The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

Zhytomyr Oblast, Ukraine

By Valery Kostiukevych
The Day
Kyiv, Ukraine
December 3, 2002


On the eve of a mournful date, namely the 70th anniversary of the manmade famine in Ukraine, a press conference was called at the Zhytomyr oblast state archive, at which it was announced that the book, Rehabilitated by History: Zhytomyr Oblast, which is to list names of victims of deportations, is nearing completion.

According to Larysa Kopeichenko, a member of the editorial board working on this book and director of the oblast archive, over 100,000 files from archives of local Communist Party committees, as well as from archives of Ukraine's Security Service and Internal Affairs Ministry have been examined.

According to preliminary estimates, there is documentary evidence that in the years of mass deportations, taken to extremes in 1937-1938, over 70,000 persons residing in the oblast were exiled for political reasons and in most cases on false charges, among them representatives of thirty nationalities, with Ukrainians, Poles, and Germans hit hardest.

Protocols of sittings of the so-called troika (nonjudicial body consisting of the secretary of the oblast committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, head of the oblast political department, and oblast prosecutor) have been preserved. Under its rulings, over the period from late October 1937 through early November 1938 more than 8,000 persons were sentenced to death.

One night, death squads executed over 400 persons. Common were cases when people were shot in line with such protocols that had not even been initialed by the troika members.

On her part, leading archivist Larysa Federenko stressed that there are scores of documents, notably those issued by local Party committees and punitive squads, which contain reports on countless cases of deaths from hunger and cannibalism in the period of 1932-1933, especially in Liubar, Ruzhyn, and Markhlevsky (now Dzerzhynsky) districts.

Most of the reports cite dozens of those who perished. However, as she put it, so far it is impossible to determine the overall number of famine victims in the region, since no reliable statistics are available.

It remains to be said that the book to honor the victims of deportations is expected to come off the presses in 2003. In their search for funding of the publication the editors are counting on contributions from donors as well as budget allocations.

The Day, Kyiv, Ukraine, December 03, 2002