The ceremony was attended by Martin Dvořak, Minister of European Affairs, Petra Pecková, Governor of the Central Bohemian Region, Tomaš Czermin, Deputy President of the Senate of the Czech Republic, Vitalii Usatyi, chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of Ukraine in Prague, Agata Mazur, Deputy Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Prague, Anna Piekarska, Deputy Director of the Polish History Museum, and Šimon Krbec, Director of the Theresienstadt Centre for Genocide Studies.
The exhibition that includes 18 panels, which was on display in Warsaw last November, depicts the course of the crime against the Ukrainian people committed in the 1930s by the Soviet authorities, who imposed exorbitant and impossible-to-fulfil supply standards on the farmers of the then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. At its height, the crime of an artificially induced famine claimed up to 17 human lives per minute.
‘The Holodomor of the 1930s was a tragedy for the Ukrainian people that cannot be compared to any other in the history of our nation. It meant not only physical death, but also an attempt to spiritually destroy our nation and humiliate us. Today, Putin is trying to do the same,’
The exhibition also shows the efforts made by the Soviet authorities to obliterate the memory of the Ukrainian tragedy, including the repression of those who preserved testimonies of the Great Famine.
‘I am from the generation that knew nothing about the Great Famine. We only learned about it when our country regained its freedom. As a member of the Czech government, I can declare that we will not stop supporting Ukraine until it is victorious,’
‘After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia never admitted to having been responsible for the crime of the Great Famine, let alone apologised for it,’
The authors have also pointed out the similarities between the criminal policy of the USSR and the conduct of Putin’s Russia of today. They emphasise the consequences of impunity for Soviet crimes and warn of the consequences of the possible failure to hold Russia accountable for its own current criminal policies.
‘By supporting the staging of the exhibition, most of which was carried out by our Ukrainian partner, the Polish History Museum expressed solidarity with our Ukrainian colleagues who operate in extreme conditions. They not only work hard, but risk their lives every day,’ said Anna Piekarska, Deputy Director of the PHM. ‘What we can do as a museum is, among other things, to help and support them in promoting their activities and spreading true knowledge about Ukraine - its history and present. We do know that this war which is being waged across Poland’s eastern border is not only about land and people, but also attempting to impose on the Ukrainians a Russian vision of history,’
In the spring of 1933, the countryside was hit by famine. It was impossible to escape it, as the authorities forbade people to leave their place of residence. The only way out was to flee illegally to the cities, work in one of the Donbass mines or sell off what was left of one’s belongings in a special chain of shops offering food for foreign currency or gold coins, from the tsarist times. However, only few could afford it.
‘We are showing this exhibition because it has been prepared very reliably and perfectly illustrates the mechanism of the genocide,’
The number of victims of this deliberately caused famine has still not been established, with estimates varying between 4 and 12 million. Research is hampered by the secrecy or deliberate destruction of the natural population movement registers. The contemporary scenario written at the Kremlin was supposed to be similar. However, when the plan to quickly capture Kyiv collapsed, other instruments aimed at Ukrainians were resorted to. The bombardment of cities, crimes against the civilian population, including the theft and destruction of crops, and the blocking of food exports - all this is meant to intimidate not only Ukrainians but almost the entire international community with a vision of yet another famine.