Article By Duranty Following Gareth’s exposure of the Famine in full
The New York Times,
Friday March 31st 1933.
Deaths From Diseases Due to Malnutrition High, Yet the Soviet is Entrenched
LARGER CITIES HAVE FOOD
Ukraine, North Caucasus and Lower Volga Regions Suffer From Shortages.
KREMLIN'S 'DOOM' DENIED
Russian and Foreign Observers In Country See No Ground for Predications of
By WALTER DURANTY
MOSCOW, March 30---In the middle
of the diplomatic duel between Great Britain and the Soviet Union over the
accused British engineers there appears from a British source a big scare
story in the American press about famine in the Soviet Union, with
"thousands already dead and millions menaced by death and starvation."
Its author is Gareth Jones, who
is a former secretary to David Lloyd George and who recently spent three
weeks in the Soviet Union and reached the conclusion that the country was
"on the verge of a terrific smash," as he told the writer.
Mr. Jones is a man of a keen and
active mind, and he has taken the trouble to learn Russian, which he speaks
with considerable fluency, but the writer thought Mr. Jones's judgment was
somewhat hasty and asked him on what it was based. It appeared that he had
made a forty-mile walk through villages in the neighborhood of Kharkov and
had found conditions sad.
I suggested that that was a
rather inadequate cross-section of a big country but nothing could shake his
conviction of impending doom.
Predictions of Doom
The number of times foreigners,
especially Britons, have shaken rueful heads as they composed the Soviet
Union's epitaph can scarcely be computed, and in point of fact it has done
incalculable harm since the day when William C. Bullitt's able and honest
account of the situation was shelved and negatived during the Versailles
Peace Conference by reports that Admiral Kolchak, White Russian leader, had
taken Kazan - which he never did - and that the Soviet power was "one the
verge of an abyss."
Admiral Kolchak faded. Then
General Denikin took Orel and the Soviet Government was on the verge of an
abyss again, and General Yudenich "took" Petrograd. But where are Generals
Denikin and Yudenich now?
A couple of years ago another
British "eyewitness" reported a mutiny in the Moscow garrison and "rows of
corpses neatly piled in Theatre Square," and only this week a British news
agency revealed a revolt of the Soviet Fifty-fifth Regiment at Duria, on
the Manchurian border. All bunk, of course.
This is not to mention a more
regrettable incident of three years ago when an American correspondent
discovered half of Ukraine flaming with rebellion and "proved" it by
authentic documents eagerly proffered by Rumanians, which documents on
examination appeared to relate to events of eight or ten years earlier.
Saw No One Dying
But to return to Mr. Jones. He
told me there was virtually no bread in the villages he had visited and that
the adults were haggard, gaunt and discouraged, but that he had seen no dead
or dying animals or human beings.
I believed him because I knew it
to be correct not only of some parts of the Ukraine but of sections of the
North Caucasus and lower Volga regions and, for that matter, Kazakstan,
where the attempt to change the stock-raising nomads of the type and the
period of Abraham and Isaac into 1933 collective grain farmers has produced
the most deplorable results.
It is all too true that the
novelty and mismanagement of collective farming, plus the quite efficient
conspiracy of Feodor M. Konar and his associates in agricultural
commissariats, have made a mess of Soviet food production. (Konar was
executed for sabotage.)
But---to put it brutally---you
can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the Bolshevist leaders are
just as indifferent to the casualties that may be involved in their drive
toward socializaton as any General during the World War who ordered a costly
attack in order to show his superiors that he and his division possessed the
proper soldierly spirit. In fact, the Bolsheviki are more indifferent
because they are animated by fanatical conviction.
Since I talked to Mr. Jones I
have made exhaustive inquiries about this alleged famine situation. I have
inquired in Soviet commissariats and in foreign embassies with their network
of consuls, and I have tabulated information from Britons working as
specialists and from my personal connections, Russian and foreign.
Disease Mortality Is High
All of this seems to me to be
more trustworthy information than I could get by a brief trip through any
one area. The Soviet Union is too big to permit a hasty study, and it is the
foreign correspondent's job to present a whole picture, not a part of it.
And here are the facts:
There is a serious shortage food
shortage throughout the country, with occasional cases of well-managed State
or collective farms. The big cities and the army are adequately supplied
with food. There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but
there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.
In short, conditions are
definitely bad in certain sections- the Ukraine, North Caucasus and Lower
Volga. The rest of the country is on short rations but nothing worse. These
conditions are bad, but there is no famine.
The critical months in this
country are February and March, after which a supply of eggs, milk and
vegetables comes to supplement the shortage of bread - if, as now, there is
a shortage of bread. In every Russian village food conditions will improve
henceforth, but that will not answer one really vital question---What about
the coming grain crop?
Upon that depends not the future
of the Soviet power, which cannot and will not be smashed, but the future
policy of the Kremlin. If through climatic conditions, as in 1921, the crop
fails, then, indeed, Russia will be menaced by famine. If not, the present
difficulties will be speedily forgotten.
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