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HOLODOMOR ­ – Genocide in Ukraine

HOLODOMOR ­ – Genocide in Ukraine  

Olya Soroka  

19 September 2010  

HOLODOMOR – it’s not a play on another well known similar sounding word. Its meaning is uniquely Ukrainian, as is the experience that gave origin to the word. The word HOLODOMOR is a literal combination of two Ukrainian words: holod meaning starvation, and moryty meaning to kill. HOLODOMOR – to kill by starvation – defines a horrific tragedy in the history of mankind: the genocide committed against the Ukrainian people by the Soviet regime in 1932-33 as authorized by its leader Josef Stalin.(1)  Early estimates of the death toll resulting from the Holodomor – people who died “before their time” were “conservative” according to renowned historian James Mace, author of the groundbreaking review of this historical event “Famine and the Nationalism in Soviet Ukraine”. Current estimates based upon an analysis of recently revealed Soviet census data suggest, “that no fewer than ten million men, women and children perished”;(2) 10 million people who died from forced starvation during a period of abundant harvest in their homeland, a country known as the Breadbasket of Europe.   

Apologists of totalitarian dictators would have you believe that what occurred in Ukraine in the years of 1932‐33 was a famine of large proportion due to a drought. And for decades, information about the HOLODOMOR was repressed and denied by the Soviet regime despite eyewitness accounts by Western diplomats and journalists.  

In fact, the unusually large number of deaths from starvation in Ukraine was reported by a number of foreign journalists, while conversely others, most notably Walter Duranty of the The New York Times accepted the rhetoric and supported the Soviet lie that the number of deaths were minimal and due to a natural catastrophe.(3) 

Proof of the truth about the HOLODOMOR is well documented and analyzed by renowned Sovietologist Robert Conquest in his work The Harvest of Sorrow. A work intensely powerful and compelling –‐–‐ despite the fact that it preceded the fall of USSR and subsequent opening of sealed historical archives exposing the gruesome facts about the genocide – the Holodomor and the lies of Stalin and his murderous regime. The facts about what occurred in Ukraine from 1932‐33 confirm the execution of a Stalin endorsed, Soviet planned purposeful and ruthless policy for the liquidation of the farming class – the primary base of the Ukrainian nation and the core of resistance to Soviet rule. 

During this Holodomor, the Soviet regime also moved to eliminate the intelligentsia of Ukraine who attempted to maintain the principle of Ukrainian independence. Writers, scholars, artists and clergy were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, executed or sent to Siberia never to be heard from again. Farmers and the intelligentsia defined a large segment of the Ukrainian population, both well known for their nationalism and independence, who were deliberately targeted during this genocide by the Soviet regime’s efforts crush resistance to Soviet policies, break the will of the people, eliminate its Christian essence and force Ukraine and its people into submission. 

There was no natural catastrophe in Ukraine during these years. Soviet records confirm that the grain harvest was sufficient to support the entire population of the country and still maintain a reserve. Excessive quotas of grain were ordered by the Soviet regime for collection and in some rural regions grain supplies to the last seed and foods in the home were confiscated under a Resolution passed by the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Council for People’s Commissars of the USSR. (4) Excessive amounts of grain were forcibly exported from Ukraine and, while its people were starving to death, Stalin subsequently sold the grain to the West in order to fund his ambitious industrialization and military buildup plans. The Commission on the Ukraine Famine notes that Stalin refused international assistance to the reported “famine” victims and implemented a blockade to prevent Ukrainians from crossing the border to find food. To further inflict famine, an internal passport system, restricting travel within Ukraine was enacted to prohibit Ukrainian farmers from traveling to the cities to seek food. 

One struggles to read the eyewitness accounts of the cruel horror of the genocide ‐ bodies piled in mass graves, mothers helplessly watching their children slowly die, cannibalism, despair. One struggles to comprehend how any regime could commit such atrocities against a nation. Genocide, its denial and its subsequent truth uncovered has happened throughout history and unless the truth is told, recorded, taught as part of accurate historical fact and passed on through generations an atrocity of this magnitude may merely fade from memory. Continued denial of the genocide will allow human nature to refuse to believe that a genocide such as the one experienced by the Ukrainian people could have really happened; and another nation might suffer such a torturous tragedy. 

But we must never forget, we must honor the memory of those who died at the hands of the Soviet totalitarian regime and we must increase awareness and knowledge about the HOLODOMOR throughout the world so that no other nation has to suffer genocide. 

The HOLODOMOR was a secretive and taboo topic for decades. Parts of Western Ukraine that were under Polish rule during the genocide did not even know about the suffering of their countrymen to the east. This genocide was horrific, and today it continues to have major consequences for Ukraine. It induced a substantial reduction in the population, traumatized the farming class into submission to communism, increased passivity toward totalitarianism, and crippled the development of Ukraine as a nation for decades. The continued denial of the genocide by Russian and Ukrainian authorities wipes out an important part of Ukraine’s history and having lost its historic past for the umpteenth time, Ukraine became incapable of executing its design for a future as an independent nation. 

The impact is seen today in Ukraine’s inability to govern its own country effectively while allowing the influence of Russia to creep into an “independent” Ukrainian government yet again. Ukrainians lived and continue to live in fear of being Ukrainian, of speaking one’s native language and remembering one’s heroes and dead. It was this fear of existing as a nation, which has paralyzed the Ukrainian people. 

The fear of being Ukrainian is seen today in the ruling circles of Ukraine. It is robbing the country of its identity piece by piece every day by continuing the policy of Russification ‐ attempting to add Russian as an official language, refusing to relinquish Moscow’s control of Ukraine’s sacred monastery Percherska Lavra in Kyiv and making every effort to prevent Ukraine’s move to the West and the European Union; all in an attempt to eliminate Ukraine as a distinct nation. The ruling circles are preoccupied with the accumulation of personal power and wealth and for these rulers democracy, rule of law, Ukrainian culture and identity do not matter. 

Under President Victor Yushchenko, in 2006 the Parliament of Ukraine adopted the Law “On HOLODOMOR in Ukraine of 1932‐33” categorizing the Stalin imposed artificial famine in Ukraine as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. Thus far, 15 countries, including the United States of America, have recognized the 1932‐33 HOLODOMOR as genocide against the Ukrainian people and six countries recognize it as an act of deliberate famine. 

Despite this international recognition and volumes of factual evidence from its own archives, the current leaders of Russia and Ukraine continue to refuse to admit the existence of the Ukrainian genocide. Although the Soviet Union no longer exists and from it leads a claimed new and independent Russian state, why do the Russians lack objectivity about the facts? Vladimir Putin is rebuilding Stalin’s reputation by focusing on his presumed accomplishments and minimizing his historic crimes and misdeeds. Putin, under – an un‐submissive, patriotic, Christian, freedom loving Ukrainian people. 

Ukraine is a nation of amazing perseverance, vitality, rich culture, Christian heritage with a fervent passion for freedom. Ukraine and the Ukrainian people will move beyond its past genocidal tragedy and subservient legacy and become a vital, respected member of Europe. Today, as Ukraine struggles with the historical past, and hopes to empower its independent future, it is our moral obligation as members of a civilized humanity to support Ukraine to move past the effects of the genocide and progress into a new chapter as a strong and wholly independent nation. We must hold accountable the guilty perpetrators and expose them to the world; their crimes must be acknowledged and tried by the world. 

We must answer the call of the millions of dead for the truth, the millions who have been forgotten and not mourned; we must be the vessel through which their story is heard. We must restore the portion of Ukraine’s history that is the Holodomor so that a nation that has suffered so greatly can move forward and implement its own design for the future and once again take its rightful place in the free world.  

We must never forget the atrocity. We must never ignore the lies. We must forever remember the souls of the 10 million victims. To those who suffered and those who were murdered in the Holodomor we pledge that we will never forget

May God bless the innocent Ukrainians murdered in the Holodomor genocide and may He grant them eternal peace. And may God Bless America, the home to many Ukrainian descendants, and the leader of the free world, so that we can continue with strength and perseverance to seek truth, to support independent nations, to crush oppression and to empower the will of free people. 

Slava Ukrayini!   

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1 James Mace, “Famine and Nationalism in Soviet Ukraine”, Problems of Communism (Washington, DC) May – June 1984, p.38 

2 Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, “The Time of Stalin: A Portrait of Tvranny(New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1981) p. 65 

3 Jaroslaw Bilocerkowycz, “Focusing on the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-­33”, Problems of Communism (July–‐ August 1989) p.138 

4 “On the Intensification of Grain Procurement”, Resolution of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, (November 18, 1932)

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