NEW YORK TIMES
Date: May 13th , 1933.
Former Secretary of Lloyd George Tells of Observations in
To the Editor of The New York
On my return from Russia at the end of March, I
stated in an interview in Berlin that everywhere I went in the Russian
villages I heard the cry; “There Is no bread, we are dying,” and that there
was famine In the Soviet Union, menacing the lives of millions of people.
Walter Duranty, whom I must thank for his continued
kindness and helpfulness to hundreds of American and British visitors to
Moscow, immediately cabled a denial of the famine. He suggested that my
judgment was only based on a forty-mile tramp through villages. He stated
that he had inquired in Soviet commissariats and in the foreign embassies
and had come to the conclusion that there was no famine, but that there was
a “serious food shortage throughout the country. … No actual
starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from
diseases due to malnutrition.
Evidence From Several Sources.
While partially agreeing with my Statement, he implied
that my report was a “scare story” and compared it with certain fantastic
prophecies of Soviet downfall. He also made the strange suggestion that I
was forecasting the doom of the Soviet régime, a forecast I have never
I stand by my statement that Soviet Russia is suffering
from a severe famine. It would be foolish to draw this conclusion from my
tramp through a small part of vast Russia, although I must remind Mr.
Duranty that it was my third visit to Russia, that I devoted four years of
university life to the study of the Russian language and history and that on
this occasion alone I visited in all twenty villages, not only in the
Ukraine, but also in the black earth district, and in the Moscow region, and
that I slept in peasants’ cottages, and did not immediately leave for the
My first evidence was gathered from foreign observers.
Since Mr. Duranty introduces consuls into the discussion, a thing I am loath
to do, for they are official representatives of their countries and should
not be quoted, may I say that I discussed the Russian situation with between
twenty and thirty consuls and diplomatic representatives of various nations
and that their evidence supported my point of view. But they are not allowed
to express their views in the press, and therefore remain silent.
Journalists Are Handicapped.
Journalists, on the other hand, are allowed to write, but
the censorship has turned them into masters of euphemism and
understatement. Hence they give “famine” the polite name of “food shortage”
and “starving to death” is softened down to read as “widespread mortality
from diseases due to malnutrition.” Consuls are not so reticent in private
My second evidence was based on conversations with
peasants who had migrated into the towns from various parts of Russia.
Peasants from the richest parts of Russia coming into the towns for bread.
Their story of the deaths in their villages from starvation and of the death
of the greater part of their cattle and horses was tragic, and each
conversation corroborated the previous one.
Third, my evidence was based upon letters written by
German colonists in Russia, appealing for help to their compatriots in
Germany. “My brother’s four children have died of hunger.”
“We have had no bread for six months.” “If we do not get help from abroad,
there is nothing left but to die of hunger.” Those are typical passages
from these letters.
Statements by Peasants.
Fourth, I gathered evidence from journalists and
technical experts who had been in the countryside. In The Manchester
Guardian, which has been exceedingly sympathetic toward the Soviet
régime, there appeared on March 25, 27 and 28 an excellent series of
articles on “The Soviet and the Peasantry” (which had not been submitted to
the censor). The correspondent, who had visited North Caucasus and the
Ukraine, states: “To say that there is famine in some of the’ most fertile
parts of Russia is to say much less than the truth: there is not only
famine, but-in the case of the North Caucasus at least-a state of war, a
military occupation.” Of the Ukraine, he writes: “The population is
My final evidence is based on my talks with hundreds of
peasants. They were not the “kulaks”-those mythical scapegoats for the
hunger in Russia-but ordinary peasants. I talked with them alone in Russian
and jotted down their conversations, which are an unanswerable indictment of
Soviet agricultural policy. ‘The peasants said emphatically that the famine
was worse than in 1921 and that fellow-villagers had died or were dying.
Mr. Duranty says that I saw in the villages no dead human
beings nor animals. That is true1 but one does not need a
particularly nimble brain to grasp that even in the Russian famine districts
the dead are buried and that there the dead animals are devoured.
May I in conclusion congratulate the Soviet Foreign
Office on its skill in concealing the true situation in the U. S. S. R.?
Moscow is not Russia, and the sight of well fed people there tends to hide
the real Russia.
London, May 1st 1933