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President Yushchenko’s speech dedicated to Holodomor
The speech delivered by the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko at Mykhaylivska Ploshcha on the occasion of commemoration of those who died in Holodomor (Famine) of 1932–1933.
They are already here.
They have traveled a long way.
They are millions upon millions of our grandfathers, fathers, brothers, sisters.
The wagons, on which they have been riding, are coming from heaven. Mothers must have taken great care not to leave behind anybody, particularly the youngest, the most precious ones who found their peace and silently fell asleep in God’s arms.
For 75 years this caravan of souls has been traveling across the Milky Way — three, five, seven, or even ten million of innocent people, hundreds of thousands of families, dead villages, millions of souls, over whom the burial services were not read, millions of those who were tortured, massacred and left unburied.
They want to go back home. They see these small lights [thousands of candles were lit on the square].
They trust in us.
Because we are their unlived lives.
Dear Ukrainian nation,
Brothers and Sisters, we are united. Today Ukraine and Ukrainians of the whole world begin to commemorate the 75-th anniversary of a most terrible catastrophe, the famine known as Holodomor of 1932–1933.
We honor every soul, every victim, and every martyr.
Even until now we don’t know the full scale of the tragedy.
Slowly its death mask emerges from witnesses’ accounts, from secret archives, from those satanic “separate files” [top secret archives dealing with the famine].
“I remember everything that happened… I was swollen from hunger; my brother was even more swollen… He was dying; fluid was leaking from his swollen body. I was sitting beside him; he was gritting his teeth and he kept asking for a cucumber… Then he died… His dead body was wrapped in a blanket — the color of this blanket is incised on my memory…” These words come from the recollections of Hanna Nelasa who was born in Luhansk Oblast. This woman mastered her fear and made her testimony.
“Confiscators [of food and food products] would stop at nothing — they ignored the suffering of children, they did not care how many children there were … They kept coming back again and again and taking everything they could find. They were worse than fascists”. These words are from the recollections of Nonna Cherveva from Horlivka.
And now an excerpt from a letter written by Mykola Antonovych Reva from Hylivka, Poltava Oblast, to Joseph Stalin: “Hundreds of thousands of people have died of hunger, right in front of the communists, who were riding over our dead bodies arrogantly praising life”. [For writing this letter,] Mykola Reva was sentenced to 6 years in prison.
From a letter of Kaganovich [one of Stalin’s henchmen] to Stalin: “I fully agree with your evaluation of the state of affairs in Ukraine… The theory that ‘we, Ukrainians are innocent victims’ creates the ground for solidarity and corrupt practices… I think that… the time has come… to urge the organization to make a real breakthrough…”
They wanted to break everyone.
The evil force attacked us. The name of this evil is genocide — it was a well-planned attempt to subjugate our nation.
It was the totalitarian communist regime that organized and carried out this plan. The [soviet communist] regime was the murderer. That pack of rascals had no mercy for any people — every nation under their domination was drowning in rivers of blood.
Stalin, following a well-thought out plan, chose the Ukrainian peasantry who were the core, the foundation, the pillar of the nation, to be the victims. That’s what he did in our land.
“There is no and there can be no powerful national movement without a peasants’ army. The national question boils down to a question of peasantry.” These words of Stalin provide an answer to the question why millions of Ukrainians were to die.
Terror was launched according to plan, step by step. During 1932–1933, the Political Bureau of Central Committee [of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union] held 69 sittings at which Ukraine was discussed 270 times and separate decisions were taken.
They spared no effort [to carry out their plans of destruction]. At the Famine’s worst period of time 25 thousand people died every day.
We must know every fact, every directive [of the communist regime], we must know every name — both of the victims and of the murderers. Search for truth cannot be stopped and it shall not stop.
First food was confiscated. Then the territories of Ukraine and Kuban were cordoned off by troops. A third of all the Ukrainian villages was put on the “black lists” — these villages were turned into ghettos of famine, long before Hitler set up his ghettos.
The harvested grain was exported in great quantities — the grain that could have saved millions of lives was processed into vodka.
There was no chance to survive. People started to eat corpses.
Holodomor is much more than our pain and wound. It is a black hole in our history, the black hole that could devour not only Ukraine itself but any slightest hope for life as well.
Holodomor is a peak of the tragedy however it is not the only one.
I ask that today we remember everyone.
I ask you to honor, in your thoughts and prayers, Ukraine’s government, which 90 years ago proclaimed and affirmed independence. That government became the first victims. Almost all of the 800 members of the Tsentralna Rada [Central Council of Ukraine] were ‘liquidated.’ My Nation, I call to mind Your tortured, tormented and humiliated poets. Only shortly after they heard the golden sounds of freedom, their hearts were ripped out of their chests.
My Nation, I call to mind Your creative intellectuals, scientists, doctors, engineers who were subjected to mass arrests and systematic terror. They were generously given their ‘quota’ of death sentences.
I call to mind our destroyed churches and slaughtered priests. They were destroyed without mercy so that our very souls and our faith would be affected.
I call to mind the victims of wars, those who perished in appalling and horrifying numbers. This maelstrom could put an end to us.
Totalitarianism and Bolshevism disrupted the historical continuity — the continuity of Ukrainian generations, of our spirit, of our memory, of our mentality, of our culture and of our language.
Fear was sown in our disunited nation that, in fact, was changed so much that it became a different nation. The fruits of this fear we have been reaping ever since.
Our current political and social troubles arise from this boundless fear. We fear to turn back to our national roots because there were times when being linked to these roots caused death of millions of people. The difficulties and complications on the way to understanding each other, and, as a matter of fact, to our unity arise from that fear.
The crimes of Bolshevism and Stalinism are identical to those of Nazism and Hitlerism. The very nature of these regimes is one and the same — hatred of humankind.
The time has come to voice our demand to have the communist terror condemned globally, the terror kept killing us, Ukrainians, and other innocent peoples who lived on this land — Russians, Crimean Tatars, Byelorussians, Jews, Poles, Bulgarians, and hundreds of other nationalities.
I will say firmly and unambiguously to all the apologists of Stalin’s regime — your attempts to find any justification [for the crimes] are doomed to failure; there is no justification and no justification can be found. Repent — it is your moral responsibility before Ukraine and our nation.
We are not alone in our pain and wrath. From here, from Mykhaylivska Ploshcha in Kyiv, Ukraine appeals to the whole world to unite efforts against totalitarianism and intolerance of life.
Our tragedy is a warning for everyone.
Let us not exaggerate or belittle our grief. We address every nation, and, above all, those with whom we have passed through the communist hell, with words of empathy and sorrow. Our hearts are sincere, loving and not indifferent to you. Stand by our side today.
We call upon the world to recognize Holodomor of 1932–1933 as genocide against the Ukrainian nation, and we believe that such recognition is inevitable.
I thank all the parliamentarians and governments that have already given us their support. It is an expression of solidarity that Ukraine will never forget.
Historical justice will, no doubt, prevail.
What I am saying now is not a requiem.
My words are the hymn singing the Ukrainian people whose strength is indestructible. Ukrainian people have defeated death.
We have overcome the threat of total destruction. The Ukrainian people have triumphed because the Ukrainian statehood held firm [against attempts to do away with it], because the state of Ukraine was established.
We have overcome all the adversities thanks to millions of honest people, who were not only fighting for Ukraine but were also building it up putting in their great and daily efforts.
We have persevered because freedom, truth and life were upheld by all the Ukrainians across Ukraine — by people in Donetsk, Lviv, Luhansk, Uzhhorod, Sevastopol, Odesa, Kharkiv, Ternopil, Poltava, Lutsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Simferopol, Chernihiv, Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine.
We have won a decisive battle against evil.
Today we must attain another decisive victory — we must return Ukraine back to itself.
Our highest mission is to give new life to the Ukrainian nation as a united, healthy and life-asserting nation which will embrace the entire Ukrainian people regardless of their views, place of birth or religion.
The next year is proclaimed to be the Year of Commemoration of the Victims of Holodomor.
But it will not be just processions of commemoration.
It will be a resurrection of our memory, purification from lies and filth. It is to be pure and honest work — only such work can help bring a just national order and decent living conditions in Ukraine.
We must dress Ukraine in a neat shirt and remove the symbols of totalitarianism from her body. We must do it even though it may take more than one year.
We must thoroughly search, find and preserve facts about every victim of the Great Famine and set up national memorials to them.
We must establish a comprehensive social dialogue of memory, and at the same time maintain a dialogue of future prospects because we must move on, we must live a full-fledged life of a large European state, and we must attain genuine and mutual understanding.
In this way we shall secure our future, our new democratic Constitution, our freedom, our rights, our love for each other, our love of our mother tongue, of our native land and of our common destiny.
I pray that God grants us strength to return to ourselves.
They are already here.
They have traveled a long way.
There are millions, and millions and millions of us.
It’s not tears that we see.
It is the smile of a little boy in the arms of God.
Eternal glory and memory to Ukraine!
President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko
Thousands of people came to Mykhailivska
33 thousand candles were lit at Mikhaylivska
At Kalynovy Huy on one of the hills
President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko
Photo by O. Onishchuk