Last century millions of Ukrainians were brutally killed and starved to death by two of the most barbaric monsters of the 20th century. The famine of 1932-33, also known as the Holodomor, saw millions perish. And here in Kiev visitors can hardly miss the memorials to their victims, especially the WWII motherland monument which towers over the city and has become the most recognizable landmark in the Ukrainian capital.
Over 500,000 Soviet soldiers were killed in the Battle of Kiev alone, and the memorial complex dedicated to World War II, or the Great Patriotic War as it is known in countries of the former Soviet Union, seems of a fitting scale to impress on any visitors the enormity of the sacrifice and the scale of the tragedy which played out across Europe from 1939-1945.
With Ukraine playing host to the Euro 2012 soccer championships, more tourists than ever are finding out about the country, and visitors to the Great Patriotic War Museum found underneath the imposing 100 metre mother of the motherland monument, can find over 15,000 museum exhibits in the vast exhibition halls, including a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Babi Yar massacre in Kiev where over 50,000 Jews were murdered in 1941. Nearby, only a kilometre further along the Dnieper river is another more modern monument to the great famine of the 1930s. JN1 asked locals and tourists what they made of the Holodomor memorial commemorating the "Great Famine", which came about as a result of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's order to confiscate the produce of Ukraine's rich grain fields. Some historians believe over 10 million people died.
While Ukraine's Kiev memorials are of an impressive scale, some locals and tourists appeared to be unaware of the tragedy which lies behind the imposing monuments. But many more come away with new insight and respect for what by any account represent the biggest tragedies to have befallen the former Soviet country.
Vincent Mundy, JN1, Kiev.