The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine, 1932-1933 (Holodomor)
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Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Nations, Volodymyr Yelchenko, Speaks Out Clearly About The Great Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933

"Famine-Genocide Recalled At St. Patrick's Cathedral"

The Rev. Myroslav Medvid Addresses Annual Gathering

The Ukrainian Weekly
Sunday, November 26, 2000,
Page 1
by Andrij Wowk,
Special To The Ukrainian Weekly

New York... Hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Catholic and the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches gathered at the landmark St. Patrick's Cathedral here on Saturday, November 18, to solemnly recall the victims of the Great Famine in Ukraine with an ecumenical memorial service and addresses.

The event was organized by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), in remembrance of the 7 million to 10 million Ukrainians who died in 1932-1933 as a result of the Famine engineered by the Soviet government. Among the attendees was Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations, Volodymry Yelchenko. Responses to the service were sung by the Dumka Ukrainian Chorus of New York City.

After the service several notable speakers addresses the more than 1,500 people in attendance. Receiving perhaps the most attention was the event's keynote speaker Myroslav Mykhajlo Medvid, who had arrived a day earlier from Ukraine for a U.S. visit. Currently a Ukrainian Catholic priest, the Rev. Medvid made international headlines 15 years ago when, as a young Soviet sailor, he jumped ship and unsuccessfully sought political asylum in the United States.

Speaking through an interpreter, in a poignant and emotional tone, the Rev. Medvid outlined the "200 year history of Russian domination" of culture and religion in Ukraine, which, he said, began during the rule of the Russian tsars and culminated in the Soviet oppression - and the Great Famine of the 1930's. He also pointed to the destruction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church , headed by Metropolitan Vasyl Lypkivsky, at the hands of Soviet Authorities.

The Soviet authorities were unable to accomplish their goals, the Rev. Medvid noted, just as the Russian tsars had been unable to beat the Ukrainian spirit in earlier centuries. He attributed this to courageous political leaders throughout Ukrainian history, noting that even after the deaths of these leaders, "their ideas did not die".

"Blessed sleep and eternal peace, oh Lord, give to your servants, your unknown brothers and sisters of our Mother Ukraine. And great them eternal rest," he intoned.

The Rev. Medvid was followed at the podium by Ambassador Yelchenko, who noted that in 1999 Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma had proclaimed the last Saturday of November as the "Day of Commemoration of the Victims of the Great Famine of 1932-1933". On this day, he said, memorial services are held all over Ukraine----in every city and village.

Ambassador Yelchenko commended the Ukrainian American community for organizing the memorial event, "proving," he said, "that this is not simply a tribute to the past---this is a reminder to the future." He also discussed the Ukrainian government's efforts at greater worldwide awareness of the Great Famine, through the United Nations and other channels.

"The Famine in Ukraine was a man-made action, well-planned in advance," stated Ambassador Yelchenko. "The Famine (was) used as a political weapon, to eliminate Ukrainian opposition to collectivization and, most importantly, to destroy the striving for independence," He also noted that the Great Famine was followed by Stalin's purges of thousands of Ukrainian intellectuals.

"It is clear now, that Stalin's regime did its best to eliminate Ukrainians as a nation, to erase them from the political map, from history - even the people's memory," he underscored.

Focusing on the future, Ambassador Yelchenko stated that despite the loss of 10 to 25 percent of its population during the Great Famine, Ukraine has grasped its "historical chance" to become a free and independent European country, and may one day again be known as "the breadbasket of Europe."

He stated that although the new generations of Ukrainians may not be as familiar with the events surrounding the Great Famine, "They should know that our nation paid an extremely high price for its freedom and independence. That is why we must remind them of the years of the Famine, with deep pain in our hearts, and with a strong determination to prevent such tragedies in the future."

Master of ceremonies for the event was Michael Sawkiw, newly elected president of the UCCA. Mr. Sawkiw called the Great Famine a "tragic episode of Ukrainian history" and noted that, while the Soviet government and some Western journalists denied the very existence of the Famine, "we are here to say otherwise."

"The lessons of the Ukrainian genocide must be taught to school children nationwide, as part of world history," he stated. "Let us recall the victims of this horrific holocaust and their sacrifice to preserve their Ukrainian identity."

The prayer service was opened with remarks by Archbishop Anthony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., while closing remarks were made by Bishop Basil Losten of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

The memorial service marked the third time that a prayer service for the victims of the Great Famine has been held in St. Patrick's by the Ukrainian American community."


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