The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)


By Elizabeth Cady Brown, Staff Writer
Newsday, New York, New York, November 15, 2003

It is sometimes called the "hidden holocaust" or the "forgotten famine," but 3,000 people marched Manhattan's streets Saturday to show the world they remember.

This week marked the 70th annual commemoration of the eight million to 10 million Ukrainians who were starved to death by Joseph Stalin's Soviet regime between 1932 to 1933.

It was crisp and sunny for the marchers gathered at noon in front of St. George Catholic Church in the East Village. The procession, a sea of blue and gold Ukrainian flags and colorful embroidered head scarves, moved slowly up Third Avenue to Bryant Park, ending at St. Patrick's Cathedral for a requiem Mass. It was at once a celebration of Ukrainian culture and a time of collective mourning.

Marchers walk and rally up 3rd Avenue in the East Village on the 70th anniversary of Ukrainian Holocaust victims on Saturday. Ukrainians were intentionally starved to death by the Soviet regime. Between 7 to 10 million Ukrainians died during 1932-1933
Photo by Richard L. Harbus
(Click on image to enlarge it)

Paul Makovski, 54, lives in Sheepshead Bay but was born in Ukraine. He remembers clearly his mother's stories about surviving the famine as a young girl in Ukraine's capital, Kiev.

"My mother and her sister ate anything to stay alive," he said. "They would make bread with bark or grass. It was terrible for them."

Another marcher, Sonia Kachorowsky, 52, from Kolomya, Ukraine, recalled the stories her mother had shared of the '32 famine.

"After the Soviets came and took everything, my mother would go to the fields and try to find edible plants in the ground," said Kachorowsky, who lives in Salem, Conn. "She told me the horror of small children dying because their mothers' breasts had nothing, no milk."

Stalin imposed harsh policies against the Ukrainian province in the early 1930s, to crush its growing nationalist movement and organized opposition to collective farming practices. By withholding grain, blocking external aid and destroying Ukrainian infrastructure and farmland, Stalin engineered the deaths of millions of Ukrainians by starvation, including nearly one million children.

Ukraine's permanent representative to the United Nations, Valeriy Kuchynsky, said he hoped Saturday's demonstration would increase international awareness of the genocide.

"We don't want to avenge the history," he said. "The main thing is that mass human rights violations must never be repeated. For that, we must remember."

Kuchynsky expressed optimism that after 70 years the world was finally beginning to understand what had occurred. A U.N. joint statement denouncing Stalin's genocidal policies was signed Friday by more than 50 member states.

The Ukrainian delegation was joined by prominent American politicians, including John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a proclamation this week honoring the victims of the Ukrainian holocaust and declaring the week of November 10th "Ukrainian Famine Remembrance Week" in the city.

Addressing the congregation at St. Patrick's, Schumer said, "When one seeks to remember something of this dimension, it is awfully hard to get one's arms around it. But, if we forget, somewhere on the face of the globe it will happen again. It is our job to let people know what happened to prevent it from ever happening again."

Olha Oloch, 18, moved to Bensonhurst with her parents from Ukraine five years ago and now works at the Ukrainian Museum in Manhattan. She said that visitors often know nothing of the famine or Stalin's repressive policies.

"I want Americans to recognize something like this happened," she said quietly. "The loss of millions of people is tremendous and should be recognized."

Newsday, New York, New York, November 15, 2003,0,2757211.story?coll=nyc-manheadlines-manhattan