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
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
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
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, www.bn.com 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 (booknews.com)