On September 3, 1932, Svoboda received news from Moscow that the Soviet press had started a campaign against the peasants and workers who were not meeting their production quotas. Soviet papers reported that these were the people responsible for the economic and food crises.
According to Svoboda, in addition to the collectivization of farms, the peasants also had to deal with huge taxes payable to the government, and, as a result, food and products necessary for everyday life became impossible for them to obtain.
On September 6, the Soviet newspaper Pravda reported that worms had destroyed one-third of the sugar beet crop in the Soviet Union. That same day, Svoboda also carried news of an article written by Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty that had appeared in The New York Times. Svoboda stated that Duranty and The New York Times had always viewed events in the Soviet Union and presented them to the American public through “rose-colored glasses.” Svoboda noted that in this article Mr. Duranty had finally provided the American public with a glimpse of what was really going on in the Soviet Union.
According to Duranty, “The Bolshevik regime has suppressed and destroyed agriculture in the Soviet Union.” He wrote that the regime systematically increased the prices of food products, while literally taking them all from the peasants. Ten eggs sold for three and a half rubles; a kilogram of cheese cost 14 rubles (a ruble in 1932 was worth 50 American cents).
As to the situation in Ukraine, Mr. Duranty wrote that Ukraine had suffered the most. The best solution to Ukraine’s dilemma was a speedy separation from Moscow, but now with the country in financial and economic ruin, that was highly unlikely, Svoboda commented.
On September 7, Svoboda revealed that the Soviet government was trying to stop the desertion of peasants from collective farms by refusing to return to them their seized lands.
The very next day Svoboda carried news that Moscow had admitted that lack of foodstuffs existed in the Soviet Union. A report issued by a member of the Commissariat of Food Delivery stated that the machinery for agricultural production had not helped the harvest much. Disorganization had once again contributed to the inability to meet production quotas.
On September 10, Svoboda reported on production in the Soviet Union. According to reports, as of August 31, Ukraine had met only 39 percent of its quota; the Caucasus, 31 percent; Kazakhstan, 30 percent; and Crimea, 25 percent.
All the workers on collective farms expressed apathy, reported Svoboda. Under the Soviet regime, the peasants had gotten used to living without many daily necessities, it stated, but this time the government had gone too far.
On September 12, news came from Moscow about Soviet newspapers which were full of complaints about the lack of food for Soviet citizens. The Soviet press also printed many comments from foreign visitors, who praised the success of the Soviet government.
A news brief (cabled from Moscow) that appeared in the Newark Evening News reported: “Ukrainian leaders deliberately set Ukraine’s wheat quota at an excessive figure in order to please the Kremlin, and, as a result, had to requisition the peasants’ private supplies to cover their own mistake. As this is written, it is understood that Comrade Boboff, minister of education, is soon to go to Ukraine to carry out disciplinary measures.”
News from Kiev published in Svoboda on September 22, reported that Soviet officials had begun admitting to correspondents of foreign newspapers that the year’s harvest was not as productive as in recent years.
Also on that day, the Soviet government gave a correspondent of the London Daily Express 24 hours’ notice to leave the Soviet Union. She was accused by the government of falsely reporting on the situation in the country.
According to news that arrived from Moscow on September 27, Stalin had insisted that the peasantry give up even more of their wheat then was first reported; the workers had also been taxed for everything they grew. A newly issued decree stated that in the next 15 months, each peasant family would have to give the government 88 to 110 pounds of meat, for a low, government-sanctioned price. The decree also stated that the farmers would no longer get grain from the government; if they intended to plant anything, they had to obtain seeds for themselves.
On September 29, Svoboda received news from Moscow that “The Bolshevik government held a banquet in honor of three foreign correspondents for writing propaganda in their favor.” The three distinguished journalists were Walter Duranty of The New York Times, Louis Fisher of the Baltimore Sun and William H. Chamberlin of the Christian Science Monitor.
The headlines in Svoboda on September 30 read: “Crisis in the Soviet Union Deepens.” According to the story datelined Moscow, the government had three assignments in the near future: to conduct a countrywide mobilization of food for the USSR’s population; to develop the country’s trade; and to produce all necessities for everyday life for Soviet citizens. The government was searching for a socialist solution to the situation, reported Svoboda.
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Around the world:
In New York, Mayor James (Jimmy) Walker resigned as a several frauds were exposed in the municipal government during his second administration. The state legislature ordered an investigation; 15 charges were leveled at the mayor, who hastily resigned in September and went to Europe, where he lived for a number of years before returning to the United States.
In Warsaw, the Polish courts continued to sentence Ukrainians for past crimes. In late September five Ukrainians were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for taking part in a congress of Ukrainian nationalists held in Vienna three years earlier.
In Spain, the Agrarian Law, one provision of which stated that both Catalan and Castilian would be official languages in Catalonia, was passed.