Monday, November 5, 2007

Remembering the Famine (1932-1933)

This year and next year, Ukraine marks the 75th anniversary of the 1932-1933 Holodomor (famine). The exact number of people killed in this tragic event is unknown, but the number of victims is in the millions (probably 3-7 million). The famine is another example of a historic event that serves as a hot-button issue. In the western part of the country, like L'viv, it is considered by many to be a government-sponsored mass genocide against the Ukrainian people. [An important note: L'viv and other parts of western Ukraine were not yet a part of the USSR. They were incorporated as part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in the WWII era.] For many in the eastern part of the country, the famine is acknowledged as a horrible event, but its cause is not attributed to intentional Soviet government policies aimed at eliminating Ukrainians. The weight of evidence supports a more western interpretation, though whether or not it was genocide aimed at exterminating Ukrainians (or an effort to eliminate opponents of collectivization and Soviet power, many of whom were in rural Ukraine) is a matter of interpretation. UNESCO recently approved a resolution calling upon member states to remember the Holodomor during its 75th anniversary, but did not call the event a genocide. President Yushchenko has declared 2008 to be the Year of Holodomor Remembrance. This will not only raise awareness of the horrific and tragic event, but will likely spark political controversy in Ukraine.

1 comment:

Lea's Dad said...

How many times do we have to see humans mistreat one another before we have strength enough to say stop and achieve a real just treatment of one another? Yet another reminder of just how cruel we can be to someone we decide is less worthy than ourselves.