WCFU statement on Great Famine

The history of the Ukrainian people has been marked by times of fame and greatness as well as by periods of fall and ruin. The times of peace and affluence gave way to times of unrest and insufficiency, well-known battles and victories were followed by defeats and failures, and the years of cultural boom and the flourishing of the sciences and arts were followed by their stagnation and decline.

After the fall of its independent state, the Ukrainian people fell victim to robbery, national and religious persecution, economic exploitation and cultural oppression and harassment. But our people in various times of enslavement neither despaired nor gave up. Rather, at every favorable occasion, they arose, tore the chains of oppression and endeavored to rebuild independent state life. The Ukrainian nation was not destroyed, either by the tribes of Khazars, Pechenihs, Polovtsi, by the Black Klobukes, Tatars and Turks; nor was the tsarist Russian empire able to annihilate and destroy it. When this empire fell in 1917, the Ukrainian people began building up their nation's independent life. They defended its right to sovereign state life in an unequal struggle against the White and Red Russians for many years.

But after the smoke on the sites of the battlefields of World War I had dispersed, the Ukrainian people once again came under the brutal boot of Russian imperialism. Often, the new Bolshevik oppressors-invaders were led by the former tsarist generals, clad in Bolshevik uniforms, who, through the use of loud Socialist-Marxist slogans, endeavored to restore the "old indivisible Russia." From Colonel Muraviev's order, who in February 1918 seized Kiev in a bloody battle, one can see who imposed the Russian Bolshevik rule in Ukraine and how it got there. Muraviev stated in his order: "We are bringing this regime from the distant north on the edges of our bayonets, and wherever we establish our attorney, we uphold it by all means and with the aid of these bayonets."

In this way the old Russian rule returned to Ukraine; though it was now painted in red, it nevertheless continued the colonial policies of the tsarist regime, but with newer and more sophisticated methods of violence and exploitation.

In order to take hold of rebellious Ukraine which was still living with the memories of its recently lost independence and continuing to resist the aggressor, the Ukrainian National Republic was replaced by the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic so as to create an illusion of continuity of Ukrainian independence; its government, however, was created by and directed from Moscow, and in December 1922 the Ukrainian SSR was forcibly incorporated into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

For the time being, the reborn Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was left in peace and a policy of Ukrainianization was undertaken. But parallel with this, even more refined methods of oppression were applied; class struggle, so far unknown to the people, was introduced. Villager was set against villager, the awakened intelligentsia was disunited - the nation was purposefully divided so that it might be overcome more easily.

The Russian occupational power, having gained a strong footing with the aid of Marxist methods of oppression, hit the Ukrainian village in 1929-31 with the introduction of forced collectivization; it also dealt a blow to the Ukrainian intelligentsia and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, arresting and bringing to trial members of the Union for Liberation of Ukraine and the League of Ukrainian Youth, and disrupting and annihilating all religious life. The all-round Leninist-Stalinist terror destroyed everything throughout the land of Ukraine, smashing everything that opposed the policies of the occupational government which, externally - for propaganda purposes - was in name Soviet Ukrainian, but in reality - by its content and source of power - was fully Russian and colonial.

The divided villages were forced into kolkhozes (collective farms), hundreds of thousands of the so-called kulaks (well-to-do farmers) were executed - some right on the spot, others were banished to Siberia; families were torn apart and thousands and thousands of children became "nobody's" - "abandoned." The Ukrainian workers were forced to take up slave labor in factories, deprived of the right to strike, and the Ukrainian intelligentsia, particularly poets, writers and journalists, as well as the hierarchy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, and all who had any relationship to Ukrainian culture, were arrested, executed or banished to Siberia where most perished.

Realizing the aims and tasks of Russian great power chauvinism, the Kremlin overloads dealt bloodily not only with all classes of the Ukrainian nation but, not trusting them, they also destroyed those few Ukrainian Communists who helped them implement the Russian policies in Ukraine at the beginning of their rule.

In 1932-33 Russia embarked on the path of a historically unprecedented destruction of human beings - men, women and children - by means of a consciously planned and executed artificial famine, in order to undercut the national substance of the Ukrainian people at its very roots - its farmers. The artificially created famine in Ukraine in 1932-33 was the result of a premeditated decision of the Russian Bolshevik government in Moscow to destroy the Ukrainian nation. All the cultural institutions of the country and their acquisitions were destroyed; the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was devastated, the participants in the recent national renaissance were shot, arrested or banished. Even the blind kobzars (wandering minstrels who usually sang about Ukraine's past) were destroyed.

The famine, which, according to contemporary research, was confined exclusively to Ukrainian territory and also some small neighboring regions, was placed at the center of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The struggle between the Ukrainian village and the occupational power for the harvest of 1932 developed as the struggle of millions of Ukrainian farmers for their very lives. Brigades of so-called "tysiachnyky" (thousands), mostly outsiders and member of the Communist Party and the Komsomol, were sent into the Ukrainian countryside. Their number grew from 40,000 in 1930 to 112,000 in 1932. In order to deal a death blow to Ukrainian farmers, Moscow resorted to unheard of and legalized terror; the Central Executive Committee of the USSR passed a law on August 7, 1932, which permitted the organs of OGPU to shoot anyone who attempted to steal "socialist property" from the kolkhoz. This "law" was immediately implemented in all of Soviet Ukraine and, as a result, even children who were picking blades of wheat in the already harvested fields were shot. Because of this planned extermination, millions went under convoy to death camps in the distant north, and no one could defend himself against the terrorists from the Komsomol, the party and the OGPU because these were backed by the army of the USSR.

Every day, the deliberately organized famine in Ukraine took the toll of new victims, left empty villages, covered all the roads to the cities and all the roads to Russia, where no famine existed, with the corpses of thousands of people for whom there was no bread, neither in the villages nor in the cities, and whom the "peasant and worker" government of Russia had sentenced to death. The horrible reality of the condemned people reduced many to insanity, suicide, cannibalism.

All rumors about the artificial famine in Ukraine that penetrated into the free world were assiduously denied by Moscow. All attempts by Western Ukrainian Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky and the starving population in Ukraine were rejected because, according to Moscow, there was no famine in Ukraine.

Several foreigners entered Moscow's service to conceal the fact of the existence of the famine and to help it carry out the death sentence on Ukraine's defenseless population. Some, being hard Communists or Communist sympathizers, consciously and from a sense of duty defended the criminal Russian government; others, unaware in their naivete or from lack of information, and still others through their "impartiality" and silence, cooperated with Russia. The trip of Edouard Herriot, head of the contemporary French government, to the USSR, and his statement that he had not observed any famine in Ukraine, is generally known. Also known - history wrote it down for posterity - is the fact that American President Franklin D. Roosevelt had, in precisely the year of the horrible famine in Ukraine (1933), de jure recognized the USSR and in this way legalized the Russian genocidal power in Ukraine.

To draw the attention of the free yet indifferent world to the artificial famine and organized genocide in Ukraine, young Ukrainian Mykola Lemyk shot and killed the representative of the Russian oppressive rule in Ukraine on October 22, 1933, in the city of Lviv. This was done on orders of the Ukrainian underground organization (OUN) to protest the genocidal policies of Russia in Ukraine, yet the free world remained indifferent and undisturbed.

It is not known, and probably never will be known, exactly how many Ukrainians starved from the famine, how many died from being shot in the back of the head, how many were murdered in prisons, in death camps and in forced labor in 1932-33. The generally accepted figure of victims of the artificial famine of 1932-33 is 7 million.

British Sovietologist, Robert Conquest, writes in the progress report on his forthcoming book on collectivization and the famine in Ukraine:

"I believe it can now be proved beyond criticism that the total excess mortality of the 'dekulakization' of 1929-30 and of the famine of 1932-37 must have been around 14 million, including several million children. This figure used to be considered (even by myself) a 'high' one, but the evidence seem irresistable," (from The Ukrainian Weekly, Sunday, March 20, 1983).

Fifty years have passed since the Russian-organized famine in 1933, yet little has changed in Ukraine. The oppressive Russian Bolshevik power, disguised as Marxism and internationalism, reaches daily for the very soul of the people and tries to penetrate into their minds and feelings. Moscow is ordering the Ukrainians and other non-Russian nations to believe that the rule of the Russians is a blessing for them, that the Russian language and culture should be considered as a path to progress and that they, the non-Russian peoples, should be grateful to Russia for everything the Russian intrusion has brought them. All those who step forward in defense of Ukrainian language and culture are accused, by the occupational power, of nationalism. Under the guise of various pretenses, they are harassed, dismissed from work, brought to trial.

Contrary to the views of some "researchers," the artificial famine in Ukraine in 1933 had little in common with collectivization. Over 75 percent of the farms in Ukraine had already been collectivized in 1931. Moreover, it is a well-known fact that even the collectivized Ukrainians were starved and that even those Ukrainians - Soviet activists - who were active in organizing kolkhozes a long time before the general collectivization, fell victims to the mass starvation. There is proof that foodstuffs in 1932 had been taken away from Ukrainian farmers, but had not been taken away from the Russian farmers. The NKVD detachments stood guard on the border between Ukraine and Russia, preventing the starving Ukrainians from entering Russia proper and not permitting bread to be brought from Russia, where there was no famine, to Ukraine. There is evidence that the growth of the Russian population during the time of Stalin's terror was the same as before and after it. At that time, however, not only was there no growth of the Ukrainian population but, on the contrary, there was even a significant decrease. The conclusions are clear: the Ukrainian population was oppressed, starved and executed at Moscow's orders for the simple reason that it was Ukrainian.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the artificial famine in Ukraine, let us remember millions of martyrs - victims of the famine in Ukraine which had been planned by Russia in those "cursed" 1930s. Remembering the tortured, starved and executed - our brothers and sisters on Ukraine's territory and outside of it - let us promise, facing the shadows of the deceased, to do all that is in our power to fully expose all the crimes of Russia perpetrated against the Ukrainian nation under the duration of Russia's bloody rule in Ukraine.

Let us swear an oath before the souls of our ancestors that we shall devote our lives to hasten the fall of the last, inhuman Russian colonial empire, known today as the USSR, aware that our people will be able to create their sovereign state only after the Russian prison of nations is brought down and dissolved.


Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, July 31, 1983, No. 31, Vol. LI

| Home Page ||