Saturday, November the 25th, 2017, a candle will be lit and placed in the window of our households in memory of those who died from Stalin’s politically orchestrated starvation of Ukrainian farmers in 1932 and 1933. This terror famine, a death by starvation, was an undeniable act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. The high-end estimate of the number of people who died is 10 million. This number has taken on a symbolic value in the collective consciousness of a people which has only begun to see this genocide come to light.
This act of genocide is denied in the mainstream narrative. Although growing archival evidence indicates that the Holodomor was an act of genocide, there are circles of political influence which deliberately deny that the famine was a political act and claim that it was the result of drought and poor harvest. In a recent conversation, a Holodomor survivor told me that in 1932 and 1933 she remembers the grain harvest being a bumper crop which was confiscated by the Soviet authorities.
This begs the question: “who writes the history—who owns the narrative?” Michel Foucault in “Power/Knowledge” (1980) stated the following: “Truth is to be understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation, and operation of statements. ‘Truth’ is linked in a circular relation with systems of power which produce and sustains it, and to effects of power which induces and which extend it” (p. 133). The denial of the Holodomor Genocide is the result of a dominant political narrative which needs to suppress the truth. The heroic Soviet narrative built solely upon the defeat of Nazi Germany masks a greater historical truth, i.e. the deaths of millions upon millions of Ukrainians, Poles, Baltic peoples, and numerous other national groups.
When you light a candle and place it in your window, be mindful of Norman Naimark’s words in Stalin’s Genocides (2012): “The bottom line is that Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich and their ilk were convinced that the Ukrainian peasants as a group were ‘enemies of the people’ who deserved to die. That was enough for the Soviet leadership; that should be enough to conclude that the Ukrainian famine was genocide” (pp. 78-79).
Rev. Myron Panchuk Ph.D.