The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)


Ukrainian World Congress (UWC)
World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations
Toronto, Ontario and New York, NY, November 10, 2003

"When I awoke, before the dawn, amid their sleep I heard my sons..weep and ask for bread." (from Dante's description of Hell, ninth and final circle)


This year marks the 70th anniversary of the forced famine of 1932-33, engineered by the Soviet regime in which 7-10 million Ukrainians perished. The sheer numbers alone would qualify this entry as the world's most massive genocide. We honor the millions of victims of this most heinous mass crime ever committed by man against man. Historians conclude that no nation lost more than the Ukrainian during the XX century. Together the famines, purges, persecutions, wars resulted in over twenty million lives lost.

The quintessence of today's commemoration lies not only in reflection. Seventy years ago when Ukrainians were being brutally murdered by the millions, many governments in the world were establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Worse, even the press conspired to conceal, among them the notorious The New York Times, chief correspondent Walter Duranty.

In 1983 Time magazine wrote about the victims of the famine of 1932-33:

"Their extermination was a matter of state policy, just as the ovens of Dachau were a matter of state policy. The Ukrainian kulaks died.for the convenience of the state, to help with the organization of the new order of things.they died and yet the grass has grown over the world's memory of their murder. Why ?."

To date this tragic event lacks due condemnation or recognition as a genocide by many international institutions and governments. In 1988 the U.S. Congress Commission on the Ukraine Famine concluded: "The Genocide Convention defines genocide as one or more specified actions committed with intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group wholly or partially as such.One or more of the actions specified in the Genocide Convention was taken against the Ukrainians in order to destroy a substantial part of the Ukrainian people.Overwhelming evidence indicates that Stalin was warned of impending famine in Ukraine and pressed for measures that could only ensure its occurrence and exacerbate its effects. Such policies not only came into conflict with his response to food supply difficulties elsewhere in the preceding year, but some of them were implemented with greater vigor in ethnically Ukrainian areas than elsewhere and were utilized in order to eliminate any manifestation of Ukrainian national self assertion."

In 1989 the Ukrainian World Congress convened a Tribunal of eminent international jurists to conduct hearings on the 1932-33 Famine. The Tribunal determined that the Famine was planned by the totalitarian regime of the USSR, that it targeted the Ukrainian nation and that it claimed at least 7 million lives.

On December 2, 1998 at the Plenary Meeting of the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly on agenda item 46(b) "Fiftieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" Ukraine's Permanent Representative to the UN stated: "Last month Ukraine commemorated one of the most tragic chapters in its history, the 65th anniversary of the man-made famine of 1932-33, when the Ukrainian people became the object of a conscious and deliberate genocide undertaken by the Soviet regime."

(Click on image to enlarge it)

On April 14, 2000 at a meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation concerning Rwanda, Ukraine's Permanent Representative to the UN stated: "For Ukraine genocide is not just a term. We experienced difficult times in our own history; this century alone witnessed an unspeakable tragedy, when more than 7 million people were exterminated within two years by a well-planned famine. These events took place in a country once called the breadbasket of Europe."

On September 24, 2003 at the general debate of the 58th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Ukraine's President urged: "70 years ago the totalitarian Soviet regime engineered an artificial famine in Ukraine, which claimed the lives of 7 to 10 million of our compatriots.

Unfortunately, back in 1933 the world did not respond to our tragedy. The international community believed the cynical propaganda of the Soviet Union, which was selling bread abroad while in Ukraine the hunger was killing 17 people a-minute. From this podium, I would like to call upon all of you to pay tribute to the memory of those who perished."

This year the parliament of Ukraine adopted a statement on the 70th anniversary of the Famine honoring the victims and identifying that heinous act as genocide. The legislatures of Argentina, Australia, Canada and the United States passed similar resolutions. Others are pending.

Based on the foregoing, we call upon the governments of the world community of nations and UN non-governmental organizations to recognize the 1932-33 Famine in Ukraine as genocide against the Ukrainian people and to remember the 7-10 million innocents who perished.

Graphics have been added by the  Information Service (ARTUIS) from its private collection of historical materials related to the genocidal famine in Ukraine 1932-1933.