The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

Firsthand Accounts of Soviet Collectivization 1928 -1934
(second, expanded edition)

Edited and annotated by Leonard Leshuk
Translations from the Hungerpredigit by Raimund Rueger
Europa University Press, May, 2001


Days of Famine, Nights of Terror tells of the horrors which took place inside the Soviet Union during the forced collectivization of private farms that resulted in over ten million deaths. It is unique in that it presents firsthand accounts of the experiences of national minority groups in the USSR caught up in those events; Poles from the western border region which is now Belarus, and Germans in Russia and Ukraine.

Written contemporaneously with the events, these are not the type of extensively reworked stories told decades after the events so familiar from other tragedies. Rather, they were the spontaneous attestations and anguished pleas for help of simple people struggling to stay alive as they saw their neighbors and family members dying from deportation to inhuman conditions of slave labor camps in the far north or from starvation in their homes.

As powerfully moving as these accounts are, they are not accepted without application of the critical questioning and logical analysis that should be required before any such claims of terrible atrocities and mass murder are allowed to be entered into the historical record.

The editor, Leonard Leshuk, provides the historical background and supporting documentation, but also takes the role of the devil's advocate in subjecting the victims' testimony to coldly objective scrutiny in a determined effort to arrive at the truth.

Bringing to light documents that had been hidden and forgotten for over six decades, Days of Famine, Nights of Terror incorporates a nearly book length account written by a Polish teenager. After he and his family were dispossessed and deported to the frozen northlands, he alone managed to remain alive and escape to bear witness to the horrors they had experienced. Uncovered by the editor in previously secret classified US intelligence files, this story is both a tragedy and a gripping true adventure that takes the reader along on a perilous journey through a land where hunger, cold, and death were constant companions.

In contrast to this in-depth view are over 100 letters written by ethnic Germans, ranging from notes of a few lines penned by starving children who understood little of the nature or extent of the tragedy taking place, to insightful letters written as last testaments by adults who knew that they were being intentionally starved to death by a government which saw them as class enemies.

The translations by Raimund Rueger of these letters pleading for help give a disturbingly intimate view of the victims and their lives. To read them is to feel oneself sitting alongside the writers at tables in the bare kitchens of peasant houses on what was normally some of the most productive farmland in the entire world, but where confiscation of virtually all food and means of production by a government acting in the name of creating universal equality and prosperity had left the population starving to death.

When it is realized that the atrocities committed against these relative small minority ethnic groups were being repeated on a much larger scale against millions of Ukrainians, Cossacks, and Russians, the full horror of this man-made catastrophe begins to sink in.

In the background and analysis information many shocking facts are exposed. The manner in which the US government and the vast majority of those in academia not only ignored, but for many decades intentionally covered up, the truth about what had taken place is shown to be one of the most shameful aspects of this event. The identities of some of the people who were most responsible for these crimes, and the cowardly behavior of the Western governments which refused to bring them to justice, are revealed.

The methods by which the Soviet government first disarmed the population, then began ever more onerous taxation and confiscation of property, and finally deported or attempted to starve to death anyone who resisted, are examined. Ultimately, this book also provides a model to use in assessing the validity of claims about other atrocities; showing what questions need to be asked, and how logic as well as historical and scientific knowledge need to be applied to testing the plausibility and veracity of witnesses and their stories.


Days of Famine, Nights of Terror, 243 pages, soft cover. Retail price $19.95 ISBN 0-9706464-0-2
Europa University Press, 42404 Northwest Station Washington, D.C. 20015-0404, USA

Synopsis: found on Barnes and Noble,  who carries the Europa University Press books.

Numerous letters and one quite lengthy account describe the horrific conditions inside the Soviet Union during the period of forced collectivization of private farms.

The editor's 19-page introduction (which is based on his dissertation: King's College, London, 1994) is expanded from the original 1995 publication of this book; in these pages he presents historical background for the collectivization horrors and also makes a case describing the role of the United States government in suppressing the facts.

He then presents the first-person account of a 20-year-old Polish peasant man who managed to escape the U.S.S.R.

The second half of the book contains 119 letters from ethnic Germans in the Ukraine and Russia taken from a volume originally published in Germany in 1933, titled Hungerpredigt (The Hunger Sermons). Commentary on the authenticity of the texts follows both sections. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (