Letter sent from:
Letter describes events in (1932-1933):
Semenivka, Arbuzynka raion, Odesa oblast
Current location name:
Semenivka, Arbuzynka raion, Mykolaiv oblast
The author is the son of the head of one of the kolhosps formed in the village of Semenivka, Arbuzynka raion, Odesa oblast. His father was a communist and he describes himself as a communist and atheist. However, he decries the moral decline and the devastation of the village cause by the famine. As a child at the time (12 years old in 1933), he claims to remember details vividly.
The famine was artificially created to make peasants join the collective farms. Harvest in 1932 was very good, everyone fulfilled their procurement plans, but then there were two more plans imposed, and when the peasants failed to fulfill the third one, search brigades came to take whatever food was left in each household.
After the crack down on the church, no one was left to show mercy to the starving. The church was crushed by 1933. There had been women's rebellions in support of the church, but there was no one left to rebel by 1933. The best people in the community were deported, jailed, eliminated physically, or exhausted. People became adept at stealing from the kolhosp because they lived in constant fear of starving.
People travelled for food to cities or to the Caucasus by train. Describes mock foods, the role of weeds and a cow in a family's survival. Estimates that at least half of Semenivka's population or 5,000 people died. Corpses were left rotting in the houses with no one left to bury them. The author witnessed a case of familial cannibalism.
Rations were provided in the local kolhosp. They even fed some people from neighboring villages.
He blames Stalin, the central government, the Ukrainian government, and overzealous local perpetrators. Kosior and Petrovsky visited [well-known Ukrainian authorities]. They all knew and did nothing. Denies that there was sabotage by the local communists and writes that most of them became victims of persecution themselves. People sent from the cities to help in the fields were "inept."
Famine was worst in the spring of 1933, before the new harvest. This is when the most able-bodied people died of famine and of stomach infections, which were widespread.
People attempting to steal rye spikelets from the new harvest were often caught, beat up, and sent to jail. There were observation towers to prevent the stealing of grain.
Ukrainian transcription and English translation are available.