Bitter Harvest - Story of the Holodomor - Ukrainians Starve

Nina Marchenko created this painting, entitled "The Road of Sorrow." It is part of the collection "Holodomor; Through the Eyes of Ukrainian Artists," initiated by Founder/Trustee E. Morgan Williams. The image is online via Holdomor Research & Education Consortium.


During the day, people hide to avoid being captured. At night, they come out like shadows. They start to line-up, at night, hoping they can get bread in the morning.

Some of Ukraine’s cities have lines of people—up to 7,000 of them—who are hoping to get some “commercial” bread. Elsewhere, in the cities, people are dropping dead in the streets. Hunger is slowly killing them.

Soviet government officials claim that a famine exists in Germany but simultaneously insist that everything in Russia is fine. Revealing otherwise, some individuals defy restrictions against picture-taking and snap photos of dead bodies lying in the street.

Bodies of hunger victims are in doorways. They are on street corners. Wagons arrive to take them away—to drive them somewhere.

Some individuals, presumed dead, are actually still alive when they are removed in the carts. Children accompany the carts, asking the drivers for food.

Knowing the desperate situation, inside Ukraine, some people are able to leave the country and return with food for the starving population. Others survive on remnants of food that are tossed-out by non-farmers with access to food. Still others walk in groups, going from one location to another, trying to find the most basic nourishment to live another day.


Survivors, of these times, remember how sleighs would arrive at homes to collect the bodies of those who had died. The sleighs would stop at every house. If the homeowner didn’t have enough strength to bring-out the bodies, others would help. The bodies mounted as more and more people starved.

Yakiv Vilchenko, a Holodomor eyewitness from the Kiev region, recalls:

There was hardly a home where no one had died of starvation. The death rate was appalling. (See Holodomor: Ukrainian Genocide in the Early 1930s, at page 18.)

Kinsmen of the starving people mount a protest. People in Canada, America and other countries ship grain to help their relatives, but when the grain reaches the border … Soviet officials prevent the much-needed materials from reaching the intended recipients.

Government officials, meanwhile, declare that efforts suggesting a famine is nothing but propaganda.

When the famine is at its worst, seventeen people in Ukraine are dying every minute. Still the Soviet government insists that their harvest is wonderful and there is nothing to worry about.

Inside Ukraine, people know there is no famine as a result of bad-weather conditions. They find there is plenty of grain. Most of that grain, however, is inside State-controlled mills.

The State's mills are filled, but no one is allowed near them. Some of the plentiful grain, which continues to accumulate, rots away.

In April of 1932, a Soviet official touring famine-afflicted areas finds starving people. He plans to advise Stalin about his firsthand findings:

People are starving, living on food substitutes, they grow weaker, and naturally, under such circumstances, their mood is hostile. I have not seen such an attitude as is now found in the villages, due to famine and the loss of the last cows and sheep through contracting, in a long time.

I will inform you of the facts that substantiate this when we meet. Upon arriving in Moscow, I will try to see Stalin and inform him, or if he cannot spare the time, I will write him a letter. (See Letter of 9 April 1932, from Feigin to Ordzhonikidze - a close friend of Stalin's - regarding conditions on the Kolkhozes (collective farms) in the Novosibirsk area of Siberia.)

The central government, run in Moscow, refuses to acknowledge that the people need help .. and ... they refuse to give it.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 23, 2017

Updated Last Revision: Sep 01, 2017

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Ukrainians Starve" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 23, 2017. Jan 19, 2020.
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