From: Roman Serbyn, firstname.lastname@example.org
November 12, 2002
Roman Serbyn writes:
I'd like to present my ideas on the choice of terms for the Ukrainian
Famine-Genocide. They are somewhat different from those of Bohdan Vitvitsky.
THE FAMINE--A POINT OF DISCUSSION
From: Bohdan Vitvitsky email@example.com
Bohdan Vitvisky (B.V.) - A point for discussion. We complain that the Famine
does not receive the attention it deserves, yet we are not even smart enough
to realize that one of the first steps that needs to be taken is to settle
on a single, or at most two, distinctive name(s) for said historical event.
Roman Serbyn (R.S.) - I agree that it would be preferable to have one
distinctive name for the event.
B.V. - We refer to it as the "Ukrainian Famine," the "Famine of 1932-33,"
the "Famine-Genocide," just to name three of the numerous names in use. The
victimization of the Jews by the Nazis, on the other hand, has two
distinctive names: the "Holocaust" and "Shoah."
R.S. - The Ukrainian term Holodomor is as "international" as the Hebrew term
Shoah was several years ago, and it can be used as a synonym for and with a
more readily recognizable English term.
The "Ukrainian Famine" should be used only in a specific context and not by
itself because there were other Ukrainian famines besides the 1932-1933 one
(1921-1923, 1946-1947). The "1932-1933 Famine" identifies the period, but
does not translate the essence of the event, which was genocide against the
B.V. - Conquest has referred to the Famine as the "Terror Famine." That
strikes me as a good choice, although not the only one. One could then
further describe the event as the genocidal Terror Famine to capture the
point that the Famine was part of a broad campaign to make Ukrainians
disappear as something resembling a normal nation.
R.S. - I do not favor "Terror Famine" for several reasons:
Neither "famine" nor "terror" project the idea of "genocide". The discussion
today is not whether a famine occurred in Ukraine or not; no serious
historian or knowledgeable individual would argue that there was no famine.
The dispute is whether the famine was a genocide and if so, who was its
target: Ukrainians or peasants?
The expression "terror famine" is a neologism in which the noun "terror" is
used as an adjective to describe the famine. The term terror is now a la
mode, but for this very reason its sense has become diluted, and the word
has been turned into a tool of propaganda. It does not serve our purpose of
promoting the idea of genocide with regard to the famine.
The Oxford dictionary defines "terror" as: a) extreme fear, b) a terrifying
person or thing, c) organized intimidation ; terrorism. On the other hand,
"genocide" is "the deliberate extermination of a people or nation". Terror
and genocide are thus quite different, and the first is not equal to the
B.V. - ("Famine-Genocide" is not a good choice: is "Famine" here an
adjective for "Genocide"? Are they both nouns? If it's not immediately
obvious, and it's not, we're shooting ourselves in the foot.)
R.S. - I think that "Famine-Genocide" (with or without the hyphen) is better
than the others. It focuses on the fact that the Genocide was executed by
means of a forced famine. The more important word here is "Genocide". A
still better term is simply the "Ukrainian Genocide". This is the way other
genocides are most often referred to (Armenian Genocide, Cambodian Genocide,
etc.). There are historical reasons why Ukrainians insisted on the term
"Famine", but they should no longer bind us today.
I would, therefore, opt for the following usage, in order of preference:
1) Ukrainian Genocide
3) Holodomor (as an alternating synonym)
Any other opinions?
The Famine: Toward a Definition
Published on E-POSHTA, Keeping You Informed & Proactive!
Myroslava_efirstname.lastname@example.org, November 12, 2002
Editor's Note: Roman Serbyn is co-author of the book entitled "Famine
in Ukraine, 1932-1933" and is a professor of history at the University of
in Montreal, Canada.