SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A commemorative display depicting the horrors of the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33) opened here on January 8 at the State Capitol. The exhibit of photographs and written material was organized by the Ukrainian Heritage Club of Northern California.
The display, which was initially planed for last November, was the subject of an article by Michael McBride in the January 9 issue of the Sacramento Union. The story was accompanied by a photo of Mykola Kostyrko, a club member. A brief story also appeared in the January 9 issue of the Sacramento Bee.
Heritage Club President Yuriy Oliynyk told the Union that the purpose of the exhibit, which included pictures of emaciated bodies that appeared in U.S. newspapers in the 1930s, was to “make the American public aware of the danger that the entire free world is facing from the Russians.”
A survivor of the famine, who wanted to be identified only by his initials, M. W., said that in his small village of Druha Korulka some 118 people starved to death after the Soviet secret police had confiscated all the grain and seed.
“The frightened people tried to get what was left,” he said. “The sentence for doing that was 10 years in Siberia as an ‘enemy of social economy.'”
He said that many of the starving peasants were forced to eat pets and small animals as well as tree bark and corn cobs. Many died because their terribly malnourished bodies could not properly digest even the smallest morsel of food.
The Sacramento Bee story quoted Mr. Oliynyk as saying that the American public should learn more about Soviet behavior in order to recognize “who they are dealing with.”
On February 6, the Bee also ran a letter from Alex Kachmar, the commemorative coordinator of the club, who took exception with part of the earlier Bee story, which said that only four people – all in some way connected with the club – showed up for the opening.
Mr. Kachmar said that the exhibit was originally planned for last November but that bureaucratic delays meant that a final decision was not reached until January 4. He added that because of this, and since the exhibit was scheduled to move to another location on February 1, “the club did not even attempt to organize a gathering for the exhibit’s opening.”
CHICAGO – Last year’s symposium on the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33) held at the University of Quebec in Montreal was the subject of a brief article in a recent issue of Dziennik Zwiazkowy, a Polish-language newspaper published here.
The article, headlined “Stalin Spowodowal Glod Na Ukraine,” quoted Prof. Roman Serbyn, chairman of the university’s history department, as saying that the famine had a dual purpose – the destruction of Ukrainian nationalism and ending all resistance to collectivization.
The paper also quoted Prof. Bohdan Krawchenko of the University of Alberta as saying that while some 7 to 10 million Ukrainians were starving, the Soviet government was exporting to the West the wheat forcibly confiscated from Ukrainian farmers.
The Ukrainian Weekly, February 26, 1984, No. 9, Vol. LII