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Monday, May 14, 2012

UKRAINE - Holodomor 1932-33 - INTRO + TESTIMONIES + PICTURES

UKRAINE - Holodomor 1932-33 - INTRO + TESTIMONIES + PICTURES

Holodomor is based on two Ukrainian words: holod – ‘hunger, starvation, famine’, and moryty – ‘to induce suffering, to kill’. Holodomor happened in 1932 – 1933 in Ukraine. It was a man-made famine constructed by the orders of Stalin on the Ukrainian peasants (the “kulaks”) because they refused to agree to his plan of collectivisation. Over 7 million people died of starvation and that includes around 3 million children. No one knows exactly how many people died during that 18 month period because the dead were put into mass graves which are still being found.
Some of you reading this might be thinking “if there was a man-made famine in Ukraine back then we would know about it. It would be in history books…etc etc etc”. WRONG! When I was taking GCSE history we studied Russia as part of the course and in my history book there was 2 line (yes, 2 whole lines) about the starving people in the Ukrainian SSR. It basically said “…during 1932- 33 there was a famine in Ukraine, the breadbasket of Europe. Around 5 million people died and Stalin was deeply saddened by this….” So, don’t always believe what you read in history books. Holodomor was repeatedly denied by the Soviet Union while the western world turned a blind eye. When officials visited from different countries to see for themselves if anything was going on, actors would be paid to act as “happy peasants” of the collective farms and any real peasants, the ones that were dying of starvation, would be arrested and shot if they went near the officials.
For the people of Ukraine, their food was confiscated and if people were hiding food they would be arrest and, more than likely, would have been shot. Travelling to different parts of Ukraine to find food was forbidden. Livestock, grain, crops and any and all types of food was seized by Russian authorities.
http://myroslavaterlecky.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/my-poetic-eyes-research/ 

1928
Stalin introduces a program of agricultural collectivization that forces peasants/farmers to give up their private land and livestock, and join state owned, factory-like collective farms. Stalin decides that collective farms would not only feed the industrial workers in the cities but would also provide a substantial amount of grain to be sold abroad, with the money used to finance his industrialization plans.

1929
A policy of enforcement is applied, using regular troops and secret police. Many Ukrainian peasants/farmers, known for their independence, still refuse to join the collective farms. Stalin decides to “liquidate them as a class” and accuses Ukrainians of “bourgeois nationalism.” 

1930
Hundreds of thousands are expropriated, dragged from their homes, packed into freight trains, and shipped to Siberia where they are left, often without food or shelter. In the end, 1,000,000 Ukrainian peasants are seized and more than 850,000 deported to the frozen tundras of Siberia, where many perished.

1932-1933
The Soviet government increases Ukraine's production quotas by 44%, ensuring that they could not be met. Starvation becomes widespread.  Secret decrees are implemented that  allow arrest or execution of any starving peasant  found taking as little as a few stalks of wheat or a potato from the fields he worked.  By decree, discriminatory voucher systems are implemented, and military blockades are erected around Ukrainian villages preventing the transport of food into the villages and the hungry from leaving in search of food.  Brigades of young activists from other Soviet regions are brought in to confiscate hidden grain, and eventually all foodstuffs from the peasants’ homes.
Stalin states of Ukraine that “the national question is in essence a rural question” and he and his henchmen determine to “teach a lesson through famine” and ultimately,  to deal a “crushing blow” to the backbone of Ukraine, its rural population.  

1933
Ukrainians are dying at the rate of 25,000 a day, more than half were children. In the end, up to 10 million starve to death.  Stalin denies to the world that there is any famine in Ukraine, and prevents international aid from entering the country.

Denial of the famine

“Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda. There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.”
(as reported by the New York Times correspondent and Pulitzer-prize winner Walter Duranty)

Denial of the famine by Soviet authorities was echoed at the time of the famine by some prominent Western journalists, like Walter Duranty. It was the official policy of the Soviet Union to deny the existence of a famine and thus to refuse any outside assistance. Anyone claiming that there was in fact a famine was accused of spreading anti-Soviet propaganda. Inside the Soviet Union, a person could be arrested for even using the word ‘famine’ or ‘hunger’ or ‘starvation’ in a sentence.
Outside the Soviet Union, governments of the West adopted a passive attitude toward the famine, although most of them had become aware of the true suffering in Ukraine through confidential diplomatic channels.
In November 1933, the United States, under its new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, even chose to formally recognized Stalin’s Communist government and also negotiated a sweeping new trade agreement. The following year, the pattern of denial in the West culminated with the admission of the Soviet Union into the League of Nations. Stalin’s Five Year Plan for the modernization of the Soviet Union depended largely on the purchase of massive amounts of manufactured goods and technology from Western nations. Those nations were unwilling to disrupt lucrative trade agreements with the Soviet Union in order to pursue the matter of the famine.
It was kept out of official history until 1991, when the country of 47 million finally won its independence.

Today it is recognized as genocide by less than two dozen countries out of 196. The famine is now the focus of books, exhibitions and documentaries marking the 75th anniversary of the tragedy.
Ukraine’s government is asking the United Nations to recognize the disaster as an act of genocide, worsening already frosty relations with Russia, which says the famine resulted from drought. Russian nationalists vandalized an exhibit at the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow in November. While the Russian government didn’t condone the attack, it called Ukraine’s depiction of the famine a “one-sided falsification of history.’’
In recent years Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko had ordered the release of old KGB records on the Famine.
With this information it has become very apparent that this Famine was a deliberate act of Genocide, a method to ethnically cleanse Ukrainians from the territories of Ukraine and parts of Russia. At first only several thousand documents were released. Recently another batch of 25,000 documents is being declassified.
As more documents are released this event in Ukrainian history has taken on a very ominous tone.
On November 28th 2006, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament of Ukraine) had passed a decree defining the Holodomor as a deliberate Act of Genocide.

NOW UKRAINE IS RE-SOVIETIZED!!!           

SEE: Deleting the Holodomor

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Eyewitness accounts from journalists:

 http://www.augb.co.uk/eyewitness-accounts.php
During the Holodomor, the Soviet government introduced stringent travel restrictions into Ukraine, in an attempt to prevent journalists and others from seeing for themselves the extent of the famine.
There were some journalists – most infamously Walter Duranty of the New York Times – who, in return for interviews with Stalin and other high-ranking government officials, collaborated with the Soviet government to cover up the existence and scale of the famine, while admitting privately that the famine both existed and that the death toll was horrendous.  Malcolm Muggeridge called him “…the greatest liar I ever knew…” and finally, in 1990, a New York Times editorial, written by Karl A Meyer, acknowledged that what Duranty had written constituted “…some of the worst reporting to appear in this newspaper.”
A. W. Kliefoth's, US Berlin Embassy memorandum of 4th June 1931 of his meeting with Duranty -SEE THE MEMORANDUM HERE: "In conclusion, Duranty pointed out that 'in agreement with NEW YORK TIMES and the Soviet authorities,' his dispatches always reflect the official position of the Soviet regime and not his own."

There were others, however, who evaded the restrictions to seek out the truth, in spite of the abuse and vilification they then suffered from both the Soviet government and other journalistic colleagues. British journalists Malcolm Muggeridge and Gareth Jones were among their number.
Malcolm Muggeridge smuggled out several articles via the diplomatic pouch which were published in the Manchester Guardian. What he saw horrified him and stayed with him forever. At a German co-operative farm (a government concession in the Caucasus), he saw peasants kneeling in the snow, begging for a crust of bread. In his diaries he wrote, “I must never pretend that I haven’t seen this. Ideas will come and go; but this is more than an idea. It is peasants kneeling down in the snow and asking for bread. Something that I have seen and understood.” {SEE INTERVIEW}

Gareth Jones, [THE HERO OF TRUTH, MURDERED BY USSR] a young Welshman, was a former adviser on foreign policy to Lloyd George. He too travelled through Ukraine and subsequently wrote articles for and was interviewed by several newspapers. In an interview with the Morning Post in March 1933, he said, “I walked alone through villages and twelve collective farms. Everywhere was the cry, ‘There is no bread; we are dying…’”
{SEE ARTICLES - BIO, HERE}

Other eyewitnesses include Andrea Graziosi, who was the Italian consul in Kharkiv in 1933. His letters and dispatches form a unique account of the reality of the Holodomor. He described the influx of starving peasants from the countryside to the city and the children abandoned by desperate parents in the hope that someone would look after them. He told how the dead and dying were dealt with, “People who are already starting to swell up are moved out in good trains and abandoned about forty miles out of town so that they can die out of sight. When they arrive at the destination, huge ditches are dug and the dead are carried out of the wagons…”




---------------------------------
Eyewitness accounts from survivors: 
http://www.augb.co.uk/survivor-testimony.php 

Very Reverend Mychajlo Diachenko

The Very Reverend Mychajlo Diachenko was born on 17 August 1922 in Khutir Shevchenko, Cherkasy Region and lives in Stockport, Great Britain.
My father and mother had four children: Marusia, Oksana, Anna, and myself Mychajlo.
When Ukraine was briefly independent between 1918 - 19 my father helped establish Ukrainian schools and was a Schools Inspector. After the end of Ukraine’s Independence in 1922 we fled to Kosoroteva in the Donetsk region, because of persecution. It was less repressive there, the authorities did not ask so many questions. My mother died of tuberculosis in 1924, but my father remarried.
Stalin wanted to collectivize the farms in Ukraine. My father built a house, had a smallholding, grew his own food and had livestock. He was classed a ‘kulak’ - a well to do person, an enemy of the Soviet people. In 1930 they found and arrested my father, interrogated him but later let him go. In 1932 my father was re-arrested and sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment and his citizenship was taken away from him for 10 years. I did not know where the prison was because in those days if you asked too many questions you would also be imprisoned.
In the autumn of 1932 they confiscated our house and all our possessions. A detachment came to our house and took everything - food from the table, seeds for sowing next year’s crops, foods that were drying near the fire and food to feed us during winter. They even took the boots that I was wearing. They pushed metal rods into the thatched roof of our house to make sure we were not hiding any grain. They poured paraffin into the river so we could not catch fish to eat.
We were taken away on a sleigh to Khutir Lukiv in the Donetsk region. In that village there used to be a German colony but they were deported back to Germany. There were empty houses in the village and we were given a large house to live in. There was nothing inside but a blanket. There was nothing to heat the house with and 1932 was a very cold winter.  My stepmother, three sisters and I slept together under one blanket. We were forbidden to return back to our village. We searched the fields for the odd potato, crushed stones from fruits and other roots. My sisters caught sparrows to eat. Just before Christmas it became so intolerable that my step-mother decided we would go back to Kosoroteva village. We could live there no longer.
We returned against orders by foot to the village hoping my stepmother’s godmother would help us. We found our house. It was taken apart - there was nothing left except for the walls. It was that type of a year. People were so desperate. We went to my stepmother’s godmother’s house but she was not there. We later heard she was taken to Siberia. We broke into the house and found that it was empty except for a bed and a couple of blankets. My sisters went out to find what they could. We made bread from the chaff of wheat and a few grains of wheat that we could find.
Two days before Christmas in 1932 there was an amnesty and my father was released from prison. My father returned home in a terrible state. He was black and blue from being tortured. He had bruises all over his body. The three wounds he received during the Great War had opened up and he needed food and medical attention, but where could he receive it from? My sister Oksana died of starvation aged 16 just after Christmas in 1933. My father lived until the Saturday before the feast of the Holy Trinity. I remember I was sitting on a wooden bench and my father died with his head on my lap. I was only ten years of age. It was a terrible time.
In this way they forced the kulaks to work in the collective farms. We were not allowed to gather what was left from the harvested wheat fields for fear of being shot.
There was one family in the village that exchanged some flower to make bread but it was mixed with chalk. They made a flat cake and after eating it they all died.
The worst time was in spring of 1933. However, an old man helped me. He gave me a piece of makukha to eat (what was left from sunflower seeds after they had been pressed). He told me I should go to the town as it is better there. I had an aunty in the town so I went to find her. I searched for my aunty but could not find her. I shouted ‘Aunty Maria’ but did not know her surname. People laughed at me, Maria was a very popular name. I lived by myself all year. Eventually my aunty Maria recognised me in a market near the station at Sartana. She took me to her house in Marijpol and asked me to live with her family.
I do not know how I survived those two years. It was a miracle.
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Ivan Dovhopyat

Ivan Dovhopyat was born in 1919 in the village of Sloboda, Burynskiy sub-region, Sumy region. He was interviewed in 2007 and this interview was published in Ukrayinska Dumka on 8 September 2007. Ivan passed away in 2008.

What can you remember?
"It’s very difficult. I keep this close to myself. I remember when they took away the bread, when they took everything. How my father ran after them when they took the flour and says, “What are you doing? But we have five children!” I was the oldest. In 1933 I was 14 years old."
Ivan Dovhopyat remembers how good life was before the Stalinist terrors. At first, land was shared out amongst the villagers. This was their dream – to have their own small piece of land.
"We had a smallholding. They had given us land for four people when the new economic politics began. And my father did not want to join the collective farm. We had enough – a cow, a horse, pigs, and some chickens – until they started to take everything away. The communists came, or the Stalinists, however you want to describe them, collectivisation and that was that. They did not turn us out of our home because father had bought an old house and built a woodshed, so it wasn’t worth turning us out.
"My father worked as a blacksmith at the sugar factory. None of us five children died in the famine because my father and mother always tried to get some food. We had a few clothes, so they travelled to Kharkiv and bartered some for flour. We ate the chaff from buckwheat. My mother dried it, I go to baba’s, grind it, and then my mother bakes small pancakes. When there was still some flour, she would mix it in so that the pancakes held together. She put them in boiling water to make a soup and that’s how we survived. One of my younger brothers became very swollen, just when wheat began to grow near our house. I stripped the ears of wheat and gave them to him, which saved his life."
Tell us how the food was taken away.
"They had these yards for people who weren’t in the collective farm. You had to go to the headquarters. The communists came with revolvers and those who weren’t part of the kolhosp had to go. There, they gave orders how much potato and grain you had to bring. After dinner, you had to go back to them so that they could give you a receipt for how much you had brought. And if you didn’t bring anything, then the brigade would take everything.  We didn’t have anything left to take them, so the brigade came. The sugar factory wasn’t far from our house, so I ran to tell my father that they had come. My father ran home and they were already there on a sledge (it was January). Father begged a small amount of flour from them, but because he had left work without permission, he was thrown out. They took the bread, they took my father’s job: and what can you do… My father went to the railway station because they gave out bread there. I remember him coming home in the evening, and we took the crumbs out of his pocket and ate them."
You managed to survive, but what about the other villagers?
"In our village, not many. Very few people were left alive. The older people all died. I remember my dido and baba (grandfather and grandmother). Dido was lying in bed and asking for someone to bring him even a sweet.  In the spring, the real crimes began. Potato was sown, and people dug them up to eat, and they caught and killed them.
"Yes, that’s how it was. If you described everything, it would be a huge history. But not everyone believes that it happened, that we had to eat chaff… They say we’re making it up."
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Anastasia Ostapiuk

Anastasia Ostapiuk (nee Zhuravel’) was born in 1923 in the village of Kropyvniya, Novohradskiy sub-region, Zhytomyr region, in Ukraine. She was interviewed by Bohdan Ratych and Victor Andrusyshyn in April 2008 and lives in Manchester, Great Britain.

"I was born into a village family. I was 10 years old when the Holodomor took place in 1933. I remember 1932 well and the years before. My father was a bookkeeper in the collective farm and village council. He counted the work days, when people came with information about what they had done in the fields, how much they had reaped or whatever, then that was translated into a working day or one and a half days, and that determined the amount of bread you received. I know from a photograph that my mother showed me that my father had been in Petliura’s army. That’s what my mother said…and she hid that photograph so that no-one would know. And no-one knew, not even us.
"Then the famine started in the village. People got very little food, because they were not given money or anything else for a working day. They just measured what you had done and gave a little grain or something, but they didn’t give bread any more. This was the beginning.
"But, a little later, people began to fall ill from hunger. They ran away, they didn’t know what to do, they ate everything they had in the house. And the komsomol brigades came to search the houses, to see if there was anything left in storerooms or somewhere else, if you had a religious picture or a cross on the wall. The komsomol did what they wanted with the people and no-one punished them… they searched the houses once a week. If they found something cooking on the fire, some soup or borshch, then they took it and poured it away on the ground. It was as if we had to die, as if we were marked out for death. This was in 1931-32.
"My father, seeing these difficulties, left his work in the village council and asked for a horse so that he could plant potatoes (in the collective farm). He ploughed a furrow in a big field with the horse and a plough and behind him people planted potato then others covered the plants. And sometimes, he would take some potato, dig it in and mark the place with a small stick. And at night, when it was dark, he went out on his knees so that no-one could see he was going for the potatoes. When he took potatoes, we had soup the next day with the potato and some other sort of plant. We ate anything we could because it was spring and nothing had grown yet.
"Later in 1932 my father died – he didn’t have enough strength and died. First he became very thin. None of us had enough to eat, father worried and his lungs became inflamed. The hospitals didn’t even take people in so he died at home. He called me and said, “Daughter, you’re the oldest, look after the little ones…”
"I was the oldest in the family. Then there was Ludmila, who became blind and died from hunger. Then there was Sonya. Sonya survived and Yevhen, the youngest, survived. Now to say how we lived after that. My mother went around the garden and picked horseradish, because it was spring and green leaves were coming out. She took the horseradish, cleaned and grated it, then she took leaves from a tree – mother knew what could be eaten – dried the leaves, mixed them with the horseradish and baked biscuits or pancakes. She gave them to us to eat and went to work.
"Our neighbours were called Khomenko and they had a full house of children. I saw with my own eyes how each morning a waggon would come to collect the dead from houses. So Khomenko, the father, died. The mother ran from the house and said, “Wait, don’t take him, because my son will be ready tomorrow. Let them at least lie together.” Because they threw all the dead into a single grave. You know, there was such  misery that it’s impossible to describe…
"There was one family where everyone had died except one son, called Matviy. The leaders of the collective farm built a small wooden shed in the farmyard. They took potato there and locked Matviy in – he slept and lived there. He cooked the potato for the horses, so that the horses had something to eat and could work in the fields. Then they would take the potato – and it smelled so good! The children crowded to the potato shed and begged – like bees round a hive.  He couldn’t do anything, because they locked him in, unlocked the door, took away the cooked potato, brought fresh potato, then locked the door again. But there were small holes and gaps in the wood that we looked through and sometimes he would push some potato through for the children. That was all he could do.
"When it was harvest time, it was a real tragedy. Many ears of wheat lay in the fields. We would go along the paths and hide in the bushes. When we saw there was no-one around, we would collect the wheat in our aprons and run home quickly. Because every field had two guards on horseback with sticks. If they caught anyone, they would beat them…
"Our village was large. It had a school with a large orchard where apples and pears grew, but no-one could pick them because they were taken and given to someone else. I remember that once, my mother gave me some sort of pastry to eat at break time, but I was scared that if the other pupils saw me, they would report it to the teacher. She would tell her superior…  So I told my mother that I couldn’t eat it – I had asked to go to the toilet and had thrown it into the hole. I was scared that my mother would be arrested and tried. They would take mother away and then put the children into an orphanage. So even children were scared of each other.
"Mother would stand the four of us in a line each morning, then she would take a small religious picture – where she hid it, I don’t know.  But she would put it out, and we would repeat “Our Father”. Mother told us all, “For the fear of God never tell anyone at school that your mother has taught you this.”
"I remember when I went with my aunt Olha (mother’s sister) to another village to see if we could get something or trade something. When the train stopped at the station, there were children lying all around near the tracks and begged (for food) but those in the train had nothing to throw them through the window.
"There was a good, big harvest in 1932-33, but when the grain was collected in the storehouse, they said that the government needed help and then they loaded wagon after wagon with sacks (of grain), placed a red flag and went to Novohrad to hand everything over to the government. So the harvest didn’t help anyone, because nearly everything went somewhere, for someone, while people were suffering from hunger. It was impossible, but see – God is good and we survived.
"The communist government was so terrible, they wanted to break the Ukrainian people so that they wouldn’t believe in God, but only in Stalin. Such a government – may God never allow the same in any other country… because its horrific… They spoke so nicely at the meetings – that everything would be better, that it would be heaven – but it was very different. Famine scythed down everyone who lived on Ukrainian land – Poles, Germans, Russians. In our village, I think about three-quarters of the people died… this is God’s truth…"
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Survivor testimony Vera Smereka

Personal recollections about the Holodomor of Mrs Vera Smereka. Now resides in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

I was born in Eastern Ukraine, in the Sumy region in the town of Krolevets on 19th January 1923. My father was a priest and had parishes in the villages.
In 1932, when I was 9 years old, famine began in Ukraine. It is hard for me to talk about this, as we suffered greatly. Bread disappeared as did any seasoning for soup. We were told which herbs were poisonous and which were not. We wandered through gardens and orchards looking for herbs which were not poisonous. My mother would cook some borscht but this only had water and herbs in it. We all had to eat this borscht. It was only water and herbs, we couldn’t even get any salt. From that time, our stomachs were often swollen.
People collected linden leaves. Even now, when I pass a linden tree, I pull off a leaf and eat it. That is how I remember that we used to eat the linden leaves. They were very bitter but we ate them whenever we could.
What saved us, was that in the region where we lived there were many woods, known as the Kochubeyski woods. When the trees were felled and a clearing was left, strawberries grew in these clearings. Women from our village gathered at midnight and walked for 10 kilometres to these clearings. I was 10 years old at the time and my mother took me with her to gather these berries. We arrived at the clearing at dawn, just as the sun was rising. We gathered the strawberries and took them home, this boosted our morale and saved us from hunger.
Understandably, at that time people became very ill. In order to minimise the psychological damage to us, my mother prevented us from seeing the terrible scenes that were everywhere around us. When my friends father died, I begged my mother to let me go and visit my friend, but she would not allow it. Many people were dying at that time. We children used to run to the funerals, because we knew, that if there was a funeral, then maybe we would be given some broth or some soup.
Every day my mother would examine our fingers, because when a person is hungry their body begins to swell, this swelling always begins in the fingers. My mother always checked our fingers to see if there was any sign of swelling. Thank God, somehow we survived. When our grain began to grow in 1932, people collected it whilst it was still green to make flour. Once my father came back from a funeral and brought back a loaf of bread which was so yellow it was almost green.
In 1933 things became worse. My  mother sent me to my grandmother, thinking  it would be better there. Unfortunately it was even worse there. Where we lived, there were also some meadows where we could collect sorrel leaves. But where my grandmother lived, all the sorrel leaves had already been collected. Since there were no sorrel leaves, soup was made from just herbs. This was not tasty. There was an apple tree in the orchard and we collected all the small unripe apples and grated them into the soup so that it was at least a little bit more appealing. But my grandmother never ate apples until harvest time and would not allow us to put apples in her dish. It was hard for me to understand the strong will of my grandmother. No matter how bad the famine got, she refused to touch the apples before harvest time. My grandfather (my fathers father) had a good small holding. He had a garden, some land, horses, pigs and cows. But during the Holodomor he had nothing left, everything was taken from him. Initially, the state imposed a tax and if anybody could not pay this, they took away all their belongings. I remember my mother had a cabinet that she brought with her when she got married. They even took that cabinet. The village  council – those that ruled the village : the head of the Kolhosp; head of the village council; secretary of the village council were given unlimited powers. They did whatever they wanted, they could take property from ordinary village folk. First they took taxes. If somebody could not pay these taxes they took their cows and pigs. Later they took all the food that was in the house. Some people tried to hide food from the authorities, burying it in the soil under the floorboards if they had earthen floors in their homes. The authorities searched for food and grain, dug up gardens, pulled up floors, and whatever food they found, they took.

Some people in the villages said that the authorities kept whatever they took for themselves. My path to school took me past the farmstead of the secretary of the Kolhosp. People used to say that he had fat running down his moustache. In my childhood I imagined that during the famine he had everything, cows, pigs, and that fat did literally pour through his mouth.
Having taken all the cattle from people, in an attempt to create a Kolhosp, all the pigs and cattle were herded into sheds. The cattle would bray because nobody tended to them or fed them. People were forced to go and work in the Kolhosp, but nobody wanted to become members of the Kolhosp, because this would mean you were left with nothing in exchange for becoming a member.
One man described how he had gone to Byelorussia because there was no famine there and you could still get food to eat. He earned some money and brought back some salo(salt-meat) and loaves of bread. But the Komsomolchi – these were young people that were in the Komsimol and preparing to join the communist party, peered through the window saw that he had brought some food back. They immediately entered the house to confiscate the food. Fortunately, his mother managed to throw the salt-meat(salo) into the slop-bucket. She threw it into this dirty water to save it because the activist did not search there. This mans father sent his son to Byelorussia again, but this time he delayed his return because he was raking together some salt. When he returned home, both his mother and father had died. They had already been buried.
The Ukrainian nation suffered great hardship. The famine was horrific. Thank God we somehow survived. What was hardest, was that the famine was created, and our own people took the food from ordinary folk. They also sent people from Moscow, that went through villages, robbing people and confiscating their last items. How many innocent people were lost…….
I had a friend called Halya. When I looked at her, her eyes were like cherries, nice brown eyes. Her father had a small house, with tools for his small holding outside. One day they were arrested, they came to school to fetch Halya and exiled them to Siberia. They were de-kulakized, as were many other good land owners.
In our village there was a family by the name of Drotyv, ginger-haired with lots of children. My mother often gave them things because they were very poor. They took this family Drotyv and put them into the empty house of the good land-owner. In front of my own eyes, this house became dirty and the land unkempt, because they did not know what to do and how to tend the land. After a few years, maybe, before the war, the good land-owner returned home. He wandered round and round the village then disappeared. Nobody knew what became of him.
The good land-owners were destroyed and the village holdings suffered for a long time after this. Those that worked in the Kolhosp did not have the initiative, they did not have the knowledge that the de-kulakized villagers had.. They did not know how to work the land. They were told to do a days work, that was what they did and then went home. But to husband the land – they were incapable. That is how the better people in the village were ruined.
When I came home from my grandmothers, I remember the house being dark. My mother gave me a biscuit, but it was not nice. I took it, started to eat it and began to cry. My mother said to me “What can I give you? There is nothing in the house”.
In 1934 we left to go and live in town. In the town they gave small amounts of bread. One of my friends recalled : when the famine began she was with her mother, at the start of the famine her father went to the Donbas region in search of work. She and her mother went to Kyiv. They didn’t know anybody there and had nowhere to live. They went to the cemetery and slept amongst the gravestones. During the day, the mother left the girl to lie amongst the gravestones or play in the cemetery whilst she went to look for work or get some money to buy bread with. One day, somebody tried to persuade this girl that if she said that she had no mother or father, she would get taken to a childrens home. She didn’t want to say this and she told her mother. On hearing this, her mother took her to the river Dnipre and said “if you go away from me, I will throw myself in the river Dnipre and drown myself”. However, the girl became so hungry, that when she was again approached, she said that she did not have a mother or a father. She was taken to an orphanage where she stayed until the start of the war. Somehow, she managed to get out of the orphanage and went in search of her village so that she could find her mother and father. When she got to the house (her family had been de-kulakized) and said “can I have some water to drink”. Her mother gave her some water and said ”Our own daughter has disappeared somewhere. I do not know where she is”. The girl replied :”Mother, it is I – I am your daughter”.
I have heard many sorrowful tales, of what happened to people during the Holodomor. It was a terrible time. I just thank God that I survived!
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Survivor testimony Andriy Skok

Personal recollections about the Holodomor of Andrij Skok.  Now resides in Halifax West Yorkshire

Andrij Hryhorovycz Skok was born 17 September 1925 in the village of Arbuzynkakh  in the Mykolayivska area of Ukraine. I have one document, a birth certificate which gives my date of birth  in Ukrainian and in Russian.
Between 1927 and 1929 when everybody was being de-kulakized, my father lived on a farmstead in the Mykolayivska area. He had a couple of cows, a couple of horses and a few hectares of land. When I was older I learnt that my father had escaped home but returned after some time for his children and our mother and took us to live in Kyiv on the left bank of the Dnipro opposite the centre of Kyiv. This area was know as Mykolayivska slobidka. We lived here until 1934.
Here I remember seeing a dead boy lying in the street. This was either in 1933 or 1932. I was walking down the street – I remember this clearly even though I am now 83 years old this memory is lodged firmly in my head – there were very few people around, a young boy, maybe 7 or 8 years old was lying dead in the street – nobody paid any attention, people walked around him, passed by him nobody bothered. I crossed the road, there lay a man – he lay uncovered - dead. Again nobody came near, not the police, not the militia- nobody. This I remember. I also remember- where we lived across the river from Kyiv the area was surrounded by steppes. The school I attended was by the woodlands, I remember this clearly as I will never forget as the dead people. To get to the school I had to go through deserted woodlands. There were no houses or habitation, nothing, and I was always told – be careful because they catch children there and eat them. This was in 1932/33 when they ate people. This I remember.
I went to school at the time of Soviet rule. At school it was taboo, nobody spoke about it. Some English journalist were aware of it at the time but when they returned to England and try to recount what they had seen they were told “Shut-up – there is nothing going on there”.
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Survivor testimony Claudia Semjaniv

Personal recollections about the Holodomor - Mrs Klavdia Semyaniv, born 6 September 1925 in the village of Petrovske, Kharkiv region of Ukraine. Now resident in Farsley (nr Bradford), West Yorkshire.

I lived in Ukraine during the years 1932-33 in my parents house. We had a small holding. We were de-kulakazised, they took completely everything< everything, they cleaned us out. We were left, my father, my mother and us four girls.  They cleaned us out to the last piece of grain.
We lived this way for some time, eating potatoes in there skins, potatoes that had been left because they were rotting. Then my father told my mother that he would go to town, to Donetsk, and maybe  he could find some  type of work there then we could go there and things would be better.
During the time that my father was in town my younger sister died from hunger because there was nothing to eat. A short time later, some two weeks or so, another of my sisters died. That left me with my mother and just one sister,  younger  than myself.
Soon after this my father returned from the town. He could not be registered for work because he was from a village, he was de-kulakazised, he was Ukrainian. He was not needed there. When he returned he was thin, battered and tired whilst we were all swollen with distended stomachs because there was nothing to eat, no dogs, no chickens, no pigs, nothing ! We even ate grass,  and fought over it when we found some because we thought that if we rubbed it between our  fingers we could extract some milkwort(milkweed) which we could eat.
Eventually I was the only child left in the house and my mother said, we have only one child left to which my father responded none of us  will  survive. The next morning my  mother  went into the room and found my father dead, he had died during the night – I didn’t know and wanted to climb onto my father and play – I was only a child then, I didn’t understand.
That is how we were left, just me and my mother.
My mother sometimes left me at home on my own. There was nothing in the house to drink from or cook with. People lay dead in the streets, flies ate their eyes out. Nobody paid any attention, they only thought about where they could find something to eat. People were walking about swollen, they were stepping over corpses, but nobody did anything. There was nothing anywhere.
I was left alone by our house. I slept in the garden for I don’t know how many nights before my mother miraculously returned from town.
But at this time the wheatfields in the Kolhosp were full  of bread. But, there were thieves about who, if they saw anybody carrying something that they could feed their child with, they would beat them, take  away whatever they had and not allow them to enter their houses.
When my  mother returned, someone told  her, I don’t know if he was family or who he  was but he said “Maria, take the child, meaning me, and somehow get to  the town maybe you can  be accepted there, because everything here has gone, you won’t survive here. At that time he transported post or  something like that from our  village to town. He took me with him but left my mother behind.
I went with him and we arrived in another village, but I don’t know its name. I was left there to stay with a  woman until my mother arrived. We stayed there a while, my mother would go and beg for some bread and we survived there for some time.
Then, somehow, my mother got us to Donetsk.  My  mother had a brother in  Donetsk and  we went to him. When  we  arrived in  Donetsk, in the  Donbas region, we had nowhere to live, no job, my mother  could not be registered for work as she had no registration,  with no address she could not get any work. We had to sleep on the streets, outside houses and beg for bread.
Eventually, somehow my mother found a job. From that time, once she had found a job and had been registered we went to stay with her brother in a corner of the room. He had a family, so we had to sleep on the floor in a corner. From that moment, my life in Donetsk began.
That is what I can tell you.
But, do you know,
When my sister was dying she said to me- “Klavdia, give me  some milk”.
Every child close to death would ask for some milk, food.  Mother, give me some food  -  but  there  was nothing to give. We were walking around like skeletons.  Our bodies were glowing and we looked as if we had been pumped up. That is how we were.  It was terrible, truly terrible. Nobody  paid any attention to anything. No attention at all.
On the streets in the villages, people, usually children were sitting, here one  sat, dead – there one sat- dead.  Dogs walked by, sniffed them and  even  they didn’t want  to eat them  because they were…..ugh!
It was a terrible time for me  -  one I will never forget.  
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Survivor testimony Kateryna Buryak

Personal recollections about the Holodomor - KATERYNA BURIAK, Born November 1925  Khersonska Region UKRAINE. Now resides in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

It is very difficult for me to talk about the Holodomor. Every time think about it I just want to cry.
There were six of us in our family – my mother and father, two sisters a brother and me.
I remember there was nothing to eat. I walked and walked far and wide with my brother searching for branches and bushes to feed on. My eight month old sister Oksana died first because my mother did not have any milk to feed her with, then my three year old sister Halyna died and then my older brother Philip who was born in 1923 died.
My mother kept telling my father to go to work on the Kolhosp where he would at least get something to eat but he said he would rather die than go there. Sadly, that’s what happened. He died and that left only myself and my mother.
My mother went to work on the Kolhosp and left me on my own all day. At least she came home with a cupful of food every day. I was so young to have to live through all this.
We both survived. Eventually, with the help of my mothers sister, we were able to grow crops when the famine ended, but it was so hard getting used to there just being the two of us where there had been six.
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Survivor testimony Myhaylo Khutornyj

Personal recollections about the Holodomor of Rev M Hutorny. Now resides in Bradford, West Yorkshire

I was born on 24th April 1924 in Kryvorizza. During the famine my parents left the village. I remember my father laid down in the house. There was nothing left that we could exchange for food. He could not survive this fate and died on the 17 June 1932. My mother was pregnant at this time and three days after my fathers death my sister Halyna was born.
My mother went to work a mine, because workers were given 250 grams of bread. She worked for five years in the iron-ore mines. My mothers father, my grand-father, lived 3 kilometres from us and worked as a bread delivery man. He would collect morsels of bread, there was no packaging them, and bring them to us.
Also, in order to survive we collected weeds to make soup. However, at that there was not even any salt around.
I remember when we buried my father. It was at the time that the acacia was flowering. I  left  the house and my father died.  After he had died, I went to his workplace so that they would help dig a grave for him. Six men came but were frightened of digging a grave as they did not think they would be able to climb out themselves once it had been dug.. They did however prepare the grave and we buried my father. To this day I do not know where that grave is. I remember were the cemetery was, but exactly where in the cemetery I do not know. My mother later told me that before his death, my father told her that if he lived on, I would grow up successfully but without him around he feared not. That is why my mother made sure that I received some education. She worked hard all her life.
I used to walk about 2 km to get some bread, but at that time, you could only get bread if you climbed over peoples heads or inbetween their legs because of  the queues. I would cut off a piece and sell it immediately to buy some milk.
In 1932 – this was just the beginning – all the kulaks were removed. My father did not admit it at the time, but my grandfather was exiled “to the new land”. He lived there for 13 years, and we did not see him until 1942.
The famine was such that when we set off in the morning, we would see dead bodies in the streets. We used to go to the banks of the river to pull up reeds to eat.
My sister Halya was 2 years old by now but she could not stand on her own legs. We bought her one bottle of milk each week. We used to pick turnips to give her too.
That period was sorrowful. Many of our family died. My father had 3 sisters – they all died. My mothers brother was shot over some ears of wheat. He went to the field to gather some wheat and was shot there.
I also used to go to the station, as the wagons pulled in you could usually collect something or other. One man said to me “lets go, the troop train is coming and we should be able to get some corn”. We went and filled our pockets. He was arrested and imprisoned for 6 years for that. I was young then, so avoided punishment.
Once I was stopped on the bridge and asked what I was carrying. I had some bread. I was crying and one of them said “Let him go”. Fortunately they did let me go.
It was a miracle that we remained alive. In Kryviy Rih, there was iron ore, so they still supplied bread there. The communists showed their power and satisfaction through the suffering of people. I saw how a communist ate: he ate 3 varenyki and threw 2 away. We boys watched and waited so that we could get any leftovers.
 Ukrainian wheat was transported through our station somewhere. If anybody got too close they were shot by the guards.
Somehow, thanks to God – we survived. It is a fact, that it was mass murder.
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