Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Holodomor - the next step?

The Edmonton Journal today published an article that argues for the perpetrators of the Holodomor to be brought to justice.

Problem is, of course, that few of them would likely be alive today. It was, after all, 75 years ago, and the perpetrators would be over 100 years old... older, even, than any surviving Nazis.

So there will likely be a raging debate as to whether or not there is any point in pursuing them.

Some will say that if even only one of those monsters remains alive, they should be pursued to the ends of the earth and made to account for their crimes.

Others will say that it is a waste of resources after all this time, and better to just "learn from history" and move on.

It's a very emotional issue and a perplexing situation. Just what is the "right thing to do"?

Twenty years ago, Ukrainians the world over celebrated a millenium of Christianity in Ukraine. It was before the fall of communism, and naturally the (atheist) Soviets in Moscow tried to appropriate the event in the public discourse and all the photo ops that went with it. The western media fell into slavish step and did its best to accommodate them.

But I digress. My question is, would it serve Ukrainians better to consider calling on those 1000 years of Christian heritage and come up with a better solution?

I imagine this call to pursue the perpetrators of the Holodomor will resonate with contemporary native Ukrainians (especially since 80 years of official atheism have come between them and that heritage).

It resonates with me, too. Although I'm Canadian-born (as are my parents) and didn't have any immediate family perish in the Holodomor, this genocide deeply grieves me. I had kin there. Distant, sure. But I still had a bloodline connection to those who did perish. And so does everyone on this planet with even a drop of Ukrainian blood in them.

But might forgiving and not forgetting perhaps be a better solution than executing extremely elderly criminals?

Knowing Ukrainians as I do, I don't really even need to ask that question. It's done. And I think the author of that article knows that, too. After all, he just spent the last 20 years fighting on behalf of survivors of the WWI Canadian internment operations who didn't ask for money or even an apology. All they wanted was that the world remember and acknowledge what what was done to them, and learn from the past so it is never done again to anyone else.

In light of the breathtaking denial of the Holodomor still happening in western and post-soviet academic and media circles, remembering and acknowledging this horrific genocide is the least the world can do. Isn't the fact that genocide is still happening somewhere in the world as you read these words reason enough to learn from the past?

As for the perpetrators of the Holodomor, the Christian way is to forgive and leave any retribution to divine forces. If any of these criminals are still alive they wouldn't have many years left anyway. For them to leave this earth in disgrace, knowing they will forever be remembered as monsters, and that their evil legacy will not live on, may be the worst punishment the world could offer.

As in the Canadian example, Ukrainians have never asked for much. Just that the world remember, and acknowledge.

After 75 years of denial, it's time to do the right thing.


Ukemonde said...

I recently saw this article which really blew me away.
"Estonia tries Soviet war figure"
you can view the caption on my blog:
I think Ukraine should publish a list of persons who were direcly implicated in the Holodomor Famine 1932-1933. This could be sent out and published on all Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian Websites. Of cource the list would be shown at the Holodomor Museum of Memory in Kyiv once it is all set up.
Much needs to be done on this, to bring it to the forefront.


Stanislav said...

In Ukraine it is different because even many Holodomor perpetrators are passed away up to this date, but theirs step fellows, former НКВД/KGB agents are still alive and wearing uniform of Red Army - winner of WW2. This is an issue, they are hiding behind real combatants and they are very very loud and practically untouchable because they are wearing that uniform. So, in Canada it would be easier. I am not sure about Christian forgiveness in this case, KGB minded people are still active and they are dreaming (publicly!) about new repressions, restoration of totalitarian empire, etc.

Pawlina said...

I agree, Roman. It would be a very good idea to publicize the names of the perpetrators. I'd go even further, and list their crimes. Even post-humously, they should be held accountable.

I do feel sorry, tho, for any direct descendants of these monsters. If they didn't inherit their "monster genes" and are good people, they don't deserve to live in shame for what someone else did.

OTOH, I suppose it is better to know the truth about one's ancestors than not...

Pawlina said...

Stan, you make a good point about Ukraine.

Even in Canada we have a hard time holding our politicians accountable. How much more difficult it must be in Ukraine, where the equivalent of nazis are running amok and unimpeded.

I suppose this is why Yushchenko considers the Holodomor such an important issue. Yes, there are immediate, practical matters that need to be sorted out, but I suspect he feels that psychological healing on the national level is an important step in creating a citizenry that can come together to do that sorting out. Because one person can't do it all, neither in a democracy nor in an autocracy.

As for Christian forgiveness, I hope you read the part where I wrote to "forgive but not forget" ...

I think that's where a lot of people get it wrong when it comes to understanding Christian forgiveness.

The idea is not about being a doormat. It's a matter of practicality. Why waste resources to hunt down senile old men, put them on trial and then hasten their imminent death? That's just vengeance. And what is the point?

Especially when those resources could be much better spent, IMO, to educate the public about their crimes.

Vasyl said...

Both Roman and Stanislav make good points. But as Pawlina said earlier, what are the chances that any of them are still alive.

Those who are vetrans of the Great Patriotic War as they like to call it over her are really of different ilks. Some of them can be considered heroes, while there are other like Stanislav suggest who hide behind their uniform and are unfortunately untouchable. I have friends who as children witnessed the raping of women by Soviet Soldiers, and it is usually this ilk of vetrans who like to wear their "blyashky" on their chests, and are most likely these vetrans who are famine deniers. I have never seen one of them during Holodomor Commeration Ceremonies in Kyiv.

Article 2 of the Law on the Holodomor of 1993-1933 in Ukraine reads as follows:

Стаття 2. Публічне заперечення Голодомору 1932-1933 років в Україні визнається наругою над пам'яттю мільйонів жертв Голодомору, приниженням гідності Українського народу і є

Which in short translates as the following:
"Public denial of the Holodomor of 1932-1993 in Ukraine is recognized as a dishonor to the memory o the millions of victims of the Holodomor, degradation of the dignity of the Ukrainian people and is against the law."

The question is, what is the punishment of these famine deniers? There are plenty of them around...I have heard members of the Party of Regions publicly challenge talk show host Roman Chajka and others during a broadcast that the Holodomor is propoganda of the diaspora what work as spies for their governments. There are plenty of other examples, and individuals who think just like this guy should be punished.

They should not be allowed to run for or hold public office, work in the educational system, or recieve any social assistance from the government of Ukraine. In fact, I think they should be stripped of their Ukrainian citizenship and deported to a country a little to the north of Ukraine, that has lately become as despotic as it once was during the time that the old vetrans long and pine for.

Vasyl said...


Just thought I would add a little more on the Meri story for readers of the Nash Holos blog. For some reason the link didn't show up on your blog.


Pawlina said...

Bingo, Vasyl. That's exactly the point I was making.

Direct human as well as financial resources to discrediting the deniers.

Because invariably denial is an indication of an inherent lack of compassion, and respect, for others.

Pawlina said...

Thanks also for that link, Vasyl. I must say it throws a considerable bit more light on the subject.

This just underscores my point. See how much an informal, unpaid communications network can do towards getting the truth out.

Just imagine what a professional, well-financed network could do. The world would be a different (and I daresay better) place.

Vasyl said...

Just read a fascinating post by my friend Stefko Bandera over at the Kyiv Scoop. Stefko found an article in Kyiv in the Toronto Daily Star from Monday November 13, 1993 regarding the situation in Ukraine.

The article is entitled: Soviet grain tax blamed for hardship of peasants and can be read in its entirety here.

Hats off to Stefko for shedding some light on these pages of our history.