September 1-15, 1933
On September 2, Svoboda reported news from Prague which revealed that Moscow was exporting all the grain from Ukraine. Refugees and people writing letters to their families outside eastern Ukraine had reached Prague. The news reports said the harvest in Ukraine was picked as members of the secret police, Red Army and youth cavalry brigades stood guard over the peasants to make sure nothing was stolen for their families. The peasants had to give a portion of the grain to Moscow for export, a portion to the state (for planting in the spring and fall), and a portion for other purposes. By the time all these quotas were filled, the peasants had no grain, or very little, for themselves.
On September 5, a special item was reprinted from The New York Times in English in Svoboda. (A Ukrainian translation was also printed in the newspaper.) The article, datelined Paris read: “Prince Karashevicz, former Russian minister, appeals in a letter published in Le Matin today, for an official mission to visit the Soviet Ukraine and make a full inquiry of conditions there on humanitarian, not political grounds. A special committee for this purpose has already been formed.”
In the same issue, under the headline “Ukraine Starves, Moscow Parades”, an article in Svoboda revealed that the Moscow Komsomol and older members of the Pioneers, had celebrated their Youth Day in Moscow with a parade. Some 250,000 youths’ from all parts of the Soviet Union had arrived in the city for the festivities.
A news story datelined Lviv appeared in Svoboda on September 7. According to the reports from Lviv, Moscow wanted to repopulate the lands that had become abandoned as a result of the famine and the exile of thousands of Ukrainians to northern Russia.
“The Populace of Ukraine Bloodily Battles for Its Grain,” read the headline in the September 8 issue of Svoboda. A correspondent for a German newspaper reported that though the situation in Ukraine should be improving due to the new, more productive harvest, as one wanders along the countryside and the towns, he wrote, it seems this isn’t so. People were swollen from hunger and dying from lack of food, he said.
The correspondent wrote: “These are the peasants whom the Communist regime has chased out of their own homes, crossed them off the register of productive workers for the state, who still have the right to obtain some grain.” However, they don’t receive any, he stated.
From Kiev, Svoboda received word that in Ukraine many bundles of wheat had been set afire, destroying the newly picked crop. Some Soviet officials believed that this was a planned terrorist act to prohibit the Soviets from exporting grain out of Ukraine. The Soviet police had organized special police units to watch over the “enemies of the Soviet state” and later conduct trials and mete out punishment. The report indicated that so many people had already been arrested that schools in Kiev were serving as prisons; all the prisons in the area were overflowing with charged peasants. The Soviet press had announced that awards would be given to those who reported saboteurs and counterrevolutionaries, terrorists and agitators.
Also on that day, Svoboda reported news from London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper which said that people in the Ukrainian Kuban area were also dying of hunger. A correspondent for the newspaper had traveled throughout Ukraine and observed that much of the land stood barren because there was nobody to work the fields – the peasants had either died out or had been sent into exile.
On September 12, Svoboda reported that all grain was being shipped from Ukraine to Moscow; Ukraine had no bread. From Rostov-on-Don, Walter Duranty sent stories to the New York Times, stating that in the northern Caucasus, 43 percent of the grain was ready to be ground, 21 percent had already been prepared for seeds and 35 percent was left to rot outside. Duranty wrote that in Ukraine, he saw peasants selling everything they owned – chickens, butter, eggs, greens – at very low prices. But nowhere was bread to be found, and because of this the people were suffering. Duranty said that many machines were broken and the grain could not be harvested. In a second telegram to the Times, Duranty reported that the “Bolsheviks have broken the peasants’ resistance and do not have to contend with them anymore. The populace has decided to admit them their regime.”
That same day, on the center of the front page of Svoboda, the headline in large bold type read: “Let Us Save Ukraine from Famine Death.” It was an appeal issued by the United Ukrainian Organizations of America (UUOA). The appeal began with the mention of Dr. Ewald Ammende’s report on the famine in Ukraine in which he asked whether the world could continue to watch the merciless and shameful deaths in Ukraine. The association stated that the report came at a time when the Ukrainians in America can appeal to the U.S. government and to the hearts of the American public to gain aid for their Ukrainian brothers in the native land.
The association also stated that the world, when talking about the famine, was saying that it is mostly due to the failure of collective farming, the “bankruptcy of agriculture.”
According to the authors of the appeal, the famine was being perpetrated by Moscow which wanted to starve the population of Ukraine; the famine was one of the ways Moscow fought Ukraine, which wants to secede from under Moscow’s rule.
The appeal went on to say these motives had finally been understood in Ukraine and for this reason some Ukrainian Communists were committing suicide. Citing the cases of Khylovy and Skrypnyk, the appeal noted that these men had faith in the Communist idea, and had served Moscow in the hope that one day people in Moscow and Ukraine would unite and stand strong.
“Let us try to interest the U.S. government in the famine in Ukraine. Let us also try to interest the political and humanitarian institutions. Let us send a resolution to the American Red Cross and ask for its aid in this matter,” wrote the representatives of the association.
“Most pressing for us, is the American resolution to recognize the Soviet Union. Before this is passed, let us appeal that an American Committee go to the Soviet Union and analyze the politics of Moscow toward the other countries that make up the Soviet Union; especially let them analyze the politics of Moscow toward Ukraine,” the appeal stressed.
On September 14, news from Moscow was printed in Svoboda. The authorities had called for all town procurators to execute any persons found stealing wheat. Also that day, news reports from London revealed that Soviet officials were being arrested for revealing the truth that the harvest was bad in their annual reports. One minister was released from his position for writing that the harvest in Ukraine was unproductive.
Also that day, news from London printed in Svoboda stated that several villages in the Odessa region, where the famine was the worst, were punished for not delivering grain to the state on time. They were punished by being expected to deliver three times the normal quota to the state.
On September 15, the headline in Svoboda read: “Duranty Does Not See the Hunger.” In his telegram to The New York Times, Mr. Duranty stated that while traveling through the Caucasus, he saw no trace of the famine. Only those peasants he called, “the bad ones” and the “kurkuls” were being punished with having little to eat, he said.
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Around the world:
Joseph Stalin invited General Joseph Pilsudski of Poland to visit Moscow in November – a sign that the two countries’ relations were becoming stronger.