March 20, 1983

Ethnic, community leaders on famine


Reprinted below are letters written by ethnic and community leaders to UNA Supreme President John O. Flis on the occasion of the solemn 50th anniversary of the Great Famine. The letters are the result of a February 15 (see story, page 1) meeting organized by the Illinois Consultation on Ethnicity in Education to commemorate this genocide of the Ukrainian nation. It was moderated by Dr. Myron B. Kuropas, UNA supreme vice president.

The American Jewish Committee

I wish to join with the many other voices which have expressed their sympathy and understanding as the Ukrainian people mark the 50th anniversary of the suffering and tragic death of millions of their countrymen during the famine they were compelled to endure.

The memories of people who are united by their common recollections helps give strength to their future. As we reach across old barriers to understand and appreciate each other’s memories, we can gain new strength from each other and look to a future of greater understanding and solidarity in our concerns for justice for all.

Maynard I. Wishner
national president
New York

We are reminded at this time that 50 years have passed since the famine of 1933. All free men and women share the sense of sorrow and loss of the Ukrainian people.

On behalf of The American Jewish Committee, I would like to express the hope that our communities will work together toward the day when tragedies of this nature will be non-existent anywhere in the world.

Marshall L. Zissman
Chicago Chapter

Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation

The board of directors, staff and the Assyrian people we serve, of the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation wish to extend our most sincere sympathy on the 50th anniversary of the Ukrainian famine of 1933.

As a persecuted ethnic group, we, Assyrians of the Middle East, understand the sense of loss your ethnic group has felt, as well as still feel at this time. It’s a shame that 5 to 7 million human lives paid for the Soviets’ faltering economy in 1933. What’s worse is that this event went by unnoticed by the rest of the world, and could very well happen again, unless the world is made aware.

Therefore, the Assyrian universal Alliance Foundation has pledged to join with Ukrainian Americans and others to make the world aware of the great human tragedy that befell Ukraine in 1933.

May God continue to watch over the Ukrainians of the United States and those throughout the world. For he is the world’s light, in which all of us follow. All of his people will never perish.

John Yonan
executive director

Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture

The suffering of the Ukrainian people for centuries under the Russian tsars and now the Russian Communists, is one of the tragedies of mankind. The man-made famine which the Russian Communists perpetrated in Ukraine in 1933, should unite people of the free world to work for freedom for Ukrainians, Lithuanians and other oppressed people of the world who are under the Russian imperialistic rule.

The descendants of East Europeans in America must continuously work to inform their fellow citizens of the realities of life in the USSR. Freedom for the captive nations will be a long-term process: we must keep vigilant, maintaining the spark of freedom for those less fortunate.

If I can be of any help in the future, please call on me.

Stanley Balzekas Jr.

Festa Italiana

It’s incredible that in this so-called enlightened 20th century when man has achieved tremendous technological advances, civilization has not learned to curb its base instincts.

How do we reconcile an era that encompasses medical breakthroughs that eliminate polio and transplant vital organs with a period that has seen the Holocaust, Bangladesh and the systematic starvation of millions in Ukraine.

It is no small wonder that those responsible for this outrage have strived so assiduously to hide this monstrous deed.

We applaud the Ukrainian National Association’s efforts to heighten the world’s awareness of this appalling atrocity that resulted in a genocidal assault on a proud people.

As an organization of Italian American business and professional men dedicated to serving our less fortunate, we in UNICO join with all Ukrainian Americans in a bond of solidarity so that the ultimate sacrifices of those brave individuals who suffered 50 years ago will have not been lost on the world’s conscience.

Anthony J. Fornelli

German American National Congress

The German American National Congress sympathizes with the Ukrainian Americans when you recall the terrible fate of Ukrainians 50 years ago, who died of hunger while Stalin confiscated all the grain, which these Ukrainians grew and produced, and used it for purposes foreign and alien to Ukrainians. As German Americans, whose fatherland also still lies divided, we know very well of the humiliations, deprivations and injustices which can be inflicted upon a nation and its peoples.

Elsbeth M. Seewald
national president
Mount Prospect, Ill.

Illinois Commission on Human Relations

I pledge today to join with your efforts to publicize the sad commemoration of the 1933 man-made famine which cost the lives of millions in Ukraine.

For too long, silence and cover-ups have allowed the world to ignore tragedies such as this which have shaped the histories of many nations.

That the past is prologue is a fitting phrase as we remember that millions of Ukrainians died so that the Stalin regime could export grain and buy foreign goods and technology from the Western world.

It is urgent that the world know the Ukrainian story as we see once again, throughout the world, the deliberate manipulation of economics to lower standards of living and set people against one another.

It is of special note that the observance of the 1933 famine should occur during Black History Month. There is so much about Ukrainian history that parallels Afro-American history – the massacres, the race riots and the economically induced oppression. Today, many Blacks are among the poor who face a “write-off” of the so-called “underclass” in America.

As the U.S. and other Western nations conclude new trade deals, business and industrial leaders must be sensitized to the possibilities that once again human suffering may be the indirect subsidiary of trade with the Soviets. Already there are reports of slave labor being used to work on the Siberian pipeline.

Your work is cut out for you. God bless your efforts.

Connie Seals
former director

Illinois Consultation on Ethnicity in Education

Along with many of my colleagues in diverse ethnic communities, I am writing to assure you that I will work to make people aware of the great human tragedy that befell Soviet Ukraine 50 years ago this winter.

America is a nation of many nations. Unfortunately, in an effort to enter the mainstream, some groups may have unwittingly sacrificed their greatest treasure, their history. By keeping the past hidden, we deny all Americans access to the lessons that only we can teach.

By confronting all Americans with the memory of Stalin’s man-made famine, Ukrainian Americans are committing an act of faith in themselves and in us. We recognize our obligation to join with you and your people in sharing this tragic aspect of your history, so that events like the famine never happen again. This is the lesson that we must learn to teach others from your history.

I assure you that the Illinois Consultation will cooperate with Ukrainian Americans in telling the story of the famine.

Edwin Cudecki

Japanese American Citizens League

As one who was born in a United States concentration camp for Japanese Americans during World War II, I am well aware of how the tragedies of the past are often forgotten or suppressed by the government. It is only through the cooperation of all that the truth can be told in the spirit that such tragedies will not be repeated by any government.

When learning about the man-made Ukrainian famine of 1933, it shocked me to realize that there are still many tragic events that need to be brought to the attention of the public not only to prevent such future occurrences by any tyrannical government but to also memorialize the many millions who died as a result.

I share the sorrow of the Ukrainian community and pledge to work with your organization towards preventing such an event from happening again.

Ross Harano
past governor, Midwest District Council

Lithuanian American Council Inc.

As you commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Great Famine, we, Lithuanian Americans, join you in your sorrow.

We know very well the horrors initiated by Stalin first in Ukraine and then in Lithuania.

We shall work with you in informing the world of this great human tragedy.

Kazys Sidlauskas
national president

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund

May I, together with many other who share my concern, express my sorrow in relation to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Ukrainian Famine of 1933. This tragic episode in our world’s history has been too long kept under wraps.

All people concerned with human tragedy not only hope but pledge that they will assure the world that the Ukrainian Famine of 1933 was an event that will never happen again.

Arthur R. Velasquez
member, board of directors

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

History continues to remind us of how deadly silence can be to those who would be their brothers’ keepers if they but knew of the suffering. Remembrance of the millions who perished in the 1933 man-made famine can bind us together in a worldwide vow – never again, anywhere.

James H. Lucien
executive secretary
Chicago branch

The National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs

At the January 22, 1983, meeting, the board of directors of the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs (NCUEA) unanimously revolved:

To support and to urge inter-ethnic solidarity in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ukraine. NCUEA urges all to rally support in the face of the unspeakable evil and terrible suffering caused by the Great Famine.

NCUEA resolved that: it is time to call attention to the heretofore neglected, ignored and brazenly denied fact that the Grate Famine in Ukraine was caused by the conscious and willful Soviet pubic policy.

NCUEA exhorts all to remember the 50th anniversary of the “man-made” famine of 1932-33. As we acknowledge the enormity of this demonic atrocity – 6 million dead – we are moved first to weep, then to pray, but finally to proclaim:

never again shall silence entomb cries for justice;

never again shall a people be sacrificed on the chopping block of public policy;

never again shall we shatter human solidarity which binds together all people as valued variants of a common humanity.

John A. Kromkowski

Polish National Alliance of the U.S. of N.A.

It is certainly a tragedy that there is a blot on the entire world, when Stalin deliberately starved to death 5 to 7 million Ukrainians. We share this sorrow with you. We certainly feel the way you do, that this should be brought out into the world, so that they can understand the cruelty and the inhumane treatment by the leadership of the Soviet Union.

We certainly will join with you and all the others to make the world aware of this great human tragedy that befell Ukraine in 1933.

Please keep me informed.

Aloysius A. Mazewski

State of Illinois, Office of the Governor

On the 50th anniversary of the man-made famine in Ukraine, I join you and all Ukrainian Americans in commemorating this tragedy.

Ukrainians have suffered greatly under Communist rule and it is important that the famine they have endured should not be forgotten, for those who easily forget the tragedies of the past are more easily persuaded to turn a blind eye to the injustices in the future.

Through our perseverance and recognition of past tragedies of this kind, we will help to prevent injustices such as the one in Ukraine from happening again in the world.

Gov. James R. Thompson
Springfield, Ill.

United Hellenic American Congress

The United Hellenic American Congress, an umbrella organization comprised of some 280 Greek American organizations in the United States, wishes to share in the sense of the loss Ukrainians feel on the anniversary of the man-made famine by the Stalinist regime of Communist Russia in 1933, in which millions of innocent people lost their lives. As president of UHAC, I wish to express our solidarity with Ukrainian Americans on this tragic anniversary and offer our pledge to work with you and other groups in making the world aware of this great human tragedy which befell Ukraine.

As an organization devoted to the promotion of human rights and equality for all people we decry such genocidal events which are all too quickly forgotten by the world, similar to the Armenian and Greek massacres by the Turks, among others. We pledge ourselves to keep alive the memories of these terrible episodes that demonstrate “man’s inhumanity to man” so that they would never be repeated again. We conclude by offering our prayers that the future will bring about a free and independent Ukraine.

Andrew A. Athens

Zionist Organization of Chicago

We share the sorrow of Ukrainians throughout the world as they commemorate the 50th anniversary of the man-made Ukrainian famine of 1933.

We share in the sense of loss Ukrainians feel on the anniversary of this man-made famine and pledge to join with Ukrainian Americans and others to make the world aware of the great human tragedy that befell Ukraine in 1933, so that such events will never happen again.

Nicholas Reisman