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Russian Famine of 1921: Photos Not for the Squeamish

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In my Russian history classes at university, I read about the Russian famine of 1921-1922, as well as the Ukrainian holodomor but one doesn't get a real sense of how horrible it was just by reading a few paragraphs in a dry textbook.  I came across some photos of the Russian famine, with some disturbing text.  I should point out that the following text is not sourced, therefore I have no way of verifying some of the details.  But the photos probably don't lie:

--- Quote ---Soon after the Revolution hit Russia the political changes in the country and bad weather in the south of the state led to the Russian famine of 1921, which is better known as Povolzhye famine. It began in early spring in 21 and lasted through 1922, being the most severe thing that ever happened in Russia.  More that 5 million people died during the year and a half, some of them passed away because they just had nothing to eat and some of them fell prey to their neighbors, parents or children.  To survive in those terrible conditions people ate corpses of their family members, who were killed or just died of starvation. This period was very hard for the region, but it could not happen so, if the Soviet government hadn’t traded the grains to the other European countries, wanting to get more money for its industrialization purposes. 

The wars wiped out the stores and the ardent sun made fields dry. First, people sold what they could sell but very soon even the supplies ware run out of products and didn’t want to take things for food. So, people started to eat cats, dogs, rats, birds, grass and finally, human beings. The cases involving cannibalism usually were not measured as a real crime, and were considered to be just a survival thing. Anyway, those people were sent to prisons, were cannibalism was a common practice as well.

Samara region, 13 April, 1922

“… in the larder we found two pieces, in the stove there was one piece of boiled human flesh, and in the inner porch there was a pot with jellied minced flesh of the same kind, and near the porch we found a lot of bones. When we asked the woman where she had taken the flesh from, she confessed that back in February her 8-year-old son Nikita died and then her 15-year-old daughter Anna and she took his copse and cut it into pieces, and as they were starving they ate it together. When there was nothing else left, she decided to kill the daughter for meat and did it in the early April. While the girl was sleeping, she slaughtered her and cut the corpse into pieces, and started to cook it. She gave the jellied flesh and liver to her neighbors Aculina and Evdokia, saying that it was horse meat. The human flesh, Anna’s thighs and feet are taken to the police as evidence, the boiled meat and bones and the jellied meat have been consigned to the earth…”
--- End quote ---

Many more photos can be found here.  Some of them are definitely not for the squeamish:

Here is a brief description of the famine from Wikipedia:

--- Quote ---The Russian famine of 1921, also known as Povolzhye famine, which began in the early spring of that year and lasted through 1922, was a severe famine that occurred in Bolshevik Russia. The famine, which killed an estimated 5 million, affected mostly the Volga-Ural region.

The famine resulted from the combined effect of economic disturbance, which had already started during World War I, and continued through the disturbances of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and Russian Civil War with its policy of War Communism, especially prodrazvyorstka. One of Russia's intermittent droughts that occurred in 1921 aggravated the situation to the level of the national catastrophe. Hunger was so severe that it was doubtful that seed-grain would be sown rather than eaten. At one point, relief agencies had to give grain to the railroad staff to get their supplies moved.

Before the famine began, Russia had suffered six and a half years of the First World War and the Civil Wars of 1918–20, many of the conflicts fought inside Russia.  Before the famine, all sides in the Russian Civil Wars of 1918–21 — the Bolsheviks, the Whites, the Anarchists, the seceding nationalities — had provisioned themselves by the ancient method of "living off the land": they seized food from those who grew it, gave it to their armies and supporters, and denied it to their enemies. The Bolshevik government had requisitioned supplies from the peasantry for little or nothing in exchange. This led peasants to drastically reduce their crop production.

According to the official Bolshevik position, which is still maintained by some modern Marxists, the rich peasants (kulaks) withheld their surplus grain in order to preserve their lives; statistics indicate that most of the grain and the other food supplies passed through the black market. The Bolsheviks believed peasants were actively trying to undermine the war effort. The Black Book of Communism claims that Lenin ordered the seizure of the food peasants had grown for their own subsistence and their seed grain in retaliation for this "sabotage," leading to widespread peasant revolts. In 1920, Lenin had ordered increased emphasis on food requisitioning from the peasantry.

Aid from outside Russia was rejected. The American Relief Administration (ARA), which Herbert Hoover had formed to help the starvation of World War I, had offered assistance to Lenin in 1919, on condition that they have full say over the Russian railway network and hand out food impartially to all. Lenin refused this as interference in Russian internal affairs.

Lenin was eventually convinced — by this famine, the Kronstadt rebellion, large scale peasant uprisings such as the Tambov rebellion, and the failure of a German general strike — to reverse his policy at home and abroad. He decreed the New Economic Policy on March 15, 1921. The famine also helped produce an opening to the West: Lenin allowed relief organizations to bring aid, this time; fortunately, war relief was no longer required in Western Europe, and the ARA had an organization set up in Poland, relieving the Polish famine which had begun in the winter of 1919–20.
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I find it interesting how the Jewish holocaust of the Second World War is in every American student's history textbook, while the Holodomor and 1921 famine are never mentioned.

Journalists such as Walter Duranty of the New York Times, knew about the famine but denied its existence:

In a New York Times article dated 23 August 1933, Duranty wrote:

--- Quote ---Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda. 
--- End quote ---

Duranty won a Pulitzer prize for his "reporting".

Although all of my grandparents lived through Holodomor only one grandmather ever talked about it. She told how in order to survive her family hidden cow in the house and lived in constant fear as if anyone would find out whole family would die. They tied cow's mouth with cloth that she doesnt make any noise and was collecting grass outside to feed her. They always had to be very carefull that no one suspected why they bringing grass into house. I asked her when I was kid why they just didnt kill the cow and she replied that then they would have survived only some months, half of year at best but with milk from this cow they where able to live through Holodomor. She told as well how they were collecting leaves from trees, drying and mulching them; thats what they used instead of flour to bake the bread.
She told that people was dying everywhere, that on roads were piles of death bodies and everyone was that weak that they were unable anymore to bury them. Smell from the rotting corpses was everywhere. That at some point it was no safe anymore to go out on your own as others could attack you to kill and eat. Cannibalism was everywhere.

The truth about Lenin and the Bolsheviks


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