January 29, 1984



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. He said that the only peasants that might go hungry will be those who refuse to join collective farms. He added that if the collective farmers run out of bread, the government will supply them with food.

On October 19, Svoboda once again reported that Mr. Denny had written in The New York Times that the Soviet were worried because millions of bushels of grain and vegetables were rotting away, waiting to be transported. Mr. Denny blamed disorganization for the slow transport.

On October 23, Svoboda reported on a news item which had appeared in The London Times, criticizing the Soviets’ treatment of the private farmer, who had higher grain quotas than the collective farmer. According to The Times correspondent, the private farmer had to turn over at least 75 percent of his grain; if he could not meet this quota, he would have to join a collective farm. So, the crackdown on peasants outside the collective farms continued. The Soviets were very lenient, however, with peasants whose family members served in the Red Army or the reserves; they did not have to pay any taxes.

On October 24, the headline in Svoboda read: “Denny Himself Admits that People are Leaving Ukraine Because of Famine.” The news report, datelined Moscow, stated that the harvest in the Ukrainian steppes had been poor and the farmers had to search for food elsewhere. Mr. Denny wrote that many of the farmers were moving to cities and towns; others were moving to western Siberia.

On October 25, Svoboda printed an editorial which called on all Ukrainian Americans to disseminate the truth about the situation in Ukraine and the famine there. The editorial pointed out that Mr. Denny began writing that there was no famine in Ukraine, then denied that Ukrainian peasants were suffering. Then, in his latest dispatch he stated that the harvest had been poor, but there was so much surplus grain from the previous year that no one would go hungry. Svoboda asked: why, then, did Mr. Denny write that over 1,500 people had left the collective farms in one area because there was not enough food to nourish them?

On October 26, Svoboda printed news reports from Pravda stating that Ukraine was slow in conducting its grain collecting for the state. Pravda stated that the Soviets were being too liberal with the saboteurs who ignored the importance of Soviet rules about grain collection. The reports stated that the Soviets took 80 percent of the grain for the state, leaving 20 percent for the people.

That same day Svoboda reported that Mr. Denny had written an article in The New York Times, stating that the Soviet state had collected 97.8 percent of the grain quota. This was 60 million more bushels than collected at the same time in 1933.

Other news from Moscow published in Svoboda on October 26 indicated that the Soviets believed reports of famine were a form of anti-Soviet propaganda. The Soviets insisted there was no famine, and for this reason they stopped admitting relief packages and foreign aid for their citizens from other countries.

On October 27, the headline in Svoboda read: “Soviets Execute Those Who Do Not Supply Grain to the State.” The story said that some peasants were being executed for stealing grain from the state reserves and others were being imprisoned.

On October 30, Svoboda ran a news report datelined Kiev, which stated that sabotage in the Soviet Union continued. At a conference of the Communist Party, Pavel Postyshev reported that anti-Soviet activities continued in Ukraine. Although the quota for grain that year had been filled 100 percent, he said progress was slow and the government had encountered quite a few acts of sabotage. Postyshev also stated that he was sure that German and Polish agents had been circulating among the Ukrainians in 1933 and inciting the people to act against the Soviet government.

On October 19, The Ukrainian Weekly printed the following commentary.

“In the face of the assidious propaganda on the part of certain agencies that everything is rosy in the USSR and that no famine exists or existed, we have ever newly appearing reports of impartial observers to the contrary.

“William Henry Chamberlin’s (the newspaper correspondent who served 12 years in Soviet Russia and who was forced to leave because of his insistence to report what he saw and not what the Soviet censorship told him to) latest book, “Russia’s Iron Age,” is a moving document, one that deserves the attention of all interested in Soviet Russia and Ukraine under its misrule.

“In this book the author tries to be scrupulously fair. Looking back at his long stay in Soviet Russia, he says: ‘…the first outlines of Russia’s new system of planned economy have been written on the living bodies of the present generation as sharply as if with a sword.’

“His characterization of Soviet Russia is ‘Unlimited propaganda plus unlimited repression…And a government by terror.’

“Speaking of the Great Famine in Ukraine during 1932-1933 which he witnessed with his own eyes and which he charges as being ‘deliberately employed as an instrument of national policy, as the last means of breaking down the resistance of the peasantry to the new system,’ the author says that ‘There is something epically and indescribably tragic in this enormous dying out of millions of people, sacrifices on the altar of a policy which many of them did not even understand.’

“‘The horror of this last act,’ writes Mr. Chamberlin, ‘in the tragedy of the individual peasantry is perhaps intensified by the fact that the victims of it died so passively, so quietly, without arousing any stir of sympathy in the outside world. The Soviet censorship saw to that.'”

On October 26, The Weekly wrote an editorial about the famine in Ukraine. It reported on a newly released monograph by British writer Lancelot Lawton called “Collectivized Agriculture in the Soviet Union.”

An excerpt from the editorial follows.

“In moderate language, Mr. Lawton shows that in the Soviet paradise there are ‘large numbers of people who are continually deprived of a sufficiency of food.’

“The monograph has already been the subject of much ill-balanced criticism from Communist and Russian sources. Even the Monthly Review issued by the Moscow Narodny Bank in London devotes, in its September issue, considerable space to a criticism of Mr. Lawton’s memorandum. Obviously there is grave fear among the Soviet authorities that a knowledge of the condition of her agriculture will, if widely known, seriously prejudice her credit standing.”

The last paragraph of the editorial quoted a priest, formerly of Satanav in Ukraine, who had recently emigrated to England. Interviewed by a Catholic Herald reporter, he said that instead of the promised economic prosperity, the major portion of the population and particularly the peasants, had never suffered more. There was not a cat or a dog to be seen in Ukraine, as the starving peasants had already devoured them. So acute was the lack of food that the people gathered nettles and boiled them in order to extract the iron tonic, and the children had taken to the practice of picking flowers and eating them to get the taste of sugar.

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