KENT -- One of the most tragic events of the 20th century, only recently making its way into history books, is the focus of a unique exhibit at Kent State University.
The photo and film display examines Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's extermination of up to 10 million Ukrainians from 1932 to 1933. The mass murder has become known as the Holodomor, Ukrainian for "famine genocide."
"He decided to crush the Ukrainian nation, and he selected a terrible means, a famine," said Dr. Michael Kalinski, a Kent State University professor who brought the exhibit to campus as part of the University's 10th annual Symposium on Democracy.
Kalinski explained how "Stalin ordered all food, all harvest, taken away from the entire territory of Ukraine, and it was done forcefully," and how "any attempt to hide the food was punished severely."
The professor, who was born in Ukraine says, "that's why as the famine continued any resistance went out. Stalin was known to say there were too many Ukrainians to send to Siberia."
The holodomor affected Kalinski's family. "My own Grandfather, a Ukrainian priest, died in 1932 in the midst of famine," Kalinski revealed. He said his grandmother dared not tell him of his grandfather's death for fear of being imprisoned herself for 25 years.
The exhibit is located in Room 200 of White Hall on the Kent State campus. It will run through May 8, 2009. Kalinski says visitors to the special event will be deeply affected.
"If you will see one picture from that time," he promised, "it will change you."
Click on the video to the right to see Dick Russ' video report on the special KSU exhibit.
The Great Famine in
Ukraine Recounted as Part of Symposium on Democracy
Kent State University will display "Holodomor, The History of Genocide by Famine," told in photographs, in the Gerald H. Read Room in White Hall from April 24 to May 8, 2009. Ukrainian scholar Roman Serbyn will address the Holodomor with his presentation "Photographic Evidence of the Ukrainian Genocidal Famine, 1932-1933," in White Hall, Room 200 on May 1 at 7 p.m.
The display and speaker are presented in conjunction with the university's 10th annual Symposium on Democracy, "Re-membering: Framing, Embracing, Revising History." Both events are free and open to the public.
Dr. Michael Kalinski, professor of exercise physiology, says the Ukraine Great Famine is one of the greatest tragedies in human history that has yet to be fully known to the world.
"The Ukrainian genocide is not well known because it was covered up by the Soviets until 1991 when Ukraine became independent," Kalinski says. "Since then, many archives have been opened and the truth about what happened came out."
Kalinski immigrated to the United States in 1991 from Ukraine, and has been with Kent State since 1998. He is a recent Fulbright Scholar and last year was awarded an honorary doctorate from a medical university in Ukraine.
He takes part in the Ukrainian life around Cleveland and because of his involvement in Ukrainian organizations, he received an e-mail about the availability of an exhibition on the great famine.
The series of 100 posters was produced by the League of Ukrainian Canadians Citizens in cooperation with the Museum of Soviet Occupation of the Kyiv Memorial Society in Ukraine. The poster series will be displayed at numerous colleges, universities, churches, civic organizations and other places around the United States and the world. The display at Kent State is free and open to the public.
Kalinski felt it was important to bring this display to Kent State so that more people would be informed about what happened to the Ukraine people during that time.
The cause of the Holodomor, translated from Ukrainian as "death by starvation," is still debated today. Even though the cause is still vigorously discussed, there is no doubt in many countries that the Ukraine genocide by famine did occur. In 2003, the United Nations identified it as a world crime.
Since then the Canadian Senate, the United States House of Representatives and the European Parliament have recognized the Holodomor as a crime against humanity.
On Sept. 23, 2008, the United States House of Representatives passed the Holodomor Resolution in which they expressed their support for encouraging the broad dissemination of information regarding the Ukrainian Famine in order to expand the world's knowledge of this man-made tragedy.
Last December, a groundbreaking ceremony for a Holodomor memorial was held in Washington, D.C.
By hosting the exhibition about the Ukraine Great Famine, Kalinski says Kent State is doing what the House of Representatives requested in their resolution.
"This is not a dead issue," Kalinski says. "We are doing what the House of Representatives have asked."
More information about all the events which comprise the Symposium on Democracy can be found online.
Please note: The Gerald H. Read Room will be used periodically for meetings during normal business hours, so to ensure availability of the display, contact the Center for International and Intercultural Education in advance at 330-672-3585.
By Mary Jo Spletzer