The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

Presentation by Michael Sawkiw, President
Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA)

St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York
November 16, 2002

Your Excellencies,
Reverend clergy,
Distinguished members of the Ukrainian government,
Honored guests,
Ladies and gentlemen:

"To defeat the enemy, only one solution was possible: they would have to be starved out. " The preceding statement describes a conclusion from "The Black Book of Communism," a book that illuminated the unfathomable horrors of communist tyranny worldwide. Yet, mankind has often known famine in all parts of the world brought about by prolonged wars, droughts, floods, or other cataclysms. But never and nowhere have any people suffered so devastating a famine as that inflicted by a special Soviet government policy upon the Ukrainian people in 1932-1933. The word, as described by Webster's dictionary, is simple: "Genocide - the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group." It is shocking that in the 20th century alone, genocide has been so calculatingly used as a political-ideological weapon.

Michael Sawkiw, President, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA)

When former Soviet Commissar of Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov commented on the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide, he stated that "food is a weapon," thus giving genocide an entirely new dimension. No human tragedy can so revile one's innermost instincts as to that policy which so brutally annihilated millions of men, women, and children sixty-nine years ago and from which the Ukrainian nation has not yet fully recovered both politically, socially, and psychologically.


So why then, 69 years later, is the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide so little known? How has this horrible atrocity escaped the attention of mankind, its conscience, and justice? The world, as we know it today, accessible through various forms, was not the world of 1932-1933. Because the Soviet Union was a closed society, most western journalists and government officials were purposely kept away from the Ukrainian countryside and could not see the scales of horror and human tragedy. The Western eye largely ignored those journalists that did report on the Famine-Genocide as they turned a blind eye and a deaf ear for fear that peaceful "co-existence" might be disrupted.

But, we are here to say otherwise. The lessons of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide must be taught and the unfortunate acts of genocide perpetrated amongst the world population must be recognized so that history NEVER repeats itself again. Thus, as we gather on this "Ukrainian Famine Remembrance Day" within the sacred walls of this Cathedral, let us recall the victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide and the victims' incredible sacrifice to achieve national statehood and preserve their Ukrainian identity, as well as to thank those who have helped to bring this tragic chapter in Ukrainian history to the attention of the world

BRAMA: New York
For personal and academic use only