The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)


Plans for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Great Famine should be expanded to include construction of an educational and research center, Morgan Williams argues


By Morgan Williams
Category: OPINION
The Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine
November 28, 2002

The Ukrainian World Congress announced on Sept. 27 that it had "decided to honor the memory of the millions of victims of the Great Famine in Ukraine 1932-1933 by erecting in the name of all Ukrainians who live around the world (the Diaspora) a suitable monument in the city of Kyiv."

The UWC said the 70th anniversary of the famine should be marked by construction of a monument that would be dedicated during the Seventh World Congress of Ukrainians in Kyiv during August 2003. It also called upon the Ukrainian and other governments to recognize the famine as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people and to condemn the perpetrators.

Morgan Williams (middle), Mr. Horobchenko of the Famine Researchers Association and Liuba Stasiv, Executive Director of the Association putting the memorial ribbon on the existing Famine monument in Kyiv on November 25, 2000 photo
(Click on photo to enlarge it)

The country is unquestionably in need of such a monument. It would quickly become known and recognized around the world, and would serve as a potent symbol of the terrible crimes committed against Ukraine and her people and of the hope that such crimes will never be repeated.

The program to build such a monument is welcome, but it is important to consider the larger picture and the totality of needs that exist in Ukraine today. Scholars who have studied the great famine and related issues insist that much more than just a new monument is needed. Those working on the great famine in Ukraine have said that construction of an educational and research center is the first priority and should be included in any plans to honor the memory of the famine victims.

"The enforced famine of 1932-1933, engineered by the Soviet regime in which 7 million to 10 million Ukrainians perished, qualifies as one of the most massive genocides the world has ever seen and as one of the most heinous mass crimes ever committed by man against man," the UWC said.

Prior to 1990, the majority of research on the famine had to take place outside Ukraine. It is now high time for domestic scholars and researchers to document the crimes of communism from within Ukraine. The resources made available to the Association of Famine Researchers of Ukraine and other worthy organizations for their work over the past 11 years have been totally inadequate. Considering the importance of these issues, the meager resources allocated have been an embarrassment. There is work that urgently needs to be done now before the last of those survivors who have personal knowledge of the famine die. This work cannot be done without more support.

The basic plan should, therefore, include the construction of adequate facilities for research, documentation, education and study, including a library and museum. Such a facility would create, for the first time in Ukraine, a suitable venue for scholarly research into the famine-genocide and other crimes of communism. The UWC is being asked by many in Ukraine to consider extending its program from a one-year to a six-year initiative. It would thus be completed in time for the 75th anniversary of the great famine in the fall of 2008. Such an extended program, involving a variety of organizations, businesses and leaders in Ukraine and around the world, could raise the funds necessary to build the proposed monument and the educational and research complex.

If such a major historical project is undertaken over the next six years, the UWC should take into account the following considerations:

    A very central, important and visible location should be found and offered by the city of Kyiv. The UWC should not settle for anything less.

    The location selected in Kyiv should be large enough to allow for the construction of the monument and also the construction of the research, education, library and museum center over a five- to six-year period.

    The design of the sculpture-monument and the educational complex must be world-class with a creative and inspiring design. The sculpture cannot be allowed to be as mediocre and disappointing as some of those raised in Kyiv in recent years. The complex must be "for the ages," and must honor appropriately the famine victims.

    Adequate funds must be committed for building the monument and the educational complex. The UWC should state that it is prepared to raise, in cooperation with a variety of governmental and private organizations, including those from Ukraine, whatever it takes to fulfill the program.

The UWC is to be congratulated for its drive to have the famine recognized as genocide and to build a new monument. The UWC should indeed lead this project. But while the UWC should certainly focus on the Ukrainian Diaspora for support and help in raising the necessary funds, it should also open their program to include selected individuals in Ukraine who have studied these historical issues, representatives of leading Ukrainian organizations and businesses, and government leaders. The UWC should also include those individuals, organizations and businesses around the world that have shown they are friends of Ukraine and that want to participate and provide support. Participation should not be limited to those of Ukrainian heritage.

The UWC may also wish to consider including in the 70t-h to 75th-anniversary program annual food drives that would raise a large quantity of food and funds. Unfortunately, political famines still occur today, 70 years after Stalin used an artificial famine as a tool in his overall plan to crush the people, culture and spirit of Ukraine. The food and funds collected would be distributed to those around the world who are starving due to the policies of inept and corrupt governments that continue to engage in repression, murder and genocidal actions to achieve their goals.

A program like that outlined above, when completed, would be a major step in the long effort to ensure that the million of victims of the 1932-1933 famine-genocide and the many other repressions against Ukraine and her people over a long period did not die in vain.

A business, government and public affairs consultant, Morgan Williams is the president of the Ukraine Market Reform Group. He is also publisher of the Web site and the Information Service. He has been involved in Ukraine economic development issues for 10 years.

The Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine
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