February 19, 1984

Media reports on famine. XXIV


Ukrainian Cultural Hour

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. – Helen Balaban spoke about the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33) during a September 11, 1983, broadcast of the Ukrainian Cultural Hour radio program dedicated to the 50th anniversary of that tragic event.

Ms. Balaban said that the Soviet government under Joseph Stalin organized the famine, which began when non-Ukrainian brigades swept down on the countryside and confiscated all grain, seed and foodstuffs to “erase from the face of the earth the Ukrainian nation as a separate independent nation-state.”

An estimated 7 million Ukrainians died during the famine, she said, adding that the “horrible reality of the condemned people reduced many to insanity, suicide and cannibalism.”

Many Ukrainian writers, journalists and church officials were arrested and either executed or banished to Siberia, she said.

Quoting British Sovietologist and author Robert Conquest, who is writing a book on the famine, Ms. Balaban said that as many as 14 million Ukrainians may have died in 1929-30 and 1932-37.

As to why a genocide of such magnitude is so little known, Ms. Balaban noted that many Western journalists at the time were captivated by the Communist revolution while others, like Walter Duranty of The New York Times, deliberately covered up Soviet atrocities to curry favor with the regime.

To back this contention, Ms. Balaban quoted from journalist Eugene Lyons, who was United Press International’s Moscow correspondent from 1928 to 1934 and who wrote that Mr. Duranty, while downplaying conditions in Ukraine in his dispatches, privately acknowledged that millions were dying of starvation.

Malcolm Muggeridge, the Moscow correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, did manage to sneak into the ravaged countryside and reported that the famine had “reduced some of the most fertile land in the world to a mournful, melancholy desert.”

Ms. Balaban concluded her commemorative commentary by noting that all the nations currently within the Soviet sphere have been conquered by force.

“All the nations of all the people absorbed in the Soviet empire or bloc have fallen to the conquest of arms, weapons, violence,” she said.


MAPLEWOOD, N.J. – UNA Supreme Advisor Andrew Keybida referred to the Great Famine in Ukraine (1932-33) in a letter about Ukraine’s historic quest for independence published in a recent issue of the News-Record.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the enforced famine in 1932-33, engineered by Joseph Stalin, in which some 7 to 10 million Ukrainians perished in Ukraine,” wrote Mr. Keybida. “This brutal murder was inflicted upon the Ukrainian people to break their opposition to the enforced collectivization of agriculture in the USSR and to destroy all aspirations toward independence.”

He said that the extermination was “a matter of state policy” that “continues to this day.”

Mr. Keybida also noted that Mayor Robert H. Grasmere of Maplewood had issued a proclamation designating January 22 Ukrainian Independence Day in the town. The day marked the 66th anniversary of the day in 1918 when, he said, the “Ukrainian people exercised their right of national self-determination.”

Mr. Keybida also praised President Ronald Reagan for his tough stand against Soviet aggression and for his assessment of the Soviet Union as “the focus of evil in the modern world.”

“On this day let us not forget that the true nature of the Communist Soviet Union is predatory tyranny and the enemy of humanity,” he wrote. “This concept should be a matter of universal concern to all fellow Americans who should now realize that the Soviet Union’s notion to dominate the world no longer sounds like an extremist notion even to the most liberal American.”

The Ukrainian Weekly, February 19, 1984, No. 8, Vol. LII