The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine, 1932-1933 (Holodomor)
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"The Cruelest Spring" 
    

"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 1933.

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 famine.

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 radical reforms.

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

Jun-Aug, 2000

Kyiv, Ukraine


by Volodymyr Senchenko
The Willard Group

 
 

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