The footprint of the Holodomor today is not only in the people's reclamation of their identity, but in the people's response to the situation and conflicts facing Ukraine today.
“It's difficult for people who don't live here or don't know the history of these areas to understand,” Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, apostolic nuncio to Ukraine, told CNA/EWTN News.
He spoke of Ukrainian's fears that the conflicts facing the country today will be overlooked again not only by those imposing the violence, but also the world.
“The fact that they are afraid of being alone, of being forgotten: this is a fact that we cannot not take into consideration.”
Since 2014, conflict has raged between pro-Russian forces and the Ukrainian government in Eastern Ukraine. Nearly 10,000 people have been killed by the violence, and over 1.5 million people have registered as displaced, according to the United Nations. Nearly two million people face shortages of water and restrictively high food and medicine prices in the areas of the most fighting, according to UN reports.
“Our present situation is not the Holodomor, but it is extremely difficult, and there are areas where, I wouldn't say they starve, but they are at the minimum level of surviving,”Archbishop Gugerotti said.
He described that in many places, citizens hide and store basic food items like bread for fear of scarcity or theft. Social cohesion has eroded in the eastern part of the country, particularly between ethnic and language groups as well as between the different Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches. This has limited the churches' ability to respond to the needs of the people, and heightened citizens' feelings of hopelessness and paralysis.
“These kind of tensions are overwhelming, so the possibility of proper reaction is limited to the minimum.”
The challenges facing both Russia and the West has left many people in Ukraine feeling that their needs are being overlooked.
“When one is afraid, certainly one doesn't want to meet with people who are more afraid than he or she is,” Archbishop Gugerotti said. “We have a disastrous situation in the whole world and who is going to remember Ukraine?”
Fr. Morozowich reflected that the lesson of the Holodomor still echoes in the challenges the Ukrainian people are facing today.
“When we look at history and we look at things that have happened, unfortunately in many cases, political power sometimes speaks louder than historical realities. We need to continually bring the stories forward,” he said, pointing to recent attention to the Holodomor in film and in research, as a hopeful sign.
Fr. Morzowich also spoke about the renewed attention to the atrocities of the Armenian genocide as another example of stories now receiving the attention they need.
Ultimately, however, both the Holodomor and the current Ukrainian conflict ask the same question, he said: “Are we really ready to listen to the plight of our brothers and sisters?”
In the Holodomor, the Soviets imposed a new reality for the Ukrainian people through the starvation and suffering of the famine.
“One that was devoid of God, stripping of their dignity, stripping of their culture, stripping of their culture, stripping of their intellectual past, stripping of their wonderful melodies,” Fr. Morozowich said. “They were deprived and then they were rebuilt into agents of the system.”
Similarly, the violence, hunger and displacement of today’s Ukrainian conflict makes people fear the same kind of deprivation, he added. “It’s a it’s a large part of the struggle of yesterday, it’s a large part of the struggle that’s going on today.”
“We have to ask if we're ready to stand with our brothers and sisters to help them be free, to be able to live a decent life without the fear of a bomb falling, without the fear of hunger, and how do we as a people, a society for the voices of the innocent to rise above the military machinery that is just subjecting these people.”
This article was originally published on CNA March 5, 2017.