A look at the 1930s’ Ukrainian FamineSen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., presented the Ukrainian Cultural Institute with four historically significant books that document the tragic famine that ravaged the Ukraine during the early 1930s at a ceremony at the institute Tuesday.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., presented the Ukrainian Cultural Institute with four historically significant books that document the tragic famine that ravaged the Ukraine during the early 1930s at a ceremony at the institute Tuesday.
“We compiled 200 interviews from survivors, victims’ families and government officials,” Dorgan said of the Congressional Commission on the Ukrainian Famine. “And even to this day the Russians deny it ever happened.”
The famine, known in the Ukraine as the “Holodomor,” took place in 1932 and 1933 and millions of Ukrainians died of starvation.
The famine began because “Russia occupied the Ukraine and they wanted the Ukraine to become Russian. They wanted to do away with private farms,” said Agnes Palanuk, Ukrainian Cultural Institute Board member. “When the people resisted they were punished by starvation.
“The people from this area did not have any relatives that suffered the famine.”
But they were still affected by it.
“I can remember my parents were sitting in the kitchen and talking about the famine when I was little,” she said. “I was sitting on the floor and heard them say ‘if they found even a few grains in peoples houses’ they would torture them.’
“I remember looking at the floor and thinking what if the Soviets found grain here, they would arrest my parents.”
The reason many North Dakota Ukrainians were not directly involved could be because “the majority of Ukrainian immigration to North Dakota happened between 1897 and 1914,” said Jennifer Bronson, Dorgan’s press secretary. It was well before the famine began.
“Immigrants were attracted to the state because of the promise of free land offered by the Homestead Act,” Bronson said.
The books are published in Ukrainian, Bronson said. The senator is also giving the institute a CD with supplemental materials and a link to an online electronic version in English.
To view the books or the electronic version, visit the Marie Halun Bloch Library at the Ukrainian Cultural Institute.
The institute is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday.