The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)


By Dan Campana, Staff Writer, Daily Chronicle Online Newspaper
DeKalb County, Illinois Tuesday, May 6, 2003

DeKALB, Illinois -- Walter Duranty's lies haven't been forgotten -- not 70 years later, not by Myron Kuropas.

A postcard campaign petitioning to have Duranty's 1932 Pulitzer Prize revoked may prove that thousands of others have not forgotten, either.

Kuropas, a Northern Illinois University professor and former special assistant to President Gerald Ford, is part of an international movement to posthumously rescind Duranty's award because he distorted the truth and covered up information about the Joseph Stalin-created famine that killed millions in the Soviet Ukraine from 1932-1933.

Myron Kuropas and his wife Lesia are involved with a postcard campaign pushing to have Walter Duranty's 1932 Pulitzer Prize revoked
Chronicle photo DON VAUGHAN

Pulitzer Prizes are awarded for work done during the previous calendar year. The Pulitzer board has never revoked an award, but often receives complaints about awards, Sig Gissler, Pulitzer Prize administrator, said.

Organizers of the campaign said that last Thursday, as many as 20,000 postcards addressed to the Pulitzer Prize committee at Columbia Univer-sity in New York were expected to be mailed from, among other locations, the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe and Ukraine.

Nearly 30,000 cards had been printed and distributed leading up to May 1.

The postcard campaign idea came from Lubomyr Luciuk, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and director of research for the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, when he was trying to come up with a way to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the famine.

Luciuk, born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, thought a good way to "draw attention to the famine was to draw attention to (Duranty)."

Duranty, a correspondent for the New York Times in Moscow, won his award for "impartiality and sound judgment" in his reporting during 1931 on Stalin's economic reform plan. He died in 1957.

In stories that appeared in the Times during 1933, Duranty, a correspondent from 1921 to 1934, wrote that no famine existed and "any report of a famine is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda."

"They (the Soviets) left Duranty alone ... because he wrote what they wanted," Kuropas said. "He's not alone, but he's the worst of the lot."

Later in 1933, Duranty confided to a member of the British Embassy about millions of Ukrainian people dying due to a lack of food, according to Kuropas and Luciuk.

"They took all of the food away from the people. It was denied by the Soviet Union for years and years," Kuropas, 70, explained.

In 1988, a U.S. congressional commission, which included Kuropas, acknowledged that "Stalin and those around him committed genocide against Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933," according to its published findings.

In 1990, the Soviet Union recognized for the first time that the famine occurred.

Several Ukrainian organizations have worked on getting Duranty's prize revoked for years, but efforts intensified in the last decade after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Soviets denied the famine for years, and those affiliated with the Pulitzer Prize said there was little that could be done about Duranty's situation because of that ongoing denial, explained Kuropas, who has been in DeKalb since 1977.

Now, Luciuk says, the Pulitzer committee is "fully aware of the facts."

"Why wouldn't they revoke his Pulitzer Prize? What harm does it do?" Luciuk asked rhetorically.

The same day Luciuk spoke with the Chronicle last week, he received an e-mail from Gissler stating the Pulitzer Board decided to take no action on Duranty's award in 1990 after "substantial consideration."

Gissler wrote, "(T)o date, the board has not seen fit to reverse a previous board's decision, made 70 years ago in a different era and under different circumstances."

In addition, Gissler noted in a recent interview a need to recognize the distinction between Duranty's award-winning work of 1931 and his reporting in subsequent years.

"If you get a Pulitzer Prize for honest reporting, one year later (that reporting) shouldn't change," Kuropas said.

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 (UNA). 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.

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