Monday, 28 January 2019

The Holodomor

If you stroll down Calton Hill in Edinburgh from a certain direction, you may see a little memorial  stone sitting beside the path. It is a little off the beaten track, and many people will miss it during their visits to the city.

Its grey stone is a little bright against its surroundings; then again, it is barely a year old, and will fade with time.

As have, sadly, the memories and knowledge of the events it commemorates. For it remembers the millions of people who died between 1932 and 1933 in the Ukraine.

It seems almost everything about the Holodomor is disputed. Even its name is not settled: some call it the 'Great Famine', others the 'Ukranian Genocide'. Many argue it was a deliberate genocide to repress the Ukranian people, others that it was an accidental result of the collectivisation laws instituted by Stalin. Some say only a few million died; others up to 10 million (it seems likely the figure is between 3 and 7 million, in itself a frankly horrific range).

These disputes - often scholarly ones - get in the way of the horror, and can almost downplay them - as if saying "7 million people didn't die; it was only 6 million." makes everything fine.

The Holodomor deserves to be better remembered. And in so doing, more thought should be given to all those who died under Stalin's tyrannical regime.

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