“How can one strive to destroy an entire people? Why and what for? We will never be able to understand this. We will never be able to forget. We will never be able to forgive”, said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on November 28 that marks the Day of Remembrance of Holodomor Victims in Ukraine.
Among the tragic events of Ukrainian history, Holodomor (the man-made famine) of 1932-1933 occupies a special place. The estimated number of its victims ranges from 4.5 to 10 million people.
The establishment of the communist regime brought about dramatic changes in the life of Ukraine and in the life of the traditional Ukrainian village in particular. The Soviet government tried to implant in Ukrainian people new ideas, customs, attitudes forcing them to renounce their past. It did not give them the promised independence.
No wonder that the policies pursued by the Soviet regime called forth protests of Ukrainians. Historians maintain that the early 1930s were marked with almost four thousand peasant revolts against collectivization, plunder, terror and violence that were perpetrated on a regular basis by the Soviet authorities.
And then Josef Stalin struck at Ukrainian peasantry, the bearer of Ukrainian tradition, culture and language and the main force that strongly resisted the communist ideology. In 1932, the Soviet authorities imposed on Ukraine the unrealistically high quotas of grain procurements. In addition to that, all grain and food were confiscated from peasants and they were forbidden to leave their famine-stricken villages. The Kremlin deliberately created such conditions trying in that way to destroy part of the Ukrainian nation.
In the spring of 1933, the death rate reached a catastrophic scale. June was the peak of the famine. During that month, the daily death toll was 28 thousand people. Some 1168 victims met their tragic death every hour and every minute 20 people died of starvation.
The Soviet government did everything possible to hide that hideous crime against the whole nation. And only after Ukraine had gained its independence, the taboo surrounding this subject was removed. And on November 28, 2006, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) adopted a law that recognizes the man-made famine of 1932-1933 as the genocide against the Ukrainian people.
From 1985 to 1988, the U.S. congressional commission conducted a thorough research of the subject of the famine in Ukraine. The commission noted in its conclusions that “Josef Stalin and his milieu committed an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people in 1932-33”.
As a matter of fact, the conclusions of the commission opened the way to the international recognition of Holodomor as the genocide. In subsequent years, Holodomor as the crime of the genocide was condemned by the parliaments of the United States, Canada, Estonia, Australia, Hungary, Lithuania, Georgia, Poland, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Latvia and Portugal. A number of other countries passed the resolutions condemning the crime of the genocide at regional and municipal levels.
Last Saturday, Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba called to continue telling the world the truth about Holodomor and to recognize it as the genocide against the Ukrainian people. He thanked every Ukrainian community around the world for their contribution to the cause of informing their countries about that tragedy.
On Holodomor Memorial Day, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau made a special statement. He noted that Ukrainians stood up to brutality and adhered to their tongue and their culture despite all attempts of Stalin’s regime to suppress and persecute them. “For decades, the vicious reality of the Holodomor was denied and the suffering of Ukrainians was hidden from the world. It is our responsibility to remember the stories of those who were lost and the families who suffered. We must accept these hard truths, and commit ourselves to always act when human rights are threatened… I also reaffirm Canada’s unwavering support for a free and independent Ukraine”, stressed Trudeau in his statement.
For its part, the U.S. Department of State released a statement dedicated to Holodomor in Ukraine connecting the policies of the Soviet regime aimed against Ukrainians with the present day aggression of the Russian Federation.
“Today, Ukraine is again under attack. Russia’s occupation of Crimea and continued aggression in eastern Ukraine has resulted in roughly 13,000 deaths. Even still Moscow attempts to manipulate and destroy the aspirations of the people of Ukraine. But Russia’s malign campaign misjudges Ukrainians resilience and ignores their desire for a better future. That campaign is doomed to fail”, said State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
It was also stressed in the statement, “As people around the world unite in remembrance of the Holodomor’s innocent victims, the United States reaffirms its commitment to a democratic and prosperous Ukraine – secure within its internationally recognized borders and able to shape its own destiny”.
It would seem that Russia as the legal successor of the Soviet Union had to admit this terrible crime against the Ukrainian people, all the more so that this crime was committed by Stalin’s totalitarian regime more than 80 years ago. However, the Kremlin continues to stubbornly deny the obvious thing by claiming that the cause of the man-made famine in Ukraine was allegedly the drought that had destroyed all grain crops.
The newspaper Holos Ukrainy