The Forgotten Holocaust
The Saturday Sun, November 18, 2000
They call it a holocaust. And they're right. Because a holocaust is what it was. They also wonder why so few people share their pain and anger at what happened to their proud, beautiful nation.
The cold, stiff children still cuddled by their mothers long after death. The piles of corpses frozen by the cold into a twilight picture of agony. The seemingly endless suffering, driving a blood-red knife into the weeping heart of an entire country.
I refer to the forced starvation, murder, rape, slaughter and mass destruction of the Ukrainian people by the Soviet Communists in the early 1930s, a man-made catastrophe that is remembered at this time of year by Ukrainians the world over. In sorrow. In deep, deep sorrow.
The issue is particularly relevant this year because of the work of two great Canadians.
One is Lubomyr Luciuk, whose latest book, Searching for Place chronicles the story of the Ukrainians in Canada and the reason so many of them came here.
The other is Prof. Ian Hunter, a man with no Ukrainian blood but with an inner need to speak out for justice. He is a warrior for truth who writes and speaks on behalf of the millions who died in ditches, like animals.
No, correct that. Not like animals in a ditch. Animals would have received more sympathy and their fate would not have been denied. The attempted genocide of the Ukrainians is one of the great horrors of the world. The manner in which it has been forgotten or ignored is almost worse.
In 1932 and 1933 between seven and 10 million people, mostly Ukrainian, died in what was known then as the Soviet Union. Josef Stalin and his gang decided the culture and spirit of Ukraine had to be smashed and that the farmers and peasants of the northern Caucasus and the lower Volga River had to be forced into docility.
They decided to demand 44% more wheat from the Ukrainians as part of the national quota, knowing this would cause a massive shortage of food and starve millions. They made it an offence to feed the Ukrainian peasants until the new quota was met, and killed anybody who disobeyed.
More than this, Ukrainians were suddenly refused permission to move out of their region, making it impossible for them to search for food. Soviet soldiers and secret policemen stored grain in huge silos and stood guard outside, sometimes only yards away from where families were dying of starvation. Any attempt to find food, approach the silos or hide grain resulted in the execution of both "culprit" and family.
"I watched the babies and the old and the sick die first," wrote a witness who managed to survive. "Then the others, then everybody. When we men protested they shot us down like flies. Not that they needed a reason. They killed as sport. We were nothing to them.
Entire families dead, lying there, with fathers on top of the heap as they tried to protect their children from the bullets of the communists."
But the Ukrainian genocide has its deniers and revisionists. Unlike the madmen who deny the Jewish Holocaust, however, these people are often treated with respect and authority.
Still today there are university teachers, media figures and politicians who will minimize or even dismiss the suffering of the Ukrainian people.
They argue that if the starvation did happen it was a natural occurrence. Or they somehow imply the Ukrainians brought the whole thing on themselves because of their sense of national pride, or because they stood in the way of progress. Statements and attitudes that are grotesque and horrible, but for some reason have been allowed and even encouraged.
All holocaust denial is wrong. All denial of human cruelty is wrong. All feelings of racial superiority are wrong. A dead baby is a dead baby. White, black, Jewish, gentile, Ukrainian, Canadian. We now know that Soviet Communism was a hellish ideology that had as little concern for life and love as German National Socialism.
Ukrainians have known this for a very long time. They simply want the rest of the world to know it as well.
Not a lot to ask.
Reprinted with the permission of SunMedia Corporation.
Coren, host of Michael Coren Live on CTS, weekdays at 10 p.m., appears Saturdays
Visit his Web site at http://www.michaelcoren.com
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