The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

"Stop the silence and end the lies"

The Ukrainian Weekly
November 28, 1999, No. 48, Vol. LXVII


Stop the silence and end the lies. That was the principal message carried forth by those who participated in the Famine-genocide memorial procession and service in New York City on Saturday, November 20.

Ukrainians of all ages, members of various organizations, faithful of different Churches congregated to bear witness to the man-made Famine that decimated the Ukrainian nation in 1932-1933 during Stalin's reign of terror. They came to remember the greatest tragedy that has ever befallen Ukraine and to mourn its innocent victims, to pledge that they will never forget and will tell the world about one of this century's darkest periods. That was evident from the placards they carried and from the observations they shared when questioned by a reporter.

But mostly the marchers and mourners came out of the strong conviction that this can never happen again, that others must know the truth - for it is the truth that can prevent such atrocities. ("To ignore one genocide is to invite another," said one poster.) They pledged by their presence to continue to speak out about the Great Famine, for they know that silence was one of the principal reasons this murderous act of Stalin and his collaborators in crimes against humanity was so successful.

Ambassador Anton Buteiko pointed out in his address that, even during the artificial Famine, the issue been raised "at a forum of the League of Nations and was supported by representatives from Norway, Ireland, Spain and Germany. However, representatives of other nations insisted that the famine was an internal affair of the Soviet Union. Thus, indifference got the upper hand, and the crimes remained unpunished."

Sound familiar? Even today there are "internal affairs" to which the West reacts with but a slap on the wrist; and silence is maintained. Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski minced no words recently when he called what is happening in Chechnya a genocide. "A nation is being destroyed," he told CNN. "Do you destroy an entire people to protect yourself from terrorism?"

Some marchers carried placards reminding the public of the horrific events in Chechnya, where Russian troops are mercilessly pounding the general population - in the name of fighting terrorism within the Russian Federation. ("Purges, famine, Chechnya. Genocide is habit-forming," read one poster. "Yeltsin, stop murdering defenseless Chechens," said another.)

The mourners converging on New York City also knew that another reason the Great Famine was successful was the "Great Lie," as Bishop Basil Losten called it, via which the Stalin regime and its supporters - including some notable Western journalists and intellectuals - denied that famine was raging in Ukraine. Even today, after "Monuments were erected to commemorate the victims, secret archives made public, tens of books, memoirs and studies published," as Ambassador Buteiko noted, "the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, directed by the bloody deeds of Lenin and Stalin, is yet to bear the judgement of the nations of the world, the judgement of history. We have yet to tell the truth about artificial famine, to preach its lessons to humankind."

Though they did not get to hear the first lady's message in St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Ukrainian Americans gathered for the last time this century to commemorate the Great Famine are no doubt buoyed and emboldened by Hillary Rodham Clinton's words to the memorial gathering: "Together we must walk ... into the next century and millennium - remembering the past, keeping the memory of the famine and its victims alive, honoring the survivors and striving every day that such atrocities will never be repeated."

The Ukrainian Weekly, November 28, 1999, No. 48, Vol. LXVII