July 1-15, 1934
On July 1, Svoboda printed an article which reported that Pravda, the communist newspaper in Moscow, had stated that the harvest in Ukraine had been very poor. According to a Communist Party official, this was due to a drought, mainly on the steppes of Ukraine.
That same day, Svoboda also printed an article based on news stories in Pravda as to why the capital of Ukraine was moved from Kharkiv to Kiev. Pravda stated that Kiev had been rebuilt, polished up. According to that newspaper, the “nest of Petliurist intellectuals” did not like this move because they could no longer openly do their business. The newspaper stated that the “Petliurists” were against the industrialization of the city. They had worked in academies and educational institutions. Now with government officials in the city, a close watch was kept over the Ukrainians.
A journal in Geneva printed an article headlined “Ukraine against Moscow.” It was translated and reprinted in Svoboda on July 3.
Following are excerpts, translated from that reprint: “In order to reign over Ukraine and restrain it, the Kremlin is leading politics of coercion and exploitation. The Ukrainian element is being persecuted and is being subjected to the whims of Postyshev. In his new show trials against the ‘intellectuals,’ he has most recently sentenced six people to death and 23 to forced labor. …”
The article went on to say: “No one can guess the outcome of this struggle. Today, the Bolshevik has strength behind him, but the Ukrainian is stubborn, and the worry and anxiety which he brings out in Soviet diplomacy is only proof that he is not fighting in vain.”
On July 3, the headlines in Svoboda read: “In Ukraine, Millions Sentenced to a Famine Death.” The subhead stated: “At the time when millions were dying of hunger in Ukraine, the Soviets were selling grain to other countries.” The news story, datelined New York, reported that Dr. Ewald Ammende, the secretary of the inter-religious and international Committee to Help the Hungry in the Soviet Union, had arrived in the United States to focus attention on the catastrophic hunger situation, especially in Ukraine.
He calculated that if something was not done soon, up to 10 million people would die in the winter of 1934. He stressed the need to send aid and foodstuffs. He presented photos of hungry people in Ukraine. Among these photos, he also had photos of the one-time capital city of Ukraine, Kharkiv, where the Communists had done a good job of concealing the famine.
The biggest tragedy, Dr. Ammende stated, was that millions of Ukrainians were dying of hunger, yet the Soviet regime had sold over 1.7 million bushels of grain to other countries. Dr. Ammende added that the Soviets continued denying reports of any famine.
On July 9, Svoboda printed a story it had received from the Ukrainian Press Service in Berlin. According to the service, a German newspaper had recently printed an article about drought throughout the world. The newspaper said that most countries, including Germany, had been prepared to feed its people by storing grain from previous harvests. In a system such as the Soviet one, where the government always expected a good harvest, it was unprepared for the severe climatic conditions it now faced the German newspaper reported. It said that Ukrainian officials were forced to call a conference to decide what to do. The German newspaper also reported that Postyshev had asked other countries to buy Ukraine some livestock, for all of it had died.
On July 10, the headline in Svoboda read: “Soviets Cannot Rid Themselves of Nationalistic Elements in Ukraine.” An American newspaper correspondent stationed in Moscow reported that the Communist Party had to purge the Ukrainian Communist Party, for it was once again flooded with Ukrainian nationalists. He reported that the previous winter the Ukrainian Communist Party had numbered 120,000; after the purge, it was reduced by 27,500 members. Yet, in a year’s time, it was once again time for a purge.
On July 11, Svoboda printed a news story datelined Moscow which stated that terrorist acts were being committed against the “pioneers and activists” who guarded the harvests and made sure the grain was protected. Moscow called the perpetrators of these acts “terrorist elements” and said that most of these acts were committed in the Kiev area.
Also on the day, Svoboda carried a news item about the Soviets buying grain from Argentina and Australia to feed the army troops stationed in Vladivostok and the Far East. According to Soviet officials, these lands were so far away that it would be easier to transport grain from foreign countries by ship than from the rich lands of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Press Bureau in London sent a report to Svoboda, which was printed on July 12. According to the story, which was reported by the Daily Telegraph, the time of harvest was fast approaching, and Soviet officials reported that they would not tolerate those who complained about a bad harvest. One official stated: “We must and we will report that we have a good harvest.”
The Daily Telegraph also commented on the move of the capital of Ukraine from Kharkiv to Kiev. The newspaper stated that for Ukrainians the move of the capital from Kharkiv to Kiev meant a new phase of Russification. Until this time, Kiev was the cultural center of Ukraine, and did not pay much attention to Soviet machinations.
On July 14, an American correspondent reported from Moscow that the year’s harvest would only bring in 70 percent of the amount of grain harvested the previous year. The correspondent said that the Soviets were cracking down on peasants and collecting every morsel of grain from them. The Soviet regime stated that the peasants in Ukraine were using the grain to feed livestock and not turning it over to the government. It wanted over 10 bushels per acre, but was getting only two.
The correspondent added that the drought did not help harvest matters much. There are also a shortage of harvest machinery for the peasants to work with. They also had to keep some grain to save themselves from famine.
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