April 1, 1984

The famine bill


Three weeks ago in this space, we urged all Ukrainians to ask their congressmen to support Rep. James Florio’s bill, HR 4459, that would establish a congressional commission to investigate the causes and implications of the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33). Today, we ask the same thing, with the added request that Ukrainians also contact their senators because the measure has now been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.)

Why write on the same issue twice in one month? Because the issue is an important one in the history of Ukrainian community life in the United States. If we coordinate our activities and channel our efforts to see to it that the bill gets passed, then we will show ourselves and our neighbors that we understand and are capable of working within the American government process. If we do nothing, if we fail to deluge our lawmakers with letters and telegrams, if we continue to shun the political mechanism, then we will only succeed in showing that we need not be taken seriously as a voting block. And we will continue to be, in large measure, ignored.

The Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33) is not a dead issue simply because its 50th anniversary and our observance of it have come and gone. Yet, even though the national commemorative committee recognized this fact and decided to continue its activities, has it, as of this writing, come out with a coordinated national campaign to push the bill? How many organizations have lent their support and resources? How many individuals?

Too few, we are afraid. It is tremendously easy to jump from one anniversary to another, to pick a historical event, concentrate on it for one year, and then off to the next anniversary of yet another event. What we need to make our causes better known to the world is staying power, the tenacity to stick with an issue and use every possible means to get that issue across regardless of how long it takes. After all, the famine – with its 7 to 10 million victims – is our national holocaust. It was mass murder, genocide, one of the greatest atrocities to stain the history of modern man. What better way to propagate knowledge of this tragedy and inculpate those responsible than with a congressional commission? A one-shot rally/demonstration/concert, or a series of local, weekend affairs are not enough.

The important thing is to let our legislators know that, in this crucial election year, our vote depends on their support for the famine legislation. Not only must we vote our self-interest, but we must let our representatives know to vote our interest as well. So if you haven’t already done so, write, telegraph, phone or visit your federal representatives and let them know how important our national holocaust is to you. And tell your neighbors, friends and parishioners to do the same.

Bill to establish a commission to study the 1932-1933 famine
caused by the Soviet Government in Ukraine.