CHRONOLOGY OF THE FAMINE YEARS
The year 1983 marked 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, 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.
On November 6, Svoboda reprinted a news article which had appeared in a London-based newspaper, The Empire Record. The newspaper commented on the booklet, "Famine In Ukraine," released by the United Ukrainian Organizations of the United States. It stated: "'Famine in Ukraine' soberly and methodically puts on record its evidence of this crime of the Bolsheviks against humanity."
The article continued with quotes from The Christian Science Monitor reports written by William Henry Chamberlin. He wrote:
"I crossed Ukraine from the southeast to the northwest by train and at every station where I made inquiries, the peasants told the same story of major famine during the winter and spring of 1932-33.
"What lay behind this major human catastrophe? It was very definitely not a result of any natural disaster, such as exceptional drought or flood, because it was the general testimony of the peasants that the harvest of 1932, although not satisfactory, would have left them enough for nourishment if the state had not swooped down on them with heavy requisitions.
"Hidden stocks of grain which the despairing peasants had buried in the ground were dug up and confiscated; where resistance to the State measures was especially strong, as in some stations and Kozak towns in the western Kuban, whole communities were driven from their homes and exiled en masse to the frozen wastes of Siberia."
On November 7, Svoboda reported that the Soviet government had executed Ukrainian saboteurs. They were also cracking down on families of peasants who had run away from the collective farms.
On November 9, Svoboda reported on an article which had appeared in Pravda, the Communist newspaper. Pravda said that the Ukrainian peasants did not meet the quota for the sugar beet harvest for the second consecutive year; the Soviet government was not pleased.
On November 10, the headline in Svoboda read: "Moscow Celebrated with Champagne and Dance Until the Morning Hours." Correspondent Harold Denny of The New York Times reported that Russian leader Mikhail Kalinin had organized a gala for diplomats, journalists and Soviet officials to celebrate the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Mr. Denny reported that champagne and caviar were served throughout the nightlong party.
On November 20, Svoboda reported that Pravda had written about the "counterrevolutionary activities" of the people in Ukraine. According to Pavel Postyshev, two forces were working against the Soviet government: the Ukrainian nationalist forces, who were striving toward an independent Ukraine, and the Russians, who were striving toward a Russia as in pre-war days.
That same day, Svoboda received news datelined Moscow which stated that the Soviets were cracking down on Ukrainians in the government, stating that they were all nationalists.
On November 22, the headlines in Svoboda read: "Soviets Continue to Execute Kulaks." This report, datelined Moscow, noted that the kulaks refused to harvest cotton, telling government officials that the cotton was not ready to be harvested yet. For such answers, the Soviets threatened the peasants with execution.
According to news reports in the November 23 issue of Svoboda, Postyshev was appealing to Moldavian Communists to wage war against Ukrainian nationalists who were assisting the Moldavian nationalists in propagating the Moldavian nationalist bourgeoise culture.
The Ukrainian Weekly, in its November 9 issue, published a commentary on Soviet Russia that appeared in the November issue of Harper's Monthly Magazine under the headline: "Russia After Eight Years."
Speaking of the famine in Ukraine and other sections of the USSR, the author, Stephen P. Duggan, wrote:
"In the winter of 1932-33 famine raged in Ukraine and the Kuban... How many died of starvation no one outside the government knows with accuracy, for the government has published no statistics. No one associated with the government in any way admitted to a greater number than 1 million. Some foreign correspondents placed it as high as 10 million. The person inside Russia whose word I have always relied upon most put it at 4 million. The peasants flocked to the cities, but the passport system was introduced for residents of the cities and the peasants were ordered to go home and till the soil, little, if any help being extended to them because of anger of the government at the results of partial sabotage...of the peasants who had been outraged by the forced requisitions needed to supply the army in the Far East.'"
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Around the world:
Medical advances were made against poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis). Doctors at the Department of Health laboratories in New York stated that they would try a new vaccine on children.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, February 5, 1984, No. 6, Vol. LII
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