Ninety Years after the Holodomor: Reflections on Genocide in the Context of an Anniversary Year and War

Dr. Bohdan Klid traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota during the first week of March to record an interview for a short documentary film. The film, tentatively titled “Holodomor: Minnesota Memories,” weaves together survivor and descendant stories and is a joint project of three local Ukrainian churches. Work on the film project has been supported by a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society as well as from HREC. It will be released this summer. Dr. Klid has been involved with the film from the beginning, providing historical oversight and review. While in Minneapolis, he gave a talk to the Ukrainian community on “Ninety Years after the Holodomor: Reflections on Genocide in the Context of an Anniversary Year and War.”

In his presentation, Dr. Klid focused first on Raphael Lemkin’s understanding of genocide, the UN Genocide Convention’s definition and then turned to Lemkin’s manuscript “Soviet Genocide in the Ukraine.” Dr. Klid stressed that Lemkin viewed the Soviet genocide as a long-term process that included not only the famine of 1932-1933, but also the destruction of intellectuals and elites, of the Ukrainian churches and their leaders, and the resettlement, deportation and dispersion of Ukrainians. In the 1980s, the Ukrainian diaspora’s efforts to bring attention to the famine of 1932-33 succeeded with the establishment of the US Congress’s Commission on the Ukraine Famine. The Holodomor has subsequently, following Ukraine’s lead in 2006, been recognized as genocide by many national and regional governments and legislatures. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2023 has accelerated this process, while Russia’s war aims and actions have been identified and recognized by many, including by the renowned scholar Timothy Snyder, as genocidal. Dr. Klid concluded by returning attention to Lemkin’s approach to understanding the Soviet genocide in Ukraine and asked the question of whether we could view the century beginning with Bolshevik Russia’s suppression of Ukraine’s bid for independence in 1918-21 as a century characterized by genocide of Ukrainians, with the exception being the period following Ukraine’s independence in 1991. The current war in this view would mark a return to Russia’s genocidal policies, marked now by extreme violence and mass killings.


Photo: Prof. Bohdan Klid with members of the film project team at St. Michael’s and St. George’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church. (From left: Tamara Nieprytzki, research consultant Halyna Myroniuk, project director Zina Gutmanis, Bohdan Klid, parish president Orysia Bobcek, Wanda Bahmet and Alex Poletz