The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

Original Version Featured Photo of Starving Russian Family from 1921

Marka Ukrainy Decides to Reconsider the Design of the New Stamp After Serious Issues are Raised about the Stamp Design


By E. Morgan Williams, Publisher,  Information Service (ARTUIS)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, October 3, 2003


Ukraine. Holodomor. In Memory of Victims of Holodomor 1932-1933. 45 kopiykas
(Click on image to enlarge it)

KYIV, UKRAINE......."Marka Ukrainy," the stamp publishing and distribution house of the Ukrainian Postal Service, "Ukrposhta," has decided to reconsider the design of a new postage stamp in honor of the millions of victims of the 1932-1933 holodomor (to kill by hunger, or torture with hunger) in Ukraine and other famines after very serious questions about the photographic image of a starving Russian family from 1921 featured predominately on the stamp were raised.

According to sources in Kyiv, "Marka Ukrainy," after receiving a flood of objections to the stamp's design, has decided to postpone further work on the stamp until the issue of the 1921 Russian photograph can be properly considered and possible alternative images can be found. "Marka Ukrainy" had said previously the final design of the stamp had been approved, the printing plates were ready, no holodomor stamps had actually been printed, and that the stamps would be printed shortly and ready for distribution on November 22, 2003.

It is not known for sure at this time if "Marka Ukrainy" will be able to change the design of the stamp in time to have it issued on Saturday, November 22, 2003, the official date for the 70th anniversary of the commemoration in honor of the millions of victims of the genocidal holodomor of 1932-1933. It is also possible that "Marka Ukrainy" will, after a review, decide to go ahead and publish the stamp as originally approved or just abandon the holodomor stamp for now and not issue one this year.

The issue of the photograph of the Russian family from 1921 was first raised by the ArtUkraine Information Service (ARTUIS) and then a large host of organizations and individuals around the world as information about the very questionable and unacceptable design of the stamp became known.

Officials of the  Information Service (ARTUIS) and a small group of very concerned individuals met with the top official of Marka Ukrainy, Valentyna Khudoliy, in Kyiv on Tuesday of this week. Also attending the meeting was Svitlana Bodnar, artistic editor for the new holodomor stamp. The serious concerns about a new Ukrainian holodomor stamp featuring the photographic image of a starving Russian family from 1921 were raised.

The issue of the years of three different famines, 1921-1922, 1932- 1933, and 1946-1947 that were listed in the upper right hand corner of the design of the stamp that had been made public were also raised with the feeling that the stamp should only focus on the major genocidal famine of 1932-1933, one of the great tragedies of modern history. The issue of the word holodomor being on the stamp three times which tended to make the stamp design very busy when it was reduced to the size of a real stamp was also raised.

The director of the publishing house, "Stamp of Ukraine," stated that the final design of the holodomor stamp had been changed slightly from the version that had been make public. The dates for the three famines in Ukraine had been removed and the final stamp only focused on the 1932-1933 holodomor.

Director Khudoliy stated that a requirement for the stamp was that it contain a photographic image and that stamp company officials had hired an archive organization in Kyiv to find photographic images for consideration and stamp officials were told the image they selected for the stamp was from Ukraine. The final design of the stamp was shown to the group at the meeting. [the final design of the stamp is attached to this e-mail in a very enlarged image and in an image slightly larger than the real stamp.]

The artistic editor, hired by Marka Ukrainy for the stamp, Svitlana Bodnar, said the stamp design had gone through the normal approval process and had been unanimously approved by the artistic committee which included some historians and that no one involved in the approval process had raised any concerns whatsoever about the image of the starving family.

Director Valentyna Khudoliy and artistic editor Svitlana Bodnar vigorously defended the design of the stamp and the use of the photographic image of the starving Russian family from 1921. They said it was too late to change anything, the stamp had been approved by all those whose approval was needed, with no objections, and they would proceed with the printing of the stamp as soon as possible.

The group at the meeting stated the final design of the stamp was totally unacceptable, was a gross insult to the millions of Ukrainians who died in the 1932-1933 holodomor. The stamp was also a disgrace to the work of the last 70 years by tens of thousands of Ukrainians and others to research, document and tell the world about the genocidal famine in Ukraine. This was a tragedy which had been imposed on Ukraine by the Soviet government who worked hard for almost 60 years to tell the world there was no genocidal famine in Ukraine, one of the major cover-ups in recent history.

Those who attended the meeting with the Marka Ukrainy officials made it very clear they felt the photographic image on the stamp was a major historical error and perpetuated the erroronous use of Russian famine photographic images from 1921-1933 in materials related to the 1932-1933 holodomor in Ukraine. They said they strongly support the issuance of a holodomor stamp by Ukraine this year and encouraged Marka Ukrainy to quickly find an appropriate design for the stamp and to proceed with the original plans to issue the stamp on November 22.

Marka Ukrainy was also encouraged to drop the requirement that a photographic image had to be used on the stamp as there are very few documentable photographic images from the 1932-1933 holodomor in Ukraine as the Soviet government did not allow such photographs and kept the borders closed to journalists and to international relief agencies. The group said they felt an image created by an artist that could be approved would serve the purpose much better and would allow the new design of the stamp to be finished much faster.

A memo from Dr. Ingert Kuzych, President, Ukrainian Philatelic and Numismatic Society (UPNS) sent to members was given to Director Hudoliy. The memo stated:

"Dear UPNS Member or Concerned Citizen,

"I have just been informed of the incredibly inappropriate stamp design that Marka Ukrainy has proposed to issue in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ukraine (Holodomor). Although some may quibble about details of the overall design, the blatant use of a photo showing a starving Russian family instead of Ukrainian victims cannot be left unchallenged. Details of the stamp design and verification that the persons depicted are Russian appear below [in the UKRAINE REPORT news story.]

"If such a stamp were to appear it would be an insult to the 7-10 million Ukrainian victims who were the victims of this Soviet Russian-instigated horror.

"I am sending this letter to all UPNS members with e-mail addresses as well as to others who I hope will be able to help in a letter-writing campaign to change the stamp design. Unfortunately the time is short. The anniversary of the Holodomor is commemorated during the fourth weekend of November every year. I imagine the stamp would be issued a couple of weeks ahead of this time. That only leaves about six to seven weeks to cancel the present design and undertake a stamp change. Please join me in contacting Marka Ukrainy AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

"Please send copies of this request to anyone you can think of who would be willing to drop a line to Marka Ukrainy to see that the impending philatelic travesty does not occur.

"Thank you in advance for your assistance.


Dr. Ingert Kuzych, President
Ukrainian Philatelic and Numismatic Society"

The group that met in Kyiv on Tuesday told Marka Ukrainy that as they know stamps become real documents of history, they are collected by millions around the world, they end up shown in books, they are made into posters for schools, etc.

Stamp designs need to be created by top artists, and be historical correct. The new Ukrainan holodomor stamp is a very important stamp and especially needs to be world class, and absolutely historically accurate.

As the meeting closed on Tuesday the Marka Ukrainy officials again said it was too late and the issuance of the stamp would move forward. The group that met with Marka Ukrainy strongly stated they would continue their work to convince Marka Ukrainy to change the design of the stamp.

About an hour after the meeting closed the office of (ARTUIS) received a call from the office of Marka Ukrainy director Valentyna Khudoliy saying a decision had been made to postpone work on the stamp, to search for another photograph, to work with the Ukrainian stamp artistic council to see what decision they would make regarding the future of the holodomor stamp and said it was not clear of course at this early date if a new stamp could be completed and printed by November 22, 2003 or if a new holodomor stamp would be printed now at all.

It has been confirmed by several sources that the above stated process had been underway at "Marka Ukrainy" since late Tuesday. It is still not clear at this time if "Marka Ukrainy" will change the stamp and go ahead and have it printed in time to present it on November 22, or if they will decide to print the stamp with the design as originally planned or if they will cancel the stamp and not print one at all, as no final decision has been made.




You are encouraged to contact "Marka Ukrainy" as soon as possible suggesting they change the design of the holodomor stamp by removing the photographic image of the starving Russian family from 1921 and to move ahead immediately with a new design and to issue a new holodomor stamp on November 22, 2003.


Valentyna Khudoliy, Director
Publishing House "Marka Ukrainy"
22 Khreschatyk str.
Kyiv, 01001, Ukraine
Tel: 380 44 229 59 30, or 226 34 93
Fax 044 228 26 68
Fax 044 229 21 82

NOTE: Original Stamp Story from Saturday, September 27, 2003


The Starving Family of Five Shown on the New Ukrainian Stamp are Russian, not Ukrainian. Image was Taken from a 1921 Russian Photograph

Campaign Started To Change the Design of the New Holodomor Stamp

By E. Morgan Williams, Publisher,  Information Service (ARTUIS)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, September 28, 2003


KYIV.......The Ukrainian postal service will issue a new stamp in memory of the victims of the holodomor (to kill by hunger, or torture with hunger) of 1932-1933 and two other political famines, 1921-1922; 1946-1947, according to information received by the ArtUkraine Information Service (ARTUIS) earlier this week in Kyiv. An image of the stamp was also obtained. ARTUIS has not yet been able to confirm the information with Ukrposhta, the Ukrainian postal service.

It is expected according to usually reliable sources that the stamp will be issued in November of 2003. The official day of commemoration of the holodomor in Ukraine is the fourth Saturday of November each year.

The stamp has on it the image of a starving mother and four children with the words "Ukraine, In Memory of Victims of Holodomor, 1932-1933." In the upper right hand corner of the stamp are listed the dates for three famines, 1921-1922, 1932-1933, 1946-1947. The word holodomor is on the stamp three times.

There is not any text on the stamp to exactly indicate the stamp is in commemoration this year of the 70th anniversary of the 1932-1933 holodomor though the 1932-1933 holodomor is feathered in a square with a church bell on it that takes up the right half the stamp. The stamp will reportedly sell for 45 kopiykas.

To see the image of the new stamp, that according to sources will be issued year this year, click on:


ARTUIS has shown the reported new Ukrainian holodomor stamp image to several holodomor experts and the experts agree that the starving family shown on the stamp is taken from a 1921-1922 photograph. The experts also believe the photograph was taken in Soviet Russia and was not taken in Soviet Ukraine.

The photograph of the starving family of five is shown in a new huge two volume book of photographs entitled: "Ukraine: XX Century." The two volume set, authored by Volodymyr Lytwyn, Valeriy Smoliy and Mykola Shpakovaty, was published in 2002 in Kyiv that show a very large number of black and white photographs in chronological order supposedly related to Ukraine during the XX Century. There are almost 2,000 pages in the two volumes.

The image of the family on the new stamp is shown in a photograph in Volume 1 on page 389 with the text, "Starving Family" 1921 year. ARTUIS has talked to the publisher of the publication, Alternatives, who stated they could not verify historically that all of the famine related photographs shown for 1921-1922 and 1932-1933 in the book were actually taken in Ukraine.

The very young naked girl shown in the photograph and on the new stamp also is shown in a different photograph on a printed postcard published in Europe in 1921-1922. The postcard was sold to raise money for the famine relief program in Soviet Russia.

The postcard is number nine from a set of 10 or so postcards issued by children's humanitarian organizations in Geneva, Brussels, Lausanne, and Paris. The photographs on the postcards are thought by most experts to have been taken in Soviet Russia in 1921-1922.

ARTUIS contacted Dr. Roman Serbyn, a internationally known Ukrainian/Canadian scholar, who is professor emeritus of history at the University of Quebec, Montreal, Canada. Dr. Serbyn has researched and published books and articles about the famines in Ukraine for many years. About 10 years ago Roman authored a book about the 1921-1923 famine in Ukraine entitled, "Famine 1921-1923 and the Ukrainian Press in Canada."

Roman has verified to ARTUIS that the photograph showing the starving family of five was not taken in Ukraine but was indeed taken in Russia. The correspondence to ARTUIS from Professor Serbyn follows:

"Saturday, September 27, 2003

"Dear Morgan,

"Glad to have [recently] met you in Kyiv, now our correspondence is more meaningful.

"The two photographs you sent me are from the 1921-23 famine, from a place called Buzuluk (on the Samara river) in the Orenburg oblast (RSFSR) and one of the relief centres for the ARA [American Relief Agency] and Nansen campaigns [an international relief program headed by the European High Commissioner of Relief F. Nansen of Norway] in Russia proper.

The little girl is the same in both photographs, and if you look carefully, you'll see that the two pictures were taken in the same place, in front of the same doorway.

I have seen both of them, and am sure that I have reproductions of them at home, but cannot find anything except the little girl in a small brochure entitled ¨La famine en Russi¨with a preface by Anatole France. The brochure was published to raise funds for famine relief in Russia.

"There are very few authenticated photos of Ukraine in the 1932-33 famine, so it may be necessary to use a picture from the first famine, but it must be one from Ukraine (and Buzuluk is not in Ukraine). I hope you can impress this on the people in Ukraine, so as to avoid this error.

It would be a shame to see another effort to commemorate the Famine-Genocide undermined by stupidity.

"Please let me know what happens with this project,

"Yours, Roman" [Dr. Roman Serbyn, Montreal, Canada]

Some of the Ukrainians and those with Ukrainian heritage contacted by ARTUIS about the new stamp have indicated they will immediately start a major campaign to convince the Ukrainian government to change the design of the holodomor stamp now showing a starving family from Russia in 1921.

These three tragic events in Ukraine's history cost the lives of many million of people, severely and permanently damaged the lives of millions more, and has severely cost the nation of Ukraine in so many ways ever since. The genocidal famine of 1932-1933 against Ukraine is one of the great tragedies of history.


NOTE: If you wish to see any of the images mentioned in the story please contact  and we will send them to you.