Virginia Mason in her article about Holocaust Memorial Day, (“Stories of the past will help build a better future for all”, Courier, February) is right to state that there are many untold stories.
There is no doubt that many communities in Calderdale have their own particular tragic stories to tell, not least the Ukrainian community.
Ukrainians experienced persecution under two of the most tyrannical regimes of the last century, Soviet Communism and Nazism. They possibly lost more people than any other nation. Unfortunately, the story of the millions who died, has too often been ignored, distorted or even deleted from history to serve the ideological and propaganda needs of the ruling occupiers.
Since the establishment of Ukrainian independence, 20 years ago, Ukrainians have started to look at their history and commemorate those who perished. This year on the 29th January, Ukrainians commemorated the 93rd anniversary of the Battle of Kruty, which took place near Kyiv, in 1918. For Ukrainians and their country, the early 20th Century began with an attack by Soviet Russian forces of about 4,000 on the newly established Ukrainian National Republic. A hastily organised unit of 500 Ukrainian soldiers, many of whom were students, attempted to block the advance on Kyiv. In the ensuing five hour battle, over half the Ukrainian soldiers were killed. They entered legend for their heroic resistance but could not be commemorated under the Soviet Communist regime. A few years ago a memorial was erected to their memory as Ukrainians started to reclaim their history.
With the occupation of Ukraine by the Russian Bolsheviks many Ukrainians were to be terrorised. The Red Terror was only the beginning. In 1932-33 Stalin orchestrated the Artificial Famine in Ukraine which claimed the lives of between 6- 10 million people.
As survivors were not allowed to speak about their experiences, only recently have their testimonies been heard.
Ukrainians again lost millions of people when Ukraine was occupied by the Nazis in 1941.
Figures have shown that Ukraine lost some 7 million people, of those 5 million were killed and 2 million were taken into slavery.
Virginia Mason is correct to state that behind the statistics are people. Today, in Ukraine, graves are being found of the victims of both the Soviets and the Nazis. They are the people who have not been able to tell their story.
Holocaust Memorial Day is important, especially with its untold stories theme this year, as it reminds us of our common humanity and only by being reminded of this can we hope to achieve a better and tolerant world for everyone.