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.
1932-1933 LETTERS FROM UKRAINE TO THE USA
"We'll Meet Again In Heaven......
German Ukrainians Living in Southern Ukraine
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.
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
THE LETTERS FROM UKRAINE
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
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
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.
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?
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."
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
..........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.
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
"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
"....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
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Oh, it is so terrible here, so hard. There is no bread. We have
only three of our boys left. Page 191
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
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.
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
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
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..........
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.
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
BROTHER AUGUST'S WIFE WILL PROBABLY DIE
SOON. SHE IS VERY SICK. SHE HAD TWINS, BOTH
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
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.
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.
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.
Germans From Russia (including Ukraine) Heritage Collection Website
Extensive gallery of information about the Ukraine Famine-Genocide found at ArtUkraine.com