By Alexander Kuzma, Executive Director
Children of Chornobyl Relief Fund
Chornobyl Chronicle, Winter 2003, Vol. XXIX
Short Hills, New Jersey
This fall, human rights advocates, historians, and people of Ukrainian
heritage across the world will commemorate the 70th Anniversary of one of
the most ghastly acts of genocide in human history. Between the years
1932-1933, the Soviet government under the leadership of Joseph Stalin
deliberately and systematically starved to death an estimated 10 million
Ukrainian farmers in Eastern Ukraine. Despite frantic attempts by Western
relief agencies to provide grain and foodstuffs, Stalin's regime blocked the
aid at Soviet borders. Armed commissars expropriated all grain and brutally
punished Ukrainian villagers who tried to resist or withhold even minute
quantities of food to safeguard their families.
As part of this campaign of terror, Ukrainian leaders, artists, and writers
were rounded up and deported to Siberia or executed. The legacy of the
"Holodomor" or "Terror Famine" has haunted Ukrainians for seven decades.
Yet until recently, Western scholars and journalists have either ignored the
famine or downplayed its horrific genocidal nature.
On October 20th, the House of Representatives unanimously passed House
Resolution 356 (by a vote of 382-0) recognizing the man-made famine in
Ukraine and expressing condemnation for those who orchestrated this massive
crime against humanity. On October 24th, The New York Times disclosed a
report by Professor Mark von Hagen, the director of the Harriman Institute
at Columbia University who recommended that The Times revoke the 1932
Pulitzer Prize awarded to its Moscow bureau chief Walter Duranty. Mr.
Duranty admitted to fellow correspondents that millions of Ukrainians had
died of starvation as a result of Stalin's policies, but he continued to
defend Stalin's brutality with the now infamous saying: "You can't make an
omelet without breaking eggs."
For those of us working to combat the aftermath of the Chornobyl disaster,
the Famine of 1932-33 remains a chilling reminder of man's inhumanity to
man. It is also an important reminder of the influence of corrupt
journalists and the power of the Western media to cover up even the most
massive disasters through neglect, denial, and falsification. It reminds us
how "the powers that be" can manipulate information to deny victims timely
humanitarian or medical assistance.
In the immediate aftermath of Chornobyl, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
belittled Western reports about widespread radiation exposure and covered up
Politburo documents that verified thousands of casualties during the first
weeks following the nuclear accident. The International Atomic Energy Agency
went out of its way to downplay the high incidence of thyroid cancer among
children in Belarus and Ukraine and continues to blame reports of radiation
effects on "hysteria" and "radiophobia" without taking the time to research
the birth defects, chromosome damage, and the rare and latent cancers that
our partner hospitals have documented in their pediatric patients.
Seventy years after the Terror Famine, we can do nothing to bring back the
millions of men, women and children who died, but we can certainly honor
their memory as we work to safeguard the Ukrainian population from further
In the late 1990's, for the first time since the Famine and World War II,
Ukraine experienced a steep decline in population. Infertility among
Ukrainians is among the highest in the world, birth defects have doubled,
and pregnancy complications continue to cripple young mothers' ability to
bring healthy babies into the world. To make matters worse, Ukraine is now
experiencing the fastest growing rate of HIV-AIDS infection in Europe.
The overall population has already dropped from 51 million in 1991 to 48
million in 2003. Without dramatic improvements in health and preventive
care, the US Agency for International Development and the World Health
Organization estimate that Ukraine's population could decline to 45 million
by the year 2010. The United Nations Office of Population predicts that
Ukraine will lose up to 40 per cent of its population by the year 2040.
With your continued help and support, we can and will work to reverse these
alarming trends by providing the adequate tools and training needed to make
It is too late to undo the damage inflicted by Stalin and his henchmen
seventy years ago. However, there can be no better way to overcome their
legacy than to provide the resources Ukraine needs to combat today's
IN THE WORDS OF THE GREAT AMERICAN LABOR ACTIVIST
MOTHER JONES, WE MUST "MOURN THE DEAD AND FIGHT
LIKE HELL FOR THE LIVING." IN THIS SEASON OF GIVING,
WE CALL ON ALL OF YOU TO HELP US IN OUR BATTLE TO
SAVE CHILDREN'S LIVES.
Children of Chornobyl Relief Fund, Inc.
272 Old Short Hills Road, Short Hills, NJ 07078
973 376 5141, Fax 973 376 4988
01001, vul. Khreshchatyk 25/28, Kyiv, Ukraine
011 380 44 228 1870/464 1207