Luba Kachmarsky Bears Witness to Famine Genocide in Ukraine Featured

Published in LifeStyle
Thursday, 26 March 2015 05:59
Luba Kachmarsky Kaz Novak,The Hamilton Spectator Holodomor survivor Luba Kachmarsky reflects as she looks over family photos. Kachmarska is one of five Hamilton residents featured in a 30-minute educational documentary called “Holodomor: Voices of Survivors.” Luba Kachmarsky Kaz Novak,The Hamilton Spectator Holodomor survivor Luba Kachmarsky reflects as she looks over family photos. Kachmarska is one of five Hamilton residents featured in a 30-minute educational documentary called “Holodomor: Voices of Survivors.”

Hamilton's Luba Kachmarska, 92, can still vividly recall the starvation she and millions of others in Ukraine suffered at the hands of the Soviets when she was a girl of 10.

 

 

Holodomor, or death by hunger, is the name attached to the famine genocide in 1932 and '33 under the regime of dictator Joseph Stalin. Millions of Ukrainians were starved to death when Soviet authorities confiscated all their sources of food.

 

And like the recounting of all genocides and their atrocities, Kachmarska's recollections are beyond shocking.

 

One day, when her mother had her check on a neighbour and his daughter, "I saw a man eating his daughter's leg because she was already dead," she said in her Hamilton apartment on Monday.

 

"For us … we were already in shock. Dying was no big deal," she adds through interpreter Luba Petlura of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress's Hamilton branch. "We would see people dead along the road, but what could we do, because we were barely walking ourselves."

 

Kachmarska is one of five Hamilton residents featured in a 30-minute educational documentary called "Holodomor: Voices of Survivors." It will be shown in Hamilton on Sunday in advance of April, which in some areas is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month, according to Petlura. The film is a gripping account told through the eyes of almost two dozen survivors across Canada and with the use of rare archival footage.

 

The film includes comments from one teenager who says her grandfather "had to eat his pets, which I find terrifying because I have my own pets."

 

Most of the people Kachmarska knew back then in her countryside village near Kyiv either died or seemed to carry on in a trance.

 

Kachmarska, her mother and her siblings survived only because her mother dug a hole in the ground before the Russians had taken everything and hid potatoes in it. Her father had earlier been taken prisoner. At night, Kachmarska, the middle of five children, was sent down the hole to retrieve a few potatoes and pass them up to her mother and older brother.

 

When snow covered the ground in winter, the family ate grass seed and dried tree leaves that her mother hid in the ceiling of their house. They suffered swollen stomachs but survived.

 

"We were all half dead. Nobody ever suspected anything (about us having potatoes)."

 

Her mother's strength through it all saved them, says Kachmarska. The hidden potatoes also saved the families of Kachmarska's uncle and aunt.

 

When Kachmarska, whose maiden name was Bortnick, arrived in Canada years later in 1948, she says, "I thought I came to paradise. When I saw all the milk and bread, I was so happy."

source: thespec

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Ukrainians (Ukrainian: українці, ukrayintsi) are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens. Also among historical names of the people of Ukraine Rusyns, Cossacks, etc. can be found. According to some dictionary definitions, a descriptive name for the "inhabitants of Ukraine" is Ukrainian or Ukrainian people.

The Ukrainian diaspora is the global community of ethnic Ukrainians, especially those who maintain some kind of connection, even if ephemeral, to the land of their ancestors and maintain their feeling of Ukrainian national identity within their own local community.

A Ukrainian Canadian (Ukrainian: Український канадець, Україноканадець) refers to a Canadian of Ukrainian descent who is an immigrant to or a descendant born in Canada. In 2011, there were an estimated 1,209,085 persons of full or partial Ukrainian origin residing in Canada (mainly Canadian-born citizens) making them Canada's ninth largest ethnic group, and giving Canada the world's third-largest Ukrainian population behind Ukraine itself.

Ukrainian Americans (Ukrainian: Українці Америки, Українці у США) are Americans who are of Ukrainian ancestry. According to U.S. census estimates, in 2006 there were 961,113 Americans of Ukrainian descent representing 0.33% of the American population. The Ukrainian population of the United States is thus the second largest outside the former Soviet Union; only Canada has a larger Ukrainian community. According to the 2000 U.S. census, the metropolitan areas with the largest numbers of Ukrainian Americans are: New York City with 160,000 Ukrainians, Philadelphia with 60,000 Ukrainians, Chicago with 46,000 Ukrainians, Los Angeles with 34,000, Detroit with 33,000 Ukrainians, Cleveland with 26,000 and Indianapolis with 19,000.