Action Ukraine Report #820 | 23Feb2007 | Viktor Kostiuk
Item 17


James Mace's birthday is approaching, we remember him & try to understand the phenomenon of his personality.

COMMENTARY: Viktor Kostiuk, Head of the Journalism Department
Zaporizhia National University, Zaporizhia, Ukraine
The Day Weekly Digest #6, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, February 20, 2007

With James Mace's birthday approaching, we remember him and try to understand the phenomenon of his personality.

Tens and hundreds of our compatriots are known to have proved their creative potential outside their native land -- "Our blossoms are all over the world," as the saying goes -- asserting the existence of the country of Ukraine. But what made a successful American scholar move to a young and little known country?

The scholarly activity of the young Oklahoman began from a tragedy, or more precisely, from the realization of a tragedy that had befallen a distant nation.

Eyewitness testimonies, archival materials, and mass media publications on the Ukrainian Holodomor helped him understand its nature and consequences and gave him grounds to declare to the entire world that genocide had been committed against the Ukrainian people.

Mace moved to Kyiv in the early 1990s. What bound him to Ukraine was a pain in his huge heart rather than business interests. In 1994 he wrote in the newspaper "Literaturna Ukraina," "Today, when I hear scholastic debates on whether Ukraine is building a socialist or capitalist society, I wish it would be the society of liberated people." In his opinion, a liberated person is an informed individual who is free of fear.

His knowledge of Ukraine's realities led him to the following conclusions: "A country with the most fertile land in the world, immense mineral resources, and with a better-educated labor force than the US has become a laughing-stock. The economy is unable to maintain such a large government.

The country keeps sinking into debt and is wasting loans intended for investment. Its environmental conditions are the worst in Europe. The population is shrinking; people are losing hope for better days. At the end of the 20th century Ukraine is the same 'sick man of Europe' as the Ottoman Empire was a hundred years ago."

Having deeply immersed himself into the past and present of our country, Mace the researcher asserts, "Ukraine is a post-genocidal society."

After researching the Holodomor for many years, Mace began to consider himself a Ukrainian. One is led to wonder: if a person who is so deeply concerned about our problems and so sincerely interested in the good of our people is Ukrainian, what percentage of Ukrainianness do our politicians, business people, journalists, artists, and each one of us have?

But the heart of the great humanist could not bear the post-genocidal manifestations of our everyday life. The Ukrainian land that was so dear to his heart became his final refuge.

A worthy way to honor the 55th anniversary of James Mace's birth would be to acknowledgment his achievements. In the next days much will be said and written about his life, research, and compassionate publications.

I believe that what we need to say about Mace is not words of praise but gratitude. Thank you, great humanist, for stirring our society, which made our parliament finally recognize, not without a lot of huffing and puffing, the Holodomor of 1932-33 as genocide.

Forgive us, James, for transferring power into the hands of people who break publicly made promises, who despise the state language and the things our nation holds sacred, who disregard freedom of press, and who impersonate a political opposition while playing soccer or tennis together.

My students and I will refer again and again to your publications because they shape social optimism, teach us critical thinking, and encourage people to be humane.

For the second year in a row, journalism majors at Zaporizhia National University are using James Mace's "A Tale of Two Journalists" in their classes. For them this is "an active way of contemplating the past, present, and future" (Larysa Ivshyna).

Below are extracts from papers written by this year's freshmen students.

[1] Without a doubt James Mace may be called a true Ukrainian and our national hero. The kind of openness and honesty that he had about the Genocide and Holodomor of 1932-33 is not found in any history textbook, and this is truly hard to believe. Unfortunately, Mace's knightly and scholarly courage did not find acceptance either in the US or Ukraine.

But we are happy that today this person is acknowledged in our country as a prominent scholar. James Mace was a true journalist and a real man, who was not afraid of making the truth known to people. This is what journalists should be. We need to look up to him and strive to be as honest as he was. - Natalia PERELETA

[2] It is very unfortunate that James Mace's name does not ring a bell with most Ukrainians. I did not know anything about him until I enrolled in our university.

He was an American but decided to throw in his lot with a country that at first was foreign to him and later became his true Fatherland. It was his love for our country and people that made him tell the truth with no fear of consequences. - Natalia BUHAR

[3] Reading the biographies of such people as James Mace, you think, "There he is, a hero of our time." He is worthy of being called a real man. It is hard to imagine that in times of discord and feuds there was a man who was not indifferent to our people's lot.

His Tale is a postulate of human dignity and journalistic honesty. It demonstrates the everlasting confrontation of truth and evil. I am taking my first steps in journalism, but I can say that Mace is an example on which the spiritual development of future journalists must be based. - Yevhen DORONIN

[4] Journalists often like to think of themselves as fearless advocates of society's right to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The Pulitzer Prize was established in order to honor those who follow this principle.

But what do we do with journalists like Walter Duranty, i.e., those who conceal the truth and openly despise any conceivable journalistic ideals? The answer is obvious: shame, contempt, etc.

Just like Gareth Jones, one of the characters of his story, James Mace always had the courage of his convictions in expressing his views on Ukrainian history and ethics. The Holodomor was a terror for the whole nation and a murky period in the 20th century.

Even Western nations have acknowledged this. Holodomor denial is the most immoral of all crimes. Isn't it time to cleanse our consciousness? Isn't this an opportune moment for establishing the truth? - Maria MELNYK

[5] James Mace is one of the few people who demonstrated the true paradigm of the journalistic profession. With considerable skill and using the examples of Duranty and Jones, he managed to show the fleeting glory of Duranty wearing the laurels of a lie, and the "everlasting failure" of Jones wearing the laurels of truth.

Some may say this is a paradox of existence, but consider: when a person with a serious illness deliberately infects others, that is a crime. When a deceitful journalist deliberately infects society with the "disinformation virus," doesn't it make sense to sound the alarm?

Sooner or later, lies will out, so a young journalist should learn from Duranty's mistakes in order not to tremble at death's door in fear of eternal damnation. It is regrettable that journalists do not take an oath like doctors do. Maybe then they would understand the scope of their responsibility. - Halyna YATSENKO

[6] James Mace's journalistic legacy is simply awe-inspiring. It clearly reflects the author's deep knowledge of Ukrainian culture and history. The reader is favorably impressed by the zeal with which the author comes to the defense of justice and truth. The breadth and depth of his thinking as well as the simplicity of exposition make Mace's publications accessible to all readers.

He devoted many years of his life to researching the history of Ukraine, a country that was not his native land. I believe that every journalist, especially a budding one, needs to read A Tale of Two Journalists.

This is a case where a future professional has to learn from real-life examples, to understand and be aware of every aspect of journalism, not just its positive sides.

I believe that "A Tale of Two Journalists" helps one appreciate the immense importance of the journalistic profession. In journalism, as in any other public sphere, there will always be the dilemma of choosing between two different ways to achieve a goal -- the principled, honest way or the unscrupulous, slippery one.

I believe that every budding journalist needs to read this story and make his or her own choice -- whether to live in harmony with fame, which is sometimes sullied, or with one's own conscience. - Yana POLSKA

[7] Of course, not every leading journalist has read this story. But this does not mean that the problems it describes have no relevance today. In his story the author not only talks about ethics in journalism or its absence, but also discusses facts from Ukrainian history that were kept secret for a long time.

Much has been said and written about the Holodomor, but how much is there that we still don't know? Yes, you can conceal official data and figures.

But what do you do with millions of murdered people? How is it possible to conceal the names of those who sacrificed themselves for the sake of the truth?

James Mace's publications are thus not simply collections of an observer's comments but an opportunity for Ukrainian society to look at its present in the light of the past. - Kateryna SHYIAN


[1] By Mykhailyna KOTSIUBYNSKA, literary critic

"For me the name and image of James Mace are one of the purest and most moving phenomena of the human race that I have ever come across. I was fortunate to know people like that - Vasyl Stus, the Svitlychnys - Ivan and Nadia - Alla Horska, and others.

"Ukraine called to Mace from across the sea and from a different continent, and he answered the summons. He said, "I was called by your dead." But the living also called him.

"He accepted their sufferings and hopes as his own, learned their language, and did his utmost to make the global historical tragedy of the Holodomor known to the international community. He became a kind of eyewitness of the Holodomor at the trial of history, and he opposed ignoramuses and enemies that are still there even now.

"He left prosperous America and came to live in unstable and unpredictable Ukraine. He did not idealize our country. He was deeply moved by all its problems, and he never referred to it with the arrogant phrase "this country" because it was already his country. He worked to make it more humane."

"After learning of Mace's American Indian descent, I felt that he became even closer to me. I have always had a special feeling for the romanticism of the American aboriginals and was interested in this original culture.

"In the 1960s I became acquainted with the works of Pauline Johnson, a Canadian writer and a vivid personality. Her father was a Mohawk chief, and she wrote about Indians.

"Translating her works into Ukrainian, I was able to draw closer to the fascinating world and noble heroism of Indian legends. In her dignified personality and creative work I saw some kinship with her contemporary, Lesia Ukrainka.

"They even died the same year, each of an incurable illness. So it has always seemed to me that Mace's Indian blood belongs to the same group as Ukrainian blood."

"The dirty smear campaign aimed at blackening James Mace's name will have a boomerang effect on its instigators because it testifies, above all, to the troglodytic level of their consciousness. To Mace the love and tribute of all those who cherish Ukraine will be an eternal protection and a guarantee of remembrance."


[2] By Valerii STEPANKOV, professor, Kamianets-Podilsky University

"To my great regret, I did not have an opportunity to talk or even meet with Professor James Mace. Therefore, I cannot share my personal recollections of this remarkably conscientious and courageous man. As a scholar, I knew about his significant body of research on the Holodomor, that terrible tragedy of the Ukrainian nation.

"His articles alone (primarily in "The Day"), which were later published as the book "Day and Eternity of James Mace," struck me as open and sincere, showing his unconcealed feelings for Ukraine and respect for its past, as well as his honesty and fervent determination to make the truth of this national tragedy known to the intellectual and political elite of today's Ukraine.

"Equally striking was the nagging pain in his heart caused by the callous indifference of most government officials to the history of the people whose interests they were supposed to advocate and defend.

"In this way my imagination began to outline the image of a person whose actions, on the one hand, increasingly commanded respect and, on the other, left me wondering about the inner motives behind them."

"I could not understand what made a foreigner and well-known scholar, who could freely enjoy all the comforts of a democratic society in his native country, come to work in Ukraine, which many of our people dreamed of leaving in search of a better life.

"More than that, he fought our bureaucracy, paying dearly to break through the wall of our indifference, if not contempt, for our national memory, self-identity, and self-respect in order to bring forth the citizen in each one of us.

"He sounded the tocsin of consciousness to make those who still had one wake up from the lethargic sleep of apathy toward their own nation and help them comprehend the scope of the 1932-33 genocide, and learn the lessons needed to overcome its consequences.

"I searched for an answer to the question: why did James Mace take our tragedy closer to his heart than most of us Ukrainians do? I found the answer in the fact that he was a descendant of an Indian tribe that had virtually disappeared from the face of the earth.

"Therefore, an understanding of this kind of tragedy was in his blood. When he was studying the Ukrainian Holodomor, he was terrified by its scope.

"The Ukrainian tragedy turned out to be so close to the tragedy of his own people that he transferred his love to Ukraine (as a mother does after losing her children) and with all his strength sought to keep it from going down the same path as the one taken by his tribe.

"He became a more aware Ukrainian than most of us are, and at the price of his own life showed us how to love one's own people and defend its dignity.

"I want to believe that the time will come when, having learned to treat itself as a historical entity and to respect itself and its dignity, the Ukrainian nation will consider James Mace one of its finest sons."


[3] Anatolii DIMAROV, writer
"A man who burned his heart in the fires of love for Ukraine. A man whose voice was heard throughout the world. A man who did more than all the parliaments of the world together.

"A man who became a plenipotentiary representative of the victims of the Holodomor, an unprecedented genocide that claimed millions of lives. It was engineered to destroy an entire people whose only fault was that it bore the name of the Ukrainian nation and stubbornly lived on instead of vanishing; whose very existence sent the bloody executioner into fits of violent rage.

"A man who broke through the dead wall of silence that was painstakingly erected around the horrible event, which nearly wiped an entire nation off the face of the earth.

"A man whose heart was stirred day and night by the ashes of our brothers, sisters, and parents murdered by starvation.

"This man was James Mace, an American citizen who became a Ukrainian. He came to knock on the door of our sleeping conscience and memory and make himself heard. He gave his whole life to Ukraine.

"He did not simply do everything possible to have the US Congress acknowledge the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33 as genocide, so that other parliaments would follow suit.

"Mace tore himself away from a comfortable life in a wealthy country and came to Ukraine, a country steeped in penury, in order to awaken our anti- national parliament in which the communists opposed any reference to the Holodomor, to say nothing of its recognition as genocide.

"Could we expect anything else from the heirs of those thugs who tore away the last potato from a hungry child's mouth only to crush it under their dirty boots? They swept peasants' households clean of every last grain and buried people alive because they did not have the patience to wait until they starved to death.

"Even today the bloody executioner of Ukraine who started the genocide is dearer to them than their own fathers. Even today they carry Stalin's portraits, pressing them gently to their empty hearts at their wicked rallies.

"Now they begin to defame the late James Mace and smear his name with mud -- a name that is holy to every conscious Ukrainian.

"Those are corrupt people without honor or conscience, made insane by their fury at Ukraine -- a country that has just risen from its knees and is freeing itself from the colonial yoke that for three torturous centuries rubbed its neck sore and made it bleed.

"But they will not succeed in spitting on our Mace. Mace lives! Mace is not answerable to death or decay. He is knocking at the door of our hearts and our memory."


[4] By Stanislav KULCHYTSKY, professor, deputy director of the Institute of Ukrainian History, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

"I was acquainted with James Mace for two decades, but for the first five years we knew each other only from our publications. At first there was a distance between us, which was determined by the nature of our upbringing and fundamentally different life experience. I not only felt this reserve but studied it, analyzing the worldview of people who were formed on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

"Each representative of this group with whom I was in frequent and long-term contact has left a trace in my heart: Professor Bohdan Osadchuk from Berlin, Professor Roman Serbyn from Montreal, the Canadian historian Orest Subtelny, who is known to everyone here, and James Mace. Without a doubt, Mace's influence was especially strong -- not only because of our frequent meetings but also because of his intellectual level.

"In the second phase of our acquaintance we reached a common understanding of the social order in which the terror by famine was possible. He made me pay attention to the national aspects of the Holodomor, whereas I insisted on the importance of studying the socioeconomic aspects of the tragedy.

"It is clear now that we also need to study the all-Union famine of 1932-33 as a socioeconomic phenomenon because the January 1933 food expropriation campaign in Ukraine was made possible only by this famine.

"James Mace called me a friend and colleague, but actually we became friends only once we began to agree on professional matters. He may have been the first to feel that we were drawing closer to each other because he was very open with people.

"The people who knew Mace well have recently witnessed his entry into the pantheon of national memory as one of the most prominent figures of Ukrainian history at the turn of the last two centuries of Ukrainian history.

"After his untimely death Mace begins to receive that which our society did not give him while he was alive. Even curses heaped upon his head from the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada and in communist newspapers become signs of recognition.

"The Day began publishing the third series of my articles that were written in the last two years. This series is devoted to a reappraisal of Stalin's terror by famine and is entitled "The Holodomor of 1932-33 as Genocide: Gaps in the Evidentiary Basis."

"In these articles I show that the young American researcher, James Mace, was the first postwar scholar who understood that the Stalinist terror in Ukraine, including terror by famine, did not target people of a certain ethnic origin or occupation.

"Rather its objective was to destroy the citizens of the Ukrainian state that came into being after the disintegration of the Russian empire and survived its demise in the form of a Soviet state.

"I affirm that Mace formulated this idea long before he became the executive director of the US Congress Commission on the Ukrainian Holodomor.

"At the international conference on the Holocaust held in Tel Aviv in 1982 he was the first to call the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 genocide and formulated the main objective of Stalin's terror by famine: to destroy the Ukrainian nation as a political factor and social organism.

"The same formulation appears in his paper that he presented in 1983 in Montreal at the first international conference on the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33.

"Mace's formulation is clearly subsumed under the legal concepts contained in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted on Dec. 9, 1948.

"In the remaining time before the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor we must sound the alarm as much as possible to convince the international community, and above all the Russians, that our position is well-grounded and sincere.

"I am certain that this can be done. I am also certain that James Mace's scholarly legacy will make this task easier if it reaches broad segments of the Ukrainian and international communities.

"I will not mention all of Mace's work -- if it is ever published, it will take up five or six volumes. I will dwell here only on the most important thing: the testimonies of Holodomor eyewitnesses.

"In the summer of 1990 I published a review in the large-circulation bilingual journal Under the Banner of Communism, entitled "How Did It Happen? Reading the Documents Produced by the US Congress Commission on the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33."

"The three-volume edition of oral testimonies was still not published at the time, so I used a computer printout that Mace brought me during his first visit to Ukraine.

"The subsequent 17 years witnessed a steady increase in the sociopolitical and academic value of this collection of testimonies, which was published in the original language (90 percent were in Ukrainian).

"Perhaps we could have surpassed the compilers in the method of processing testimonies, even though I have grave doubts about this when I read the books published in Ukraine.

The three-volume edition was prepared according to the strict canons of oral history, which was a new trend in historical source studies at the time. These are now classic canons, but our scholars still have not mastered them properly.

"But this is not the problem. The eyewitnesses of the famine were questioned by Mace's assistants in the mid-1980s. After more than a quarter of a century, how many long-lived eyewitnesses with wonderful memories can today's researchers expect to find?


"In the mass media and at various official meetings held in connection with the 60th and 70th anniversaries of the Holodomor I insisted, sadly in vain, that the three-volume edition of testimonies needs to be reprinted because it was published in 1990 by the US government printing house in Washington in a minuscule number of copies. Let us hope that this problem can be resolved.

"After all, it is not the dead who need the truth about the Holodomor. We, and our children, need it as part of our national memory."


[5] By Andrii MATSIIEVSKY, director of School no. 2, city of Haivoron, Kirovohrad oblast

"Our staff is deeply and sincerely grateful to James Mace, who as an American, for many years raised the question of the Ukrainian Holodomor like no one else in the world and wrote hundreds of articles and books.

"He continued his work at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, enduring unjustified rebukes, mainly from communists who pointed to his origin and tried to tell him where he should go.

"American that he was, he was also a great Ukrainian. The descendants of those 10 million Ukrainians who died during the Bolshevik-engineered Holodomor are grateful to him.

"We are also grateful to "The Day" for its hard work -- the publication of the book "Day and Eternity of James Mace."

"We are fascinated by how James Mace conducted his research in the US. This was his responsibility in the US Congress Commission on the Ukrainian Holodomor.

"For decades he endured the cavils of those who were unwilling to speak the truth. Among them were many politicians, primarily in Russia and Ukraine, and communists in Canada, a country with the largest Ukrainian diaspora.

"James Mace began his research on the Ukrainian Holodomor in 1981, when no party documents had been published yet on this tragedy. Ukrainian Americans voiced their demand for this kind of research.

"Mace spoke about himself in the words of Martin Luther, "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise." Thanks to Mace, the world learned about the genocide against the Ukrainian people.

"He became a great friend, advocate, and defender of Ukraine. Future generations will certainly be thankful to him for his work. We bow our heads to the memory of James Mace, who departed from this life so early."