To the Ukraine Famine
After visiting the Krakow Castle Complex (Wawel) we decided to walk slowly back to the main square, Rynek Glowney. Part of the way was along the Planty (the park established around the city after the fortified ring walls were demolished by the Austrians in the early 1800s). Along here we came across a small memorial on a wall, which turned out to be a wonderful example of how finding new things in travel can open up so much new information and understanding. An example of why it’s important to take note of all (or as much as possible) that we see when traveling.
It was a small memorial and when we read the plaque (in Russian, Polish and English) the information didn’t mean much to us then. It’s a commemoration of the victims of the Great Famine in Ukraine.
Almost everyone has heard of the Great (Potato) Famine in Ireland, which led to mass emigration to many countries, notably the USA. But, how many people have heard of the Great Ukraine Famine? We certainly hadn’t, so we decided to check.
Turns out, it was a very momentous event.
It’s known as the Holodomor (meaning ‘to kill by starvation’), a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-1933. During the Holodomor between 3-8 million Ukrainians are estimated to have died of starvation. Millions of birth defects due to extremely poor nutrition also occurred after the end of the Holodomor. Some scholars believe that the Holodomor was planned by Joseph Stalin to eliminate a Ukrainian independence movement. They achieved this by rejecting outside aid when the harvest was failing, by going house to house and confiscating household foodstuffs, and restricting people’s movements.
For many years, the word Holodomor was forbidden and discussion of the event was limited, but after 1980 discussion became more open. Since 2006, Ukraine and many other countries have called this event a genocide.
For a more scholarly and political discussion of many aspects of this, there’s a lot of information in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor