Two generations on, the 1946-1947 Moldovan famine remains a highly contentious and emotive issue in Moldova itself. […] One aspect of the Moldovan famine that makes its memory more fraught is the gruesome suggestion that ‘the eating of corpses took place on a large scale.’ The authorities were aware of the practice— they even showed Alexei Kosygin, then a candidate politburo member and sent from Moscow to investigate, a corpse that had been prepared for eating—and sought to stamp it out. There were stories of murder-cannibalism, including one of ‘a peasant woman from the village of Tambula’, who had ‘killed two of her four children, a girl of six and a boy of five, with a view to eating them’, and ‘another peasant from the village of Cajba’ who had‘ killed his 12-year-old grandson who had come to visit and ate him’.
Cannibalism is famine’s darkest secret, a taboo topic. How common was it in the past?