By Natalia A. Feduschak
The Washington Times
Saturday, March 29, 2003
Ukrainian officials and Ukrainian-Americans have begun a campaign to
revoke the Pulitzer Prize awarded to a New York Times writer who reported
that a man-made famine that killed millions in the 1930s never happened.
"It has become a world action," said Tama Gallo, executive director of
the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, a New York-based group that
began the effort to have the prestigious prize awarded to Walter Duranty in
Mr. Duranty, who was the Times' Moscow correspondent from 1921 to
1934, won the Pulitzer for a 1931 series of reports about Soviet dictator
Josef Stalin's five-year plans to reform the economy.
His stories appeared in the Times before the Ukrainian famine of
1932-1933, which left 5 million to 10 million dead.
Western historians now generally agree that the famine was the result
of Stalin's industrialization effort and an attempt to break the will of the
independence-minded Ukrainian people.
To ensure cities were fed, the Soviet dictator set impossibly high
grain quotas for Soviet Ukraine's collectivized farmers and removed every
other source of food available to them.
Police were sent to the Ukrainian countryside to monitor compliance.
Anyone found hiding grain was fatally shot, according to eyewitnesses.
Ukrainian-Americans have sporadically attempted to have Mr. Duranty's
With the 70-year anniversary of the famine being commemorated in an
independent Ukraine, the movement has gained new momentum. In
unprecedented hearings recently in parliament, demands were made that the
prize be revoked.
The government in Kiev is expected to ask the United Nations to
recognize the famine as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people.
In his 1932-1933 dispatches, Mr. Duranty denied that a famine was
occurring in Soviet Ukraine, although he has been quoted in several books
as privately telling friends he had never seen such misery.
Sig Gissler, administrator for the Pulitzer Prizes, said he understands
the concern regarding Mr. Duranty, who died in 1957, but past Pulitzer
boards have not deemed it necessary to revoke his prize.
"I do think there is a tendency to merge the prize, which is from
reporting in 1931, with events in 1932-33," he said.
Mr. Gissler said he could not speculate whether future boards would
return to the question of withdrawing the prize.
The New York Times itself has criticized Mr. Duranty's reporting. In
displays and materials devoted to its Pulitzer Prizes, the Times notes that
writers at the paper and elsewhere have discredited his coverage.
Still, the Times has not asked that the prize be revoked.
"The Pulitzer Board has reviewed the Duranty prize several times over
the years, and the board has never seen fit to revoke it," said Catherine
Mathis, vice president of corporate communications for the New York
Times Co. "In that situation, the Times has not seen merit in trying to undo
The Washington Times, Washington, D.C., Saturday, March 29, 2003
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