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25.11.2006

President Yushchenko: On Remembrance Day for the Victims of Holodomor

   

Fellow Ukrainians,

I hold in my palm an ear of wheat.

If I could only offer it to the little boy who died of starvation in 1933 near a field in the village of Kruty in the Chernihiv region. Or to the little girl from the village of Vilenka in the Zhytomyr region; or to the woman in the village of Krasnohirka in the Odessa region; or to the man from the village of Teplivka in the Poltava region.

I wish, with painful yearning, that I could give this ear of wheat to my Grandfather Ivan, who died of starvation together with his large family in 1932.

I wish I could pass it to hundreds, to thousands of small towns and villages in Ukraine. In the Kyiv, Donetsk, Cherkasy, Mykolaiv regions and in Kuban. If I could pass over the decades and offer this grain to the villages – Lyutesk in the Kharkiv region, Kosenky in the Sumy region, to Zaitsivka in the Luhansk region – village where almost nobody survived. They died. 17 people each minute, a thousand each hour, 25 thousand each day.

This was the harvest extracted by the terrible Famine in Ukraine. To the question, then, what was Holodomor, my answer is: it was genocide.

I do not know what Ukraine might have become – that Ukraine if they had not perished.

I know what it is today.

And I know what it can become if it forgets its children who perished as innocent victims. In its pettiness, its degradation, such a nation will inevitably sell its soul, its language and its memory. It will turn into a faceless territory with a faceless, lifeless people.

Those who today deny Holodomor are filled with deep and adamant hatred for Ukraine. They hate us, our spirit, our future. It is not history that they deny, it is Ukraine itself

On behalf of the Ukrainian people I affirm:

The Victims of Holodomor must be honoured as martyrs of one of the most terrible catastrophes in human history.

I am not asking, but demanding, that the Ukrainian Parliament recognize Holodomor as an act of genocide against our nation. This is the Verkhovna Rada’s duty. It is history’s ineluctable demand, just as was the Proclamation of Ukraine’s Independence. Free yourself of fear and lies.

History has already passed judgment on the murderers who planned and perpetrated the Famine. This was a totalitarian communist Stalinist system which has no national features. For nationality is human. Death from starvation and destruction is against humanity.

Genocide is the deliberate destruction in whole or in part of a people. The UN Convention of 1948 defines genocide as genocide means acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group – through killing or though deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.  

And here I quote a letter from Stalin in 1932 to his political henchman in Ukraine Kaganovych:

“The main thing now is Ukraine. Things in Ukraine are appalling … in two regions of Ukraine (I think in the Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions) around 50 district committees have come out against the grain requisition  plans, have said that they’re unrealistic. If we don’t set to now and sort out the situation in Ukraine, we could lose Ukraine”.

And they set to. The terror was waged against everything Ukrainian. The Ukrainian intelligentsia, priests and all active bearers of Ukrainian consciousness were executed. This was entirely deliberate.

During that period Mykhailo Hrushevsky’s students told him: “There is real famine in Ukraine. … It’s a policy aimed at once and for all crushing the Ukrainian nation as a united national force capable of serious resistance. … Some will die out while others will occupy the endless expanses of Russia “. These words were passed on by the GPU agent who was watching Hrushevsky and his brothers-in-arms.

The territory of Ukraine and Kuban were enclosed by armed units to stop people fleeing in search of food. Life was insignificant. Death was rampant in Ukraine.

Think about it! According to historians’ estimates, the average life span of men in Ukraine in 1933 was 7 years, of women 10 years. What is that? It is real genocide.

In August 1932 a ban was introduced on trading to stop peasants buying grain, or selling. All had to be given up to the state for free.

In autumn 1932 the authorities began total confiscation of food from those “owing” grain according to inflated grain requisition plans. And all were regarded as in debt. That too is genocide.

Following a Resolution of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party, there was mass use of “black boards”, a regime whereby villages, districts, farmsteads were entirely isolated, and all food and seed stocks were taken away. There were 82 such districts in Ukraine.  Being added to the “black board” was equivalent to a death sentence. That is genocide.

Just as what was perpetrated in the Jewish Ghettos and Nazi concentration camps.

 

The crime of Holodomor directly prepared the path to the crimes of World War II, and in its evil essence – to the crime of the Holocaust.

It is difficult to continue this list of crimes, but the essence today is the same. Despite it all Ukraine exists, and Ukraine is alive.

We bear the memory of the pain endured as warning pf crimes against humanity and against the human spirit. We are confident of the world’s understanding and support in this.

Today, on St Michael’s Square in Kyiv, I would call first on the Russian Federation to stand with us, and through their state-level remembrance of Holodomor, to demonstrate a great example, befitting the Russian people, of human compassion.

I call upon each nation which suffered from the communist regime to do the same. We were together hostages and victims of the past evil and must be united in purging ourselves of its legacy.

I would like to express gratitude to all states which have given political and legislative recognition of Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation. I believe that on the 75th anniversary of the Tragedy this acknowledgement will be unanimously given by the United Nations.

I am profoundly confident of this as I have abiding faith in justice.

I stand with this ear of wheat. Through time I feel how the souls of our brothers and sisters reach out for it. I feel the warmth of its touch.

Do not be afraid. There is nothing to fear now. The entire nation and your country are today behind you, murdered victims of Holodomor.

We hold time for an instant,

And in that instant God hears you.

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