As Friday is Holodomor Memorial Day, I’ve compiled a quick list of Holodomor events happening across the country below, just click on a pin in the map near you:
Few movies have been made about the Holodomor, but in 2009 L.A. producers Bobby Leigh and Marta Tomkiw took up the task of bringing attention to the genocide just after its 75th anniversary with ‘Holodomor: The Movie’.
The movie starts rather quickly making its case for genocide with excerpts from Raphael Lemkin who coined the term as well as the United Nations definition. Throughout the film, it makes references back to these excerpts to show how people’s experiences are within the definitions of genocide.
Where the movie really shines are in its interviews with academia, experts and Holodomor survivors who share their tragic stories of surviving famine and losing their loved ones.
Many of the interviews take place in Ukraine, interviewing different Holodomor survivors who bare their souls to the camera. They speak of the horrors of starving in winter, where Soviet officials confiscate any and all food they can find. As they suffer, their family and friends are either deported to the frozen tundra of Siberia, executed, or die of hunger. Some speak of stories of watching their loved ones perish right in front of them, or arrested and sent away, never to return.
Experts are also interviewed from various research institutions, who not only share tragic stories from their records, but also can speak more of the Stalinist policies and documents that not only targeted ethnically Ukrainian independent farmers to confiscate their farmland, but replace entire Ukrainian villages with ethnic Russians who were more willing to participate in the new communal farms. The institutions also share statistics and demonstrate the calculated, deliberate actions of the USSR against the Ukrainian people. Academia are also interviewed, which provide very good background for time period.
Academia are also interviewed, most notably Rutgers’ Taras Hunczak, who speaks throughout the movie, providing much needed history and important context to a complex period. Hunczak provides a good synopsis to the events, which would otherwise be hard to understand when deciphering many of the memos, and plans from the Soviet era.
With few Holodomor movies in existence, this movie makes a great addition to help complete a small library on the topic. It’s interviews are a great resource for those who want to understand the events better or watch first-hand accounts from survivors.
From the BBC:
A Welsh journalist who once flew with Adolf Hitler, helped expose genocide in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union and died in mysterious circumstances, is the subject of a new TV documentary.
Gareth Jones, who was also a personal aide to former prime minister David Lloyd George, helped expose Stalin’s "holodomor" policy of deliberate starvation.
This claimed the lives of anywhere between 4m and 10m peasant farmers in the Ukraine during 1932/33.
Jones also formed relations with the Nazis in Germany and even flew aboard Hitler’s private plane.
But in 1935 he was murdered in murky circumstances while reporting from Japanese-occupied Mongolia.
Now Hitler, Stalin and Mr Jones, on BBC Four’s Storyville strand on Thursday, is examining the 77-year-old mystery of his death.
Backed by Lloyd George’s credibility, he was able to travel throughout the USSR and met Russian politicians, while his language skills allowed him to speak to peasant farmers.
However, his warm Soviet welcome would cool abruptly in March 1933, when Jones called a press conference in Berlin to reveal the findings of his two months undercover in starving Ukraine.
The mainstream media poured scorn on Jones’ account, and for a time he was reduced to obscurity. By mid-1933 he had returned home to Barry to live with his parents and he worked as a junior reporter on the Western Mail.
But months later he learned about a new international scandal, in the shape of the Japanese occupation of Inner Mongolia, and he set off there as soon as he could to raise the funds.
The trip would prove his downfall, as he and his companion, a German journalist named Muller, were captured by bandits in remote countryside, after being turned away by Japanese forces.
Mr Carey said Jones’s death had always been surrounded by controversy, as it was unclear whether the bandits were tipped off by the Japanese, or by the Russian secret police, the NKVD.
"Until now all that was known for certain was that Muller was released on a highly spurious pretext about having been freed on parole in order to raise the ransom, and two days later Gareth was shot for no conceivable reason," he said.
"Probably we’ll never know for certain what happened. However our investigations have shown that the Chinese contact who loaned Jones and Muller a car to travel to Mongolia was definitely an NKVD agent, and there’s strong evidence to suggest that Muller might also have been."
Gareth Jones died a largely discredited figure, on the eve of his 30th birthday, the truth about Stalin’s holodomor only coming to light years later.
However, today he is revered as a national hero in the Ukraine, and is honoured at both Cambridge and Aberystwyth universities.
Hitler, Stalin and Mr Jones is on BBC Four’s Storyville strand on Thursday at 21:00 BST.
North American viewers are unfortunately out of luck as the BBC America channel does not air the Storyville documentaries. Only if you get BBC over free-to-air satellite or have a proxy to the iPlayer.
On a recent episode of Parks & Rec, Leslie mentions Stalin’s genocide. Stalin has only ever been accused of one genocide: the Holodomor. Subtle, but we’ll take it!
Personally, I think Parks & Rec has overtaken The Office as the funniest comedy on Thursdays. I am also excited Community is coming back tonight!
Here we go again: Calgary MLA from far-right Wild Rose Party Paul Hinman uses Holodomor to describe Alberta’s land-use laws (Update)
Another face-palming type of day as the far-right Wild Rose party attacks a Ukrainian Education minister for criticizing a disparaging comparison of the Holodomor:
The angry exchange erupted during a debate on the government’s new land-use law, Bill 19, when Wildrose critic Paul Hinman referenced the genocide in his remarks.
“We just had a commemoration of the Holodomor (genocide) of the starvation of Europe, and that wasn’t because of bad weather or not (being) able to produce,” Hinman said. “That was evil, corrupt government confiscating property from the people and trying to destroy a region which the government was having trouble controlling.
“Many of the acts that were taken in Europe during (the Second World War) and other times were very much brutal acts that didn’t respect property rights, and there are many areas in these (Alberta government) bills that have no respect for property rights.”
That set off Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, who called for Hinman to be censured by the Speaker, saying the opposition MLA was trivializing one of the worst atrocities in human history.
“It was a very important historical event that killed thousands upon thousands, millions of people, including many relatives of Albertans,” Lukaszuk said.
“He’s comparing the policies we’re passing in the legislature right now to Stalin’s genocide in Ukraine. If this isn’t reaching a new bottom for the Wildrose, I don’t know what is. This is disgusting.”
Regardless of how you feel about Alberta’s land-use policy, it is completely unprofessional and offensive to trivialize the Holodomor as an attack point in provincial politics. This sort of ignorance does nothing but enhance the century-old tensions between the Ukrainian and Anglo-Saxon communities of the Praries.
Don’t be afraid to let Paul Hinman what you think about his remarks about the Holodomor, and note the special toll-free number to dial first. While no postage is required to write to federal politicians, it is required for these provincial ones.
Coming to Hinman’s aide was fellow Wild Rose member and MLA Rob Anderson:
“I would ask that member (Lukaszuk) to take his remarks back and apologize for insinuating such absolute stupidity, because that’s what it was. It was a stupid comment.”
Who later made this comment, according to Lukaszuk:
@RAndersonMLA #ableg #wrp #abgov Rob, Paul Hinman just said to me “You come from communism. You know about that”. Still denying?
This isn’t the first time Alberta’s politicians have shamefully used the Holodomor to further their own political agenda, two years ago NDP leader Brad Wilson made the same despicable comparison.
“I sincerely apologize if anybody would think that I would ever trivialize any of these atrocities in history,” Hinman said. “I have absolutely no intentions of that. … I did not in any way intend to correlate the two when I was talking about property rights.”
Is Bill 19 perfect? No. But frankly, concerted opposition from all the opposition parties, and the public, has made it better. That kind of debate is important and healthy – and in this case, it has led to significant and important improvements to protect the legal rights of property holders.
But the bill – which allows the government to assemble land for public projects like ring roads and water reservoirs – can in no sane way be compared to the forced collectivization of land in the U.S.S.R or Hitler’s seizure of the property of German Jews. The Redford government isn’t plotting an ethnic genocide – it’s trying to make sensible plans for future public infrastructure which while serve all Albertans. Any time a government expropriates private land for the “greater” public good, it’s unfair to individual landowners. That’s why it’s essential that the law provide landowners fair compensation and adequate legal recourse. But political hyperbole that in any way attempts to conflate straightforward, essential land use planning with the techniques employed by two of human history’s most evil butchers is insulting to the memory of the millions who died – and to the intelligence of today’s Albertans.
The Wildrose Party is quite right to raise serious questions about the weaknesses in Bill 19. Individual property rights are an important part of our democratic political tradition. I don’t like to see any legislation that would allow the state to run roughshod over civil liberties or the right to own and sell personal property. But if we want a province that has roads, and power lines and high speed railways and environmental preserves, we do need to give the government the right to assemble land for sound public policy reasons – provided that individual landowners are fairly compensated, and that the government’s plans are made with reasonable and open consultation, in the best community interest.