1932-34 Great Famine: some further references
by Dr. Dana Dalrymple
The article below was published as an addendum to Dr. Dana Dalrymple's earlier piece on the Great Famine. It, too, appeared in the journal Soviet Studies, in the April 1965 issue. Dr. Dana Dalrymple is an agricultural economist who specializes in international agricultural research.
Perhaps the most authoritative reference is provided by Dr. W. Horsley Gantt in an article which originally appeared in the British Medical Journal._1_ Dr. Gantt, a member of the school of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, was formerly chief of the medical division of the American Relief Administration, Leningrad Unit (1922-23), and later was a collaborator in Pavlov's Laboratories (1925-29). In the summer of 1933 he returned to Russia to continue his work with Pavlov.
The famine quickly attracted his attention. Through conversations with Russian doctors who were able to provide first-hand reports, and personal travel outside the cities, he was able to gain a perspective of the famine equalled by few. And while his article was not published until 1936, Dr. Gantt indicates that he provided much of the information on the extent of the famine used by American correspondents during this period - in particular the article by Ralph Barnes (cited on p. 253, fn. 17, of my original paper).
Most of the points presented in Dr. Gantt's article on the causes, extent and handling of the famine are in agreement with those presented in my article. Dr. Gantt, however, provides considerably more detail in the medical aspects of the famine, especially the associated deficiency diseases and the contagious epidemics (see pp. 155-156). He reports that the peak of the typhus epidemic coincided with that of the famine. Deaths from typhus were not recorded as such, but as "Form No. 2." While the highest mortality estimate which I cited was 10 million, Dr. Gantt indicates that he privately got the maximal figure of 15 million from Soviet authorities. He adds, however, that because starvation was complicated by the epidemics, it is not possible to separate which of the two causes was more important in causing casualties.
A study of previously unopened records of the U.S. Department of State for 1933 brought to light one paper which provided some idea of knowledge of the famine among the diplomatic corps in Moscow._3_ According to the memorandum, the existence of the famine "was frankly admitted on several occasions by officials of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs to members of the Moscow diplomatic corps." It was the general opinion of the diplomats that the famine was even more severe than that of 1921-22. The number of people dying from starvation was placed at 7 to 8 million. The reasons given for the famine and for suppression of its knowledge were essentially those which I outlined in my earlier article.
Similar interpretations are provided by Frederick L. Schuman in "Soviet Politics at Home and Abroad,"_4_ and Homer Smith in "Black Man in Red Russia."_5_ Both traveled through Ukraine during the famine. Schuman notes that while newsmen were prohibited from going into the famine area, others, paradoxically, were not. Smith summarizes his observations by stating that "Stalin's unwritten motto was simply: machines instead of food."
Rather more intimate accounts of the famine are provided in several publications by Ukrainian emigres. Perhaps the most extensive collection is presented in "The Great Famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933."_6_ The sections of most value include an article by Petro Dolyna on "Famine as Political Weapon" (pp. 29-135), and a collection of a large number of individual accounts of the famine and excerpts from several Russian-language newspapers (pp. 431-710).
Two other recent works, in Ukrainian, also take a similar approach. In an autobiography, "Povest Krivykh Let" (The Tale of the Ragged Years), Tatiana Fessenko relates the effect of the famine on a German colony near Kiev (pp. 44-47, 49-50)._7_ Wasyl Barka presents a more extensive account in his novel "Zhovty Kniaz" (The Yellow Prince)._8_ The book describes a collective farm family's futile struggle for survival during the famine and reflects most of the typical occurrences of that period. A less personal treatment is provided in "Ukraine: A Concise Encyclopaedia."_9_ Of particular interest are the sections on "The Economic Situation and the Famine of 1932-33" (pp. 820-822, 825), and "Changes in the Population After 1930, The Events of 1930-32" (pp. 200-201). The authors suggest that the death toll in Ukraine was around 3 million, while the increased incidence of diseases and the reduction of the birth rate (a point which I perhaps did not sufficiently emphasize) ultimately cut the popuiation by 5 to 7 million.
Previously cited references
In my original paper, I noted in some detail the early famine reports of Gareth Jones (pp. 253, 279-280). I have since learned that Jones was more than a former secretary to Lloyd George: he was a well-trained student of Russian affairs in his own right. He had received a first in Russian at Cambridge and was enrolled for a Ph.D. at the University of London under Pares while he worked for Lloyd George. Pares seems to have regarded him as his heir-apparent. Much of Jones's information on the famine was gained by loading up on all the condensed food that he could carry, and walking from village to village._10_
My study concluded (p. 284) by referring to Ivan Stadnyuk's remarkable account of the famine, "Lyudi ne angely" (Neva, December 1962, pp. 3-114). This work has now been translated into English, and published under the title "People Are Not Angels."_11_
Khrushchev on famine
Shortly after my paper went to press, Khrushchev saw fit to comment on famine conditions during the Stalin period. In December 1963 he acknowledged - for the first time - that famine had existed under Stalin and Molotov._12_ His comments, however, were confined to 1947. He stated: "Their method was like this: they sold grain abroad, while in some regions people were swollen with hunger and even dying for lack of bread." These words seem equally applicable to the famine of 1932-34. Perhaps the new Soviet leadership will some day extend them to cover this period.
1932-34 Great Famine: documented view
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, April 24, 1983, No. 17, Vol. LI
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