March 1932 On March 1, 1932, Svoboda carried news of the killings of Ukrainian peasants trying to escape to Rumania from Ukraine. The headline read: “Bolsheviks have once again shot Ukrainian peasants trying to cross the Dnister.” The secret police killed 200 men, women and children who were fleeing from Ukraine and Soviet government tyranny. The story, datelined Bucharest, explained that as the peasants approached the middle of the frozen river, the Communist police began shooting. When the shooting stopped, corpses lay strewn over the ice.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the harshest and cruelest tragedies of the Ukrainian people, the Great Famine of 1932-33. This column, which appears for the first time this week, hopes to shed some light on the development of events as reported to the Ukrainian community in the United States. Svoboda, The Ukrainian-language daily newspaper which has almost 40 years old then, carried any news it could get about Soviet grain procurements and the subsequent famine. In the 1983 New Year appeal of the Ukrainian National Association’s Supreme Executive Committee, it is stated: “In the years 1932, 1933 and 1934, issues of Svoboda provide perhaps the best documentation of the horrors of the Great Famine and unmasks the organizers and executors of this holocaust. Further, the need to inform the American public and the press about the tragedies in 1933 Ukraine was one of the main reasons for the establishment of The Ukrainian Weekly.”
On January 26, due largely to the efforts of Metropolitan Mstyslav of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 60 representatives of 45 Ukrainian organizations met in South Bound Brook, N.J., to form a national committee for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ukraine. The formation of the committee – tentatively named the National Public Committee to Commemorate the Memory of the Victims of the Great Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine – came in the nick of time. Inexplicably, until that meeting, and with the anniversary year already upon us, the Ukrainian community did not have a national body dealing with what was unquestionably one of the greatest holocausts of this century. And, it should be noted, one of the least publicized. This latter point, of course, makes the need for a national committee all the more obvious.