Associated Press, Kyiv, Ukraine
The Washington Times, Washington, D.C.
Section: A, WORLD, Edition: 2, Page A13
September 13, 1993
KIEV (AP) - After 60 years of official silence, Ukraine yesterday mourned
the death of an estimated 4 million to 7 million people in a famine caused
by the Communist drive to collectivize agriculture.
Flags flew at half-staff and government buildings were draped with black
ribbons for the first commemoration of what historians have labeled "the
unknown holocaust" and the "harvest of sorrow" in 1932-33.
"Ukraine today bows its head before the victims of the famine. We bow our
heads before the graves of innocent people, starved to death," President
Leonid Kravchuk told about 5,000 people at an ecumenical prayer service.
Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, Communist officials denied that the
famine had occurred and claimed that Western historians were spreading
Ukrainian leaders now say Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the
confiscation of grain throughout Ukraine to crush nationalism and force
peasants onto collective farms.
Since Ukraine gained independence two years ago, the famine has become the
most powerful symbol of Soviet tyranny and a defining event for the nation
of 53 million people.
Scores of elderly survivors traveled to Kiev from the countryside for the
prayer service led by Orthodox Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant and
other clergymen near the golden-domed St. Sophia Cathedral.
As they marched to the unveiling of the capital's first monument to famine
victims, many carried candles and had tears streaming down their cheeks.
They spoke of cannibalism, of entire villages wiped out, of eating bark and
weeds, of selling gold rings for a loaf of bread.
"I needed to come to mourn my family," said Olha Vulokh, who said she lost
most of her loved ones to starvation.
Ukraine is marking the 60th anniversary of the famine with conferences,
documentary films and the unveiling of monuments throughout the country.
"This is moving and helpful for Ukrainians as a healing experience. This is
the first time that the Ukrainian nation has been able to attempt to come to
terms with its past," said Dr. James Mace, former chairman of a U.S.
government commission on the famine.
Illustration: Photo, Darina Savchenko, whose family starved to death in
1933, attends a rally., By AP; The Washington Times, Washington, D.C.
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