Five Commentaries About James E. Mace
The Day: The Day Weekly Digest in English
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 11, 2004
September 12, 1993. Mykola Zhulnysky, Vice Prime Minister of
Ukraine, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Organizing Committee
Preparation and Holding of Events Commemorating the 60th Anniversary
of the Holodomor in Ukraine, and Prof. James Mace, Deputy Chairman of the
Committee, by the Memorial Sign [monument] on St. Michael Square, Kyiv,
Ukraine. (Photo by Oleksa Vashchenko)
Mykola ZHULYNSKY, Academician, National Academy of Sciences of
Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine:
My God, it happened so long ago! Back in 1989, I was visiting Harvard when
they introduced me to the legendary American researcher James Mace. Even
then his name was known probably to every ethnic Ukrainian in the United
States, Canada, Europe, and Australia... A year prior to our meeting, US
Congress had recognized the Holodomor Famine in Ukraine (1932- 33) as an act
of genocide on the part of the Soviet authorities. James Mace had played an
exceptionally important role in having the US Commission on the Ukraine
Famine, even the US President, provide substantiated answers to the question
of whether that famine was actually manmade.
It all started when Harvard University's Ukrainian Research Institute
invited the noted British historian and expert on the Soviet Union, Robert
Conquest, as well as the young American researcher James Mace, to work on a
project dealing with the Ukrainian famine. James Mace was then working on
his doctorate Communism and the Dilemmas of National Liberation: National
Communism in Soviet Ukraine, 1918-1933. He had by then explored most of the
reference sources available in the West. He is also to be credited largely
for the appearance in print of Robert Conquest's Harvest of Sorrow [in July
1987], addressing the Great Famine in Ukraine.
Even then, in 1989, James Mace was planning to visit Ukraine, the more so
that he had a formal invitation, so he took a crash course in Ukrainian and
arrived in Kyiv in 1990. Since then, Prof. James Mace had cut a key figure
in all public events commemorating the Holodomor, as well as in all
pertinent research endeavors, focusing on the reasons and consequences of
the communist-engineered genocidal famine.
I remember discussing with him the events commemorating the Holodomor's
sixtieth anniversary, early in 1993, when we conceived the idea of holding
the Days of Sorrow and Memory all over Ukraine, to commemorate the famine
victims. On February 19, 1993, the President of Ukraine signed an edict
approving the membership of the organizing committee to make arrangements
for and hold the events commemorating the Holodomor in Ukraine. I was then
Vice Premier of Ukraine and was appointed chairman of that committee. Prof.
James Mace became one of my deputies.
Look at this photo. It reflects a very special date in latter-day Ukrainian
history when public tribute was paid to the memory of the 1932-33 Holodomor
victims, the ceremony attended by President Leonid Kravchuk, Speaker Ivan
Pliushch, and Premier Leonid Kuchma. The memorial on St. Michael Square was
consecrated that day (September 12, 1993) by all of Ukraine's religious
confessions, with people bringing handfuls of Ukrainian chernozem black soil
from all parts of Ukraine and adding them to the mound. This project was
also made a reality with Prof. James Mace being most actively involved.
For James Mace, Ukraine's genocidal famine of 1932-33 had remained a
constant priority, a subject he had placed above all others, writing on it
for The Day, focusing on the most pressing social and political issues in
Ukraine. His industriousness knew no bounds. The man seemed to be burning
himself out from within; he was so painfully concerned with Ukraine, a
country he now considered his second homeland. His selfless dedication, his
love of Ukraine are impossible to overstate.
I believe that Ukraine will always remember this great patriot, a man who
was a real citizen of this country, even if lacking the legal status, and
that we will worthily uphold his memory.
James Mace was always shocked to realize the efforts the communist regime
had exerted to generate that famine, amidst the luxurious fertile black
topsoils. Now he will find his last repose in the Ukrainian land which he
had always treated with utmost attention, which he had come to love, whose
warm generosity he had always lauded. Dear James, may this soil comfort your
earthly remains, may our Lord Jesus Christ rest your soul!
Marina ZAMYATINA, The Day, Kyiv, Ukraine:
We learned the tragic news on May 3. Even now we refuse to believe that our
beloved friend, esteemed colleague, author of impassioned articles and
comments that I am sure you remember as well as I do, is no longer among the
living. Practically as soon as the outside world had learned about the
passing of Prof. James Mace, the editorial office began receiving hundreds
of messages of condolences, from Canada, the United States, Australia...
Messages sent by friends and colleagues who had known Dr. Mace for many
years and collaborated with him, studying Ukrainian history, as well as
people who had met him fleetingly, a couple of times, during conferences.
All were grief-stricken, wishing to comfort his family, friends, and
colleagues, sharing fond memories, invariably emphasizing his role in
exposing the 1932- 33 Holodomor tragedy to the rest of the world. You will
read some of these messages on this page, along with Dr. Mace's biography
and bibliography. However, we would like you to know what is left out of
this formal record. We would like you to share our view of this singular
creative personality, the way all of us remember him.
James Mace was often asked what had motivated him, an American Indian,
without a drop of Ukrainian blood in his veins (not exactly true, but on
this further on), dedicate practically the whole of his remaining
professional years to Ukraine. More often than not, he was reluctant to
comment on the subject, but I think the reason is obvious. Every time he
mentioned working on the oral Holodomor history, involving those "old
Ukrainian ladies" still living in the United States, with their eyewitness
accounts, showing him scars of that tragedy in the 1930s, telling him how
their bodies had been swollen with starvation, with their skin erupting here
and there, unable to endure the famine, I could see tears in his eyes.
After learning what the Ukrainians had to endure, he refused to live with
the devastating truth, not unless he could relate it to the rest of the
world. His empathy defied imagining. His way to commiserate was by doing
something to have those responsible condemned, if not actually punished. He
dedicated his life to relating the truth about the Ukrainian Holodomor, so
the rest of the world could understand what had actually happened to Ukraine
and sympathize with this people - and this at a time when no one in Ukraine
could even think of publicly broaching the subject. In fact, Dr. Mace could
not have conceived the idea of staying in Ukraine at the time.
As it was, he found a second homeland, lifelong love, friends and pupils in
Ukraine; he started working for The Day, using it as a weekly rostrum for
his resonant ideas, sharing them with thousands of readers, telling them
about past and current realities of new homeland, Ukraine - and he would
always refer to it as "our country." He was always manifestly aggrieved to
realize that many people living in Ukraine were indifferent to it and to
Ukrainian, their mother tongue. He allowed his Kyiv-Mohyla Academy students
to submit term papers in English or Ukrainian, warning them that if they
wrote a term paper in Ukrainian showing mistakes he could spot even with his
comparatively limited command of the language, he would ruthlessly grade
them as C's, even lower.
His Shoot the Dog proved The Day's most spectacular column, featuring his
dialogs with salesclerks at Kyiv stores and street markets [bazaars] who
would not understand him when he asked for a glass of orange juice, using
the Ukrainian phrase, pomaranchevy sik, or for a red pack of Marlboro
(chervone Marlboro), so he would have to repeat in Russian.
A year and a half ago, Prof. Mace survived several major surgeries and spent
a long time at hospitals. He needed donor blood and it was willingly donated
by people, among them staff members of The Day. Natalka Dziubenko-Mace
recalls that tubes with donor blood had labels specifying the donor's name
and that James would tell her later, "Now I have Ukrainian, Russian, and
Jewish blood in my system."
Every time I arrived at the editorial office, after visiting him at the
hospital, all present would rash over to ask how James was doing. Once, I
was happy to tell them that James had been able to limp out of the ward and
share a smoke with me on a landing [he could never kick the smoking habit].
Everyone heaved a sigh of relief, telling each other that James would surely
make it, now that he could have a smoke.
The last surgery was very complicated and his surviving it was a miracle -
alas, the only miracle that saved him about sixteen months ago. Since then
he had accomplished so much as to leave one dazed with admiration - I mean
his articles and classes at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, along with appearance
at Verkhovna Rada, sharing his learned view of the Holodomor, and taking
part in several Ukrainian study conferences. Often, when composing an
obituary, one is tempted to say that the deceased could have accomplished
far more, but for his passing. This is especially true of Prof. James Mace;
I can think of few other creative individuals that have devoted so much of
their energy and life to what is indubitably "our country."
Volodymyr PANCHENKO, Vice President, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy National
University, Kyiv, Ukraine:
Dr. James Mace's presence in the intellectual life of Ukraine was important
from several viewpoints. As a researcher, he had accomplished a great deal
in helping the Ukrainians learn more about themselves in current history.
Suffice it to recall the Herculean effort he had exerted in revealing the
horrible truth of the 1932-1993 Holodomor Manmade Famine in Ukraine. And
the situation was paradoxical: a foreigner in Ukraine has accomplished more
than most Ukrainians.
Some of us are still loath to face the historical truth exposed by Dr. Mace.
Not so long ago, in a popular televised talk show Ya tak dumayu [I think
so], commemorating the Holodomor's seventieth anniversary, Communist Party
ideologue Valery Mishura shouted at Prof. Mace, also present at the studio,
"Yankee, go home!" An abysmally cynical statement, considering what Dr. Mace
has done for the benefit of Ukraine.
Another noteworthy fact is that the Communist deputies in Verkhovna Rada
refused to rise from their warm seats to honor the memory of the Holodomor
victims. I think it was a test of strength for the whole Ukrainian society.
After all, what can be expected from a country where many people still cast
their ballots for the Communists, members of the party that had once
engineered the Holodomor? People that refuse to repent and even refuse to
pay homage to the victims of the Manmade Famine?
Objectively, the presence of Dr. James Mace in Ukraine (he had met a
Ukrainian woman, fallen in love with her, married her, and decided to live
the rest of his life in Ukraine) has allowed us to take a sober view of
ourselves, through the learned and well- wishing eyes of an outsider. This
process was facilitated by his infrequent but always timely, scholarly, and
precise commentaries addressing political events in Ukraine or elsewhere
that affected Ukraine. His views, those of a researcher versed in other
countries' experiences and witnessing Ukraine's domestic situation, turned
out what I would describe as stereoscopic.
Of course, there was also James Mace as staff professor with the Kyiv-
Mohyla Academy National University, teaching political science. His classes
will not sink into oblivion, of this I am sure, as they were part of
Ukraine's intellectual life. Considering that they were meant for young
Ukrainians, they are a part of our national heritage that will long remain a
Yury SHAPOVAL, Ph.D. in history, Kyiv, Ukraine:
When Jim's wife Natalya Dziubenko called and told me that Jim was dead, I
couldn't believe it. I have known James Mace since 1990, a time when being
seen in public places with people like him could be dangerous. However, I'd
learned something during our very first meeting, namely that I was
communicating with an expert, a man who knew everything he was talking
about. Also, that I was communicating with a true personality, and with a
very charming and open-hearted individual.
He was accused of bias, even of "Ukrainian nationalism." Although he could
actually be accused of something like Hindu nationalism - if anyone could
come up with the notion. He had always wanted a better life for Ukraine. He
first came here, to a "country of advanced socialism," from the United
States, an established venue of advanced capitalism; he could clearly see
the advantages and shortcomings of both political and economic systems. He
was a patriot of Ukraine, yet he had never tried to convince anyone of
anything; instead, he had always tried to prove that Ukraine could live a
life of her own, that this country deserved a happier independent future.
I don't know much about Jim's life, but I will always remember him as a
smiling man, telling me, "You know, Yury, I've read your article/book...
It's quite interesting." Whenever I asked how things were, he'd say great,
Dear Jim, I promise you that we will put this country in order, but we will
always miss you.
Please forgive me and all of us. Rest in peace.
E. Morgan WILLIAMS, Publisher and Editor, The Action Ukraine
Report, Washington, D.C.
Professor Mace spent most of his professional career researching and writing
about Ukrainian history and was a strong advocate for the fact that the
famine in Soviet Ukraine during the early 1930's was an act of genocide on
the part of Soviet leader Stalin. Dr. Mace was also vitally involved in
promoting his belief Ukraine had suffered for years under a post-genocidal
trauma as well as the oppression of being a Soviet republic but now finally
had a chance to become a strong, independent, prosperous, democratic state,
operating under the rule of law.
Jim Mace fought hard for what he believed in and told his many friends he
wanted to live and work in Ukraine long enough to see his dream for Ukraine
come true. Dr. Mace was unusual in his commitment to Ukraine in that he did
not have any Ukrainian heritage.
>From 1986 to 1990 he served as the executive director of the US Commission
on the Ukraine Famine, Washington, D.C. and was the principal writer with
Olya Samilenko of the Commission's "Report to Congress." Dr. Mace has
complied and edited with Leonid Heretz the three volume, "The Oral History
of the Commission on the Ukraine Famine, published in 1990.
Dominique Arel, Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Ottawa, Ottawa,
Quebec, Canada, wrote the following words in his publication "The Ukraine
List" upon hearing Monday of the death of Dr. James Mace:
"A sad day in Ukrainian studies: the American historian James Mace died
today in Kyiv at the tender age of 52. Author of the classic Communism and
the Dilemmas of National Liberation: National Communism in Soviet Ukraine,
1918-1933 (1983) and of the monumental Investigation of the Ukrainian Famine
1932-1933, in two volumes (1987-1988), James paid a professional price for
his sacrilegious claim - in Russian studies, that is - that the Ukrainian
famine was man- made.
His scholarship will survive the factional debates over the famine and his
academic non-conformism will remain an inspiration for the field. A
semi-bio-graphical article of his was published in 2002 as "Facts and
Values: A Personal Intellectual Exploration," in Samuel Totten and Steven
Leonard Jacobs, eds., Pioneers of Genocide Studies, New Brunswick, NJ:
Transaction Publishers, pp. 59-74. Our sympathies and prayers go to his wife
Another leading Canadian scholar, Roman Serbyn and his wife, Nadia, wrote
upon hearing about the death of Dr. Mace: "An American who was as Ukrainian
as anyone could be. A scholar, for whom truth was paramount, an all-round
decent human being. Everyone who came in contact with him could not fail to
like and appreciate him. Jim, we'll all miss you. Vichna Tobi pamiat'! Nadia
& Roman Serbyn."
Alex Kuzma, Executive Director of the Children of Chornobyl Fund, in Short
Hills, New Jersey, said, "I remember James well from the time I lived in
Boston and he was very active in the Holodomor research at Harvard. He was
truly a fine human being. Our community and the world owes him a great deal
for his courageous scholarship and his willingness to challenge the academic
status quo. Eternal Memory!"
The independent state of Ukraine, Ukrainians, and friends of Ukraine
throughout the world have lost a great friend. A friend who spent years
studying and writing about the genocidal famine in Ukraine, who spent his
last several years living, writing, and teaching his students in Ukraine
while receiving a very, very modest, inadequate income, and a friend who
still had so much more to give and write about. Jim's sudden death is a
stunning, very difficult and sad loss.
The Day Weekly Digest in English, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 11, 2004
FOR PERSONAL AND ACADEMIC