Many people standing and waiting around a closed store selling rationed food in a Kharkiv marketplace
- Wienerberger, Alexander, 1891-1955, Photographer
- Media Type
- Item Types
- Book illustrations
- A large crowd of people press in together as they wait to get entry into what is most likely a store for getting food allotted on one’s ration card. The photographer states that these people are waiting for black bread –the inferior quality of bread that was available at the time. In his memoir, he also mentions that several shops opened in Kharkiv in 1933 where bread could be purchased at greatly inflated prices in rubles, without a ration card. It is possible that this establishment was this kind of store, instead. (see more details below).
Although it is not clearly visible from the photograph, Wienerberger also points out that the gable above the storefront still displays the faded depiction of lush fruits – an ironic reminder of what was once available at the market. For another view of this location that was included in the Innitzer Album see PD4: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3636355/data
Context: Availability and access to food in urban and industrial areas
This was one of the many food stores repurposed in the early 1930s in the face of massive urban food shortages. A hierarchy of food rationing became the norm everywhere in the USSR in 1930. Those permitted to have ration cards could purchase an increasingly narrower range of basic foods at relatively low prices in certain designated stores. Having a ration card did not guarantee that the food would be available, however. Survivors frequently mentioned waiting many hours in long lines, only to leave empty handed.
Ration allotments were issued to individuals based on their assigned rank in the proletariat (non rural workers) and their place of residence. Locations in the USSR were assigned a rank based on their level of importance to the Soviet State. In Ukraine, the Donbas industrial region and Kharkiv were ranked as relatively important. (Osokina, 62, 78)
Farmers and their families and most other rural residents were not permitted to have ration cards. This huge segment of the population was dependent on the seasonal produce of the little garden plots near their homes, or the milk from their cow, if they were among the fortunate few to still have possession of one, (Applebaum, 254) or on trade at the now impoverished outdoor markets selling inferior goods at prices as much as ten times that of ration card prices.
In 1933, the number of state run commercial stores that sold goods for rubles and existed previously in only a few of the major Soviet cities, multiplied into the hundreds in 1933 in order to take advantage of the desperation of a starving population. (Osokina, 127).The same applied to the Torgsin, foreign currency shops originally designed for foreign consultants and visitors. When Torgsin were opened to local citizens, allowing them to trade in gold and family heirlooms for food, the number of shops and the volume of their business increased dramatically in 1933, most notably in Ukraine. See PD135 for further information on Torgsin.
- Photo taken between spring – late summer, 1933.
Photo source: Wienerberger, Alexander. Hart auf Hart. 15 Jahre Ingenieur in Sowjetrussland. Ein Tatsachenbericht; mit 52 Original-Leicaaufnahmen des Verfassers. Salzburg, Leipzig: Pustet, 1939. f.p.112.
Hart auf hart [Hard Times] was Alexander Wienerberger’s memoir of his career as a chemical engineer and technical manager in the Soviet Union through most of 1917 – 1933. Three of the chapters deal exclusively with his period in Ukraine, where he was tasked with retrofitting and managing a factory in Kharkiv from autumn 1932 – late summer 1933.
As stated in the title, the memoir includes 52 of his photos; however, only those from Ukraine are included in this Directory. The book was initially serialized with 7 photographs in an Austrian newspaper, the Salzburger Volksblatt, as “Abenteuer in Sowjetrussland,” [Adventures in Soviet Russia] in late 1938.
For essays and a listing of originals and versions published through 1939 with their captions, see Related Features below photo and Home page menus.
- Caption: ““Schlange um Brot am Charkower Markt 1933. Am Giebel des geschlossenen Ladens – wie ein Hohn – die üppigen Früchte, die einst hier verkauft wurden.” [Bread lines at the Kharkiv Market 1933. The gable of the closed shop – like a mockery – depicts lush fruits, such as were once available for purchase here.]
- Date of Original
- Date Of Event
- Image Dimensions
Image Width: 11cm
Image Height: 8cm
- Local identifier
- Alexander Wienerberger: Beyond the Innitzer album
- Language of Item
- Geographic Coverage
Latitude: 49.98081 Longitude: 36.25272
- Copyright Statement
- Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
- Copyright Holder
- Samara Pearce https://www.samarapearce.com/
- Recommended Citation
- Wienerberger, Alexander. Hart auf Hart. 15 Jahre Ingenieur in Sowjetrussland. Ein Tatsachenbericht; mit 52 Original-Leicaaufnahmen des Verfassers. Salzburg, Leipzig: Pustet, 1939. f.p. 112. Retrieved from: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3636259/data
- Location of Original
- Location of original photograph reproduced in this publication is unknown.
- Rightsholder requests that the name of the photographer, Alexander Wienerberger, accompany each authentic reproduction of his work.
- Reproduction Notes
- Reproduced with the permission of rightsholder Samara Pearce. Source: Book cited in NOTES above.