It's been a rough week - and I'm not talking about our early winter and the ice-covered streets and sidewalks - that's just November in Winnipeg. I'm referring to the Holodomor commemoration that went on all week. I went to our legislative building - a huge, imposing structure made of limestone and fit for a king - last Sunday and heard Ukrainian choirs sing. There was even a German Mennonite choir - for it wasn't just Ukrainians and Russians who got caught in Stalin's ambitious economic vision.
There was also a display area with posters of art and facts about the famine. All we can do now is remember. It seems to be too little, too late - and yet, it's by remembering
that we acknowledge that it happened and for survivors like these women, (fewer men are left to share these stories because they were war casualties), it must mean so much, to not forget the horrors of death by hunger.
Stalin admits to ten million deaths because of his collective farm initiative. My mom narrowly avoided death during collectivization, and then because of my grandfather's selflessness, she avoided the famine by being adopted out and leaving USSR in January, 1932 - one season before the holodomor set in.
(My photo taking skills can only get better - I hope. Clicking on photos should enlarge them.)
My grandfather stayed behind and survived the famine. Of course, in the end, Stalin got him during the mass shootings of the 1937 Great Terror.
I also got to watch a Ukrainian-made movie, Famine-33 by Oles Yanchuk, based on a book called The Yellow Prince. It was a very sad film. Slow, painful, and bleak.