Non-Holodomor: Two young boys at a medical facility in Russia, the older child feeding the younger
- unknown, Photographer
- Mewes, G. H.
- Media Type
- Item Types
- Pamphlet illustrations
- During the 1920’s, many photographs were taken which show starving individuals being cared for in hospitals or other medical facilities. To date, we have found no authenticated photos of famine victims in medical settings during the Holodomor. Medical personnel were not allowed to acknowledge and record starvation as a medical condition or cause of death during the Holodomor; furthermore, photography in any medical facility was by official permission only, or in model facilities open to visitors, where victims of starvation were not part of the tour.
This photo was one of many taken for the International Save the Children Union (French: L’Union Internationale de Secours aux Enfants) to document famine conditions in Russia in 1921-1922. This scene was also part of a film produced for the Save the Children Fund of the UK. The photo was used in newsletters, pamphlets, posters, and a series of postcards to raise awareness, garner sympathy, and raise funds, particularly in Western Europe, for the massive relief effort that was quickly organized in 1921 to help the starving regions of Russia and later, Ukraine.
As part of the relief effort, food warehouses and temporary medical facilities were erected, transport logistics were developed and implemented and large numbers of outside volunteers came to train and support local residents in medical assistance and to help in the distribution of food and medical supplies. All these efforts, including the conditions of the victims that were found, dead or alive, were carefully documented.
The main participants in the international relief effort were the American Relief Administration (ARA) chaired by Herbert Hoover and the International Committee for Russian Relief led by Fridtjof Nansen. The largest and most consequential by far was the ARA. Participants that coordinated with one or the other organization included, among others, the American Friends Service Committee and the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee from the US; and from Europe: the International Save the Children Union, Friends Emergency War Victims Relief Committee, and the International Red Cross.
- Photo taken between 1921-1922.
Photo Source: La famine en Russie.III. “Les deux etapes de la faim.” Union internationale de secours aux enfants, Geneva, 1922. (Third in a series of 9 postcards created by the UISE), with text in French, mailed out to raise funds and awareness during 1921-22. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fridtjof_Nansen,_Les_deux_%C3%A9tapes_de_la_faim_(1922).jpg
This scene was also portrayed here:
Mewes, G. M, 1922. Famine : The Russian Famine of 1921. Save the Children Fund. 32 mins (9 mins + 23 mins) Black and white; mute. 35mm. The scene of these two young boys eating is shown in a section subtitled: “The two stages of starvation.” The original film is held by the National Film Archive of Great Britain.
It can be viewed on YouTube as: Volga Famine of the 1920's, where the scene appears between 5:29-5:45, https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=hIJirOk7O6w
Also available for viewing and download, with limitations, from the International Committee of the Red Cross, Audiovisual Archives: https://avarchives.icrc.org/Picture/9354
Misattributed as documentation of the 1930’s Soviet famine:
Ammende, Ewald. 1936. Human Life in Russia. London: G. Allen & Unwin.), f.p. 65. (reprinted in 1984 as: Ammende, Ewald, and James E. Mace. 1984. Human life in Russia. Cleveland : Zubal. )
Caption: “Brothers in Distress”
See also: Related Features on right.
- Caption: Variant 1 (shown): “La famine en Russie. III LES DEUX ÉTAPES DE LA FAIM: les membres squelettiques, le ventre ballonné (par l’herbe, la paille, l’écorce d’arbre, les vers, la terre). Ces enfants ne peuvent plus être sauvés, il est trop tard. Pour les sauver, il eût fallu les nourrir avant ce degré d’épuisement.” [Famine in Russia. III. The two stages of hunger: skeletal limbs, bloated stomach (from grass, straw, tree bark, worms, earth.) These children cannot be saved, it is too late. To save them it was necessary to feed them before this level of exhaustion. ]
Variant 2: “La Famine en Russie. III. ENTRA’AIDE.Deux enfants russes squelettiques, le ventre ballonne par l’ecorce d’arbre, l’herbe, la terre glaise dont ils se sont nourris jusqu’a ce jour. 11 francs sufient a nourrir un enfant pendant un mois. 55 francs suffisent jusqu’a l’ete et lui sauvent la vie!” [Famine in Russia. III. HELP! Two skeletal Russian children, stomachs bloated from eating tree bark, grass, and clay until now. 11 francs are enough to feed a child for a month. 55 francs are enough until the summer to save his life!]
- Date of Original
- Date Of Event
- Corporate Name(s)
- Save the Children Fund ; Union internationale de secours aux enfants
- Local identifier
- Select 1920s famine photos from Ukraine and Russia
- Language of Item
- English; French
- Geographic Coverage
Latitude: 51.54056 Longitude: 46.00861
- Copyright Statement
- Public domain: Copyright has expired according to Canadian law. No restrictions on use.
- Recommended Citation
- La famine en Russie.III. “Les deux etapes de la faim.” Union internationale de secours aux enfants, Geneva, 1922. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fridtjof_Nansen,_Les_deux_%C3%A9tapes_de_la_faim_(1922).jpg
Retrieved from: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3636687/data
- Location of Original
- See terms on Wikimedia Commons for reproduction of the postcard.
- Reproduction Notes
- Photo of postcard is reproduced from Wikimedia as cited above. Note that the explanatory text with the photo on Wikimedia Commons is somewhat inaccurate.