The Ukrainians that died blamed Stalin for the famine. The Ukrainians who escaped blamed Stalin. But in order to remain in the homeland and in order to survive, perhaps the Ukrainians who stayed in Ukraine had a more philosophical understanding of the causes of the succession of starvations. It was the policies of the Russian Communist Party, the Kremlin, the isolationist economic policies, and the production quotas based more on propaganda than on realistic crop projections, which caused the famines.

Reality dictates that the counter-revolutionary elements in the bread basket of the region would attribute the seizing of subsistence stockpiles to genocide. The peasants who remained in Eastern Ukraine had been freed from the landowners by the revolution. They supported the people’s government. My grandmother came from a family of reds.

The story goes that from lack of use, Gram lost all of her native language by the time she reached adulthood except for one song she could sing in Ukrainian, Le Internationale. She would weep at that scene in Casablanca when the partisans break into the french version of the song as resistance to the Nazis in Rick’s cafe singing about their fatherland above all others.

My gram ended up as a capitalist of the original type. She and her second husband worked hard enough to capitalize the profits they made in the old Portland produce market, to build a garden center and nursery out of a fruit stand in the Sellwood. They hired workers for the cheapest possible wage because they had worked for the cheapest wages when they had started out. They believed that business was inherently just.

Inspired by the controversy over the deaths of millions in the first half of the 20th century in Ukraine.

Regardless of the myth of the kind and much loved self-made man

Prime Minister Harper has recognized Ukraine’s Great Famine of 1932-1933 as a genocide, so why won’t Ukraine’s president do the same?

I witnessed an odd event recently. A statesman stood hallowing the victims of a genocide, while his country’s president ignored the ceremony, insisting there was no genocide.

Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, showed respect for Ukraine’s dead. Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president, did not. Reportedly, he has never entered the Kyiv museum to the Holodomor, the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine.

Yet Mr. Yanukovych’s behaviour was all but ignored while Mr. Harper’s words became the story. When the prime minister said that “almost” 10 million people starved, roughly Canada’s population in 1933, his critics accused him of poppycock. Scything several million off the death toll, they insisted that only a few million perished.

Scholarly estimates of Holodomor-related deaths do vary. A credible study by Jacques Vallin, one of France’s leading demographers, concluded that 2.6 million died of hunger. To this he added a crisis birth deficit of 1.1 million and about a million more transported to the Gulag – 4.6 million lives lost to Soviet Ukraine over the course of a year. Even this conservative figure places the Holodomor alongside the Shoah as one of history’s greatest crimes against humanity. (

There was Stalin’s transfer of Ukrainians to the mines of Siberia and Central Asia, resulting in the death of two million miners (


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