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Holodomor: Genocide by Famine
May 27 through January 11, 2009 (extended)

An exhibition that details the horrors and magnitude of the Holodomor – the little-known Ukrainian genocide that resulted in the deaths of some 10 million people – opens at The Ukrainian Museum on Tuesday evening, May 27 at 5:30 p.m.

The exhibition, Holodomor: Genocide by Famine, is one of a series of events taking place around the world to commemorate the 75th anniversary of what James Mace, the director of the U.S. Commission on the Ukraine Famine (1988), referred to as "the crime of the century that nobody's ever heard of."

The horrific event, known in Ukrainian as the Holodomor (literally, murder by starvation), took place in 1932-1933, less than twenty years after Ukraine was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union. Determined to force all Ukrainian farmers onto collective farms, to crush the burgeoning national revival, and to forestall any calls for Ukraine's independence, the brutal Communist regime of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin embarked on a campaign to starve the Ukrainian people into submission.

The Soviet government confiscated all the grain produced by Ukrainian farmers, withheld other foodstuffs, executed anyone trying to obtain food, and punished those who attempted to flee. As a result, in the land called the Breadbasket of Europe, millions of men, women, and children were starved to death.

Stalin boasted privately that 10 million people – 25% of Ukraine's population – had perished during the Holodomor. At least 3 million of the victims were children.

Despite the magnitude of the atrocity, the Soviet regime, behind its Iron Curtain, denied the existence of the Holodomor for decades, denouncing any reports as "anti-Soviet propaganda." It was not until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent establishment of an independent Ukraine that the contents of many sealed government archives were uncovered, exposing a wealth of gruesome information.

Much of that information is included in Holodomor: Genocide by Famine, which consists of 96 panels of photographs, documents, government reports, eyewitness accounts, and other archival material detailing virtually every aspect of the tragedy.

Holodomor: Genocide by Famine draws on numerous sources, including the Holodomor exhibition organized by The Ukrainian Museum for display at the United Nations in 2003 – the 70th annniversary of the tragedy. The current exhibition was produced by the League of Ukrainian Canadians (LUC) in cooperation with the Museum of Soviet Occupation of the Kyiv Memorial Society in Ukraine and the League of Ukrainian Canadian Women (LUCW). LUC and LUCW are non-profit organizations dedicated to the continued development of a thriving Ukrainian community in Canada, to raising awareness of the history of the Ukrainian people, and to promoting the tenets of democracy and respect for human rights. Over the years, both organizations have actively supported a number of human rights projects, including the International Commission of Inquiry into the 1932-1933 Famine in Ukraine (1990).

Dr. Taras Hunczak, professor emeritus in the history department at Rutgers University, prepared the introductory wall text for Holodomor: Genocide by Famine and its accompanying brochure.

The opening of the exhibition at The Ukrainian Museum will be the culmination of several commemorative Holodomor events in New York City on May 27, beginning with the arrival of the International Torch at Manhattan's Battery Park (from Liberty Island) at 3:00 p.m., followed by a mass Walk Against Genocide from Battery Park, up Broadway, to City Hall Park. The observances at City Hall Park, scheduled for 4:00 p.m., will continue with the exhibition opening at the Museum at 5:30. For detailed information about the Walk Against Genocide, log on to www.ukrainegenocide.org or call the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) New York City branch at 212.228.6840.

Holodomor: Genocide by Famine will be on view through November 30.

Image: A starving girl in Kharkiv, then-capital of Ukraine, 1933. At least 3 million of the Holodomor victims were children. Photo by Winnerberger, Institute of Ukrainian History, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

 


 

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