The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)


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 Prize.

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 information.

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. Duranty's life.

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 newspaper.

He and his wife Elsie of 39 years [2003] 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.
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