A traffic officer is getting a shoeshine from a young boy with the new Kharkiv government buildings in the background
- Williams, Whiting, 1878-1975, Photographer
- Media Type
- Item Types
- Newspaper illustrations
- Williams presents us with a wide range of elements to contemplate: In the foreground stands a smartly attired traffic officer – his hat and tunic a striking white. A boy of around 10 in a sleeveless undershirt grins at the photographer as he gives the officer’s tall leather boots a brisk shine. A few men wait while another leaves with what appear to be a drink in hand from a concession that is hidden from view, but bears a large sign saying “Води” meaning beverages in this case.
In the background looms the Держпром or Derzhprom, (Gosprom in Russian), the State Industry Building. It was designed and built in the late 1920’s to provide Kharkiv, the newly designated capital of the Soviet Ukrainian Republic an appropriately impressive, innovative Soviet style structure for the administrative offices of its numerous government owned industries, or “trusts,” as well as other government departments. Williams comments that there are hardly any automobiles visible nearby; just a year earlier, photographer James Abbe (Abbe, I Photograph Russia, fp 285) shows the Derzhprom with a row of horse-drawn cabs in the foreground.
Williams states in his travel journal that he was accompanied for much of his 1933 journey by an official Soviet tourist guide, who no doubt escorted this Kharkiv excursion. The impressive Derzhprom, like the smartly dressed traffic officer with no traffic to direct, are but two examples of the lengths to which Stalin’s government went to present a façade of power, progress and prosperity.
- This photo, taken August, 1933, was used to illustrate “My Journey Through Famine-Stricken Russia,” (February 24, 1934, p.17), the first of two articles by Whiting Williams that ran in a London weekly titled Answers.
The original photograph and the published version are both shown.
See Special Features menu to link to the article.
- Williams' caption on back of photograph: “The offices of the various Government ‘trusts’ or employing companies in the Republic of the Ukraine, and a traffic cop – everything splendid except that, outside street cars and official autos, there’s no traffic.”
Caption under photo in Answers: “The lighter side of Russia today – a traffic-policeman has a shoe-shine outside the great new office blocks erected at Kharkov.”
- Date of Original
- August 1933
- Local identifier
- Whiting Williams
- Language of Item
- Geographic Coverage
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.
- Recommended Citation
- For original: [caption ]; [Container 1, Folder 9 ] PG 89 Whiting Williams Photographs, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH. Retrieved from: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3634077/data
For published version: Williams, Whiting. “My Journey Through Famine-Stricken Russia,” Answers (weekly). London, February 24, 1934, p.17. Retrieved from: http://vitacollections.ca/HREC-holodomorphotodirectory/3634077/data
- Location of Original
- [Container 1, Folder 9 ] PG 89 Whiting Williams Photographs, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH.
- Reproduction of images is restricted to fair use for personal study or research. Any other use requires a contractual agreement with the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH. Contact the Society directly at:
- Reproduction Notes
- Reproduced by contractual agreement with the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH.