Reflecting on the Holodomor: 90 Years of Remembrance

The Holodomor, a devastating event in Ukrainian history, marks its 90th anniversary this year. Recognized as a genocide against the Ukrainian nation, it was a result of deliberate policies by the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin’s regime between 1932 and 1933. The aim was to suppress Ukrainian aspirations for independence and eliminate resistance against the Soviet regime.

The Tragic History

In 2006, the Ukrainian government officially recognized the Holodomor as genocide through the Law of Ukraine “On the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine”. This was further substantiated in 2010 by the Court of Appeal in Kyiv region, acknowledging the genocidal intent of Stalin and his associates. The calculated policies led to the deaths of millions of Ukrainians not only in the Ukrainian SSR but also in regions historically populated by Ukrainians like Kuban, the North Caucasus, Lower Volga, and Kazakhstan.

Historical Context of Ukrainian Struggle

Tracing back to the mid-17th century, Ukraine, divided between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Moscow kingdom, endured centuries of political, national, and cultural oppression. Despite relentless Russification and attempts at assimilation, Ukrainian national consciousness persisted, culminating in the establishment of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in 1918.

Soviet Control and the Erasure of Ukrainian Identity

With the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922, Ukraine’s brief period of statehood was overshadowed by the Kremlin’s control. The Soviet policies aggressively attacked Ukrainian traditions, culture, and language, contradicting the deeply rooted Ukrainian national identity.

The Policy of Collectivization and Resistance

The Soviet regime’s collectivization policy in 1928, aimed at consolidating individual farms into state-controlled collective farms, met with strong resistance from Ukrainian farmers. This resistance, viewed as a threat to Soviet unity, led to brutal reprisals against the dissenters, branding them as “kulaks” and “counter-revolutionaries”.

The Genocidal Mechanisms

The Stalinist regime, recognizing the threat of Ukrainian nationalism, implemented policies to weaken and ultimately exterminate a significant part of the Ukrainian nation. This included unrealistic grain procurement plans, the infamous “Law On Five Ears of Grain”, and severe food blockades known as “black boards”, specifically targeting Ukrainian farmers.

Concealment and International Denial

Throughout this period, the Soviet Union effectively concealed the genocide, refusing international aid and manipulating international opinion. The actual number of deaths remains uncertain, with many cases unreported and causes of death falsely recorded.

The Indelible Memory

Despite the Soviet Union’s attempts to erase this tragic history, the memory of the Holodomor remains strong in the Ukrainian collective consciousness. Since Ukraine’s independence, the silence surrounding the Holodomor has been lifted, allowing for a truthful engagement with this dark chapter in history.

As we commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor, it’s crucial to acknowledge and remember this tragic event as a significant part of Ukrainian history and a sobering reminder of the atrocities that can arise from oppressive regimes. This remembrance not only honors the millions who suffered and perished but also serves as a warning to future generations about the importance of protecting human rights, preserving national identity, and resisting totalitarianism.