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Paper on the Topic:
The Holodomor of 1932-1933 and the Ukrainian Emigrant Community
Student in the Humanities Faculty (History)
National University of the Ostroh Academy
Ostroh Academy, 2004
1. How Ukrainian emigrants told the world about the famine in Ukraine
2. How émigré organizations protested against soviet policies in Ukraine and fed the hungry
Sources and literature
The Ukrainian emigrant community, often called the diaspora, has been an integral part of the socio-political history of the Ukrainian people.
Ukrainians abroad played an important role in applying experience and re-evaluating events during the period of national liberation efforts, in
promoting the Ukraine question in foreign communities, and in continuing the search for ways to make their country an independent state. At the
same time, Ukrainian emigrants were always on top of events in their homeland.
In contrast to the pre-revolutionary Ukrainian diaspora, which consisted largely of migrant workers, the wave of emigration that came as a result
of the failure of the battle for national liberation in 1917–1920 had a very strong political orientation. This was largely because who left the country
at this time were the leadership of key political organizations and members of the government bodies under the Central Committee, the State of
Ukraine, the Directorate, and the Western Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR), who represented a major part of the national, political, academic
and cultural elite as well as soldiers from the UNR Army. [1, p. 65]
Ukrainian emigrants set up community centers in all countries of Europe, in the US, Canada and Latin America. Despite differences in traditions,
religion and culture among emigrants from different regions of Ukraine, different social groups and different levels of education and internal
political differences, these people were able to maintain a high degree of national solidarity and common interest in the dramatic events taking
place in their homeland. The main areas in which the Ukrainian emigrants were active included disseminating information and advocacy around
the world, especially in the League of Nations, with the purpose of criticizing the Bolshevik government and revealing the crimes of the Stalin era.
Needless to say, they did not forget Ukraine’s greatest tragedy, the Holodomor or Great Famine of 1932–1933.
Without any doubt, the most positive phenomenon of their activity during this period was the way the entire Ukrainian community abroad
consolidated around the Holodomor in Ukraine. Casting aside their political ambitions and ideological squabbles, representatives of political
parties and community associations joined forces to establish a strong international voice regarding the terrible tragedy taking place in their
The issue of the place of the Ukrainian diaspora in informing the world community about the great famine in the Ukrainian SSR was often
illuminated by representatives of that same Ukrainian diaspora. Monographs such as “A Nation Struggling for Its Survival in 1932 and 1933 in
the Ukrainian Diaspora” (Winnipeg, 1985) by M. Marunchak, presented and disseminated at the TUIHA conference on the artificial famine in
Ukraine in 1932–1933 in New York on 19 November 1983, and O. Pytliar’s “Echoes of the Great Hunger among Ukrainians in the West,” printed
in the journal, “Path to Liberation” (1984, Vol. 2), presented this problem from a broad range of views. Specific aspects of the Ukrainian emigrant
community’s activities in relation to the Holodomor were the focus of articles in the Ukrainian expat press, such as Tryzub, Rebuilding the Nation,
Ukrainian Nationalist, Ukrainian Voice, and so on, and in generalized writing on the history of the Ukrainian emigrant community and its political
life in P. Polovetskiy’s “Stalin’s Accomplices in the Murder of a People by Hunger in 1933” (Munich, 1955), P. Mirchuk’s “A Brief History of the
OUN (Denver, undated), O. Shulhin’s “Without Territory: Ideology and the actions of the UNR Government in exile” (Kyiv, 1998) and others. This
could also be read about in memoirs, such as Yuriy Boyko’s “Nationalism and Eastern Ukrainian Lands During the Konovalets Era: Yevhen
Konovalets and his times” (Munich, 1974), Yevhen Onatskiy’s “In the Eternal City: Notes from a Ukrainian journalist in 1933” (Toronto, 1983),
and a collection of personal memoirs called “The Great Hunger in Ukraine: A collection of testimonies, memoirs, reports and articles presented
and printed in the press in 1983 on the 50th anniversary of the 1932–1933 famine in Ukraine” (Toronto, 1988).
The purpose of this article is to review and analyze the activities of the Ukrainian emigrant community and its organizations with regard to the
Holodomor of 1932–1933 in Ukraine on the basis of newly opened archives and printed materials, along with a better-grounded and systematic
discussion of the issue at hand. To reach this goal, three objectives were established:
• to examine the ways in which the Ukrainian emigrant community was active in relation to the Holodomor;
• to categorize the ways in which information about the Holodomor was disseminated by Ukrainian emigrants;
• to establish the significance of the activities of the Ukrainian diaspora in 1932–1933.
1. How Ukrainian emigrants told the world about the famine in Ukraine
All the soviet government’s disinformation and efforts to cover-up the truth about the terrible events in Ukraine were not enough to prevent the
collection of facts about the real state of affairs in the Ukrainian countryside. The State Center of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR), a
government-in-exile led by well-known politician and statesman A. Livytskiy, brought together one of the largest Ukrainian emigrant groups,
including former servicemen from the UNR Army, members of the Ukrainian diplomatic corps from the Directorate period, academics, teachers
and students from Ukrainian post-secondary institutions in Poland, CSR and other countries.
The Center lost no opportunity to provide objective information to the international community or to express, on behalf of the entire nation, protest
against the genocide being carried out by the Communists on Ukrainian territory. The situation in the Ukrainian SSR was written up in
numberless articles in the news bulletin of the government-in-exile. A special communiqué on the Holodomor in Ukraine was published in
French and English, which drew the attention of the world community to this evil, albeit not on the scale that the UNR émigré community might
have wanted. [10, p. 118]
Information on events in Ukraine was directly handled by two centers belonging to the Government-in-exile: in Warsaw and in Paris. A separate
organization was specially set up under the Ukrainian central committee in Warsaw, to take responsible not only for propaganda but to also
provide practical assistance to those starving in the Ukrainian SSR. It was run by a well-known Ukrainian civic and political activist and academic,
L. Chykalenko. The French center was represented by O. Shulhin, who ran the Paris diplomatic mission under the Directorate and then, in the
1930s, the UNR Foreign Ministry in exile. He had contact with many influential officials in France and in the League of Nations.
In Paris, there was also a Main Émigré Council (HER), which set up a special committee that included O. Shulhin (chair), I. Kosenko and O.
Udovychenko (deputy chairs), M. Kovalskiy (secretary), and H. Keller-Chykalenko (representative in Geneva). The Committee prepared appeals to
all the international humanitarian organizations, reported news to the press and published a French-language brochure called “Le famine en
Ukraine.” [15, p. 95]
The first political predictions by the State Center of the UNR in exile about the possibility of a man-made famine emerging in Ukraine were
published in June 1930. Representatives of Ukrainian émigré associations and political circles drew the attention of the world community to the
danger of a possible famine as a consequence of collectivization in Ukraine. At that point, an appeal was published by the Main Émigré Council,
in which reservations were expressed about the fact that foreign states were trading with the USSR, given the real situation in the Ukrainian
countryside. It was pointed out that the Soviet Union was under financial strain at the time, which it was trying to resolve at the expense of the
individual soviet republics, especially Ukraine, where a system of forced confiscation of grain called “requisitioning” was in full force.
“To all the other evils, the glorified collectivization of the village can now be added and the setting up of grain-producing communes, all of which
completely contradict the individualistic spirit of the Ukrainian countryside,” the HER statement read. “The Ukrainian farmer’s livestock and his
farm implements—all the goods he has accumulated over long years of work—are being taken away by the commune.” The authors of the
document emphasized that all these measures, “which the communists consider the triumph of their doctrine,” in reality have but one goal: “to
ruin the more-or-less better-off villagers and through this approach to destroy any active resistance in Ukraine to the Moscow occupier.” In
predicting the tragic unfolding of events as an inevitable consequence of the then policy of the soviet government in the countryside, the
members of the HER emphasized that the soviet regime, “using terror and modern collectivization…will once more bring this country the worst
imaginable disaster…” [7, p. 67]
At the very end, the Main Émigré Council turned to the Soviet Union’s international trading partners: “In the name of the huge Ukrainian émigré
community scattered across Europe, we are turning to the civilized world with an urgent appeal. We ask you not to increase the shameful trade of
the soviets, not to buy grain from Ukraine that covered in the blood of our villagers, not to finance Russian occupation of Ukraine…” But these
warnings were not heard—or not heeded.
In less than two years, the Holodomor enveloped Ukraine in a black cloud. At this point, the information that was being publicized by the diaspora
no longer had any predictive quality about it. It was simply reporting on the dramatic state of the Ukrainian village and concerned with organizing
assistance from humanitarian organizations abroad. This was the purpose, among others, of an appeal dated 20 July 1933 by HER to the
International Red Cross Society signed by I. Kosenko: “A terrible misfortune has fallen upon Ukraine. Thousands of people are dying every week
from famine in Kyiv and other cities in this country. In the countryside, the situation is even worse: people are eating corpses. Epidemics are
mowing down the population. In the name of Ukrainian émigrés, who are scattered around the world, the Main Émigré Council calls on all
international charitable organizations to establish a Committee to Assist Unfortunate Ukraine.”
In mid-July 1933, HER addressed a detailed list to the head of the League of Nations. Not limiting itself to this, the Council sends separate
letters and circulars to prominent people in the world, such as US President F.D. Roosevelt, to influential European humanitarian organizations,
and to Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytskiy, begging them to come to the assistance of the Ukrainian people.
Also in July 1933, the Main Émigré Council, having provided evidence of the terrible famine in Ukraine, called on the world community to set up
an international organization to assist Ukraine—the International Committee to Assist the Starving in Ukraine, on the initiative of the French
Society for Ukrainian Studies in Paris. This committee was established and I. Karashevych-Tokarzhevskiy was elected its temporary chair. In
addition, a protectorate was set up for this committee, including princes of the Church and world leaders.
At its 18 September 1933 meeting, the HER Presidium decided to turn with a new appeal to the League of Nations on the matter of the famine in
the USSR, and to a slew of organizations that supported the State Center of the UNR in exile—including the Ukrainian Central Committee in
Poland, the Ukrainian Association in Czechoslovakia, the Ukrainian communities in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Belgium, and Luxemburg, and
to the Union of Ukrainian Emigrant Organizations in France, to join in a protest action. 
Over Summer 1933, at a number of world agricultural conferences, representatives of the State Center of the UNR in exile made an effort to draw
the attention of conference delegates to the famine in Ukraine. Starting in July 1933, a special memorandum was released in which the issue of
slave labor in the USSR was raised and the need to set up conditions for normal faming that would not lead to tragic consequences for the
people of Ukraine. At the next conference in London at the end of August of that same year, the issue was raised to regulate the international
grain trade. Conference representatives, those of the USSR first among them, were demanding that quotas for exporting soviet grain be
increased at the same time as the population of Ukraine was dying of hunger. A few days prior to the sitting of the Advisory Committee of the
Grain Commission, which the London conference had elected, O. Shulhin, the representative of the UNR government-in-exile, came to Geneva
to register with the chair of this committee a protest against any exporting of grain from the USSR, which emphasized: “This grain properly
belongs to those who sowed it and who today are dying of hunger—the villagers of Ukraine and Kuban…” [11, p. 210]
This issue was also explained in a special communiqué from the Ukrainian Press Bureau in Paris on 18 September 1933, as a follow-up
proposal to the foreign trade bodies of European states regarding a halt to the purchase of grain from the USSR. The author formulated a well-
argued protest: “…We vehemently protest this kind of export, which we cannot describe as anything less than criminal. The UNR Government is
preparing a new presentation before the League of Nation, in which it will attempt to organize international assistance for starving Ukraine.” [15,
On 27 September 1933, at the request of the State Center of the UNR in exile O. Shulhin handed a letter to the head of the 14th plenary session
of the League of Nations, Mr. Water, in which the reasons for the famine in Ukraine were described: “…We have to say that the famine in Ukraine
arose as a result of the collectivization of grain production, on the one hand, which was forcibly instituted by the soviets, and especially the so-
called grain consignments. Grain harvested in Ukraine has been designated to supply the soviet army, Moscow, and particularly for export.”
Further were a number of specific propositions for ameliorating this dreadful catastrophe: “(1) To take the necessary measures to interfere in the
export of grain from the USSR, which is, in fact, from Ukraine; (2) To organize an investigative commission that could determine the scale of the
disaster on the spot; (3) To organize international assistance to the starving in Ukraine.” [15, p. 210]
Various prominent academics in emigration began to involve themselves in the various tasks of the State Center of the UNR in exile, such as
economist Prof. K. Maciewycz and V. Slyvynskiy. In August, these two prepared a memorandum from the representatives of the HER in Paris
called “The economic crisis in the Soviet Union and the matter of agricultural organization in Ukraine.” Through the Foreign Minister of the
Government-in-exile, O. Shulhin, it was passed on to the British Prime Minister, who was then in charge of the International Agricultural
Conference in London. [1, p. 68]
This representational forum included two Ukrainian emissaries in the Rumanian parliament, V. Zalozetskiy and Yuriy Serbyniuk. They reported to
English Government circles about the real state of affairs in Ukraine and the progress of the efforts of the Ukrainian emigrant community to
organize assistance. According to the Pittsburgh-based Ukrainian journal “National Word,” the English “were very positive towards the
assistance campaign by the Ukrainians and, having had experience from their work in the Soviet Union during the famine of 1921–1922, were
ready to help in any way.” [7, p. 67]
Overall, the State Center of the UNR in exile put considerable effort into informing the world community about the real state of affairs in Ukraine.
Within this context, the Ukrainian Society of Former Soldiers of the UNR Army under Gen. O. Udovychenko also organized a protest action that
raised the issue of the Holodomor in Ukraine at the IX Assembly of the International Confederation of Combatants (CIAMAK), in Geneva. After
listening to the report by Gen. Udovychenko, assembly delegates passed a special resolution to send an investigative commission to Ukraine. In
it, they made note of the fact that the soviet government “is denying even the reality of a famine and is exporting grain abroad in enormous
quantities.” The CIAMAK leadership passed this resolution along to the head of the League of Nations Council, noting that “in the face of such a
tragic contradiction, humaneness requires that the situation in Ukraine be normalized, and this can only be done through the international
commission that would work inside Ukraine and asks that the 14th Assembly of the League of Nations take all the necessary steps to organize
such a commission, in the name of humanity.” 
The leaders of three Ukrainian socialist parties also turned to world socialist organizations with a protest against the famine in Ukraine and a
call to support the struggle against “shortsighted economic exploitation of the Ukrainian people by the Bolshevik dictatorship.” I. Makukha and M.
Stakhiv signed on behalf of the Ukrainian Radical Socialist Party, L. Hankevych and I. Kvasnytsia signed on behalf of the Ukrainian Social-
Democratic Party, and I. Mazepa and P. Fedenko signed for the overseas committee of the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party. The last
of these also announced an “Appeal to Ukrainian Socialist Parties” at the International Socialist Conference that took place in August 1933 in
Paris. Fedenko presented horrifying figures on mass deaths by starvation among the rural population of Ukraine, countless incidents of
cannibalism, and a spreading epidemic of typhus and plague. [1, p. 69]
Ukrainian monarchist organizations, which had grouped themselves around the former Hetman of the Ukrainian State, Pavlo Skoropadskiy,
played a major role among the political emigrant community in Germany, the US and Canada, where the military and athletic Sich Society also
supported the Hetmanate. The Hetmanate organizations were experienced in running campaigns for humanitarian assistance.
In 1923 in Berlin, these groups set up the Ukrainian Red Cross Assistance Society, which was also called the Ukrainian Society for Aid to
Refugees. The Hetman’s wife, O. Skoropadska, headed this organization, and D. Doroshenko and V. Korostovets were both among the
leadership. The main purpose of this Society was to assist refugees who continued to arrive in Germany. On 22 September 1933, a commission
was set up within the Society that shortly became the Ukrainian-German Committee for Assistance to the Starving in Ukraine. Yevhenia
Skoropadska, the Hetman’s daughter, was in charge of this Committee, and its leadership included O. Skoropys-Yoltukhovskiy, Prof. Mirchuk, H.
Diakov, and H. Vinkler (treasurer). [7, p. 76]
“Our duty, hetmanites, is to look for pathways to reach the hearts of the idealistically inclined elements in European countries” was what the
Hetmanate leadership wrote in its flyers about the measures this Committee was taking in regards to the Holodomor in Ukraine. Through V.
Korostovets, the Commander-in-Chief under Hetman Skoropadskiy in Great Britain, a Ukrainian-English commission was set up under the main
Committee run by Ms. Skoropadska. On 10 October 1933, the Committee addressed a letter in German to the then-head of the League of
Nations, Norwegian Prime Minister J-L. Møvinkel, thanking him for “his sincere, committed representation of the interests of the hungry.” The
letter was signed by Hetmanivna Skoropadska. [9, p. 306]
The Committee’s executive deliberately limited its functions to material assistance to the starving and disseminating information, hoping to draw
more than just the Hetmanites to the campaign. “Getting material aid to the starving people in the Ukrainian SSR rapidly will only be possible if
we completely separate this humanitarian assistance campaign from all political actions,” read a statement in the Bulletin of the Ukrainian
Hetmanate.  The Committee to Assist Those Starving in Ukraine under the Ukrainian Union of State Grain growers (UUSG) established
relations with many Ukrainian and German charitable organizations and promoted its activities among Hetmanate organizations in Europe,
Canada and the US. [2, p. 134]
Without any doubt, the charity campaigns of the UUSG also popularized the idea of the Hetmanate, as it allowed other parties and political forces
with the same goals—assisting refugees and those starving in Ukraine—to join forces. In addition, the fact that these charitable organizations
were run by women who represented the Hetmanate encouraged women to join Hetmanate organizations. Flyers with appeals to donate money
to the Fund for The Starving in the Ukrainian SSR were printed in 15,000 print-runs in four languages: Ukrainian, German, French and English.
Like most political organizations, the Hetmanate organizations did not stop their drives for aid even in 1934. It was in this year, according to
Ukrainian scholars, that the number of deaths rose, generally as a result of various diseases and complications from long-term starvation. In
order to avoid risking the lives of parents and relatives of the UUSG leadership who had remained in Ukraine, as well as all of those who were
given aid through this organization, the Committee sent money and foodstuffs through private individuals, carefully covering up its participation in
This aspect of the assistance campaign is written in great detail, among others, in a letter from S. Shemet, the persona secretary of Hetman
Skoropadskiy, to P. Boyarskiy, the head of the United Russian Community Organizations in Yugoslavia, whose parents were given assistance by
the committee headed by Yevhenia Skoropadska. Shemet asked people not to tell their parents from whom the aid was coming insofar as this
could have negative consequences for those receiving the assistance. “You need to understand,” he emphasized, “that the Bolsheviks are
always very happy to get hard currency, but are suspicious of the activities of Committees established abroad, whether they are by emigrants or
foreign philanthropists… We need to keep the community aspect of this assistance as secret as possible.” [10, p. 118] At the same time, he
pointed out that soviet agents were constantly surveilling him and other people who were close to Hetman Skoropadskiy. Moreover, they regularly
set up provocative situations that only made it more clear how closely the Bolshevik regime was following the activities of UUSG. This meant that
any hint that the Hetmanate leadership was financing the humanitarian aid could have a negative impact on those who were receiving that aid in
As a protest against the policy of famine in Ukraine, the Central Committee of the Ukrainian National Democratic Union (UNDU) issued a
statement 24 June 1933 that discussed the cultural, socio-political and economic state of people in the Ukrainian SSR. This document
examined the main direction of the activities of the Bolshevik government, which were aimed at totally destroying Ukrainians and their cultural,
social and economic traditions. Specifically, the statement noted, the regime was “artificially wiping out the national features of Ukrainian letters
and sciences, subduing people through terror to accommodate communist-Muscovite internationalism.” In the socio-political sphere, “Muscovite
communists are ever more deliberately oppressing the Ukrainian people, through imprisonment, forced labor and the physical annihilation of
nationally aware and active villagers, workers and intellectuals.” In the economic sphere, “Muscovite communists are running a policy of
complete exploitation.” The UNDU statement pointed out the political nature of the policy of artificial famine in the Ukrainian SSR, which was
being waged by the Bolshevik regime “in order to break any resistance among the Ukrainian people” and their desire for freedom. [3, p. 320]
Already in Winter 1932–33, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) began to release information about the Holodomor through the
Ukrainian Information Bureau in Geneva and its newsletter, the “Bulletin of Ukrainian Information,” which was published in French by M. Kushnir.
This included analytical materials about the state of the USSR economy and the impact of communist economic management in Ukraine. The
newsletter of the Leadership of Ukrainian Nationalists (PUN), Rebuilding the Nation, in Issue #9–10 of September–October 1933, also
published a number of articles dedicated to the Holodomor in Ukraine. Among these were two articles, one by D. Berkut called “The Domestic
War and Its Mechanics” and the other by K. Syretskiy aptly entitled, simply, “S.O.S.” These not only addressed the problem at hand, but also
attacked other emigrant political groups for not paying enough attention to the tragedy taking place on the territory of soviet Ukraine. [7, p. 69] The
latter came to the conclusion, based on an article by Dr. Schiller, an advisor to the German Embassy in Moscow who had written about the
famine in the Kuban region, that the intention of the communist regime with the tragic famine of 1932–1933 was to “depopulate Ukraine in order
to destroy it once and for all.” In September 1933, PUN published a statement in Rebuilding the Nation, in which it called on people to increase
the struggle for an independent state and to organize a humanitarian assistance campaign for starving Ukraine as one of the stages in the battle
for national liberation. [15, p. 210]
Notably, in its statements, OUN tended to put the accent primarily on forceful methods of combating the organizers of this inhuman campaign:
“We won’t beat off this latest attack from Moscow with soulful sighs and mere verbal protests, but only through self-sacrificing, merciless battle
will we speed up the end of this foreign domination of Ukraine and of other peoples who have been captured by a common enemy.” And so the
OUN did not limit itself to the printed word: it was one of the first organizations to launch mass protest actions. [7, p. 75]
The leadership of OUN, troubled by the terrible state of the population of soviet Ukraine, was in constant consultations among themselves in
their search for international organizations to which it was worth turning for assistance. At the end of September 1933, well-known Ukrainian
community and political activist and the PUN representative in Italy Yevhen Onatskiy received a number of letters from the then-Foreign Policy
advisor of OUN, D. Andriyevskiy, which were dedicated to the Holodomor in Ukraine and the search and establishment of contacts to help find
sources of charitable work to benefit the suffering. In the letter dated 24 September 1933, Andriyevskiy, among others, noted that he had
“established contact with François, a Belgian senator and the treasurer of the International Aid Union…an organization similar to the Red Cross
that consists of government official representatives. It has the advantage of not being as tied up as the Red Cross, so it may be very useful to us.
The head is Ciraolo, an Italian who is also on the Nanson Committee. I think that we can get something done with this organization. But it means
we have to put pressure on certain individuals, especially on its head. I will order our organizations to start this and I would like to ask you
personally to contact Ciraolo as soon as possible…”
In assessing the activities of different international organizations in granting assistance to the starving population of Ukraine, Andriyevskiy
indicated how OUN was oriented in this area: “It seems that the International Red Cross has moved away from dealing with the famine in
Ukraine, arguing that this is a political issue and probably because it doesn’t want to spoil relations with the soviets… I don’t know if we’re going
to find international help or not, but in any case we have to make a major uproar around the world. Then, maybe, something will change in the
behavior of the soviets and they will begin to feed the hungry. That will make our business better known among foreigners. That may even raise a
little spirit in our country. And we’ll show whose Ukraine is: the Muscovites’, who aren’t even lifting a finger, or ours, who are killing ourselves for
it, without any regard to what state we belong to.” [9. p. 389]
In order to draw the world community’s attention to the tragic situation in Ukraine, OUN attempted an extremely demonstrative measure,
organizing a terrorist attack against a staff member at the Soviet consulate in L’viv on 22 October 1933. This act of terrorism was one of a slew of
similar armed attacks linked by the overall idea of “OUN anti-bolshevik acts” on western Ukrainian territory. OUN chroniclers called this act by
one of their fighters “a shot in the defense of millions.” The resolution to organize an attack on the soviet consul in L’viv as an act of protest
against the “Muscovite-bolshevik organized famine in Ukraine” was passed at a PUN conference with members of regional OUN executive
committees in Berlin on 3 June 1933.
In this way, the Ukrainian émigré community tried everything it could to get the world community to pay attention to the tragedy unfolding in
Ukraine in 1932–1933.
2. How émigré organizations protested against soviet policies in Ukraine and fed the hungry
In 1933, Ukrainian émigré community organizations and associations brought the issue of the need to offer assistance to the starving people of
Ukraine before the international community. In particular, Ukrainian women, united in the Ukrainian Women’s National Council (UWNC) played a
major role. In contrast to women’s organizations in other countries, whose purpose was to gain equal political rights with men, Ukrainian
women saw their main purpose as the struggle for independence as a nation. At international fora and congresses, these women continually
tried to get the attention of the world community of women to the tragic fate of the Ukrainian people under Bolshevik occupation and to carry out
all kinds of joint campaigns with representatives of other women’s organizations, especially in Belarus, whose population was also suffering
from food shortages and grain requisitions. In addition to press conferences at the end of 1932, in reaction to news about the Holodomor in their
homeland, they emphasized that the rural class in the Ukrainian SSR urgently needed organized, fraternal assistance “directed by the people of
the civilized world, so that this friendly grain might get to the lips of the starving villager and laborer.” 
On 21 June 1932, the leadership of the UWNC resolved to address the International Red Cross with a plea to send food parcels. At this very
meeting, the idea of setting up a committee in Prague to organize assistance for the starving was first brought up. The President of UWNC, well
know community activist and teacher S. Rusova and the Council Secretary, Kh. Kononenko, in their joint article on the pages of Tryzub wrote
about the difficulties in giving material assistance to the starving people of Ukraine:
“Ukrainian women who have joined forces in emigration through the Ukrainian Women’s National Council, find themselves helpless to give this
unfortunate population any kind of assistance. The Ukrainian émigré community has been closed off from its people by terrible bolshevik
barriers: not even a feather can fly from there to us or from us to Ukraine. Our correspondence with our relatives brings down brutal persecution
Complaining that all their efforts to send foodstuffs of any kind to their parents and relations in soviet Ukraine are responded to with repression
against the latter, the women noted that they were only able to properly inform the world about those terrors that were taking place in their
From 14 to 19 May 1932, the regular international women’s congress of the League for Peace and Freedom took place in the French city of
Grenoble. The League held such congresses only once every three years. Ukrainian women, one way or another, managed to participate in
these congresses, kept in touch with its organizational center, and more than once received assistance from the League, which from time to
time raised the issue of the problems of the Ukrainian nation at international venues like the League of Nations. S. Rusova and Kh. Kononenko
took part in the May international congress as representatives of the Ukrainian section and spoke more than once about the state of soviet
Ukraine’s farmers, especially the population of Bukovyna. Thus, Ms. Rusova very decisively demanded that the League of Nations express its
open position towards the soviet Government, “which is a government of terror and violence against those peoples who have had the misfortune
to belong to the soviets.” 
The League of Peace and Freedom was formed back in 1915 at the initiative of Jenny Adams and other renowned activists from a variety of
countries, who wanted to raise their voices against the War. The Ukrainian section was established in Vienna in 1921 and that same year was
accepted as an equal member to the League. V. O’Connor-Vilinska was elected the first head of the Ukrainian section. When the section’s
executive was moved to L’viv, B. Baran was elected its head. However, already then, Ukrainian delegates pointed out, there was evident
reluctance on the part of representatives of a number of European governments to oppose the actions of the Government of the USSR, with
whom those countries’ conformist leaders sought a compromise. 
Ukrainian women, organized in the Union of Ukrainian Women in L’viv under the direction of the renowned civic and political activist from
Halychyna and a deputy to the Polish Sejm, Maria Rudnytska, turned to international women’s organizations in August 1933 with an appeal
printed in several languages. This statement presented mortality statistics as a result of famine in Ukraine and reported on the progress of the
struggle for national liberation on the part of the Ukrainian people. The appeal ended with a call to “women of all nations, countries and
continents, all classes, parties and confessions” with a plea that they awaken the “sleepy consciences” of their husbands, sons and brothers,
who hold “responsible government offices” in those countries and to ask them “that feeling of fellow solidarity and justice that make it
impossible to fraternize” with the killers of millions of people in soviet Ukraine. [5, p. 69]
Under the leadership of M. Rudnytska, the L’viv Union of Ukrainian Women carried out an active propaganda campaign among international
women’s organizations around the world, including London, Geneva and Paris. As a result of their efforts, 10 international women’s
organizations sent their own memoranda on the issue of the Holodomor to the head of the League of Nations Council, who at that time was
Norwegian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs J.-L. Møvinkel. In the name of all these women’s organizations, whose center was in
London, a joint letter was sent to Geneva, signed by Ashby Corbert, with a separate memorandum on the famine attached. On this same issue,
Ms. Rudnytska and the head of the Union of Ukrainian Women in Prague, Z. Mirna, visited the well-known Czech activist, Senator F. Plaminkova,
who also supported the anti-famine campaign of the Joint Committee of International Women’s Organizations in Geneva. [6, p. 360]
The Central Union of Ukrainian Students (CEUUS), a community organization with its headquarters in Prague, combined all émigré and Western
Ukrainian student organizations. At the XV Congress of the International Students’ Organization in Venice, which took place 24 August—2
September 1933, the Ukrainian delegates, representatives of CEUUS, disseminated a specially prepared appeal in the French language under
the title “An appeal to university students of all countries” among all the participants in this international venue. The document emphasized that
“Ukraine is dying in the agonies of a violent hunger accompanied by a Terror directed at destroying Ukrainians.” Ukrainian students who were
beyond the borders of their homeland were “trying to help their brothers who had stayed behind by organizing a Ukrainian Red Cross.” [9, p. 362]
They called on international organizations, including student unions, to turn the attention of the world community to Ukraine, which might ensure
that the soviet regime would admit to the fact of a famine and thus to open the delivery of foodstuffs and medications to the starving.
Nearly 100 appeals similar to the one quoted at the students’ congress, were disseminated and they aroused a general feeling of compassion
among those present, but that was as far as these representatives of young people from all different countries were willing to do. Moreover, the
proposal was made that Ukrainian émigré students improve their organizational skills so that they would not in future need “international
assistance.” [6, p. 363]
In Luxembourg in August 1933, Ukrainian students who had joined forces in the Obnova Society took part in the International Congress of
Catholic Students, disseminated an appeal from Ukrainian Greek-Catholic clergy in Halychyna and appealed to the civilized world to extend help
to those starving in Ukraine. [5, p. 52]
In the fall of 1933, Ukrainian students from CEUUS organized a slew of protest actions with the Union of Sub Carpathian Students and tried to
get other national student organizations involved in them. Among others, in the assembly of young people and students that took place 29
October 1933, representatives of Lithuanian student unions also participated.
The first steps of the Ukrainian section of the League of Captive Peoples began in September 1932. On the initiative of the secretary of
Prometheus I. Baziak, at that time working in the special forces of the State Center of the UNR in exile and directly informed about the scale of the
Holodomor in the Ukrainian SSR, led by R. Smal’-Stockiy, a number of meetings of the limited presidium of this organization took place in
Prague and Berlin. Having resolved to launch a broad-based campaign to inform all state and community officials abroad about the situation in
Ukraine, they set up a special commission, led by Prometheus President M. Livytskiy, and sent it to Geneva. 
A large number of Ukrainian societies issued appeals to international organizations and directly turned to all kinds of foreign community
associations. Among others, the Union of Ukrainian Journalists and Writers Overseas, based in Prague, published a statement “To the civilized
world: About the famine in soviet Ukraine” in June 1933. In this statement, the Union protested the Holodomor in Ukraine and demanded that an
international commission be sent to the Soviet Union to “study the famine in Ukraine and to organize an immediate rescue campaign.” [7, p. 53]
In Winter 1932, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytskiy launched a press campaign to organize help for dying brothers and sisters in the “Empire of the
Devil.” The top leadership of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was one of the first to demonstrate the need to carry out joint campaigns in
order to ensure success to broad-based community efforts to get help to those starving in Ukraine. On 24 July 1933, an appeal was issued
entitled: “To all people of good will” and signed by all the bishops of the UGCC: Metropolitan Sheptytskiy (L’viv), Hryhoriy Khomyshyn (Stanislaviv,
now Ivano-Frankivsk), Iosafat Kotsylovskiy (Przemyszl), Nykyta Budka (titular bishop of Tataru), Hryhoriy Lakota (Przemyszl), Ivan Buchko (L’viv),
and Ivan Liatyshevskiy (Stanislaviv). [3, p. 321] This missive was translated into several foreign languages and sent out to all the most influential
On 28 October 1933, a second pastoral appeal from the Ukrainian Catholic bishopric in Western Ukraine regarding the Holodomor was signed
by Metropolitan Sheptytskiy, and Bishops Khomyshyn, Kotsylovskiy, Lakota, Liatyshevskiy, and Buchko. The clergy and faithful were called to
declare 29 October a day of national mourning and protest—with a common fast, prayers and “good deeds to beg… God’s mercy on our
brethren who are suffering and dying from hunger.” [2, p. 134]
A separate missive on the Holodomor had been issued in February 1933 by Ioan Teodorovych, the American Archbishop and head of the
Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church (UGOC) in Canada. Presenting facts about the massive Holodomor that had engulfed Ukraine, the
Archbishop listed the reasons that had given rise to it. A leading pastor and head of the All-Ukrainian Aid Committee in Berlin, Petro Verhun,
brought up the appeal of the UGCC bishops on the famine in Ukraine in both Ukrainian and German during his sermons in many German cities:
23 July in Bremen, 30 July in Grimen near Stralsund, 27 August in Hemelingen and others. “It was touching to see,” wrote the journal Tryzub,
“our workers, in Grimen as in Berlin, pull the last pennies out of their pockets in order to bring some contribution, however small, to the aid of the
On 11 September 1933, the priests of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Germany announced a day of mourning “for those murdered by
starvation in Greater Ukraine.” At the funeral service almost all members of the Ukrainian community in Berlin were present, without regard to
political or religious alliance, including Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskiy and his family. At the invitation of the pastors, the Georgian, Azeri, Turkestani
and other émigré communities in Germany who belonged to national colonies also responded, as did many German artists and community and
Among them was a delegate from the Berlin Diocesan Council of Bishops, Prelate Lichtenberg. After the funeral service presided over by Father
Verhun, Rev. Lichtenberg also read the appeal of the UGCC bishops in German. He also gave a sermon in German, in which he recalled the
accomplishments of the Ukrainian people in their historical struggle for their own state. The Pastor turned to those members of the German
community present in the church during the service to support the aid campaign and not to abandon the Ukrainian people who were trapped in
this tragic situation. During the campaign, cash donations were collected for the starving. 
The Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada, V. Ladyka, added his own pastoral letter to these protests, called “At this time of
national grief” on 13 September 1933.
Protest actions by Ukrainians in the US were supported by the missives to the faithful from Archbishop Kostiantyn Bohachevskiy, the apostolic
patriarch for Ukrainians in the US and head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in the US. In them, the well-known community and church
elder emphasized the “Christian duty to feed the hungry.” He also underscored that “this duty has possibly never stood before Ukrainians in
such threat and force as it stands today, faced with the fact that millions of brothers and sisters are suffering death by starvation.” Archbishop
Bohachevskiy ordered all Greek-Catholic Churches in the US to say Mass for the starving in Ukraine on 24 December 1933, as well as to run
In Summer 1933, a wide network of aid committees was set up in every country there were Ukrainians. Protest actions engulfed the towns and
villages of Halychyna and Bukovyna. All the efforts of émigré Ukrainians went into getting the world community to pay attention to what was going
on in the USSR, denying the shameless lies of the soviet regime about the “happy life” of the Ukrainian village and the exceptional
“accomplishments” of socialist transformations in the farm sector. To a large extent, Ukrainians were helped in this by other minority groups
whose fellow countrymen lived in the Ukrainian SSR and who were dying a hungry death alongside Ukrainians.
During the course of 1933, the German organization Вшесіег іп N01, established in Berlin to provide help for German colonists starving in
Ukraine, collected DM 700,000 to support starving Germans in Ukraine and the Volga and shipped 100,000 individual parcels through Torgsin.
In November 1933, the organization put on an exhibition of 150,000 letters from the starving and food substitutes with photographs of the starving
from the USSR. They also published a book of letters and photographs of the starving population.  By November 1933, Вшесіег іп N01 was
able to help 100,000 individuals by sending food packages to them directly.
Representatives of different political groups among Ukrainian emigrants such as the State Center of the UNR in exile, hetmanate organizations
who were essentially monarchist in orientation and supported former Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskiy, Ukrainian socialist centers and
organizations, organizations of Ukrainian nationalists, communities, academic, women’s, student and veteran societies and associations, and
elders of all religions wanted more than anything to offer practical assistance to the starving, to inform the international community and to call on
it to condemn the government of the USSR for its policy of destroying the Ukrainian people through famines in the Ukrainian SSR and the Kuban’.
In analyzing the considerable contribution of emigrant Ukrainians in informing the world community about the tragic events taking place in
Ukraine in 1932–1933, it becomes clear that precisely because of their efforts, mass protest actions were organized in Western countries
against soviet policy in Ukraine and, more importantly, that real assistance was given to the starving in Ukraine. In addition to this, the Ukrainian
diaspora made an enormous contribution to shedding light on the problems of the Holodomor both at the time, in 1932–1933, and in later years.
Sources and literature:
1. T. Vronska and T. Ostashko, “Participation of Ukrainian and foreign political and community organizations in protest actions against the
Holodomor in the Ukrainian SSR during the 1930s, UIZh. № 5, 2003.
2. The Famine of 1933 in Ukraine: Testimony on Moscow’s destruction of Ukrainian peasants, Dnipropetrovsk, Munich, Prescom, 1933.
3. V. Hryshko, Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, New York, 1963.
4. V. Danylenko, G. Kasiyanov and S. Kulchytskiy, Stalinism in Ukraine in the 1920s and 1930s, Kyiv, Lybid, 1991.
5. Dilo, 1933, 6 August.
6. R. Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, (in Ukrainian), Kyiv, 1992.
7. M. Marunchak, A Nation in the Struggle for Survival: 1932 and 1933 among the Ukrainian diaspora, Winnipeg, 1985.
8. Yevhen Onatskiy, In the Eternal City: Notes from a Ukrainian journalist, 1933, 3 volumes, Toronto, 1983.
9. V. Piskun, The Ukrainian political diaspora and famines, Memory of Centuries, № 3, 2003.
10. P. Plovetskiy, Stalin’s Accomplices in the Murder of a People by Hunger in 1933, Path to Victory, 1955, 8 May.
11. V. Soldatenko, 1933, the Hungry Year: Subjective thoughts on objective processes, Dzerkalo tyzhnia #24, 2003.
12. D. Solovey, Ukraine’s Golgotha, Drohobych, Vidrodzhennia, 1993.
13. Tryzub, Paris, September, October, November 1933.
14. Yu. I. Shapoval, Those Tragic Years: Stalinism in Ukraine, Kyiv, Politvydav Ukraine, 1990.
15. O. Shulhin, Without Territory: Ideology and the actions of the UNR Government in exile, Kyiv, 1998.