The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

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DURANTY'S AWARD
Pulitzer Board Should Not Revoke the Award
  

COMMENT
Globe and Mail, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 25, 2003 - Page A22

Walter Duranty, who reported from the Soviet Union for The New York Times between 1922 and 1941, is probably the most tainted scribe in that newspaper's long history.

In fact, such is the enormity of the correspondent's misreporting of events in Stalin's Russia in the 1930s, and so great was his influence, that he probably would qualify for worst reporter of all time were there such an award. No picayune plagiarist he, Mr. Duranty helped cover up a genocide: Stalin's deliberate killing by starvation of as many as seven million Ukrainians in 1932-33.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest Mr. Duranty did this deliberately. According to one credible first-hand account, the Times correspondent once, in the depths of the famine, breezily remarked that "a few million dead Russians" were unimportant, given the "sweeping historical changes" then under way in the country. In August of 1933, he dismissed reports of mass starvation as "malignant propaganda." Earlier that year, on May 14, he had coined the monstrously cynical phrase for which he is probably best remembered: "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs."

Small wonder, then, that Mark von Hagen, a Columbia University history professor hired by the Times last summer to reassess Mr. Duranty's work, has declared it egregiously biased and distorted, and called its author a disgrace to the history of the Times.

It's also understandable that in 2003, the 70th anniversary of the famine, Ukrainian groups worldwide have lobbied to have Mr. Duranty posthumously stripped of his 1932 Pulitzer Prize, awarded for articles published in 1931. With hindsight, it is hard to conceive of anyone less worthy of U.S. print journalism's most prestigious award.

But that's the heart of the matter, isn't it? Hindsight. The Pulitzer Prize board should think long and carefully. For there is no new information here. And there is a whiff of historical revisionism.

It has been common knowledge for nearly two decades that Mr. Duranty was a propagandist for Stalin. The Times began apologizing for his dispatches as early as 1986, with the publication of Robert Conquest's noted history of the Ukrainian famine, The Harvest of Sorrow.

Moreover, Mr. Duranty was not given the prize for stories in which he denied the famine. Those came later. In 1931, he was writing effusively about Stalin's economic plan. As New York Times executive editor Bill Keller put it this week, "The stuff he wrote in '31 was awful. The stuff he wrote in '33 was shameful." That means Mr. Duranty would be stripped of his award for later misdeeds. How many other prestigious prizewinners would then be in similar straits?

History should not be airbrushed to suit current political tastes. That smacks of, well, Stalin. It makes far more sense to try to understand the context in which historical events occurred. In 1932 America, socialist ideas were fashionable. Mr. Duranty was not the era's only apologist for the Soviet dictator. He's just the best known.

In 1990, S.J. Taylor published Stalin's Apologist, a biography of Mr. Duranty that excoriated his reportage. The Pulitzer board considered revoking the award at the time, but opted not to because of the precedent such a move would set. That was the right decision then. As now.


COMMENT, Globe and Mail, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 25, 2003 - Page A22
http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20031025/EDUR25/ TPComment/Editorials
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EDITOR'S NOTE: In addition to the error in judgment and the resulting serious error in the conclusion found in the Glove and Mail Comment piece there is also a factual ERROR by the writer of the COMMENT piece.

The writer of this COMMENT piece for The Globe and Mail states, "In August of 1933, he [Duranty] dismissed reports of mass starvation as 'malignant propaganda.' Earlier that year, on May 14, he had coined the monstrously cynical phrase for which he is probably best remembered: "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs."

The date listed here, May 14, 1933, for Duranty's article in the New York Times where he writes his "infamous" phrase about making an omelette is NOT correct.

Duranty's article with his "infamous phrase" was published by the New York Times on March 31, 2003. Duranty wrote this article on March 30th as a direct, immediate and hostile reply to the press conference Welsh journalist Gareth Jones had in Berlin on March 29th upon returning from his private visit to Ukraine.

Walter Duranty was reacting to the major coverage Gareth Jones's statement about the real famine conditions in Ukraine [Russia] received in the world press which of course were in direct contradiction to what Duranty had been writing.

Duranty had an article in The New York Times on May 14th but it did not contain his 'infamous" phrase.

To read the entire March 31, 1933 New York Times's article by Walter Duranty with the "infamous phrase" click on:

http://www.artukraine.com/famineart/duranty.htm


To read the entire May 14, 1933 New York Times's article by Walter Duranty click on:

http://www.artukraine.com/famineart/duranty2.htm
 
 

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