy (his work «the Harvest of Sorrow» has helped to break off really the falsifi cation fetters, which many years held down spiritual searches of scholars) repeatedly remembered at conference.
Robert Conquest proves that I. Stalin’s tyranny and its henchmen destroyed all old peasantry, and together with it historical roots of the people of the USSR were also cut down. All these facts as the author of the book notices, sad enough in itself, fade before «enormous human tragedy of Kazakhs».
Bases and consequences of a course of collectivization have found the refl ection in the reports of T.Omarbekov (Kazakhstan), R.Kindler (Germany), I.Ohayon (France), Z.Kurmanov (Kyrgyzstan), V.Kozlov (Russia), K.Razhabov (Uzbekistan). After the plenary session visitors have passed to discussion of problems, participating in the work of a «round table». The «round table» «Famine in the USSR: New Approaches in Estimations of Historians» has allowed to listen to various estimations both foreign, and domestic historians. Tone of discussion has been set by Professor Zh. Abylhozhin (Kazakhstan) which has underlined that violent collectivization has broken traditional way and structure of the Kazakh society. The repressive policy of the authorities, its various aspects has been opened in messages of A.Abdulhairov (Ukraine) and A.Ozerov (Russia).
The participants of conference have been specially seated by organizers of «a round table» so that representatives of «the western school» could see the yesterday’s opponents-colleagues in person. Concerning what the moderator of «a round table» expressed more accurately: «face to face».
During «a round table» hot discussions have infl amed. Opposite opinions were expressed, scientifi c conclusions and the given statisticians were challenged. It was very pleasant to see, how capaciously scholars are and with the facts proved the scientifi c results. During the hottest moments of the discussion the moderator «cooled» discussing with appeals «to drink to tea» and to continue conversation. «The round table», according to present, has turned out very interesting and recovered.
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At the same time in the next audience there the press conference has passed. It was spent by the rector of ЕNU of L.N. Gumilev E.Sydykov, the director of Institute of History and Ethnology of Ch.Ch. Valihanov H.Abzhanov and the author of these lines.
At a hall there were journalists, participants of conference and foreign visitors. By the end of the conference scholars have been awarded by a breastplate «For merits in development of a science of the Republic of Kazakhstan». Foreign scholars Martha Brill Olkott (USA), Stephen Wheatcroft (Australia), Sara Kameron (USA), Robert Kindler (Germany), Vladimir Kozlov (Russia), Izabel Ohayon (France), Elena Tyurina (Russia), Kahramon Razhabov (Uzbekistan), Abdezhemil Abdulhairov (Ukraine, Crimea), Zajnidin Kurmanov (Kyrgyzstan), Murat Sujunbayev (Kyrgyzstan), Xavier Hallez (France) have been awarded by it too.
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What is the importance of the conference? The theme of famine and agrarian transformations remain till now burning and demand deep studying. As it is known the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of Parliamentary Assembly has accepted the document «Commemorating the victims of the Great Famine (Holodomor) in the former USSR» in which «calls on historians and lawyers from all over Europe to conduct joint independent research in an unbiased and depoliticized manner in order to fully establish the facts about this human tragedy, and to assess these facts in terms of current international law.» Secondly, this conference has been urged to study additional materials on a theme and to give an impulse to additional researches. This problem remains still topical.
On June 1st, 2012 in the Palace of Independence there was a signifi cant meeting of historians of all continents: Eurasia, America, Australia. It was the meeting of the colleagues, still recently divided by fronts of «cold war».
On June, 2nd all of them, both foreign scholars, and domestic researchers have met in a boardroom of the Institute of State History. Discussion of a theme of scientifi c conference has been continued at a special seminar. Visitors have seen the miniprinting house, scientifi c library and have examined an exhibition of the books which authors are the scholars of the Institute of State History.
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