Western Mail, Cardiff, 15 October 1932
There be Soup?
Dreads the Coming Winter
there be soup?” That is a question which the men and women of the Soviet
Union are asking anxiously, dreadingly, when they think of the
rigours of the coming Russian winter. It is a question which is being
asked, not only in Communist Russia, but also in Capitalistic America: but
in Russia the voices of the questioners are fraught with greater fear,
because the harvest is failed and the food is not there.
have before me a copy of the Izvestia, the organ of the Soviet
Government, a newspaper which often openly criticises failures in the
Five-Year Plan. This is what I read in the number of October 5th,
in an article on the Donetz Basin (the Glamorgan of Russia) which produces
coal, iron and steel:
the shops of Makeysvka [Makeyevka] (the
Pontypridd of the Soviet Union) the wives of the workers are waiting for
vegetables. Now and then a loaded lorry passes by. A thin autumn
rain is falling monotonously. The housewife waits … The shop
attendant tries to calm her. “Now don't get excited comrade
housewife!” But she looks at a empty basket, thinks of the winter,
thinks of the cabbage, potatoes and tomatoes and asks one question:
“Will there be soup?”
is the Soviet Government's greatest problem in the last year of the
Five-Year Plan which ends on December 31st.
is there little soup? Why is meat short? Why is bread
beginning to be rationed again?
search of answers to these questions I went to
the Russian countryside, talked to numerous peasants in the Russian
language, lived in a wooden huts and slept on their bug infested floors.
used to take a train, not knowing my destination, drop out at some small
station and walk for miles until I was in Real Russia. And then I
learned from the mouths of the peasants themselves why there is not enough
soup. It was quite a different picture from that which the Communist
had painted to me in Moscow. A keen, well-built young Bolshevik said
to me in the Commissariat of Agriculture:
the Five-Year Plan we are going to socialise agriculture. We're
going to sweep away the private farmer. By the end of the plan no
peasants will own land anymore. The villages will be turned into
collective farms where land and the cows and the horses and the pigs will
be owned in common and the land ploughed in common by tractors. Private
property is a curse and we will abolish it in the villages. Our new
methods are increasing harvests and are producing a happy and healthy
was certainly not a healthy and happy countryside that I found when, after
a long tramp across fields; I marched at night
into the village near the Volga about 1000 miles from where the well-built
young Communist had talked to me.
sun had set in a deep red glow: below the steppes which stretched away to
the East had grown blacker and gloomier. I saw a light in a window
of a wooden hut, knocked, went inside and saw a group of shaggy, rough
stared at me in amazement and soon all gathered around. “Where did
I come from? Was it true that there would be a Bolshevik Revolution in
England? Could one get meat in America? Would I stay in one of the
bustled around me with questions and offered hospitality. Before
long I was seated in a simple peasant’s hut, and talking to the
peasant’s wife with ragged, blotchy-face children crawling and running
there enough food in Russia?”,
I asked. She grew excited and said: “Of course, there isn't.
How could there be? They've taken the land from us to make these
Communist collective farms. We want our own land and look what
they've done to our cows. My husband and I had a fine cow.
They took it away and put all the cows of the village together and now cow
is thin and scraggy and we don't get enough milk.”
was a rap at the door. In came a handsome blackheaded
peasant with flashing eyes and prominent white teeth. He hesitated
to talk first of all, but soon had confidence and said: “It's a
dog's life now, ever since they've forced us into collective farms.
1926 and 1927 were fine years when we still had
our own land. But it will be better to be under the earth than to
live now. Land, cow and bread they've taken away from us.
Nearly all our grain-and it was little enough-has been carted away and
sent to the towns and we're afraid to speak. What will we do during
the winter?” He ended with a groan of
is what I heard from the mouths of peasants in many parts of Russia.
“Why should we work?” they asked, “When our land and cow have been
taken away from us. Give us our land back.” Therefore they do not
cultivate the land so thoroughly.
- - -
in The Western Mail at the end of above article was also a] Times
telegram from Riga: “As a result of increased food difficulties
the Soviet authorities have decided to reduce the rations of certain
grades of professors and scientists by about 25 percent.”
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