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.
July 16-31, 1934
On July 16, the headline in Svoboda read "Soviet bureaucrat denies famine threat in Soviet Union." The story, datelined New York, reported that The New York Times had published Dr. Ewald Ammende's letter which told of the ongoing famine in the Soviet Union. A few days later, The Times published a letter from a Soviet attache which stated that bread prices had gone up in state stores to match the prices of the bread in privately owned stores. The Soviet bureaucrat avoided Dr. Ammende's statements that grain was being shipped to the Soviet Union from Argentina. He told The New York Times that the country expected an "unparalleled harvest."
According to a story published in Svoboda on July 18, the London Morning Post reported that the famine in the Soviet Union during the following winter would be worse than ever before. The paper stated that the International Red Cross was willing to send aid to the Soviets, but that the Soviets would not allow it, stating that there was no famine in their country.
On July 23, Svoboda printed a story datelined Moscow, which stated that the former general secretary of the Communist Party, Lazar Kaganovich, in a speech to the central revisions committee, continued to stress the need for purging the Communist Party, especially in Kiev. He said the party had to be rid of its "criminal element."
News from Paris was printed in the July 25 issue of Svoboda. French sources had received news from the Soviet Union that there were peasant revolts in the Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovske areas against the Communist Party.
A newspaper in Switzerland commented on the London Times view of the situation in the Soviet Union and this was reported in Svoboda on July 25. According to the news item, the Times was not surprised by the information it had received from the Soviet Union, including news that the Communists were starving the population of Ukraine, and sending many into exile in Siberia.
According to the news in Svoboda on July 26, the Soviet Union expected to harvest as much grain as it had in previous years. The news from Kiev was that women and little children were also out in the fields, collecting any grain that may have fallen off the stalks during the first harvest.
The report stated that when no rain had fallen in April and May, the country was sure the harvest would be poor. However, rain fell in June and the peasants worried that they were too late to save the grain, which grew no taller than field grass. During the July harvest they realized that the chaffs were full of seeds and the harvest would not be too bad, at least in the Kharkiv and Kiev regions. The Odessa fields did not have a good harvest, reported the news item, because the rains came too late to save that crop.
Also on July 26, the Ukrainian Bureau in London reported that the House of Lords was questioning Soviet denials of the famine. House of Lords representatives stated that they had received news from reliable sources that the policies of the Soviet government had caused the current hunger in the country, and that the Soviets were going to continue these politics in the future.
That same day Svoboda reported that an American correspondent had praised the successes of the Communist system, saying that it had broken the peasants' spirit and that they no longer protested collectivization.
On July 30, a news item about an American correspondent in Kiev reached Svoboda. According to the story, the correspondent had submitted reports about the fact that everything was "in proper order in Ukraine." He stated that the riches of the Kievan churches and monasteries (gold, silver, precious gems) are like nowhere else, and that the Communists had decided to leave them intact as museum objects. However, the correspondent reported, some diamonds were reported missing.
On July 31, Svoboda printed an article about Cardinal Theodore Innitzer's latest appeal on behalf of the International Committee to Help the Hungry in Ukraine and the Soviet Union. In his appeal, Cardinal Innitzer stated that the committee had received much support throughout the world. Many offshoot organizations were also formed, and many organizations took it upon themselves to help in this situation. He stated that hundreds of articles in many languages were written in support of this committee's work.
Continued work was needed, he said, because tragic news was still being received from Ukraine and death by starvation still threatened new millions. Thus, the committee issued a new appeal to all organizations which stood for human rights, love for fellow man, and justice.
* * *
Around the world:
John Dillinger, known as "public enemy No. 1" was shot and killed on a Chicago street by FBI agents.
Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss was assassinated by Austrian Nazis who made an unsuccessful attempt to seize power from the one-party authoritarian system in the country.
A heat wave surged through the midwestern United States, claiming over 310 lives. Temperatures reached 109 degrees in Missouri.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, December 18, 1983, No. 51, Vol. LI
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