The Un-heard of Genocide

The Ukrainian Famine - A genocide in which most of the world was kept in the dark.

Have you ever not eaten enough, then have to work through a day, with your stomach growling? Multiply that by 100, and experience it for 2 straight years. That's what happened to the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian Famine, a period of forced starvation of the Ukrainians, was a horrific genocide. Even though it is not widely known about, it was just as terrible as the others. We need to understand this genocide in order for this to never happen again.

The Ukrainian Famine occurred from 1932-1933. (United Human Rights Council) It began when Joseph Stalin decided he wanted to consolidate the new Communist Empire. Stalin saw Ukraine as the largest non-Russian country, and felt that it needed to be controlled, because even the communists in Ukraine opposed Stalin's control. It was a strong country that he needed to take down. (Dr. Myron B. Kuropas) He controlled the Ukrainian people by taking away their basic human rights. Ukraine, where this genocide happened, is located in eastern Europe. Some of its bordering countries are Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Slovakia, and Russia (Maps of World). In the past, Ukrainians had tried to gain independence from Russian rule a bit earlier than 1920. After about ten years of fighting, Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union in 1922.

The conditions that the people endured were unbearable. On the way to the work camps, the Ukrainian people were piled into train cars. The floor was covered in mud, but sitting would be much preferred to standing because of how tight they were packed. The Ukrainian people were forced to work all day, until they couldn’t work anymore. By that time, their hands were bloody with blisters, or they have been beaten for not doing enough work.

People piling into and on-top of train cars, with no idea what happens next.

After a days of hard work, they were given a mere 300 grams of bread after working all day, which is not enough to live on. (Sepetys, Ruta). Because of this they were forced to steal, or buy food with their last precious valuables. A woman who lived in Ukraine all of her life tells of her horrific experiences, "So we had a little piece of that (horse) skin, a little piece of bread, and that is how we survived." (BBC News). They killed the family horse, and then they ate all of the meat until it went bad. When the meat went bad, they waited until the skin dried out, and ate that with their bread.

On top of the problem with hunger, they were constantly in fear of being hurt or punished by the NKVD officers. The NKVD, Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del, was a law enforcement agency of the Soviet Union. The Officers do what they want to you, including beat you, and even rape the women. People who resisted were shot, or denied food rations. So many people were forced to comply, or chose death. And 25,000 people died every day from the combination of these conditions and routine killings. In all, a total of over 2 million people were killed over the course of the genocide. (United Human Rights Council)

A pile of bodies, killed by the NKVD.

Many of the aspects of the Ukrainian genocide were present in other genocides. The people are classified when they are put into the trains to be taken to the camps. They are divided into prisoners and NKVD. Once they are divided, it is impossible to change your label. Ukrainians are dehumanized when the train cars they are put in are labeled, “Prostitutes and thieves.” This makes it easier for the people who don’t know who these people are to hurt them, and treat them badly. It makes it easier for the NKVD to convince themselves that they deserve this.

One of the Ukrainian prisoners' identification document.

Organization and Polarization happen at the same time as people are divided into work groups. The groups are strong men and boys, women, children, and weak or old. Then, they proceed to kill the weak, old and young children. The NKVD prepare when they put the Ukrainians into work camps. The weak and the people who resisted were exterminated. After all of this happens, and while it happens, the Soviets deny it. They close off Ukraine and the other countries that they occupied from the rest of the world, and after this was over, they deny that it ever happened. That’s why so many people don’t know about it today.

The Ukrainian Famine is a genocide that needs to be remembered. More than 2 million people were killed, and others were hurt, who did nothing to provoke it. Even though it is not as widely known about as others, it was just as terrible. We need to understand how and why this genocide happened, so we can prevent it from ever happening again.

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"Ukraine Famine." United Human Rights Council. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. <>.

"NKVD." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. <>.

"Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation - USA - Soviet Policy and the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-1933." Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation - USA - Soviet Policy and the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-1933. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. <>

"Holodomor: Memories of Ukraine's Silent Massacre - BBC News." BBC News. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <>.

"The Ukrainian Genocide." The Ukrainian Genocide. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <>.

"Where Is Ukraine | Ukraine Location in World Map." Where Is Ukraine | Ukraine Location in World Map. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <>.

People piling into train cars. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 May 2015. <>.

Dead Bodies. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 May 2015. <>.

Ukraine Identification Papers. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 May 2015. <>.

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