The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine, 1932-1933 (Holodomor)
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Ukrainian National Council In Canada

  

 Ukrainian Famine Urgent Appeal Letter And Bulletin No. 1 To:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
President of the United States of America
October 2, 1933
AND Letter Back From The U.S. State Deparment,
November 20, 1933, Saying NO


 

The Ukrainian National Council In Canada
Cor. Flora Ave and McKenzie St.
Winnipeg, Man.

Winnipeg, October 2nd, 1933

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
President of the United States of America
Washington, D.C.

Mr. President:

                    We are taking the liberty of directing your atten-
tion to the deplorable fact that for a considerable time the popu-
lation of Eastern Ukraine (now under a military Bolshevik occupa-
tion) are being systematically starved the Moscow authorities.

 

                    The tragedy of the great famine of 1921-22, when
nearly ten million people died from hunger, is being repeated,
letters are being received in Canada continuously, containing
gruesome details of the vast number dying: there are settlements
in Ukraine where only one-third -- sometimes only one fourth --
of the original populationare are still alive.

 

                    Crop failure is not the reason for this famine,
but the brutal policy of the Moscow rulers, who needing grain
for export to balance their budget, pitilessly take everything for
the farmers, already proleterized. Especially in Ukraine, where
the peasants are opposed to the foreign Russian rule, are they be-
ing deprived of literally everything, being left without even the
smallest ration for daily meals, under the excuse that they are
hiding food. With such tactics, even a bumper crop, of huge
yield, could not save these people from starvation.

 

                    Having in mind the tragic plight of their compat-
riots, and realizing their moral duty in the matter, The Ukrainian
National Council in Canada turn to you, as to a leader of a great
civilized nation, with an urgent request to take the necessary
steps to arrange for an immediate neutral investigation of the
famine situation in Ukraine, with a view to organizing inter-
national relief actions for the stricken population. Any private
action, even on the largest scale, would prove inadequate owing
to the magnitude of the calamity. We are prepared to supply you,
if necessary, with the original documents and information giving
details of the famine conditions.

 

                   We trust that your Excellency will take this, our
appeal, under most serious consideration.

 

                   We remain,

                                 Yours faithfully,

 

                       UKRAINIAN NATIONAL COUNCIL IN CANADA

                      By:

 

(Signed by)
Chairman of Advisory Board, L. Biberovich
President, S. Skoblak
Secretary, J. M. Baydaek
(names are hard to read in document)

UKRAINIAN NATIONAL COUNCIL IN CANADA

BULLETIN No. 1, Winnipeg, Sept. 15, 1933

 

"There are several cases in our district where parents have eaten
their own children in a state of insanity caused by extended starva-
tion," said Mrs. Marie Zuk, of Kalmazovka, district Odessa, Soviet
Ukraine, in conversation with Mr. L. Biberovich, General Secretary
of the U.N.C. in C. She has arrived in Winnipeg early in Septem-
ber, with her two small children, on her way to Consort, Alta., where
her husband has been farming since his arrival in Canada in 1928, hav-
ing left her native village on August 7th, 1933.

 

"The most remarkable case of this kind happened this spring in the
village of Oleshki, where a young married couple, Ivan Chuhan and his
wife, killed and consumed their two small children. The gruesome
crime was accidentally discovered when a pig was stolen from the
Kolhosp (collective farm) and the members of the militia organized
a search of all of the houses in the vicinity in an endeavor to locate
the stolen 'treasure'. Finally they found some meat of a peculiar
appearance at Chuhan's home and, pressed to the wall, the mad admitt-
ed having murdered both of his children in order to still the unbear-
able hunger. The head of the second child was found in the oven,
where it was being prepared for consumption. The couple were
arrested.

"The conditions in Ukraine were bad enough in 1930, but in 1931 they
became really critical. The present situation is as follows. There
is literally no bread there; no potatoes (all the seed potatoes hav-
ing been eaten up); no meat, no sugar; in a word, nothing of the
basic necessities of life. Last year some food was obtainable oc
- casionally for money, but this year most of the bazaars (markets) are
closed and empty. All cats and dogs disappeared, having perished or
been eaten by hungry farmers. The same is the case with the
horses, so that cows are mostly used as draught-animals. People
also consumed all the field mice and frogs they could obtain. The
only food most of the people can afford is a simple soup prepared of
water, sale, and various weeds. If somebody manages to get a cup
of millet in some way, a tablespoon of it transforms the soup into
a rare delicacy. This soup, eaten two or three times a day, is also
the only food of the small children, as the cow or any other milk
has become a mere myth.

"This soup has no nutritive value whatever, and people remaining on
such a diet get first swollen limbs and faces, which makes them ap-
pear like some dreadful caricature of human beings, then gradually
turn into living skeletons, and finally drop dead wherever they stand
or go. The dead bodies are held at the morgue until they number
fifty or more, and then are buried in mass graves. In the summer
the burials take place more often in view of quick decomposition which
cannot be checked even by a liberal use of crooline. Especially
devastating is the mortality from hunger among children and elderly
people. Nobody ventures to dress the dead family members in any
clothes, as the next day they would be found at the morgue, naked,
stripped of everything by unknown criminals.

"There are many cases of suicide, mostly by hangings, among the
village population, and also many mental alienations.

"The famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1921 was undoubtedly a terrible one,
but it appears like child's play in comparison with the present sit-
uation.

"The village Kalmazowka was one of the more fortunate ones, but in
the adjoining village of Olshanka and Synukhin Brid the death toll
defied all description. Those who were not deported to the dreaded
Solevetsky Islands, or to the Ural Mountains, died from starvation,
and at present not more than one quarter of the original population
is living there -- and they are leading a life of misery. No word
of complaint or criticism, however, is tolerated by the authorities
and those guilty of the infraction of this enforced silence, disap-
pear quickly in a mysterious way.

"Worst of all, there is no escape from this hell on earth, as no one
can obtain permission to leave the boundaries of Ukraine, once the
granary of Europe, and now a valley of tears and hunger.

"In crass contrast to this terrible condition of mass death from
starvation is the real condition of crops. Last year the wheat crop
is our district was good, and this year it is even better still. Un-
fortunately the peasants derive no benefit from it, as the grain
fields are watched day and night by armed guards, to prevent theft
of grain ears, and after threshing the grain is immediately removed
to the government storehouses, or to the nearest port.

"There are two classes of farmers in Ukraine. Most of them are al-
ready 'collectivized' and are working on the state or collective
farms. A limited number still work on individual farms, but the
taxes in kind, imposed on them by the authorities, render their
existence a permanent privation. Cow milk -- and there are only
a few fortunate enough to possess a cow -- must also be delivered
to the government creameries at a nominal price. The only exception
in this general suffering are the members of the Communist Party,
and the various officials, mostly non-Ukrainians, as they receive
their 'paycks' or rations of food from the government depots.

"As mentioned above, some food could still be had last year at the
bazaars on certain occasions, but the prices were exorbitant. For
instance, a pound of bread (secretly sold) used to cost 6 rubles;
a pound of butter or sugar, 15 rubles; an apple, 2 rubles; a cup
of millet, 3 and one half rubles; 10 onion, 2 rubles; a cup of beans, 3
rubles,
etc. The prices of manufactured goods are likewise high. A pair
of ladies' very simple shoes cost a present 90 rubles, so that the
majority of people wear primitive home-made mocassins.

"What a different picture did I find in Moscow on my way to Canada:
The markets there were flooded with most delicious food-stuffs.
Only Ukraine seems to have been sentenced to death by starvation by
the central government in Russia.

"The religious life in Ukraine is at a total standstill, although
the people are perhaps more religious now than ever before. The
church communities are unable to maintain priests, who either moved
to other places or became homeless tramps. The church buildings
were turned into workmen's clubs. When, on the occasion of Christ-
mass or Easter, some travelling priest is invited to celebrate a Mass,
an once an anti-religious demonstration is staged by the local Young
Communist group, who, with an accompaniment of brass band and singing
and carry caricatures of ridiculing saints and religious rites, try
to disperse the flock of the faithful. Of course, no religious wed-
ding ceremonies, funerals, or christening of babies, are performed
nowadays. Young people wishing to become man and wife, simply move
in one place and live together.

"Most of the village schools are empty, as the children are too
hungry to attend to learning. The hospitals, although some of them
are directed by good old-time physicians, are bare of all medicines.
When a sick person comes to the hospital asking for a remedy, a uniform
liquid, held ready in bottles, is dispensed to all without any India-
ideal examination."

Mrs. Auk was expelled two years ago from her family home by the
chairman of the local collective farm who took the house for himself.
For a while she lived in a small abandoned shack on the border of the
village but being later expelled from there she moved around from
house to house, wherever she could find shelter. It was a great
hardship for her to leave her home village where her old mother and
a married daughter still reside, but there was no alternative in
view of threatening annihilation. It was only owing to the fact
that her husband sent her some money from time to time through the
"Trogon", which was paid to her in foodstuffs and other goods
that she was able to avoid the lot of her less fortunate compatriots.


 

November 2, 1933

To the American Consul General
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

 

 

       The Acting Secretary of State has received, by
reference from the White House, a letter of October 3,
1933, addressed to the President by Mr. S. Skoblak,
President of the Ukrainian National Council in Canada,
corner Florida Avenue and McKenzie Street, Winnipeg.
In his letter, Mr. Skoblak describes the sufferings
for lack of food of persons in the Ukraine, and, on
behalf of the Ukrainian National Council in Canada,
urges the President "to take the necessary steps to
arrange for an immediate neutral investigation of the
famine situation in Ukraine, with a view of organizing
international relief action for the stricken popula-
tion".

      The Consul General is requested, unless he per-
ceives objection to such action, to inform Mr. Skoblak
that, as the conditions to which he refers do not ap-
pear directly to affect American citizens or interests,
the Department is not in a position to take any action.

861.48 Ukrainian National Council In Canada
EE:WOF:KNU:MW:SS


Copies of the original documents above are printed in:
Stalin's Famine and Roosevelt's Recognition of Russia
M. Wayne Morris
University Press of America, Inc., 1994
4720 Boston Way
Lanham, Maryland 20706
3 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8LU England
Appendix D, Pages 193-107

(Documents are held in the Records of the Department of
State Relating to Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union, 1930-
1939. National Archives Microfilm Publications T1249,
Washington, D.C.)

(U.S. Department of State. Papers Relating to the Foreign
Relations of the United States. "The Soviet Union 1933-
1939. Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office, 1952)

 


 
 

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