Holodomor
An elderly man sits in front of his hut on the outskirts of Kharkiv
Description
Creator
Wienerberger, Alexander, 1891-1955, Photographer
Media Type
Image
Text
Item Types
Photographs
Photograph albums
Description
An elderly man sits on a small chest, with a long handled hoe in his hand and a woodworking tool near his knee. Many poles and long handled garden tools lie about the yard. Perhaps he repairs or makes these implements for a living. His little hut is built into the side of an embankment, with additional dirt pushed up against part of the front of the house, presumably for insulation.

Some of the captions to this photo state that this is the house of a worker, someone who earned wages from a State run enterprise for a living. It raises the question, whether some relation of the self-employed older man pictured here is employed at the factory that Wienerberger managed or elsewhere, and whether they also lived in this tiny earthen dwelling.

Context:The situation for Urban Residents and Industrial Workers, 1932-1933

While Stalin’s genocidal policies were decimating the countryside, most urban residents and industrial workers were suffering from severe housing shortages and varying degrees of relentless hunger and malnutrition leading to increased mortality.

Once Stalin consolidated power in the mid 1920s, he set in motion his massive industrialization program. All industry would be run by the state, and agriculture would be industrialized as well, via collectivization. To implement this unprecedented transformation, 400 new industrial plants were built in Ukraine alone during the first 5 year plan (1928-1932), some on a massive scale. The Dnipro hydroelectric plant – the largest in Europe at the time, huge steel and aluminum plants, and the Kharkiv tractor factory, were among the most impressive of their type in the USSR. However, by the end of 1932, all of agricultural production and most of the industrial production was removed from Soviet Ukraine’s control to that of Moscow.

Large numbers of people left the countryside to work in the new industrial centers of Ukraine. The number of urban residents nearly doubled between 1920 and 1933, resulted in severe housing shortages and crowding in the cities and nearby industrial sites. This problem was at best met with rapidly, shoddily assembled apartment buildings – but just as often with minimally functional shelters and huts that workers had to improvise themselves outside the cities. In the Donbas, for example, 40% of workers had less than 2 sq. meters of living space per person. At the construction site of the Dnipro Dam, the crowded and unsanitary conditions created significant health issues with inadequate medical care to address them. Outbreaks of smallpox, typhus, and other diseases further weakened workers and their families and increased mortality. In 1929, the State instituted food rationing, which became increasingly restrictive through the Holodomor years.

Stalin repeatedly warned of an imminent threat of attack on the USSR by outside capitalist powers, and workers were driven to perform to the utmost when convinced that their efforts were part of war mobilization. Whiting Williams, whose photos appear in this Directory, quotes miners that he first met in 1928 asking him when the US would attack the Soviet Union. Ultra high achieving workers were celebrated as heroes. The calls to patriotism and pride were used to offset the State’s ever-increasing failures to meet the basic needs of the proletariat. The average worker was surviving on wages that were decreasing in buying power throughout the period, wages that could hardly buy a warm coat, let alone supplement hunger rations. Furthermore, anyone rightly or wrongly accused of some form of neglect could lose their all-important food ration cards or housing, or be blacklisted from other employment, or even exiled to remote labor camps in the Gulag.

Although numerous strikes and other disturbances occurred during this period, eventually many workers responded to the grinding poverty and unfulfilled promises by engaging in the more passive forms of resistance, such as widespread theft from their places of work, frequently changing jobs, and decreasing productivity.

Sources: Subtelny, Liber, Kuromiya, Osokina, p.93, Rassweiler
Notes
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.3b.

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.
Inscriptions
Handwritten caption on photo: “Arbeiterwohnung” [Worker’s dwelling]
Date of Original
1933
Date Of Event
1933
Dimensions
Width: 31 
Height: 23.6 
Image Dimensions
Image Width: 23
Image Height: 17
Subject(s)
Local identifier
PD129
Collection
Alexander Wienerberger: Beyond the Innitzer album
Language of Item
German
Geographic Coverage
  • Kharkiv, Ukraine
    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.3b. Retrieved from: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3636320/data
Location of Original
Private collection of Samara Pearce. Please contact Ms. Pearce for reproductions from the original.
Terms of Use
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.
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An elderly man sits in front of his hut on the outskirts of Kharkiv


An elderly man sits on a small chest, with a long handled hoe in his hand and a woodworking tool near his knee. Many poles and long handled garden tools lie about the yard. Perhaps he repairs or makes these implements for a living. His little hut is built into the side of an embankment, with additional dirt pushed up against part of the front of the house, presumably for insulation.

Some of the captions to this photo state that this is the house of a worker, someone who earned wages from a State run enterprise for a living. It raises the question, whether some relation of the self-employed older man pictured here is employed at the factory that Wienerberger managed or elsewhere, and whether they also lived in this tiny earthen dwelling.

Context:The situation for Urban Residents and Industrial Workers, 1932-1933

While Stalin’s genocidal policies were decimating the countryside, most urban residents and industrial workers were suffering from severe housing shortages and varying degrees of relentless hunger and malnutrition leading to increased mortality.

Once Stalin consolidated power in the mid 1920s, he set in motion his massive industrialization program. All industry would be run by the state, and agriculture would be industrialized as well, via collectivization. To implement this unprecedented transformation, 400 new industrial plants were built in Ukraine alone during the first 5 year plan (1928-1932), some on a massive scale. The Dnipro hydroelectric plant – the largest in Europe at the time, huge steel and aluminum plants, and the Kharkiv tractor factory, were among the most impressive of their type in the USSR. However, by the end of 1932, all of agricultural production and most of the industrial production was removed from Soviet Ukraine’s control to that of Moscow.

Large numbers of people left the countryside to work in the new industrial centers of Ukraine. The number of urban residents nearly doubled between 1920 and 1933, resulted in severe housing shortages and crowding in the cities and nearby industrial sites. This problem was at best met with rapidly, shoddily assembled apartment buildings – but just as often with minimally functional shelters and huts that workers had to improvise themselves outside the cities. In the Donbas, for example, 40% of workers had less than 2 sq. meters of living space per person. At the construction site of the Dnipro Dam, the crowded and unsanitary conditions created significant health issues with inadequate medical care to address them. Outbreaks of smallpox, typhus, and other diseases further weakened workers and their families and increased mortality. In 1929, the State instituted food rationing, which became increasingly restrictive through the Holodomor years.

Stalin repeatedly warned of an imminent threat of attack on the USSR by outside capitalist powers, and workers were driven to perform to the utmost when convinced that their efforts were part of war mobilization. Whiting Williams, whose photos appear in this Directory, quotes miners that he first met in 1928 asking him when the US would attack the Soviet Union. Ultra high achieving workers were celebrated as heroes. The calls to patriotism and pride were used to offset the State’s ever-increasing failures to meet the basic needs of the proletariat. The average worker was surviving on wages that were decreasing in buying power throughout the period, wages that could hardly buy a warm coat, let alone supplement hunger rations. Furthermore, anyone rightly or wrongly accused of some form of neglect could lose their all-important food ration cards or housing, or be blacklisted from other employment, or even exiled to remote labor camps in the Gulag.

Although numerous strikes and other disturbances occurred during this period, eventually many workers responded to the grinding poverty and unfulfilled promises by engaging in the more passive forms of resistance, such as widespread theft from their places of work, frequently changing jobs, and decreasing productivity.

Sources: Subtelny, Liber, Kuromiya, Osokina, p.93, Rassweiler