(Original Publication 2012)
This afternoon I decided to make a trip to the Holodomor (huh luh duh mor) Memorial in the center of Kiev. “Holodomor” is Ukrainian for “killing by hunger” and refers to the man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR between 1932 and 1933. Attributed by many to the collectivization policies of Stalin and the Soviet state, the famine, which is also known as the “terror-famine in Ukraine” and “famine-genocide in Ukraine”, led to the deaths of millions of Ukrainians due to starvation. According to many sources somewhere between six and eight million Ukrainians lost their lives. The level of starvation was so severe that there are many stories of cannibalism during the famine.
The genocide began in 1929 with massive waves of deadly deportations of Ukraine’s prospering peasant farmers (referred to by the Soviet state as “Kulaks”) as well as the deportations and executions of Ukraine’s religious, academic, and cultural leaders, culminating in the devastating forced famine that killed millions more innocent men, women, and children.
The memorial was finished in 2007. There are many resources to learn more about the famine. Especially helpful is an American made documentary that is extremely well done though perhaps somewhat in poor taste named “Holodomor: The Movie.”
I spoke with several Ukrainians this week before my trip to the memorial. In our conversations it became apparent to me that the scar caused by this horror continues to torment the national consciousness of Ukraine.