Crowd of people waiting to enter a store selling rationed food in Kharkiv
- Wienerberger, Alexander, 1891-1955, Photographer
- Media Type
- Item Types
- Book illustrations
- A large number of people are crowded in front of a building bearing a large sign “Хаторг 16", over the entrance. The doors appear to be open, and a few men are either exiting the building or speaking to the crowd. No goods are visible in the display windows, though one has a large portrait of a Party official on view.
A “Хаторг“ or Khatorh (abbreviation of: Kharkiv trade organization) was one of several types of food access centers created or repurposed in the early 1930’s to manage the sharply diminishing food supply for the greatly expanded urban and industrial population. This establishment is most likely selling goods for residents with ration cards; however, it is possible that it had been repurposed in 1933 to sell bread for rubles (Wienerberger, Osokina)
Context: Availability and access to food in urban and industrial areas
With the introduction of the 5 year plan in 1928, existing systems of food distribution and access collapsed in the Soviet Union. Collectivization was not only an enormous human catastrophe in Ukraine, but an economic policy failure that couldn’t meet the needs of the rapidly expanding non-agricultural workforce (the proletariat) or compensate for the virtual shutdown of private trading.
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 in long lines, only to leave empty handed. Others spoke of riots occurring amid the bread lines.
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 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 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 itheir 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: Ammende, Ewald, and Alexander. Wienerberger. Muss Russland Hungern? Menschen- und Völkerschicksale in der Sowjetunion. Wien: W. Braumüller Universitäts-Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1935, Abb. 1.
The title loosely translated as, “Must Russia starve? The fate of the peoples of the Soviet Union, ” this book was a remarkably revealing, detailed and damning portrayal of the USSR in the early 1930s by a respected expert on nationalities issues. It also included a photographic supplement: 21 photographs on 11 pages of plates with the title: "Der Hunger in der Hauptstadt der Ukraine. Bilder, Aufgenommen in Charkow im Sommer 1933." [Famine in the capital of Ukraine. Photographs taken in Kharkiv during the summer of 1933.] According to Ammende, the photographs were unattributed to protect the identity of the photographer but later were proven to be Wienerberger’s.
The original 1935 edition was followed by an English translation, Human Life in Russia, published in London after Ammende’s untimely death in 1936. This edition, however, included only half of Wienerberger’s photos and added others – some of possible legitimacy from the North Caucasus region of Russia, and the remainder proven to be from the 1920s famine in Russia and Ukraine. Reprinted in the US in 1984 for its important historical text, hardly anyone knew of the false and unverified nature of some of the photographic content. Regrettably, therefore, Human Life in Russia became an accepted resource for all its photographic documentation as well.
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: “Die leeren Lebensmittel-Verteilungsstellen – hier der “Chartorg” ( Charkower Handelskooperation) – werden von der notleidenden Bevölkerung belagert.” [The empty food distribution centers - in this case, Khatorh (Kharkiv trade cooperative) - are besieged by the needy population.]
- Date of Original
- Date Of Event
- Image Dimensions
Image Width: 11cm
Image Height: 7cm
- 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
- Ammende, Ewald, and Alexander. Wienerberger. Muss Russland Hungern? Menschen- und Völkerschicksale in der Sowjetunion. Wien: W. Braumüller Universitäts-Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1935, Abb.1. Retrieved from: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3636268/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.