The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)


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 anti-Soviet propaganda.

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. For personal and academic use only