The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

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WORD FOR WORD | SOFT TOUCH
From Our Man in Moscow, in Praise of the Stalinist Future
  

WEEK IN REVIEW
By Jacques Steinberg, The New York Times
New York, NY, October 26, 2003

 

The 89 Pulitzer Prizes that The New York Times or its journalists have received are commemorated with framed citations on the 11th floor of the newspaper's headquarters. On one citation, an asterisk has been appended, followed by a disclaimer: "Other writers in The Times and elsewhere have discredited this coverage."

For those who denounce the correspondent in question, Walter Duranty - who won his Pulitzer in 1932 for his coverage of Russia the previous year - the asterisk has never gone far enough. They argue that his prize should be rescinded mainly for his failure to report on a famine that killed several million Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933, though those events largely took place after he was awarded his prize.

At the request of The Times, Mark von Hagen, a historian at Columbia University, examined Mr. Duranty's dispatches from 1931. Professor von Hagen said in an interview that the coverage was so fundamentally flawed as to justify stripping Mr. Duranty of his award posthumously.

While acknowledging that Mr. Duranty, like other reporters, was surely trying in his coverage to steer clear of Soviet censors, Professor von Hagen found that "other reporters were getting around the country much more" and "appeared to have a wider range of sources."

Mr. Duranty, who defended his work, died in 1957. Excerpts follow from his coverage in 1931 and beyond.

 

RUSSIANS HUNGRY, BUT NOT STARVING
March 31, 1933:

It is all too true that the novelty and mismanagement of collective farming, plus the quite efficient conspiracy of Feodor M. Konar and his associates in agricultural commissariats, have made a mess of Soviet food production. [Konar was executed for sabotage.] But - to put it brutally - you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs and the Bolshevist leaders are just as indifferent to the casualties that may be involved in their drive toward socialization as any General during the World War who ordered a costly attack in order to show his superiors that he and his division possessed the proper soldierly spirit. In fact, the Bolsheviki are more indifferent because they are animated by fanatical conviction.

 

STALINISM'S MARK IS PARTY DISCIPLINE
June 27, 1931:

Stalin's opponents accuse him of absolutism, and it is true and false. Absolutism there is - not that Stalin wants it for his ambition or vainglory but because the circumstances and Russia demand it; because there is no more time for argument or discussion or even freedom in the Western sense, for which Russia cares nothing, because, in short, a house divided against itself cannot stand in an hour of stress.

Outsiders may write nonsense about Stalin's egoism and the purely personal quality of "the struggle for power" between him and Trotsky or Alexei Rykoff or Zinovieff. Personal elements do and must enter all human relations, but in default of familiarity with the new Russia these critics might study the early history of the Christian Church, which was wracked and torn far worse by "ideological controversy," as the Bolsheviki call it, than by the rivalries of leaders which came after the councils of Nicea "set" or crystallized doctrinal confusion.

 

STALINISM DOMINATES RUSSIA OF TODAY
June 14, 1931:

Stalin is giving the Russian people - the Russian masses, not Westernized landlords, industrialists, bankers and intellectuals, but Russia's 150,000,000 peasants and workers - what they really want, namely, joint efforts, communal effort. And communal life is as acceptable to them as it is repugnant to a Westerner. This is one of the reasons why Russian Bolshevism will never succeed in the United States, Great Britain, France or other parts west of the Rhine.

Stalinism, too, has done what Lenin only attempted. It has re-established the semi-divine, supreme autocracy of the imperial idea and has placed itself on the Kremlin throne as a ruler whose lightest word is all in all and whose frown spells death.

Try that on free-born Americans or the British with their tough loyalty to old things, or on France's consciousness of self. But it suits the Russians and is as familiar, natural and right to the Russian mind as it is abominable and wrong to Western nations.

 

RED ARMY IS HELD NO MENACE TO PEACE
June 25, 1931:

From Our Man in Moscow, in Praise of the Stalinist Future

As to the true purpose of the Red Army and the whole gigantic scheme of military preparation, your correspondent is prepared to stake his reputation on the fact that at present it is purely defensive, and for all he can see now will be so in the future.

Europe's nightmares of a "Red horde" sweeping forward to world conquest are, in this correspondent's opinion, either anti-Soviet propaganda tout court or atavistic bogies of Attila, Tamerlane and the Turks.

 

STALINISM SOLVING MINORITIES PROBLEM
June 26, 1931:

In a heterogeneous capitalist state - the British Empire, for instance - liberty given minor nationalities must have had a centrifugal effect, but in the U.S.S.R., the Communist party acts as a cement to bind the whole mass together and permit the facile exercise of central control. . . .

Although there have been cases of regional frictions and sporadic difficulty, the system on the whole seems to work more smoothly than any organization of a heterogeneous state yet devised by man. . . .

It must be admitted also that the Bolsheviki adhere with remarkable steadiness to their creed of Communist equality irrespective of race or color, which assured the members of former "subject" peoples opportunities to rise to the highest central positions and removes any feeling of racial inferiority.

Stalin is a Georgian, Trotsky a Jew, Rudzutak a Lett, Dzerzhinsky was a Pole. These men offer salient examples for Communists of every nationality in the U.S.S.R. It is thus clear that the Soviet federal system, while reinforcing nationalism, did not sacrifice cohesion and centralized direction.

 

STALIN'S RUSSIA IS AN ECHO OF IRON IVAN'S
Dec. 20, 1931:

Bolshevism has given back to Russia something the Russian people have always understood - absolute authority, unmellowed by the democracy or liberalism of the West. Once more the seat of power is Moscow's Kremlin, not the foreign-looking city named for St. Peter. The Communist party sits now where Ivan sat, with less pomp and luxury but no less power, and like Ivan receives "wonderful great awe and obedience," that men must give not only the goods which they have been "scraping and scratching for" all their lived, but even life itself.

Under this supreme "commandement" the mass of the Russian people - only grandsons, remember, of the serfs, just two generations removed from virtual slavery - are being taught a regime of joint interest, effort and sacrifice whose roots strike deep into their history. And more than that there is hope before them of a bright future, when they and the power above them, which is sprung from their own loins and wielded by men like them, shall have merged to form one whole of ruled and rulers.


THE NEW YORK TIMES, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2003
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/26/weekinreview/26WORD.html
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