The museum received unique stamps of the underground mail of the Ukrainian insurgents

12 May 2023

The Holodomor Museum received a gift from Ternopil from collector Vasyl Shtokal. Mr Vasyl gave our institution part of his own collection of stamps on the theme of the Holodomor. These are more than 140 miniatures of the Underground Post of Ukraine, most of which have been preserved in stamp sheets. Among the exhibits donated by the collector there are also individual stamps and a block.

The stamps were created based on the works of the Ukrainian monumentalist painter, graphic artist and art historian Mykhailo Dmytrenko (1908–1997), a student of Fedir Krychevskyi. He was born in Lokhvytsia, Poltava region. During the Second World War, he ended up in the West and then emigrated to Canada and the USA. Outside Soviet Ukraine, Mykhailo Dmytrenko created his works on the theme of the Holodomor, in particular, he participated in the creation of stamps issued by the Underground Post of Ukraine.

During more than thirty years of its activity abroad, the Underground Post issued thousands of stamps dedicated to famous Ukrainian figures and important or tragic events in Ukrainian history. Of course, the Underground Post of Ukraine could not ignore the Holodomor of 1932-1933 and devoted several series of stamps and a block to this topic. Among the organizations of the Ukrainian emigration, it was one of the first to cover this grave crime of the communist regime and the tragedy of the Ukrainian nation. The Underground Post of Ukraine issued a series of stamps in 1953 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Holodomor, dedicated to the victims of the communist occupation regime. Several stamp sheets from this series were donated to the Funds of the Museum by Vasyl Shtokalo.

“Hunger in Ukraine. 1932-1933 In eternal memory of the millions of victims of the Russian occupier,” reads the stamp for the 25th anniversary of the crime. There is an image of a tired mower on it, created by Mykhailo Dmytrenko. In 1967, the Underground Post issued a stamp “50th anniversary of the crime of occupying Russian communism among the peoples of Europe and Asia; murders, lies and madness of communism in the world!” based on Dmytrenko’s drawing “Killed by Darkness”. The specific value of the specimens handed over to us is that they have so-called trailers produced in limited quantities.

“In the conditions of more than half a century of blocking by the USSR of any information about the Holodomor-genocide, an active part of the Ukrainian diaspora was looking for ways to convey the truth about this tragedy of the Ukrainian nation. Non-postal stamps have become one of the channels of informing the Ukrainian and world public about the crimes of the communist regime. The funds of the Holodomor Museum contain separate postal and non-postal stamps, envelopes, postcards on the topic of the Holodomor and mass man-made famine of 1921–1923. Mr Vasyl’s gift became a significant addition to this part of the museum collection. I hope that other collectors of stamps on the occasion of the Holodomor anniversary of the 90s will support this initiative,” said Andrii Ivanets, a leading researcher of the Museum.

According to Vasyl Shtokal, part of the donated stamps previously belonged to Stepan Golyash (1919-2003), a Ukrainian military, public-political and church figure, collector and researcher of Ukrainian non-postal stamps.
We are sincerely grateful to Mr Vasyl Shtokal, who preserved valuable artefacts and shared his possessions with our museum.