Many members of Congress spoke out regarding the Ukrainian Famine
and submitted their remarks to the Congressional Record
By Michael Sawkiw Jr.
Ukrainian National Information Service
The Ukrainian Weekly
Ukrainian National Association
Parsippany, NJ 07054
October 25, 1998
WASHINGTON - Members of both houses of Congress have passed a
concurrent resolution commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Ukrainian
Famine of 1932-1933 in which 7 million perished as a direct result of Soviet
The resolution was passed by the Senate on October 21 and by the House of
Representatives on October 10 (1998).
During the Columbus Day weekend, members of Congress were in legislative
session to deliberate and negotiate the federal budget for Fiscal Year 1999.
The legislators cleared a few moments from their busy schedule, however, as
Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House International Relations
Committee, introduced the commemorative resolution on Saturday, October 10,
thanked the co-sponsors of the resolution, and commented on the brutality of
the former Soviet regime toward the Ukrainian people. The resolution was
passed that same day.
House Concurrent Resolution 295 (H.Con.Res. 295) was sponsored by Rep.
Sander Levin (D-Mich.), co-chair of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus.
Supported by the other co-chairs and members of the Congressional Ukrainian
Caucus, the Ukrainian Famine Resolution attracted 71 co-sponsors.
The resolution expresses "the sense of Congress that the 65th anniversary of
the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933 should serve as a reminder of the
brutality of the government of the former Soviet Union's repressive policies
toward the Ukrainian people."
Copies of the resolution will be transmitted to the president of the United
States, the secretary of state, and the co-chairs of the Congressional
Ukrainian Caucus. The secretary of state is further instructed to transmit a
copy of the resolution to the government of Ukraine.
Prior to the official passage of the resolution, during a private luncheon
for Prime Minister Valerii Pustovoytenko with members of the Ukrainian
American community, UNIS Director Michael Sawkiw Jr. informed the head
of the Ukrainian government about the work of the U.S. Congress regarding
anniversary commemorations of the Great Famine.
The Ukrainian government will officially recognize the tragedy of the
Ukrainian famine with a special day of observances on Sunday, November 8,
the same day as has been designated by the Ukrainian American community
for commemoration of the famine in the United States.
During deliberations on the House floor, several members of Congress
expressed their support for the Famine resolution. In his introduction of
the resolution, Rep. Gilman stated: "Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and other
Communist leaders knew people were starving to death as a result of their
policies. The Soviet regime and its leaders did nothing to help the famine's
victims, instead using it as a means to better subdue Ukrainian resistance
to the Communist regime and the rule of Moscow."
The chairman of the International Relations Committee, a long-time supporter
of Ukrainian issues, expressed his opinion that, "it [the resolution] serves
as an important reminder, not just of the innocent victims of the Famine,
but of the reasons why the United States and its democratic allies engaged
in a Cold War."
Democrats and Republicans were given 20 minutes each on the House floor to
provide their comments on the resolution. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), a
member of the International Relations Committee, also expressed his views on
the message the resolution sends: "Congress condemns the former Soviet
government's disregard for human life, human liberty and self-determination
during the Famine, ... Congress sees today's Ukraine moving toward
democracy, a free-market economy and full respect for human rights and
supports the United States assistance to Ukraine as it proceeds down this
The main sponsor of the resolution, Rep. Levin expressed his appreciation to
the chairman and ranking member of the International Relations Committee for
scheduling the resolution on the floor. "At least 7 million Ukrainians
died," stated Rep. Levin, "not by natural causes of drought or flood or a
poor harvest - rather 7 million died because the leaders of the former
Soviet Union chose to use food as a weapon ... It is important that we
remember the Ukrainian Famine and its victims. We must remember and do
everything we can to prevent similar tragedies from happening again."
Rep. Jon D. Fox (R-Pa.), co-chair of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus,
also spoke: "The Ukrainian Famine was a tragic period of history in which
the Soviet Union inflicted a brutal repressive policy upon the Ukrainian
people. This policy was designed to punish the people of Ukraine for its
aversion to the oppressive and imperialistic government of the former Soviet
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), co-chair of the Helsinki Commission, expressed
his strong view about the Famine: "The Famine indeed constituted genocide,
with Stalin using food as a political weapon to achieve his aim of
suppressing any Ukrainian expression of political and cultural identity and
self-assertion. The Ukrainian Famine is a glaring illustration of the
brutality of a totalitarian, imperialistic regime in which respect for human
rights is a mockery and the rule of law is a sham."
Many members of Congress also submitted their remarks to the Congressional
Record. The following is a small sample of the remarks offered by many
members of Congress in recognition of the Ukrainian Famine:
Rep. Steven Rothman (D-N.J.): "By passing H.Con.Res. 295 today, Congress
will be bringing the world's attention to this tragedy and will help the
emotional scars of those who endured the Ukrainian Famine ... This
resolution offers a small measure of justice to the thousands of Ukrainian
Americans who still suffer from the cruelty exacted upon them by Soviet
authorities earlier this century."
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.): "As a co-chair of the Congressional
Ukrainian Caucus, I am pleased that the House leadership has chosen to bring
this resolution to the floor. I would also like to thank my friends at the
Ukrainian Congress Committee of America for working so hard on this issue.
Today Ukraine stands out as a fledgling, young democracy. Its people and its
government [are] working to build a system of fair competition and free
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.): "As a Ukrainian American I wish to call
attention of the House and the American people to the crimes against my
family's people ... The Ukrainian Famine did not end until Stalin had gotten
his way and subjugated the Ukrainian people. They still suffer today from
the consequences of his actions: they have never been able to fully rebuild
the agricultural economy that had once made Ukraine the envy of the region.
I believe they will rebuild it, hopefully with our help."
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.): "Sixty-five years ago the Ukrainian people were
suffering from a horrific man-made catastrophe. It is a testament to their
strength as a people that today's Ukraine is progressing with democratic and
economic reforms, and is one of the strongest allies in the region."
Rep. David E. Bonior (D-Mich.): "We should never forget this tragedy. We
should honor the memory of the millions of victims. And we should support
the efforts of the people of Ukraine, who were subjected to the Famine and
to decades of oppressive Soviet rule, as they continue on their path to
democracy, respect for human rights and economic progress."
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.): "It is most appropriate that we commemorate - in
sorrow and regret - this tragic episode in the history of Ukraine ... This
is also an occasion for us to rejoice that the people of Ukraine are now in
the position to determine their own destiny. It is important for the people
of Ukraine to know that we in the United States welcome their independence
and that we are committed to their success."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio): "The victims of the Ukrainian Famine should
be solemnly remembered, Congress should condemn the systematic disregard for
human life, and material to assist in the dissemination of information about
the Ukrainian Famine should be compiled and made available worldwide for the
study of this devastation."
In a similar manner, on October 21 the United States Senate passed its
version of the Famine resolution, which had been introduced by Sen. Carl
Levin (D-Mich.) on October 1. The senator gave a brief overview of the
devastation of the Great Famine and its effects on the Ukrainian people.
Sen. Levin underlined the assault on the Ukrainian intelligentsia as a means
of subduing the Ukrainian nation. "When children in the United States study
the dark periods of human history," remarked Sen. Levin, "it is important
that the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933 be included."
Sen. Levin added that, "despite the tragedy the people of Ukraine endured at
the hands of Stalin's government and many years of Soviet domination,
Ukraine has re-emerged with its vibrant cultural and religious traditions
The chair of the Helsinki Commission, Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.)
remarked on the work of the Ukraine Famine Commission, which was
established in 1985 to examine the causes and effects of the famine.
the Ukrainian Famine occurred within the context of a Soviet system which
denied and vigorously opposed democratic values, the rule of law, and any
respect for elementary human rights," stated Sen. D'Amato.
Sen. D'Amato said he "strongly agrees with the resolution's assertion that
it is essential that the United States continue to assist Ukraine as it
proceeds towards democracy, a free-market economy and full respect of
human rights. It is imperative for America and for the West to support
independence and democracy in Ukraine."
All senators and representatives urged their colleagues to join them in
supporting the resolution. Members of Congress have five legislative days to
revise and extend their remarks regarding the famine resolution.
The Ukrainian Weekly, October 25, 1998, No. 43, Vol. LXVI,
Roma Hadzewycz, Editor-in-chief, P.O. Box 280, Parsippany, NJ 07054;
Published by the Ukrainian National Association.
Check out the extensive collection of information about the Famine on
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