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Final Script, September 6, 1984, Ukrainian Famine Research Committee

St. Vladimir Institute, 620 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2H4

(16 mm, 55 mins, color)



NARRATOR:


The year: 1933. The place: The Soviet Union. Behind the façade food is being used as a weapon against people who have proven troublesome to Moscow.


Famine is engineered – deliberately – in the North Caucuses, the Volga Basin and Ukraine.


The Soviet secret police seal off Ukraine’s borders. No one can get out or bring food in. A nation the size of France is strangled by hunger.


In less than two years ten million people die; seven million of them in Ukraine; three million of them children.


Malcolm Muggeridge:


This is the most terrible thing I have seen, precisely because of the deliberation with which it was done and the total absence of even any kind of sympathy.


Johann von Herwarth:


You revive this terrible past, and you are always shaken again, and it moves you again, and you…you can’t get rid of these terrible pictures you have seen or these terrible reports you have gotten in this period.


Motria Dutka:


Nearest city was 40 miles, so I walked about once a week or to that city. I could buy for my salary two loaves of bread a month. So that’s only how we could survive. But the peasants were dying.


Lubov Drashevska:


This was the first time in life that I saw people dying, and…of course, it was very hard.


TITLE: HARVEST OF DESPAIR

  The Man-made Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine


NARRATOR:


The untold story of Ukraine’s darkest tragedy begins at a time of great optimism and joy in March 1917. A tidal wave of revolution sweeps aside the mighty Czarist Empire.


National boundaries change rapidly with the dramatic shifting of power. Ukrainians grasp the chance to reclaim their independence after two hundred years of Russian domination.


Kiev, Ukraine’s ancient capital is once again the seat of government.


Ukraine’s rich and fertile land has supplied Europe with grain for countless generations. Even the ancient Greeks depended on her abundant stores of wheat.


History has taught Ukraine that freedom had a price. The people prepare to defend their republic against all invaders.


December 1917. Having consolidated Bolshevik control in Russia, Lenin prepares to reclaim the former czarist territories.


In four ensuing years of chaos, Ukrainians fight Lenin’s Red Army, Denikin’s White Army, Germans, Poles.


Whether the armies march in as enemies or allies, the price is always measured in tons of food.


This bountiful country is slowly bled dry.


1921. The dust of battle finally settles: Russia has retaken the major part of the country. Western Ukraine is carved up between Poland, Rumania and Czechoslovakia.


The Russian conquerors ship out more and more grain to feed Moscow.


A drought adds to Ukraine’s misery: millions die as the “Breadbasket of Europe” experiences its first famine. Yet this is but a preview of the tragedy to follow.


To end continued resistance to Bolshevik rule, Lenin adopts a new economic policy. Grain requisitions are cancelled: the peasant farmer is allowed to trade freely on the open market. The impact on Ukraine is dynamic: 80% of her population are farmers.


Hoping to win further support, Lenin tolerates the national revival, which has been gathering momentum since the 1917 Revolution in Kiev.


Ukraine’s blossoming renaissance is so powerful, Lenin’s successor – Stalin- views the loss of Russian influence with increasing alarm.


Ivan Majstrenko was a Marxist instructor of journalism in Soviet Ukraine.


Ivan Majstrenko:


(Speaking in Ukrainian, English dub.) A meeting of the Politburo heard a report that students in Kiev no longer know how to speak Russian. Everyone was shocked: “How can that be?!” they asked. Well, in Ukrainian schools during the 20s the Russian language was treated like French, German, etc. …as a foreign language. And that’s why student who came from Ukrainian schools didn’t know Russian. And not knowing Russian constituted a clear threat that Kiev would become the capital of an independent Ukraine!


NARRATOR:


Thousands of Ukrainian language parishes spring up across the country. For the first time since the seventeenth century, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reestablishes its independence from the Moscow patriarchate.


In the arts, the flourishing avant-garde models itself on Western – not Russian – culture.


Literary circles abound: Writers and poets develop a uniquely Ukrainian literature.


Ukraine’s leading Communist writer, Mykola Khvylovyj elaborates on the dangerous slogan, “Away from Moscow.” Even the leader of the Ukrainian Communist Party, Mykola Skrypnyk, sees the USSR as a kind of League of Nations, and argues for greater cultural and political autonomy to win Ukrainians over to Communism.


James E. Mace:


Mykola Skrypnyk really saw himself as an equal to Stalin, as an independent national rule. I mean, when he went to Moscow he’d take a translator even though he spoke perfect Russian. He tried with some success to establish a cultural protectorate over Ukrainian communities in Russia. He even called for the direct annexation of borders areas with a majority of Ukrainians to Soviet Ukraine. So he was actually making territorial demands against Stalin.


NARRATOR:


By 1928 Stalin was a law unto himself. This efficient, ruthless administrator has eliminated all effective opposition within the Politburo. The dream of a worldwide Communist Revolution has not materialized. As Stalin strengthens Communism within the borders of the USSR, Russian nationalism increasingly is injected into his policies.


The strong cultural individuality of Ukraine is no longer tolerated.


1929. Stalin strikes at the nation’s heart and mind: its Church and its intelligentsia. Over the next few years the systematic liquidation of intellectual is carried out by the Communist regime in Ukraine. 5,000 scholars, scientists, poets and artist, prominent during Ukraine’s independence, are arrested for allegedly belonging to the SVU – a secret organization the Soviets claim is planning an armed insurrection. Only 45 get a public trial. No evidence is considered necessary. Thousands upon thousand are imprisoned, deported and executed later, as mass arrests continue throughout the thirties. Even the Church is accused of involvement in this alleged plot.


Alexander Bykovetz:


Many priests were arrested. Many were sent to Siberian camps. Many shot. My father was one of them. He never came back. I know this from personal experience. Thirty bishops were murdered. Thousands of priests were perished. Hundreds of thousands of faithful were liquidated. Metropolitan Wasyl Lypkivkyj and his two successors were arrested, too. To this day we don’t know what happened to them.


Fedot Shpachenko:


(In Ukrainian, English dub)

The Church was full of people. Some communists rode inside on horseback and ordered me to undress. It was March. There was snow outside. The snow was melting, and I walked in water up to my knees while they rode on horseback.


They interrogated me, but I didn’t answer their questions, and for this I was rewarded with pistol blows across my back.


Alexandra Kowalska:


(In Ukrainian, English dub)

They began taking down the icons and smashing them on the ground. The people wanted to go inside the church but they didn’t let them. They ruined everything, smashed everything in the church, and the people stood outside crying because they couldn’t do anything. When a man went up to remove the bell and that bell fell to the ground and rang out, all the people burst into tears. Everyone was weeping and saying goodbye to the bell because that was the last time that bell rang.


NARRATOR:


By 1930 only the Russian Orthodox Church remains.


In October 1928 Stalin introduces a drastic Five-Year Plan to transform the Soviet Union from a backward, rural society into a modern, self-sufficient, industrial empire – virtually overnight.


Military defense takes priority; Socialism must be protected from all future enemies.


Western technology is urgently needed. To pay for it Stalin must seize the only exportable resource: grain. And so, he decrees the compulsory collectivization of agriculture. Henceforth, all private lands, livestock and farming implements will belong to the state. The farmer will work for pay – like a worker in a factory.


Robert S. Sullivant:


One of the intriguing elements in the Ukraine was that it brought together both the peasant question, and the nationality question in a way that was somewhat different than in other areas, because in the Ukraine Ukrainians tended to concentrate in rural areas; and, in the city areas, particularly in Eastern Ukraine, it was Russian and Jewish populations that dominated. So that any policies that the Bolsheviks adopted toward the peasants had an obvious impact on Ukrainians very directly.


NARRATOR:


With the destruction of the intellectuals and the Church well under way, collectivization allows Stalin to break the farmers, the backbone of the nation. Anticipating fierce resistance, he orders the liquidation of the kulaks as a class.


Kulak” is a Bolshevik label for the wealthier farmers who own 24 acres of land, or hire labor. They are considered potential leaders in any revolt.


The state confiscates not only the lands of the farmers classified as “kulaks,” but also all their possessions. It is forbidden by law to assist these “enemies of the people.” Myroslava Utka was seven when her parents were exiled. She never saw them again.


Myroslava Utka:


(In Ukrainian, English dub)


In the winter of 1931 they came to evict us from our house. Activists, a group of people, if they could be called people, came into the house and looked over everything and made us very frightened. Then they said, “Get out. This isn’t your house anymore.” But mother wouldn’t leave. “At least let us spend the rest of the winter here,” she begged, “where can I go with these children and old people?” A militiaman or activist stood in the doorway as a guard. Mother shouted to us, “Children, don’t leave the house!” There were tears and screams. It was frightening. We grabbed hold of the benches in the house, screaming and refusing to let go. Then the men began to take us out one by one. They would throw us outside and then another. Thus, they threw us out of the house one by one, all six of us.

NARRATOR:


A courageous neighbor risked deportation to give her family shelter.


Some farmers burn their crops, kill their livestock and flee to the cities. But over the next three years, one million men, women and children are rounded up, jammed into sealed boxcars, and shipped of to the remotest regions of the Soviet Union.


The survivors work as slave labor, producing raw materials for export to the West.


This is the end of the line for many of the best farmers and cultural and religious leaders of Ukraine. Young party activists are brought in from the cities to push through collectivization. Anyone who opposes the measures is denounced as a “kulak” and deported. Yet resistance comes from all quarters. Not so long ago, the Bolsheviks had given land to the poor: now they want to take it away.


Lev Kopelev


(In Ukrainian, English dub)


Thank God I didn’t kill anyone; I didn’t inform on anyone. But I wrote. I was an agitator. I attended meeting and also told the peasants: “Bring in the grain! Hand over the grain. The workers have nothing to eat! There’s a world crisis! Hitler has taken over in Germany! The Japanese are advancing into Manchuria! Our country is a fortress that’s surrounded by enemies on all sides!”


And I yelled, and begged, and swore…and threatened of course: “Anyone who doesn’t bring in grain had better watch out for the punishing sword of the proletarian dictatorship!” Well, I rattled won, as we all did, and believed that it was necessary. My father was very much against collectivization. He said they were ruining the village; that the Bolsheviks knew nothing about farm management; that even the old landlords were better managers than the Soviet district officials. But when you’re 18 or 20 years old, who believes his father?


NARRATOR:


In 1930 Petro Grigorenko was one of the many students brought in from the cities to harvest the grain.


Petro Grigorenko:


(In Ukrainian, English dub)

There was rebellion, then sabotage. People did not give up. Thy attacked the local authorities – usually, not killing anyone – thy only tied them up and threw them into a barn or simply drove them from the village. And they took back their property, took back their horses, cows and implements, which had just been taken by the collective. They would take all that back. To crush the rebellions, troops were sent in. They would shoot over the people’s heads, and they would also shoot at their heads and their hearts.


NARRATOR:


Vasyl Sokil witnessed a squad of GPU secret police attacking a lone, defiant farmer.


Vasyl Sokil:


(In Ukrainian, English dub)

They formed a wide circle around the house. When they realized that the farmer inside had no more bullets left, they threw a grenade into the attic. After that everything fell silent. The fact of that armed resistance burned itself into my memory. I saw that even under those terrible conditions, there were people who believed in fighting for the right to live as the Ukrainian farmer had always lived.


NARRATOR:


The wheat is left standing in the fields. The demoralized farmers respond to the ruinous taxes and the presence of troops by simply refusing to work.


The grain quotas or taxes are deliberately raised to exceed what the individual farmers can possibly produce. Either they join the collectives, where the taxes are three times lower, or face exiles as “kulaks.” By mid-1932 three-quarters of all Ukrainian farms are collectivized. Then, in August, crippling new quotas are levied against the collectives themselves. Another exorbitant quota is levied in October and yet another at the beginning of the new year. These levies are impossible to meet.


Motria Dutka:


The working people were getting ration cards and they could get food from the warehouse in the village, like one liter of milk and two pounds of bread for a week. But the farmers, the peasants, they could not get anything any place, and so they starved. They had nothing to eat right away the second day after those people from government took everything from them.


NARRATOR:


The regime blames the farmers for the stringent food rationing in the cities. In reality the Soviets are dumping tons of wheat on Western markets. The 1932 harvest yields enough grain to feed the entire population of Ukraine for two years; instead, famine ravishes the country.


Petro Grigorenko:


(In Ukrainian, English dub)

It was a spoken order. Stalin gave it. That there was a definite plan, I knew from the instructions given us by Stalinslav Kosior, the Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine. He said, “The ‘kulak’ wants to crush our Soviet government with the bony hand of famine. We will bend this bony hand back on the throat of the ‘kulak.’”


Motria Dutka:


Russians came from house to house and took all the food the people had in the house, starting with grain flour, wheat or barley, or whatever they had, up to the last drop of food. They took the beets, the beans, potatoes, whatever they had in cellars or in the house. And, besides that, they didn’t trust them: they started searching the houses looking all over, digging in the house, and holes in the floors, digging in the ovens, ruining their ovens and so they went from house to house and took everything from peasants.


NARRATOR:


1931. The farmers crowd into the cities, selling heirlooms. Anything in order to buy the bread they themselves have produced. An internal passport system is introduced to deliberately confine them to their villages.


1932. Stalin condemns the Ukrainian Party’s urgent appeals to reduce quotas and send aid. He accuses them of placing local interests above the success of the Five Year Plan. “The war for bread is the war for Socialism!” he says. Stalin’s trusted envoy Pavel Postyshev is given sweeping dictatorial powers, and sent into Ukraine with an army of secret police to purge the Ukrainian party ranks, and to squeeze out the last kernels of grain.


112, 000 trusted party members from Russia are now stationed in Ukraine. They guard the standing crops and livestock from the starving – brutally enforcing the Law to Protect State Property.


Vasyl Sokil:


(In Ukrainian, English dub)

This was a horrible law! If they saw a child picking a stalk of wheat, trying to eat those unripe grains, that was a very serious crime. This was a government order: to punish – anyone – even to death by execution.


NARRATOR:


Not only do all state quotas have to be met, but additional grain has to be set aside for seed and livestock before the collective farm workers get paid. 80% of the collectives fail to pay their workers anything at all. And a new draconian measure prevents the workers from searching for work elsewhere.


Petro Grigorenko:

(In Ukrainian, English dub)

The collective farm where my father worked had stood since 1928. It was a good strong farm. But, although this was the best farm around, it was suffering even more than the others, because they were disciplined and had everything organized on time. Well, government trucks would pull right up to the winnowing machines and take everything. They even took the chaff!


My father was already swollen. Not too much, but his feet were swollen, and his eyes – all in the typical look of starvation. And in the house…there was nothing left but half a pumpkin, and that’s all. I went to the collective farm to get horses. There a friend of mine from the Communist Youth League said weakly, “You came to take your father away? Well, take him. Maybe he’ll survive, but it’s too late for us.


NARRATOR:


Village mothers, dying of hunger, throw their children onto trains heading into the cities, in the desperate hope someone will take pity and feed them.


Lubov Drashevska:

I entered the car, the railroad car, and then I saw it full of children. Some of them were enormously thin, but others were thin at the top of the body, but their legs were…and stomachs were enormously swollen. Some of them had convulsions. In general, if a child was lying very quietly, we already knew this child will die soon.


Josyp Hirniak:

(In Ukrainian; English dub)

During the day people would hide. You couldn’t see them anywhere. But at night they would come out, like shadows, lining up in front of bread stores, hoping maybe to get some bread in the morning. Only homeless children could be seen walking in the streets – homeless children, and starving women in rags, and dead bodies, children stepping over them. That’s how the city of Kharkiv looked then.


Olha Mak:


(In Ukrainian, English dub)

It is hard to imagine how long those lines were for the so-called “commercial bread.” They lined up by the thousand, or two or three…and even as many as seven thousand.


NARRATOR:


Andor Hencke was the German Counsul stationed in Kiev. He and his family witnessed the horrors of the Famine first-hand.


Mrs. Andor Hencke:


(In German; English dub)

I ran out of the consulate, because the Russian newspapers were reporting that there was a famine in Germany, but that everything was wonderful in Russia. I became very angry, and took pictures of the corpses.


Ulrich Hencke:


(In German; English dub)

I still have a very vivid memory of that time in Kiev. We were children at the time. My sister was four years younger than I. We lived in the consulate like in a golden cage. We weren’t allowed to go out in the streets alone during this time. Nevertheless, I remember the misery and the famine very well. I remember seeing bodies everywhere: in doorways, on street corners…wagons would take them away. They were picked up, thrown in and driven away.


Alexandra Kowalska:


(In Ukrainian; English dub)

Some of them were still alive, but they were all thrown out on a pile and taken out of the city and thrown into a pit and covered with earth. The children…teenagers, girls, boys, went along stumbling and falling and begging for bread. I couldn’t take it. I went home and I screamed and cried hysterically.


Alexander Bykovetz:


We survived thanks to parishioners – the railroad employees, who had the chance to travel beyond the borders of Ukraine. Then we had neighbors – Soviet officials. They always had food. We went through their garbage cans. We eat rotten potatoes, rotten cabbage and beets, and the scraps of food, which they threw away. I am not ashamed to admit it because it was a matter of survival. I didn’t want to die!


Fedir Wereteno:


(In Ukrainian; English dub)

When we reached the state farm and met the manager, he hired us to work there. He told us we would work at night, feeding the horses linseed cakes mixed with chopped straw. He said we should do this when people are asleep, because if they were awake, they would eat the horses’ fodder. We said, “How can we do that? People are more important than horses!” But he said, “We need the horses to cart the corpses away.”


Lev Kopolev:


(In Ukrainian; English dub)

They collected the corpses from the houses. A deep sleigh would stop at every house, and the men would ask, “You have any?” “Thank God, we have none.” Then they’d stop at the next house. “Have you got any?” “Yes.” “Well, bring them out.” “But I don’t have the strength.” Then two or three young men, themselves, with swollen legs, would go into the house, bring out the corpse, and place it in the sleigh. They’d collect two, three, four a day.


Myroslava Utka:


(In Ukrainian; English dub)

In the spring when my little sister died, her body lay in the house a whole week. We kept it until mother came back from the state farm. People would come to our house and knock on the door every day, asking whether we had any corpses. We’d shout, “No, we don’t!” Then the wagon would continue down the street collecting corpses. When mother came home, we had to bury my sister. How could we bury her? There was nothing for a coffin. We wrapped her in a sheet, placed her on a sled and took her to the cemetery…We put her between two coffins in a big grave. Coffins were placed on top also. And that’s how we buried her.


NARRATOR:


Half a world away, kinsmen of the famine victims voice protests and form relief committees. Help is offered from Canada, the United States, Switzerland, France, Belgium. Cardinal Innitzer initiates relief in Austria. Metropolitan Sheptytskyj in Western Ukraine. But all shipments of food grind to a halt at the Soviet border. The Soviet Red Cross flatly denies the existence of famine; the hands of the international organization are tied.


Metropolitan Mstyslav was then a deputy in the Polish parliament. He helped to organize relief efforts by Ukrainians living under Polish rule.


Metropolitan Mstyslav:


(In Ukrainian; English dub)

Our attempts to ship the grain into Ukraine were coordinated through the Soviet Embassy in Warsaw. They told us this was no in their jurisdiction, and that they would relay the request to the central government in Moscow. But Moscow’s communications to us were: “What are you doing? Why would we need grain? We have had a wonderful harvest! There is no famine of any kind. This is nothing but anti-Soviet propaganda, that’s all.” So they gave us no hope of any kind that the grain would ever get there.


NARRATOR:


Spring 1933. The man-made Famine reaches its height. 25,000 are dying every day, 1,000 an hour. 17 human beings every minute.


Fedir Weretenko:


(In Ukrainian; English dub)

They tried to fool the people, telling them the famine was from natural causes. But the people saw that the famine was not from natural causes. No matter how hard they tried to hide the grain sealed inside mills and silos, people somehow found out that there was plenty of grain, but they wouldn’t give out any. Most of the grain was inside state mills. They were filled, and nobody was allowed near them. Some of it was piled high in the yard in sacks covered with canvas and it just rotted away. When I came to Mekirdivka the first time, all the bushes were still green. But, when I came back, there was not a single leaf left. They ate it all. You could not hear a dog bark in the village. Because they were eaten also.


Myroslava Utka:


(In Ukrainian; English dub)

We were told, “Children, it’s very dangerous to go begging for food from house to house now. Terrible crimes are happening. You may not have heard, but a man who was going to the well for water, or was coming back from the well, fell and froze to death. His wife cut off pieces of his flesh and ate him.”


Ivan Majstrenko:


My cousin, who was much younger than I, had three children, and those three children were eaten by neighbors.


NARRATOR:


A Directive issued by the Justice Department ensures that no official records of cannibalism are kept. All such cases are withdrawn from courts, and dealt with behind the closed doors of the OGPU secret police.


Having killed a quarter of the nation’s population the Soviets staged one of the greatest cover-ups in history.


At a Grain Conference in London, the Soviets campaign vigorously to raise their grain export quotas from 25 million to 85 million bushels of wheat. The scheme is effective. Few can imagine a state exporting grain at the cost of its own people’s lives. Indignant over the mass unemployment and hardships in their own countries many influential Socialist sympathizers unwittingly rally to Moscow’s defense. George Bernard Shaw and a party of leading British Socialist visit the USSR and report, quite truthfully, that the restaurants where they eat are full of food.


Another important foreign guest to receive the red-carpet treatment is former French Prime Minister Edouard Herriot. He is actually given a five-day guided tour of Ukraine at the height of the Famine! His favorable impressions of the country receive widespread publicity.


Edouard Herriot:

(In French; English dub)

I would like to thank the government and the people of the Soviet Union for their warm reception.


NARRATOR:


Johann von Herwarth was a young attaché at the German Embassy in Moscow and after the Second World War, German Ambassador to Great Britain. He recalls how the Soviets stage-managed Herriot’s entire trip.


Johann von Herwarth:


The famous visit of the President of the French Cabinet Herriot, when he came to Kiev and he had the impression that everything was all right in Kiev; the streets were well cleaned through which he drove, he got a wonderful breakfast in his hotel and then in the streets there were trucks delivering the bread and that was unloaded and everything seemed to be fine. And then he went to see a collective farm and when he spoke to the farmers – nobody knows if they were really farmers or put there just for the inspection of Herriot, because everything was fine, much better than under the Czars, and he cam home and said, “There’s no famine in the Ukraine. The peasants are very happy.”


NARRATOR:


Idealized scenes of work and happy peasant life are the staple diet in Soviet movie theatres, as the Famine rages on


A sensational show-trial is staged in Moscow to further help distract the Soviet people from the failures of the Five Year Plan. Six British engineers working in the USSR face the death sentence on trumped-up charges of sabotage, espionage and bribery.


The interest the trial arouses in the West gives the Soviets extra leverage to muzzle the foreign press corps. Correspondents are bluntly told that if they want access to the trial, they are not to mention the Famine in their dispatches. Having served their purpose, the British “saboteurs” are eventually released.


Malcolm Muggeridge arrived in the USSR in 1932. He was one of the very few journalists to defy the Soviet travel an, and report on the real conditions in the countryside.


Malcolm Muggeridge:


I don’t think that foreigners realize sufficiently how completely the Soviet authorities can control the foreign press. The censorship worked simply that if you wrote a message, you had to take it along to the press department, I mean, the telegraph company wouldn’t accept it unless it was stamped by them. You had submit it to them and they would read through and they would say, “You can’t say that.”

As I began to be very critical of the whole setup, to criticize the use of terrorism by the government the articles I wrote on the famine would, undoubtedly, be censored. I would have had to leave but I sent those over in the diplomatic bag. They would never have got out of the country otherwise, and I left before they had appeared.


NARRATOR:


For every article on the Famine that appeared, two were published denying its existence. Muggeridge recalls the most influential correspondent in Moscow was Walter Duranty, the Pulitzer Prize-wining journalist for the New York Times.


Malcolm Muggeridge:


He was not only the greatest liar among the journalists in Moscow, but he was the greatest liar of any journalist that I’ve ever met in 50 years of journalism. And we used to wonder whether in fact the authorities hadn’t got some kind of hold over him, because he so utterly played their game. But it didn’t worry the New York Times who featured his reports.


When it came to the famine, the Great Famine in the Ukraine, brought about by collectivization, that was when his reporting was particularly disgraceful, because he denied that there was any famine.


NARRATOR:


The Soviets actually grant Duranty permission to tour Ukraine unchaperoned. He reports in the Times that all talk of famine now is ridiculous.


Yet documents from the British Foreign Office reveal that in private conversations at the British Embassy Duranty said that as many as 10 million people had died.


Malcolm Muggeridge:


When they were discussing the question of recognizing the Soviet Union, the United States government recognizing the Soviet Union, the articles by Duranty were considered as very valuable evidence on the side of recognition.


NARRATOR:


Shortly after the Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov visits Washington in November 1933, the US recognizes the Soviet government and enters agreement in securing a balance of trade in favor of the United States. The following year, the Soviet cover-up achieves its ultimate success: a seat in the League of Nations and this, in spite of the fact Western governments knew all about the Famine.


Johann von Herwarth:


The government of Weimar, the democratic government, was well aware of what was going on in the Soviet Union. But the attitude of the government was, I would say, you could call it passive, and with the younger one of the Embassy we always were of the opinion then at that period that we ought not to have any commercial relations with the criminal government which allowed hundreds of thousands and even millions of people to starve. The government said we had already great unemployment in Germany, and if we stopped delivering manufactured goods to the Soviet Union, you would increase unemployment in Germany. That was the situation.


NARRATOR:


Trade relations take precedence. The Famine is regarded as a strictly internal Soviet affair. The Western governments make their peace with Genocide.


The Communist writer, Mykola Khvylovyj reacts to the destruction of his people by starvation, the mass arrests of his friends and Party members, by taking his life. The Party strongman, Mykola Skrypnyk, is denounced as an “enemy of the people.” He, too, commits suicide.


Lev Kopelev:


(In Ukrainian; English dub)

These suicides came to symbolically represent the end of an epoch in the history of Ukraine. Up to that time we believed that a normal national development was possible, as they taught us: a culture socialist in content and national in form.


NARRATOR:


Stalin ends the Famine with a single decree. Having broken the Ukrainian farmers, he can afford to give out grain on the collectives during the harvest in 1933.


1934. Purges take place in the cities and mark the end of Ukrainian participation in the running of their country. 27,000 Ukrainian Communists are arrested and replaced by Russians.


Only 36 out of 259 Ukrainian writers survive as the Terror intensifies; the jail cells are rapidly emptied, as “Ukrainian nationalism” becomes an offence punishable by death.


The Purges stop when the Nazis invade Ukraine in June 1941. Millions perish as Hitler attempts to replace Stalin’s shackles with his own.


To divert attention from their own brutalities the Nazis invite an International Commission to inspect the mass graves left from Soviet rule.


In the town of Vynnytsia alone, the Commission uncovers the bodies of over 9000 brutally murdered farmers, workers, poets, priests….


No one can estimate the full total of those who disappeared in Stalin’s reign of terror.


Ukraine’s only crime was that she never adapted to wearing chains.


The Soviet Union denies to this day the famine ever took place. But the Harvest of Despair cannot be forgotten.