1933: Famine on the Volga

Pages-from-51-85_Page_1-300x212The Famine of the 1930′s was a famine that was constantly denied by the government of the USSR.  While families in the West received letter after letter begging for money because of looming starvation, Soviet Officials denied anything was wrong.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with the opening of the archives, slowly but surely, documents have been published that were never intended to see the light of day.

This is such a document.

Entitled  Secret summary of data collected by March 20 th , 1933 prepared by the Secret Operations department of the territorial representative of OGPU [Joint  Main Political Directorate] of the USSR for Lower Volga region [of the Russian Federation] regarding food shortages. Original document. March 28 th , 1933. Provided by the Central Archive of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation.  (Fond 2, Record Series 11, File 56, Pages 125 – 132, 136 – 137.)

It details some of the reports being compiled of the famine.  For Josefstal, interestingly, named “Iosif-Stal” (as if the village was named after Josef Stalin- funny but not true) it (top of page 7) reports that during the months February and March 1933, there were 20 deaths from starvation registered in the village. Most of them were the villagers who “had returned to join the collective farm (again)”.  The bodies reportedly layed around without being buried for several days. (Former villagers tell me it was because no one had the strength to bury them).

This is the first “official” acknowledgement of the famine, and that Josefstal villagers were dying.

Of course, the famine raged in many areas of Russia, and various Russian archives have put relevant documents online where you can view them here.

(Thanks to Tanja Schell and my wife Marina for translation)19331

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