Holodomor
Three women resting on a grassy plot near some houses and a factory in Kharkiv
Description
Creator
Wienerberger, Alexander, 1891-1955, Photographer
Media Type
Image
Text
Item Types
Photographs
Photograph albums
Description
In a yard or grassy area near what may be factory housing, we see a woman sleeping or resting in the foreground, with two other women behind her. One is cradling the head of the other in her lap, inspecting the anguished looking woman for lice, according to Wienerberger. Most likely these women came to the city from the starving rural countryside and are now homeless. The unsanitary conditions of homelessness increased the possibilities for a variety of diseases, including deadly typhus carried by lice. On the other side of the wooden fence nearby are two sets of railroad tracks and a factory is visible in the distance.

Context: the fate of rural migrants in the cities

In the winter of 1932, Moscow closed the borders of Ukraine and the Kuban to stop the rapidly increasing numbers of residents from leaving in search of food. Those apprehended at the borders were either arrested and deported or sent back to die in their villages. New internal passport requirements were instituted in 1932 and expanded in 1933 which restricted travel from the villages to the cities, and mandated residency registration in the cities. But with their last food reserves stripped away from them, the desperate, starving rural residents continued to turn to the major urban and industrial centers of Ukraine as their last hope.

Formidable obstacles awaited them in a large overcrowded city such as Kharkiv, whose population had nearly doubled between 1920-1933. Officially, Ukraine’s rural residents were now considered illegal aliens in the cities, and as illegals without close family or friends in the city, it would be almost impossible to find a place to stay, and by law, no public shelters were available. Most ended up sleeping and congregating in vacant lots or simply along streets and sidewalks. The weakened, impoverished migrants living in such unsanitary conditions were susceptible to often fatal diseases carried by lice or caused by unclean drinking water.

Rural residents were not allowed food ration coupons, therefore could not access the city’s primary sources of food, however inadequate they were. Having traded their last life’s possessions for bread, having no work or shelter, too weak to return to their villages to die - many of Ukraine’s once proud farming families succumbed to slow death from disease and starvation in the neighborhoods of urban Ukraine.
Notes
Photo source: Wienerberger, Alexander. Die Hungertragödie in Südrussland 1933; also known as the Innitzer Album, 1934. p.6.

This is one of 25 photographs depicting life and death in and around Kharkiv during the Holodomor that the photographer put together in a small album with a handwritten title: Die Hungertragödie in Südrussland 1933 [The Tragedy of Famine in South Russia 1933.] He presented the album to the Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodor Innitzer of Vienna in 1934 as an expression of appreciation for the Cardinal’s efforts in trying to organize an international campaign to assist the victims of starvation in 1933. The album is housed in the collections of the Diözesanarchiv, Vienna, Austria.

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 in album: “Verlauste Todeskandidaten.” [Lice-ridden, with not long to live.]
Date of Original
1933
Date Of Event
1933
Dimensions
Width: 24 cm
Height: 13.8 cm
Image Dimensions
Image Width: 10.8cm
Image Height: 7.9cm
Subject(s)
Local identifier
PD7
Collection
Alexander Wienerberger: Innitzer album
Language of Item
German
Geographic Coverage
  • Kharkiv, Ukraine
    Latitude: 49.98081 Longitude: 36.25272
Copyright Statement
Protected by copyright: Uses other than research or private study require the permission of the rightsholder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Copyright Holder
Samara Pearce https://www.samarapearce.com/
Recommended Citation
Wienerberger, Alexander. Die Hungertragödie in Südrussland 1933: Album Presented by the Photographer to Cardinal Theodor Innitzer of Vienna. Vienna: Diözesanarchiv der Erzdiözese, [1934]. p.6. Retrieved from: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3636362/data
Location of Original
Diözesanarchiv - Bibliothek, Vienna, Austria. Please contact this archive for official reproductions.
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 and the Diözesanarchiv - Bibliothek, Vienna, Austria.
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Three women resting on a grassy plot near some houses and a factory in Kharkiv


In a yard or grassy area near what may be factory housing, we see a woman sleeping or resting in the foreground, with two other women behind her. One is cradling the head of the other in her lap, inspecting the anguished looking woman for lice, according to Wienerberger. Most likely these women came to the city from the starving rural countryside and are now homeless. The unsanitary conditions of homelessness increased the possibilities for a variety of diseases, including deadly typhus carried by lice. On the other side of the wooden fence nearby are two sets of railroad tracks and a factory is visible in the distance.

Context: the fate of rural migrants in the cities

In the winter of 1932, Moscow closed the borders of Ukraine and the Kuban to stop the rapidly increasing numbers of residents from leaving in search of food. Those apprehended at the borders were either arrested and deported or sent back to die in their villages. New internal passport requirements were instituted in 1932 and expanded in 1933 which restricted travel from the villages to the cities, and mandated residency registration in the cities. But with their last food reserves stripped away from them, the desperate, starving rural residents continued to turn to the major urban and industrial centers of Ukraine as their last hope.

Formidable obstacles awaited them in a large overcrowded city such as Kharkiv, whose population had nearly doubled between 1920-1933. Officially, Ukraine’s rural residents were now considered illegal aliens in the cities, and as illegals without close family or friends in the city, it would be almost impossible to find a place to stay, and by law, no public shelters were available. Most ended up sleeping and congregating in vacant lots or simply along streets and sidewalks. The weakened, impoverished migrants living in such unsanitary conditions were susceptible to often fatal diseases carried by lice or caused by unclean drinking water.

Rural residents were not allowed food ration coupons, therefore could not access the city’s primary sources of food, however inadequate they were. Having traded their last life’s possessions for bread, having no work or shelter, too weak to return to their villages to die - many of Ukraine’s once proud farming families succumbed to slow death from disease and starvation in the neighborhoods of urban Ukraine.