Woman with a handful of small fish at an open-air marketplace in Kharkiv
- Wienerberger, Alexander, 1891-1955, Photographer
- Media Type
- Item Types
- Photograph albums
- We see a solitary woman seated on one of the benches that are set up alongside the market area. Looking weary, and perhaps resentful or wary, she stares back at the photographer. The captions state that she is offering to sell four small dried fish “on the black market.” The caption from his memoir, Hart auf Hart, adds that the price is a highly inflated 2 rubles.
There are many people in the background where goods are also being sold or traded. One woman at the edge of the crowd is barefoot though she wears a heavy coat.
The black marketeering of food, meaning that items are sold at a much higher price than the legal price to those who can’t get them through officially approved channels was commonplace. 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)
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: Wienerberger, Alexander. Das Arbeiterparadies. U.d.S.S.R. (also known as the Red Album). Unpublished and undated album in the private collection of Samara Pearce. p.6b.
This personal album has a subtitle written on the inside of the front cover: “Proletarien aller Länder vereinigt euch!.... (im Massengrab.)” [Proletarians of all countries unite! ... (in the mass grave)]. Nicknamed the "Red" album because of its red cover, it contains photos from Kharkiv, Crimea, and Moscow taken 1933 through the winter 1933-1934. The Crimea and Moscow photos are not included in the Directory. They not only portray locations outside Ukraine’s political boundaries at that time but are primarily of a sight-seeing or personal nature.
For essays and a listing of originals and versions published through 1939 with their captions, see Related Features below photo and Home page menus.
- Handwritten caption on photo: “Schleichhandel in Russland” [Black-marketeering in Russia]; additional handwritten caption on album page under photo: “4 getrocknete Fischlein (‘Wobla’) sind ihre ganze Handelsware.” [4 little dried fish (Wobla) are her only merchandise.]
- Date of Original
- Date Of Event
- Image Dimensions
Image Width: 23
Image Height: 17
- 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. Das Arbeiterparadies. U.d.S.S.R. (also known as the Red Album). Private collection of Samara Pearce, n.d. p.6b. Retrieved from: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3636298/data
- Location of Original
- Private collection of Samara Pearce. Please contact Ms. Pearce for reproductions from the original.
- 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: Private collection of Samara Pearce.