Friday, December 5, 2008

WATCH: "Harvest of Despair" (Holodomor doc) 1/6

The 75th anniversary of Holodomor (Great Famine) here in Ukraine passed recently. 

Politics are overshadowing the human element of Holodomor. Ukraine claims the famine to be an act of genocide committed by the Soviets but Russia denies this view, claiming it was a natural event that effected other regions besides Ukraine. Given the realities of Stalinism, the Russian defense is offensive. 

I am not an expert on history or culture in Ukraine or Russia. But I do have an opinion based on my experiences here. 

My travels in Ukraine began in the central and eastern regions. When I arrived I had books on the Ukrainian language but they were pretty useless. Most people spoke Russian and bits of Ukrainian. It was only when I got to western Ukraine that people actually spoke Ukrainian in their homes and in the markets.

The linguistic landscape in Ukraine today likely reflects the ethnic motivation of the crime. Historians estimate that as much as half of the Ukrainian population was starved to death. Then the abandoned homes were repopulated by Russians and the Ukrainian language was outlawed in schools (WIKI). Today Ukrainian is really only spoken in the western part of Ukraine, which was part of Poland at the time of the famine. 

Ok, enough proselytizing. I have been uploading 10 minute clips of a 60 minute documentary on Holodomor to my Youtube channel. Part one of six is embedded below:

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