Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Ukranian Famine: "Moscow does not Believe in Tears"

Robert Conquest's Harvest of Sorrow, a history of the systematic starvation of the Ukranian nation and others, is too sad for many words. Ridiculous economic ideas combined with a desire to murder the enemies of the Soviet regime with the result that some twelve millions perished either in hunger or in Siberian camps--and that is a conservative estimate. Bernard Shaw, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, and the New York Times' Walter Duranty provided enough good news and uncritical parrotting of the Soviet party line to give a patina of plausible deniability to the famine, a cautionary tale for any would-be investigative reporter.

Conquest's book has plenty of heart-wrenching passages, but I'll only reproduce one here:

The 'dissident' Soviet demographer M. Maksudov estimates that 'no fewer than three million children born between 1932 and 1934 died of hunger'. It was above all the new-born who perished. A figure of two and a half million infants dying of starvation was given to Lev Koplev by a Soviet researcher. The 1970 Census shows 12.4 million people living who were born in 1929-31, and only 8.4 million born in 1932-4; though the natural rate of increase fell only slightly. In 1941 there were a million fewer seven year olds than eleven year olds in the schools--and this even though the eleven year old group had also suffered severely. Moreover when we come to the famine areas, this disproportion is greater still. In Kazakhstan the seven year old group was less than two-fifths the size of the eleven year old; while in Moldavia (most of which had not formed part of the USSR in the 1930s) the seven year old group was two-thirds as large again as the eleven year old.
A teacher in the village of Novi Sanzhary, Dniprpetrovsk Province, reports that by 1934 there were no school children left for her; another, that only two were left of a class of thirty. And as to younger children, in the Ukranian village of Kharkivisti, the 1940-41 school year found no beginners at all, as against an average of twenty-five previously." p. 297

No comments: