It is a tragic event, which is recognized as a genocide in 16 countries, including Canada. The Holodomor is the forced starvation of Ukraine by the Soviet Union during the early 30’s, which killed upwards of 20 million people. Relatively unknown due to the restriction of information coming from the Soviet Union prior to its fall in 1991, as Cold War-era documents see the public light, more is being learned about the efforts by the Stalin-led regime of the U.S.S.R. to both punish the Ukrainian population for their desires of independence, and attempt to show how the Great Depression had no impact in the Soviet Union.
Saturday, the Holodomor National Awareness Tour comes to Weyburn. The tour, which consists of a mobile classroom, is intended to provide education across the country about the tragic events in 1932-33 in Ukraine. From 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the mobile classroom, and the exhibit, will be set up at the site of the old junior high of 5th Street.
Roma Dzerowicz is the executive director of the Holodomor National Awareness Tour.
“Understanding the Holodomor, let alone learning about an unknown genocide, we can take a voice, and take a stand, against anything that may be happening in Canada itself, or anywhere else in the world,” Dzerowicz explained.
The Holodomor came about as a result of the policies implemented by the Soviet Union, during their efforts to industrialize the nation. To do so, they implemented quotas for grain, which was the primary export of Ukraine. The quotas continually increased, as the Soviets placed more and more grain onto the world market. As a result, the amount farmers in Ukraine were originally allowed to keep for themselves was confiscated. Those who were unable to produce enough grain to meet the quota would pay fines in terms of meat stores and potatoes. Heading into the winter, the starvation began to set in.
Over the course of the next two years, millions starved to death in Ukraine. Estimates range from five million to 20 million perishing as a result of the forced starvation. Those in the West who heard about the famine attributed it to poor growing seasons, with many not understanding the extent until the fall of the Iron Curtain.
When the records became available, more became known about the genocide. The artificially generated famine had two goals.
The first was to punish the Ukrainians, first for their short-lived attempt at independence in 1918 after the Russian Revolutions, and their desires to be independent of the control of Moscow afterward. The second reason was to flood the world market with grain, to further drive down the price while farmers in North America were struggling with the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl years of the 30’s.
In 2007, Canada became one of the first countries to acknowledge the Holodomor as a genocide, and it is commemorated with memorials in a number of cities. Today, 16 countries officially recognize Holodomor as genocide, while another six see it as a crime against humanity.
Steven Wilson's complete interview with Roma Dzerowicz: