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"The Memory Candle" monument to the victims of Holodomor - “The Memorial in Commemoration of Famines’ Victims in Ukraine” museum | by Jorge Lascar
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"The Memory Candle" monument to the victims of Holodomor - “The Memorial in Commemoration of Famines’ Victims in Ukraine” museum

During the whole period of existence of soviet regime, Ukrainian people went through the terrible tragedies - the famines of 1921-1922, 1932-1933, and 1946-1947. They murdered millions of Ukrainians. The most horrible humanitarian catastrophe of Ukraine of the XXth century was the starvation of 1932-1933, artificially created by Stalin’s regime, that resulted into 3 million 941 thousand deaths. Taking into consideration 6 million 122 thousand unborn babies, Ukraine lost 10 million 63 thousand people (data of the M. V. Ptoukha Institute for Demography and Social Studies of the NAS of Ukraine). Having killed the innocent people by famine, the Bolshevik regime wanted to erase the memory about them as well.


In the USSR, spreading any information about the famine was considered to be calumniation against the Soviets, which led to appropriate penalties. However, Ukrainians managed to survive and preserve their memories about the innocent people killed by famine. They began to talk about starvation in public only after declaration of independence of Ukraine.


On November 28th, 2006, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the law “On the Holodomor of 1932- 1933 in Ukraine”. The law resolved the issue of building in Kyiv the Memorial to the Victims of Holodomors in Ukraine in order to establish a center of preserving memory about the victims of the three famines.


To commemorate the innocent people murdered by starvation, the memorial complex was created on the Dnipro’s slopes in 2008. The ceremony of the Memorial’s opening was dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor of 1932-1933. On November 22nd, 2008 the Memorial in Commemoration of Famines’ Victims in Ukraine was opened for the first visitors.


On July 8, 2009 according to the decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine the State Museum “The Memorial in Commemoration of Famines’ Victims in Ukraine” was founded. On February 18, 2010 it gained the status of the National museum. The Museum was founded by the Central Body of Executive power - the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory.


The author of the Memorial’s project is national painter of Ukraine Anatoly Haydamaka, the architect is Yury Kovalov. The national painter of Ukraine Mykola Syadrysty picked up quotations from works of politicians of the past.


The Memorial consists of three main parts: the Memory Candle, the Memory Hall and the symbolic Black boards, where one can read names of towns and villages which had been suffering during the years of famines.


At the beginning of the alley, at the entrance to the Memorial complex on both sides you can see the so-called “Angels of Sorrow”- the guardian angels of the starved one’s souls. This composition is a kind of portal to the Memorial.


In the center of the square one can see “Millstones of Destiny”. They are set in the form of a ring and have double meaning. On the one hand, they symbolize the source of life- as they had been used for centuries for making flour, on the other hand- the millstones symbolize timer of the history, image of 24 hours reminds us that every day up to 24 thousand people were dying in the years of famine. The paving leading to the center of the Memorial symbolizes Ukrainian fertile black soils. This is the main alley of the Memorial- “Arable of Memory”.


In the central part of the square there is a sculpture called “Sad Memory of Childhood”, which is dedicated to tragic fame of the most defenseless category of starvation’s victims- children. Five ears of wheat in the hands of a small girl symbolize the notorious “law of five spikelets”. That is how the peasants named the decree of Central Executive Committee and Sovnarkom of the USSR “On Protection of State Enterprises, Kolkhozes and Cooperatives” of August 7, 1932 according to which the collective farm property was treated as the state one and was proclaimed inviolable. Even if there were some spikelets left on the field after reaping, picking them up was considered to be a crime and could be punished by 10 years of imprisonment with confiscation of all person’s property or even by death. There was no exception, even small children and old people could be arrested when caught with few spikelets or several frozen potatoes from a collective farm field.


The central part of the Memorial is the Candle- the sign of memory of the Ukrainian people about the tragedies they lived through. It embodies the monumental statue of reborn Ukraine to all the victims of those horrible events: Ukrainian peasants, nationally conscious intelligentsia, the military and the clergy. Its height is 30 meters. The Candle is decorated with glass crosses of different size symbolizing the souls of the victims. The small crosses remind us of the children who died of starvation; the bigger ones symbolize the souls of adult people. The foot of the Candle consists of four black metal crosses decorated with figures of bronze storks which are the testimony of Ukrainian national renaissance.


The main part of the Memorial is the Hall of Memory. Visitors have an opportunity to commemorate the victims of starvation by lightning a candle and by ringing the bell. There are volumes of the National Memory Book of Famine’s Victims of 1932- 1933 in Ukraine in the Hall of Memory. Everybody can get all sorts of information about starvation’s victims in different regions of Ukraine; they can also fill in “The profile of starvation’s victims of 1932- 1933 in Ukraine” to give the information about their relatives who died of starvation.


The visitors of the Hall have a possibility to learn the truth about those terrible times watching films about starvation which last 20-30 minutes and are projected on the walls of the Hall.


Leaving the Memory Hall visitors go ahead to the “Black board Alley”. There are symbolic “black boards” from black labradorite at the Alley where the names of 14 thousand of villages and towns of Ukraine are engraved – the villages which suffered in black times of the Holodomor. Putting the villages into the list of “black boards” meant starveling death for the people who lived in them. “Black boards of Ukraine” became one of the tragic symbols of the Holodomor of 1932-1933.


National Museum “The Memorial in Commemoration of Famines’ Victims in Ukraine” became the center of perpetuation and commemoration of people killed by starvation. The truth about the famines is gradually returning to the people’s memory and becoming its pain and sign of nation indestructibility at the same time. []

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Taken on August 4, 2012