Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Remembering Holodomor

The fourth Saturday in November has in many jurisdictions been marked as the official day of remembrance for people who died as a result of the 1932-33 Holodomor. Holodomor is the name given to the artificial famine created in Ukraine by the Stalinist regime in 1932 and 1933, in which some 7 million Ukrainians were deliberately starved to death to break the back of growing Ukrainian nationalism.

To date, the legislative bodies of Australia, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and the USA referred to the 1932–1933 Holodomor as Ukrainian genocide… The Senate of CANADA, on 19 June 2003, called on the Canadian Government “to recognize the Ukrainian Famine/Genocide of 1932–1933 and to condemn any attempt to deny this historical truth as being anything less than a genocide” 1.

Russian version of events is somewhat different as Putin re-establishes Stalin as a “Hero of Russia”. Indeed in a vote to establish the Greatest Russian, it is reported that Nicholas II and Stalin are tied for first place. According to a press release from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow received notice on October 6 from Russia's Foreign Ministry that commemorative events must fall in line with the Russian position on the famine or be cancelled. Russia continues to claim that the Holodomor was not a genocide and that Ukraine's effort to secure such recognition is "a political matter that is aimed against Russian interests."

There is no doubt that Ukraine was not alone in its suffering in that time. Many parts of the USSR were given the same treatment. Kazakhstan lost some 3 million people to starvation for the same reasons – to destroy any semblance of nationalist spirit and resistance to Stalinism. Some say that because everyone suffered it should not be labeled as specific genocide against Ukraine, though as other s point out the Jews were not the only group targeted by the Nazi’s for extinction yet it was no doubt genocide. Others claim that modern records show only 3.5 million starved to death in Ukraine as though somehow that makes it all right.

The Russians must have a guilty conscience over this because they are very defensive, yet no one is accusing the Russian people per se. It was “Stalin’s communist regime”, the “Soviet totalitarian regime”, “Communist policy”, the “totalitarian Bolshevik regime”, “Stalin’s Soviet regime”. It was the system, not the people. In Germany it was the Nazi system, not the people. For some reason, under terrible systems, people do terrible things. We need to be very careful that we do not allow terrible systems to emerge in our own countries, if it isn’t already too late.

1. from Holodomor – Ukrainian Genocide in the early 1930’s, The Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, 2007.


  1. 1) Yes, brutality and violence of Stalinist regime, not of Russian people, should be emphasized.

    2) I also posted a short note about Holodomor yesterday. It is at:

    3) My new easy-to-read book "Hell on Earth: Brutality and Violence Under the Stalinist Regime," also has a chapter on Holodomor. Excerpts from that book are at:

    Please send this link to others who might be interested. Also consider my appeal for help, at the end of excerpts. Thanks in advance,

    Ludwik Kowalski

  2. This was more than just one bad leader or a handful. This was part of the Great Depression. It's estimated that in the U.S some 8 million people died from starvation during that period. Adding insult to injury we had the dust bowl in the midwest that destroyed crops and cattle. It wasn't until Black Sunday that the U.S. government started to fix the problem. That was when a dust cloud several hundred feet high moved over the plains and right over Washington DC.
    So maybe we need a day to remember all who lost their lives in one of the biggest economic downturns in world history. I haven't even begun to study the damage done to other countries from this event.
    So in the tradition of the season I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Give thanks that we have a roof overhead and food in the cupboard.

  3. LK - Thank you for your comment. I will check out your websites tomorrow (it is midnight.

    Demeur - So it isn't just the Soviet Union which hides the ugly truth? 8 million Americans. Who knew? As we head into another depression, possibly, there are Canadians (well, Albertans , who are American Republican wannabe's) quoting Herbert Hoover as to how to deal with the economic crisis.

    Happy Thanksgiving to America

  4. I had never heard of Holodomor. Last night Joe and I were watching a National Geographic special concerning new uncovered photographs showing the Jewish people disembarking from the very first train. One women kept showing up in photos, and she was the only survivor of her family due to the fact they pulled her out to be a worker.

    Cruelty to animals and humans sicken me. People are too trusting and accidentally allow circumstances to over power them. Oh, if only animals would realize that they could attack their owners and jump the fence for freedom.

    If only humans could UNITE at the first sign and overpower the oppressors, but we never see it until it's too late.


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