FACES AND PLACES, By Myron B. Kuropas
The Ukrainian Weekly, Ukrainian National Association
Parsipppany, New Jersey, Sunday, May 4, 2003
On May 1, thousands of postcards were mailed to the Pulitzer Prize Committee
at Columbia University demanding the revocation of Walter Duranty's Pulitzer
A total of 10,000 cards were printed and distributed throughout the United
States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, western Europe and Ukraine.
The message about Mr. Duranty was simple. On March 31, 1933, he reported
"there is no famine" in the New York Times. He claimed "any report of a
famine is today an exaggeration of malignant propaganda" in the New York
Times of August 24, 1933. That same year he admitted privately to William
Strang (British Embassy, September 26, 1933) that "it is quite possible that
as many as ten million people may have died directly or indirectly from lack
of food in the Soviet Union during the past year."
Walter Duranty was, as S.J. Taylor his biographer writes, "Stalin's
Apologist," a journalist who always wrote what Stalin wanted because, as he
himself once stated, "I believe in Bolshevism..."
The Pulitzer Prize Committee was impressed with Mr. Duranty's reporting,
especially "those [dispatches] dealing with the Five-Year Plan." The
stories, according to the panel, were "marked by scholarship, profundity,
impartiality, sound judgment and exceptional clarity..."
In his acceptance speech Mr. Duranty declared: "I discovered that the
Bolsheviks were sincere enthusiasts, trying to regenerate a people that had
been shockingly misgoverned and I decided to give them their fair break"
(emphasis mine). There were some imperfections, he admitted, but he had
come to realize that there was something very good about the Soviets'
"planned system of economy." He had learned, he said, "to respect the
Soviet leaders, especially Stalin whom I consider to have grown into a
really great statesman."
Like Walter Duranty, Eugene Lyons, a Moscow correspondent for United Press,
was initially an admirer of the Soviet Union. He wrote dispatches glorifying
the USSR. The longer he remained in Moscow, the more disillusioned he
became. He returned to the United States in 1934 and wrote a book titled
Assignment in Utopia, published by Harcourt-Brace in 1937. In a chapter
titled "The Press Corps Concealed a Famine", Mr. Lyons described how he and
other American correspondents conspired with Soviet authorities to deny the
existence of the famine.
The first reliable report of the Stalin-engineered famine in Ukraine to
reach the outside world was written by Gareth Jones, a British journalist
who visited Ukraine in 1933 and then left the Soviet Union to write about
what he had witnessed. When his story broke, the American press corps in
Moscow - - - which had seen pictures of the horror - - taken by German
consular officers - - was besieged by their home offices for more
Angered as much by Jones' scoop as by his portrayal of the brutality of
Soviet life, a group of American correspondents met with Comrade Konstantin
Umansky, the Soviet press censor, to determine how best to handle the story.
A statement was drafted after which vodka and "zakuski" were ordered and
everyone sat back to enjoy the evening with a smiling Umansky. The most
diligent collaborators were Walter Duranty and Louis Fischer, correspondent
for The New Republic. Mr. Fischer eventually saw the light and became an
anti-Communist. Mr. Duranty remained a Stalinist until the day he died.
When Soviet foreign minister Maxim Litvinov sailed to the United States to
conclude the infamous Roosevelt/Litvinov Agreement, Walter Duranty was on
board. He was on board when William C. Bullitt sailed to Europe as the first
U.S. ambassador to the USSR. Some believe that it was Walter Duranty, more
than anyone else, who convinced FDR to recognize the USSR when three other
American presidents had refused. He was rewarded with a one-hour audience
with Joseph Stalin who told him that he admired the journalist for "writing
the truth" about the Soviet people. It was the greatest moment in Mr.
Credit for the international postcard campaign goes to the Ukrainian
Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Ukrainian World Congress who
initiated the campaign. They were morally and financially supported by the
Association of Ukrainians of Great Britain, the Australian Federation of
Ukrainian Organizations, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Ukrainian
American Justice Committee, and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.
Dr. Myron B. Kuropas is an adjunct professor in Educational Foundations
at Northern Illinois University. He has a Ph.D. from the University of
Chicago. He authored "The Ukrainian Americans: Roots and Aspirations"
(University of Toronto Press) and "The Citadel: The First Hundred Years
of the Ukrainian National Association "(Eastern European Monographs).
Dr. Kuropas has served as a Principal in the Chicago and DeKalb public
schools; was a Fulbright scholar and taught at the National University of
Ostroh Academy in Ukraine.
He has served as a Special Assistant to President Gerald Ford; legislative
assistant to Senator Bob Dole; and was a Public Member of the Ukraine
Famine Commission. He is a former national advisor and national vice-
president of the Ukrainian National Association. Kuropas is a frequent
contributor of OP-ED analytical articles to The Ukrainian Weekly
He and his wife Elsie of 39 years  have two sons and five
grandchildren. Elsie and Myron live in DeKalb, Illinois.
The Ukrainian Weekly, Roma Hadzewycz, Editor-in-chief, Ukrainian
National Association, Parsippany, New Jersey, May 4, 2003.
The Ukrainian Weekly Archive: www.ukrweekly.com includes
considerable material about the Soviet repressions in Ukraine in the
1930's including the famine in 1932-1933.
For personal and academic use only.