Holodomor: Photo documentation, art, exhibits

Authentic Holodomor photographs, other visual resources, and the U.S. National Holodomor Memorial

Woodcut from: Ukraine 1933: A Cookbook by Bondarenko, Mykola. Kulinarna Knyha.

Ukraine 1933: A Cookbook by Mykola Bondarenko, 2003. More info under “ART Resources”

Here you will find information about:

  • Authentic Holodomor photographs
  • Holodomor related art resources
  • Holodomor information exhibits available for viewing or downloading
  • The Holodomor memorial in Washington, D.C.

Informational Exhibits:

Temporary exhibits about the Holodomor have been installed  in countless venues, particularly since the 1980s.  What are listed here are those that can be accessed digitally and in many cases downloaded or purchased.

~ Depicting Genocide: 20th Century Responses to the Holodomor: online exhibition, created by the Ukrainian History and Education Center, Somerset NJ.  2023.  An innovative introduction to the Holodomor that allows each viewer to personally select their level of immersion through multiple links and layers.  The information is well-researched and insightful, along with plentiful visual content. Three areas of focus: “The Holodomor and its historical context;” “Journalism, activism and disinformation;” and “Artistic responses to the Holodomor.”  The in-person exhibit is available for viewing through January 5, 2024.  Details

~ Holodomor: Genocide by Famine. Produced by the League of Ukrainian Canadians in cooperation with the Kyiv Memorial Society in Ukraine. 2008.
View Sample posters. Comprised of 101 11×17″ color laminated panels, “presented as a complete “EXHIBIT IN A BOX” with a supporting readable and searchable CDROM and printed collateral materials.” Email: luc@lucorg.com . Also available for viewing and downloading (with some restrictions) here
Well documented and very informative. The prominently displayed high death toll is attributed to demographic parameters and estimates currently under reconsideration.

~ 75th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Genocide Online Exhibit created under the auspices of the Ukraine 3000 International Charitable Fund, Kyiv, 2008.  Set of 34 effectively designed panels;  some inaccurate imagery.  Contact website for access options.

~ Famine in the Soviet Ukraine, 1932-1933: A Memorial Exhibition, Widener Library, Harvard University. by Oksana Procyk, Leonid Heretz, and James E. Mace. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard College Library, 1986.
Reflecting the knowledge at that time, “consists of a concise, well-illustrated historical narrative, a brief summary of scholarly research on the subject, excerpts from a wide range of sources, and an extensive bibliography.”   This is a fascinating overview, spanning 1917  up to the scholarship of the early 1980s.  Features a rich sampling of photos, posters, and publication art and design of the period.

~ National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide  (Holodomor Museum)
When in Ukraine, visit and take a guided tour of this outstanding museum in the heart of Kyiv – a deeply unforgettable experience. Information about the museum and its many programs and resources related to the Holodomor are available on their new updated website.  Take the 3-D tour.

Art resources:

Holodomor: Through the Eyes of Ukrainian Artists; a collection of over 160 Holodomor artworks
Released online in 2020, this resource features posters commemorating the Holodomor, as well as paintings and drawings on themes from the 3 major famines suffered by Ukraine in the 20th c.  “You can click on each page to make it larger. Artworks can be used for Holodomor commemorations and publications with prior permission and with the following credit: “Holodomor: Through The Eyes of Ukrainian Artists, Morgan Williams, Founder and Trustee, morganw1957@gmail.com.” Please contact Mr. Williams regarding any questions and for permission.”  Background story to the collection, by Morgan Williams, Unian, Nov 27, 2008.

~1933 “Famine” Edition Of Taras Shevchenko’s Kobzar. Kobzar, the collected works of Ukraine’s most famous poet, Taras Shevchenko, appeared in various editions since the mid-19th c. In 1931 and 1933, 2 editions were published with illustrations by Vasyl Sedliar, who chose to portray grim images from the contemporary terrors that came with dekulakization, forced collectivization and famine, instead of the oppression of tsarist days. Sedliar, (1937) and his editor Andriy Richytsky, (1934) were each arrested on a variety of fabricated charges of terrorist activity and executed.
The original drawings were destroyed, as well as most of the copies of the publication. One copy that survived is at the Ukrainian Museum-Archives of Cleveland. Sample illustrations are available in the online Encyclopedia of Ukraine.   Many of the illustrations are reproduced online here (text in Ukrainian): “Ілюстрації Василя Седляра до “Кобзаря” Шевченка.”

~ Ukraine 1933: A Cookbook by Mykola Bondarenko. South Bound Brook, NJ: Historical and Educational Complex of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, 2003.
80 linocuts depict what  Holodomor survivors had told the artist  was the “’menu’ ” that provided their meager nourishment, and he decided to portray not the emaciated peasants, but rather the food which they were forced to eat in order to survive.” Description of the project, with a sampling of additional linocuts.

~ Holodomor: A Remembrance, by Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak.
A selection of several of the artist’s paintings that were part of a touring exhibit in late 2020, as well as exhibited online. from the artist: ““My art of loss and remembrance responds to the genocide waged by the Soviet regime against the Ukrainian nation and reflects my ancestral roots. Millions perished in Stalin’s orchestrated 1932-33 famine in Ukraine. Merging Holodomor victims’ images with icon conceits, I honor them.”

Maria, by Lesia Maruschak.  2018-2019.
Award-winning mixed-media  exhibit and artbook, created as a “metaphor for memory” of the genocide of the Holodomor.  For further information and images from the book, see dedicated website   MARIA BOOK — LESIA MARUSCHAK. Also, the artist’s website: Lesia Maruschak  New Index — LESIA MARUSCHAK

~ Two Regimes, by Teodora Verbitskaya with paintings by her daughter, Nadia Werbitzky, who suffered through both the Holodomor and the Holocaust in Ukraine.  The manuscript and the paintings are both actively utilized today by Kelly Bowen and Mimi Shaw to promote education and awareness of genocide in general and the Holocaust and the Holodomor in particular.  For further details, see:   About Us – Two Regimes

~ Iconography of Power: Soviet Political Posters Under Lenin and Stalin, by Victoria E. Bonnell. Berkeley Calif.: Univ. of California Press, 1999.
Although not specific to Ukraine or the Holodomor, the famine is taken into account in the consideration of these 2 topics in particular: Chap. 5: “Bolshevik demonology in visual propaganda,” and Chap.3: “Peasant women in political posters of the 1930s.”

Sources for authentic photos from the Holodomor

Stalin adamantly denied to the outside world that farmers were dying of starvation in Ukraine during the early 1930’s. It was crucial for him to prove that collectivization was a success; and he had to sell the grain expropriated from the starving population in order to finance his huge industrial projects. Therefore, foreign reporting and photography were severely restricted and censored. What little authentic photography we have depicting famine conditions was smuggled out to the West.

This is in stark contrast to the relatively extensive documentation of the 1921-1923 famine that followed the period of Russian revolution, civil wars, and excessive requisitions by the Bolshevik government. Reluctantly, Lenin, the Soviet leader at that time, eventually allowed the West to aid the starving population. Assistance, most notably through the American Relief Administration, began arriving in 1921. Aid workers carefully documented the conditions of famine victims and the work of their organizations with numerous photographs that are readily available today.

Unfortunately, over the years, newspaper editors, authors, filmmakers – even scholars – have unwittingly used unverified photos depicting starvation to give at least some visual concept to the horror of the Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine, the Holodomor. More recently, some of these photos have been confirmed as taken in other locations or as dating from the 1921 famine.

We hope you will find the resource guidelines below helpful in identifying authentic photographs from the period of the Holodomor.

On 1921 -1923 famine in Ukraine photos, see: “Photographs of the 1921-1923 Famine in Soviet Ukraine,” by Roman Serbyn (article in Ukrainian; summary and list of photo captions in English).


Holodomor Photo Directory. Click to enlarge.

~ Holodomor Photo Directory.  Holodomor Research and Education Consortium.  2020 –
Online, searchable directory of more than 100 authenticated photographs from Ukraine’s Holodomor.  Most of the photos were taken surreptitiously by foreigners visiting or working in Ukraine in 1932-33 and smuggled out. Featured in the Directory at this time are photos by Austrian engineer, Alexander Wienerberger, including his “Innitzer” album and more; US photographer James Abbe, and US labor management consultant Whiting Williams.  Also included is a rare collection by local photographer Nikolai Bokan, documenting his own family’s tragic experience.

The images are presented as high-quality digital scans that can be sized for viewing and downloading for personal use. For publishers, permissions details are included.   Each photo is accompanied by an in-depth description and details about sources.
The Directory also offers an essay on censorship and constraints on photography in the USSR; biographical essays and exhibits; and a small selection of 1920s photos that sometimes have been misattributed to the Holodomor, along with evidence of their 1920s origins.   Periodical updates are anticipated.

Articles about the Holodomor Photo Directory

~ “‘A Gift To Posterity’: Four Men Who Risked The Wrath Of Stalin To Photograph The Holodomor,” by Coilin O’Connor based on a report by Dmytro Dzhulay for RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service. RFE/RL, May 08, 2021.
Presents a detailed, very engaging overview  of the contents of the Holodomor Photo Directory through the eyes and images of the four photographers represented in the current edition.  Features numerous photographs from the Directory’s collections and biographical essays.  Adapted from an article about the Directory originally appearing in Ukrainian:   “Заборонені та невідомі фото Голодомору 1932–1933 років: створено унікальну фотобазу,”    Дмитро Джулай, Радіо Свобода. 20 березня 2021.


~ “Historical Photographs of the Holodomor
A selection with brief commentary of over 30 photographs depicting conditions in Ukraine during the early 1930’s. Many are officially approved government photos that depict Soviet policies of indoctrination, eviction, and removing stored food – along with positive imagery from the life of collective farming for propaganda purposes. Photos of hunger victims and graves were taken by Austrian engineer A. Wienerberger in 1933 (labelled here as “Innitzer collection”) and smuggled out. This selection is a component of The Holodomor Education and Research Consortium’s Education Division.

~ “Archive Photo Documents of the National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide 
A  selection of photographs presented in 6 groups. Each group is preceded by helpful historical or biographical background text.   (For more photographs by Alexander Wienerberger and Mykola/Nikolai Bokan, see the Directory described above). Includes a number of photographs that provide the Soviet approved context of the period, selected primarily from original Soviet government photo documentation now held by the the Ukrainian National Archives (see description below).

~ “Контекст трагедії (1929-1933): офіційні фотодокументи/ Context of the Tragedy (1929-1933): Official Photo Documents of the Central State CinePhotoPhono Archives (TsDKFFA) of Ukraine. Ukrainian language site.
The Ukrainian National Archives section “Famine-Genocide in Ukraine 1932-1933” is the official repository for most of the photos presented on the above listed websites and for thousands more; nearly all are officially approved government photos and close to 200 are available online as small thumbnail images here. Click on the linked list to scroll through the images.  Photos 38123 are officially approved representations of idealized life on the collective farm, as well as examples of indoctrination, mass mobilization, demonization, public prosecution, dekulakization, and dispossession of personal property by the state. Photos 1 – 23, 32 – 34 and 37 which depict conditions of starvation in Kharkiv, were taken by Austrian engineer  A. Wienerberger in 1933 and smuggled out . (See the Directory described above for these and additional Wienerberger photographs in full size.)

Related articles and online publications

Photographs of hunger and famine:
    •  The secret photos of Alexander Wienerberger.

      Mass graves for the victims of starvation. 1933 by Alexander Wienerberger. as seen in the Holodomor Photo Directory and ““Austrian engineer captures the horror of the Holodomor….” by Dmytro Dzhulay. Click to enlarge.

The sources listed below all offer somewhat different selections of Wienerberger’s photos, which were taken in the spring and summer of 1933 in and around Kharkiv, then capital of Soviet Ukraine.

~“Austrian engineer captures the horror of the Holodomor in 1932-33,” by Dmytro Dzhulay; translation by Christine Eliashevsky Chraibi. Euromaidan Press, Nov 11, 2019. From the original  “Невідомі фото Голодомору інженера Вінербергера,” Дмитро Джулай, Радіо Свобода 22 листопада 2019.
The author presents a selection of photos taken secretively by Alexander Wienerberger in 1933 Kharkiv while managing a factory in that city.  The photos are accompanied by gripping text from Wienerberger’s memoir describing his experiences during this horrific time.

~ The “Innitzer Album” of Alexander Wienerberger.  1934.
Popularly known among researchers as the “Innitzer album”, this important set of photos documenting Holodomor conditions has been shared on Facebook in good quality reproduction.  The 25 photos  were taken by an Austrian engineer who was consulting at a chemicals plant in Kharkiv during 1933.  He was able to smuggle out these photos, among others, and presented this selection to Cardinal Theodor Innitzer of Vienna, who was actively trying to build support for sending aid to the starving in Soviet Ukraine . The Cardinal’s efforts were rebuffed by the Soviets, who denied the existence of famine, but the album remains in his official archives in Vienna as a testament to the reality of death and destitution of 1933.  The photos show ordinary street scenes in the city of Kharkiv, then capital of Ukraine, where the residents waited countless hours in for a meagre supply of bread, while starving villagers, died of hunger in the streets.

~ “Holodomor in Kharkiv through the lens of Austrian engineer: photo gallery.”  Euromaidan Press, Jan 10, 2021.
Following a brief introduction with text mostly derived directly from the Holodomor Photo Directory, the article consists of the photos that comprise the “Alexander Wienerberger: Beyond the Innitzer albumcollection, but without the detailed descriptive matter.

~ 1933 Famine Photos of Kharkov on the Gareth Jones website.
These 21 photos, originally uncredited but later confirmed to be by Alexander Wienerberger, originally appeared in Muss Russland Hungern?: Menschen- und Völkerschicksale in der Sowjetunion, by ethnic minorities advocate Ewald Ammende, 1935 (first) edition. (Important Note: an English edition was published in 1936, and re-released in 1984 with the title: Human life in Russia. This English edition which appeared after Ammende’s death, replaced some of the original photos with photos from the 1921 famine as well as others from unconfirmed sources and locations.) For more info about this publication, see this panel from the Alexander Wienerberger biographical exhibit.

Photographs of forcible extraction of stored grain and produce

~ Партійно-радянське керівництво УСРР під час голодомору 1932–1933 рр.: Вожді. Працівники. Активісти. Збірник документів та матеріалів pp.406-415.
A small group of photos was discovered a few years ago which depict the grain procurement team of a village in the Odessa region and how they forcibly extracted hidden stores of grain and vegetables from local farmers during the winter of 1932-33.

About photos from other famines incorrectly attributed to the Ukrainian Holodomor, please see these posts:

Photos from other famines attributed to the Holodomor

Please also see:

8 reasons we see photos from other famines misrepresenting the Holodomor


The U.S. Holodomor Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Source: 112 Ukraine. Nadiya Shaporynska. Nov. 2015. Click to enlarge.

The following are a selection of resources about the project, the architect – Larysa Kurylas,  and the unveiling ceremony on November 7, 2015. See also photo of the memorial on the home page.

United States.  U.S. Public Law 109–340, 109th Congress: An Act to authorize the Government of Ukraine to establish a memorial on Federal land in the District of Columbia to honor the victims of the manmade famine that occurred in Ukraine in 1932–1933. Approved October 13, 2006.

~ “Local architect designs Washington memorial to victims of genocidal famine in Ukraine,” by  Deborah K. Dietsch, The Washington Post, July 24, 2014.

~ “Ukrainians honor victims of genocidal famine,” by Melissa Nann Burke, The Detroit News, Nov. 7, 2015.

~ Dedication of the Ukrainian Holodomor Monument in Washington DC  Nov 9, 2015.   Part 1 // Video. 1hr.3min.   Part 2. Video. 1hr.16min.
Full dedication program on the site of the the memorial, including video of the liturgical blessing performed the previous evening.

Source: Montgomery College. A field trip through history and memorials.

~ Making the Holodomor Memorial: Context & Questions, June 2, 2020.  Univ. of Maryland, Maryland Architecture, Planning & Preservation School  (UMD MAPP). Video. 6 min.
On the fifth anniversary of the memorial’s dedication, the architect, Larysa Kurylas, in coordination with her alma mater created a major exhibit that introduced the subject of the Holodomor along with describing the full process of the making of the memorial.  This brief, silent video provides an exquisite sense of both Kurylas’ philosophy underlying the design and goal of the memorial, as well as the vast, complex scope of the multi-year process from concept to reality.

~ Kibel Gallery Lecture Spring 2020: Making the Holodomor Memorial, presented by Larysa Kurylas, architect of the Holodomor Memorial and alumna of the Univ. of Maryland, Maryland Architecture, Planning & Preservation School  (UMD MAPP). Video. Feb 21, 2020. Video.  1hr:18min.
The architect presents a detailed description of  the philosophy underlying the design and the actual construction of the memorial, along with answering audience questions.