Several people at an open air food market in Kharkiv selling milk
- Wienerberger, Alexander, 1891-1955, Photographer
- Media Type
- Item Types
- Book illustrations
- We see men and women at a table in the open air food market selling milk either by the glass or by the bottle. For people who could not obtain milk ration cards to use in official milk distribution centers, these overpriced markets were the only options available. (For a photo of an official milk rations store, see PD104: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3636276/data)
Although private trade was considered anti-socialist, it was tolerated within often arbitrary limitations, and was crucial to the survival of many buyers and sellers during the Holodomor (Osokina, 106-7, Applebaum, 266)
Perhaps the sellers looking warily at the photographer were concerned that their photograph was being taken as evidence against them. Also, because photography of a wide range of subjects was strictly forbidden, the sellers may have been signalling disapproval or a warning to Wienerberger. SEE: Restriction of Photography section in "The Holodomor's Forbidden Photographs."
Context: Availability and access to food in urban and industrial areas
As the result of massive food shortages developing in urban and industrial centers, 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.
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. For many others, the ration allotments were inadequate for survival.
- 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.6.
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: “Auf dem Lebensmittelmarkt in Charkow: Jede Flasche Milch, krampfhaft umklammert, stellt im freien Handel einen wertfollen Besitz dar.” [sic]. [At the food market in Kharkiv: each tightly clutched bottle of milk is a valuable possession in free trade.]
- 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.6. Retrieved from: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3636278/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.