Nine decades have passed since the extermination of Ukrainians by the largest-scale famine controlled from Moscow. For almost a year and a half, our country has been forced to withstand a full-scale Russian attack. And it is the current period of the Russian-Ukrainian war, with its terrible toll of victims, that has created an accelerated demand for truthful information about the history of relations between the aggressor country and Ukraine in the past.
Since last year, more than 10 countries have recognized at the highest level that genocide was committed against the Ukrainian nation in 1932-1933. Among them are such powerful political players as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Ukrinform traces how restoring the memory of the past unites and helps to weaken manipulative Russian influences.
THE WORLD NOW KNOWS WHY THE BREADBASKET BECAME A BLOODY LAND
Last June, the parliaments of Croatia, Slovakia, and Luxembourg recognized the Holodomor as genocide against Ukrainians. In July, Italy and the Netherlands officially honored the historical justice of this terrible page of Ukrainian survival in the twentieth century.
"The famine was man-made and was the result of the Soviet policy of forced collectivization launched in 1932 by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin," are the lines from a report prepared for debate in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The decision of the lower chamber to recognize the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as genocide was adopted unanimously in late spring.
The National Assembly of France condemned the massive violations of the rights and freedoms of Ukrainians in 1932-1933 and the targeted extermination in a resolution last May. The document stated: "Zhytomyr became a 'bloody land'. This crime reached its peak in the first months of 1933: thousands of Ukrainian peasants died of starvation every day. The introduced artificial famine was then called the Holodomor - "destruction by starvation".
In total, the Holodomor has been recognized as genocide by the parliaments of 28 countries, according to the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory: Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Georgia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Germany, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Hungary, France, and the United States.
There are also a number of countries in which the recognitions adopted by the lower houses are subject to approval by the upper houses. For example, the proposal has already been supported by all members of the ruling coalition in the Dutch House of Representatives. Now the Senate has to approve the document.
RUSSIA, THE USSR, TSARIST RUSSIA ARE ABOUT UKRAINOPHOBIA, NO MATTER WHAT THE SYSTEM
"The world has seen the true colonizing nature of the Russian state, in whatever guise it appeared: whether it was the tsarist empire, the USSR, or today's so-called Russian Federation. Unfortunately, the goal of its activities in various forms has remained the same for many years - to destroy the Ukrainian people as such," Volodymyr Tylishchak, deputy head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, commented to Ukrinform. - "At the same time, during the past and this year, we have seen numerous results of many years of work to convey the truth to the world about the Holodomor as genocide."
Recognition by other countries of the 1992-1993 starvation of 4 million to 10 million Ukrainians as genocide is especially important now that the Russian Federation has been waging an open full-scale war against our country since February 24, 2022. "The memory of the Holodomor and Soviet crimes against the Ukrainian people is even more important today in light of the Russian invasion and the new attempt to erase the Ukrainian national identity," reads the resolution recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as genocide of the Ukrainian people, which was recently voted for by Italian senators without a single vote against.
"The world must see the nature of Russian Nazism," comments Volodymyr Serhiychuk, a historian. - "Our northern neighbors have been physically destroying us after the Pereyaslav Rada for centuries because they have never been punished for their crimes. They have been doing this with particular cruelty since 1708, when the Russian army burned Baturyn on the orders of Peter the Great. Further actions: the exile of Ukrainians, the destruction of national consciousness and memory by famines, even the renaming of settlements and streets - all this was done to impose Russian narratives."
Back in 1993, Estonia was the first country to condemn the criminal acts of starvation of Ukrainians by the Stalinist Soviet Union, in which Russia was always the main power. It is noteworthy that on April 21, 2022, the Estonian Parliament unanimously adopted a decision to recognize the current actions of the Russian armed forces and the military and political leadership of the Russian Federation as genocide of the Ukrainian people.
UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO GERMANY MAKEEV: THERE HAS BEEN A CHANGE IN PERCEPTION
In Ukraine, the largest Holodomor of the three in the first half of the twentieth century was recognized as genocide only in 2006. That's when members of the Verkhovna Rada voted in favor of the law "On the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine." That is, even elected officials in our country-where millions of people died a terrible death, and most of the living have family stories of those horrors-were able to get out of the shackles of Soviet propaganda and pro-Russian influences on this issue only a decade and a half after Ukraine regained its independence.
Germany de jure came to understand the criminal Holodomor in Ukraine as a long-term act of genocide on November 30 last year. "The Bundestag's recognition of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as genocide is a crucial milestone in Ukrainian-German relations. Many Ukrainian diplomats worked on this task, and the corresponding window of opportunity opened after February 24, 2022," Oleksiy Makeev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Germany, commented to Ukrinform. - "After all, the 'change of epochs', as Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz aptly characterized the beginning of the great Russian war against Ukraine, was bound to be followed by a 'change of perception'. And we are working on its comprehensive realization, and the recognition of the Holodomor as genocide is an important, but not the only element of this process."
"There were days when I literally did not leave the German parliament from morning to evening, communicating and convincing German MPs of the importance of clear wording that would leave no room for interpretation for the Russians and their proxies," Oleksiy Makeev shares the details. He says that at the key final stage, literally everyone was involved in the process: "An important role was played, in particular, by the personal contact of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky with the Federal President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier."
Mr. Ambassador adds: "The text of the resolution also calls for further attention to the study of Ukraine's history, filling in the "white spots" in the German consciousness and countering one-sided Russian narratives. In short, it is a good starting point for our further work, particularly in the context of Germany's historical responsibility to Ukraine for the crimes of World War II."
"Germany, you know, is a historically 'difficult' country, which, after its defeat in World War II, fell into the hands of the Russians," Lyudmyla Mlosh, head of the Central Union of Ukrainians in Germany, which is part of the World Congress of Ukrainians, told Ukrinform. - "No matter what events we held, dedicated to Taras Shevchenko or Lesia Ukrainka, for example, we always mentioned the need for Germany to recognize the Holodomor as genocide. Every year we wrote letters to the German leadership about the importance of understanding the historical truth... There have been 4 presidents, and Merkel has been the only one for 16 years. And we, as a non-governmental organization, received no response. Whereas we did receive a response from the European Union Delegation."
The Germans have finally heard that there is a Ukraine, that Stalin was a criminal who destroyed the Ukrainian people, says Lyudmyla Mlosh. Both politicians and middle-class people in Germany are much more aware of the true Ukrainian history.
"Recognition honors the victims and warns future generations to prevent genocide from happening again," emphasizes Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba. In the Action Plan for the Implementation of the Strategy of Foreign Policy of Ukraine approved this year in April, the recognition of the Holodomor organized by the Stalinist regime in 1932-1933 as genocide and the perpetuation of the memory of the innocent victims of the criminal totalitarian system is one of the priorities.
Valentyna Samchenko, Kyiv. Photo by Ukrinform