29 November 2006

Holodomor: An Act of Genocide

Yesterday, 28.11.06, the Verkhovna Rada historically passed a law declaring the Holodomor as an act of genocide. This is a remarkable step for Ukraine and significant win for President Yushchenko who went out on a limb by "demanding", not "requesting" that the VR vote as such.

Along the same lines, below is my reply to the email from Peter Dickinson, What's On magazine. I am indebted greatly to Marko R., Sev O., Dr. Jurij B. for quickly and concisely educating me about the Holodomor. In the end, I have come away with an abundant understanding of how little I know about the Holodomor and Ukrainian History in general. I look forward to expanding that knowledge. Several books about Holodomor, Stalin, etc. have been recommended to me. I plan to explore these and welcome any historical reading suggestions. Thank you.

Dear Mr. Dickinson,

Thank you for your reply and the clarification of your position.

Regarding your response, I believe that your characterization of the issue as a dichotomy “At core the issue is whether these people were murdered because they were Ukrainians, or because they were peasants” only confuses the issue. The people were targeted because they were Ukrainian and they were peasants.

Although the communist authorities decided that famine was not a practical tool for repression of Ukrainian nationalism in urban areas, repression in cities was well underway in the form of discrimination, repression of Ukrainian language schools, books, Ukrainian churches, mass imprisonment, executions, and deportation to Gulags (cf. released NKVD/KGB archives). Is being tortured to death in the city, for political reasons, somehow less horrifying than being starved to death in the countryside?

Historians can argue whether or not the primary aim of the Holodomor was political repression of Ukrainians, clearly there were other elements and objectives in play as in any war, genocide, or jihad. However, the fact that other elements were in play does not negate the genocidal component of a specific nationality being destroyed.

If applying your suggestion of a dichotomy to WWII would you argue that there was no genocide against Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, etc.. because WWII was motivated by other objectives (economic for one)? WWII happened for many reasons but these factors do not negate the fact that Jews and others were specifically targeted because of who they were.

Stalin’s targeting of nationalistic peasants in Ukraine more severely than nationalistic city-dwellers doesn’t lessen the fact that they were targeted for their nationalism. The fact that this nationalism coincided with a revolt against communists and collectivization doesn’t lessen the genocidal aspects of the man-made famine.

Israel Charny “Century of Genocide” has said that it is easier to prove doubt and win than it is to prove what really took place. Those that exclude the Ukrainian Holodomor from discussion limit the discourse on genocide and risk succumbing to a “selective perception of evil”. The VR in its historic decision yesterday decided not to be among the deniers, minimizers and obfuscators of genocide that assault survivors one more time. By legally declaring the famine a genocide they have truly taken a pro-Ukraine step. My congratulations.

Best regards,



Michelle said...

Good letter, good move by parliment!

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