Holodomor: classroom resources for teachers

Ukrainian Famine Genocide: classroom resources for teaching about the Holodomor

This page describes a variety English language resources for teachers: lesson plans, curriculum guides, and other materials designed for classroom use in a variety of media – from print, slide show presentations, film, and info-graphics, to social media.  Resources have been selected for their overall quality and usefulness as judged by educators. Of course, the many items linked and listed elsewhere on this website can be very helpful to add background for teaching about the Holodomor, and for student research and projects.

cover and partial table of contents from Holodomor in Ukraine….Learning Materials, by V. Kuryliw, described below. Click to enlarge



We begin with a description of the wide range of offerings available from the only existing English language institution dedicated solely to the study of the Holodomor, the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium, as described elsewhere.  The focus here is on the HREC Education Division.

~ Holodomor Research and Education Consortium. Education.  
Here you will find everything from the latest prize-winning lesson plans to grant opportunities for Holodomor educators and  a whole range of carefully selected instructional and background materials,  even a gallery featuring examples of Holodomor themed art and authentic photographs. Its Director, long-time Canadian educator Valentina Kuryliw, is the author of the recently published in-depth workbook  described below, Holodomor in Ukraine; the Genocidal Famine, 1932-1933: Learning Materials for Teachers and Students.  She also organized two international conferences on Holodomor education in. 2013 and 2017.

~ Holodomor Mobile Classroom
For educators in Canada, consider booking this “state-of-the-art, digital, interactive classroom on wheels.”  It “features 60-minute facilitator-led lessons with documentary videos on the Holodomor and interactive learning activities for… up to  30 students at one time.”  This is the signature program of the Holodomor National Awareness Tour (HNAT) project.  Additional lessons are available for participating schools, and a number of educational resources and awareness action projects are accessible from the HNAT website.

Resource list that can be printed and shared as needed:

~ Educational Resources on the Holodomor in Genocide Studies.11.21.w hyperlinks.

Workbooks, curriculum guides, and other assembled instructional materials for teachers:

Holodomor in Ukraine; the Genocidal Famine, 1932-1933: Learning Materials for Teachers and Students, by Valentina Kuryliw. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 2018.
From the publisher: “Printed in full colour, the richly illustrated book contains archival documents excerpted and translated for ease of use, timelines, maps, memoirs, photographs, eyewitness accounts, age-appropriate literary works, multimedia links and resource listings. Text-dependent questions are provided for each resource. The book is accessible, instantly useable and packed with ideas and photocopiable resources.”
Acclaimed educator and author of the workbook Valentina Kuryliw points out that the 308 page, spiral bound workbook is geared to a “range of courses and grade levels,” and focuses ondeveloping the student’s critical and historical thinking skills while using lots of primary sources.”
Purchase the book.

~ “Exposing the Ukrainian Holodomor: How starvation was used as a political weapon.”  in Unit 2, Chapter 5 of the online resourceVoices into Action, FAST: Fighting Anti-Semitism Together. 2014, 2018 -.
A well-developed curriculum guide that includes background materials, classroom questions and activities, and a video presentation by Holodomor educator Valentina Kuryliw.  Voices into Action offers a compilation of professional grade curriculum-based resources for teachers and students on issues related to prejudice, human rights, and social justice. First time users select the Educator or Student option. Unit 2 offers lessons on genocide in five chapters.

~ “Holodomor: Resource Guide“, prepared for the Univ. of Minnesota Holocaust and Genocide Studies program. [undated; 2020?]  Very well-rounded narrative overview of the Holodomor, with many links to related text and visual resources and a bibliography of additional sources at the end.

~ Genocide Never Again [Ukrainian Genocide] by Vera Bej, Ihor Mirchuk, and Christine R. Shwed, 2007. Grades 7+.
Well designed workbook that includes 12 worksheets explicitly matched by “eligible content” to applicable Pennsylvania standards. Multidisciplinary: addressing social studies, math, and the literary, music, and visual arts, with liberal use of photos, graphics, and full color reproductions.
You can also download a PDF Supplement of 12 slides that identify and geographically locate other genocides.

~ Curriculum Guide for Teaching Genocides with a Focus on the Holodomor, the Famine Genocide in Ukraine by Motria Melnyk, 2011. Suitable for grades 6-9.
Applies Stanton’s classic “eight stages of genocide” to a capsule overview of 7 20th c. genocides, using the Holodomor as the case study. Includes related classroom exercises and activities.

Source: “Forced Famine in Ukraine,” in Altman: Genocide. pp.49-50. Click to enlarge.

~ The Ukrainian Genocide – The Holodomor, 1932-1933: A Case of Denial, Cover-Up and Dismissal,” by Valentina Kuryliw. Chapter 7 in:  Teaching About Genocide : Insights and Advice from Secondary Teachers and Professors, Volume 2, ed. by Samuel TottenRowman & Littlefield, 2019.

~ Holodomor – Genocide in Ukraine; Learning Materials for Teachers and Students, by Vera Andrushkiw, Dr. Olena Danylyuk, Doris Duzyj. 2019.
“This self-paced course is designed for curriculum directors, teacher leaders, and social studies educators looking to increase their resources and instructional materials around genocide.”

~ The Ukrainian Genocide/Holodomor, 1932-1933; a Curriculum and Resource Guide for Educators. by Myron B. Kuropas and James Mace, updated through 2011. Suitable for grades 10+
Developed for the state of Illinois, which mandates study of “the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine.” Detailed overview of the subject; includes a section on “food as a political weapon,” a glossary and extensive bibliography. Several pages of activities and questions specific to either a junior high or senior high school level, engaging critical thinking across the spectrum of political science and history.

~ Teacher Package on the Holodomor: Ukrainian Famine Education, prepared under the auspices of the League of Ukrainian Canadians. 2006? Grades 10+ and college.
Consists of a selection of readings from the classic works of known scholars in the field, as well as a historical summary under the title of  “teacher’s guide,” and the texts of several decrees and other official documents.

~ Turning a Blind Eye: a Unit of Study by Lana Babij, Lidia Choma, and Borys Krupa. Rev.2013. Grades 10+ and college intro.
Click the following links to download PDF files for: Table of Contents ; Introduction ;Suggested Lesson Plan
Based on Stanford University’s “Reading like a historian” model and centered on comparative analysis of of conflicting news reports of the day, with secondary sources for background information. Readings provided for the Holodomor, Great Leap Forward Famine, Darfur Crisis, and the Media Challenges Today chapters. Suggested additional activities and resource provided; linked to specific Common Core standards . Contact Lana Babij at: lybabij@cox.net for further information.

~ Case Studies: Persecution/Genocide. The Human Rights Series, Vol. III. by Walter Litynsky and JoAnn Larson.
Albany, NY: The University of the State of New York; State Dept. of Curriculum Development. 1986

Victim of the Ukrainian famine/genocide dead from starvation on the streets of Kharkiv 1933

Victim of the Ukrainian famine/genocide dead from starvation on the streets of Kharkiv 1933. Alexander Wienerberger.

Educational database:

~ Modern Genocide: Understanding Causes and Consequences. ABC-CLIO. n.d.
A “key question” and several extensive background essays for discussing the Holodomor are included within the “Perspectives” category of this subscription database. Database information.

Booklets, textbook chapters, and other introductory readings on the Holodomor:

For  younger readers:

~ Holodomor : The Ukrainian Famine-Genocide, by Philip Wolny. First ed., Rosen YA, 2018. Grade 7+.  Part of the Bearing Witness: Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing series.
This 63 page booklet serves as a longer introduction, with a focus on excessive grain requisition. Makes good points on why and how international aid was refused. Some of the photos used are from the 1920s famine.

~ “Forced Famine in Ukraine,” in Genocide: the Systematic Killing of a People, by Linda Jacobs Altman. Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2008. Pp. 43-50. Grades 6 and up.
Very good simple overview. This collection of 10 short chapters presenting different examples of genocide, along with extensive references for further reading, received strong positive reviews for use by students in middle school and older. Scroll through this chapter.

~ “Stalin’s Government Created the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide,” by Askold Krushelnycky, in Genocide, ed. by Christina Fisanick. Detroit: Greenhaven Press. 2007. Pp. 112-21. for “juvenile” readers.
Several issues such as definitions, causes, and prevention of genocide are brought up in this book. Also a number of genocides, including the Holodomor, are debated from opposing points of view.

~ “Preparation: Holodomor, Empty Baskets,” seventh of the series Ten Stages of Genocide Graphic Novels, created for the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. Grade 7+.
The 10 booklets are based on Stanton’s Ten Stages of Genocide (see THE HOLODOMOR AS GENOCIDE), and “specifically created to align with the Museum’s Ten Stages of Genocide gallery.”

Suitable for older students and adults:

~ How Joseph Stalin Starved Millions in the Ukrainian Famine,” by Patrick J. Kiger, April 16, 2019. Part of the History Stories series published by the History Channel.
Subtitled:  “Cruel efforts under Stalin to impose collectivism and tamp down Ukrainian nationalism left an estimated 3.9 million dead,”  This very well-written article includes authentic photographs and embedded links to sources.

~ “Soviet Man-Made Famine In Ukraine”, by James Mace in: Centuries of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts, ed. by Samuel Totten; William S. Parsons; Israel W. Charny. Routledge, 2012. The same chapter appeared in all earlier editions of the books, which was titled: Century Of Genocide : Critical Essays And Eyewitness Accounts; frequently used as a college textbook.  Linked reprint here is from 2004 ed.
Particularly insightful in comparing the totalitarian ideologies of Hitler and Stalin, and in demonstrating how Stalin, through propaganda and highly engineered class warfare, reduced Marxism to the level of “sanctioning … perhaps the paradigmatic example of what Leo Kuper (1990) has called the genocide state.” Also cautions against the“selective perception of evil.” 3 witness accounts included.

~ “Death by Hunger: Ukraine,” Chapter 4 in: Defining the Horrific: Readings on Genocide and Holocaust in the 20th Century, by William Hewitt. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2004. College textbook.
Includes: James E. Mace, “The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor),” in Olexa Woropay’s, The Ninth Circle. (Ukrainian Studies Fund, Inc., 1983). Ian Hunter, “A Tale of Truth and Two Journalists: Malcolm Muggeridge and Walter Duranty,” Report Magazine (March 27, 2000). Roman Serbyn, The Last Stand of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide, Deniers,” The Ukrainian Canadian (February 1989) 7,10,14. Publisher preview.

Slide show presentations:

~ Holodomor: Famine Genocide in Ukraine (1932-1933)  a PowerPoint presentation, by Maria Kiciuk and Oksana Kulynych. [2021]. 33 slides.
Newly revised; concise, visually appealing and easy to follow for both teachers and students. Includes helpful explanations and classroom discussion prompts with each slide. Designed to be readily incorporated into several areas of high school instruction such as: 20th century European history, topics in political science and economics, genocide and human rights studies, etc.


A number of short videos on topics related to the Holodomor  are available for in-class use; a few that are particularly suitable are listed below.  For  descriptions of the videos listed below as well as a more extensive listing of full-length films and video choices, go to FILM, THEATER, OPERA on this website.  Either length can be incorporated into genocide and human rights studies, 20th century European history, political science, and other areas of instruction. Especially effective when paired with one of the lesson plans described above.

Holodomor documentary: Genocide Revealed DVD educational cut. Click to enlarge.

~ Genocide Revealed: Educational Release, directed by Yurij Luhovy, 2013. 26 & 52 min. on one DVD.
First English language documentary film on the 1932-1933 Famine Genocide in Soviet Ukraine made specifically for educators to use at the high school or college level. Based on the multi-award winning feature length documentary released in 2011, the film incorporates survivor and eyewitness accounts, academic commentary and the latest archival evidence.

~ Holodomor: Voices of Survivors. By Ariadna Ochrymovych, Markian Radomskyj. Black Sea Media. 2015.  30 min.
Effectively interweaves an overall narrative with brief excerpts from the recollections of 25 Ukrainian Canadian survivors along with authentic photographs and haunting illustrations. A very,  good introduction to this subject. Available on Vimeo. Short version (9 min) avail free.

~ Stalin’s Secret Genocide, written and directed by Andrea Chalupa. Produced by the Canada-Ukraine FOundation and the Holodomor National Awareness Tour.  2017. 16 min.
“A documentary video introducing the story of the Holodomor and its cover-up by the Soviet Regime of 1932 – 1933 as told by seven leading historians, Anne Applebaum, Andrea Graziosi, Alexander Motyl, Norman Naimark, Serhii Plokhy, Timothy Snyder, and Frank Sysyn.”  Purchase.

~ When We Starve, directed by Borys Buniak, MD.  2018. 15 min.
“This short documentary sheds some light on the psychologic, physiologic and religious effects of starvation on a population.”  Uniquely and effectively describes the processes and consequences of forced, genocidal starvation in our contemporary context of plenty. Vimeo.

~ In Memory of Konstantyn Bokan (English version). in cooperation with the Ucrainica Research Institute. 2013. 9:25 min. Grades 6+.
In this brief YouTube video, the author constructs a vignette based on an extremely rare discovery of family photos taken by an amateur photographer during the Holodomor. The result is a glimpse into the life of a real family during the Holodomor through the eyes of one of the teenaged sons. Supplemented by many other photographs of the period, it provides a composite of the experiences related by hundreds of survivors. (See also:  The Nikolai Bokan collection, in the Holodomor Photo Directory.)