HOLODOMOR – to kill by starvation – defines a horrific tragedy in the history of mankind: the genocide committed against the Ukrainian people by the Soviet regime in 1932 – 33 as authorized by its leader Josef Stalin. Apologists of totalitarian dictators would have you believe that what occurred in Ukraine in the years of 1932-33 was a famine of large proportion due to a drought. And for decades, information about the HOLODOMOR was repressed and denied by the Soviet regime despite eyewitness accounts by Western diplomats and journalists. Current estimates based upon an analysis of recently revealed Soviet census data suggest, “that no fewer than ten million men, women and children perished”; 10 million people who died from forced starvation during a period of abundant harvest in their homeland, a country known as the Breadbasket of Europe.
Stalin’s plan, while killing a large portion of the Ukrainian population who resisted his Soviet totalitarian rule, also resulted in millions of innocent people suffering the horrors of starvation but surviving. These were the heroes of that time who lived to tell their descendants the truth that most of the western world was unwilling to acknowledge at the time. Their perseverance and commitment to share their eyewitness accounts has led to current widespread recognition of the 1932-33 Famine in Ukraine, for what it was, a genocide against the Ukrainian Nation. But the work is not finished and taking up the mantle of the Holodomor Survivors are their Descendants. The descendants will be a personal and perpetual voice for the Holodomor victims, continuing to share the personal accounts of their ordeal.
For the Ukrainian people, the Holodomor was a tragedy that deeply hurt the nation but failed to achieve Stalin’s goal. In addition, the survivors of the Holodomor-Genocide shared first-hand witness accounts of the horror they and their families suffered. The Holodomor – Genocide is embedded deeply in the national memory of a nation, that for centuries, fought off foreign aggressors and continues today to fight Russian occupying forces.
You may wonder why we, Ukrainian descendants, keep bringing up the tragedy of the Holodomor-Genocide. One of the most valuable lessons history offers is the opportunity to learn from the past so that great accomplishments can be repeated, and great tragedies are not repeated. For us, though, it is also about honoring the victims of the Holodomor-Genocide who valiantly stood up to an evil Communist regime that wanted to take away their freedoms, and sharing the personal accounts of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who survived the Holodomor-Genocide and lived to tell the truth.
So many people, unknown to each other and scattered throughout the world, have very similar accounts of the events of the Holodomor-Genocide. Recent efforts by descendants of Holodomor survivors and journalists to capture the accounts of first-hand witnesses have been underway for several years. Prior to the release of Soviet-era documents, these accounts were all we had. In addition, while we are aware of the effects that a tragedy such as the Holodomor -Genocide might have on its survivors, we are only now learning about the impact the Holodomor-Genocide might have on descendants of survivors.
The GLOBAL HOLODOMOR DESCENDANTS’ NETWORK is a recently launched sub-committee of the Ukrainian World Congress. The Network will be led and comprised of blood relative descendants of survivors of Ukraine’s Holodomor and will operate to a Global Mission and Set of Objectives while executing regionally through local Networks. The first such regional network has officially launched in the United States of America under the Ukrainian Congress Committee’s US Committee for Holodomor-Genocide Awareness.
To be the unique personal voice and validation of family accounts of the Holodomor-Genocide in order to convey the factual history in support of broader efforts to fight disinformation about the genocide perpetrated against the Ukrainian nation.
“As descendants of Holodomor survivors, we have a unique opportunity to ensure that the suffering of our families is known throughout the world so that no other nation ever suffers such a tragedy again. We descendants know the truth. We heard our families tell the stories of the Holodomor and we have a moral obligation to pass on this history to future generations of Holodomor descendants and the world. And, for the descendants, It is valuable for us to understand the follow-on effects of the Holodomor on generations, as we may be unaware that these exist.” Olya Soroka, Chair Holodomor Descendants’ Network (NOV 2020)
Olya’s Maternal Grandparents, Mother, Aunt and Uncle and extended family experienced the Holodomor in the Zhytomyr Oblast of Ukraine. They suffered for many years after her grandfather was arrested for refusing to comply with the Soviet collection of food orders and the rest of the family was banished from their home. They were fortunate to survive these tragedies and escape to a Displaced Persons camp in Weissenberg, Germany, where Olya’s mother and father met, married and later emigrated to the United States. They settled in Chicago, Illinois, where Olya was born.
Olya grew up in a patriotic Christian family that contributed to the Ukrainian communities through many organizations their entire lives. Olya’s inspiration in life is her parents who lived through unimaginable horrors and found a way to contribute to efforts on behalf of Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty. Olya is an active member in many community organizations in the United States.
We invite all Descendants of Holodomor victims to add your voice to our Holodomor Descendants’ Network. Participation in the Network may be at a level that is comfortable and meaningful for you given your individual circumstances. Join in order to receive information on research, activities, events or join to be more active in sharing family accounts and actively supporting awareness / educational/ commemoration initiatives. The choice will be yours.
Look for further information and a link to register in mid-January 2021. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.