November 24, 2013

Candles are lit and memories are ignited during these final November days of 2013. This year marks eighty years since one of the largest acts of genocide in modern European history. The famine-genocide raged in Soviet Ukraine and other regions of the Soviet Union. Known as the Holodomor (a compound of the Ukrainian words holod meaning “famine” and mor meaning “death”) ravaged the fertile countryside in what was the greatest irony of the twentieth century.  We remain largely unaware of the Holodomor and its repercussions. Things are changing. Traumas experienced in the last century are slowly being redressed. 

A gamut of complex, often conflicting, emotions surfaced in this commemorative year. It has been a year of questions and condolences, regrets and hopes. As a child of a Holodomor survivor, I was faced with deeply introspective, existential questions—it was, after all, a generation which separated my own being with the spectre of genocidal oblivion. I regret not being more attentive to the testimony of my father, who had witnessed first-hand the atrocities of both Soviet and Nazi regimes.

Eight decades have passed since the Holodomor and we remain largely unaware of its repercussions. The topic has been long-neglected in the field of scholarship and only recently the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 has received a modicum of media attention. Things are changing. Traumas experienced in the last century are slowly being redressed. I continue to place my faith in the restorative power of art; a force which creates forums of discussion, puncturing the silence of sleep.

Ukraine Remembers – the World Acknowledges