During the month of October in 1932, the pages of Svoboda carried only a few news items about the famine in Ukraine.
On October 1, Svoboda received news of the official Soviet press reactions to the situation in the Soviet Union. “The Soviet press has noticed that there is an increasing amount of anti-Bolshevik activity in the villages,” Svoboda reported.
According to stories from the newspaper Pravda, kulaks stole not only grain from the collective farms but also machinery parts that were necessary for the grain harvest. Izvestia stated that the peasants were leaving collective farms en masse as a result of kulak agitation. Both Soviet newspapers complained that the robbers were not being punished as severely as they should be for their actions.
On October 8, Svoboda ran an article titled “Why Is There a Famine in the USSR?” by a person named O. Snovyda. The author contended that: “Bolshevik propaganda tries with all its might to silence the real reasons for the famine in Ukraine and Russia.”
In his article he offered data for the readers’ perusal, which he said, pointed out that the famine did not result solely from the establishment of collectivization. He reported that in 1925-26, the Soviets had collected 434 million poods of grain (a pood equals 16.38 kilograms) from its peasants. In 1926-27 the numbers reached 596 million poods, in 1927-28, 576 million. Then collectivization set in, and in 1929, 660 million poods were collected; in 1930 the government received 1.35 billion poods and in 1931, the number reached 1.47 billion.
By 1932, the peasants began protesting the government’s collections and the numbers decreased to 1.25 billion poods.
According to the author, these numbers meant nothing, unless they were accompanied by statistics of the millions of poods of grain produced. These statistics for production follow. In 1927 – 4.41 billion poods were produced 1928 – 4.34 billion, 1929 – 4.30 billion. Thus, the author pointed out, when less grain was produced, more was collected from the peasants.
The author added that the statistics were first falsified in 1930; 5.24 billion poods were produced, a 20 percent increase over 1929, but people had to give 1.35 billion poods over to the government, a 105 percent increase over the previous year. In 1929-30, the production of grain in the USSR increased by 20 percent, but the Soviet government took 120 percent more.
According to the article, the Soviet government instituted collectivization in order to squeeze everything out of the impoverished peasants for the needs of the army, the town and city dwellers, and foreigners, and to continue to spread Communist propaganda around the world.
The author continued: “The Bolsheviks have two paths from which to choose, self-liquidation, meaning they would have to admit that the economic crisis in the Soviet Union is due to the failure of the Bolshevik system; or the second path – the one more likely to be taken by the government – the physical destruction of millions of people in order to keep the current regime in power.”
On October 26, Svoboda ran a news item from Moscow, headlined “Peasants in Russia did not Harvest Grains.” The story explained that millions of acres of grain had rotted because the peasants could not benefit from the harvest – it had to be turned over to the government. According to the news, peasants could not purchase anything they needed for everyday life, such items as tea, sugar, clothes, tobacco and tools for work were unavailable to them.
Walter Duranty of The New York Times reported that the peasants refused to work on the land, abandoned their villages and ran off looking for a better way of life.
The newspaper Izvestia reported that 50 percent of all farm machinery stood idle on the collective farms for two reasons: the parts were missing and the mechanics and machinery workers had left the farms in pursuit of a better life. One collective farm head reported that he once had 400 mechanics and in September 1932, only 45 were left on the farm. The government had decided to substantially raise the workers’ pay to keep them on their jobs.
On October 27, news from Moscow stated that all government stores were going to sell their wares to foreigners only for foreign currency. As soon as this was announced, the stores were packed with foreign officials and correspondents who filled their cars with all available goods. According to various sources, the foreigners said that from then on they would import everything they needed – goods in the Soviet Union were scarce and cost twice as much.
On October 28, news from Berlin reached Svoboda. Clandestine sources reported that 149 terrorist acts had been committed by peasants in Ukraine against the Cheka, the secret police, in the months of August and September. The reports stated that 52 terrorist acts were committed in towns. As a result of all these acts, 87 Soviet officials or police had been killed, 44 died in hospitals from injuries suffered during attacks and 70 were still recuperating.
During the first half of September, the Soviet regime arrested workers and peasants at railway stations and in several raions. The Cheka said that it had uncovered a large organization of workers, including steel workers and miners, who worked throughout Ukraine organizing demonstrations. The leaders were planning to organize a general workers’ strike to protest the exportation of grain while the country’s population went hungry. The Cheka reported that the center of this organization was in the city of Katerynoslav.
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Around the world:
Ireland’s Eamon de Valera demanded to have the English government recall its governor from Ireland.
Benito Mussolini delivered a speech in Turin, Italy, in which he appealed to the United States to help with international relations by allowing Europe to stop payments on its war debts. In his opinion, this was the only way to alleviate the world economic crisis.
United Press reported that bloodshed marked Ukrainian peasants’ refusal to pay Polish taxes, as the Polish government continued to crack down on Ukrainians. United Press wrote: “Since the close of the war, Poland has undertaken an extensive Polonization program. Polish is the language of the schools, and fewer and fewer Ukrainian teachers are employed. Ukrainian cultural, economic and even sport societies have been dissolved.”
The employment situation in America began looking up as William Green, the head of the American Federation of Labor, reported that jobs for 560,000 Americans were found in September. However, this bit of optimism was not long-range, as Mr. Green added that unemployment funds for 1933 were scarce and over 13 million would be out of jobs come January.