East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies (Oct 2020)

The Psychological Consequences of the Holodomor in Ukraine

  • Viktoriia Gorbunova,
  • Vitalii Klymchuk

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7, no. 2


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The Holodomor (derived from the Ukrainian words “to kill by starvation”) (1932-33) was the largest famine in Ukrainian history. This article presents the results of a psychological study of personal attitudes to Holodomor events and of worldviews and behavioural strategies connected to famine exposure in the family histories of the survey participants. The results of a survey of 721 respondents showed (1) close connections between a respondent’s pattern of keeping silent about traumatic events that occurred during the Holodomor and the extent of suffering that the respondent’s family experienced during the Holodomor, and (2) close connections between the avoidance of Holodomor-related storytelling and a denial and devaluation of Holodomor events within families. The most common family behavioural strategies of descendants of Holodomor victims showed proper feeding, substantial food storage, and regular health check-in. The most common respondent attitudes comprised a distrust of authority, disappointment with the government, and a priority of family needs over community needs.