On Friday, 27 November, The Hague Institute and the Embassy of Ukraine to the Netherlands convened a conference on the “Legacy of the Holodomor: from post-genocidal to civil society.”
Ukraine saw three holodomors (famines) in the years 1922-1923, 1932-1933 and 1946-1947. These three manmade famines cost Ukraine more than 16 millions lives. They were engineered by the Soviet government with the aim of mass murder of the indigenous Ukrainian population, bearing the signs of ethnic cleansing through death by starvation. The Great Famine, or Holodomor, of 1932-33 led to approximately 10 million fatalities on the territory of the former Ukrainian Soviet Social Republic.
In addition to restricting the Ukrainian cultural and linguistic spheres across the Soviet Union, annihilation through famine appeared to be the most effective way to subjugate the Ukrainian nation. Indeed, during the Holodomor, the Communist government systematically destroyed any cultivation of the Ukrainian identity and prevented the development of economic activity and civic activism. While many years have passed since the Holodomor and the end of the Communist era, some of the same methods of suppressing civic engagement are still used today in post-Soviet territories.
Yet, since 1989, Ukraine has witnessed the emergence of strong political and civic activism, as exemplified by the 1991 referendum, Maidan 2004 and Маidan 2014, and the more recent volunteer movement around military activity in Eastern Ukraine. The growing activism of the new generation as well as the democratization and individualization of Ukrainian society demonstrate the slow yet steady evolution of civil society as the foundation of a strong and stable Ukraine.
The panel discussion was preceded by welcome remarks by the First Lady of Ukraine, Ms. Maryna Poroshenko, and the screening of a segment of the film “Holod 33” (Famine 33) by Ukrainian director Oles Yanchuk.
The panel included the following experts:
- Professor Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ukrainian historian, Doctor of Historical Sciences and visiting professor at the Central European University
- Dr. Karel Berkhoff, Senior Researcher at NIOD Institute, and professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Amsterdam
- Dr. Eamon Aloyo, Senior Researcher in the Conflict Prevention Program at The Hague Institute for Global Justice
- Dr. Borys Gudziak , President of the Ukrainian Catholic University, Eparch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of Paris
- Moderator: Ms. Christina Santore, writer, editor and international communications consultant
The conference is made possible by the support of the Socires Foundation, Ukraine International Airways and Anyidea.