Set on the banks of the Dnieper river in lush parkland is a hauntingly beautiful memorial to a horrific episode in history, the Holodomor. Entering the park past the guardian stone Angels of Sorrow, visitors can hear quiet but clear chimes, and your eye is drawn to the soaring Candle of Memory memorial atop the underground Hall of Memory.
It was not until 2006 that the Holodomor, a devastating famine which took place in the Ukraine region of the Soviet Union, was recognized in the Ukrainian parliament as a deliberate act of genocide against the country’s people. The artificially introduced food shortage created under Stalin was at its peak in June 1933, with nearly 28,000 people starving to death every day. Estimates have put the total number of fatalities at approximately 7 million.
Historians today believe the genocide was planned by Soviet leaders to quash any attempts at Ukrainian independence and prevent uprising from farmers who resisted collectivization (confiscating all private farms and livestock and making them government-owned) under the Soviet regime.
In 2008, 75 years after the famine-genocide, a memorial to the victims was opened in Kyiv, recognized as a national museum two years later. Inside the memorial complex is a striking statue named “The Bitter Memory of Childhood,” showing a young girl holding some wheat, a tribute to the most helpless victims of the famine: children. In the Blackboard Alley, boards list the names of the 14,000 villages and towns in Ukraine that suffered, many of whose residents remain nameless to date.