Media reports on famine. XXIII

Courier Times
LEVITTOWN, Pa. – The Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33) was mentioned in a letter to the Bucks County Courier Times by Alexander P. Tatomyr. The letter, which dealt primarily with Ukrainian Independence Day, was published on January 19. Noting that January 22 marked the 66th anniversary of Ukrainian Independence Day, Mr. Tatomyr wrote that the Soviets have employed various forms of repression to thwart the aspirations of the Ukrainian nation. “During the 63 years of Russian occupation, Ukraine lost over 30 million of her population,” he wrote.


October 16-31,1934
On October 17, Svoboda printed an article datelined Moscow, which reported that Harold Denny, Moscow correspondent for The New York Times, traveled through various regions of the Soviet Union and saw no signs of famine. In Ukraine, he wrote, the peasants were satisfied and had smiles on their faces. On October 18, Svoboda once again published news of Mr. Denny’s reports in The New York Times. He continued to deny that there was famine in the Soviet Union, specifically in Ukraine. He wrote that he had traveled to the Kherson region where the fields were burnt out, but the peasants in that area insisted that they did not suffer from famine.

Media reports on famine. XXII

Windsor Star
WINDSOR, Ont. – The December 6 issue of The Windsor Star carried an editorial on the Soviet protest against Opposition Leader Brian Mulroney’s December 4 appearance at a Maple Leaf Gardens rally in memory of the 7 million victims of the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33). Headlined “Toeing the official line,” the editorial said the Soviet protest was “unacceptable,” and dismissed accusations that Mr. Mulroney’s appearance at the rally, which was sponsored by the World Congress of Free Ukrainians, constituted a violation of the 1975 Helsinki Accords, which barred signatories from supporting subversive groups. The Soviet protest came in the form of a letter delivered to the External Affairs Department by Alexander Podakin, a press attache at the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa. He called Mr. Mulroney’s statement, which condemned the Soviet government’s role in masterminding the deadly famine, a “100 percent lie.”


October 1-15, 1934
The headline in the October 1 issue of Svoboda read: “Chaos During the Transport of Grain in Russia.” The story, datelined Moscow, stated that there was a lack of transport cars to carry grain, and it often rotted at railway stations. In a station near Kiev, the report stated, the grain was being stolen by peasants and then sold at the market. The reports stated that sometimes the wagons had holes in the floors and the grain would pour out during transport. The October 3 issue of Svoboda noted that, according to reports in the Soviet press, only 56 percent of the grain needed had been collected from the farms. Pravda blamed these low figures on saboteurs.

Media reports on famine. XXI

San Francisco Examiner
SAN FRANCISCO – The Bay Area Ukrainian community’s November 7 commemoration of the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33), which featured a keynote address by Sovietologist Robert Conquest, was the subject of an article by staffer Edvins Beitiks of the San Francisco Examiner. The memorial service, which was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, was attended by hundreds of area residents. Among those was Alexander Merkelo, a 70-year-old survivor of the famine, which killed an estimated 7 million Ukrainians. Mr. Merkelo told Mr. Beitiks that both his uncle and grandfather had died of starvation, along with almost a quarter of the 2,000 people in his province. “I worked 12 miles away, at the state farm, and can remember people lying in the streets, lying in the fields, some of them dead,” said Mr. Merkelo, who was 16 at the time.


September 1934
On September 4, Svoboda printed a news item datelined London, which reported that the English Institute of Slavic and Eastern Studies at the University of London had recently published a book on collectivization. The study, which included the essays of many authors, concluded that collectivization in the Soviet Union brought ruin to agriculture, mainly the production of grain in the USSR.

The book reported that the populace of the country was worse off that year than in previous years, and the Soviets continued to confiscate the peoples’ grain. The authors concluded with the statement that collectivization had completely failed in the Soviet Union. On September 8, Svoboda published a lengthy article about the Soviets and their tax-collecting system. According to the article, the Soviets lowered the tax on the agricultural products because they had been scarce in the past year’s harvest.


August 16-31, 1934
On August 16, Svoboda printed news reports datelined Kiev which stated that the purges under Pavel Postyshev continued. Newest reports revealed that Shevchenko’s “Kobzar” was also being purged of any nationalistic ideas so as not to give youth the wrong direction. That same day Svoboda ran a lengthy report from a famine eyewitness titled “An Eyewitness to Soviet Hell.” The report stated that the Soviet Union pays much attention to its youth, establishing such organizations as the Zhovteniata (for kids under 10) and the Yuni Pionery (for ages 10-18) as training programs to the Komsomol (Communist Youth League). The writer went on to say that very often these children are taught to be spies.


August 1-15, 1934
On August 2, Svoboda printed a report from Moscow which stated that the yearly harvest was nearing completion in Ukraine. The report stated that although the year’s crop was worse than the previous year’s, modern methods allowed the Soviets to gather almost as much grain as in the last harvest. The news item also revealed that in Ukraine’s bread-producing areas, the harvest was poor because there were no workers to collect the grain. They had all moved to industrial towns, had been relocated or had run away rather than face being placed on collective farms.

On August 6, Svoboda reported that new concentration camps were being organized for Ukrainians, Byelorussians and Georgians suspected of being “enemies of the state.” The camps, located in Ukraine and Byelorussia, were for prisoners interned between one and five years and solely for those who were accused of acts against the Communist government.