Conference & Exhibit
"Breaking the Silence on the Unknown Genocide"
September 12-13, 2008
Cervantes Institute - 31 West Ohio Street - Chicago, IL

75th Anniversary -Ukrainian Genocide-Holodomor
Commemoration Committee - Chicago

"HOLODOMOR"- Ukrainian term for "death by starvation"
Ukrainians refer to the Genocide of 1932-1933 as the Holodomor.  The term "genocide" was not introduced into language until 1947.
Designed and maintained by
UGFF-USA, Inc. 2008
                                                        Chicago Holodomor commemoration engage, inform diverse audiences
                                                                                                                                               By Maria Kulczycky

A capacity crowd braved heavy rain and flooding to participate in a two-day commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Holodomor, the Ukrainian genocide, in Chicago on September 12
and 13.

Organized by the 75th Anniversary Ukrainian Genocide-Holodomor Commemoration Committee-Chicago, an umbrella committee of the city’s Ukrainian churches, community
organizations and cultural institutions, the event was one of several planned and presented this year to mark the solemn milestone of a great Ukrainian national tragedy.

Titled “Breaking the Silence on the Unknown Genocide,” the commemoration was launched with a candlelight ceremony and presentation of awards.  The next day, academics, experts
and eyewitnesses participated in a full-day conference.  Both days, visitors were able to peruse an exhibition of historic materials.  And each day, participants viewed a preview screening
of a full-length Hollywood documentary currently in production.

“Our varied, substantive, and engaging program was designed with our next generation and non-Ukrainian audiences in mind,” observed Nestor Popowych, chairman of the
Commemoration Committee.  “We saw the need to make our case to those not familiar with the genocide, for whom it is an unknown genocide.”

The commemoration was held at the Cervantes Institute, a cultural outreach venue funded by the government of Spain, located in the heart of Chicago.  A wide information net was cast
to capture a broad audience and to raise attention of the general public to this issue.

National Public Radio aired two programs about Holodomor on its respected Worldview show, just prior to the event.  The host, Jerome McDonnell, interviewed Detroit Archbishop
Alexander Bykowetz, a Holodomor eyewitness and a speaker at the conference, as well as Professor Lubomyr Luciuk and film director Bobby Leigh.  The informative, engaging
interviews are available for listeners in the program’s archives on the web (

The event also generated stories in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Journal.  The coverage contained lengthy descriptions of Holodomor and graphic survivor testimony, indicating
the powerful hold the story can have on those who encounter it for the first time.  Chicago’s Ukrainian radio, television and newspaper media provided wide coverage, as well.
Conference speakers focused on secret materials corroborating the genocide that were released only recently from Soviet archives.  The new information, and growing international
interest, warrants increased advocacy, the speakers challenged.   

“It’s time for us to assert that the Holodomor was a genocide,” noted Luciuk, professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston.  But this should be done in a widely-based,
collective effort to be effective, he advised.

As an example of successful initiatives by the diaspora that made an impact, he cited the campaign to recall the Pulitzer Prize awarded to New York Times reporter Walter Duranty.
“It’s time for acknowledgement, atonement and redress,” Luciuk told the conference audience.  He praised the law passed by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada to declare the Holodomor a
genocide, but noted that more was warranted.   Further steps should include the demand of reparations from Russia and bringing the perpetrators to trial.    

Volodymyr Chumachenko explained that the intentional Soviet cover-up of the tragedy kept the world in the dark.  A Ukrainian-educated professor now teaching at the University of Illinois,
Champagne-Urbana, he cited examples of the policies of distortion and lying from several contemporary history texts.    In addition, the central archival documents relating to that period
were classified top secret and access to local archives was controlled.  

Nigel Colley, the grand-nephew of Gareth Jones, the young Welsh journalist who wrote eyewitness accounts of Holodomor based on his travels through Eastern Ukraine in early 1933,
showed conference attendees excerpts from letters and diary entries written by Jones.  Jones’ articles were published in the U.S. by the Hearst newspapers, as well as in Wales and

“His stories sealed his fate and he became the man who knew too much,” said Colley.  Jones was banned from entering the Soviet Union, and evidence points to a role by Soviet agents
in his untimely death a few years later (  

The screening of a short preview of the upcoming documentary, “Holodomor-Ukraine’s Genocide 1932-33,” was followed by a discussion with the director, Bobby Leigh, and the
producer, Marta Tomkiw.  They described the process for identifying and interviewing eyewitnesses, academics and government officials throughout the U.S. and Canada and in
Ukraine.  The Ukrainian version of the film is scheduled to premier in Kyiv in November (

A compelling feature of the commemoration was the poster-exhibit created by the Ukraine 3000 International Charitable Foundation which is being shown in cities around the world in
conjunction with the 75th anniversary.  The posters were supplemented by display cases filled with newspaper clippings, period photographs, eyewitness accounts and archival
materials provided by the Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago and several individuals in the Chicagoland area.

The conference and exhibits drew the attention of students of the Ukrainian schools in Chicago, as well.  They were actively engaged in all conference activities and visibly absorbed by
the presentations.

“The central focus of the commemoration was the panel of academics and experts who provided substance and insights.  And it was enhanced by using a venue that is accessible to a
larger public,” observed Vera Eliashevsky and Marta Farion, co-chairs of the commemoration.  Eliashevsky heads the Chicago-Kyiv Sister Cities project and Farion heads the Kyiv-Mohyla
Foundation.  They organized and produced the commemoration with an 18-member Exhibition and Conference Committee, supplemented by a cadre of 15 university students and

At the awards ceremony, individuals who contributed to the awareness about Holodomor over many years were recognized.   Nicholas Mischenko, Ivanna Gorchynsky and Myron
Kuropas were honored for their work within the Ukrainian community.  James Mace was honored in memoriam.

Five Illinois legislators also were recognized: Governor Rod Blagojevich, State Senators Jacqueline Collins and Ira Silverstein and State Representatives John Fritchey and Paul
Froehlich.  All had supported the Illinois law, passed in 2005, that requires the teaching of all genocides in secondary schools in the state, including Holodomor.  Thus far, Illinois is the
only state with such a law.

The 75th Anniversary Committee was initiated by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Illinois branch and the Ukrainian Genocide-Famine Foundation, whose heads, Paul
Bandriwsky and Nicholas Mischenko, respectively, served as vice-chairmen of the committee.

The commemorative event was made possible by the continued generous financial contributions of The Heritage Foundation of First Security Federal Savings Bank and Selfreliance
Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union.
NPR's Worldview host
Jerome McDonnell
interviews conference
speakers discussing the
Ukrainian Genocide on WBEZ
91.5 FM.

You can pick up the program on the web archive at
NPR's Worldview host
Jerome McDonnell
interviews conference
speakers discussing the
Ukrainian Genocide  on WBEZ
91.5 FM.

You can  pick up the program on the web archive at
Students from St. Volodymyr
Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral
Ukrainian School attend the
Committee Vice Chair Paul Bandriwsky (R)
Committee Vice Chair Paul Bandriwsky (R)
presents award to Rep. John Fritchey (L) for
on teaching the Ukrainian Genocide in K-12
public schools in  Illinois
Committee Chair Nestor Popowych conducts
Candelight Ceremony with children
Panelists at the conference included (L to R)
Nigel Colley, Archbishop Alexander Bykowetz,
Vitaly Chernetsky (moderator), Lubomyr
Luciuk, and Volodymyr Chumachenko (at
"Holodomor" film producer
Marta Tomkiw (L) and director
Bobby Leigh (R)
Nigel Colley shows eyewitness documents
of his great-uncle Gareth Jones describing
Holodomor in 1933.
Acting Consulate General of Ukraine Kyrylo
Kalyta and Committee Vice Chair Paul
Bandriwsky present award to Ukrainian
Genocide Famine Foundation - USA
President Nicholas Mischenko
    Photos by John Olshansky