February 1-12, 1933
Svoboda reported news from Moscow on February 2, 1933, that the Soviet regime was planning various measures to ensure a successful spring planting, especially in the Kuban and Caucasus regions. According to the news, Stalin had issued a decree which was aimed at guaranteeing better agricultural production; he placed emphasis on the use of machinery, mainly tractors. Svoboda reported that this dependence on machinery was odd since during the previous year, the Soviet press had reported that the use of tractors had proven to be only between 8 and 29 percent successful. In addition, many of the tractors were in dire need of repair, the newspapers reported.
On February 6, the Soviet press reported that the Communists were urging youths (age 8-16) to be informers and to report any falsifications of information on the new internal Soviet passports then being issued. During a Communist youth convention Stalin had asked the youths to take part in spring planting to ensure the success of socialism.
On February 7, the Soviets reported that they would begin relocating their citizens to the Soviet Union’s northern forests. They wanted to conscript the peasant population to work in the forests because they believed that the lumber would bring in money in the following year. The Soviets organized peasant labor groups, which they called brigades; the brigades were to be guarded by supervisors, as was customary in the days of slave labor. According to the news in Svoboda, the villages were inhabited only by women, children and the handicapped. Everyone else was sent off to work in the forests.
That same day, Svoboda reported that the passport system had already taken effect; many people were being deported from cities and towns – people to whom the Soviets “did not wish to grant residence” there. Svoboda received the following news from Moscow: “The mass deportation of people from towns has already taken place, and these tens of thousands of people now roam from town to town, from village to village. The Bolsheviks are now thinking of issuing passports to the peasants in the villages, and in this way they can keep track of the population, making sure they stay put.”
On February 8, a correspondent for The New York Sun reported on his travels through the Soviet Union. Svoboda carried this account: “Everywhere he (the correspondent) went, he saw ‘people hungry, in tattered clothing; for three months they have not seen bread, they live on husks.'”
The article was headlined: “Bolsheviks Starve Out Ukrainian Population in Kuban Region.” The correspondent said he had found that in some cases the peasants were repressed by the local units of the secret police. The peasants rebelled and killed some of the officers; in response to this, the secret police exiled the peasants to Siberia.
The correspondent reported that he had been arrested a few times by the secret police, who disregarded the fact that he had permission from the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs to travel through the Soviet Union. In all the train stations the correspondent said he had seen hungry people in rags, waiting for deportation trains to take them to Siberia for hard labor, Svoboda reported.
Svoboda received news from Moscow on February 9, which stated that the Soviets were relocating 10 million people from towns and cities. To put into practice the internal passport system, the Soviets had begun expelling people from the towns, deporting what they considered the “unwanted elements.”
According to the news Svoboda received, tens of thousands of people were exiled to Siberia and hundreds of thousands were being transferred to villages. In February, the Soviets were working on ridding the bigger cities of their dwellers. Next on their agenda were the smaller towns.
Svoboda reported that some of the people tried to escape to villages rather than risk being exiled. The Soviet Communists themselves reported in Soviet newspapers that after the city and town purges, over 10 million people would have been relocated.
February 10 brought news to Svoboda from Berlin. The short news item reported that peasant rebellions by relocated Ukrainians were taking place in Siberia and the Far East.
The next day, February 11, Svoboda reported that after the mass deportation of Ukrainian peasants from the Kuban region, the Soviets had begun cracking down on the Ukrainian peasants in Ukraine. The subhead read: “People are dying from hunger, cold and disease.” Also datelined Berlin, the story explained that the Soviet Communists were exiling Ukrainian peasants who did not fulfill their work quotas. The Berlin paper noted: “Where they send the peasants nobody knows.”
The story said that in the last few days, over 1,000 peasants had been shipped out of Ukraine from the Poltava region for not meeting their quotas and for rebelling against collectivization. All family belongings were confiscated and the people were deported in the tatters they wore. The number of people dying from hunger, cold and disease was reaching catastropic proportions, Svoboda reported.
That same day Svoboda also had news from Berlin which revealed that the 15-member Ukrainian Communist Party delegation for the central party convention in January had been arrested while attending the sessions. The members had objected that the central Communist Party had not adhered to the Soviet Constitution which granted Ukraine a certain autonomy. The Ukrainian Communists also stated that Stalin had meddled in national and agricultural interests in Ukraine, harming its citizens.
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Around the world:
Vladimir Macek, a Croatian leader and successor to Stefan Radich, was imprisoned for revolutionary activities in Yugoslavia.
A worker’s strike took place in London’s Hyde Park, during which workers protested the lowering of their wages and demanded improvement in issuing financial aid to the unemployed.
Poland’s Joseph Pilsudski agreed to support the candidacy of Ignace Jan Paderewski for president of the republic. The Polish people believed that Paderewski’s international popularity would help the future of Poland.
Ukrainians throughout the United States began planning booths for Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition.