What’s going on with the construction at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, F Street, and North Capitol Street? Construction began recently on the D.C. Holodomor Memorial. For those unaware of the significance of the new memorial, located a short distance from campus, here are ten things to know about the tragedy.
1. According to the Connecticut Holodomor Committee, the literal translation of the Ukrainian word “holodomor” is “death by forced starvation.”
2. Specifically, the Ukrainian Holodomor occurred from 1932-33, when Joseph Stalin imposed a famine in Ukraine through confiscation of the nation’s food sources and restrictions on movement and foreign aid.
3. The Holodomor was a result of Stalin’s attempted agricultural collectivization, a regime under which farmers were forced to give up their farmland and resources in order to join state-owned collective farms. Those who resisted were targeted by the government, leading to a widespread food shortage.
4. By 1932, a decree was issued that any individual taking food from the collective farm would be arrested or executed, leading to mass starvation in the millions. Despite the loss of life, it is estimated that between September 1932 and March 1933, the government exported approximately 15,000 tons of grain to foreign nations.
5. While no exact information is known, it is estimated that anywhere between 4 million and ten million lives were lost during the Holodomor.
6. Stalin refused to acknowledge any evidence of famine in Ukraine, thereby preventing international aid. Little news of the Holodomor left the country, and New York Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize despite his failure to report on the tragedy. Duranty’s reports included claims such as “any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.”
7. One of the leading scholarly works on the Holodomor is Robert Conquest’s Harvest of Sorrow, which details the political landscape leading up to the Holodomor and covers its history in detail. Published in 1987, it was one of the first works to shed light on the tragedy.
8. In 2003, seventy years after the Holodomor, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a resolution finally acknowledging the tragedy. It stated “we believe that in an independent Ukraine the terrible truth about those years must be made public officially by the state, because the Holodomor of 1932-1933 was deliberately organized by the Stalinist regime and should be publicly condemned by Ukrainian society and the international community as one of the largest acts of genocide in world history.”
9. The world’s first memorial of the tragedy was erected in Edmonton, Canada in 1983 by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council.
10. Construction of the D.C. Holodomor memorial began with a groundbreaking ceremony on December 4, 2013. A congressional bill sponsored by Sander Levin (D-Mich.) was signed into law in 2006, authorizing the memorial’s construction.
For sources and more information, visit:
- The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America
- Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Alberta Provincial Council
- The Connecticut Holodomor Awareness Committee
- Rutgers University Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights
- The Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine
- The Ukrainian Museum
- The Ukrainian Weekly
- The Washington Post