May 3 is the 20th anniversary of James Mace’s death

3 May 2024

Twenty years ago, the American historian and researcher of the Holodomor genocide in Ukraine, James Mace, passed away. Employees of the Holodomor Museum today visited the scientist’s grave at the Baikove cemetery and honoured his memory by laying flowers and lighting lamps – Mace’s symbolic candles.

James Mace is one of the few scientists of non-Ukrainian origin who studied deeply the history of Ukraine. In 1985, he headed the Commission of the US Congress Committee on the Study of the Famine in Ukraine, which collected documentary and oral testimony about the tragic events of 1932-1933. He was one of the first in the world of academic science to call the Holodomor genocide. It happened in 1982 at a scientific conference in Israel. In 1993, he moved to Ukraine, where he taught at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and worked in the Den’ newspaper.It was Mace who had the idea of lighting a candle in the window – a tradition of commemorating the victims of the genocide, without which today it is difficult to imagine Holodomor Memorial Day.

On May 3, 2004, James Mace died prematurely at the age of only 52. His short but eventful life, a significant part of which was dedicated to Ukraine, is reflected in the tombstone. Mace is depicted there in the form of a meteorite, which rapidly entered the atmosphere of Ukraine and burned up, leaving behind a significant trace – his work and knowledge, which an open book (sculptor Volodymyr Koren) symbolises.

“In the early 1990s, the researcher came to Ukraine to be closer to the sources, and most importantly, he had a sense of mission,” says Andrii Ivanets, a leading researcher at the Holodomor Museum. – He figuratively said “your dead chose me”, and he also replied when he was asked in America why he was dealing with the issue of Ukraine, that he would not help his people anymore, but he could still help Ukrainian. His work really became a support for many Ukrainians in life, an awareness of the truth, opened pages of the terrible tragedy of the Ukrainian people unknown to the world. Unfortunately, he was not properly appreciated and heard in Ukraine because even in the 1990s, he warned: that as soon as Russia got a little stronger, it would attack Ukraine. Today, we made sure of it. And if Mace had been heard earlier, we would have had far fewer casualties in this war.”

Dmytro Bilyi, head of the Museum’s Holodomor-genocide and mass man-made famines research department, emphasised that James Mace managed to do a lot during his short life and left us his rich legacy – books, scientific articles, and journalism. “His words sound, they are, they always will be. Great honour and respect from Ukrainians. His memory will always remain with us.”

Thank you, Mr. Mace, for being in Ukraine. Eternal peace and bright memory… We remember you…