Holodomor
Young girl lies dead on a wooden stairway near one of Kharkiv’s rivers
Description
Creator
Wienerberger, Alexander, 1891-1955, Photographer
Media Type
Image
Text
Item Types
Photographs
Photograph albums
Description
A young girl wearing a traditional white head scarf lies dead and alone on a set of stairs near a river. Wienerberger shows the feet of a man walking past her and another man standing not far away. Although she and a few other people are wearing coats, one can see in the distance that some people are bathing in the river, while some sit on the river’s edge.

Context: Homeless children during the Holodomor

As famine conditions in Ukraine became ever more severe in the 1930’s, the numbers of homeless youth increased dramatically. Starving parents from the countryside sometimes dropped off their children in urban areas in the desperate hope that they had a better chance for survival there. Perhaps they might be taken in by a kind stranger or an orphanage. Older children sometimes left their dead or dying families in the villages of their own accord, also in the hope of finding a means to stay alive in the city. Abandonment and runaways occurred, though to a lesser extent, among urban families as well.

The older children tended to band together, begging, scrounging for scraps, and stealing to survive. Prostitution was not uncommon. Living and sleeping on the streets in unsanitary conditions, they were susceptible to often fatal diseases carried by lice or caused by unclean drinking water.

The situation was particularly acute in Kharkiv. Officials report 9,000 children picked up off the streets in one week alone in May, 1933. There were not enough provisions in the overcrowded orphanages, where the death rate was 30% and higher from disease and starvation. Conditions were so appalling that more able-bodied children often escaped to return to a chance for survival in the streets.
Notes
Photo taken between spring – late summer, 1933.

Photo source: Wienerberger, Alexander. Die Hungertragödie in Südrussland 1933; also known as the Innitzer Album, 1934. p.16.

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: “Auch das Kindesalter blieb nicht verschont.” [Even childhood was not spared.]
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
PD17
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.16. Retrieved from: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3636384/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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Young girl lies dead on a wooden stairway near one of Kharkiv’s rivers


A young girl wearing a traditional white head scarf lies dead and alone on a set of stairs near a river. Wienerberger shows the feet of a man walking past her and another man standing not far away. Although she and a few other people are wearing coats, one can see in the distance that some people are bathing in the river, while some sit on the river’s edge.

Context: Homeless children during the Holodomor

As famine conditions in Ukraine became ever more severe in the 1930’s, the numbers of homeless youth increased dramatically. Starving parents from the countryside sometimes dropped off their children in urban areas in the desperate hope that they had a better chance for survival there. Perhaps they might be taken in by a kind stranger or an orphanage. Older children sometimes left their dead or dying families in the villages of their own accord, also in the hope of finding a means to stay alive in the city. Abandonment and runaways occurred, though to a lesser extent, among urban families as well.

The older children tended to band together, begging, scrounging for scraps, and stealing to survive. Prostitution was not uncommon. Living and sleeping on the streets in unsanitary conditions, they were susceptible to often fatal diseases carried by lice or caused by unclean drinking water.

The situation was particularly acute in Kharkiv. Officials report 9,000 children picked up off the streets in one week alone in May, 1933. There were not enough provisions in the overcrowded orphanages, where the death rate was 30% and higher from disease and starvation. Conditions were so appalling that more able-bodied children often escaped to return to a chance for survival in the streets.