Survivor testimony

The Holodomor is a very sensitive subject for all survivors and witnesses. It probably constitutes one of the most painful and horrific memories these people have of their lives in Ukraine – together with the Second World War. These memories will often be deeply hidden, and will not be brought to forefront of their minds easily, or in some cases, not at all.

Many survivors also retain a deep-seated fear of the regime they grew up in. This is something individuals born in the West just cannot understand – or feel. They grew up fearing the whole regime – the secret police, arrests, camps, prison, exile to Siberia. They feared for the impact on their families if they spoke about a truth unpalatable to the Soviet regime.

There is also the issue of guilt to deal with – that the survivors couldn’t actually help anyone dying near them, not even by giving a crust of bread – they didn’t have one to give. And the risk of being informed on was always with them.

Although the regime has changed, fear is so deeply rooted that it can be difficult to persuade survivors that they now need have no fear of repercussions if they tell their stories. We are grateful to those who have found the courage and the strength to share their experiences with us.

The survivor testimonies reproduced on this website were published in 2018 in "Grains of Truth - A collection of UK materials on the Holodomor in Ukraine, 1932-33". This is, as the title suggests, a collection of survivor testimonies of people who lived through the Holodomor and, after the turmoils of World War II, settled in the UK. The book also includes separate chapters on UK Councils that recognised the Holodomor as genocide, a list and illustrations of Holodomor memorials in the UK and, last but by no means least, excerpts from the Foreign Office's archives which shed some light on what the British Government knew about the Holodomor at the time.

A number of testimonies can also be viewed here: https://youtu.be/WD6Lw4EC0p8

 

 




Orphanage in Kharkiv