London Evening Standard, March 31st, 1933
5-year Plan Has Killed the Bread Supply.
AT THE EXPENSE OF HAPPINESS
Jones is one of Mr. Lloyd George’s private secretaries. He has
just returned from an extensive tour on foot in Soviet Russia. He
speaks Russian fluently - and here is the terrible story the peasants
few ago I stood in a worker’s cottage outside Moscow. A father
and a son, the father, a Russian skilled worker in a Moscow factory and
the son a member of the Young Communist League, stood glaring at one
father trembling with excitement, lost control of himself and shouted at
his Communist son. It is terrible now. We workers are
starving. Look at Chelyabinsk where I once worked. Disease
there is carrying away numbers of us workers and the little food there
is uneatable. That is what you have done to our Mother Russia.
son cried back: “But look at the giants of industry which we have
built. Look at the new tractor works. Look at the
Dniepostroy. That has construction has been worth suffering
indeed!” Was the father's reply: “What’s the use of
construction when you have destroyed all that’s best in Russia?”
that worker said at least 96 per cent. of the people of Russia are
thinking. There has been construction, but, in the act of
building, all that was best in Russia has disappeared. The main
result of the Five Year Plan has been the tragic ruin of Russian
agriculture. This ruin I saw in its grim reality. I tramped
through a number of villages in the snow of March. I saw children
with swollen bellies. I slept in peasants’ huts, sometimes nine
of us in one room. I talked to every peasant I met, and the
general conclusion I draw is that the present state of Russian
agriculture is already catastrophic but that in a year’s time its
condition will have worsened tenfold.
did the peasants say? There was one cry which resounded everywhere
I went and that was: “There is no bread.” The other sentence, which
as the leitmotiv of my Russian visit was: “All are swollen.”
Even within a few miles of Moscow there is no bread left. As I was
going through the countryside in that district I chatted to several
women who were trudging with empty sacks towards Moscow. They all
said: “It is terrible. We have no bread. We have to go all the
way to Moscow to get bread and then they will only give us four pounds,
which costs three roubles (six shillings nominally). How can a
poor man live?”
you potatoes?” I asked. Every peasant I asked nodded negatively
about your cows?” was the next question. To the Russian peasant
the cow means wealth, food and happiness. It is almost the centre-point
upon which his life gravitates.
cattle have nearly all died. How
can we feed the cattle when we have only fodder to eat ourselves?”
was the question I asked in every village I visited.
The horse is now a
question of life and death, for without a horse how can one plough?
And if one cannot plough, how can one sow for the next harvest?
And if one cannot sow for the next harvest, then death is the only
prospect in the future.
reply spelled doom for most of the villages.
The peasants said: “Most of our horses have died and we have so
little fodder that the remaining ones all scraggy and ill.”
it is grave now and if millions are dying in the villages, as they are,
for I did not visit a single village where many had not died, what will it
be like in a month’s time? The
potatoes left are being counted one by one, but in so many homes the
potatoes have long run out. The
beet, once used as cattle fodder may run out in many huts before the new
food comes in June, July and August, and many have not even beet.
situation is graver than in 1921, as all peasants stated emphatically.
In that year there was famine in several great regions but in most
parts the peasants could live. It
was a localised famine, which had many millions of victims, especially
along Volga. But today the famine is everywhere, in the formerly rich
Ukraine, in Russia, in Central Asia, in North Caucasia - everywhere.
of the towns? Moscow as yet
does not look so stricken, and no one staying in Moscow would have an
inkling of what is going on in the countryside, unless he could talk to
the peasants who have come hundreds and hundreds of miles to the capital
to look for bread. The people
in Moscow warmly clad, and many of the skilled workers, who have their
warm meal every day at the factory, are well fed.
Some of those who earn very good salaries, or who have special
privileges, look even, well dressed, but the vast majority of the
unskilled workers are feeling the pinch.
talked to a worker who was sitting a heavy wooden trunk.
“It is terrible now” he said.
“ I get two pounds a bread a day and it is rotten bread.
I get no meat, no eggs, no butter.
Before the war I used, to get a lot of meat and it was cheap.
But I haven’t had meat for a year.
Eggs were only a kopeck each before the war, but now they are a
great luxury. I get a little
soup, but it is not enough to live on.”
now a new dread visits the Russian worker.
That is unemployment. In
the last few months very many thousands have been dismissed from factories
in many parts of the Soviet. Union. I
asked one unemployed man what happened to him.
He replied: “We are treated like cattle.
We are told to get away, and we get no bread card.
How can I live? I used
to get a pound of bread a day for all my family, but now there is no bread
card. I have to leave the
city and make my way out into the countryside where there is also no
Five-Year Plan has built many fine factories.
But it is bread that makes factory wheels go round, and the
Five-Year Plan has destroyed the bread-supplier of Russia.
a publicity trailer, advertising the above article, the Evening
Standard published on the previous day (March 30th 1933), the
as It is
GARETH JONES, one of Mr. Lloyd George’s private secretaries, has just
returned to London after an extensive tour on foot in Soviet Russia.
will give a vivid account of his experiences in a special article in the
“Evening Standard” to-morrow.
Jones, who speaks Russian fluently, is the first foreigner to visit the
Russian countryside since the Soviet confined foreign correspondents to
the city of Moscow.
is a higher resolution photo of this article from Gareth's own cuttings