During the period from 1932 to 1945, three genocides were perpetrated on the territory of Ukraine. Through the study of Holodomor, Holocaust, Crimean Tatar, and other genocides, Ukrainian American Community Center aims to raise awareness and to educate Ukrainian and wider Twin Cities community about these tragic events in the spirit of interethnic and inter-religious tolerance, rejection of all forms of xenophobia, discrimination and racism.
It’s important to the Twin Cities Ukrainian community to pay tribute to the victims of the genocides, to tell the story of their lives and to teach the value of heritage and memory in building a democratic and peaceful future.
In 1932 and 1933, millions of Ukrainians were killed in the Holodomor, a man-made famine engineered by the Soviet government of Joseph Stalin. The primary victims of the Holodomor (literally “death inflicted by starvation”) were rural farmers and villagers, who made up roughly 80 percent of Ukraine’s population in the 1930s. While it is impossible to determine the precise number of victims of the Ukrainian genocide, most estimates by scholars range from roughly 3.5 million to 7 million (with some estimates going higher). The most detailed demographic studies estimate the death toll at 3.9 million. Historians agree that, as with other genocides, the precise number will never be known.
Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazi regime and their collaborators murdered 6 million European Jews and five million non-Jews. Of these, an estimated 1.5 million Jews, many women, children and the elderly, were killed in the “Holocaust by bullets” in Ukraine. Because of the region’s inadequate railway systems and the capacities of the death camps, the Nazis were unable to easily transport the Jews to the camps. Instead, mobile execution units, like the Einsatzgruppen, gathered, shot and killed the Jews on their home soil. Villages became execution sites and villagers became witnesses. This practice of extermination has come to be designated as the “Holocaust by bullets” or “genocide by mass shooting.”
In 1944, over the course of three days (May 18-20) the Soviet government forcefully removed all Crimean Tatars from their homeland to internal exile in Uzbekistan and other parts of the USSR. Approximately 194,000 Crimean Tatars were deported or conscripted into hard labor. Between 1944 and 1956, about 44 thousand ( 46% ) of exiled Crimean Tatars Crimean Tatars died because of deportation. To this day it remains one of the most rapid and thorough cases of ethnic cleansing in world history.
“In the years that Hitler and Stalin were in power, more people were killed in Ukraine than anywhere else… in Europe, or in the world.”