CHRONOLOGY OF THE FAMINE YEARS
The year 1983 marked the 50th anniversary of one of history's most horrifying cases of genocide - the Soviet-made Great Famine of 1932-33, in which some 7 million Ukrainians perished.
Relying on news from Svoboda and, later, The Ukrainian Weekly, this column hopes to remind and inform Americans and Canadians of this terrible crime against humanity.
By bringing other events worldwide into the picture as well, the column hopes to give a perspective on the state of the world in the years of Ukraine's Great Famine.
December 15-31, 1934
On December 18, Svoboda printed a large three-line headline on the front page calling on the Ukrainian community to honor the memory of Mykhailo Hrushevsky and to protest against renewed terror on the Ukrainian lands. An appeal on the subject was issued by the United Ukrainian Organizations of the United States.
Also on December 18, a headline in Svoboda read: "Soviets Want to Scare the Population." The article stated that foreign correspondents were looking for the reasons behind the new wave of Soviet terror. According to the articles the Soviet government was completely aware of the fact that it was losing favor with the rest of the world. However, the Soviet government continued its wave of terror because it believed that this was the only way to scare the people who were rebelling against the government.
On December 19, Svoboda reported that out of 37 arrested Ukrainians, 27 had already been executed without a trial. That same day Svoboda printed news from Moscow which stated that no one knew exactly how many people had been executed in connection with the assassination of Sergei Kirov. The official count stated that 120 people had been arrested and 103 had been executed. Ukrainians estimated that the numbers were higher.
The headline in the December 20 issue of Svoboda read "Let's Protest against the Mass Executions of Ukrainians." Svoboda called on members of the Ukrainian community to send written protests to President Roosevelt and break off diplomatic relations with the Soviets if the executions without trials continued. The statement said that the people should turn to their political leaders, their congressmen and senators with resolutions which should immediately be presented in Congress. This statement ran in the newspaper for three consecutive days.
That same day Svoboda received news from Pravda which stated that food was available in the Soviet Union, however, there were no utensils to eat with.
On December 22, Svoboda reported about terrorism in the Soviet Union. According to the Ukrainian Bureau in Geneva, terrorism, mass arrests and executions continued as part of Stalin's policies.
On December 27, Svoboda reported that the Soviets were purging the schools in Ukraine. Any nationalistic teachings were banned.
The December 28 issue of Svoboda published a story which revealed the first list of Ukrainians executed during the latest terrorist purges. That same day, Svoboda published a story which stated that the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR had been amended in order to expedite the prosecution of persons accused of anti-Soviet acts.
On December 29, Svoboda published news from the Ukrainian Bureau in London. According to the story, which related excerpts from Britain's Reynolds Illustrated News, there would be no peace in Eastern Europe until Ukraine gained its independence.
On the last day of December, Svoboda reported that in the Soviet Union the machine was more important than the person. Stalin said that in the following year the Soviet leaders would begin paying more attention to the Soviet citizen, in order to prove to the world that now, with modern machinery, the USSR was an industrialized country with skilled workers.
In the December 28 issue of The Ukrainian Weekly an article titled "Soviets Purge School of Nationalists" was printed. It said: "The latest scare among the Soviets is the infiltration of nationalistic elements into the Soviet schools and their teaching of counterrevolutionary ideas to youths. In Dnipropetrovske in Ukraine, the head of the city's Communist Party Committee was removed along with an aide and other officials for laxity in permitting nationalistic elements to exist at the Dnipropetrovske University.
In that same issue, the Ukrainian Youth League of North America published its protest concerning terrorism in Ukraine. The text of the protest, which was addressed to President Roosevelt, follows.
"We, young Americans of Ukrainian descent, respectfully call your attention to the latest phase of the Soviet reign of terror in Ukraine - the summary mass execution of 37 persons in Ukraine, as reported in the American press.
"We further call your attention to the fact that since the time when the Bolsheviks overran Ukraine, overthrew the young Ukrainian National Republic, and brutally imposed their misrule upon the freedom-loving Ukrainian nation, they have at all times sought by means of an unparalleled reign of terror to denationalize the Ukrainian people and stamp out their rightful aspirations towards national freedom.
"This reign of terror over our kinsmen in the land of our ancestors by the Soviets has assumed varied forms, such as: summary mass imprisonments and executions, exile to the notorious forced labor camps, and the deliberately Soviet-fostered major famine whose deadly toll is running into many millions. ...
"Reared in American surroundings and ideals, we, young Americans of Ukrainians descent, are amazed that such unprecedented wanton terrorism and cruelty is possible in this civilized world; and what amazes us still more is the indifference displayed towards this reign of terror here in America.
"In view of these facts, we, young Americans of Ukrainian descent, in the name of humanity and those ideals for which the fathers of our country fought, beg of you, Sir, to intercede on behalf of our oppressed and terrorized kinsmen in Ukraine under the Soviets and demand of the Soviet government to cease this unparalleled reign of terror; and should the Soviet government refuse to heed this humane request, then to break the already weak diplomatic relations with them.
"We believe our plea will meet with your serious consideration, as it is in accordance with the traditional policy of the United States to take cognizance of such invasions of human rights and liberties as cited above."
* * *
Around the world:
A campaign in the United States Congress called on the federal government to reduce the work week to 30 hours.
A doctor in Washington reported apples were the cure for children's diseases, especially typhus.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, February 19, 1984, No. 8, Vol. LII
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