[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
Washington Herald. Sunday 4th June 1933
Article No.1 of 2 - Syndicated by the New York American Inc..
‘Bread, We Are Starving!’ Is Cry Heard Throughout Russia, Finds Gareth Jones
Five-Year Plan Has Brought Country to Famine, Says Former Lloyd George Aide After Visit There
By GARETH JONES
RURAL—A typical group of peasants receiving mail on a collective farm in the “Black Earth” region of Soviet Russia to which Mr. Jones refers in the accompanying article. Soviet Photo Agency Photo
Foreign Affairs secretary to David Lloyd George, Who recently completed a visit
to Soviet Russia, with which he is familiar, speaking Russian fluently.
London, May 1933.
SOVIET RUSSIA today is suffering from a famine which many foreign observers in that country consider far worse than that of 1921. Although the Soviet Government denies there is famine, I witnessed it with my own eyes.
March there was one cry I heard everywhere: “There is no bread!” I
first heard it from peasants in Moscow streets when an old Ukrainian came up to
me and said:
me something to buy bread. We are dying in Ukraine, for we have no bread.
So I have come to Moscow to buy bread which I shall mail back to my village.”
long a young Ukrainian peasant came to me and begged: “We are dying in our
villages,” he said, “and we in the Ukraine are doomed, for we have no
from many parts of Russia have flocked to Moscow to seek bread. I talked
to a Crimean girl, who was selling white spring flowers. Her plaint was:
“We have no bread in the Crimea and people are dying of hunger.”
talked to a family of peasants - father, mother and two small children - who
were wandering aimlessly near the opera house and asked me for money. They
had migrated from Kiev and told of the famine there. “There is no
bread,” they also said.
talked to Nijni Novgorod peasants selling on street corners wooden bowls carved
at home. Speaking of their district on the Volga, they said there was no
have taken all our farms away, and now we are starving,” they said.
I talked to many peasants who had come from surrounding districts and was surprised to learn from each - what I was later to find out for myself - that even in districts near Moscow there is no bread.
“Moscow is feeding us. If it were not for Moscow we should starve,” were phrases I often heard.
has been a peasant invasion of the bigger towns in Russia and the statements of
these peasants were the first evidence of a famine.
many cows have you in your village?” I asked peasants I met in the towns.
Their answers revealed another feature of the famine - the disastrous decline in
livestock in Russia. One Ukrainian in Moscow replied:
my village we bad a hundred and fifty cows. Now there are only six.”
peasant woman living about thirty miles from Moscow replied: “We had three
hundred cows and now we have less than one hundred.”
have only one tenth of our cows left,” was the answer of another peasant.
many horses have you in your village?” was my second question. Their
replies pointed to a catastrophic decline in horses. In one village horses
had decreased from approximately 80 to 18. Most peasants claimed that
approximately nine-tenths of the horses have perished. While this seemed
certainly exaggerated, the information I received from foreigners who have lived
for years in Russia supported the main trend of what the peasants said.
find out real conditions in the villages I decided to tramp alone for several
days through a small part of the Central Black Earth District and a small part
of the Ukraine.
night I entered a compartment in the slowest train between Moscow and Kharkoff
which stopped at every station. On this journey I witnessed many signs of
famine. At numerous stations I got out and talked to the peasants lining
the railway track. The cry was the same everywhere:
have no bread, many are dying.”
Rzhava I talked to a group of women peasants who seemed stranded and bewildered.
They explained: “We have come from the Ukraine, and we are trying to go north.
We have had hardly any bread for two months. In our villages they are
dying rapidly. We want to go further north, but they will not give us
railway tickets, and we do not know what to do.”
Villagers Desperate for Food
the train itself passengers told of the hunger in the villages. One young
Communist, who was from a village, but had worked in a town, said:
“I have had no bread for a week, only potatoes. My brother died of hunger. When I left my mother and two sisters a couple of days ago they had only two glasses flour left.”
the train were many peasants who said they had come to the towns to look for
bread. It is thus a paradox that now in Russia there is some bread in the
towns and no bread, or little bread, in the villages. Hence, the towns,
which are visited by tourists, give a false Impression of the Russian situation.
I got off the train in a small village and tramped through the snow. “Be
careful in the villages. They are desperate from hunger,” was a last
word of warning as I left the compartment. With my rucksack piled with
food I had bought in the Torgsin stores with dollars, I set out across the snow.
The next few days I spent in villages, sleeping in peasants’ huts, talking
with everybody I met.
of course, was a great exaggeration, but there is no doubt that some of the
population has died.
a German news agency which is considered highly reliable in official circles,
estimates that in some of the German colonists regions in Russia from 15 per
cent to 25 pr cent of the population has perished. Letters sent by German
colonists appealing for help from relatives make tragic reading. Here are
some typical extracts from letters, of which thousands are sent to Germany and
just cannot imagine what hunger means. We have already had it once and that sad
life is before our eyes again. The future is terrible.”
have not had for one and a half weeks anything except salt and water in our
stomach and our family consists of nine souls.
letter from the Volga region contains the passage:
cannot get past on the road. It is marked by human bodies. There is
nobody left among all our friends who has anything. … Your brother’s four
children died of hunger and all the others are not far from that. They
exist - it is not good to write -by eating carrion.”
received confirmation from Russians and foreigners who had recently been in
Central Asia, Kazakstan, West Siberia, North Caucasus, Ukraine and the Volga
districts that the famine is serious in those sections.
is the famine in Russia in the Spring following the end of the Five-Year Plan.
What are its causes? What of the future?
Copyright. 1933, by N. Y. American, Inc.
This is the first of two articles by Mr. Jones on famine conditions in Soviet Russia. The next will appear in an early issue, probably next Sunday.
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