Cannibalism under Communism

Cannibals with their victims, Samara province, Volga region, Russia, 1921.

State socialism (i.e., collectivizing the means of production and abandoning property rights) has resulted in starvation and cannibalism with a terrifyingly level of frequency. I compiled just a few examples:

North Korea (1997): “We started seeing cannibalism. When one is very hungry, one can go crazy. One woman in my town killed her 7-month-old baby, and ate the baby with another woman. That woman’s son reported them both to the authorities. I can’t condemn cannibalism. Not that I wanted to eat human meat, but we were so hungry. It was common that people went to a fresh grave and dug up a body to eat meat. I witnessed a woman being questioned for cannibalism. She said it tasted good.”

Ukraine, Vasily Grossman: “Some went insane. They never did become completely still. One could tell from their eyes–because their eyes shone. These were the people who cut up and cooked corpses, who killed their own children and ate them. In them the beast rose to the top as the human being died. I saw one. She had been brought to the district center under convoy. Her face was human, but her eyes were those of a wolf. These are cannibals.” (p. 164)

Soviet Union, V.I. Lenin: “It is now and only now, when in the regions afflicted by the famine there is cannibalism and the roads are littered with hundreds if not thousands of corpses, that we can (and therefore must) pursue the acquisition of [church] valuables with the most ferocious and merciless energy, stopping at nothing in suppressing all resistance.”

China: “Most of the culprits on the list practiced necrophagy, either eating those who had passed away or exhuming and eating cadavers after burial. When a team of inspectors was sent to review the Quiatou commune in Shizhu county, Sichuan, in early 1961, they were startled by the extent of cannibalism. In some cases, only parts of a body were eaten Zemin’s heart, for instance, was scooped out. Some people covered the meat in hot peppers.” (p. 323)

Jamestown, VA: “So great was our famine that a savage we slew and buried, the poorer sorte tooke him up againe and eat him; and so did divers one another boyled and stewed with roots and herbs. It were too vile to say and scarce to be believed, what we endured: but the occasion was our own, for want of providence, industrie and government, and not the barrennesse and defect of the Country, as is generally supposed.” Update: the recent discovery of a skeleton in Jamestown has proven this account.

“Can you really find anyone who is guilty? Just go and ask, and they will all tell you that they did it for the sake of virtue, for everybody’s good. That’s why they drove mothers to cannibalism.” – Vasily Grossman