It is situated on Mykhailivska Square next to the wall of St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral, on the left from the bell tower (it was installed in September 1993 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Holodomor, one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the Ukrainian nation).
The memorial sign looks like a cross and mother-custodian as a symbol of Ukraine with her hands thrown up in despair (by the sculptor Vasyl Perevalsky and architect Mykola Kysly).
The photo was taken by the journalist Oleksa Vashchenko 20 years ago during the ceremony of commemoration of victims of Holodomor. Except for the top officials of our country, the inauguration of the monument was attended by the then deputy prime minister Mykola Zhulynsky and the prominent American historian and politologist James Mace (Febraury 18, 1952 – May 3, 2004). The history of our Holodomor was studied the most deeply by an Indian American, a Cherokee whose ancestors also starved… James Mace, the advocate of “shot nations,” as he called himself, “doctor of death” made the American dream come true, having passed the way from a cleaner to the professor of Harvard University and director of publisher’s commission at the Congress of the US. The Congress of the US charged Mace to study Holodomor as he was not involved into any group of immigrants. In the US he published the three-volume edition of Oral History – testimonies of victims of Holodomor. A total of 1,800 pages and 210 eye-witnesses from different regions of Ukraine!
We remind our readers that Mace wrote for Den from 1998 to 2004. Our newspaper opened his column called “Candle in the Window” which started the informal nationwide commemoration action when thousands of Ukrainians started lighting candles in their windows to commemorate victims of Holodomor on memorial days… After Mace’s death (he was buried on Baikove cemetery in Kyiv), four years ago the editor-in-chief of Den/The Day Larysa Ivshyna founded the prize in honor of James Mace given to scientists, journalists, and historians for their civic position… Den published two books by James Mace Den i Vichnist (A Day and the Eternity) and Vashi Mertvi Vybraly Mene (Your Dead Chose Me).
Den addressed one of the heroes from the photo Mykola Zhulynsky who was one of the initiators of commemoration of victims of Holodomor to recall how the memorial sign was installed on Mykhailivska Square:
“Back in 1989 I met the scientist James Mace in Canada at a conference. I knew about him as a researcher of the terrible chapter of the Ukrainian history (then I was undertaking an internship at Harvard University in the US), I read a lot of documents and found out how the commission headed by Mace had worked (they had prepared materials for the Congress of the US and James Mace was one of the most reputed scientists who presented the facts of the terrible tragedy of 1932-33 to the world community). Holodomor is a burning issue hushed up during the Soviet time and I thought that it was wrong. Having returned to Ukraine I initiated the Committee for Commemoration of victims of Holodomor of 1932-33 and headed it. We were supported by the then president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk, prime minister and head of the Verkhovna Rada. For some reason we have forgotten that in September 1993 the victims of Holodomor were officially commemorated for the first time on the national level! I suggested introducing James Mace into the organizational committee and invited him to come to our country. We created a series of commemorational events.”
One of them was the installation of the “Memorial sign to the victims of Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine” on Mykhailivska Square next to the inexistent (ruined) bell tower of the later restored St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral. The then mayor of the city Leonid Kosakivsky, the poet Ivan Drach, who was one of the members of the organizational committee, and I chose that place since it is next to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where delegations from abroad are coming and everyone can lay flowers to the monument.
The memorial sign was made in a workshop in Velyka Vasylkivska Street. The sculptor Vasyl Perevalsky did not get any fees and only later, when the diaspora donated some money I passed it to him. The monument was installed within several weeks. We created the scenario of the ceremony with the participation of the government, community, and clergy of all confessions. All the participants gathered on Sofiiska Square and went together to the “Memorial sign to victims of Holodomor.” I still have the photos of the president, prime minister, head of the Verkhovna Rada, and ministers… I was walking next to James Mace (back then I was deputy prime minister of Ukraine) and we were followed by the clergy who sanctified the place where later the monument was erected. There were delegations from each region and from abroad who laid soil, brought from their regions, and flowers… There were wreaths from Ukrainians from all over the world…
We held an international conference dedicated to Holodomor. Scientists from different countries spoke and presented striking facts about the genocide of the 1930s against the Ukrainians. The prominent composer Yevhen Stankovych wrote the requiem on the government’s order played for the first time in Ukraina Palace during the ceremony of commemoration of those who had starved.
You know, later there was an idea to erect a huge cross with lightning on one of the Kyiv mountains seen from a long distance. There were different projects... Later we had to protect the memorial sign from being moved from Mykhailivska Square (when they installed the “Candle” and opened the Memorial to Victims of Holodomor in Ukraine on Pechersk in 2008). This place was sanctified! And it was the first memorial sign to victims of Holodomor…
We held those events in September when quite many actions happen outside and the weather is good. At the time of Viktor Yushchenko’s presidency the Memorial Day was moved to the fourth Saturday of November and celebrated next to the Memorial to the victims of Holodomor.
This year the Memorial Day falls on November 23 (according to the Decree of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych “On commemoration of the 80th anniversary of Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine”).