Mykola Bondarenko, the author of the Holodomor Cookbook, has passed away

5 June 2023

Today, the famous graphic artist, Honored Artist of Ukraine Mykola Bondarenko, will be escorted to his final resting place in his native village of Uspenka in Sumy Oblast. The artist passed away on Saturday, June 3, at the age of 74.

Mykola Bondarenko. Photo from the website


Mykola Mykhailovych is the author of many works on the Holodomor topic and the artistic album of engravings “Ukraine 1933: A Cookbook. Human memory”. In parallel with his creativity, he thoroughly engaged in research work, and he began recording the testimonies of his fellow villagers about the Holodomor back in Soviet times at the end of the 1980s.

“I collected the material for the book here, in our Buryn region, I live in the village all the time, people are nearby. You know everyone, and everyone knows you, they are not afraid to tell. I accidentally discovered the topic of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as a child, studying in the fourth grade. Once I studied a lesson on the history of the USSR. And since I was an obedient student, as the teacher ordered, I read aloud at home – so that I would remember it better. And it’s all about success… And the grandmother, who consulted by the stove, asks: “Don’t they write about hunger there?”. “No,” I answer. And she: “They ate people, dogs, cats. What they just didn’t eat…” She was silent for a while, and then she said: “Hunger is worse than war. Just don’t tell anyone about it. Be quiet!” I was very surprised by this comparison. After all, what could be scarier than war?” the artist said in an interview with Ukrinform.

Asking his fellow villagers about those terrible times, Mykola Bondarenko, at some point, thought in what way were those leaves and roots used to replace food. He began to ask people to recall how to prepare those “dishes”. That is how sad “recipes” appeared, and later – the “Cookbook” itself.

In addition to engravings, this book includes testimonies collected by the artist and lists of residents of the village of Pisky who died during the Holodomor, where metric books with records of those who died in 1933 were miraculously preserved. Later, according to Mykola Bondarenko’s project, a Memorial to the victims of the Holodomor was built in Pisky, which was entered into the State Register of Cultural Heritage Objects of National Importance. The artist is also the author of the project of the memorial sign to the Holodomor victims in the village of Chernecha Sloboda, Buryn district.

Mykola Bondarenko’s exhibition of engravings, “Ukraine – 1933: a cookbook,” visited expositions on all continents, in many countries of the world, telling the truth about the tragedy of Ukrainians. Albums with the same name were printed first in the USA and then published twice in Ukraine in 2008 and 2019.

For his research work and the “Cookbook”, Mykola Bondarenko was awarded the Order of Merit III degree and was nominated for the Taras Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine in 2020.

The artist’s friends say that he had many plans and ideas, which due to his sudden death, he never had time to implement. In particular, until the 90s of the Holodomor, he dreamed of publishing an album of his engravings. We hope that there will be an album, and we regret that the author will not hold it in his hands.

Bright memory…