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.
Also on August 6, Svoboda printed a news item from Kiev which stated that purges continued in that city, especially since it was now the capital of Soviet Ukraine. The Kiev State Opera was now the object of these purges. Conductors and performers were being arrested for their nationalistic tendencies, and they were being replaced with Jews and Russians. All Ukrainian operas were banned from the repertoire of the new opera season.
On August 7, Svoboda carried a news report in English, a reprint from the July 15 issue of The Observer. It read in part:
“A dominant feature in Soviet life since 1928 has been the acute crisis of agrarian production (Stalin himself has recently admitted that the country’s supply of livestock had virtually been cut in half during recent years), which at its worst phase, reduced the town population to a very meager food supply and caused famine in many country districts during the winter of 1932-33 and the spring of 1933…
“The struggle between the government and the peasantry reached its most ferocious form of expression in the great famine of 1932-33, the scope and the very existence of which were quite successfully concealed from the outside world by the rigorous Soviet censorship. During the months when the famine was at its height, no foreign correspondent was permitted to visit the stricken areas; a special new rule was introduced under which no foreign journalist might travel outside Moscow without permission from the Soviet authorities.
“By failing to provide adequate relief itself and by preventing the facts of the famine from reaching the outside world the Soviet government made itself responsible for the enormous death toll which was registered in the villages of Ukraine, the North Caucasus, Turkestan, and some regions of the Volga. Judging from the local statistics, which I was able to obtain from village Soviets and heads of collective farms in the course of a trip which I made after the prohibition on travel had been relaxed, 10 percent was the normal death rate in the famine regions, which included a population of some 60 million.
“The cause of this famine was not any catastrophic drought, although weather conditions were unfavorable in Ukraine and the North Caucasus. It was rather that the peasants, mostly hostile to the collective farm system and rendered discouraged and apathetic by excessive requisitions of their grain and other food, neglected the fields; the government expected its full pound of flesh in the shape of the new requisitions, and left the peasants to take the consequences of their sabotage, which in this case amounted to mass starvation.
“The struggle of which the famine was the most terrible symbol is not over. It will never be over until the peasant, within or without the framework of the collective farm system, obtains more freedom in determining the conditions of his labor, more voice in disposing of his products, a fairer share of the national income. But unless severe drought brings the country face to face with a new crisis of food supply in the present year, the struggle seems likely to go on in milder forms, which will not be so destructive of agricultural productivity.”
On August 8, Svoboda printed an interview it had conducted with Dr. Ewald Ammende, the secretary of the International Committee to Help the Hungry in the Soviet Union. Dr. Ammende stated that he had traveled throughout North America spreading the word about the famine and had received many favorable responses to requests for aid. He had met with many church leaders and representatives of various organizations.
According to reports from Kiev which were printed in Svoboda on August 13, the Soviets had liquidated all Ukrainian publications and arrested their workers in Soviet Ukraine because they had nationalistic tendencies.
On August 14, Svoboda reported that the German press had written about famine in Ukraine, stating that over 1.5 million people had died in the German colonies of the Soviet Union. It also stated that cases of cannibalism had been reported in Kiev and Kharkiv.
In the August 3 issue of The Ukrainian Weekly, a news story stated that the United Ukrainian Organizations of the United States had published a 32-page pamphlet in English titled: “Famine in Ukraine.” The pamphlet sold for 25 cents and contained the resolution submitted to Congress, a memorandum on the famine from the Obyednanye, reports on the famine by William Henry Chamberlin, articles by Whiting Williams, and an editorial from the Boston Post.
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Around the world:
German President Paul von Hindenburg died on August 1, and Adolf Hitler proclaimed himself president of Germany.
The Union Stock Yard Strike in Chicago ended after 12 days.
The Manchester Guardian wrote about the success of the Ukrainian Women’s Congress which took place in Stanislaviv and was not hampered by the Polish government’s attempts to cause trouble.