CHICAGO – Dr. Myron B. Kuropas was interviewed about the “forgotten holocaust,” the Great Famine in Ukraine in 1932-33, in the Living section of the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday, November 13.
Dr. Kuropas, supreme vice-president of the Ukrainian National Association and former President Gerald R. Ford’s special assistant on ethnic affairs, told reporter Marcia Froelke Coburn that “Ukrainians have been trying to tell their story for years. Nobody’s interested. Nobody wants to hear about Ukrainians.”
In a full-page profile-interview, Dr. Kuropas explained the death of 7 million people deliberately planned by Joseph Stalin. He gave historical background and offered documentation and statistics to accredit the story of the famine. He told the Sun-Times that he will “tell the story of the forgotten holocaust to whoever will listen and finding listeners is not always easy.”
He said: “We Ukrainians – and there are 60,000 of us in the Chicago area – think our story should be remembered and told and taught the same way the Nazi Holocaust is, mainly because it is an international crime, just like the Holocaust in Germany.”
Dr. Kuropas also informed the reporter that over 18,000 Ukrainians gathered in Washington to commemorate the victims of the Great Famine this year on the first Sunday in October. He said that that weekend the Washington Post called this crime against humanity “a monstrous but almost forgotten act of genocide a half-century ago.”
The Ukrainian activist, who holds a Ph. D. from the University of Chicago and is the author of numerous articles in the Chicago Sun-Times, the book “Ukrainians in America,” and a section of the anthology “Ethnic Chicago,” said he believes that the concealment of facts about the famine was “a conspiracy motivated by leftist sympathies.”
During the 1930’s, he said: “No reporters were allowed into Ukraine, but somehow one from the British papers got in and took photographs. But when the Soviets denied that any famine took place, the USSR correspondents for The New York Times and the Nation backed them up. The only American paper that printed the story was a Hearst paper, the Chicago American, but that was in 1935 and they put the date of the famine as 1934. Naturally everyone could deny that there had been a famine in 1934 – rightfully so – and the story became known as ‘more of Hearst’s fiction.'”
Dr. Kuropas, who is currently a teacher in the DeKalb school system, has written extensively about the famine, including articles for The Ukrainian Weekly. He has continued working for Ukrainian causes, especially concentrating on the issue of the Ukrainian famine. He told the Sun-Times that he has two main goals concerning this. The first is to have the famine taught as a regular part of the school curriculum, and the second is to eventually have a TV documentary produced so the tragedy will reach a mass audience.
WINNIPEG – The October 12 issue of the Manitoban, a publication of the University of Manitoba, carried three letters concerning the 50th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33). University President Arnold Naimark called the famine one of the “darkest periods of human history,” and expressed his “sympathy and solidarity with the Ukrainian people” during this anniversary year.
Michael Young, president of the University of Manitoba Students’ Union, bemoaned the fact that “an event of such catastrophic brutality” is little known in the West. He praised the efforts of the university Ukrainian students and the Winnipeg Ukrainian community to “raise the awareness of the citizenry in this city and, in some way, make up for the neglect and ignorance which has surrounded this travesty for some 50 years.”
Bohdanna Dutka, vice-president of the Ukrainian Students’ Club, said that Ukrainian students staged a symbolic 24-hour hunger strike on October 6.
“It is our hope that humanity will never forget the holocaust in Ukraine and in our mutual remembrance pray that such a tragedy does not befall any nation again,” she wrote.
WASHINGTON – The September issue of the CSCE Digest, the publication of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, ran an article on the Great Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine.
The article began by noting that 7 million people lost their lives 50 years ago as a result of the Soviet regime’s man-made famine in Ukraine, “a normally fertile country often called ‘the granary of Europe.'”
It also reported that a series of observances was held by the Ukrainian community in the nation’s capital during the week of September 26 through October 2.
The article went on to explain:
“The Ukrainian famine was a direct result of Stalin’s attempts to force collectivization and ensure an ambitious industrialization program. In order to achieve these ends, Stalin, in the early 1930s, ordered increasing requisitions of grain from the peasantry, despite declining harvests. Peasants who refused the order to turn over foodstuffs to the state were deported or executed. Without food, without grain, without feed for the livestock, the peasants began to starve. Within months, millions of men, women and children were dead or dying. According to reports at that time, deserted villages, peasants with bodies swollen from hunger, and countless corpses became common sights. Those who attempted to flee villages stricken by famine were turned back by Soviet patrols. At the same, time, the Soviet Union was exporting millions of tons of grain in order to obtain capital necessary for industrialization.”
“Despite eyewitness accounts and reports by some Western journalists who managed to visit Ukraine in 1933, the famine has always officially been denied by the Soviet government,” the CSCE Digest said.
The article also reported on the activities of CSCE members in observing the famine.
CSCE Chairman Rep. Dante Fascell, in his remarks on the 50th anniversary of the famine, noted: “It is important for us to remain determined in our efforts to promote adherence to international agreements such as the Helsinki Final Act and in our efforts on behalf of those whose rights are flagrantly violated. By actively remembering and vociferously condemning the tragedies of the past, we may be able to prevent similar tragedies in the future.”
Co-chairman Bob Dole, in his remarks, stated: “In focusing our attention on the famine, we must not forget that the system capable of producing such horrors in the past is still in existence today.” He cited the downing of the Korean jetliner and flagrant human-rights violations as examples of current Soviet actions which are contrary to recognized standards of civilized behavior.
The Pitt News
PITTSBURGH – The Pitt News, the daily newspaper at the University of Pittsburgh, carried an article about the Pittsburgh commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ukraine. The story appeared in the Monday, October 18, issue of the newspaper.
“In 1933, approximately 7 million people died in the Ukraine. An easy way for the Soviet Union to eliminate the Ukrainian people – both culturally and politically – was to take their food away,” began the story.
“The genocide of the Ukraine people has not received much historical attention, but a symposium held at Pitt’s Frick Fine Arts Building on Saturday has helped Pittsburgh become aware of what really happened,” the author of the story, Wes Cotter, wrote.
He then went on to cite experts on the famine who spoke at the symposium. Dr. James Mace of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute was quoted as saying that literally everything was taken out of villages and that nearly every shred of Ukrainian culture was destroyed as well by the Soviet regime.
Dr. Bohdan R. Bociurkiw of Carleton University in Ottawa, said that the Soviets went so far as to destroy Ukrainian churches dating back to 1100 in their attempt to crush Ukrainian Churches and the Ukrainian heritage.
Marco Carynnyk, a visiting fellow from the Kennan Institute in Washington, said that both the American and British governments were well informed about the famine. “We were well informed, but when groups appealed for help it was an ‘alleged famine.’ We preferred to continue trading with the USSR,” he said.
The Ukrainian Weekly, December 11, 1983, No. 50, Vol. LI