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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, March 25, 2009, 9:00 am ET

    Letter to the New York Times underscores issues surrounding a 76-year-old crime against humanity

    Dear Mr. Levy:

    Thank you for your recent article about the Holodomor in Ukraine (A New View of a Famine That Killed Millions by Clifford J. Levy, March 15, 2009). As a Ukrainian American born in the 1950s, this is a conflicted story that has been with me most of my life. On one hand, for decades, I had heard from historians and media that there had been no famine, or that yes, maybe there had been a famine, but only a small one, or really, there was some bad luck with bad weather, or that I/we/Ukrainians were all crazy, simply motivated by nationalist fervor, or … etc. etc.

    On the other hand, my own personal experiences with individuals in my community who lived through – as we knew it then – the Great Famine of 1932-33 (Velykiy Holod) – could not be denied. I remember visiting homes of childhood friends whose basements were stockpiled with dusty old cans and boxes of food – my introduction to hoarding – a common obsession among immigrant parents and grandparents who had survived the Holodomor. Later in life, I learned that my great-grandmother was a member of a league of women in Western Ukraine that organized food shipments to send across the border into Soviet Ukraine. The shipments apparently were blocked – I was told that food was dumped as proof that there was so much food in Soviet Ukraine that that there was no need to waste the time to transport the shipments further inland.

    This extreme polarity of truths – denial (Walter Duranty) of a widespread famine, one that many believed to be politically-motivated and avoidable, versus the experiences of those who survived and bore witness to massive starvation has caused deep, deep bitterness.

    The NYT acted very shabbily in the past with regard to information about the famine. In fact, I suspect that you may receive letters that will say "why only now? why so little? why on a Monday?" and other expressions of frustration and anger. There is much merit to these expressions. Nevertheless, I also know that many of us also very much value whatever small steps the NYT is taking to come out of the cold on this issue. So again, thank you.

    I agree with Kulchytsky that it is important for people to understand that horror is not an abstraction, that horror is often not an exception in human behavior. We need to be diligent in our daily lives and to be aware of and try to understand the political, social, economic, personal motivations and factors that can lead to horrors such as the Holodomor – factors that include disinformation and denial of facts.

    I am not sure that NYT will ever buck up and acknowledge that their powerful reputation gave undue credence to Duranty's obfuscation and denial of what actually was happening during the late 1920s-1930s in the Soviet Union – including the painful-to-read and obsequious reporting for which he received his Pulitzer Prize – but giving voice to Stanislav Kulchytsky was a good step in the right direction.

    Irene Jarosewich
    Clifton, New Jersey

    More from the New York Times...

    Letter to the Editor: The Ukraine Famine
    Ulana Mazurkevich
    Philadelphia, March 18, 2009
    New York Times
    Published: March 24, 2009


    A New View of a Famine That Killed Millions
    By CLIFFORD J. LEVY
    New York Times
    Published: March 15, 2009

    KIEV, Ukraine — A quarter century ago, a Ukrainian historian named Stanislav Kulchytsky was told by his Soviet overlords to concoct an insidious cover-up. His orders: to depict the famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930s as unavoidable, like a natural disaster. Absolve the Communist Party of blame. Uphold the legacy of Stalin.

    Professor Kulchytsky, though, would not go along.

    Read the entire article


    75 Years Later, Survivor Helps Commemorate Ukrainian Famine
    By PETER DUFFY
    New York Times
    Published: December 19, 2007


    Remembering Ukraine’s Holocaust
    New York Times
    Published: December 10, 2008, 12:10 pm


    World Briefing | Europe: Ukraine: Parliament Recognizes Soviet-Era Famine As Genocide
    By STEVEN LEE MYERS
    Published: November 29, 2006


    A City of Memorials Finds Itself Filling Up
    By FELICITY BARRINGER
    New York Times
    Published: December 30, 2006


    Times Should Lose Pulitzer From 30's, Consultant Says
    By JACQUES STEINBERG
    New York Times
    Published: Thursday, October 23, 2003



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