On the eve of Holodomor Remembrance Day, 25 November 2021, the Holodomor Museum Foundation presented an update to the Grain of Truth crowdfunding platform: from now on, every user from any corner of the world will be able to find information about their relatives who fell victim to the 1932-33 Holodomor-Genocide.
19 volumes of the National Book of Remembrance of the 1932-33 Holodomor Victims were digitised for the online database. The Martyrology contains information on more than 805,000 names of Holodomor-Genocide victims from 17 Ukrainian Oblasts where the Soviet regime was committing genocide. Search can be done by family name or population centre.
Telling in more detail how the National Book of Remembrance was digitised:
We owe Ukraine’s first online database for the Holodomor victims search, first of all, to the four typist women who entered every family and given name of the persons killed by genocide in those terrible years. It was a painstaking, exhausting, lasting but extremely important job. For about 9 months, Olha Makarova, Olha Fil, Olena Naumova and Tetiana Filipovych were helping to digitise the names of people who had been starved to death. And for each of them it was not just a new experience but an opportunity to join a great cause.
Ukrainian historian Andrii Kozytskyi, Assistant Professor at the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History of Foreign Countries, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ph.D., author of Ukraine’s first Guide on Human Genocides, joined the expert consultation.
Typist Olha Makarova recalls:
“I joined the work out of love for working with Lesia Hasydzhak. This is also involvement in recording a crucial page in the history of our country. I found names of my relatives in several villages of various Oblasts. My thoughts and contemplations were already gone beyond typing. First, all typing was done manually and then a program was developed to significantly accelerate text digitisation. From the moral point of view, reading yourself into the texts’ content was very difficult and painful. It is plainly impossible to remain indifferent to those horrible testimonies…”
Online search now gives a new opportunity to commemorate your loved ones or just someone who did not necessarily belong to your family but whose name you want to bring back from the darkness of almost a century of oblivion. By finding a name of a Holodomor victim you can make a charitable contribution of any amount you are comfortable with, so that the name to ‘spout’ along with the grain. All you have to do is click Make a Contribution next to the victim’s name. >> Try the search >>
Typist Olha Fil shares:
“When I was asked to digitise the Martyrology of the Holodomor victims I knew it would be difficult. Moral-wise it was really very difficult. I was a bit confused to look at 5 huge black books: Kyiv City, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Kherson and Kirovohrad Oblasts. I didn’t know which one to take first.
Each of these books is great pain. I was hurt from the “diagnoses” in archival sources and terrified of the Martyrology, compiled on the basis of eyewitness accounts. And while the Martyrologies of Mykolayiv and Kherson Oblasts comprised 350 to 400 pages (and the rest were documents, chronicles and eyewitness accounts), Kirovohrad and Odesa Oblasts were almost the entire book. And this is nearly 900 pages of names.
I was re-reading each family name, given name, age, social status and cause of death. According to archival sources, the cause was not always ‘starvation’. Unlike accounts of eyewitnesses, who mentioned their parents, brothers, sisters, other family members and neighbours. According to them, the ‘cause of death’ column was filled in with ‘starvation’ and sometimes with appalling details of cannibalism.
Each person has their ID in the table where information was entered. Thanks to this, if your relatives are documented in the Martyrology you can easily identify them. There were complex cases of cross-IDs, where there were whole families with 3, 5, 8, 10 or more children. There were many unknown victims, who also had to be written into the Martyrology, but it is not known who these people were.
In some Oblasts, the most common “diagnosis” was senility of which people of the age over 40 would die. It was weird.
Odesa Oblast became the most difficult and special for me. The book has a very small font and the biggest number of pages in the Martyrology. The most here are chiefly Jewish surnames. There were also Moldavian and Belarusian. This Martyrology was quite detailed about people’s ethnicity. But difficult was the typing. These surnames were unusual for me, and I was pronouncing them aloud in order to write them into the Martyrology unmistakably. Before, I saw such family and given names if only in the books where events take place in Odesa. A little later, when the optical character recognition program appeared (for which I think everyone is very much grateful), the process accelerated and we were no longer entering but editing data. I was still checking the names, re-reading them aloud, syllabicating. And in general, for each Oblast I had sheets of paper with possible misprints or diagnoses in Russian, which, of course, I corrected.”
Typist Olena Skorykova recalls:
“Participation in the project to digitise the names of the 1932-1933 Holodomor victims for the Grains of Truth platform became extremely important to me. It was time not only to fulfil the task: to digitise data from printed sources (Oblast Books of Remembrance). It was also a time for musing, deep reflection and time-lapse awareness of the scale of the tragedy through which the whole of Ukraine got in the 1930s. Physical and mental tragedy.
You cannot change the history. But you can study events of the past, understand and analyse, and thanks to projects such as Grains of Truth literally touch your own history. See a particular person behind numbers and statistics. Find what was lost and forgotten. Personally, while working with the bases, I found more than 30 relatives in my grandmother’s line, from her village, those who did not survive the famine.
I was working on this project side by side in a wonderful team of fantastic women. I want to thank the fate for this opportunity and for such colleagues!”
The Holodomor Museum Foundation sincerely thanks the typists for deciding one day to take up this heavy task. No one better than them realises what it is like to pass through oneself hundreds of thousands of real names, real and tragic family stories. Without the dedicated work of these people, today’s search on the Grain of Truth platform would be impossible.
We thank them very much for their huge and crucial work, their faith in our common cause of restoring the truth and memory of the Holodomor victims. The truth that was being destroyed and hushed up for decades is now sprouting along with the open grains. We are working for this revived memory to give strength to us and our future generations to move forward, remembering that freedom and independence are not given forever.Share