|Peter Borisow Keynote Address
Ukrainian Genocide Remembrance Day 2003 - 70th Anniversary
|Speech given by Peter Borisow at the
Chicagoland Commemoration for the 70th Anniversary
of the Ukrainian Genocide Famine of 1932-1933
Sponsored by the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation - USA
Bloomingdale, Illinois USA on September 21, 2003
When I came to Chicago last year to interview survivors of the Holodomor, I came with childhood memories of tears - the tears cried by my mother as she remembered how her brothers and sisters died of starvation, and
the tears that streaked down the faces of battle scarred veterans of the Ukrainian Partisan Army as they stood in St. Georges Church in New York and sang "Bozhe znime iz nas kaydane". The walls of the old church
shook as they prayed, "Lord, free us of these chains".
At the time, last year, I already believed it was genocide. But, I didn't understand why. I felt we needed to know more, much more, if we were to understand what happened to us as a nation and as a people and why. The
last year has proven to be one of revelation.
It began with an understanding of Holodomor. The word itself is important. Holodomor is a uniquely Ukrainian word that combines "holod", meaning "hunger", with "mor", meaning a "plague". Most important, "mordovate"
means "to torture".
Holodomor was a deliberate and relentless plague of torture and terror resulting in death by starvation. The torture element is a very important one.
Not everyone died in the Holodomor. But even those who survived were tortured by starvation and sadistic abuse. What greater torture can you inflict on human beings than to force them to watch helplessly as their
children starve to death in a hopeless hell?
This torture was calculated to dehumanize the Ukrainian people. It was designed to make sure there would remain a collective memory of doubt and fear to stop future resistance. And, to a large extent, it worked. To this
day, there are still many survivors who fear speaking of the torture they suffered, both physical and psychological.
Then came the realization that there was not just one Holodomor, but three. Before the 10 million Ukrainians killed in 1932-33, there were 3 million killed the same way in 1921-24. And, another million were killed in
1946. There were three cycles of Holodomor in Ukraine, killing a total of 14 million innocent men, women and children.
Recent research in Ukraine has demonstrated that in addition to the three cycles of Holodomor, Ukraine suffered at least three cycles of massive executions and deportations that killed no fewer than four million more
Ukrainians -- the slaughter of the Ukrainian intelligentsia in the late 20's, the slaughter of the middle class (the kurkuls) in the early 30's and the purges of the late 30's.
Viewed together these events reveal an indisputable pattern of on-going genocide that in a period of 25 years killed 18 million people, fully half of the Ukrainian population. The pattern also reveals that it was clearly
targeted against Ukrainians, inside Ukraine and outside Ukraine. The so-called Russians who died in the Kuban and Lower Volga were almost entirely Ukrainians. Entire regions of Ukraine were depopulated and
Ukrainians were replaced by Russians.
Stepping further back to view the larger picture, we quickly realize that the pattern of genocide in Ukraine started long before communism appeared.
It began centuries earlier when Peter the First - I will not call him Great - decided to create an Empire by inventing the Myth of Russia. In order to turn his frozen back woods outposts into a credible empire, he needed a
history, and a church to bless it.
Ukraine had all that -- so he conquered it. Ukrainian history became Russian history. The head of the Ukrainian Church was arrested, marched off to Moscow and declared to be to head of the Russian Church. Suddenly,
Russia had an empire, a history and a church to bless it all.
The only problem was those pesky Ukrainians who just wouldn't cooperate and become Russian. That began a centuries long effort by Russia to destroy the Ukrainian nation and Ukrainian national identity.
The Holodomor was not a stand alone effort to collectivize farms in Ukraine. It was an especially brutal period in the long history of genocide by Russia in Ukraine.
Mr. Chernomyrdin says Russia has nothing for which to apologize, that there was suffering throughout Russia during collectivization. Mr. Chernomyrdin is a clever liar. Thanks to thousands of living witnesses who have
come forth to tell the truth, Ukrainians now know what happened in the Holodomor.
We remember those places along the border where there was no food on the Ukrainian side, plenty of food on the Russian side and armed guards in between, with orders to shoot to kill.
We remember how travelers were searched for food and even a single loaf of bread was seized at the border and the "smugglers" punished.
We remember what it was like to be trapped in a place where the mere possession of tiny bits of food by "enemies of the people" was against the law and punishable by exile or death.
We remember how they turned the entire country of Ukraine into