CHRONOLOGY OF THE FAMINE YEARS
This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of history's most horrifying cases of genocide - the Soviet-made Great Famine of 1932-33, in which some 7 million Ukrainians perished.
Relying on news from Svoboda and, later, The Ukrainian Weekly (which began publication in October 1933), this column hopes to remind and inform Americans and Canadians of this terrible crime against humanity.
By bringing other events worldwide into the picture as well, the column hopes to give a perspective on the state of the world in the years of Ukraine's Great Famine.
December 16-31, 1933
On December 16, Svoboda printed news reports from Chicago about a demonstration protesting the famine that would take place on Sunday, December 17.
At a meeting of the newly organized "Committee for the Struggle against Famine in Russia," in New York, one of the main speakers, a Russian, stated that the famine in both Ukraine and Russia was not due to climatic conditions or natural disaster, but it was a famine brought about by the political dictatorship of the Soviet regime and unsuccessful agricultural politics, reported Svoboda on December 16. The speaker documented the famine by quoting news reports from various newspapers.
On December 18, Svoboda ran a report datelined Finland, which stated that many Soviet citizens were fleeing to the north and settling in Finland in order to escape the famine in the Soviet Union.
On December 19, Svoboda printed a front-page story about the famine demonstration in Chicago which took place on December 17. The article carried the following subhead: "Bolshevik bandits attack the solemn march." According to the news story, over 5,000 Ukrainian Americans took part in a peaceful demonstration which was disrupted by Bolsheviks who began throwing stones and rotten eggs, and began sprinkling the marchers' eyes with pepper and paprika.
According to reports from the Associated Press and The New York Times, as well as eyewitnesses, over 100 people were wounded in the struggle.
Svoboda in its December 26 issue carried the entire account in English as it appeared in the Chicago Daily Tribune.
News of the demonstration also appeared in the Chicago Herald and Examiner. On December 28, Svoboda carried an article about the Chicago demonstration which had appeared in The New York Times.
On December 19, Svoboda printed Stanislav V. Kossior's entire speech to the plenary session of the Ukrainian Communist Party. Mr. Kossior, a member of the Communist Political Bureau, reported that the separatist movement in Ukraine had been crushed, but that there were still many unexposed enemies of the Ukrainian Republic.
That same day Svoboda printed news from Vienna, which reported on Cardinal Theodore Innitzer's progress in helping the hungry in Ukraine. The item stated that a two-day conference was held in the city during which a resolution asking for countries with a surplus of grain to aid the hungry in Ukraine and the Caucasus was signed and passed.
Also on December 19, Svoboda ran a small news item about Walter Duranty's reporting on the Soviet Union. According to Mr. Duranty, the news that there is famine in the Soviet Union came from Berlin, Riga and Vienna. He stated that the Soviets had gotten all the grain they needed from the peasants and soon the free sale of bread would be permitted.
On December 20, Svoboda ran a news story on page 2 titled "What the Communist Saw in Russia." It reported on Malcolm Muggeridge's eyewitness reports to the Morning Post. Written in Ukrainian, the story stated that Muggeridge reported that the five-year plan had not succeeded in the Soviet Union. Muggeridge reported that a famine in the Soviet Union did exist due to the failure of Soviet agricultural policies. He stated that he saw many unemployed in the Soviet Union, and in order to curb this problem, the government starved them to death. This was a completely original solution, he added.
Although the workers have a hard time, Muggeridge stated, the peasants have an even harder time. The fields lay barren, there are no cows, no horses. The villages are empty. The Bolsheviks use the peasants as raw material to complete their plans, Muggeridge wrote.
On December 20, Svoboda also printed a news item which appeared in the Syracuse Herald. It reported that over 1,000 Ukrainian Americans marched in a parade in that city to protest against Soviet Russian treatment of the Ukrainians. The Post Standard of Syracuse also carried this news, and this item was printed in Svoboda on December 28.
A three-line story with news from the "Gazetta Polska" was printed in Svoboda on December 26. It stated that the Ukrainian peasants had no grain.
According to news Svoboda printed on December 28, the Ukrainian Press Service had written articles about the Soviet plan for 1934. Taking first place in plans for the future was the total destruction of Ukrainian independent villages, according to the news service. The news stated that the Soviet Union had 7 million independent peasant farmers which it wanted to liquidate. These "kulaks" would be dealt with in the following manner, the news stated: their land would be taken away, all their possessions would be removed, and they would be resettled in Siberia, where they would probably die of hunger.
On December 30, Svoboda printed a story about Duranty's reports on the Soviet plan for 1934. According to The New York Times correspondent, the Soviets' most immediate assignment in 1934 was to make life for the Soviet citizen "easier, more pleasant and more cultured." Duranty reported that the Soviets felt their two biggest threats in 1934 would be the spirit brewing in Japan and the anti-Soviet uprisings in Germany.
That same day Svoboda reprinted an article from a magazine called Nation's Business. Titled "What an American Saw in the Ukrainian Coal District," Whiting Williams stated that he visited the coal district and talked to people.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, October 9, 1983, No. 41, Vol. LI
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