Winnipeg Sun, Canada
June 1 2008

World forgets, Canada remembers


Canada's planned recognition of the 1932-1933 genocide, or Holdomor,
in Ukraine is very significant, even if long overdue. It was also
apropos for this week's visit of Ukraine's President Viktor
Yushchenko, who remains that troubled nation's best hope for democracy
and continued independence.

Ottawa's decision was motivated as much by ethnic politics as historic
justice, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government deserves kudos
for doing the right thing.

For eight decades, the greatest mass murder in modern history has been
shamefully covered up or ignored. I was shocked to receive letters
from young Ukrainian-Canadians saying they had known nothing about the
Holdomor until reading about it in my columns. Hopefully, more now
will know.

>From 1932-33, Josef Stalin and henchmen, Lazar Kaganovich and
V.M. Molotov, conducted a merciless campaign to crush resistance by
Ukrainian farmers to communism and collectivization. They isolated
Ukraine, then cut off all food supplies and seeds. Six to nine
million Ukrainians died from the ensuing man-made famine and mass
executions of "anti-State elements." Cannibalism became common.

Large numbers of Ukrainians were also murdered during the Great Terror
of 1936-38 in which an estimated two million Soviet citizens were shot
and the same number died in Stalin's concentration camps.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Soviet penal system reached its
zenith: 5.4 million people were prisoners in the gulag or in frigid
Siberian exile.


Some 300,000 more Ukrainians were sent to the gulag under the
supervision of Commissar Nikita Khrushchev, and 21,259 were killed in
Soviet "pacification" campaigns.

During the same period, Moscow unleashed terror on the tiny Baltic
states. From March to May 1949, 95,000 Lithuanians, 27,000 of them
children, were sent to concentration camps. In total, 120,000
Lithuanians, 50,000 Latvians and 30,000 Estonians went to the gulag
where the death rate was 51% per annum.

While the western world rightly commemorates genocide inflicted on
Armenians, Europe's Jews, Cambodians, Rwandans and Bosnians, it
shamefully shut its eyes to the Ukrainian Holdomor because it was
conducted by a key wartime ally whom President F.D. Roosevelt hailed
as "Uncle Joe."

Nor has the West ever acknowledged genocide against other peoples of
the Soviet Union. In the Caucasus, Stalin sent most of the Chechen and
Ingush peoples to the gulag, where 500,000 died. Yet when the children
of the survivors fought for independence from Russia, the West branded
them "Islamic terrorists."

Up to three million Muslims of the Soviet Union died at Stalin's
hands, including 1.5 million Kazakhs and Crimean Tatars. No holocaust
memorials exist for them.

Nearly 100,000 Moldovans were murdered in a purge conducted by then
Commissar Leonid Brezhnev, who would later lead the Soviet Union and
be feted by Western leaders.

Add to this butcher's bill Volga Germans, Greeks, Cossacks, Armenians
and Poles.

If we keep demanding that Germany and Japan atone for their wartime
crimes, is it not time for our governments to finally recognize and
atone their alliances with the biggest mass murderer in history,
Stalin? His crimes exceeded those of Adolf Hitler by a factor of at
least four times. Particularly so in the United States, where the
Second World War has become something of a state religion and is
invoked endlessly to justify foreign military adventures. Soviet
dissident Vladimir Bukovsky demanded a Nuremburg trial for all the
Soviet crimes, but unfortunately this will never happen. Most of the
criminals are dead.

Canada's recognition of this historic crime is important for two
reasons. First, Canada is one of the world's most respected
nations. Its acknowledgement of the Holdomor will be heard around the
globe. Second, nostalgia for Stalin is on the rise in today's
Russia. His memory and politics are being rehabilitated. Russians must
be reminded of his crimes and reign of terror.

In "les abuses de la memoire," the Bulgarian-born French philosopher
Tzvetan Todorov wrote, "Life cannot withstand death, but memory is
gaining in its struggle against nothingness." t/2008/06/01/5735361-sun.html