The Meaning of Words; Standing with Ukraine

Words have meaning. Sometimes even the small ones by their inclusion or omission can have a huge impact. Most readers in their first glance at the title of this article thought the word “the” was mistakenly dropped from in front of Ukraine. Over the last century, we have become used to referring the nation of Ukraine as “the Ukraine.” This writer has been guilty of the mistake, even in recent writings.

The inclusion or omission of an article of speech like “the” conveys the difference between a sovereign, independent nation of Ukraine and a region or territory claimed by Russia and the Soviet Union. Certainly, Vladimir Putin wants us to keep using “the” when referring to Ukraine, especially when he has invaded its sovereign territory.

But there are words Putin does not want us to use either. “Holodomor” is one of those words. The term Holodomor derives from Ukrainian words referring to death or execution by starvation. It is a word for the genocide of the Ukrainian people that has remained buried behind a massive wall of Soviet propaganda and western under-reporting for over 80 years.

During the years of Soviet domination of Russia and Eastern Europe, the Kremlin did its best to bury the truth of the Holodomor and its role in implementing it.  Thanks to laudatory stories of Stalin’s Soviet Union written by New York Times reporter Walter Duranty during Stalin’s reign of terror, and the work of Soviet spies like Alger Hiss (a senior State Department official under President Franklin Roosevelt), the atrocities committed
against the people of Ukraine by the Soviets have never been widely publicized in the west.   

In 1932 -1933, during Stalin’s Holodomor, approximately 25% of the Ukrainian nation was starved to death on a grand scale. Through systematic Soviet theft of all the grain from the farmers, to include the seed grain stores, in an area known as “the bread basket of Europe,” resistance to the Soviet seizure of independent farms in Ukraine was crushed. The Communist Party and the NKVD implemented  the murder of over 8 million Ukrainians during this period.

 Holodomor Corpses in StreetHolodomor Starved Child

1933: Corpses of Famine Victims on the streets. Child Victim of Famine

Ukrainians were dying at the rate of 25,000 a day, more than half were children.   In the end, up to 10 million starved to death.  Stalin denied to the world that there is any famine in Ukraine, and prevented international aid from entering the country.(Kharkiv, Ukraine) http://www.holodomorct.org/history.html


Stalin made extensive use of  the NKVD (previously known as the Checka and OGPU, later known as the KGB, today referred to as the FSB ) in seizing grain stores and shooting any farmers who hid grain to plant or feed their families.  Stalin’s proletarian socialist (Communist) genocide of the Holodomor and Gulag system was in full swing, and served as the model for Hitler’s Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) concentration camp system and “Final Solution” when it was just beginning. The very real Holocaust of the Holodomor in Ukraine was perpetrated by the same organization which gave birth to Vladimir Putin’s career.

The world turned a blind eye in witness to the Ukrainians who had their churches destroyed and many of their family members (often their entire families) starved to death on their farms, or executed if they tried to leave in search of food. The Soviets were all too happy to allow the horrific images of the Nazi death camps and testimonies of the Nuremberg Trials to obscure the suppressed truth of the Holodomor.

It is important for the world to recognize and stand with Ukrainian defiance against domination from post-Soviet Russia. The same organizations and philosophical rationalizations for domination which existed in Stalin’s Russia are alive and well in Putin’s; they just have different names.  – In which case, perhaps, words have no meaning.  


I had to make a correction to this article as I mistakenly wrote that Khrushchev was Stalin’s point man during the Holodomor in 1932-33. I wrote this from memory and my time line was off. Khrushchev was a senior party member in the Ukraine in the late 1920s. In 1929 he followed his mentor Kaganovich to Moscow where he was very active in helping Stalin purge the Moscow party leadership beginning around 1934, and returned to the Ukraine as party chief in 1937. I should have gone back and checked before publishing. Going back to the Black Book of Communism, the Great Terror occurred from 1936-1938 and Khrushchev was the point  man in the purge of the local communist party leaders in the Ukraine — in essence ensuring the executions of the executioners from the Holodomor, a very Soviet means of erasing evidence of atrocities. The Holodomor was part of the collectivization of farms (1932-33). I apologize for my inattention in my research.

One response to “The Meaning of Words; Standing with Ukraine”

  1. Well written, and important to remember. If you do not study history, you are doomed to repeat it. One thing to add, not only were the camps of the Soviet Union a model for the Nazi camps, but also for the camps now in the the united States, 137 recently built, sitting empty, waiting for whom?

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