Prepared by the International Charity Fund in Ukraine, the exhibition “EXECUTION BY HUNGER: THE UNKNOWN GENOCIDE OF UKRAINIANS” is first of all based on oral history, a popular contemporary method of social and humanitarian research. The subject of oral history investigations is a subjective personal experience. Therefore, the specific characteristic of this exhibition is that archive resources are supported by testimonies of survivors of the 1932-1933 Holodomor in Ukraine. The entire exhibition is based upon this principle: any official information is supported by proofs of a surviving witness.
The opening of the exhibition took place on October 5th 2018, at the Suțu Palace, and was attended by Oleksandr Bankov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Romania and Mrs. Ksenia Piliavska, the author of the „Hunger Symphony” photographs.
The main exhibition is divided into four thematic parts.
The first part, Ukraine Facing Hunger, is made up of two pannels. They present the natural riches of Ukraine a few centuries before the Holodomor: fertile soil, corn as big as a man, ponds full of fish, luxurious vegetation. The ideea was to show that at the beginning of the 20th century, any natural scarcity would have been impossible in Ukraine, thus highlighting that the hunger in 1932-1933 was man-made.
The second part exposes the causes and motifs of the hunger. It contains four panels and represents the documentray part of the exhibition. It portrays the main ideologist of the artificial hunger in Ukraine, Joseph Stalin, and the people who organized and carried it out immediately: Viacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovici, Stanislav Kosior, Vsevolod Balytsky, Hryhory Petrovsky, Vlas Chubar, Paviel Postyshiev and Mendel Khatayevych. These panels cover the purpose of the Holodmor: destroying the national spirit of the peasants and destroying Ukrainian farmers as a class, creating the system of collective farms etc. Furthermore, the panels show the geographical area affected by the hunger, confirming the fact that it affected only the territories inhabited by ethnic Ukrainians.
The third part of the exhibition is called The Mechanism of the Hunger and is made up of 23 pannels. Each panel, based on archive documents, is supported by another panel that presents testimonies of witnesses. The visitor can see the process of dekulakization: the expropriation of the rich peasants, their deprivation of means of living and, often times, their deportation to Siberia. The next steps were the three stages of public cereal aquisitions: August-September 1932, November 1932 and December 1932. During the last stage, the peasants were deprived not only of grain seeds but also of the so-called surplus: beans, potatoes and onions. As a consequence, the villagers were in a very serious condition. First, they had to trade their personal items for food and then they had to eat cats, dogs, mice, different plants etc. in order to survive. An unprecedented act of cuelty was the law named by the people „the law of the five ears”, personally signed by Jospeh Stalin on August 5th 1932, which led to retaliations against the farmers. The following repressive act against the Ukrainian farmers was the decision of the People’s Commissaries Council regarding the villages that were black-listed for „sabotaging” the aquisition of cerelas. This meant a total economic blocade of these villages, their isolation from the outside world, ceasing of all their import-export activities and, consequently, their total destruction.
In order to limit migration from the villages, a system of passports was introduced in 1932 that did not include peasants, thus condemning them to certain death. At the same time, cereal exports from Ukraine grew six times compared to 1929. The panels show how some districts in Kuban, with a predominantly Ukrainian population, also suffered because of the Holodomor. Another method of state plunder was the network of „torgsin” (shops for trade with foreigners) where the villagers could buy some food in exchange for gold and silver at an incorrect price. The torgsin shops were created for the voluntary-compulsory massively confiscation of family jewels and other valuable objects. The Holodomor caused the death of 7-10 million people, according to different estimations.
The fourth part of the exhibition is called The Global Acknowledgement and Perception of the Holodomor. It is made up of four panels. For 75 years the world was aware of what was happening in Ukraine and yet completely ignored it. The first to condemn communist genocide in Ukraine was the Parliament of Estonia. Throughout Ukraine’s 15 years of independence, only 13 countries (Estonia, Canada, Argentina, USA, Australia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Georgia, Poland, Spain and Peru) aknowledged the hunger in Ukraine as genocide. One of the panels in this section contains quotation from the state regulations of the above mentioned countries. Another one shows the text of the Ukrainian Law regarding the Holodomor in 1932-1922, approved on November 28th 2006, which declares the Holodomor genocide against the Ukrainians. The last panel shows information about the fact that, during the last years, every last Saturday in November, on the Day of Rememberance of the victims of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian people commemorates those who died by starvation in 1932-1933 by lighting a candle at 16:00.