March 1934 On March 2, Svoboda reported on a meeting of the Polish Parliament in Warsaw, during which the president of the Ukrainian Club spoke out against the abusive treatment of Ukrainians under Soviet rule as well as in territories under Polish occupation. He stated that in Soviet-occupied Ukraine, famine ravaged the countryside. To date, he reported, over 5 million people had died. According to news printed in Svoboda on the same day, a special commission was being formed in Kiev to prepare the city for its new role as capital of Soviet Ukraine. Over 20,000 people would be thrown out of buildings which were scheduled to become government facilities, the reports said.
(The Ukrainian Weekly, November 6, 1983, No. 45, Vol. LI) PART I Thanks to the recent spate of conferences, television programs and publications, the facts of the Great Famine of 1933 in Ukraine are slowly becoming known, at least in broad outline. Yet only a few scholars are informed about the political and economic developments that led to the famine. The two most important antecedents of the unprecedented catastrophe that visited Ukraine that year are Soviet nationalities and agricultural policies.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune SARASOTA, Fla. – The Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33) was the subject of two editorials in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the most recent in the paper’s October 1 issue. Titled “The Forgotten Holocaust,” the editorial said that thousands of Ukrainians were expected in Washington on October 2 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the famine. Noting that Ukrainian history goes back “to the glory of Kiev, when Moscow was still a mean little duchy,” the paper said that the famine was orchestrated by the Soviet government to “‘teach a lesson’ to the independent-minded Ukrainians.” It said that the famine “went remarkably unremarked in the rest of the world,” partly because certain members of the foreign press at the time were unwilling to admit brutality “in the midst of what they still sought to regard as a ‘noble experiment’ in communist government.”
February 1934 A story datelined Moscow in the February 5 issue of Svoboda reported that Soviet actions against the Ukrainian nationalists continued. According to the story, Ukrainian nationalists had supplied books on Ukrainian nationalism to schools. Only after Pavel Postyshev came to Ukraine was this action halted, Komsomolska Pravda reported. That same day, Svoboda printed a letter in English which was written by a staff worker for The Oregonian. Quoting a lecture by a labor expert Whiting Williams, who was formerly on the faculties of Harvard, Dartmouth and Oberlin, he wrote:
“‘All of my observations in Russia last summer led me to support the pope in his contention that there is widespread starvation in the red land.'”
“American correspondents in Moscow were prohibited from entering the starvation districts in the Ukraine at the time Mr. Williams was visiting the district and seeing many persons starving to death before his own eyes.
Famine follow-up The 18,000 or so Ukrainians who took part in the October 2 famine commemorations in Washington probably went home with the feeling of a job well done, satisfied that they did their part in helping to publicize Ukraine’s unknown holocaust. The event did get fairly broad local media coverage, and although the crowd could have been larger, the turn-out did manage to convey the community’s determination to both inform the public about this wanton atrocity and its 7 million victims, and to honor their memory. But lest any sense of complacency creep in, we must remember that the job is far from over. The end of the 50th anniversary of the famine should not mark the end of our efforts. We should be oriented toward the future, not just the past.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette PITTSBURGH – The October 7 issue of the Post-Gazette ran a lengthy, front-page article on the Great Famine in Ukraine by staffer Bohdan Hodiak. Headlined “‘Hidden’ famine in Ukraine killed millions,” the article was accompanied by a page one photograph of a young girl holding her horribly emaciated brother. “The artificial famine, which will be commemorated in Pittsburgh this weekend, has been described as the crime of the century which few have ever heard of, and, as the only large-scale humanly engineered famine in history,” wrote Mr. Hodiak. He said that, according to British Sovietologist Robert Conquest, as many as 14 million people may have died as a result of the famine. “While Ukrainians were starving, the Soviet Union was exporting grain, and the Soviet leadership was denying any famine existed, as it still denies it occurred today,” Mr. Hodiak said.
January 1934 Svoboda printed news datelined Moscow in its January 4 issue. According to Pravda, the new year’s preparations for planting were going quite smoothly. This was attributed to the fact that all political offices made sure to collect the proper amounts of grain from the peasants. The newspaper also stated that the Soviets were able to liquidate all the “kulak elements” and saboteurs. Also on January 4, Svoboda printed an English-language page with press accounts from newspapers across North America which protested against the Soviet Union.
Washington Post WASHINGTON – The Washington Post provided detailed coverage of the weeklong Great Famine observance here with an October 1 article about the activities and extensive coverage of the October 2 rally at the Washington Monument and the march to the Soviet Embassy. On October 3, the paper ran a full story on the rally and march by staff writer Eugene Meyer under the headline “Ukrainians Commemorate Victims of 1933 Famine.” In the article, which was accompanied by three photographs and began on the first page of the paper’s Metro section, Mr. Meyer quoted from President Ronald Reagan’s message to the rally and from an address by UNA Supreme President John Flis. He also spoke with Halyna Hrushetsky, 41, of Chicago, who lost four sisters during the famine. “I’ve lived with the famine as long as I can remember,” she told the Post, adding that she, her older sister who survived the famine and her mother wound up in a German labor camp during the war and were saved from repatriation to the Soviet Union after the war after Eleanor Roosevelt intervened on behalf of the displaced persons.
Following is the text of the address delivered by Rep. Don Ritter of the 15th Congressional District in Pennsylvania at the Great Famine memorial rally near the Washington Monument. Rep. Ritter, who is in his third term, is co-chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Baltic States and Ukraine and a member of the Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. He speaks Russian fluently and spent a year in the Soviet Union as an exchange scientist. Today, my dear friends, I honor the 7 million who died in the famine/holocaust and the millions who lived through those terrible years. But that is not enough.
The following letter to the Kremlin from Americans of Ukrainian descent was read in front of the Soviet Embassy at the demonstration on October 2. The statement was read by Orest Deychakiwsky, 27, of Beltsville, Md., a staff member of the Congressional Helsinki Commission. We Ukrainian-Americans are 1 million strong, living in cities and towns throughout this great land of the United States of America. There are two additional millions of us living in other countries of the free world. You have enslaved 50 million of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and countless millions more who live in daily terror of your dictatorship.