Marking the 85th Anniversary of Holodomor and bringing a better understanding of it to the UK audiences: what Ukrainian Institute London has done

Ukrainian Institute London joins worldwide commemoration of 85th anniversary of Holodomor: Ukraine’s Great Famine of 1930s. Over the course of 2017-2018 we have spoken about Holodomor with British audiences from different angles. Trying to explain and reveal new information about this significant part of the Ukrainian history was in the core of our events programme. It was a revelation for us to see just how much public interest in Britain could be generated by a topic of Ukraine's Famine. We wanted to take this opportunity to give an overview of our recent events with the focus on the Holodomor.

In September 2017, the Insitute’s Patron, Washington Post columnist and historian Anne Applebaum launched her new book ‘Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine’. Anne spent over 4 years working on this research, looking into newly opened archived documents, analyzing recorded evidences of the survivors. Speaking to the audience of nearly 250 people at EBRD, she said: "The idea that the leader of a huge country would deliverately kill its people by depriving them of food was not believed in the west for a very long time. Stalin's motivation is now much clearer, too. To understand his murderous policies of the 1930s in relation to Ukraine, one has to go to 1917, the year of the Bolshevik Revolution and of Ukraine's national revolution. Two years later, a massive peasant anti-Bolshevik revolt swept Ukraine, as Bolshevik attempted to occupy it many times before succeeding." 

Full video recording can be viewed here; photo report here.

In June 2018 we screened ‘Hunger for Truth’ - a feature length documentary telling a story of Rhea Clyman, a young Canadian reporter who traversed the starving Soviet heartland when Stalin’s man made famine was just beginning. This remarkably resourceful and courageous woman was banned from the USSR for writing about Holodomor and the Gulag. The discussion of the film brought up an interesting point about similarities in disinformation campaigns, rolled out by Kremlin back in the 1930s to cover the famine in Ukraine and to cover its covert operations in eastern Ukraine, as well as annexation of Crimea. The film, produced by a an American-Ukrainian film director Andrew Tkach, weaved both themes into one single narrative. 

See full recording of the post screening talk here.

In October 2018 we hosted a talk by Daria Mattingly, researcher from the Cambridge Ukrainian Studies, who has just completed her doctoral research into the rank-and-file perpetrators of Holodomor. A painful truth to acknowledge: thousands of Ukrainians were involved into executing Stalin's Great Famine on the ground, and often these were local villagers, teachers, Communist activist and even student, she said to the audience at Ukrainian Institute London.  Their motives were manifold, but only a very small percentage was motivated by ideology. 

Daria was joined by Samara Pierce, the great granddaughter of Alexander Weinerberger, who photographed the Famine. She demonstrated the vintage family album with original 1930s photos from Kharkiv and shared her fascinating family story.