The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

Anna Wlasenko, a 12 year old girl in Ukraine in 1933 and Walter Duranty, journalist for the New York Times in Moscow in 1933

Date: Monday, 12 May 2003
From: Natalia Pylypiuk,
Subject: Walter Duranty

Committee on Pulitzer Prizes
Columbia University, 709 Journalism Building
2950 Broadway, New York NY, USA 10027


Ladies and Gentlemen:

Seventy years ago, Anna Wlasenko, a twelve year old girl from Kaharlyk (Kyiv oblast, Ukraine) was thrown into a mass grave designated for those of her townsmen who had died of famine. The Soviet officials in charge of collecting and burying bodies did not think that the child would make it, and thus were ready to bury her alive. Thanks to the kindness of a relative who gave up her meagre savings to bribe the official in charge, Anna was retrieved from the pit.


Unlike most of her relatives (and millions of her countrymen), Anna survived the man-made famine of 1933. She subsequently lived through Stalin's terror, served as a nurse in the Soviet army, became a prisoner of war in Stalag No. 13, was liberated, and then taken as a slave laborer to Berlin In short, history was extremely brutal to her and her entire generation.


One of the many unkind acts heaped upon Anna and her coevals was the mendacity of Walter Duranty, a reporter for The New York Times, who perpetrated lies about the situation in the then USSR and actively covered up the famine. Duranty was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1932, at a time when the forced collectivization that had begun in 1929 was already beginning to show its tragic results.


The Committee on Pulitzer Prizes has it in its power to revoke the prize that should have never been awarded to Mr. Duranty. I beseech the Committee to do so. Anna Wlasenko is my mother. As my family sits down in October to celebrate her 82-nd birthday and to commemorate all those grandparents, uncles, and aunts who did not survive 1933, there could be no greater gift than being able to announce that, finally, Mr. Duranty's unworthiness has been acknowledged by the Pulitzer Committee.


Sincerely yours,

Natalia Pylypiuk


Dr. Natalia Pylypiuk, Associate Professor and
Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies
Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies
200 Arts, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E6
Voice mail: (780) 492-3498,
President of the Canadian Association of Slavists

EDITOR: We strongly encourage you to write you own letter to the Committee on Pulitzer Prizes and ask them to revoke the Pulitzer Prize they gave unfortunately to Walter Duranty. Send your letter by e-mail to:  or by postal to: Committee on Pulitzer Prizes, Columbia University, 709 Journalism Building, 2950 Broadway, New York NY, USA 10027