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Lest we forget – the Holodomor of 1932-1933

Photo: Norbert K. Iwan

Over the years Ukrainian Canadians have been acknowledging the unforgotten abuse of human rights that occurred in Ukraine prior and during 1932-33. This year marks the 85th anniversary of one of the saddest and most tragic of chronicles in the history of the Ukrainian nation and of all the genocides that have occurred in the world during the twentieth century.

November is an important month for the Ukrainians in Canada, Diaspora and in Ukraine, highlighting the awareness, honoring victims of the Holodomor-the brutal artificial famine imposed by Joseph Stalin and Russia from 1932-33. This famine which over four million people died from hunger and starvation began as a genocidal attack on Ukrainian intellectuals, professionals, defiant laborer, the church and lead to farmers whose only “crimes” were simple traditions of hard work and self-sufficiency.

Holodomor of 1932-33, a tragedy beyond tragedies, a monstrosity made even more monstrous by the simple fact that this event was not the consequence of some natural disaster. This deliberate starvation and diabolical creation of a bureaucratic and godless mind, bent on the pursuit of perverted ideology and the punitive destruction of an entire race of people whose only breach of the public law, to simply live and work in their country.

Today this horror is only a painful and everfading remembrance in the minds of eye-witnesses and survivors. The Holodomor is a memory whose agony long since has been dulled by many years of obsessive remembering. For many Ukrainians considering the present reality, it is very disturbing, very frightening once we start reflecting the facts, what actually happened in Ukraine.

What really can be done now, 85 years later? What can Ukrainians or Canadians of Ukrainian descent do to commemorate this sacrifice, to somehow give meaning and dignity to those millions who suffered and died. As a civilized society we can focus on the stories being shared by those who survived. We must be aware that such an atrocity must never be allowed to happen in any segment of the world. The victims of such barbarities as the Holodomor must be memorialized.

Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s national poet, revolutionary, fighter for human rights, wrote in his poem “Legacy” which states, “do not forget to remember with a kind and gentle word”, indeed, internal remembrance and recollection maybe the only bequest, and our only solemn duty. This poem by Taras Shevchenko is relevant in today’s Ukraine and the inhuman tragedy of 1932-33 that occurred 85 years ago. We ask you not to forget.

About The Author

Peter J. Manastyrsky writes articles on political issues and a member of the Ukrainian community of Winnipeg.

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