A publication by Harvard University
PART 5: Scenes of the Ukrainian Famine 1932-1933
"Stalin's campaign against Ukrainian nationalism was carried out in tandem with the struggle to force the peasants into collective farms. It could hardly
have been otherwise, as the Ukrainians, then a nation of over thirty million, had always been a predominately agricultural people. Concessions to the
Ukrainian nation had come as a corollary to concessions made to the
peasanty. Hence, a war against the peasantry meant a war against the bulk of the
The Ukrainian peasants fought against the seizure of their farms, the destruction of their culture, and the desecration of their churches. This reaction was
branded as Ukrainian "kulak" nationalism, and collectivization was seen as a way to destroy its social foundation, a free peasantry. Urban outsiders were
sent into villages to force the peasants into collective farms and to seize grain for the state.
Impossible grain quotos were imposed on the Soviet Ukraine. While Soviet propaganda portrayed well-fed collective farmers with smiling faces, the last
grain was taken from the starving peasants, leaving the quotas still unmet. Ukrainian Communists officials, led by Mykola Skrypnyk, protested to Stalin
that the people were dying of hunger.
Stalin, seizing the opportunity to solve the problem of Ukrainian self-assertion once and for all, publicly blamed the Ukrainian Party for its
"criminal negligence: in failing to meet the grain quotas. He took direct control of the country by sending Pavel Postyshev to the Ukraine as virtual
dictator. Postyshev ordered that ever more grain be collected, but there was nothing left to take. Under his rule, beginning in January 1933, the
Ukrainian countryside became a vast death camp. At the same time, Postyshev carried out a wave of terror against the Ukrainian intelligentsia and
hounded Skrypnyk to suicide. Satisfied that the Ukrainians had at last been broken, he allowed the peasants to keep part of what they harvested in the fall
of 1933. The Famine gradually subsided, having claimed an estimated six to eight
million lives." (Page 31)
PART 6: The Famine In The Contemporary Western Press
News of the Famine reached the outside world slowly. Many of the Western journalists based in Moscow, far from the starving Ukraine, North Caucasus,
Lower Volga region or Kazakhstan, were favorable to Stalin or feared losing their journalistic privileges, were they to write unsympathetically about any
official Soviet policy. The New York Times and its star reporter Walter Duranty set the tone for most Western press coverage with authoritative denials of
starvation. George Bernard Shaw saw no famine in the restaurant of his Moscow hotel, and French Prime Minister Edouard Herriot saw none on his
guided tour of Ukraine. Overall, during the year that marked the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Soviet Union,
the Famine was an unpopular subject for the public comment.
Taras Shevchenko created by V. and A. Sukhors.
Only a few major newspapers, most notably the Christian Science Monitor and the
Manchester Guardian, carried stories on the Famine. The bulk of reporting on the subject was left
to Ukrainian and Russian emigres, the European rightist press and the Hearst newspapers in the United States. (Page 38)