November 13, 1983

Media reports on famine. XV


Voice of America

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The Voice of America on October 21 broadcast an editorial about the Great Famine in Ukraine.

The full text of the editorial, as transcribed by a listener from a recording of the broadcast, appears below. As all VOA editorials do, it reflects the views of the U.S. government.

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Ukrainian famine of 1933. The Soviet government is hardly likely to plan an official commemoration. In fact, to this day, the Soviets have never even told their people the full story. But the outside world owes it to the memory of the victims to recall one of the most monstrous of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s crimes.

The famine was largely the consequence of Stalin’s policies of forced collective farming, which were carried out with a special vengeance in the traditionally independent Ukraine. Though collectivization drastically reduced farm production, it served Stalin’s larger purpose of social control. And the requisition of Ukraine’s grain output for export provided the government in Moscow with a major source of revenue.

We will probably never know for sure how many people died during the drought and famine of 1932 and 1933. Certainly there were millions of victims – 7 million by some estimates. And the slow suffering was compounded by the government’s refusal to admit the existence of the famine and to permit international disaster relief. Even in the context of the brutality of the Stalin era, which caused massive suffering for people of all nationalities in the Soviet Union, this was one of history’s larger political crimes.

The same sort of disregard for human life is evident among Stalin’s successors in the Kremlin. It is manifested daily in the horrible suffering they are inflicting on the people in Afghanistan and in such grotesque incidents as the destruction of Korean Airlines Flight 007. Today’s Soviet leaders like to project an image of gentility and respectability, to give the impression that the age of Stalinism is over. Their actions belie their words.

Stalin’s successors are his heirs in another important respect. They continue to follow his policies of stamping out any independent sense of nationalism in the regions they have seized – especially those, such as Ukraine and the Baltic states, where people continue to adhere to their traditional religious faiths.

Recalling events like the Great Ukrainian Famine of 1933 is not just a matter of respect for the memory of its victims. It is also an important key to understanding the nature of the Soviet empire today.

Winnipeg Sun

WINNIPEG – The August 7 issue of The Winnipeg Sun ran two letters from Ukrainians concerning the Great Famine in Ukraine, one responding to a letter that was critical of Peter Warren’s July 15 article on the famine, and one praising the article.

On July 27, the paper published a letter by Charles Biesick of Winnipeg, who said that Mr. Warren’s charge that the Soviet government was behind the famine was misguided, and that the famine was the result of “incredibly difficult and chaotic times.”

Responding to Mr. Biesick’s letter, Orysia Tracz of Winnipeg accused him of “belonging to the same camp that truly believes that the Soviets were invited into Afghanistan and are still welcome there.”

Noting that there are many Winnipegers who witnessed the ravages of the famine, Ms. Tracz added that scholars such as Dr. Robert Conquest have concluded that, based on solid evidence, the famine was the result of a deliberate policy.

In his letter, Peter Manastyrsky, president of the Winnipeg Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee, thanked Mr. Warren for “expressing what truly transpired factually in the Ukraine half a century ago.”

Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Among the dozen letters about the Soviet downing of the Korean jetliner printed in the September 8 issue of the Sacramento Bee, were two by Ukrainians who noted the Great Famine in Ukraine in commenting on the KAL tragedy.

Alex Kachmar said he objected to the description of the pilot who shot down the Korean passenger plane as a “Soviet” pilot, noting that transcripts showed that he spoke Russian.

“The Soviet Union is nothing but a Russian empire,” wrote Mr. Kachmar, “so let’s not condemn/accuse the peoples of the Russian empire for Russian crimes against humanity.”

He added: “In 1932-33 they created a famine in Ukraine that killed millions of innocent people. Does a couple hundred more matter to Czar Andropov?”

John Stefanuk of Susanville wrote that “Russian Communists never murder anybody – they liquidate.”

“This is what euphemisms mean to them,” he wrote. “They liquidated nearly 6 million Ukrainian farmers because farmers disagreed with Russian Communist occupiers of the Ukraine (1932-33).”

Los Angeles Channel 4

LOS ANGELES – Channel 4, the NBC station in Los Angeles, made a brief comment about the Great Famine (1932-33) during an editorial review of letters from its viewers on Tuesday, September 13.

NBC’s comment was in response to a letter from a member of the Los Angeles Genocide in Ukraine Commemorative Committee.

Channel 4 said: “Finally, a Los Angeles man says NBC refuses to report on the Ukrainian genocide of 1933, in which millions of peasants were systematically starved to death by Stalin for purely political purposes.”

The Plain Truth

PASADENA, Calif. – The Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33) was cited in an article about drought and hunger in the October issue of The Plain Truth, a magazine published by the Worldwide Church of God.

In a boxed story headlined the “Role of Politics in Famine,” the magazine said that “few famines in recent times can compare to the man-made Great Famine in the Ukraine in 1932-33.”

Because most Western newspapers ignored the tragedy, the famine is not well known, the article said, although it noted that William Henry Chamberlin of The Christian Science Monitor managed to provide accurate accounts.

Mr. Chamberlin wrote that the famine would never have happened had not the state “swooped down” on the peasantry “with heavy requisitions” of grain.

“As punishment for Ukrainian resistance to farm collectivization, the Stalinist regime expropriated much of the Ukraine’s grain,” the article said. “The resulting man-made food shortage caused between 5 and 7 million deaths, according to the best estimates.”

Harvard Summer Times

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The August 4 issue of The Harvard Summer Times included a story on a symbolic fast staged by students at the Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute to commemorate the Great Famine in Ukraine.

In addition to the fast, the paper said the students set up a 24-hour information booth in front of Harvard’s Holyoke Center. The purpose of the demonstration was to bring public attention to the famine and to gain enough public support to pass a congressional resolution officially condemning the famine.

Ellenville News

ELLENVILLE, N.Y. – The September 15 issue of The Ellenville News carried two stories concerning the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33), one a historical account provided by the Ukrainian Commemorative Committee and the other a news item about a famine memorial held at the SUM-A grounds.

The historical account, which included two grim photographs and was headlined “Ukrainians remember a man-made famine,” traced events from Stalin’s destruction of the Ukrainian intellectual elites to the confiscation of grain and foodstuffs, which ultimately lead to mass starvation and the deaths of an estimated 7 million people.

The article said that the American news media suppressed reports of the holocaust in Ukraine “because the aim of American foreign policy then was to recognize the legitimacy of the Soviet government.”

The story on the SUM-A observances said that several hundred people attended the memorial sponsored by the Committee of the Ukrainian Communities in the Catskills.

It said that the commemoration started with a candlelight liturgy in memory of the famine victims. The program also included a dramatic reading from Vasyl Barka’s “The Yellow Prince,” which deals with the famine, as well as several musical performances.

Weekend Australian

LIDCOMBE, Australia – The September 10-11 issue of The Weekend Australian published a letter from Dr. Lev Havryliv, in which he compared the Great Famine in Ukraine with the Soviet leadership’s “indifference to human life” exemplified by the downing of the Korean airliner.

“The mentality of Soviet leaders is most clearly revealed by the fact that even after 50 years the heirs of Stalin have not admitted that the famine occurred,” he wrote.

Daily Targum

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The Rutgers University Ukrainian Students Club took out a full-page ad in the September 28 Weekend section of the The Daily Targum, the school paper, to call attention to the 50th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33).

The ad, which noted that 7 million people starved to death during the man-made famine, quoted from The Weekly’s March 20 special issue on the famine, saying that Moscow orchestrated the famine “to break the will of an independent-minded and nationally conscious Ukrainian peasantry, secure collectivization and ensure industrialization.”

Wall Street Journal

NEW YORK – Vermont Royster, in his column “Thinking Things Over” published in the September 28 issue of The Wall Street Journal, mentioned the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33) as one of history’s many examples of “man’s inhumanity to man.”

In his column, which was titled “The Prevalence of Evil,” Mr. Royster dealt with the nature of evil and its influence on the affairs of men.

“In the Ukraine, 7 million were deliberately starved in the government-induced famine of 1931-32,” wrote Mr. Royster. “How many have been liquidated in the years since World War II, nobody knows.”

Star Phoenix

SASKATOON, Sask. – Former Ukrainian dissident Nadia Svitlychna’s appearance at a bread-and-water luncheon here commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ukraine was the subject of a July 30 article in the Star Phoenix.

Speaking at the luncheon, which was held at the University of Saskatchewan as part of the national convention of the Ukrainian Self-Reliance League, the 46-year-old philologist compared the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan with the Great Famine, which resulted in the deaths of some 7 million people.

“My purpose is to warn the world against the repetition of such a holocaust,” said the English text of her speech, which was delivered in Ukrainian.

The Ukrainian Weekly, November 13, 1983, No. 46, Vol. LI