The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

MEMORY AND PRAYER....Prayer is Not Enough

Perhaps, for once prayer is not enough. It is even more important that the word gets out on the genocide that still cripples this sad nation


Prof. James Mace, Consultant to The Day
The Day, Kyiv, Ukraine
April 3, 2001


I am always happy to read my elder colleague and friend, Yevhen Sverstiuk, a man of honor and intelligence who lost twelve years as a prisoner of conscience under the Soviet regime.

I was doubly happy to see his material informing us that the work compiled by two of my deceased friends, Volodymyr Maniak and Lidiya Kovalenko, '33 Famine: Book of the People's Memory, is now available in French translation, making a major contribution to a literature in which the major work on the subject was Vasyl Barka's novel, The Yellow Prince, based on the author's experiences as a school inspector in the largely Ukrainian Kuban during the Manmade Famine of 1933.

I cannot conceal that local researchers were taken aback by the fact that the cover sports the name of one George Sokoloff, who wrote an introduction to the French edition, while those of the book's compilers are not. In fact, when the original came out they refused. "It's their book, not ours," my late friend Volodia told his literary editor. I know: she now happens to be my wife.

It was not an easy project. Maniak was appointed by the Union of Writers to collect eyewitness accounts, but the Soviet regime would not allow him to do so directly. Rather, a trusted scion of the Institute of History wrote an appeal in the newspaper Silski visti, which was heavily weighted toward attempting to find out how party members had tried to save lives and make things better, but including Volodia's address.

The 6000 survivors who wrote him had a somewhat different tale to tell about how everything possible was done to see to it that they starved to death.

I also spent a decade on this appalling topic, first as part of the Harvard project that produced Conquest's Harvest of Sorrow and then as staff director of the US Committee on the Ukraine Famine (those interested can find the products in any US repository of government documents).

Perhaps a major reason I wound up here is that a decade ago the Soviet studies establishment in the US found this work "controversial" and literally blackballed me from my chosen profession.

I always found interesting the detail that those who "maliciously" refused to deliver the grain they did not have could be "fined" by having their potatoes, beans, and various other edibles taken, livestock slaughtered in the amount of 150% of their annual quota for meat (decree of November 18, 1932).

I must have been mistaken in thinking that taking the remaining food away from people without bread was somehow intended to make them hungry.

Now I can add little more to what I and others have already done. Perhaps, for once prayer is not enough. It is even more important that the word gets out on the genocide that still cripples this sad nation.

No. 11, April 03 2001, The Day