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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Can you imagine a show called 0“The Holocaust”?

27 February, 2007 - 00:00

Dear editors,

I am writing to you with a distinct purpose, to share my thoughts with you on the subject of the Holodomor, to which James Mace, whose anniversary we are marking these days, devoted his life. I hope this material will be of interest to your newspaper.

The TET television channel has never claimed to be a popular science or even an educational-entertainment channel. In the first days of its existence the channel’s main concept has been 100-percent entertainment: serials, amusement, and talk-shows. Today the channel is purchasing fashionable and very popular reality shows from Russian television channels. The impression is created — and this is confirmed by talks with viewers — that television audiences are bored of watching overseas actors in makeup and are eager to watch something dearer and more real.

The Okna (Windows) era is passing, and television producers are providing viewers with new fodder, shows called Za Steklom (Behind the Glass), Dom (House), etc. Today the most popular reality show is called Holod (the Famine Show). No, this is not about the famine that we usually call the Holodomor, the genocide against the Ukrainian people. No. This is “hunger” for money.

What is this program about? The show features young people, who do not want to be passive spectators; they want to be on television and play their lives out in front of television audiences. They seek popularity and victory. One of the 13 participants will receive 2,000 dollars a month for life.

The Famine Show is a transient phenomenon for its heroes: the main thing is to survive 106 days. According to the rules, the automatic doors of the house open and two of the “starving” may go into the city to “earn” some food.

Nobody dies of starvation here. When there is no food in the apartment, a special energy drink containing all the microelements necessary for the body’s normal functioning is given to the participants.

Today’s young generation learns about this kind of “famine” from television, and no one links the title of this reality show with the events that took place in Ukraine in the 1930s. Everyone who watches this or similar reality shows looks for his own philosophy.

In answer to my question “What have you heard about the Famine, I am told: “Yes, I’ve heard about it. It’s a reality show on the TET channel,” or “I think I’ve heard about it. It’s a series or something.”

I have also heard diametrically opposing thoughts: “Of course, I’ve heard about it. You can’t tear my son away from the television set. He watches the Famine Show, you see. I took a look, I thought it was something about the Holodomor, but there are girls and boys, relaxing, smoking, quarreling...”

The current generation is being educated on these facts, while the older one spreads its hands helplessly.


The question of reviewing some pages of history and finding out the truth has been brewing for a long time. Not many years have passed since the world first learned about the Holodomor in Ukraine. A mere 50 years after the tragedy — at the international conference on the Holocaust and the Holodomor organized in Tel- Aviv in 1982 — the American James Mace, a young and little-known scholar from the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, was the first Western researcher to call the Great Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine an act of genocide.

History remembers another journalist, Walter Duranty, who made his name and received the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his reports from the Soviet Union. He saw with his own eyes what was taking place in Ukraine. However, his reports, according to Duranty himself, “reflected the official views of the Soviet Union.” This was the “work” for which he was awarded the highest journalism prize.

In 1998-2004, while Mace was working for Den/The Day, he expressed his views on the Holodomor, offered his findings based on his research of documents, and analyzed. He did not witness the tragedy, unlike Duranty, but wrote what he felt and what he had learned from primary sources. Mace wanted to bring information to the broadest possible audience and move the top leadership. But he died and the spokesmen of the genocide fell silent.

Meanwhile, modern-day Durantys purchase and promote foreign reality shows and erase people’s memories. It pained our forefathers, but we don’t give a damn.

Let there be different shows, let Ukrainian TV channels buy them and “season” them with Ukrainian subtitles. But I only want one thing — not to call them “Famine” or anything like that. It would be the same as if there were a reality show called the “Holocaust Show” in Israel. Stupid, isn’t it? And our Ukrainian TV channels buy and “popularize” this kind of production.

I have another question: who is profiting from this? Those who are profiting have done their work. For when the word “famine” does not evoke any association with real events, it is a tragedy, and it’s even worse when the only association is to a reality show.

This is the kind of democracy we have achieved on television, and we will probably be marking the anniversary of the Holodomor with the winner of the Famine Show.

The author is a student
at National Ivan Franko University in Lviv

By Tetiana BURDEHA