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WITNESS: Memoirs of the Famine of 1933 in Ukraine

by Pavlo Makohon (ANABASIS Magazine Toronto 1983)
[English]  [Ukrainian]

This enlightening memoir on the Holodomor by Pavlo Makohon was published in 1983 in both Ukrainian and English-language versions in one book. Each version has a Preface by Ivan Dubylko and a Forward by Valentyn Moroz. The translation from Ukrainian to English was done by Vera Moroz.

In 1983, the 50th anniversary of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian community made a determined effort to publicize the Holodomor to the world. Both Ivan Dubylko and Valentyn Moroz expressed confidence that it would not be possible for the Soviet authorities to suppress knowledge of the genocidal aspects of the Holodomor from the world community any longer. However, despite the erection of a Holodomor monument in Edmonton; publication of Harvest of Sorrow by Robert Conquest; the lifetime dedication of James Mace (an American of Cherokee ethnic background, familiar with genocide) to researching the Holodomor; and countless articles by Ukrainian academics, little visible progress was made until the 75th anniversary commemorations in 2007-2008. In my opinion, active participation of the Ukrainian goverment under Viktor Yushchenko in these commemorations was crucial in attracting world attention and acceptance of the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation. Since that time, for the 80th anniversary in 2013, the Ukrainian community has been working diligently to infuse knowledge of the Holodomor into educational curricula throughout the world -- despite setbacks within Ukraine itself.

Because of relevance to the situation in Ukraine today, it is instructive to examine how the Holodomor was imposed on the Ukrainian peasantry in stages. First, Russian overseers categorize them as bidniaks (poor), seredniaks (middle) and kurkuls (rich). Then, they select "activists" within the bidniaks to expropriate the property of kurkuls and have them deported to Siberia. Next, the "activists" repeat the process with the seredniaks. Finally, you categorize the remaining poor peasants, who refuse to join the kolhosp, as "pidkurkuls" and confiscate all their property and food. But the food of the poor peasants, who agreed to join the kolhosp, is also confiscated. Famine is inevitable. To keep from starving the Ukrainian "activists" have to carry out the orders of their Russian overseers. They are now fully incorporated within the Holodomor process.

I suspect that, since the election of Viktor Yanukovych as president in 2010, a similar process has been occuring in Ukraine. Many months ago Prime Minister Mykola Azarov stated that it was necessary to re-instill fear within the Ukrainian populace. He has succeeded. As in Soviet times, Ukrainian politics is controlled by Moscow. Patriotic Ukrainians are ridiculed, harassed and intimidated; pro-Russian chauvinists and the criminal element are encouraged and rewarded. Ukrainians are accused of being apethetic. It is not apathy but fear that guides their actions. In my opinion, it will be very difficult to reverse the slide to totalitarianism.

Will Zuzak; 2013.11.28

To get a realistic "feel" of the Holodomor through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy on the verge of starving to death, simply read his words at
WITNESS: Memoirs of the Famine of 1933 in Ukraine  .