August 7, 1983

Media reports on famine. VIII


The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND – George Kulchycky, writing in the June 27 issue of The Plain Dealer here reported on the Great Famine in Ukraine in an article titled “Ukraine Famine was planned in Moscow.”

Mr. Kulchycky, a professor of Soviet and East European studies at Youngstown State University, said that the famine is only recently receiving media attention. He added that most famines have been caused by natural disasters, whereas the Great Famine in Ukraine “was planned and executed by Moscow.”

In his article, Mr. Kulchycky argues that Stalin intentionally launched the famine to “destroy peasant opposition to communism in Ukraine,” and because he needed money and goods to finance his industrialization program.

Mr. Kulchycky noted that a natural famine did occur in Ukraine in 1921. During that famine, the communists learned that mass starvation could be used as an effective weapon to silence opposition, as most people are more concerned about finding food than political matters. Over 1 million Ukrainians died during the famine of 1921.

“But in 1932-33 the harvests were good and there was no war, yet 7 million Ukrainians starved,” wrote Mr. Kulchycky.

The author added that “normally a government that anticipates food shortages takes steps to avoid disaster. This was not done in the Soviet Union. Food and aid offered by Western nations was rejected because ‘there can be no famine in the workers’ paradise.'”

Mr. Kulchycky wrote that the Soviets enforced the famine by blockading starving areas with Red Army troops, by restricting the movement of peasants from one region of Ukraine to another, by increasing food quotas in the effected areas and by confiscating seed from peasants.

“Government ‘brigades’ and units called ’25 thousands’ and ’15 thousands’ moved to the starving villages and, using terror and brutality, collected the remaining food,” wrote Mr. Kulchycky.

The village of Kharkivtsy in Hadyach region was one of the areas affected by the famine, according to an eyewitness cited by Mr. Kulchycky. S. Lozovy recounted how one neighbor was sent to Siberia and worked to death because he resisted collectivization efforts. Other peasants were forced to agree to nationalization of their property and were required to pay heavy taxes, according to the eyewitness account.

“The people were terrified,” Lozovy remembered, “It was hard to find a farmer who did not serve a jail term.” He noted that by March 1933, the village experienced its first case of cannibalism.

“To survive, parents crazed by hunger ate their children,” recalled Lozovy.

Mr. Kulchycky noted that Kharkivtsy was just one of the many villages in Ukraine suffering because of the famine. “In the end, Stalin succeeded in destroying the peasant opposition, establishing the collectives and paying for Russia’s industrialization with wealth robbed from the Ukrainian peasants.”

The article stated that it is difficult to ascertain why the world was silent during the famine years. Mr. Kulchycky suggested that the United States was preoccupied with the Great Depression. He added that a “news blockade” also impeded the flow information.

“Reporters who knew of the catastrophe were so enamored with communism and its ‘future that works’ that they were persuaded not to report the fiasco.” He also noted that the U.S. government offered aid to the Soviet Union, but the Soviets refused any help.

WSJ: letters to the editor

NEW YORK – Four letters responding to Adrian Karatnycky’s July 7 article of the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33) were published in the July 27 issue of The Wall Street Journal.

The first, from Paul P. Jessup of Cohoes, N.Y., complimented Mr. Karatnycky for an “exceptional” piece, but took issue with the author’s contention that certain Ukrainian leaders advocated “any form of communism or socialism.”

To support his point, Mr. Jessep cited the administration of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky, whose conservative philosophy Mr. Jessep claimed “has been used throughout the 20th century by Ukrainians fighting subjugation and Marxism.” Mr. Jessep did not make any references to the Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Federalist, the Ukrainian Socialist Democratic Labor Party of Vynnychenko and Petliura, or the Ukrainian Party of Social Revolutionaries, and others.

Dr. J.J. Robbins of Hayward, Calif., said Mr. Karatnycky’s article brought to mind “other man-made disasters so frequent in Soviet Russia and other communist countries.” He recalled that, as a 4-year-old boy living in the city of Vitebsk in Byelorussia in 1918, he and his mother would go to the outskirts of town in search of food.

“In his memoirs, Khrushchev writes of widespread cannibalism in a famine in Ukraine in 1946-47 which went almost completely unnoticed in the West, although he admitted it was greater than that of the great drought of 1890,” wrote Dr. Robbins.

He also referred to devastating famines in Communist China and Cambodia that have gone largely unreported.

In a brief letter, Ruth Hermsted of Brookville, N.Y., said Mr. Karatnycky’s article was “excellent and too, too, true.” But she disagreed with his statement that “not one serious book on the tragedy is available in English,” noting that Eugene Lyons extensively described the famine in his book “Assignment in Utopia.” Mr. Lyons was a reporter in the Soviet Union at the time of the famine.

Lena Goemaat of Fair Oaks, Ind., wrote to say that Ingrid Rimland’s book “The Wanderers,” though fiction, provides a vivid account of “the horrors and injustice inflicted upon the industrious, peace-loving and deeply religious people of Ukraine” from 1914 to 1957.

The Ukrainian Weekly, August 7, 1983, No. 32, Vol. LI