League of Ukrainian Canadian Women – Edmonton Holodomor essay contest: It’s time for the Soviet system to face judgement day by Tetyana Shelevach

Tetyana Shelevach

The Holodomor was the man-made famine that devastated the Ukrainian people killing millions from 1932 to 1933. The Holodomor is also known as the “Terror-Famine” and sometimes referred to as the “Great Famine”. The word Holodomor means “death by hunger”. Many scholars and people debate as to the exact reason why Stalin had decided to do this, but I believe that his motives were financial and power. It is no secret that out of all of the countries that were part of the Soviet Union Ukrainians resisted the new government the most and were the least cooperative. They refused to follow the new Soviet rules and give up who they were to become minions to the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union formed, they began the Sovietization of Ukraine. They wanted to destroy all Ukrainian culture and Ukrainians didn’t like this idea and many rebelled. So, they had to be punished for it. Stalin had to show the other Soviet countries that such behaviour would not be tolerated. Stalin wanted money and power. By creating this famine, the Soviet Union could sell their people’s food to the rest of the world and sit on a growing pile of money while also getting rid of the people that questioned their government the most. Even though some people would write letters back then to friends and family in other countries nobody believed them. From 1932 to 1933 the Soviet Union had sold more food/crops than it ever had before. Which makes sense considering they weren’t only selling the normal quantity of the food as they always did but they were also selling the food that they would keep to feed their people in the past. The world couldn’t believe that a government could ever do something so inhuman to their people. The world couldn’t believe that a government could take all of their people’s food and sell it for profit abroad while their people were dropping dead in their streets. But maybe they also didn’t want to believe it because they profited from it. At the end of the day, everybody is looking out for themselves.

Government officials would come to small towns with military and police to take away the people’s food and leave them to die. People tried to be clever and hide their food in the ground, but the Soviet Union quickly caught on and would take long sticks and poke them into the ground to find the food and dig it up. The famine was mostly created in the small villages since most Ukrainians lived there also when the Soviet Union first came to Ukraine the government took away people’s land and properties in villages and the people remembered this and despised the Soviet Union because of it. During the famine, the government wanted to get rid of these people. Cities were filled with lots of different people so the famine wasn’t as severe. People in villages tried to escape to the big cities, but the Soviet Union had placed military around the villages to ensure that people couldn’t leave. Millions of people died because of this. The better the person was the faster they died. Those who refused to steal or become cannibals died first. Mothers, fathers, grandparents and children were all starved to death with no exceptions. Those who were rich and hard-working were either killed on the spot or sent away into concentration camps and/or mass killed there. They also sent young and strong men to these concentration camps so that they couldn’t rebel. What truly disgusts me is that every single soldier of the Soviet Union, every single government official and every single police officer knew exactly what he was doing when he took away these innocent people’s food and when they refused to let them move to the big cities. They knew they were starving these people. They knew they were killing them. But they didn’t care as long as at the end of the day they got paid. How could they eat knowing that they just took away a family’s last slice of bread and doomed them to death? The most infuriating thing about all of this is that after 87 years the people that survived and are still alive today and their children and grandchildren never even got an apology. Nothing! They got nothing! When it came to starving their people for profit, the Soviet Union was first in line but when it comes to taking responsibility they are nowhere to be found.

Even though the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 Russia promised to make peace with everything that the Soviet Union did. But instead, Russia refuses to even publish and chooses to keep the archives secret of the names of the soldiers and government officials during when the Soviet Union existed. But why keep it a secret? The only reasonable reason why Russians would refuse to do this is that these monsters and their children from the Soviet Union are still in high positions of power. They shouldn’t just admit what they did they need to pay for it as the Germans did to the Jews after WW2. After WW2 the Allies forced the Germans to watch and learn about what disgusting things they did to the Jews so that they would be ashamed of it. The Allies also made sure that the Nazis who killed people during the war were hanged. People need to know what their ancestors did. We cannot let them get away with mass murder. What message are we sending to other countries and future generations? Are we telling them that this is okay and acceptable? Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it and I don’t think that any mother and her children deserve to starve to death and be completely powerless ever again in history. The Soviet Union tried to erase their crimes from their history but the people will never forget what they did. Very few people know about what the Soviet Union did to Ukrainians and I don’t think that it right.
We can’t forget.