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rescinded mainly for his failure to report on a famine that killed several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
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
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
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
FOR PERSONAL AND ACADEMIC USE ONLY