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  • William Huang

How The New York Times Helped to Hide Stalin’s Holodomor

A man, who died of starvation during the Holodomor, lies on a street in Kharkiv, Ukraine. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Today, Hitler’s Holocaust and Nazi war crimes are widely acknowledged by the masses. Nevertheless, 90 years ago, prior to the rise of Nazism, another series of great crimes that were conducted by the Communist dictator Josef Stalin in Ukraine and many parts of the USSR were not given adequate attention globally. This may have been due in part to the story being covered-up by the New York Times.

Between 1932 and 1933, Stalin carried out a brutal genocide in order to punish the ethnicities he deemed as disloyal to Bolshevism and to prop up his vision of collectivization and industrialization. He imposed impossible production demands to deliberately starve tens of millions of people to death by confiscating their grain and depriving their ration, which mostly took place in Ukraine and Central Asia. One of the few Western journalists that were allowed to report in the USSR was Walter Duranty, a British journalist who worked for the New York Times. Duranty received a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his pro-Stalinism reports of the USSR and an interview with Stalin published during the time of the Great Depression in the West. However, when reporting on the Holodomor, he twisted the facts to misreport to his readers of the New York Times. He also attacked Gareth Jones, a British journalist who had witnessed the starving masses in Ukraine. In The New York Times on 31 March 1933, Walter Duranty denounced Gareth Jones’ reports of a famine in Ukraine. In his report "Russians Hungry, but not Starving", Walter Duranty wrote, “All of this seems to me to be more trustworthy information than I could get by a brief trip through any one area. The Soviet Union is too big to permit a hasty study, and it is the foreign correspondent's job to present a whole picture, not a part of it. And here are the facts: There is a serious food shortage throughout the country, with occasional cases of well-managed State or collective farms. The big cities and the army are adequately supplied with food. There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition. In short, conditions are definitely bad in certain sections-the Ukraine, North Caucasus and Lower Volga. The rest of the country is on short rations, but nothing worse. These conditions are bad, but there is no famine.” Duranty chose to maintain his successful career in Moscow in favor of the Soviet government over the basic ethics of a journalist, and his conscientiousness left a serious blot on the history of journalism.

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