"The woman offered me candy to go with her. I was only four, and
nearly to become another victim of the Great Famine in that Spring of
The woman wanted me for dinner. No, not to share dinner, but to be
her dinner. That's the way it was during a period when six to 10
million Ukrainians, mostly peasants, starved to death.
I shake even now as I write this 67 years later. After being
offered sweets, I followed this woman. My grandfather saw the
incident, looked at the woman's swollen belly from lack of food, and
pulled me away.
I remember crying because I wanted the candy. Two days later, they
found another child in that woman's house. He had been butchered.
My father took me to the women's home. "That could have been
you," he said.
When one writes about the 1933 famine, he has to be general. No
one kept a record of the dead people. Sixty years later, demographers
attempted a crude accounting.
Actually, the famine in 1933 was the second in Soviet history. The
first was in 1922, second in 1933, and third in 1947. All of them
were provoked by revolutionary changes in the country. In
1922-----by the civil war, in 1933-----by the land reform and compelled
collectivization, in 1947----by the Second World War.
The one in 1933 was the most atrocious and outrageous. Today it is
well known that the famine in 1933 was created artificially.
The Soviet power used this terrible method in order to make Ukrainian
peasants join Soviet collective farms. That's why the mentioning
of the famine-1933 was a rigid taboo over several decades. Not a
single word in the mass media, not a single word in speeches, not a
single word anywhere. Only in the times of Gorbachov's perestroika
was this taboo broken.
This is the first time I have ever written about the dreadful incident
as a boy or the famine in general. I took several pills for
nerves, yet my hand trembles anyway.
Most of what I saw in the terrible spring of 1933 is impossible to
describe. How can I write about people eating their children in
order to stay alive? How can I describe the smell of starvation?
How can I describe the famine victims? Millions of them.
Starved people lying in ditches along the road. The presence of
death was everywhere.
That famine changed our mentality so much that we see its traces today.
After famine in 1933 Ukrainian peasants tried to escape from villages to
cities. Those who survived that famine coldly perceived Stalin's
repression. After that famine Ukrainians lost their political and
social activities. Because of that famine, many Ukrainians gave
themselves up to fascists in 1941. There are many other questions
in Ukraine's history and the answers lie in the fact of the artificial
Scientific conclusions about the impact of that famine on the fate of
the world's former "bread-basket", Ukraine, are yet to come.
But is clear that all previous famines were consequences of wars and
Today, Ukraine undergoes revolutionary reforms in agriculture, that have
already brought chaos to Ukrainian villages. Being afraid of a
possible famine, peasants store up flour, sugar, and cereals. I am
personally for reforms, but I don't want to sinister regularity of
famine to repeat itself in the new millennium."
Article by Dr. Volodymry Senchenko
The Willard Group
Article Published in:
The Quarterly Ukrainian Observer
The Quarterly Digest of Ukrainian Culture,
Economics and Politics Magazine from The Willard Group, TWG
No. 2/2 Page 7
by Volodymyr Senchenko
The Willard Group