The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

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FAMINE UKRAINE 1932-33--SEVENTY YEARS AGO NOW
  

Read Original 1932-33 Letters From Ukraine to the USA
Read About What People Living In Southern Ukraine
Wrote to Their Relatives in the USA....South and North Dakota

 

Note to the Readers of ArtUkraine.com.....................................

You will find below one more strong piece of new evidence about the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine. This new book is totally based on original letters sent from Ukraine to the USA. This is important new documentaton especially because it does not come from the traditional Ukrainian community.

This new documentation adds on to all of the documenation there is already from the more traditional Ukrainian community. This new documenation totally substantiates the conclusions that have been drawn from previous research. These newly published letters, and hopefully many more that can be found and published, just strengthen the case.

The common theme that runs through the letters beginning in the late 1920's is:

1. They have taken what we had.
2. They take all we produce now.
3. They will take what we produce in the future.
4. We are dying and there is no hope.

Take a look and read through these letters. What is happening is very clear......THIS IS NOT MOTHER NATURE.

EDITOR....ArtUkraine

 

1932-1933 LETTERS FROM UKRAINE TO THE USA
German Ukrainians Living in Southern Ukraine

"We'll Meet Again In Heaven......
Germans in the Soviet Union Write
Their American Relatives 1925-1937"
by Ronald J. Vossler
North Dakota State University Libraries
Fargo, North Dakota, 2001

Here are some short excerpts taken from ORIGINAL letters sent by German Ukrainians who were living in southern Ukraine. Many of the families had been living there for 130 years. The original letters are found in an important new book that was just published in the fall of 2002.

You will find a link below to an excellent article written about the book by it's author Ronald Vossler. There is also a link below if you would like to order a copy of the book. The book is highly recommended. Do not miss this one.

The letters were sent by people living in southern Ukraine to their relatives and friends in the USA, mostly in North and South Dakota. The letters were then soon published in German language newspapers operating in that area in the early 1930's.

The people are describing the "real" conditions they face living with the Soviet authorities and through the great famine.

The people who wrote the letters were not from the traditional Ukrainian community, and cannot in any way be accused by "certain historians" of being biased in their views or in distorting history. These people were telling the truth, telling it exactly as it was for sure or at least part of the horror they saw and lived with, only what they could write about in a letter. Many people said they could not write about the total horror they were experiencing.

COMMON THEME------------

The common theme throughout the letters starting in the mid 1920's is: (1) They have taken what we had, (2) they take all we produce now and (3) they will take what we produce in the future. (4) We are dying....there is little hope. They were not talking about Mother Nature.

 

THE LETTERS FROM UKRAINE 1932-1933 Seventy Years Ago Now

A FEW LETTERS FROM 1931--------For Background

December 30, 1930 Letter Published February 27, 1931

........."Last year they were chased from their homes, and everything was taken away from them. They were taken into custody and beat up. Naked, they were taken to the cemetery, and from there, on their hands and feet, and with two people sitting on them, made to crawl to the church steps, where they were made to kneel and pray. Thus are human beings mocked. It is believed that after Eisenbeis was killed, his body was hung on a tree. That is the way that he has to leave this life............

".........We are happy if we have something to eat. For two years we haven't butchered. There is no wheat, no sunflower seeds, no corn, nothing----we have to give it all up, and yet we still owe taxes that total one hundred and twenty pud of grain. I am not alone in my troubles.......Page 119

Late January 1931 Letter Published February 27, 1931

..........."Our daily question is if we'll have enough to eat, for we have no bread and no potatoes, and to even think of anything else is hard. It is just so hard to live that I don't know if it can get any more difficult. We hardly live, only die, bit by bit, because from September on they've begun systematically to stop our wages, with only a weak basis for that action.....They tell us, "Hold your tongues and behave like obedient animals." Page 120

April, 1931 Letter Published April 24, 1931

"In 1931 the farmers had to contract all of their land, giving up the entire harvest, that is, not only what grows, but whatever the communists have demanded.....Also, horses and cows are contracted to the regime, with the milk given to them also. A person does not even have the right to slaughter his own pig, for all pigs are property of the state........Page 129

September 1931 Letter Published September 25, 1931

...."Then they took everything away from us and chased us from our house. Our belongings and also our sister's were sold at auction. We have nothing but what we carry on our bodies, two strawpallets and also two blankets that we stole because every- thing was taken. Otherwise we have nothing.

"It is so sad to have nothing, not even a handful of flour, or a spoonful of oil. It was at the end of May that they completely cleaned us out. Six weeks we lived in anxiety and sorrow, sleeping on straw-piles in a place fit for pigs............

"People walk around here like they are dead, sorrowful from the lack of nourishment, for we have had a weak harvest again this year. It was a terrible time, when we were forced from our home. Page 137

August 24, 1931 Letter Published October 9, 1931

"We have come to a time when people are glad there is not a harvest. If much grows, the produce must be given up; if little grows, a person has to give that up to. With a good harvest there is no bread, and with a poor harvest there is no bread either. People here prefer a weak harvest over a good harvest, for with a weak harvest there is not as much work, not as much torn clothing, for they have need of clothing, but no need for a harvest that does not belong to them anyway............

"The following people have recently been named as "kulaks", and so have lost their rights............All of their belongings were taken away, bread, clothes, everything, and all they have left is whatever they have as they stand and go. Pages 138-139.

October, 1931 Letter Published November 13, 1931

"They've taken away our cow and our wine and also our bread. We still remain in our house. We have been working for a year in the collective, and have had to give to them all of our estate. .....Last year we had a good harvest......All of the grain has to be given up. This year the harvest was poor, and the little bit of wheat that we did harvest was taken from us, and we will get barley meal only until the corn is ripe. Other than that we get nothing, no oil, no milk, no fat, etc. Our livestock has all been taken from us. If someone had a pig or a sheep, those were taken away, and so were all of the chickens. We still have our vineyard and some potatoes, which we also must give up........Thousands have been jailed......................Our horses died wholesale, from too much work and too little fodder, for they took all of the fodder away. I think that is what will also happen to us. Page 141-142

November 1, 1931 Letter Published January 29, 1932

"Oh, how lucky you are, there in America! What do we have?.. .....We have been thrown out of the collective, and so have many others, after which all of us have been made into "kulaks." You no doubt know what a "kulak" is, for it is not so unfamiliar to you.

"About our harvest we can't write you anything. We didn't even once receive a pound of corn, not any wheat to speak of either. The taking never ceases, and each day we are commanded to work.........We don't have anything, no vineyard, and once we had a pig but they took that away also, along with our flour, and we have had to leave our house.........

"......many people have nothing that can be eaten......if it was learned that we had seeds, they'd take them away. Page 148

December 6, 1931 Letter Published February 5, 1932

"I must write you about our sad life.........On 30 January, 1931 at 9 a.m. they chased us out of our house, and everything in the house and yard was lost. With screaming and crying we left the yard, with only what we could carry in our hands. Many people accompanied us as we left the village, and wept along with us. In the great cold, four families journeyed on foot to people who would take us in. We were regular beggars. In the night 15 families were simply loaded onto wagons, then driven over the fields. The children, everyone, screamed out from the cold, for the earth was covered with snow and ice............

......I am already 62 years old, with pains that press in the bottom of my being, for I know my husband and child are near starvation, and how can we help them if things are going so bad for us?

Page 150

LETTERS FROM UKRAINE 1932---------------------------

February 14, 1932 Letter Published March 18, 1932

......."We have nothing else than potatoes to eat, once cooked, and then fried if we have oil............the future looks so dim........ For three months already we haven't seen any meat, and the future is more and more looking grim. Most of the time a person is hungry. How terrible it is when a person can't nourish the children, and when there is no clothing for them either. And so we work, man as well as woman, the whole day, from month to month, for nothing..........Many people sit in prison, mostly doctors, the intelligentsia, and also people who once were somebody.

We would gladly like to come to you in America, even if there are 5-6 millions of people without jobs...........Page 152

February 12, 1932..........Ukraine

"We have grown so poor that you wouldn't even be able to imagine it. I am ashamed to be writing to you this way......

"We eat once each day. That is when the children say to us, Papa, Mama, we are very hungry." And that really hurts." Page 156

March 6,1932 Letter Published April 8, 1932

............Because of the hunger we departed for Cherson, leaving everything standing there, house, wagon, plow and all. The past year we could still buy bread, but it has gone so far that in the end we now must starve because Russia has declared that the Five Year Plan must be fulfilled.......

..........perhaps you can save us from the hunger-death......We haven't seen any bread since last fall, only cornmeal, and that is all soon gone............

..........In our region dog-meat is now eaten, and it is something people haven't heard about in their entire lives. It is now March 6, and still so very cold. Page 153

Late March 1932 Letter Published April 22, 1932

"I haven't written to you for a long time, because we've been forced from our home, even with a seven week old child. They figured that we were rich.......This year we've lived in ten different places....... They chased me and my seven children out of our house...live however you can................

"We suffer so much, dear sister, that it can't be described. We eat potato peelings and beets, and they are now gone.......We eat sausage made of dead horse.......I don't believe that we will be able to hold out much longer, so that we too will have to starve. Many have already starved. It would be best not to survive any longer, for all that we have already endured.

"If we could come to America, I would be at peace, like an ox, to work only for my food. Write and don't forget the hungry. Page 157

April 1932..........Ukraine Letter Published May 20, 1932

............Up to now I had a cow, and could earn a little by selling the milk. This year I had to give up the cow, and now we will go to the ground and perish. Life is so very hard. May God protect us from such a life.......Soon we will be naked, and go around like Adam and Eve in Paradise, covering our naked- ness with leaves. From the village council I have received a regulation, according to which I must deliver to the regime 600 liters of milk, thought I have no fodder, and they haven't given me any either. Write, please, and don't forget me. Page 159

April 1932..........Ukraine

"If a person still has something, then that will without ceremony be taken away...When a person reads in your newspaper that in Ukraine people are starving to death, that is the complete and full truth. Almost the entire Ukraine flees to wherever they can. In Ukraine everyone is walking all over everyone else. I know. I live here.

"....I advise you, don't listen to the communists. Better to spit them in the eye, and tell them that they lie, when they want to portray to you our Paradise life. The people here are naked and die naked from hunger. From Poltava come families with children, all of whom speak about living for two months on beets and potato peelings that they find by digging through garbage bins, and that for a long time they haven't even seen a piece of bread.

In a word, nobody is concerned about anyone else, and only the communists have a life, or those who have a revolver. Each communist has the laws in his pocket. In the collective things are done this way; the farmer works the whole summer, but at the end of all of his work, he is thrown out, and not given a kopeck. Also, he is thrown out of his house...........the farmers have every- thing taken away from them, and must remain silent. Page 160

March 27, 1932.........Ukraine Letter published June 10, 1932

Eight days ago they came again and took away our clothing. That is now the third time. They always came in the night, and if they find a handful of flour, or anything else, they take that along with them. That is our fate to be involved with such people, and our nourishment is only what by day we can gather by begging. It cannot be described what is happening here, for only if you saw it yourself would you be able to comprehend.................

Everything is wasted and empty here with us, so that there isn't even a handful of straw that can be found in the threshing area. Dozens of horses are so malnourished that they can't pull anything anymore, and the same cows, which must be lifted up so they can stand.

People do not know anything about milk anymore, and have forgotten that they once drank it, and we don't remember either how bread tastes. We don't see sugar, and are short of everything, so that we are poor, miserable, and naked in our distress. Pray to God that we may be redeemed, for we are too weary to pray for ourselves. Page 164

May 4,1932.........Southern Ukraine Letter published June 10, 1932

The farmers here are always busy with sowing, which goes slowly. In the first place the horses are so weak from lack of fodder, and in the second place, there is also no more seed on hand, for farmers must give up the seeds, but don't even have grain to make bread ....................

Hunger grows from day to day, and if we reach this year's harvest we will live a bit longer............Up until now there has never been such a time of great trouble. In spite of a good harvest, and then to have a famine..........Page 165-166.

September 1, 1932.........Ukraine Letter Published, October 7, 1932

On the market there are just no more products that can be bought... Too many people die...........Page 172

LETTERS FROM UKRAINE 1933---------------------

January 1, 1933..........Ukraine Letter Published March 17, 1933

........all will have their houses sold at auction, as well as losing all their belongings, down to the last potato, the last corncob, all clothing that they are not wearing. In a word, naked and bare people are chased from their homes, just like a dog is chased, only with more evil intent........The harvest was full of straw and weeds, and the kernels of grain were weak...............

Many others are in prison, some because they allowed poultry into the fields, and others because they were said to have stolen poultry belonging to the collective......If only my mother would be saved, and my second wish is that if only we did not have children, then they would not suffer being chased from our house alone with the rest of the family. For as of now we have nothing more than potatoes to eat...and there is no bread to speak of either. So how we now remain alive, I just don't know. Page 177-178

February, 1933...........Ukraine Letter published March 21, 1933

You Americans are already in heaven. Many here are saying that they should have done more for the poor in the past, because we must week refuge with them, who now have mercy upon us. Also you in America, don't spit in strange wells, for the time will come that you may also have to draw water from them........Page 179

February, 1933............Ukraine Letter published March 23, 1933

Oh, it is so sad here, in all ways.....I am sick of it all, fed up. With us, the situation is so bad that I can't write everything. The squad of men who oversee us rule hard. They are the only law. So sad.

You've written in your letter that you've been told many people here have no bread in their houses. Oh yes, that is true. That you can believe. That is no lie. Here with us it is this way: Husband is taken from wife and children, then imprisoned. After that, bread is taken from us. When that is gone, all our belongings are taken from us. Then we are thrown out of our house, along with our children. That is all true. That is no lie.

So it is with many women, who must live on a couple of potatoes. But many don't even have that much. And how can a person live without a home or anything to eat? Oh George, it is so sad, so terrible. My heart bleeds. I see nothing but more grief and sorrow. (Page 181-182)

March, 1933..............Ukraine Letter published March 30, 1933

Bread we haven't had for two months, nothing but potatoes from morning to night, and they are no longer to be bought. Page 183

March, 1933..................Ukraine Letter published April 6, 1933

Yes, nobody speaks of planting anymore...By spring, people don't have enough strength to go out to the steppe to work. There's not a drop of cooking oil, no lard, no butter. We have nothing.........For our money here we can't get anything. And we don't even have a kopeck. We must pay and pay. It has no end.

March, 1933..................Ukraine Letter published April 13, 1933

We have three children and nothing to eat. The youngest child is five years old. That is the saddest, when daybreak comes, and the children weep and cry that they want some- thing to eat. May our loving God have pity on us, and help us endure their frightful moaning and this miserable time. The smallest of our children cries and says, "Oh dear Mom, go and look for something to eat because I have such awful hunger." But where should I go when no one has anything?

This is how we fill ourselves, with weeping. There is nothing else. You can imagine how it makes one's heart bleed, when your own children come to you and you can give them nothing to quiet their hunger. Page 185-186.

March 1933.............Ukraine Letter published April 13, 1933

There is no little food. Everything we owned has been auctioned and sold off, and we had to move out of our house ....yesterday the sister of your son-in-law was arrested and sentenced to twenty years. Page 187-188

March, 1933.........Ukraine Letter published April 13, 1933

I would like to ask you for help....I have four children, and for the past three month have not had any bread in our house. So I want to ask you, good friends, for a small favor. Could you please send me $5. Otherwise, I must starve to death.... We have nothing left except for several small potatoes. When they are eaten, I don't know what will be. If the loving God doesn't help, then we must starve. Page 188

March, 1933.........Ukraine Letter published April 14, 1933

My husband was deported for 18 years, for nothing, and again nothing, and treated just as if he had killed somebody, or committed another great crime. I would rather have buried him than to see this happen. Each day my children weep.

Now they want to force me from my home. Thousands have starved, and thousands more will starve. People walk around, searching for bread, but there is none. The robbers have taken the last of everything away from us.........Page 189

March 10, 1933.........Ukraine Letter published April 27, 1933

We are poor. They have taken everything from us, all but God, for He is still our trust. Three years ago they took our belongings.

Oh, it is so terrible here, so hard. There is no bread. We have only three of our boys left. Page 191

April, 1933........Ukraine Letter published May 4, 1933

Kassel's own harvest quota could not be fulfilled. So they decided to tax some of us, and I fell into category...On me they imposed a tax of 120 pud fruit, plus I had to pay a fine of 875 rubles..

I said to them: from where should I get that? They replied, that we don't trouble ourselves with. Get it where or if you can. If in three days you don't give us what we demand, then you will give us all that you have, and so it was. We lost everything, except the clothing on our limbs. Right now we have no shelter, no bread, no potatoes---absolutely and exactly nothing do we have...In the meantime we must beg. Page 193

April 23, 1933.........Ukraine Published May 18, 1933

I must let you know that our brother died on March 8. He had to leave his house and then he lived with his daughter and there was nothing to eat. It is awfully hard. He starved and then died. Jacob Hauck's son Jacob has also died on the 19th of the month, so you can tell his children, who live there in America.............

We eat anything we can. Potato peels, grape seeds, and roots. We put it all together and cook it in water, and that keeps us alive, if there is enough of it. It there is grass, we cook grass. ..........

By us there is nothing left, no horses, no cows, or anything else either.....This is the third letter I have written you, and also probably the last. It continues like it is now, then we will soon find our end........

I work in the vineyards by day cutting and pruning, and each night I must stand watch at a house in which is stored fruit, potatoes and corn..............Starvation is a terrible death. People swell up so much.

April, 1933........Ukraine Published June 8, 1933

The higher authorities have sent 150 people here to our village, whose job it is to plague us half to death.....the commandants, have told us.......hangings, shootings, starvation, and freezing.... all of those will be done to you if you don't work to exactly meet the requirements of the predetermined Plan........

..............So many of the people fall over dead, up to six people a day, with hardly anyone left to bury them in the snow. The husband lays in his final resting place, while the wife must still work. He falls dead on the way, but others must let him lay there and go on to their work. If someone lays dead at home, the others must still work. Still others, who try to get help and find food, fall along the way and just lay there........

Everyday I think: only god knows if my husband will come home alive. Almost everyone who has worked with him is already dead..................Page 196

April, 1933........Ukraine Letter published June 8, 1933

....and beg you, to have pity on us, so that we don't have to die of starvation. We are nine people, seven children, and Christian and I. Our only food has been potatoes with the peelings, morning and night. We have no bread. And now the potatoes are gone too.

....I sit at our table and write this letter, and my child of two years stands near me and whines. He wants bread and I can't give him any. That is hard. Page 197

April, 1933........Ukraine Letter published June 8, 1933

I am at home with five children and nothing to feed them or myself. Everything has been taken from us; and who knows what will happen next......Have pity on me and my children. I must try to help my husband somehow. We have no cows or chickens, and in the past one and one and a half months have not even seen a potato.

In January we ran out of bread.....and now we are all so terribly weak and two of my children are swelling from lack of food. It tears my heart apart that we must live this way...............

I should tell you why Christian is being held. On January 2 they got him and held him in custody, nobody knows why. At the same time they also arrested 60 other men from the village, for not filling out the correct bread forms, or so they said. ..........there were five tractors and 22 workers and almost all of the workers stole corn at night. And so Christian was charged with that......................Page 198-199.

May 7, 1933........Ukraine Letter published June 23, 1933

Here there reigns the terrible hunger, hunger, hunger and again hunger! People eat the flesh of dead horses. It is still meat, even if an animal died. You just can't imagine such a terrible famine. The people here are only skin and bones. Just the day before yesterday......there were thirty corpses, in just one day. Today, for us, there were two men who came to the end of their suffering........

The horses are also skin and bones, and many have died from lack of fodder.....page 200

May 2, 1933.........Ukraine Letter published June 23, 1933

We still live, but the hunger-death is near.......... Page 201.

June 11, 1933..........Ukraine

Up to now it has been cold, and now mostly rain, with a day or two of warm sun. But all of our people are thick, swollen from hunger so that they fall over dead. Many have eaten rotten horse flesh, stinging nettles, and green plants of all sorts. You can imagine what our life is like.

People's skin is black and yellow in color from hunger. The need is so great and I can hardly describe it......

Whoever hasn't starved can't understand how painful it is. It is harder than the most difficult sickness......... Page 202 and 202.

June, 1933..............Ukraine

We have to die from hunger. All we can scrape together for food are grape seeds and bit of grain soaked in cooking oil. But in two months even that will be eaten.

When a horse dies, then secretly we steal and cook the meat, otherwise we would already be long dead from hunger. We have nothing but a cat, and I will butcher that today. After the cat is eaten, we are finished.

WE ARE NOT TO BLAME FOR HOW THINGS ARE HERE. IF WE GREW A THOUSAND PUD ON A SINGLE ACRE OF LAND, EVEN THEN WE WOULD NOT HAVE ANY BREAD.

IF ONLY WE HAD A COW, THAT WOULD HELP US OUT OF OUR DEEP NEED. WE HAVE NOTHING BUT OURSELVES. EVERYTHING IS TAKEN AWAY.

EVEN GOD HAS NO PITY ON US. THAT CAN'T REMAIN TRUE FOREVER. OR SO I HOPE.

OUT ON THE STEEPE THERE IS A GROWING CROP. BUT WHO WILL HARVEST IT, ONLY GOD HIMSELF KNOWS. EACH DAY IN KASSEL SEVEN OR EIGHT PEOPLE DIE OF HUNGER. I HAVE NO MORE MONEY TO SEND ANOTHER LETTER AFTER THIS ONE, SO PLEASE GIVE IT TO ALL OF OUR RELATIVES THERE TO READ.

BROTHER AUGUST'S WIFE WILL PROBABLY DIE SOON. SHE IS VERY SICK. SHE HAD TWINS, BOTH BORN DEAD.

AND GREETINGS TO YOU FROM OUR MOTHER. SHE STILL CLINGS TO LIFE, THOUGH SHE HAD BEEN SICK FOR A LONG TIME ALSO. BUT NOW SHE MUST ALSO SUFFER FROM HUNGER.

FRIEDERICH IS AT HOME WITH HER. HE IS ALSO GETTING WEAK. IF SHE LOSES HIM, SHE WILL HAVE LOST ALL OF HER CHILDREN. Page 209

There are many more letters.....TO BE CONTINUED.......


FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY


http://www.nd-humanities.org/html/vossler.html
An extensive, very interesting article by Ron Vossler, author of the new book, about the original letters from Ukraine which are the basis for the book and also a good summary of the book.

http://www.lib.ndsu.nodak.edu/grhc/order/nd_sd/vossler2.html
How to order the new book by author Ronald Vossler. The book is strongly recommended by ArtUkraine as one we feel you will be glad you added it to your library.

http://www.lib.ndsu.nodak.edu/grhc/order/general/sinner.html
How to order the new book by author Samuel Sinner, "The Open Wound..the Genocide of German Ethnic Minorities In Russia and the Soviet Union, 1915-1949--And Beyond." This book includes material about the German villages in southern Ukraine.

http://www.lib.ndsu.nodak.edu/grhc
Germans From Russia (including Ukraine) Heritage Collection Website

Extensive gallery of information about the Ukraine Famine-Genocide found at ArtUkraine.com
 
 

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