The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

The Great Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933

The Ukrainian Weekly
Ukrainian National Association
Parsippany, New Jersey
January 26, 1997


In 1994 state legislation mandated teaching about the Holocaust and genocide in the elementary and secondary public schools of New Jersey. The law's intent, as explained by Dr. Paul Winkler in the January issue of NJEA Review, the official publication of the New Jersey Education Association, "was to teach children about the inhumanity that occurred during the Holocaust ... whose goal was "the complete annihilation of the Jewish people in Europe."

Teaching about genocide, he notes, "was included in the mandate in order to educate students how the same acts of bigotry, prejudice and discrimination which allowed the Holocaust to occur had been carried out prior to the Nazi regime and have occurred since that time."

Dr. Winkler, who is executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, spells out the objectives for student study, explains how to handle the curriculum's concepts in the early grades, and then delves into teaching methodology and strategies for student study.

Among the genocides that could be studied under the state curriculum - though the law does not specify which genocides must be taught - is the Ukrainian famine, which Dr. Winkler describes as "the planned starvation of a group of people.... [which] happened between 1932 and 1933 when the Soviet Union carried out a policy that led to the starvation of up to 10 million Ukrainian people."

The Ukrainian and Irish famines, the Armenian and Cambodian genocides, and the destruction of Native Americans during westward expansion are among those genocides for which he says prepared curricula exist. He adds that the N.J. Holocaust Commission is now working on a curriculum covering the life of African Americans during the time of slavery, and that the commission recommends that schools focus on current events, such as those in Bosnia and Zaire.

The curriculum guide that has been approved for study of the Great Famine of 1932-1933 is the one developed and used in New York state. That guide (prepared with input from Ukrainian American specialists) is available to any school district in New Jersey upon request.

Furthermore, in a meeting with officers of the Ukrainian American Professionals and Businesspersons Association of New York and New Jersey, Dr. Winkler advised that if individuals or organizations were to provide the commission with 30 copies of a film or other audio-visual materials relating to the Ukrainian famine, the commission would distribute these to the regional resource centers on the study of the Holocaust and genocide that exist throughout New Jersey.

In addition, the editor of the NJEA Review, Martha Onuferko DeBlieu, in looking for illustrations to accompany Dr. Winkler's article telephoned The Ukrainian Weekly for a copy of its booklet on "The Great Famine in Ukraine: The Unknown Holocaust" published in 1983 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of that genocide.

The cover and two of its pages were reproduced in the magazine and readers were informed that copies of the booklet are still available (for $5 from: Svoboda Press, 30 Montgomery St., Jersey City, NJ 07302). Thus, there is yet another resource that is readily available to teachers, students - and parents.

Which brings us to a most important point. There is a curriculum mandating teaching of the Holocaust. The choice of which other genocides are taught, however, is left to the school district. Here is where we, as citizens of New Jersey and especially as parents, have a role to play. Parents have the power to prevail upon their local school districts to teach about the Ukrainian Great Famine and to request copies of the family study guide and other resource materials to be used in class.

So, dear readers, take an interest in what is taught in the schools of our state and take a stand to ensure that Ukraine's Great Famine does not remain "the unknown holocaust."

The Ukrainian Weekly, January 26, 1997, No. 4, Vol. LXV, Roma Woronowycz, Editor-in-chief, 2200 Route 10, P. O. Box 280, Parsippany, New Jersey. Published by the Ukrainian National Association.
The Ukrainian Weekly website contains an extensive collection of material about the Great Famine:

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