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A – B = Genocide, the Illustrated Guide

Myroslav Petriw (Vancouver)

During President Yushchenko’s campaign in 2008 for international recognition of the Holodomor (Murder by Starvation) of 1932-33 as a Genocide, three major states refused to do so.

  1. The first was Germany, ever mindful of their dream of a Russo-German economic axis, while protecting their status as perpetrators of the greatest recognized genocide.

  2. The second was Russia, no doubt fearing the German example of endless reparations as well as any shock to the myths on which their empire was built. The myth of a somehow necessary “common tragedy” of the “Soviet people” is just one of many necessary to hold their diverse empire together.

  3. The third such state was Israel, forever mindful of preserving the Jewish people’s status as victims of the greatest and most unique genocide.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and maps being pictures, allow me to draw that, which should have been obvious. But first let me explain the source of the first such picture, the famous ethnographic map of Ukrainian settlement, instantly recognizable by students of anything Ukrainian.

In the mid-19th century the Russian Empire needed to answer claims by a rebellious Polish aristocracy to lands that the Empire considered “Russian” from the beginnings of time. After various attempts, they hit upon the idea of surveying language use in the Empire. At the time they referred to the Ruthenian language, (what is now known as Ukrainian) as the Malorossian dialect of the Great-and-Universally-Understood Russian tongue.

And so the General Staff of the Army prepared the 17 tome Military-statistical Survey of the Russian Empire, in which the lands where the “Malorossian dialect” predominated were clearly demarked. It showed not only the western limits of what we now recognize as Ukrainian ethnographic territory, but it’s eastern frontier too – where the Ukrainian nation butted up against the “Great Russian” people far east of today’s political borders of Ukraine. It painted a picture of the roiling 30-million strong “great Ukrainain sea” referred to by Vladimir (Ze’yev) Jabotinsky in his Taras Shevchenko speech of 1911.

A. The Ethnographic map of “Ukrainian lands”.

A. A more recent and much clearer rendition of the Ethnographic map.

It is very illustrative to juxtapose the above maps (A), which actually document the use of the Ukrainian language at the turn of the century, with the current map (B) of the predominant language(s) in today’s Ukraine.

B. Current map showing language use at home in Ukraine

Jabotynsky’s roiling sea of some 30 million Ukrainian-speakers has actually been reduced to about 16.6 million a century later. It is very illustrative to note that the lands where Ukrainian predominates are essentially those lands that were outside the USSR in 1933 and thus escaped the Holodomor.

It should be noted that the actual genocide was an ongoing policy of this Russian Empire (USSR)  from 1918, with some interruptions, (notably between 1923-1929 and 1941-1943) until about 1989. The Holodomor of 1932-33 was only that policy’s most brutal peak. Arguably, a genocidal policy continues today under the pro-Russian regime of Yanukovych / Tabachnyk / Kolesnikov / Kivalov and friends, a regime that very much reflects the post-genocidal nature of Ukraine. To a great degree today’s Ukraine is a land of both the offspring of genocide’s victims and the spawn of the victimizers.

It should also be noted that Western Ukraine suffered a somewhat less diabolical form of genocide, the “Pacification”, at the hands of Poland’s fascist government of the 1930’s. However, this Pacification was very actively resisted by the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) by means of what is now usually referred to as terrorism. And so it can be argued that the surviving patch of Ukrainian language dominance west of the Zbruch River, the border between pre-war Poland and the USSR, is to a large degree thanks to this resistance.

Linguists will note that the dialect of Ukrainian spoke in the Poltava region was recognized a century ago as the “purest” Ukrainian; yet today the map shows Poltava as that easternmost blob of Russian-speakers within the mass of a creole-speaking population.

And so let us compare the two pictures. Let us look at the two maps.

Despite the sophistry of Germany, Russia and Israel it should be quite clear to all that


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