The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

Thousands of Candles Light up St. Michael's Cathedral Square in the Evening

E. Morgan Williams, Senior Advisor
U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, November 22, 2003

KYIV, Ukraine....Thousands of candles in small red, green, blue and white lanterns lit up the entire great square in front of St. Michael's Cathedral in the center of Kyiv on Saturday evening to honor the memory of the millions of Ukrainians who were murdered in the genocidal famine, of 1932-1933 called holodomor meaning death by terror, starvation, and famine.

The candles were placed in St. Michael's Square starting at the small Holodomor Monument located next to the wall of the Cathedral and then spreading out all across the square. The candles were placed in the square by individual citizens, most of whom came to honor relatives who lost their lives in the genocidal famine, holodomor, created by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and his communist government.

St. Michael's Cathedral Plaza. Saturday Evening, November 22, 2003, 70th Anniversary Holodomor Commemoration in Kyiv
Photo by Information Service (ARTUIS)
(Click on images to enlarge them)

As darkness settled upon Kyiv and with Ukrainian sacred music playing in the background the square suddenly became a very special place where people could come and reflect, pay tribute and shed tears in remembrance of their many loved ones that were lost in one of the most tragic events in human history.

The sight at St. Michael's Square was most amazing and spectacular to witness but the mood was somber, reflective, quite and very emotional for the thousands of Ukrainians who came and placed a candle on the Square Saturday evening.

Former Prime Minister Victor Yushchenko, his wife Katya and two children, and many of their friends were seen placing candles on the Square in memory of family members lost in the famine.

The placing of thousands of candles on St. Michael's Square in memory of the holodomor victims was an historic first but it was reported that this will become an annual event that will be expanded until 25,000 candles light the entire distance from St. Michael's Cathedral to St. Sophia Cathedral. At the height of the famine in the spring of 1933 historians believe 25,000 thousand Ukrainians died every day.

Earlier in the day, member of parliament and leader of the Nasha Ukraina (Our Ukraine) party, Viktor Yushchenko and his wife led a procession of 2,000 Ukrainians from St. Sophia Cathedral to St. Michael's Cathedral Square where a special commemorative service was held with Ukraine's religious and governmental leaders. People came from all 25 of Ukraine's regions to participate in the holodomor procession.

Viktor Yushchenko in St. Sophia Square just before the Holodomor Commemoration march by 2,000 people began from St. Sophia Square to St. Michael's square, Saturday 10:00 a.m. November 22, 2003
Photo by Information Service (ARTUIS)

At the morning commemorative service Yushchenko spoke about his grandfather and the others who lived in the village where he grew up that died in the genocidal famine of 1932-1933. Political leader Yushchenko said it is very important not to lose the memory of the many terrible mistakes of the past that cost the lives of so many Ukrainians and caused such destruction to the Ukrainian culture and nation.

Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Andrew Robinson spoke on behalf of the tens of thousands of Canadian citizens who have Ukrainian heritage about the millions who died in the holodomor tragedy and the tragic effect the holodomor had upon the Ukrainian nation.

Ukraine's religious leaders spoke of the evil of the holodomor and the destruction of so many lives during the tragic time. Thousands of religious leaders were murdered during the 1930's and 7,000 churches across Soviet Ukraine were completely destroyed during this time.

On Friday evening Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Andrew Robinson, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, Ukrainian political leader Viktor Yushchenko, his wife Katya and two children also with several hundred other guests from Ukraine's political, religious and cultural community attended the opening of the "Ukrainian Genocidal Famine (Holodomor) 1932-1933 70th Anniversary Commemoration Art Exhibition "To the Dead, and the Living and the Unborn," at the Ukrainian House (former Lenin museum) located on Kyiv's main street Khreschatyk.

The Holodomor Art Exhibition features over 100 works of art related to the political famines in Ukraine in 1921-1923 and in 1932-1933 which were created by various artists from 1921 through 2003. This was the largest exhibition of it kind ever held featuring such a wide range of historical holodomor art pieces. The exhibition will be open every day through Saturday, November 29th.

Holodomor Commemoration Procession from St. Sophia Square to St. Michael's Square....Nov. 22, 10:00 a.m. In the photograph in the front left to right are: Ivan Vasiunyk, Katya Yushchenko, Viktor Yushchenko, Ivan Plyushch, Victor Pinzenyk, Yuriy Kostenko, Borys Tarasyuk

A complete color catalog of the exhibition will be published in 2004 and special traveling holodomor exhibitions will be created for distribution in Ukraine and around the world. The holodomor art exhibition work is sponsored by The Public Committee for Commemoration of Victims of Holodomor in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The members of the committee are: Anatol Lysyj, Coordinating Committee to AID Ukraine; Minnesota Chapter; Luba Stasiv, Association of Famines Researchers in Ukraine; Marta Kolomayets, Chief of Party, Partnership for a Transparent Society; Morgan Williams, Vlad Lavrov and Yuriy Stankevych,  Information Service (ARTUIS); Markian Bilynskyj, Ludmyla Dudnyk, Morgan Williams, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF); Natalia Dziubenko Mace, Journalist; Oleksiy Kopytko, International Foundation Ukraine 3000; Olga Von Stallenberg, Institute of Ukrainian Studies; Professor James Mace, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy National University; Victoria Hubska, Manager, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) office in Kyiv, Ukraine; Volodymyr Rak, Ukrainian Center of Folk Culture "Ivan Honchar Museum".

The co-organizers of the exhibition are the: All-Ukrainian Association of Political Prisoners and the Repressed: Association of Famines Researchers in Ukraine; Bahriany Foundation; Coordinating Committee to Aid Ukraine, Minnesota Chapter; International Foundation Ukraine 3000; Kyiv City Organization of the All Ukrainian Memorial Society after V. Stus; Palace of Arts Ukrainian House; Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian Society "Prosvita"; Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation (UAC); Ukrainian Center of Folk Culture "Ivan Honchar Museum"; Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA); U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) and  Information Service (ARTUIS).

Photo by Information Service (ARTUIS)

Holodomor Commemoration Service Begins in Kyiv at the Holodomor Monument
Photo by Information Service (ARTUIS)