My 88 year old grandmother is here with me and I thought it might be interesting for people to hear her story. She is a survivor or the 1932-1933 holodomor. She would like to point out that she was lucky enough to be living in the city at this time which was obviously a lot different than living in a small village.

I will be reading her any appropriate questions and type out exactly what she says and/ or translate accordingly.

I'm not sure how to go about proving this so if anyone has any suggestions please let me know.

EDIT: proof,

EDIT #2: Thank you so much for everyone's kind words, and interest. My Baba is getting tired and cranky, so I think this is a wrap. If she's up to it tomorrow I'm going to try and have her finish up the questions here.

Comments: 2026 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

Pelokt1115 karma

are you annoyed that there is almost no knowledge in the western world of this event?

NineChives1644 karma

I want people to know about it. I can't be annoyed because nobody told them.

JHDarkLeg540 karma


NineChives801 karma

Yes we're very grateful here in Canada

Loboc58753 karma

unfortunately most Americans, and probably most people outside of the Ukraine dont even know this horror was implemented by the Soviets. Stalin did a great job of hiding the large number of dead in the statistics from WWII. My relatives were also impacted by this planned starvation of the Ukrainian people and came to America.
Its strange how we in America know all about the Holocaust, but next to nothing about the Holodomor, an earlier holocaust that killed even more innocents.

NineChives527 karma

Thank you for your kind words

vyse4645 karma

What alternatives to normal food, which were not available did they eat to survive?

NineChives1610 karma

Well at that time they took gold for food. The food was was first class, like first class flour, but you got almost nothing. My mother sold her wedding ring for a handful of flour and made a tiny pita for us so we had some food in our mouth

Praefractus533 karma

To what degree did everybody actually realize this was a 'forced famine' and not a legitimate famine from drought or something? Any hard feelings towards the allied nations for ignoring the Holodomor amongst other things because they hoped to secure the USSR as an ally?

NineChives631 karma

I don't know. I was too young, my mama never told us.

Why yes, of course.

GranTurismo5462 karma

What was it that kept her alive? Mentally and physically.

NineChives880 karma

My mama. She would give her portions to me, they didn't want me to worry so they told me there was a famine but they didn't tell me much more

pillowfightmistress453 karma

Do you support the motion to officially call it a genocide?

NineChives602 karma


throwaway246810432 karma

Why is this the first I have heard of this?

NineChives647 karma

It was denied and hidden for many years

pookusmaximus346 karma

Why and where did the Germans take you when you were 18?

NineChives560 karma

They needed workers. They took me to Germany. I got lucky and nice people sent me to school

wowtits282 karma


NineChives480 karma

We ate what we had. I never asked questions, I just took what we had. I didn't care I it was good or bad. She used to steal the neighbours fruits I there were any around

steveshooman265 karma

Several of your answers say that you were too young when it happened to remember the details. Have you not discussed this time period with your parents? If not: Is it because you did not have the opportunity to do so, or because people who survived didn't talk about it?

NineChives683 karma

No, they did not want to discuss. They were scared to talk about it, it would put us in danger. We had to pretend everything was good or we would get arrested. When I was older they arrested my father and I still don't know why, I haven't seen him since. When I was 18 the Germans took me away and I never saw my mother or brother again. No one to discuss with

djfeelgood238 karma

How did you cope with seeing people you knew (family? friends?) pass away? How did your parents justify this to you?

NineChives429 karma

All the deaths were hidden, no one said anything. You didn't want to get in trouble. Can I trust you? can't I trust you? you had to shut up.

bigroe218206 karma

My grandma was in Kharkiv during the Holodomor. She passed away recently, but when she was up to it, she would tell us her memories from that period. She would speak of starving peasants coming in to the city begging for food, but she had to refuse them because she had little food herself. She remembers seeing piles of dead bodies by the railroad tracks. She even told this story of her father and following a dying horse around town, when it finally died the community tore it apart, her father brought home a leg and they made soup out of it for weeks. My grandmother says she survived it because they had a sunflower plant whose seeds they were able to eat daily. The memories of this time period haunted my grandmother for the rest of her life, she often woke up screaming in the middle of the night, and also becuase of the lessons she learned during the Holodomor she never wasted food, not even stale bread.

Before she passed, I was able to record her life story, have you ever written down your experiences from that period? And if not would you ever consider doing it?

TLDR; my grandmother also was in the Holodomor and suffered from nightmares for the rest of her life.

NineChives138 karma

I think this is all I want to write. I tell you my stories

Randythegeologist205 karma

How has it affected you throughout your'e life? Do you see food in a different way than others do, i.e never take a meal for granted?

NineChives362 karma

sure it's strange to see why people had food and I didn't (i think she means at the time). Today i see people take food for granted, i don't get mad though

captain_douche175 karma

Did the people around you change for the good or for worse during the famine?

NineChives295 karma

Everybody was jealous of eachother. He got food but I can't

G8r123 karma

How did the decades of official denial of the holodomor make you feel? Do you believe that it should be more widely publicized and taught in schools as the Holocaust is now?

NineChives215 karma

They brainwashed people. It happened and it's over. If you don't talk about it you forget about it. Actually you don't forget, not exactly. I want people to learn so they understand. Everybody judges for themselves

yummychocolatebunny119 karma

Huge amounts of love and respect to your grandmother

NineChives97 karma

Thank you very much

[deleted]119 karma


NineChives98 karma

I left in 1949. No we not related, I didn't have a big family so couldn't be related

mariataytay112 karma

How did it effect the rest of your life? Did you see people dying? What was life like after the famine?

NineChives203 karma

I didn't see people dying. It was like before, I went to school an they taught me how the soviet union was good and good to its people.

PatchesDaHamstr110 karma

How much food would you consume on a daily basis? What Kinds of food? Were you allowed to grow your own food? Thanks!

NineChives175 karma

Piece of bread maybe, whatever my mama could get. We had no ground to grow food in the city


I was born in Kiev, and my family went through the same thing. My grandparents told me that when the Nazis occupied the city, they actually welcomed them as they were much better to Ukrainians than the Russians.

NineChives146 karma

We thought they would help us!

obamaluvr106 karma

Did the famine stunt her growth?

NineChives347 karma

I dont know! maybe, maybe no. Im telling the truth! stop laughing at me ninechives

the3manhimself104 karma

What did you think was the cause of the famine at the time? Was it blamed on Western nations or just something uncontrollable like a poor harvest?

NineChives132 karma

I didn't understand, I was too young

wickedseamstress102 karma

Just a few background questions: What year were you born? How old were you when your father was arrested? Do you know where they sent him? What year did the Germans take you away and where did they send you? Where are you living now?

NineChives206 karma

I was born in 1924, they took my father in 1942 a month after the Germans took me (her mother wrote her and never saw him again). (she's also getting upset about this question so I'm not going to push the issue). We're in Canada now

mostgloriushair86 karma

I know that the history of Ukraine traditionally was passed down orally through song, and that the bards were generally the blind. Stalin ordered the execution of nearly all of the blind for this reason, to destroy Ukrainian culture. Does your grandma know any of the songs?

NineChives93 karma

They called them kobzar. I heard them but I can't remember them.

l00rker72 karma

how did Holodomor begin? Was the lack of food sudden, or was it getting gradually worse and worse? Did your Grandma remebers any children from her school or neighbourhood disappearing (I assume there were some deaths among young kids)? I'm asking because I read about the famine in North Korea, where some pupils were missing from school, as they were becoming weaker and weaker, and eventually died because of starvation.

NineChives111 karma

They stole kids and blamed it on gypsys. I don't know if they just cover it but that what they tell us. It started when they took away our food

joshqueens272 karma

would you say the soviet union was worse that the nazis

NineChives161 karma

Just as bad, but communism wasn't bad for everyone. But it was bad for us

vincentk1869 karma

Why is there not a lot of awareness about this incident?

This is the first I have ever heard of it... =[

NineChives92 karma

It's was denied for a decade and not many seemed to care after that

EagleOfMay59 karma

When did you leave the USSR?
How did you manage to get the resources to leave?
Did you leave the USSR legally or illegally? Do you still have family in the Ukraine? Where any of your children involved in the Great Patriotic War?

NineChives96 karma

I was taken away when I was 18 by the Germans. Nice people in Germany helped me get an education. No more family in Ukraine. And no

NotANoveltyUser32 karma


NineChives51 karma

I was lucky in Germany. people helped me get an education and the UN helped me get a job in England where I met my husband. He wanted to move to Canada so we immigrated

pleckums58 karma

My grandfather lost many siblings because they were infants at the time and couldn't get enough to eat. It's a shame more people don't know about this dark part of history. Ukrainians always had it rough

NineChives60 karma

I wish more people could know but no one want to hear these sad things

Pwinbutt56 karma

What sorts of things did her mama try to make to eat? Does she remember other things besides the pita? Did they have fuel to keep warm?

NineChives93 karma

We had no food! That pita was only once when she sold her rind. He made soup. I don't know how she got it, maybe she stole it. Maybe potato once in a while. My mum got coal somehow to keep warm

SassyScarlacc56 karma

this is incredible thanks for sharing your story

soulteepee83 karma

I'm a 50 year old American and I am ashamed I have never heard of this tragedy. You are a brave and admirable woman and I thank you for teaching me.

NineChives46 karma

Thank you for listening

NineChives28 karma

Thank you!

waterpanda54 karma

I've heard that if you don't eat for several days your stomach stops feeling hungry because your body goes into a fasting state (your digestive organs basically shut down and your body goes into ketosis). Do you think it was better to go without eating for several days in which you would stop feeling hungry, or to eat extremely tiny amounts (like part of a tiny pita) once every couple days (which would presumably kickstart your digestive system and make you start to feel intense hunger again)?

NineChives72 karma

I felt weak, mama always found us a little but of food somewhere but always very weak

7tyX739 karma

Knowing now that this was a government induced famine, can you now place your trust in government? Do you fear a particular type, such as socialism?

NineChives81 karma

I trust Canadian government here. I don't like communism.

BNFN37 karma

Were there any groups you held responsible for the famine? Be it ethnic, religious or anything else.

NineChives60 karma

The communists and Stalin

poeboy2236 karma

I'm am Ukrainian as well. Where in Ukraine exactly is she/you are from?

NineChives47 karma

South Ukraine

endworld_idiocy33 karma

Did you experience or witness cannibalism first hand?

NineChives64 karma

No and no

berlintexas32 karma

How did you come to live in Canada?

NineChives66 karma

I was taken away by germans to germany. United nation helped me go to England for work. I met my husband in England and he want to go to Canada so we immigrated

TheWildHost11131 karma

How did your family cope?

What lasting effects did it have on you?

What effects did it have on your family?

Where in the Ukraine did you live?

What would you say to the people who caused it?

Do you wish you're family had done anything different?

I tried to throw in some answerable questions, even though she was very young at the time, thanks!

NineChives80 karma

No lasting effects, I was from the south Ukrainian. If I could say one thing to them I would say "you're a criminal"

NineChives79 karma

What could my family do different when we had nothing

thegreatdanetrain24 karma

What did you think the outside World knew of your countries situation?

NineChives36 karma

I think they knew, but they were scared to do anything. If you talked you got arrested or killed

LaurnaMae17 karma

I learned about this Freshman year of college, a professor of mine wrote an experimental play about the Holodomor and we performed it. In one of the monologues it was said that teachers would show pictures of "starving American children" and talk about how worse off we were in the US, suffering under capitalism and the Ukranian children were asked to give what little they had to "help American children". Did you ever experience anything like this? Did you know anyone who was told this? If so, what was your reaction or emotions when you found out the "truth"?

NineChives40 karma

In my school they tell us Americans were starving and had no jobs. They blamed capitalism and said communism would solve all that

IsThatYourPurse17 karma

Why was it better to live in a city rather than a small village? Here in the U.S. during the Depression, people living in the country ate better than those in the city.

Didn't Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn talk about the man-made famine?

NineChives32 karma

In the country they confiscated all your food and farming was not allowed. You have to work at the collective farm. In the city you could trade in jewelry for a little bit of food. We were lucky to have even a little, they had nothing

lolmother15 karma

Could she tell a story that she experienced or heard from someone else during the holodomor?

NineChives34 karma

Some people were so swollen and you had feed them only a tiny bit because it they ate a lot they would get sick and die. You had to feed they gradually no matter how hungry they were.

NineChives23 karma

The people in central Ukrainian had it much worse, their stories are a lot worse than mine

lithiumpop15 karma

My grandfather was in gulag and he survived thanks to grow potatoes from skins and such. Did you or any one you know did the same. And they also sold their jewelry for a sack of potatoes.

NineChives12 karma

Not that I know but I hear about it

israelanstallian12 karma

My family also experienced this. What religion are you and did being a certain religion provide better opportunities for more food, etc?

NineChives25 karma

We are catholic. Theres no privileges that I know of. They closed all the churches and said not to believe because they were brainwashing you and the priests just wanted money

Krywiggles8 karma

2 questions. The first references the Russian civil war. Did your family support the white army, red army (although most Ukrainians didn't) or the Ukrainian supported black army?

Second question. These famines were caused by stalins 5 year plans. What did you think of the man after he accepted magnanimous losses of life for the greater good of the country?

Bonus question please answer. Did you support the nazis when they rolled through Ukraine, did you resist, or did you just try to survive? I suppose this question depends on the answer to the second question.

NineChives23 karma

I think Stalin is a criminal but not the people who took are food, if they didn't they would die. We supported nazis, but it's didnt end how we wanted