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The Holodomor – “Famine-Terror Death for Millions” 1932-1933
Worldwide “Light-A-Candle” Campaign
Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor

“Major International News Headlines and Articles”

Press office of the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko
Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, November 18, 2005

Official Document in Ukrainian, President of Ukraine Official Website
[English translation by Heather Ferniuk for The Action Ukraine Report]
Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, November 4, 2005

What Ukrainians were forced to eat to defy death by hunger
By E. Morgan Williams, Publisher & Editor
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, November 20, 2005

House of Commons Debates
Statements by Members, Volume 140 . Number 151
Ottawa, Canada, Thursday, November 16, 2005

The Great Famine in Ukraine 1932-1933
ARTICLE: Stalin’s Völkermord
By Olena Geissbühler-Moyseyenko, Dr. Med.
Article published in several Switzerland newspapers in German
Sigriswil, Switzerland, 24. August 2003 (translated 19.12.2004)

Similar bill must now pass the U.S. Senate
Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS)
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 16, 2005

By Stanislav Kulchytsky, Ph.D. (History), Three Parts
The Day Weekly Digest in English, #33, #34, #35
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 25 October 2005,
1 November 2005, & 8 November 2005

Press office of the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko
Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, November 18, 2005

KYIV – On Friday, November 25, Victor Yushchenko will open an

exhibition dedicated to genocide famines in Ukraine.

Later that day, the Head of State will address the nation to urge all to
commemorate the famine victims on November 26 at 4 PM by lighting

candles all around the country.
This ceremony, Light a Candle, will take place in St. Sophia and St.
Michael Squares in Kyiv.

On Saturday, November 26, the President will take part in a ceremony to
plant a snowball-tree garden in the Glory Park and on the slopes of the
Dnieper river. Then he will attend a service for the dead and a requiem
concert at the opera house. -30-

FOOTNOTE: Report indicated that 33,000 candles will be lit, for
the first time ever, in the area between the St. Sophia and the St. Michael
Cathedral. Historians believe 33,000 persons were dying in Ukraine each
day at the height of the genocidal-famine (Holodomor) in the spring of
1933. If you can be in Kyiv on Saturday, November 26, be sure and
do not miss the lighting of the Holodomor candles. -30-

[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Official Document, in Ukrainian, President of Ukraine Official Website
[English translation by Heather Ferniuk for The Action Ukraine Report]
Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, November 4, 2005


With the goal of ensuring due commemoration [honoring] of famine
victims, restoration of historical justice, deep awareness in citizens of
the reasons for and effects of the genocide of the Ukrainian people,
and strengthening in society of intolerance towards any forms of
violence I order:

To establish that the enactment of concrete, active measure for the
honoring of famine victims and the support of persons who suffered
from the famines in Ukraine and the cultivation of respect for the historic
past and for people who lived through tragic pages in the history of the
Ukrainian people are priority tasks of the central and local organs of
executive power.


To take urgent measures for the acceleration of the preparation and
submission of draft legislation regarding a political-legal assessment of
the famines in the history of the Ukrainian people and the definition of
status of citizens who suffered from the famines;

To ensure the carrying out of additional measures regarding the recognition
by the international community of the famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine as a
genocide of the Ukrainian people and one of the greatest tragedies in the
history of mankind;

To ensure the proper organization of and the holding of a yearly Day of
Remembrance of Victims of the Famines and Political Repression with
participation of relevant public institutions and youth

To create in a two-week period an Organizational Committee for the
planning and executing of activities in conjunction with the 75th
anniversary of the 1932-1933 famines in Ukraine under the direction of
the Prime Minister of Ukraine, having included representatives of central
and local organs of executive power, organs of local self-government,
and civil organizations in the composition of the Organizational

To ratify by the 20th of December 2005 a plan of activities for the years
2006-2008 in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the 1932-1933
famines in Ukraine by submission of the indicated Organizational
Committee, having foreseen specifically the resolution of the question
regarding the erection in Kyiv of a Memorial in Remembrance of the
Famine Victims in Ukraine, and also memorials, monuments, and
commemorative signs in other populated areas of Ukraine, and also
the ordering of areas of burial of famine victims;


-the resolution of the question of creating a Ukrainian Institute of
National Memorial by the 20th of November 2005;

-the introducing of propositions on giving the National historical
preserves “Bukivnyans’ki graves” national status.

The Security Service of Ukraine to work through the issues of simplification
of the access procedure for representatives of NGOs, research institutions,
and scholars to archival materials that concern famine and political
repression issues in Ukraine, and in case of need introduce propositions
regarding the necessary changes in legislation.

The Head of the Secretariate of the President of Ukraine in a week’s time
to put forth propositions concerning the ceremonies of observing in Kyiv
and the regions of Ukraine the honoring of the memory of famine victims.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to ensure the holding of
activities related to the 2005 designation of a Day of Remembrance of
Victims of the Famines and Political Repression, specifically with the
participation of representatives of the Ukrainian community abroad.

The State Committee on Television and Radio of Ukraine to ensure wide
coverage in the mass media of activities related to the 2005-appointed Day
of Remembrance of Victims of the Famines and Political Repression, and
also preparation for the 75th anniversary of the 1932-1933 famine in
Ukraine, and to organize a series of thematic television and radio programs
and the publication of documents and materials about these tragic events.

The President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko
November 4, 2005
Presidential decree No. 1544, dated 11/04/05.
Official Document, in Ukrainian, President of Ukraine Official Website

[English translation by Heather Ferniuk for The Action Ukraine Report]

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What Ukrainians were forced to eat to defy death by hunger
By E. Morgan Williams, Publisher & Editor
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, November 20, 2005
KYIV – On Friday, November 25, the President of Ukraine will open an
exhibition at the Ukrainian House in Kyiv about the Ukrainian Genocide –
the Holodomor- Famine-Terror Death for Millions, of 1932-1933 imposed
on the Ukrainian nation by the Soviet government of Josef Stalin.
Part of that major exhibition will feature a series of 85 graphics, linocuts,
by Mykola Mykhaylovych Bondarenko, Ukrainian graphic artist from the
village of Dmytrivka in the Sumy Oblast.
The artworks answer the question as to what people, when their entire
normal supply of food was stolen away by the Soviets were forced to
eat in their frantic attempt to defy death by hunger. This will be the
first exhibition of these artworks in Ukraine. Mr. Bondarenko, born in
1949, will be present at the Holodomor Exhibition.
Oleksander Kapitonenko, Simferopol, in a preface to a book about
the Bondarenko graphics, published by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
of the USA wrote: “From early childhood, Mykola Mykhaylovych
(Bondarenko) loved to listed to the old people reminiscing about village
life in the olden days.
Having learned about the famine, he attempted to reproduce it graphically,
but was not satisfied with the few sketches he made. The artist wished to
tell about this tragedy in his own, different way.
He considered the fact, that although entire families and entire villages
were annihilated by the famine, some individuals managed to survive.
What was it that helped them defy death by hunger?
He went around [for five years from 1988-1993] questioning the old-
timers [famine survivors in his district] who told him about their
unbelievable “menu”.
Thus he found the answer to his question; he decided to portray not
the emaciated [dying] peasants, but rather the “food” which they were
forced to ingest in order to [attempt] to survive.
At first he tried to paint several of the more common weeds which
were consumed by the starving people, raw or prepared. Then he
turned to producing a series of graphical depictions of other
His sketchbooks contain drawings from nature of coughgrass, clover,
hemp, sweet-flag, burdock, rush (cane), nettle, thistles, lime tree and
acacia buds, from which engravings have been made.
Almost each engraving depicts a window, the cross-like frame of which
symbolizes the heavy cross, carried by those condemned to death.
Every windowpane symbolized the hope to survive the famine.
On such a background are depicted weeds and some other plants
consumed by the starving people during those horrible times. On
the right windowpane is the “recipe” for preparing this ersatz food.
Several of the engravings show the self-made tools, which helped
the peasants to chop, grind, sieve, squeeze, and other prepare the
weeds [most of them not really digestible in natural form]. To own
such tools meant risking one’s life.
The most touching and alarming for the viewer are the depictions
of domestic animals – a cat, or a dog, fleeing to who knows where,
so that they would not be caught and eaten; carcasses of dead cows
or horses, which the starved populace did not hesitate to eat, and the
panicked eyes of fledgling birds in a nest, which is about to be robbed
by the hand of a starving person.
Noticeable is these engravings is the absense of any accusations of
those who wrote the scenario of the famine, and of those who only
too eagerly helped in this criminal action.
Only the sickles and hammers on the iron rods with which the
village activists [many sent to Ukraine by Stalin for this purpose]
probed everywhere in, looking for hidden food of the peasants,
point to the cause of the famine. [There are also two very small
red stars near the bottom of each side of every graphic which gives
another clue as to the perpetrators of the genocide against the
Ukrainian people.]
And, also, the blood on the knife blade [found in one of the graphics]
reminds the viewer that we are dealing with a horrible crime.” [by
Oleksander Kapitonenko, Simferopol in 2003]
The Exhibition of the artworks by Bondarenko is being sponsored by
the Dr. James Mace Holodomor Memorial Fund of the Ukrainian
Federation of America, Zenia Chernyk, Chairperson; Vera M.
Andryczyk, President; Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania; The Bleyzer
Foundation, Michael and Natasha Bleyzer and the Bleyzer Family,
Houston, Texas and Kyiv, Ukraine; Ukrainian Orthodox Church of
the USA, Archbishop Antony, South Bound Brook, New Jersey;
David Holpert, W J Grain, Kyiv; David and Tamara Sweere,
Kiev-Atlantic, Kyiv; Eugenia Dallas; Helen and Alex Woskob;
and the Bahrainy Foundation, Anatol Lysyj, Chairman.
The Bondarenko Exhibition is being arranged by Morgan Williams,
SigmaBleyzer, on behalf of the International Ukrainian Genocide-
Holodomor Committee and designed by Volodymyr and Irina
Veshtak, expert graphic artists, Kyiv, Ukraine.
The exhibition at the Ukrainian House will feature several hundred
other works about the Holdomor including paintings, posters,
photos, documents, and other graphic material. -30-
FOOTNOTE: A book showing the Bondarenko artworks, “Ukraine
1933; A Cookbook, Linocuts by Myklola Bondarenko” published by
the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, South Bound Brook,
New Jersey in 2003, in remembrance of the millions of Ukrainians
who perished during the Great Famine of Ukraine in 1932-1933 is
still available. For information about how to purchase the book please

NOTE: The Ukrainian Federation of America (UFA) is accepting
donations to assist in the cost of the genocide/holodomor/famine
commemorations in Kyiv this month. The Federation needs
to quickly raise several thousand more dollars for expenses related
to the Holodomor Exhibition to be held in the Ukrainian House.
Donations can be made to the Ukrainian Federation of America
and sent to the Federation at 930 Henrietta Avenue, Huntingdon
Valley, PA 19006. Please designate your donation for the Dr.


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House of Commons Debates
Statements by Members, Volume 140 . Number 151
Ottawa, Canada, Thursday, November 16, 2005

Mr. Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, November

marks one of the greatest tragedies in human history, when 7 to 10 million
members of farm families which had just brought in record harvests, were
deliberately starved to death in the breadbasket of Europe by the Soviet
regime in 1932-33.

The Stalinist regime perpetrated the Great Famine/Holodomor by making

food illegal in Ukraine’s countryside. Red Brigades under the direction of
Lazar Kaganovich seized grain, prevented the starving population from
leaving the countryside and then sent the food to the West for export. This
was done to eliminate resistance to the forced collectivization of agriculture
and to destroy Ukraine’s national identity.

On the eve of the 70th anniversary of Holodomor, the UN declared a week

of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Great Famine in Ukraine.

I join all members of the House in calling upon the Government of Canada

to recognize the Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine and to condemn this
genocidal act of inhuman brutality by Stalin and his henchmen. -30-
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
The Great Famine in Ukraine 1932-1933

ARTICLE: Stalin’s Völkermord
By Olena Geissbühler-Moyseyenko, Dr. Med.
Article published in several Switzerland newspapers in German
Sigriswil, Switzerland, 24. August 2003 (translated 19.12.2004)

Seventy years ago the greatest Genocide of the last century took place in
Ukraine. In 1932/1933 millions of Ukrainian farmers starved, were
arbitrarily shot or died during the deportation.

Ukraine was in 1933 a death camp of unbelievable extent. 45 millions of
people suffered hunger and as many as 11 million died of starvation, were
shot dead or died during the deportation. The exact numbers is unknown.

After the fall of the Soviet Union 12 years ago however many authentic
records were discovered in the archives and published, accounts of the
Russian communist party and of the Bolshevistic government agencies, but
also secret documents of the German Foreign Office. In accordance with
today’s estimation over eleven million people died because they opposed

This famine took place in Ukraine, in the wheat chamber Europe’s. The
famine was not caused by a natural disaster, or by drought or epidemic,
the famine was not the consequence of war. The famine was Stalin’s
deliberately produced, carefully plannd and consequently executed

This famine had mainly political reasons. On the one hand it concerned
the collectivisation of the agriculture; Stalin had to break the massive and
unexpected resistance of the Ukrainian farmers against the collectivisation,
in truths expropriation, as well as their opposition to the muscovite
politics of colonial exploitation.

On the other hand the Ukrainian nationalism, the desire of the Ukrainian to
re-establish their independence, independence and liberty, had to be
defeated, and the cultural and social life, the basis of the Ukrainian
Resistance had to be destroyed and the wealthy and independent farmers

With the collectivisation of the agriculture, the whole production came
under the control of Stalin. The delivery ratios for cattle and grain were
determined. In order to break the massive resistance of the Ukrainian people
were the already excessive quotas in 1932 massively increased and special
deliveries additional ordered.

If the delivery ratios were not fulfilled, and they could not be fulfilled,
the farmers were accused of sabotage and all food, inclusive seeds were
confiscated, mass arrests, deportation and executions ensued. The
resistance of the farmers was defined as sabotage.

The desperate people, who in order to survive hid some grain, were
eliminated and house searches and inspection by brigades fanatical young
communists were regular performed. The punishment for such “theft of
socialist property” was arbitrary shooting or deportation.

Children, who betrayed their parents, were declared “heroes of the Soviet
Union. While the people died of starvation, the grain was sold to under-cost
prices abroad. The empty houses of the dead Ukrainians were let to Russians.
All these measures resulted in a catastrophically food situation and ended
in a mass starvation.

Ukraine was defenceless in the hands of the communist villains and the
western world watched indifferently.

The spring of 1933 was the zenith of the catastrophe. Millions starved,
millions were deported, and millions were shot. The famine was during the
Soviet time taboo and Stalin denied it occurrence. Many western
intellectuals, artists and politicians of those days played down, glossed
over or ignored the situation in the Ukraine.

The West was not prepared to annoy and to set the Soviet Union at that time
under pressure for political reasons. Foreign reporters were not allowed to
travel to the Ukraine. Ukraine was completely isolated and forsaken.

But they’re nevertheless writers, who wrote over the famine. For example Lev
Kopelev, who wrote in his book “Chranit vecno”: I was there, looked for
hidden grain and believed in the great socialist transformation. We all
would fulfil a revolutionary obligation, we achieved a historical acts.”

And Boris Pasternak: “What I saw, one can not express in words” and other
like Alexander Solzhenizin, George Orwell or Arthur Koestler, they and many
more wrote about the great famine.

Books worth reading are: “The Harvest of Sorrow – Soviet Collectivisation
and the Terror-Famine” by Robert Conquest (1986) and “Recollection of the
Red Holocaust” by Paul Rothenhäusler and H.H.Sonderegger. (2000)

Already under Lenin 1919 hunger has been used as a political weapon. Also
even then were the consequences devastating, for the country as well as for
the people. Stalin and his followers used the hunger as a weapon in fight
for socialisms and against the free Ukrainian farmer.

Andrej Sacharov wrote once about the “Ukrainiophobia” Stalin’s, who was of
the opinion that one should exterminate the Ukrainian people, wipe them off
the map, but that it was not possible because of the large population.

In the end Stalin won, he broke the resistance of the Ukrainian people. But
at which price! Eleven millions dead and a devastated land which has not
recovered completely till today.

The red Terror enabled the communists then to remain in power in the

Today is Ukraine free, but this crime against the humanity has left its

The Great Famine is today recognised as truth, soon also by the UNO.
Stalin’s secret and by the world ignored genocide is confirmed by
documented facts.

Today we remember the eleven million dead, who are victims of the red

It is never too late for compensation, and it is never too late to remember
the dead.

Eternal memory – Witschnaja Pamniat. -30-
NOTE: Olena Geissbuhler-Moyseyenko of Sigriswil, Switzerland,
was born in Lviv, Ukraine. She has lived in Austria, Australia, England
and now in Switzerland. She is a medical doctor and her husband is
Swiss. Sigriswil is a beautiful little village in the Berner Oberland, where
she and her husband live after years of living in Berne, the capital city
of Switzerland. (

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Similar bill must now pass the U.S. Senate

Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS)
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, November 16, 2005, the U.S. House of
Representatives passed H.R. 562, a bill which authorizes the establishment
of a memorial on federal land in the District of Columbia to honor the
victims of the Genocide that occurred in Ukraine in 1932-1933.

This bill was introduced by Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) on February 2, 2005

and was referred to the Committee on Resources. On June 9, 2005 the
Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing regarding this bill.

At the hearing, the proposed legislation received overwhelming support

among the Subcommittee members; however, the National Parks
Committee Regional Director for the National Capital Region Joseph
Lawler expressed the Park Committee’s opposition to this legislation.

“We believe that creating separate memorials for individual groups,” stated
Mr. Lawler, “would detract from the overall message of the Victims of
Communism Memorial and could, potentially, create an unfortunate competition
amongst various groups for limited memorial sites in our nation’s capital.”

His testimony indicated that a general Victims of Communism Memorial, whose
purpose is to commemorate all victims of communism that perished throughout
the world, would also commemorate the victims of the Ukrainian Genocide.

In response, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), sponsor of HR562 and co-chair of the
Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, along with the Ukrainian National
Information Service (UNIS) provided moving testimony to the contrary. As a
result, at the conclusion of the hearing, there was widespread support for

Throughout 2005, the Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS) continued
its diligent efforts to garner support for this legislation among Members of

In the end, 36 members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored this
bill that was voted upon today. The following Members of Congress signed on
to the bill: Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6]; Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28];
Rep Boehlert, Sherwood [NY-24]; Rep Brown, Sherrod [OH-13]; Rep Crowley,
Joseph [NY-7]; Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7]; Rep Doggett, Lloyd [TX-25]; Rep
Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17]; Rep Fitzpatrick, Michael G. [PA-8]; Rep Grijalva,
Raul M. [AZ-7]; Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4]; Rep Hinchey, Maurice D.
[NY-22]; Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12]; Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9]; Rep Kildee,
Dale E. [MI-5]; Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13]; Rep Knollenberg, Joe
[MI-9]; Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10]; Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2]; Rep
Lantos, Tom [CA-12]; Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18]; Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G.
[MI-11]; Rep McNulty, Michael R. [NY-21]; Rep Menendez, Robert [NJ-13]; Rep
Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6]; Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10]; Rep Rangel,
Charles B. [NY-15]; Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9]; Rep Schwartz, Allyson Y.
[PA-13]; Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28]; Rep Smith, Christopher H.
[NJ-4]; Rep Tancredo, Thomas G. [CO-6]; Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33]; Rep
Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9]; Rep Weldon, Curt [PA-7]; and, Rep Wexler, Robert

During November 16th floor action, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), member

of the Committee on Resources, introduced the HR562 for consideration.
“Known by historians as the “Harvest of Sorrow,” the Ukrainian famine
of 1932-1933 was the result of.grain seizures in order to neutralize the
Ukrainian population,” stated Rep. Gohmert.

“Over 7 million people died of starvation as Russians stopped Ukrainians
from entering Russia to obtain food. Attempts by the United States to
intercede were stalled by Stalin’s regime.” He continued to mention that
“proponents of H.R. 562 hope that building a memorial in the District of
Columbia will bring awareness to the event and honor its victims.”

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), the ranking member of the Resources Committee,

also spoke briefly about the bill. In particular, Rep, Rahall (D-WV) noted:
“Mr. Speaker, we are all too aware of the damage that can be inflicted
during war time by conventional weapons.

However, the Ukrainian Genocide is evidence of the shocking and deadly
potential of an unconventional weapon such as hunger. [.] While precise
figures are hard to calculate, historians place the number of dead as a
result of this policy between eight and ten million men, women, and

In rural Ukraine, it is thought that one in four people starved to death.
These deaths have rightly been labeled one of the worst genocides in

human history.” Rep. Rahall proceeded to mention that, “working with
the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Congressman Levin hopes
to change that [the world’s knowledge] with HR562.”

In his remarks to his colleagues, the ranking minority leader of the
Resources Committee recommended that the legislation be passed, adding

that by accepting this gift the U.S. Government will not only commemorate
the victims of one of the worst genocides in human history, but also the 1.5
million Ukrainian Americans, who worked relentlessly to preserve and
publicize the memory of this tragedy during the 70 years it was denied.

Rep. Rahall then proceeded to introduce and thank the original sponsor of
the resolution, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), co-chair of the Congressional
Ukrainian Caucus. He thanked the leadership of the House of Representatives
for expediting the vote on this bill, as well as his colleagues on both
sides of the isle for their support.

“This legislation is important for all of humanity,” stated Rep. Levin. “It
is very important to the 1.5 million Ukrainian Americans throughout the
United States, including many of my constituents. It has special meaning to
the people of Ukraine who have embarked on a courageous effort to build a
free, democratic, open society, and indeed to all of us who value freedom.

During the Famine-Genocide of 1932-33, 7 to 10 million Ukrainians were
deliberately and systematically starved to death. The memorial authorized
by this bill will not only honor their memory, but also serve as a tangible
reminder to all of us that we must work together to prevent such tragedies
in the future.”

Commenting on the momentous day in the House of Representatives,

Michael Sawkiw, Jr., President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of
America (UCCA) stated: “The passage of this bill sets the community
one step closer to realizing our dreams of further informing the American
public about the horrors the Ukrainian nation endured during the Genocide
of 1932-19933.

This monument will stand throughout the years as a memorial to all who
perished. We couldn’t have done it without the support of Rep. Levin,

the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, and our friends in Congress.”

Other Members of Congress have five legislative days to revise and extend
their remarks and include material about the Ukrainian Genocide as it
pertains to HR562. -30-
Washington, DC Office: Ukrainian National Information Service
311 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002
tel: (202) 547-0018, fax: (202) 543-5502, e-mail:

FOOTNOTE: The monument being planned to be built on federal
land in the District of Columbia to honor the victims of the Genocide
that occurred in Ukraine in 1932-1933 would be totally paid for by
privately donated, non-governmental funds. EDITOR

[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

By Stanislav Kulchytsky, Ph.D. (History), Three Parts
The Day Weekly Digest in English, #33, #34, #35
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 25 October 2005,

1 November 2005, & 8 November 2005
This article could have a different title, one that reflects the scholarly,
political, and legal dimension: “The Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine
as genocide.”

Historians must provide scholarly evidence, while legal experts and
government officials must come to the legal and political conclusion that
the Holodomor was an act of genocide.

We must all ensure that the international community officially recognizes
the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 as an act that falls under the UN
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

It is our moral duty to the millions of our compatriots who perished as a
result of terror by famine – they perished not as a result of famine but
terror by famine.
On Oct. 12, 2005, the Gramsci Institute in Rome hosted a scholarly seminar
entitled “Stalin, the Soviet Famine of 1931-33, and the Ukrainian
Holodomor.” The institute’s director, Professor Silvio Pons, and Professor
Andrea Graziosi, dean of the University of Naples, proposed only one
question for discussion by Italian scholars specializing in Russian and
Ukrainian studies.

How is the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33 different from the famine that was
caused by the grain procurement campaign after the 1931 harvest, which
encompassed all of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, and the famine that
was caused by the grain procurement campaign after the 1932 harvest in all
the Soviet republics except Ukraine?

This wording of the question was meant to determine whether there are
convincing scholarly arguments to justify studying the Holodomor as an act
of genocide against the Ukrainian nation.

Few non-Italian scholars attended the seminar: I represented Ukraine and
Oleg Khlevniuk represented Russia. Oleg Khlevniuk is better known in the
West than in Russia or Ukraine, because his major monographs have been
published only in English.

Dr. Khlevniuk works at the State Archives of the Russian Federation and is
rightly considered the preeminent authority on sources dealing with the
Stalinist period of Soviet history.

We must thank those Western historians who have proven so responsive to a
problem that concerns only us. On Nov. 10, 2003, a joint statement from 36
nations was published in connection with the 70th anniversary of the
Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33, which was officially adopted during the
58th session of the UN General Assembly.

This statement does not contain a definition of this Ukrainian tragedy as an
act of genocide, even though the wording of the draft statement included the
word “genocide.” On Nov. 25, 2004, “The Day” published an interview with
Ukraine’s permanent UN representative, Valeriy Kuchynsky, who described
how this document was drafted.

But it does not provide an answer to the question, why so many diplomats
made it clear to their Ukrainian colleagues that they were not ready to
include the word “genocide” in their statement.

The answer was revealed only during the recent seminar at the Gramsci
Institute. It turns out that Ukrainian diplomats failed to prove to the
Third Committee of the General Assembly that the Soviet regime did
exterminate the Ukrainians. The documents they presented only proved that
famine claimed millions of lives in Ukraine in 1932-33. But this was known
even earlier.

According to Khlevniuk’s authoritative statement, Soviet archival documents
do not contain a straight answer to the question of why millions of
Ukrainian peasants were exterminated. I said that we have exhaustive
documentary evidence to answer the question of HOW the peasants were
exterminated, but we do not have documents that state WHY they were

The perpetrators of the Kremlin’s horrible crime required instructions,
which were later stored in the archives. Yet Stalin was not obliged to
report to anyone about WHY he had used instituted terror by famine, a
term first proposed by the British scholar Robert Conquest.

A convincing answer to the question of the motives behind this crime may be
found only through a comprehensive analysis of many documents. In 2005
“Ukrainskyi Istorychnyi Zhurnal” [Ukrainian Historical Journal] carried
articles by Andrea Graziosi and Gerhard Simon, the latter a professor at the
University of Kbln and arguably one of the best Western experts on the
nationalities policy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

These articles analyze Stalin’s terror by famine. Based on the conclusions
of my Western and Ukrainian colleagues and drawing on my 20 years of
experience researching the problem of the Ukrainian Holodomor, I will
attempt to answer the question: why did Stalin exterminate the Ukrainians?

Substantiating this answer will require a separate monograph that has yet to
be written. But I am hastening to publish a newspaper version of this book.

“The Day” publishes in three languages and has an online version, which
means that it has a broad readership among the general public.

This is especially important because the Holodomor is, at the very least, a
historical problem. First and foremost, it is a deep and unhealed wound on
the body of the Ukrainian nation. This wound will not heal unless we
understand what we were like before the Holodomor and what became of us
after it.

My opening remarks are addressed to the government. I cannot say that the
Ukrainian Institute of History is excluded from the process of making
decisions relating to Holodomor issues, which take the form of presidential
decrees. Decision makers consult the Ukrainian National Academy of
Sciences, but the scholarly community’s recommendations are not always
taken into account.

As a case in point, with his decree of July 11, 2005, the Ukrainian
president ordered the Cabinet of Ministers a bill to parliament by Nov. 1
“On the political and legal assessment of holodomors in the history of the
Ukrainian people.”

However, I am not familiar with the text of this bill. Moreover, I am
certain that in the Ukrainian nation’s history there was only one Holodomor,
which is enough for all time.

This decree instructs the government to “resolve the question of creating”
the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (UINM) before the Day to
Commemorate the Victims of the Holodomor and Political Repression,
which will be observed this year on Nov. 26 [2005].

An institution of this kind is crucial, as it would convey the knowledge
collected by academics and scholars to society. However, the presidential
decree does not propose a mechanism for creating the UINM.

As evidenced by the Israeli and Polish experiences of creating similar
institutions, Ukraine will face major challenges relating to the funding and
staffing of the institute, defining its functions and drafting laws to
incorporate this institution into the existing system of departments and

It is inexpedient to restrict the efforts to create the UINM to a single
item in the presidential decree, which merely declares intent to create it.

The presidential secretariat is already making plans to commemorate the 75th
anniversary of the Holodomor in 2008. I hope that such steps will put an end
to the old practice whereby the government raises the subject of the
Holodomor only on the eve of major anniversaries. Creating an Institute of
National Memory is the first step to making this work systematic and

It is also important to convince the Ukrainian public and the international
community that the Holodomor of 1932-33 was no accidental phenomenon of
unknown origin, but the result of terror by famine, i.e., genocide, which
was applied by the totalitarian government.
In equating the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33 with genocide, scholars
primarily face terminological difficulties, which is why the analysis of
this problem must begin with terminology.

The term genocide (the killing of a nation) was coined by the Polish lawyer
Rafael Lemkin, who first used it in his book, “Axis Rulers in Occupied
Europe,” published in 1944. Lemkin used this word to describe the total
extermination of Jews and Gypsies on Nazi-controlled territories.

With this understanding of the term genocide, the UN General Assembly
stated in its Dec. 11, 1946, resolution: “…genocide is a crime under
international law which the civilized world condemns, and for the commission
of which principals and accomplices – whether private individuals, public
officials, or statesmen, and whether the crime is committed on religious,
racial, political, or any other grounds – are punishable.”

Since history has known many cases of mass extermination of human beings,
and in view of the continuing threat of their recurrence, the UN decided it
was necessary to introduce the notion of genocide into international law.

This laid the legal groundwork for establishing international cooperation to
combat such crimes, including those committed by individuals
constitutionally vested with supreme power.

On Dec. 9, 1948, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Article I of the convention reads: “The Contracting Parties confirm that
genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a
crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to

Article II contains a definition of genocide: “[G]enocide means any of the
following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members
of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the
group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d)
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e)
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

The convention was adopted by 56 attending members of the UN General
Assembly and opened for signature, ratification, and accession. It became
effective as of Jan. 12, 1951, i.e., on the 90th day after 20 instruments of
accession or ratification were deposited with the UN Secretary General.

Since that time this convention has been an instrument for preventing
genocide. Its effectiveness increased significantly after the end of the
Cold War.

The legal norms formulated in this document did not fully guarantee that all
cases of mass extermination of human beings would be identified as genocide.

Only the Holocaust of World War II fully corresponded to them: the Nazis
either exterminated Jews wherever and whenever they found them, or placed
them in conditions that were physically unsuitable for life. In effect, the
convention was developed when the memories of the Holocaust were still

There was another reason why cases of mass extermination that occurred
before the Holocaust were not always identified as genocide. Legal experts
were unwilling to make exceptions to the basic principle of jurisprudence,
i.e., that the law has no retroactive effect.

The famine of 1932-33 was a forbidden topic in the USSR. At the 20th party
congress of the CPSU in 1956 party leaders finally dared to speak out about
the Stalinist terror that primarily targeted the Soviet-party nomenklatura
and intelligentsia.

However, they concealed the terror by famine in collectivized villages until
the last possible moment. The Stalinist taboo on mentioning the famine was
broken only after the Ukrainian diaspora succeeded in persuading the US
Congress to create a temporary commission to investigate the events of
1932-33 in Ukraine.

Led by the late James Mace, the congressional commission had no access to
Soviet archives. It collected most of its information from emigres who had
survived collectivization and famine and ended up in North America after the
Second World War.

Of course, Holodomor survivors could not figure out the crafty stratagems
of Stalin’s policies, but their victim’s instinct told them that the Soviet
government meant to physically destroy them. Based on hundreds of
eyewitness accounts, James Mace’s commission recreated the real picture
of those events and presented a final report to the US Congress in April

Interviews conducted in Ukraine since 1988 have confirmed the tendency
recorded by James Mace: recalling events from half a century earlier,
Holodomor survivors sensed the authorities’ intent to punish “saboteurs”
of the grain procurement campaign by starving them to death. Individual
documents that have been unintentionally preserved in archives confirm that
this is what famine victims felt.

An anonymous letter sent from Poltava in August 1933 to the editorial
offices of the newspaper “Komunist,” which was written by an individual with
a higher education, judging by the content and style, even claimed to be a
summary of Stalin’s national policy: “The physical extermination of the
Ukrainian nation and the exhaustion of its material and spiritual resources
are [some] of the most important points in the criminal agenda of Bolshevik

The congressional commission called the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine an
act of genocide. Yet this conclusion was not based on documents but on
subjective judgments of Holodomor survivors. Moreover, the purpose of
the commission was to establish facts (which it did, brilliantly) but not to
provide a legal assessment of them. Therefore, after the commission
completed its work, Ukrainian organizations in North America decided to
seek legal help.

The World Congress of Free Ukrainians initiated the creation of the
International Commission of Inquiry Into the 1932-33 Famine in Ukraine,
presided over by Professor Jacob Sundberg. Representatives of the
Ukrainian Diaspora in North America appealed to the most outstanding
jurists, who because of their high public and scholarly status had
sufficient credibility with the international community.

In November 1989 Sundberg’s commission published its verdict, naming
excessive grain procurements as the immediate cause of mass famine in
Ukraine, and identifying its preconditions as forced collectivization,
dispossession of wealthy kurkul peasants, and the central government’s
desire to curb “traditional Ukrainian nationalism.”

Thus, the jurists not only recognized in the Holodomor the Kremlin’s desire
to impose an alien lifestyle on the Ukrainian peasants, they also identified
a national component in this act of terror. The Ukrainian Holodomor was
therefore identified as genocide.

Sundberg’s commission determined that the principle of the non- retroactive
nature of laws applies only formally to the UN Convention of Dec. 9, 1948.

They pointed out that this principle applies to criminal law, whereas the
Convention is outside of its boundaries because it does not pass verdicts.
The Convention only encourages nations to cooperate in preventing and
condemning genocide.

Addressing those who opposed the identification of the Holodomor with the
crime of genocide only because the term “genocide” did not exist before
WWII, the International Commission of Inquiry asked: was it possible before
the war to freely destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial
or religious group?

The answer is obvious. Relying on the above arguments, the commission
stated in its final report: “Commission feels justified in maintaining that
if genocide of the Ukrainian people occurred, it was contrary to the
provisions of the international law then in force” [This sentence was
misquoted in the Ukrainian original, which omitted the word “if” – Ed.]

This verdict was based on the facts available to the commission. It stated,
however, that the inquiry into the Holodomor must continue to document
with additional facts the conclusion that it was an act of genocide, i.e.,
to reinforce its source base.
We all remember how important the question of the 1932-1933 famine was
in the late 1980s-early 1990s: it helped people break old stereotypes and
reevaluate Soviet history. This subject became a lethal weapon in the hands
of those who had fought for the republic’s independence. After all, the
death sentences for millions of Ukrainian citizens had come from outside

It seemed that after independence the question of the Holodomor would
become the exclusive province of historians. Indeed, historians started to
explore it in a systematic and comprehensive manner. But it also became a
popular issue in the political arena.

Political opponents extracted convenient facts from scholarly publications
on the famine of 1932-1933, while ignoring their overall significance. None
of them managed to prove anything to their opponents because nobody was
interested in ascertaining the truth. It was easy to predict the outcome of
these struggles between politicians and scholars of various stripes.

While the former had unlimited access to media outlets, thereby shaping the
public opinion, the latters’ voices did not reach society and died away in
the meager press runs of books and brochures.

Let us listen closely to the words of Levko Lukyanenko, the long-time
Soviet political prisoner, Ukrainian parliamentarian, and chairman of an
association of Holodomor researchers.

Addressing a Nov. 15, 2002, scholarly conference, he said: “The members
of the Association of Researchers of the Holodomors in Ukraine and other
scholars have amassed a large number of documents that prove that Moscow
deliberately planned and carried out the Holodomor in Ukraine in order to
curb the national-liberation movement, decrease the number of Ukrainians,
and dilute the Ukrainian ethnos (nation) with Muscovites, thus preventing
Ukrainians from struggling to get out from under Moscow’s control in the

It would seem that these words echo the above-mentioned anonymous letter
to the editors of Komunist, which we can now support with documentary
evidence. However, there is a substantive difference between them. The
anonymous author of the 1933 letter was justified in faulting the Bolshevik
party leadership for the Ukrainian Holodomor.

Meanwhile, with all the documents uncovered by contemporary historians at
his disposal, Lukyanenko unjustifiably expands the Bolshevik-dominated
Kremlin to the size of Moscow, while referring to the Russian people
pejoratively as “Muscovites.”

The “colonization” by representatives of the dominant Soviet nation of the
national republics (especially the Baltic nations and Ukraine) was not
Stalin’s idea alone. This policy was in fact designed to stem national
liberation movements.

However, these Russian resettlers (military personnel, intellectuals from
the technical and humanities spheres, and skilled workers) had no idea of
the Kremlin’s strategic plans, nor did Russified Ukrainians, who had
experienced assimilation, voluntary or otherwise, throughout the centuries,
not just decades.

How could the millions of so-called “Muscovites” who currently reside in
Ukraine respond to the Holodomor according to Lukyanenko’s interpretation?

Because of the irresponsible actions by individuals whose primary concern
was their own political career, our tragic past started to divide Ukraine
instead of consolidating its citizens. We felt this during the presidential
elections of 2004.

The opposing side also fueled interethnic tensions. The leader of the
Communist Party of Ukraine, Petro Symonenko, spoke during the Feb. 12,
2003, parliamentary hearings in connection with the 70th anniversary of the
Holodomor. He could no longer deny the fact that there was a famine in
1932-1933, because Volodymyr Shcherbytsky had confirmed it in 1987.

However, much like his predecessors, Symonenko blamed the famine on
drought and misrepresentations of grain procurements in raions and oblasts.
According to Symonenko, the Politburo of the CPSU’s Central Committee
condemned the misrepresentations and demanded criminal prosecution of
those responsible.

Such blatant lies could be uttered before the archives were opened during
Gorbachev’s perestroika. On the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor such
statements were shameless blasphemy.

A natural question arises: Why do representatives of the extreme right- and
left-wing political forces politicize the Holodomor issue by exchanging
contradictory statements without believing one bit in them or caring about
establishing the truth?

This question is easy to answer because the same fate has befallen other
historical problems. No one is crossing swords over the revolution of
1905-1907, and its centennial is passing completely unnoticed.

The situation with the Holodomor or the problem of the OUN and UPA
are different because they are part of the life experiences of the current
generation of Ukrainian citizens, who were participants in those events, or
the children of these people.

People tend to have differing opinions on events in the not so distant past,
whereas all politicians try to please the public. Therefore, let us have a
look at the people.

Three generations are represented in our society: grandfathers and
grandmothers, and their children and grandchildren. Living at the same time
with them is a small number of representatives of adjacent generations,
i.e., great- grandparents and great-grandchildren. Let us analyze the life
experience of each generation.

I will begin with grandparents born before 1920 inclusive. This is the
generation of the 20th century, which experienced countless disasters and a
great deal of suffering. This generation survived the Great War of
1914-1918, the Civil War and interethnic wars after the fall of the Russian
Empire, the famine of 1921-1923, industrialization, collectivization, and
the Holodomor of 1932-1933, the Great Terror of 1937-1938, World War
II of 1939-1945, postwar destruction, including the famine of 1946-1947.

I am quite familiar with this generation thanks to my profession and as a
result of personal communication with these people. I still communicate with
the youngest representatives of this generation. My exchanges have been
especially fruitful with Vasyl Kuk, the last UPA army commander; Bohdan
Osadchuk, the Berlin-based professor and the oldest active journalist in
Europe; and Petro Tronko, the former deputy prime minister for humanitarian
policy of the Ukrainian SSR, who occupied his ministerial seat for 17 years.

With the exception of those who lived outside the Soviet Union’s borders
until 1939 and 1940, the representatives of this generation were the
“builders of socialism.” The Bolsheviks, whom Lenin called “a drop in the
people’s ocean,” built their “commune state,” as defined by Lenin, together
with the people.

The concerted action of the party and the people was achieved with the help
of two slogans: “Those who are not with us are against us!” and “Unless the
enemy surrenders, he will be destroyed!”

Mass repressions were the main method of building a “commune state.” They
continued even after this state was built and had passed a test of strength
during the Soviet-German war, and until the death of Joseph Stalin.

Once the repressions had almost wiped out society’s political activity, the
Kremlin chiefs switched to other methods of administration: propaganda and

I belong to the generation of those born between 1921 and 1950. These
people were raised in the Soviet school and were not affected by the mass
repressions. The older representatives of this generation are the veterans
of WWII, who now rightfully enjoy society’s respect.

As a rule, how they picture the past differs from the way subsequent
generations view it. And this is not only due to their understandable
idealization of their youth.

When the hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, who were
“rehabilitated” by Stalin’s successors, returned to their homes from the
GULAG, Lidiya Chukovska made her famous declaration: “Two Russias
have encountered each other: the one that did time, and the one that put the
former behind bars.”

However, there was also a third Russia, much like a third Ukraine,
Kazakhstan, etc., which did not take part in the repressions and was not
subjected to them. The representatives of my generation formed the largest
percentage of these people. After returning from the GULAG, our fathers
kept silent, as a rule.

Perhaps they did so not only because upon their release they had signed a
“pledge not to disclose information.” Perhaps they did not want to
complicate the lives of their children, who out of ignorance could start
saying bad things about the Soviet government.

Finally, they feared for their own lives, because in that country parents
were responsible for children and vice versa.

Such responsibility was viewed as the norm. We lived in a kingdom of
crooked mirrors, but didn’t realize it. There was no longer any need to
deport us, because we respected or even loved the Soviet government.
We knew the things we could discuss in public, and it seemed normal
that there were things that were best kept private.

A case in point is the famine of 1932- 1933. Young and old knew that it had
occurred, but we also knew that it should not be discussed – period. My
foreign colleagues who study the Holodomor and whose numbers are
growing do not understand this.

They try to find explanations in our national character or talk about how
the KGB intimidated the population. To fully understand the Soviet people’s
behavior and way of thinking, they should have been born and raised in this

Soviet citizens’ dependence on the government was not just reinforced and
not even so much by standard repressions, such as extermination or
imprisonment. The government was the universal employer and could fire
anyone, if necessary. Almost everyone who “misbehaved” could end up
like a beached fish.

Notably, the chekist selectors spent a decade imprisoning or exterminating
the most active part of the population. Society was becoming conformist for
two main reasons: the percentage of dissenters was progressively declining,
while the percentage of people raised in the Soviet school was increasing as
part of a natural process.

Indoctrination and propaganda proved successful after the period of mass
repressions because the Soviet system showed the people many advantages
compared to the pre-revolutionary system.

The system enslaved the person politically, but ensured a minimum level of
its material and cultural welfare, whether this person wanted it or not. In
the Soviet period alcoholics underwent “reeducation” in therapeutic
sanatoriums, and there were almost no homeless persons.

What anticommunists cannot understand is that the Soviet government’s care
for the people was not dictated by moral duty, but was a precondition of its
existence. In order to emerge, the communist system had to destroy private
enterprise in all its forms, i.e., take over the job of feeding, healing,
educating, and entertaining the entire population.

The commune state was so drastically different from states in which citizens
had political freedom that it should be viewed as a civilizationally
different phenomenon. This state did not even hide the lack of political and
national freedom in the general accepted sense.

At the same time, it labeled these freedoms “bourgeois democracy” and
“bourgeois nationalism,” while espousing the “loftier” values of “socialist
democracy” and “socialist internationalism.”

Communism also demonstrated its “significant accomplishments” on the
republican level. It gave Ukraine internationally recognized Soviet
statehood (a founding member of the UN!), increased its pre-revolutionary
industrial capacity many times over, turned it into a culturally developed
republic, and fulfilled the dream of many generations of Ukrainians: the
reunification of ethnic lands.

It is extremely difficult to convince the many representatives of my
generation that the civilization in which they spent the better part of
their lives was built on the blood and bones of the previous generation.
Many of my peers a priori refuse to believe that the Soviet government
could deliberately exterminate people.

There are many who still believe that “enemies of the people” really
existed. A post- genocidal society, as defined by James Mace, is a sick

People born between 1950 and 1980 belong to the third generation of
Ukrainian citizens. Long ago this generation outnumbered all the other
generations, and after the Orange Revolution its representatives ousted
almost all of their parents from managing the affairs of state and society.

This generation, and the preceding generation, was not separated by a
barrier in the form of a pledge not to disclose information. This is why
few of its representatives share their parents’ stereotypes and biases,
especially since they live in an age of transformations, i.e., a time when
the established underpinnings of life become unstable.

When the commune state collapsed and vanished as a result of growing
external and internal pressures, it was replaced not by a Western-style
social state but primitive capitalism. Quite naturally, many representatives
of the third generation, much like their parents, are nostalgic for the
Soviet past.

Citizens find it hard to take for granted historians’ assertions to the
effect that the Soviet system under Lenin and Stalin could be built only
with steel and blood-plenty of blood.

We must bear all this in mind when we want to convince the public that
terror by famine was a tool of “Soviet construction” on par with other forms
of terror. We should not fault our parliament for not having shown any
interest in the Holodomor until 2002.

Parliament is the mirror image of society. We should be happy with what has
already been accomplished. At a special session on May 14, 2003, the
Ukrainian parliament adopted an Address to the Ukrainian People in
Connection with the Famine of 1932- 33.

It defined the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people.
With 410 parliamentarians present, the document was passed by a mere 226
votes, i.e., the minimum required.

On the fourth Saturday of November 2003, marking the Day to Commemorate
the Victims of the Holodomor, only the state-owned television channel UT-1
dedicated air time to the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor by airing a
30-minute program entitled “The Bells of Popular Memory.” Meanwhile,
private television channels broadcast the usual weekend fare of
entertainment shows, comedies, and erotic films.

Nothing has changed even now. In a commentary published in the Aug. 17,
2005, issue of the [Russian-language] newspaper “Segodnia” on a proposal to
plant high-bush cranberries known as kalyna on all the Dnipro slopes in Kyiv
in memory of Holodomor victims, a female journalist addressed a question to
herself and her readers, which was framed in the banner headline: “Is this
not a lot of sorrow for Kyiv?”

Historians have their work cut out for them to convince society of the need
to face the problems of the Holodomor. Only when we accomplish this will
marginal politicians let go of this issue.

LINK: [Part One]

By Stanislav Kulchytsky, Ph.D. (History)
The Day Weekly Digest in English, #34
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 1 November 2005

The Holodomor is a phenomenon that is hard to fathom. To do so one
must find a rational explanation for the actions of those who organized it,
and discover the logic and political interests that drove them.

In the case of other large- scale tragedies, the perpetrators’ logic was
absolutely transparent. The Turkish governments and the Nazis exterminated
the Greeks, Armenians, and Jews precisely because they were Greeks,
Armenians, and Jews.

Did the communists really always exterminate the Ukrainians because of their
nationality? Even if we say that rank-and-file communists were puppets in
the hands of the leaders of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik), who
in turn were puppets in the hands of the General Secretary (which is true to
a certain extent), the question of why Stalin exterminated the Ukrainians in
1933 remains unanswered.

The absence of a convincing answer to this question does not mean that it is
impossible to find. It is no accident that groups of eminent experts – the
US Congressional Commission on the Ukraine Famine and the International
Commission of Inquiry into the 1932-33 Famine in Ukraine – concluded in
1988 and 1989, respectively, that the Holodomor was an act of genocide.

Both commissions left it up to experts to corroborate this conclusion. We
must examine how experts used the decade and a half of the time they have
had at their disposal.
Not so long ago the Institute of Ukrainian History at the National Academy
of Sciences produced a fundamental study of terrorist acts and terrorism on
Ukrainian territory in the 19th and 20th centuries.

It represents our attempt to explore the essence of state terror and
individual terrorism. There is quite enough concrete material about terror
and terrorism in Ukrainian history of the past two decades for a thorough
exploration of this issue.

One characteristic of terror and terrorism has escaped the attention of our
scholars, including me. Judging by the word terror (from the French terreur,
meaning terror, panic), terrorism is aimed at demonstrativeness, showiness.
Someone is destroyed in order to show others what will happen to them if
they do not change their conduct with respect to a certain question.

A typical example of such terror was dekulakization, i.e., repressions
directed at a certain proportion of peasants (from 2 to 5 percent of the
village population) in order through terror to force other peasants to join
collective farms. The level of wealth was the only criterion for selecting

More than others, wealthy peasants wanted to preserve their private
property, which provided them with the means of subsistence. However,
the status of a poor peasant did not provide immunity to those who were
unwilling to join. Such peasants were repressed as subkurkuls.

Dekulakization as a form of repression cannot fall under the UN Convention
on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It is not
committed “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group.”

True, proposals are being made to amend the UN Convention of Dec. 9,
1948, by adding the notion “social genocide.” Social groups also suffer from
brutal persecution aimed at their extermination. However, “sociocide” and
“classicide” have yet to become legal notions, which is why they are not
relevant to our discussion.

At first glance, terror by famine has no characteristic features. It is
indiscriminate killing over a wide area. Its victims are not individuals
whom the perpetrator of repressions considers dangerous or “whipping
boys” chosen at random, but all people in a certain territory, including
children and pregnant women.

Because the technology of terror by famine did not require it to show
characteristic features and because it lacked “ideological security,” to use
the parlance of Soviet newspapers (after all, how can you explain the need
to kill children and pregnant women?) this repression was committed in
silence. Terror by famine is silent terror.

Then what was its underlying sense? How can we find the hidden
characteristic features that are indispensable to any form of terror in the
Soviet government’s actions, which were aimed at depriving peasants not
only of grain but of all kinds of food.

An answer to this question will help us understand why Stalin exterminated
Ukrainian peasants not always and not everywhere (as Greeks, Armenians,
Jews, and Gypsies had been exterminated), but (a) in 1932-1933 and (b) in
two administrative-political creations where the Ukrainian population
constituted a majority: in the Ukrainian SSR and the Kuban district of the
Northern Caucasus.

I know the answer, but I cannot provide it right away. An immediate answer
would be nothing more than an expression of my personal viewpoint. Too
many personal viewpoints based on emotions have been voiced in
connection with the Holodomor.

I would like my readers to arrive at the answer to this question
independently by providing them with the requisite mass of undeniable facts.

This exploration should begin with an analysis of the background to this
question. We need to ascertain how the Ukrainian Holodomor was
understood in time and space.

It is no wonder perhaps that the peasants, who were being exterminated by
means of famine, immediately understood the true situation. Holodomor
survivors told James Mace’s associates that the government was purposefully
exterminating them.

They could not prove it with documents, but sensed with all their being the
Soviet government’s evil intentions. It is no surprise that based on this
testimony, the US Congressional Commission concluded that the famine of
1932-1933 in Ukraine was an act of genocide.

That people were dying of hunger was not known outside of areas where these
people were dying. The mass media kept silent. It was even forbidden to use
the word “famine” in top secret official documents of Soviet Communist Party

Further down the text you will find an example that this rule was also
observed at the pinnacle of the pyramid of power, i.e., in the Politburo of
the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (VKP[b]).

Whenever it was necessary for the government to intervene – if only to bury
the dead, appropriate instructions to subordinates were handed down as part
of the ” osobaya papka” [special file] (much like the term Chekist, the
words osobist [special agent], osobyi otdel [special section], or osobaya
papka [special file] do not have equivalents in the Ukrainian language).

Perhaps this was done not only to conceal information. Famine was an open
secret in all the affected regions. The people who were victimized by the
famine knew about it. “Special files” were necessary to rule out official
and unofficial discussions of the famine in the Communist Party milieu and
that of Soviet functionaries.

Among normal people such discussions would lead to the question: How
can we help? Meanwhile, no assistance was envisioned. Therefore, the veil
of silence around the famine was one of the mechanisms of genocide.

The silence resulted in the fact that in regions where no terror by famine
was used, even high-ranking officials had a vague idea about the nature and
scale of the famine in Ukraine.

This is how Nikita Khrushchev, who in the early 1930s was second secretary
of the Moscow municipal and oblast committees of the VKP(b), recalled the
Holodomor: “I simply could not imagine how famine could be possible in
Ukraine in 1932. How many people died then? Now I cannot say. Information
about this was leaked to the bourgeois press. Until my last day in office
articles were occasionally published about collectivization and its cost in
human lives. But I am saying this only now. Then I didn’t know anything
about this, and even if I had learned something, explanations would have
been found: sabotage, counterrevolution, kurkul ploys, which have to be
combated, and so on.”

I can comment on this abstract from Khrushchev’s memoirs only in connection
with the date of the Holodomor. When Khrushchev tape-recorded his thoughts
on his past life after his retirement, he mentioned the wrong date, which is
very telling. In the first half of 1932 there was an outbreak of famine in
Ukraine with tens of thousands of deaths and even cases of cannibalism.

It resulted from the grain procurement campaign after the 1931 harvest.
However, the Holodomor did not happen then. The Holodomor resulted
from the seizure of all grain after the 1932 harvest, which was followed by
expropriations of all remaining food supplies. Deaths from the Holodomor
began in the late fall of 1932, and the death toll peaked in June 1933.

I must add that you will not find the above quotation in the famous
four-volume compilation of Khrushchev’s memoirs. It comes from a
different version of transcripts, published in the March 1990 issue of the
magazine “Voprosy Istorii” [Questions of History].

As we know today, Western special services and diplomatic representatives
possessed more accurate information about what was happening in the Soviet
Union. In particular, the British Foreign Office and the British government
had diverse and extensive information from multiple sources, as evidenced by
the compilation of documents “The Foreign Office and the Famine: British
Documents on Ukraine and the Great Famine of 1932-33,” published in 1988
in Kingston, USA [sic], and edited by Bohdan Kordan, Lubomyr Luciuk, and
Marco Carynnyk.

Benito Mussolini was well informed about the Holodomor. Italy’s General
Consul Sergio Gradenigo sent him detailed and accurate reports from Kharkiv.
The reports filled an entire book compiled by Andrea Graziosi and published
in Turin in 1991. He now plans to have it translated into Ukrainian.

The then newly-elected US president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was also
well aware of the situation in the Soviet Union. However, like all the other
leaders of the great powers, in his relations with the Kremlin Roosevelt was
guided exclusively by national interests.

In 1933 Stalin began to seek a rapprochement with the Western democracies,
because he did not expect to coexist peacefully with Adolph Hitler, who had
come to power in Germany. The Western democracies welcomed this foreign
policy change. In the fall of 1933 the US recognized the Soviet Union.

Thus, the tragedy of the Holodomor was played out in plain view of leaders
and chiefs, who chose to remain silent. The current heads of the leading
nations should remember this when the question of recognizing the Ukrainian
Holodomor of 1933 as an act of genocide is raised again at the UN assembly.
Unlike the political leaders who remained silent, Western journalists more
often than not carried out their professional duty if they succeeded in
visiting regions that were affected by famine.

The Maxim Gorky State Scholarly Library of Odesa compiled and published a
bibliography of the Ukrainian Holodomor partially with its own money and,
most importantly, with donations from the Ukrainian diaspora, collected by
Wolodymyr Motyka (Australia) and M. Kots (US).

Its compilers, L. Buryan and I. Rikun, located over 6,000 publications that
were published before 1999 inclusively. In the foreign press they found 33
publications dated 1932 and 180 dated 1933.

Judging by this bibliographic index, the Holodomor was especially broadly
covered by the Ukrainian-language newspaper “Svoboda,” published in
Jersey City (state of New Jersey). Its article of Feb. 15, 1932, has a
characteristic headline: “Moscow wants to starve Ukrainian peasants to

This headline proves that the assessment of the famine that resulted from
the grain procurement campaign after the 1931 harvest was an emotional one.
In reality, this famine cannot be classified as genocide as defined in the
Convention. The state seized all the grain, which caused deaths among the

According to my estimates, 144,000 people died of hunger during 1932.
However, in the first half of 1932 there were no signs of terror by famine.

On the contrary, when the famine was officially established, the starving
population obtained relief in the form of 13.5 million poods of grain [1
pood=36.1 pounds, or 16.39 kilograms – Ed.].

With its May 21 decree the Council of People’s Commissars of the Ukrainian
SSR identified the areas most affected by famine. They received additional
relief in the form of food-grade grain, fish, and canned foods.

As a rule, publications about the 1933 famine in the USSR appeared with
a significant delay in Western newspapers.

This does not apply to the newspaper “Svoboda,” which published its
reports promptly. The following are headlines from early 1933: “Bolsheviks
deport residents of Kuban Cossack villages to Siberia” (January 21),
“Bolsheviks change method of expropriating crops from peasants”
(January 23), “Famine grips Soviet Ukraine” (January 28), “After mass
deportations of Ukrainians from the Kuban, the Bolsheviks begin
deporting peasants from Ukraine” (February 11), “Ukraine has no grain
for sowing” (February 13).

Now we understand who provoked Stalin to write his angry memo of
Feb. 13, 1933, to Politburo members Molotov and Kaganovich: “Do you
know who allowed American correspondents in Moscow to travel to the

They cooked up foulness about the situation in the Kuban (see their
correspondence). We have to put a stop to this and ban these gentlemen
from traveling around the USSR. There are enough spies in the USSR
without them.”

“Svoboda” published reports that were circulated within a rather small
circle of Ukrainian diaspora representatives. The first analytical stories
about the Soviet famine were by the journalist Malcolm Muggeridge.

He managed to make a journey through the Northern Caucasus and
Ukraine before the Politburo’s Feb. 23, 1933, banning decree “On
foreign correspondents’ trips within the USSR.”

In March of that year he published his impressions in the English newspaper
“The Manchester Guardian.” His three fact-filled articles left no doubt as
to the famine that was spreading in the main grain-growing belt of the USSR.

In the wake of Muggeridge’s material, this newspaper carried an article
entitled “Famine in Russia,” based on the personal impressions of Gareth
Jones, the former secretary of Prime Minister Lloyd George of Great Britain.
The author said that Russia was in the grip of a famine on the scale of the
one it had experienced in 1921.

Walter Duranty, the New York Times correspondent, who was a British
citizen, tried to refute the sensational reports in “The Manchester
Guardian.” The essence of his article published in the Mar. 31, 1933,
issue is reflected in its heading: “Russians Hungry Not Starving.”

Notably, Duranty is the only Western journalist who ever managed to
interview Stalin. He always tried to write his articles in such a way as not
to displease the Kremlin.

Information about famine on a horrible scale in Russia continued to leak
through the Iron Curtain. On Aug. 21, 1933, the “New York Herald
Tribune” published material by Ralph Barnes with a first estimate of the
number of those who had perished – one million. Duranty also confirmed
that there was famine.

Although he did not say so directly, it follows from his short article in
the Aug. 24, 1933, issue of “The New York Times” that at least two
million people had perished. A day later this newspaper carried a report
by Frederick Birchall, quoting a figure of four million dead.

The Soviet government spared neither time nor effort to hide the
consequences of the famine from foreigners. On Dec. 6, 1932, the
All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee and the ONK of the Ukrainian
SSR issued a decree (and published it in order to scare people) to
“blacklist” five villages that could not fulfill the government’s grain
procurement quota for a long period of time.

An invention of Lazar Kaganovich, the “blacklist,” meant that villagers were
banned from leaving the village, deliveries of all foodstuffs to the village
were suspended, and searches at the farms of “deadbeats” continued until
all food was expropriated.

Famine claimed all the villagers in Havrylivka in Mezhova raion,
Dnipropetrovsk oblast. This tragedy became known abroad, and American
journalists requested permission to visit Dnipropetrovsk oblast. Permission
was granted with surprising ease.

In his book “Russia Today: What We Can Learn from It,” published in New
York in 1934, Eddy Sherwood writes: “A group of foreign visitors heard
rumors that in the village of Havrylivka all the people except for one had
died ofhunger. They decided to investigate and visited the local registrar’s
office, the priest, the local council, the judge, and the teacher. It
turned out that three out of 1,100 residents had died of typhus. Measures
were taken to stop the epidemic. There were no deaths from hunger.”
[Translations of cited passages here and elsewhere are not the published
versions – Ed.].

There is no doubt that the American journalist honestly reported what he
saw. But there is also no doubt that all the original residents of
Havrylivka starved to death.

The visit to the USSR by the prominent French politician Edouard Herriot,
the president of the French National Assembly and former prime minister,
caused the State Political Directorate (GPU) even more problems.

According to the distinguished guest’s request, his itinerary included a
trip to Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus, which, he was told, were
hardest hit by the famine.

A day before Herriot was scheduled to arrive in the Soviet Union, Stalin,
who was staying at a resort in the Northern Caucasus, sent a memo to
Viacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, and Genrikh Yagoda, the de facto
head of the Joint State Political Department (OGPU): “According to
information in possession of Yevdokimov (official OGPU representative
in the Northern Caucasus – Author), the White Guardists are preparing a
terrorist attack against Herriot in Odesa or other locations in the USSR.

In my view, Yevdokimov’s proposals are justified. Balytsky (official OGPU
representative and head of the GPU of the Ukrainian SSR – Author) must be
immediately instructed to personally visit all locations visited by Herriot
and take all preventive measures against all possible excesses.”

As we can see, Stalin used Aesopian language even when he was issuing
instructions to his associates to prevent the distinguished guest from
seeing signs of famine. This is striking.

On Aug. 26, 1933, Herriot arrived in Odesa aboard a steamship. On the
following day he arrived in Kyiv, then Kharkiv, and Dniprobud. Everywhere
he saw whatever he wanted to see and met with hundreds of people. On
Aug. 31 Herriot left Rostov-on-Don for Moscow without seeing any signs
indicating that the areas he had visited had experienced a famine.

It cost Stalin substantial political capital to organize this trip. On Sept.
13 the headline in Pravda cited Herriot’s statement made in Riga: “What I
have seen in the USSR is beautiful.”

In the USSR during the latter half of the 1930s the topic of the famine was
no longer relevant in the West. The public only remembered contradictory
newspaper stories. Not surprisingly, people had more faith in famous
politicians, like Herriot, not journalists. World War II relegated all
memories of the Holodomor to the background.
There were numerous survivors of the Holodomor among emigrants who
ended up in the West after World War II. Some of them kept silent so as
not to provoke repressions against their relatives in the USSR. There were
also those who wanted to speak out.

Many books containing their accounts were published by Ukrainian civic
organizations on anniversaries of the Holodomor.

Two are distinguished by their fundamental nature: a two- volume reference
book entitled “The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book”
(Toronto-Detroit, 1953-55), and the Ukrainian-language compilation by
Yuri Semenko entitled “Holod 1933 roku v Ukrayini: Svidchennia pro
vynyshchuvannia Moskvoyu ukrayinskoho selianstva” [‘The 1933 Famine
in Ukraine: Eyewitness Testimonies about Moscow’s Extermination of the
Ukrainian Peasants”(New York, 1963).

The Ukrainian diaspora used every Holodomor anniversary to make the truth
about the Holodomor known to the general public. Tremendous work was
completed in time for the 50th anniversary.

The Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta in
Edmonton and the Harvard Ukrainian Studies Institute, founded by Omeljan
Pritsak, were already functioning at this time. Trained professionals began
to study the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine.

In 1983 Universite du Quebec a Montreal hosted a scholarly conference
on the fundamental problems of the Holodomor. The proceedings were
published in book form three years later in Edmonton.

Bohdan Kravchenko, Sergei Maksudov (the alias of the former Moscow-
based dissident Alexander Babyonyshev, who concealed his identity to
protect his relatives), James Mace, and Roman Serbyn delivered the most
exhaustive reports.

The 50th anniversary of the Holodomor became a watershed in many
respects. The events of 1932-1933 in Ukraine started to attract the
attention of historians, politicians, and journalists. The situation was
further heightened by the fact that the USSR did not recognize the
existence of a famine in 1933.

When journalists questioned Ukrainian diplomats at the UN about this,
they either avoided answering or denied the fact that there was a famine.
Eventually, they were forced to turn to their government for instructions:
What should they do about this problem dating back 50 years?

The Politburo of the CC CPU instructed the Central Committee’s secretary
in charge of ideology and the Ukrainian KGB chief to investigate this

On Feb. 11, 1983, they submitted a report to Volodymyr Shcherbytsky,
the gist of which is reflected in its title: “On propaganda and Counter-
propaganda measures to counter the anti-Soviet campaign unleashed by
reactionary centers of the Ukrainian emigration concerning food shortages
that took place in the early 1930s.”

The late Ihor Olshaniwsky, head of the Organization of Americans in
Defense of Human Rights in Ukraine, studied the archives of the US
Congressional Commission on the Holocaust and proposed creating
an identical commission to study the Ukrainian Holodomor.

Congressman James Florio and Senator Bill Bradley, both of whom
represented the state of New Jersey, supported Olshaniwsky’s idea
because there were many Ukrainian voters in the state.

In November 1983 Florio introduced a bill to form the Congressional
Commission. When it was introduced in the House of Representatives,
the bill bore the signatures of 59 congressmen, most of whom were
Florio’s fellow Democrats.

Even though one year later this bill bore the signatures of 123 congressmen,
leading Democrats in the House of Representatives had little enthusiasm for
it. “Why spend American taxpayers’ money on what happened some 50
years ago?” they asked.

The Ukrainian diaspora then organized a grassroots campaign in all states
with Ukrainian communities. Congressmen, chairmen of congressional
commissions and committees, House of Representatives Speaker O’Neil,
and US President Ronald Reagan began receiving tens of thousands of
individual and collective petitions. Never before or since had Ukrainian
Americans organized such a large-scale campaign.

Senator Bradley submitted the same bill to the Senate on March 21, 1984.
Myron Kuropas, vice president of the Ukrainian National Association, was
very influential in the numerous Ukrainian communities of Illinois. At one
time he actively campaigned for Illinois Senator Charles Percy, who later
chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Thus, the passage of the bill in this Senate committee did not encounter any
obstacles. The first hearings were held in August and ended with positive
results. Addressing the senators, Olshaniwsky said that time does not wait:
the surviving Holodomor victims were old and weak, and it was crucial to
collect their testimonies as soon as possible. On Sept. 19 the Foreign
Affairs Committee approved the bill’s wording, and two days later the
Senate unanimously approved the bill.

Meanwhile, the passage of the bill in the House of Representatives
encountered difficulties. Foreign Affairs Committee members did not want
to provoke Moscow’s wrath, and State Department officials sided with
them. The Oct. 3, 1984, hearings, held on the penultimate day of the 98th
Congress, revealed differing opinions.

Robbie Palmer, the US State Department representative, claimed there was
no need for another bureaucratic committee and that its creation would
cause “an avalanche of similar demands from other ethnic groups.”

On the contrary, Congressman David Roth, who represented the interests
of the American European [sic: read Jewish] Congress, reminded his
colleagues that the US Congress had a committee on the Jewish
Holocaust and emphasized: “The two peoples were persecuted for
political reasons and only for being who they were. The US Congress
therefore must pay equal attention to them so that the whole world will
learn about those heinous crimes, so that they will never be repeated.”

Yet the Foreign Affairs Committee did not submit the bill lobbied by the
Ukrainian organizations to the House of Representatives. Bill Bradley saved
the day by exercising his right as senator to amend the budget. On Oct. 4,
1984, the last day of the 98th Congress, he appended the funding provision
for the temporary commission on the Ukrainian Holodomor to Congress’s
Funding Resolution.

The House of Representatives, which can veto senators’ amendments,
agreed to this amendment without debating it, owing to lack of time,
since the Senate had already approved this bill.

The Funding Resolution, i.e., a 470 billion-dollar budget for the 1985
fiscal year with a funding provision for the Ukrainian Holodomor
Commission for 400,000 US dollars appended to it had to be approved
immediately. Without this procedure the government would be left

President Ronald Reagan signed the Funding Resolution on October 12,
1984. A Congressional Commission thus came into being, whose mission
was to “carry out a study of the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933 in order to
disseminate knowledge about the famine throughout the world and to ensure
that the American public has a better understanding of the Soviet system by
highlighting the role that the Soviets played in the famine.”

The US Congressional Commission on the Ukraine Famine was comprised
of two senators, four congressmen, three representatives of the executive,
and four representatives of the Ukrainian community.

At the request of the Organization of Americans in Defense of Human Rights
in Ukraine, James Mace, a fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Studies Institute
and one of the few American specialists on the history of Soviet Ukraine,
was appointed the commission’s executive director.

At Harvard University, Dr. Mace was helping the English historian Robert
Conquest to collect and process historical materials for his book about the
Holodomor. Conquest had earned recognition for his study of mass
repressions in the Soviet Union in 1937-1938.

At the request of the National Committee for Commemorating the 1933
Holodomor Victims in Ukraine he started to explore this new subject. In late
1986 Oxford University Press published his book “The Harvest of Sorrow:
Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine,” which immediately created an
international sensation. The publishing house Lybid published a Ukrainian
translation in 1993 with money supplied by the Ukrainian diaspora in the US.

Nobody expected the research team of six Ukrainian-studies scholars headed
by James Mace to obtain convincing evidence of Stalin’s greatest crime,
given the commission’s short mandate. But Mace performed a scholarly and
civic feat.

The US Congressional Commission on the Ukraine Famine did not become
another bureaucratic committee, as Robbie Palmer feared it would. James
Mace and the young American researcher Leonid Herets developed methods
that made it possible to ensure the objectivity of testimonies provided by
Holodomor witnesses.

Layered one on top of the other, the testimonies corrected the subjective
nature of these personal recollections. In this way they became a
fully-fledged source.

As soon as it became possible, James Mace traveled to Ukraine, where he
settled permanently in 1993. For many years he worked at the Kyiv-Mohyla
Academy and contributed to “The Day.” “Fate decreed that the victims
chose me,” he wrote in one of his numerous columns carried by this
newspaper (Feb. 18, 2003).

Mace died on May 2, 2004. One year later “The Day’s Library Series”
published a book dedicated to him: “Day and Eternity of James Mace,”
objective proof of the weighty role this American played in Ukraine’s
contemporary history. -30-

LINK: [Part Two]
Comprehending the Holodomor.The position of soviet historians

By Stanislav KULCHYTSKY, Ph.D. (History)
The Day Weekly Digest in English, #35
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 8 November, 2005

With the Stalinist taboo broken, Soviet historians began to explore the
famine of 1933 with increasing intensity. It would be a mistake to say that
the agony of the totalitarian regime and the empire that it had created
began with the opening of this particular “Pandora’s box.”

Nonetheless, the subject of the famine resonated throughout Ukrainian
society, evolving into a discussion of the Holodomor as an act of genocide.

Cut off from the Ukrainian Diaspora behind the Iron Curtain, Soviet
historians were largely unaffected by the results of the Diaspora’s
investigation of the Holodomor. The Iron Curtain was located not only on
the borders of the USSR but inside our minds.

What I would least like to discuss in this chapter is the quantitative
accomplishments of Soviet historians on the subject of the Ukrainian famine.
The line of discussion is determined by the wording of the question: Why

did Stalin exterminate the Ukrainians?

I will therefore not discuss the facts they exposed but only how those facts
affected the researchers’ worldview. In particular, they developed an
ability to reject Soviet stereotypes, which enabled them to elicit the true
cause-and-effect relationships in the problem of the Holodomor.

The chosen line of discussion requires me to explore my own worldview and
life experience especially closely. In this sensitive matter it is hard to
find other material for the necessary generalizations.

I spent 11 years working at the Institute of Economics of the Academy of
Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, where I studied the history of the nation’s
economy, moving from one time period to the next. I then transferred to the
Institute of History to prepare a doctoral thesis within the framework of
the so-called interwar period: from 1921 to 1941.

When I received my doctorate and was appointed to chair the Department of
Interwar History, my scholarly specialty and position required me to study
the 1933 famine once it became a widely discussed topic.

Other people in the department were studying the history of the peasants
before and after collectivization, while I specialized in the problems of
industrialization and the history of the working class. Like everybody else,
I knew about the famine.

Moreover, I had access to demographic data that was locked away in special
repositories and knew that the Ukrainian countryside had lost millions of
people, and that this loss could not be attributed to urbanization. But I
could not understand the causes of the famine.

Even in my worst nightmare I could not imagine that the Soviet government
was capable of exterminating not only enemies of the people (at the time I
never questioned the legitimacy of this notion), but also children and
pregnant women.

After several years of studying the famine, I chose a newspaper with the
highest circulation in my republic to publish a sharply-worded article “Do
we need the Soviet government?” I am grateful to the chief editor of Silski
visti [Village News] for publishing the article in unexpurgated form on June
7, 1991.

He did, however, change the title to: “What government do we need?”
Unfortunately, piety toward the Soviet government is still widespread among
many people of my generation.

Before the worldview transformation caused by my study of the Holodomor, I
was a Soviet scholar like everyone else. That is, I looked at history from
the class point of view, viewed capitalism and socialism as socioeconomic
formations, considered uncollectivized peasants to be representatives of the
petty bourgeoisie, believed that collective ownership of production
facilities was a viable option and that collective farms were the peasants’
collective property.

I considered it a normal thing that there were special repositories in
libraries and archives, i.e., I accepted the division of information into
classified and public. But for this very reason I could not understand why
the 1933 famine was a forbidden topic.

Since there was no one in Ukraine who didn’t know about it, why did this
information have to be classified? An older colleague, who also chaired a
department at the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the
Ukrainian SSR, confided in me that in his village everybody knew who had
eaten whom. They spent the rest of their lives with this knowledge.

When some important individuals on the staff of the CPU’s Central

Committee, whom I knew well, got word of a US congressional
commission on the Ukrainian famine, they went into a state of continuing

The Feb. 11, 1983, report by the Central Committee’s secretary in charge of
ideology and the Ukrainian KGB chief contained a recommendation addressed

to our specialists abroad: Do not enter into polemics on the famine. It was
clear that this polemic would be a losing proposition under any
circumstances. At the time, however, they could no longer bury their heads
in the sand.

In the fall of 1986 the CC CPU formed a so-called “anti-commission.” I found
myself among its members. We scholars were expected to produce studies that
would “expose the falsifications of Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists.”

I had worked in special repositories before, but received clearance to
access “special files” of CPU committees only once I began working as a
member of the commission.

Soviet archives had one special characteristic: a researcher could have
access to 99.9 percent of all files, yet all crucial information relating to
the history of this totalitarian state was contained in the 0.01 percent of
inaccessible files.

After six months of working in the archives, I learned about the
agricultural situation in the early 1930s. After this, some causes, which I
had taken for granted since my school years, changed places with
consequences. The new cause-and-effect relationships often coincided with
what I got to read in the so-called “anti-Soviet” literature.

While I was working in the archives, the commission’s work was proving
fruitless. Perhaps those upstairs realized that the scholars had been given
an unrealistic assignment. I sent an analytical report under my own name to
the Central Committee with a proposal that the famine be officially

Now I understand that I was demanding something impossible from the Central
Committee. Indeed, why did Stalin’s taboo on recognizing the famine last for
so long? After the 20th Congress of the CPSU, Stalin’s successors readily
condemned the political terror of 1937- 1938 because its primary victim was
the ruling party.

Unlike individual terror carried out by state security agencies, terror by
famine in 1932-1933 was carried out by party committees, the Komsomol,

trade unions, and komnezam committees of poor peasants.

How could they possibly admit that Stalin had succeeded in using the system
of government, which everybody called “people’s rule,” to exterminate the
people, i.e., to commit genocide?

In exposing famine, the rhetoric about Stalinist vices would not hide the
organic flaws of the Soviet government behind the great chieftain’s broad

I remember writing that report at a time when I still had not given up many
stereotypes of the official concept of history. Now I understand that this
helped me formulate my arguments in such a way that my report would not
appear too explosive to those in a position to make the political decision
to recognize the famine.

I think this report was only about recognizing the fact that famine had
really occurred. While I, an expert on the history of the interwar period,
still could not interpret this mysterious famine as genocide in 1987, our
chiefs in the party committees were even farther from such an

Granted, we knew that books had been published in the West, in which the
victims of the 1933 famine said that the government had intended to destroy
them. But such stories were always rejected in the USSR as anti- Soviet

While rereading the text about the ability or inability of our government
officials of the time to recognize the fact of the famine, I caught myself
in a contradiction: while I state that I was demanding the impossible of the
members of the Central Committee, I am insisting that they could not
identify the famine with genocide.

I teach a course on historical methodology to M.A. students and always draw
their attention to the phenomenon of presentism: people tend to invest the
past with characteristics of contemporaneity, which it does not have, and
overlook those characteristics of that past, which are not present in their
life. For the past to shine with its true colors, we have to approach it
with expert knowledge.

I think, however, that even people who are not expert historians but have
enough life experience can recall exactly what they thought about the 1933
famine a decade and a half ago, and how their views have changed now that
thousands of horrifying documents have been published.

Those who were in power in the late 1980s had access to such documents

even in those days. I dare say, however, that they could not evaluate them
properly because they were not Stalin’s contemporaries and did not
contribute to his crimes. Like me, they were products of the Soviet school.

Later in this article I will show with concrete examples that it took both
time and great mental effort for people of my generation to grasp the famine
as an act of genocide.

Representatives of the generation that had survived the famine did not
realize, but only felt, that somebody had intended to destroy them. However,
there is a difference between understanding and feeling.

A judge listens to eyewitness testimony about a crime (in our case, the
crime of genocide), but issues his ruling only after establishing the entire
sequence of events that constitute the corpus delicti of the crime.

In appealing to the international community for recognition of the Ukrainian
Holodomor as an act of genocide, we must stop playing on emotions, which we
have been doing until now, and must instead supply corroborated evidence of
the crime.

Thus, I am certain that none of the CPU leaders realized the true essence of
the events of 1933, but they all knew that something horrible and monstrous
had happened. On the other hand, they felt that the Stalinist taboo on the
word famine could no longer continue.

For several months my report wandered from office to office at the Central
Committee. Finally, they allowed me to submit it as a scholarly article to
Ukrayinsky istorychny Zhurnal, but only once a political decision to
recognize the famine as a historical fact was publicized.

That event was scheduled for Dec. 25, 1987, when Volodymyr Shcherbytsky, the
first secretary of the CC CPU was slated to deliver his report on the 70th
anniversary of the Ukrainian SSR.

In the meantime, the liberalization of the political regime, which started
with Gorbachev’s announcement of his policy of perestroika, was becoming
more and more pronounced. The conspiracy of silence surrounding the famine
began to disintegrate by itself.

On July 16, 1987, the newspaper Literaturna Ukraina carried two articles
that mentioned the famine matter-of-factly as a well-known fact. Discussions
of the famine began in Moscow.

On Oct. 11, 1987, the famous scholar Viktor Danilov of the Institute of
Soviet History at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, who had already
experienced much unpleasantness within the party organs for his “distorted”
portrayal of Soviet agrarian history, published a statement in the newspaper
Sovetskaia Rossiia, stating that famine had claimed a huge number of lives
in the winter and spring of 1933.

In his short article entitled “How many of us were there then?” published in
the December issue of the magazine Ogonek, Moscow-based demographer Mark
Tolts blew the lid off the suppressed union-wide census of 1937, revealing
that its organizers had been repressed for the malicious underestimation of
the population. Tolts pointed to the 1933 famine as the cause of this

On Nov. 2, 1987, CPSU Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev delivered a report
in the Kremlin, pegged to the 70th anniversary of the October Revolution.
Aleksandr Yakovlev recalled that the conservatives and liberals on
Gorbachev’s team prepared several versions of the same report. A

conservative version of this assessment of the country’s historical path
got the upper hand, and Gorbachev did not mention the famine.

Volodymyr Shcherbytsky could not follow his Moscow patron’s example

because what had raged in Ukraine was not merely famine but manmade
famine, or the Holodomor. Moreover, the US congressional commission
was about to announce the preliminary results of its investigation.

For this reason Shcherbytsky’s anniversary report contained six or seven
lines about the famine, which was allegedly caused by drought. For the first
time in 55 years a CPSU Politburo member broke the Stalinist taboo on the
word “famine.” This created an opportunity for historians to study and
publish documents on the Holodomor.

My article, “Concerning the Evaluation of the Situation in Agriculture of
the Ukrainian SSR in 1931-1933,” was published in the March 1988 issue of
the Ukrainskyi istorychnyi Zhurnal. Its abridged version had already been
published in January 1988 in two Soviet newspapers for Ukrainian emigrants:
the Ukrainian-language Visti z Ukrainy and the English-language News from

In May 1988 the Foreign Ministry of the Ukrainian SSR received the materials
of the US congressional commission via the Soviet Embassy in the US and
passed them on to the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the
Ukrainian SSR.

The English-language version of my article was almost entirely quoted and
analyzed. James Mace concluded, “The scale of the famine is minimized, the
Communist Party is depicted as doing its utmost to improve the situation,
while the actions of the Communist Party and the Soviet state, which
exacerbated the famine, have been ignored.”

This is an objective conclusion, for I had deliberately excluded materials
that had already been discovered in party archives from this article, which
in fact was my report to the CC CPU.

I could not afford to make things difficult for Shcherbytsky to render a
decision that was coming to a head under the conditions of increasing
glasnost and which was necessary in the face of the investigation being
pursued by the US Congress.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian writers were bringing the subject of the famine to the
forefront of civic and political life. On Feb. 18, 1988, Literaturna Ukraina
published Oleksa Musiyenko’s report to a meeting of the Kyiv branch of the
Writers’ Union of Ukraine.

Welcoming the new CPSU leadership’s policy of de-Stalinization, Musiyenko
accused Stalin of orchestrating a brutal grain procurement campaign in the
republic, which resulted in the Holodomor of 1933. The word “Holodomor”

used in this report was coined by the writer.

In early July 1988 the writer Borys Oliynyk addressed the 19th CPSU
conference in Moscow. Focusing on the Stalinist terror of 1937, he surprised
those present with his conclusion: “Because repressions in our republic
started long before 1937, we must also determine the causes of the 1933
famine, which killed millions of Ukrainians; we must list the names of those
who are to blame for this tragedy.”

In a November 1988 interview with the Moscow weekly Sobesednik
[Interlocutor], the writer Yuriy Shcherbak, the founder of the Green
movement in Ukraine, devoted much attention to the problem of the famine.

He was convinced that the 1933 famine was the same kind of method for
terrorizing peasants who opposed collective farm slavery as dekulakization.

At the same time, he was the first to speculate that Stalin’s policy of
repressions in Ukraine was also aimed at forestalling the danger of a
large-scale national liberation movement. The peasantry, he said, was always
the bearer of national traditions, which is why the 1933 famine was a blow
aimed against the peasants.

In the summer of 1993 James Mace published his analytical article “How
Ukraine Was Permitted to Remember” in the American journal The Ukrainian
Quarterly. In describing the process of how the Holodomor was understood, I
have followed this article to some extent and in separate instances, while
making independent evaluations. I cannot agree with one of his statements.

In July 1988 the Writers’ Union of Ukraine instructed Volodymyr Maniak to
prepare a memorial book comprised of testimonies of Holodomor survivors.
Mace wrote that Maniak was not allowed to address the famine eyewitnesses in
the press; this mission was entrusted to me. In December 1988 I appealed to
the readers of Silski visti and published a questionnaire.

In fact, neither Maniak nor I were instructed to prepare a memorial book.
This problem did not concern the republican leadership. The initiative was
Maniak’s. After enlisting the support of the Writers’ Union, he came to the
Institute of History at the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR with a
proposal to join forces.

At the time we were actively searching for documents relating to the famine,
which had been amassed in the archives of Soviet government agencies. We
collected so many sensational materials that we processed them in parallel
form: memoirs and documents. We could not immediately publish the
manuscripts we had prepared.

Radiansky Pysmennyk published the colossal book of recollections, Famine
1933. The People’s Memorial Book compiled by Maniak and his wife Lidia
Kovalenko, only in 1991. In 1992 and 1993 Naukova Dumka published a
collection of documents from the Central State Archive of the Highest Organs
of Government and Administration of Ukraine, compiled by Hanna
Mykhailychenko and Yevhenia Shatalina.

In the meantime, the substance and even the words from my article that
appeared in Ukrayinsky istorychny Zhurnal became the target of harsh
criticism in the press immediately after its publication in March 1988. Only
one year after its publication society was viewing the fundamental questions
concerning Soviet reality in a completely different way.

In 1988 I wrote a brochure for the society Znannia [Knowledge] of the
Ukrainian SSR. While the brochure was being prepared for publication, I
obtained permission from the society to publish it in Literaturna Ukraina.
At the time this newspaper was most popular among radical intellectual
circles and in the Diaspora.

The text, published in four issues of the newspaper between January and
February 1989, was the product of 18 months of archival work. Complete with
photographic evidence, the story of Viacheslav Molotov’s extraordinary grain
procurement commission shocked the public.

In June 1989 Znannia published 62,000 copies of my brochure entitled 1933:
The Tragedy of the Famine. Not surprisingly, it was published as part of
series entitled Theory and Practice of the CPSU. The art editor designed an
original cover depicting a cobweb with the brochure’s title centered in red
and white lettering.

As I reread it now, I can see that it is an accurate portrayal of the
socioeconomic consequences of forced collectivization of agriculture, the
major one being famine in many areas of the USSR.

However, at the time I still did not understand the specifics of the
Ukrainian famine. In particular, the brochure listed all the clauses of the
Nov. 18 decree of the CC CP(b)U and the Nov. 20 decree of the Council

of People’s Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR, both of which were approved
as dictated by Molotov.

These decrees were the spark plug of the Holodomor. The brochure also cited
the most disturbing clause, calling for the imposition of penalties in kind
(meat, potatoes, and other foodstuffs). However, at the time I still had no
facts about the consequences that stemmed from that clause.

For this reason the Ukrainian famine was considered the result of a mistaken
economic policy, not a deliberate campaign to seize food under the guise of
grain procurements: “Openness in the struggle against the famine would mean
recognizing the economic catastrophe that crowned Stalin’s experiment of
speeding up the pace of industrialization.

Stalin thus chose a different path, the path of cowardly and criminal
concealment of the situation in the countryside.” It follows from these
words that I did not see signs of genocide in the concealment of information
about the famine.

A detailed analysis of my own brochure was necessary to provide background
to the story about the major accomplishment of the Soviet period, which was
being quickly consigned to the past. I am speaking about the book The Famine
of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: Through the Eyes of Historians and the Language of

The book was published in September 1990 by Politvydav Ukrainy as an imprint
of the Institute of Party History at the CC CPU. It contained articles,
including one of mine, but I will discuss the documents from the archival
funds of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist (b) Party and the

The documentary section was compiled by Ruslan Pyrih, head of the team of
compilers that included A. Kentiy, I. Komarova, V. Lozytsky, and A.
Solovyova. The official pressrun was 25,000, but the real number of
published copies was ten times smaller. When it became clear that the book
would be published, somebody decided to turn it into a bibliographic rarity.

I saw the documents discovered in the party archives of Moscow and Kyiv by
Pyrih’s team one year before their publication. Some of them are reason
enough to accuse Stalin of committing the crime of genocide, and I will cite
them in subsequent articles.

However, my immediate task is to elicit how the Holodomor was understood.

I will only say that at the time nobody saw the true substance of these few
documents, and thank God for that. If they had, they might have removed
these documents from the manuscript. It is no wonder that their contents
were underestimated. In my 1989 brochure I too could not assess the
significance of those fines in kind.

A battle over this manuscript broke out at the highest political level in
the republic – in the Politburo of the CC CPU. The Politburo meeting in
January 1990, to which I was invited as an expert, took a long time to
discuss the expediency of publishing this book.

I got the impression that those present heaved a sigh of relief when
Volodymyr Ivashko, the first secretary of the CC assumed responsibility

and proposed publishing the documents.

Why did the Politburo decide to publish such explosive documents? There

are at least two reasons.

First, in 1988-1989 the originally bureaucratic perestroika was already
evolving into a popular movement. Constitutional reform had divested the
ruling party of its power over society. In order to remain on top of the
revolutionary wave, party leaders had to distance themselves from Stalin’s

Second, the US congressional commission had already completed its work and
published a conclusive report that contained many impressive details. The
Politburo members were familiar with the specific results of the work
carried out by Mace’s commission. I am so sure of this because I have this
particular volume, 524 pages, published in Washington in 1988, in my own

The book’s cover bears the red stamp of the CC CPU’s general department,
identifying the date of receipt as Sept. 5, 1988. I obtained the book during
the transfer of Central Committee documents to the state archive after the
party was banned (as material foreign to the compiler of the funds).

The above-mentioned Politburo meeting of Jan. 26, 1990, approved a
resolution “On the 1932-1933 Famine in Ukraine and the Publication of
Archival Materials Relating to It.”

The Politburo identified the immediate cause of the famine as the grain
procurement policy that was fatal to the peasants. Yet this statement did
not correspond to the truth, much like Shcherbytsky’s statement about the

Mace came to Ukraine for the first time in January 1990. He brought me a
computer printout of the famine survivors’ testimonies recorded by the US
congressional commission. The three volumes of testimonies on 1,734 pages
were published in Washington only in December 1990.

In the first two weeks of that month the journal Pid praporom Leninizmu
[Under the Banner of Leninism] published my article “How It Happened
(Reading the Documents of the US Congressional Commission on the

1932-1933 Ukraine Famine”).

My own experience of analyzing archival documents and the testimonies
recorded by the American researchers enabled me to reach the following
conclusion: “Alongside grain procurements and under their guise, a
repressive expropriation of all food stocks, i.e., terror by famine was

Now the conclusion about genocide was no longer based solely on the
emotional testimony of Holodomor eyewitnesses but on an analysis of

archival documents.

March 1991 saw the publication of my conclusive book, Tsina velykoho
perelomu [The Price of the Great Turning Point]. The final conclusion was
formulated in no uncertain terms: “Famine and genocide in the countryside
were preprogrammed” (p. 302).

In the years that followed I wondered why this book was not known to many
researchers of the Holodomor. But eventually I realized that the announced
pressrun of 4,000 copies could have been reduced tenfold, as it happened
with the collection of documents from the party archives. Even though the
publishing house was renamed Ukraina, it was the same old Politvydav

Reviewing the book a decade and a half later, I have reconsidered its merits
and shortcomings. Its merit lay in the detailed analysis of the Kremlin’s
socioeconomic policy that resulted in an economic crisis capable of
disrupting the political equilibrium.

This explained why Stalin unleashed terror by famine against Ukraine in one
particular period – a time when the economic crisis was at its peak. The
monograph’s shortcoming was the lack of an analysis of the Kremlin’s
nationality policy. Without such an analysis the conclusion of genocide was
suspended in midair.

In those distant years Mace and I often engaged in sharp polemics. However,
these polemics were disinterested, i.e., they concerned problems, not
specific persons. I criticized him for his inadequate attention to the
Kremlin’s socioeconomic policy, and he criticized me for my inattention to
its nationality policy.

Time has shown that establishing that the Holodomor was an act of genocide
requires an equal amount of attention to both the socioeconomic and
nationality policies.

However, Mace had an advantage in this polemic. He did not have to change
his worldview the way I had to change mine, one that was inculcated in me by
my school, university, and my entire life in Soviet society, and to do so
posthaste in the face of irrefutable facts.

He saw in me an official historian, which in fact I was. However, in the
above-mentioned article, “How Ukraine Was Permitted to Remember,” Mace
concluded the chapter on the evolution of my worldview with these words: “He
approached the development of the topic [of the famine – Author] as a Soviet
historian whose works were as political as they were scholarly. When the
possibilities for studying archives expanded, he stopped being a Soviet
historian and became simply a historian.”

The world we live in now is no worse and no better than the communism of the
Brezhnev period. It is simply different. We should not be happy or sad that
it has passed.

We must only understand that the communist system exhausted its life cycle
and that its continued existence would necessarily have involved government
pressure on society, which was germane to the first two decades of Soviet
rule, i.e., the Holodomor could also be repeated.

At this point I cannot help saying a good word about Yakovlev, who died

last month. He proposed the best possible way for a quick and managed
disintegration of the communist order.

Soviet communism disintegrated as an empire and as a system a long time

ago. Now it is imperative for us to overcome the worldview inherited from it.

Unfortunately, a decade and a half after the demise of communism this
problem persists. It can be resolved with the help of knowledge about
Ukraine’s true history in the Soviet period, including knowledge of the real
causes of the Holodomor.

I can say this based on my own life experience. -30-

LINK: [Part Three]

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