SHELLS WITHOUT SOULS

So, why should they care about their victims anymore? Why should they care about their mothers and sisters in Mother Ukraine? And that is why the Holodomor tragedy is their tragedy too although they never will admit it. Because they didn’t want to. They too must respect their duty to public service and the rituals of their class distinction as leaders of society, philanthropists dedicated to uplift the oppressed and downtrodden. Most probably they cannot care. Like the battle-weary soldier of the war returning to the peace of his home town words would have no meaning, empty words, shells without soul. It would be too painful, and they don’t feel the pain. They don’t feel anything. Greed and the rage for profits and service to a greater evil robbed them of their Humanity to their fellow man. Otherwise how would they pursue a logic of war and destruction making it so easy to send millions of young men and women, barely adults, to suffer painful deaths. It is criminal but it is so. Rockefeller could laugh, tossing dimes to young girls in white cotton dresses sitting on his knees and speak of God and the people would listen and believe and wait for the Final Judgment. Stalin, too, alone in a stark bare room behind an empty table and his list of new victims to be taken away and eliminated.

Cole tells Skinner he had been in contact with Russians “ever since the 1st of January 1913”. He is at a loss, at the crossroads in his career and uncertain where to go with Skinner’s absurd and inane exercise. Cole refuses to play fiddle. He tells his thinly masked Skinner, “I feel myself incompetent to express a reasoned judgment of the particular kind you desire”. During the coup and armed intervention for three years from 1917-19 had been stationed in the cold northern wilderness of Archangel not far from Solovki. Cole admittedly declared he had read “all” the “interviews with Americans coming out of Russia” and similar interviews form other Legations and found them all biased and subjective “controlled by whether or not he wants to go back in again at an early or a later date”. To the nature of the “happiness of the Russian people” he ventured a description. “What can be drawn from the printed material at the disposal of the Legation in regard to the specific question you ask? Little or nothing, I believe.” And that should have been the end of it. But the point of the matter was not who was or was not better off under communism than during the Tsarist era. Would the Soviet regime persist. And that was very much on everyone’s mind. Cole wrote, “until physical misery and mental discontent become so extreme that life under the given conditions is no longer bearable people do not revolt and throw off the existing social system. Whatever may be the degree of happiness or unhappiness the Russian population now enjoys or suffers, the latter is not sufficient now – and I do not believe will soon be – to put the present Soviet Government out of the saddle.”

It should not seem that unreal that Cole would here refer to his experience in Russia under “the famine which the ARA relieved in 1921 and during the NEP until the fall of 1930” to qualify as a proper background to ground his reply to Skinner’s inquiry about prospects for regime change and Russian forbearance under socialist repression though not uttering a word about starving conditions in these most difficult and tense test to stay the course and get through the crisis that has been inflicted on one hundred and sixty million people.

About the plight of the peasantry Cole describes the dilemma of people’s dissatisfaction with living conditions in Russia : “Here again, as in the army, one would have to have lived both in the old villages and in the new collective and Soviet farms. The only fairly certain guess that can be made is that since the dekulakization campaign in 1930 the individual peasants are pretty miserable, being a class harried and harassed both physically and legally. Before 1930 it is a safe statement that they were very much better off than under the old regime, roughly during two periods; first after the war and before the period of ‘war communism’ with its attendant grain seizures which contributed to the famine which the ARA relieved in 1921 and during the NEP until the fall of 1930.” The latter time frame puts responsibility squarely on the launching of The Plans and the Consortium squarely in the center with Stalin.

William M. Gwynn is pragmatic, a bit mystical even prophetic. Gwynn writes, “The Russians, like the rest of us, will be happy when they want what they’ve got, as they will probably never get what they want.” For most of the hundred million Russians today this is still the sad truth.

Then there is the Margolin letter. About this time a detailed and accurate report of famine in the Ukraine falls into the hands of Undersecretary James G. Rogers in Washington. It was sent by Arnold D. Margolin, the American-Ukrainian of significant prestige and experience recently returned from a trip to Europe, including Germany and Czechoslovakia, “where”, Margolin informs the American government undersecretary, “I had a few instructive talks with some of the officials and – in Germany – also with several leading industrialists and business men”. His memorandum is sent to Klots, as well as Rogers. “Since the beginning of wholesale collectivization of the farmers,” Arnold Margolin informed Stimson’s office, “a great number of hungry peasants are brought from time to time to the hospitals; most of them have swollen arms and legs as the result of starvation. There is a mass desertion of villages by peasants who run in an unknown direction, trying to find some new occupation.” Further, in his conclusion he meant not to be overlooked, Margolin substantiated his findings that “Especially strong is the separatist movement among the peasants and intellectuals. Also a very considerable portion of factory workers are in favor of a political independent existence of Ukraine.”

Who is he? Since 1922, Margolin, a naturalized American who was born in the Ukraine and practices law in Boston. Not just any Ukrainian, however. He is the former Justice of the Ukrainian Supreme Court, and former member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. At the end of the civil war when Ukraine was lost to the Reds he emigrated to the US, in 1922. During these last “five or six years” Margolin met frequently with Kelley, and Stimson’s close advisers undersecretaries Rogers and Cotton. Rogers holds Margolin’s letter and documents. He writes Margolin, on August 18, “I shall read these with interest at the first opportunity”. But he offered him no encouragement or compassion for the victims less even an acknowledgment of the existence of a famine in the Ukraine. Rogers added, “In spite of the constant newspaper discussion of the change of policy in regard to Russia, there have been no developments here of any importance”. In fact, official recognition of the Soviets is still a year off. Kelley recalls Margolin had been “introduced to the Department by Professor Frankfurter and Justice Brandeis”. Margolin’s information we can be sure reached the top of the American judicial and executive branches of the US government. (J. G. Rogers to Arnold D. Margolin, Aug. 18, 1932; SDDF 11536)

On prices and conditions Margolin reports “the lack of bread in the distributory Government agencies… On the markets, peasants sell rye bread of 5 pounds for 10 roubles (2 roubles per pound). A small semi-white roll of ¼ pound costs 1 rouble on the market.” (value of a rouble 51 cents, “any private person for a price which in Soviet roubles is twenty times greater than the official valuation of the rouble”; a pound of rye bread distributed in rations coast “only five kopeks. The rations are, however, very small. So, the Soviet employees receive ½ pound, plus ¼ pound for each of the dependent members of the families. The factory workers receive from 1 to 1 ½ pound per person, plus ½ pound for each of the dependent members of their families. As a matter of fact, these additional rations for members of families are very seldom distributed in full measure because of the lack of bread…The ration of meat for the above privileged categories (factory workers and employees) is 2 ½ pounds per person and month. Sugar is almost entirely absent, and when it appears, the price is one rouble per pound in the government stores, and from 6 to 7 roubles – if bought from secret speculators, 10 eggs cost 5-6 roubles, butter – from 10 to 17 roubles a pound, Strawberries 1 ½ roubles for a pound, apples – 1 to 3 roubles a pound; lemons and oranges are considered as a luxury and cost from 3 to 10 roubles each. Kerosene is distributed on the basis of 8 pounds per person and month for privileged persons. On secret markets, kerosene costs from 50 ko Up to 1 rouble per pound. Speculators seldom have meat for secret sales; but even when meat appears on the market, it costs 3 – 3 ½ roubles per pound. Very bad sausages are sold for 2-3 roubles a pound, and very bad ham – 8 -12 roubles a pound. A chicken costs 12-15 roubles, a duck – 17 roubles. Only one rationed cake of very bad soap is sold per month and person for 20 -30 kopeks; on private markets a little cake of soap costs from 1 ½ to 6 roubles. The clothes are almost absent… The only two categories of people who are well fed and clothes are all the members and employees of the GPU and the Red Army. Even factory workers receive but 150 roubles per person and month. This sum is not even sufficient to buy the bread necessary for the survival of the dependent members of their families. There are everywhere spies of the G.U. among the factory workers who watch the workers and compel them to vote for ‘voluntary’ loans imposed upon distributed among the workers. All the resolutions at meetings of factory workers are prepared in advance by the agents of the GPU.” But the Americans knew that, right? What didn’t they know that wasn’t already explicit in the mountains of documents on “Russian conditions” filed since the 1917 October Revolution?

Margolin’s knowledge of the GPU confirmed countless other reports about the real program of collectivization and the methods evident day and night of Stalin’s “pacification” of the Ukraine. He writes, “Many of them destroyed their poultry during the collectivization, and went to Moscow and other large cities for the purpose of selling the feathers of the killed birds. The price for this commodity is very high in Moscow, and its weight is light and easily transportable. There remained in many villages only women and girls….The GPU penetrates into all spheres of the life, has its own cooperatives and warehouses. Wholesale arrests of all those who are suspected of concealing some foreign money or gold, or precious stones are made from time to time. The arrested people are subjected to many tortures such as deprivation of sleeping; they are compelled to stay on their feet for 24 hours, etc. All these trials are continued until the power of resistance is broken, and the victims surrender, either confessing what they have and giving everything away to the Government, or denouncing friends, neighbors, etc. Only 5 % of the registered Communists are sincere fanatics; the rest are liars and lazy people. There is a sec-sot (secret co-worker of the GPU) in every house.”

Nonetheless, according to this report, the Ukrainian language is still tolerated. “There is no trace of autonomy in the Soviet Republics as far as administration and economic life are concerned. The only field where Ukraine and other non-Russian Territories have some autonomy is the domain of local language. In Ukraine, the Ukrainian language is taught as the main language in all the primary and high schools. Even Jewish children in the cities speak a better Ukrainian than Russian in the schools at the present time. Street car conductors speak Ukrainian, all the names of streets, signs, etc. are in Ukrainian language. A very great number of books appear in Ukrainian language; both original literature and translations into Ukrainian from other languages. Every year all the Soviet employees in Ukraine are re-examined anew in Ukrainian language, literature, history. In the largest theaters, plays and operas are given or sung in the Ukrainian language.”

Margolin’s report is in sharp contradiction to pro-Soviet tone of the American Riga Legation summaries prepared for Skinner. Margolin is very clear about a strong nationalist sentiment seething with resentment against the Soviet communists. He writes, “The overwhelming majority of the population are impatiently waiting for the end of the Soviet regime. Even Jews who realize that any sudden change of Government can bring civil war and chaos, accompanied by Jewish pograms, have the same feeling, i.e., want to see the end of the existing government. ‘Let us go through most dreadful pogroms, and let us put an end to the present unbearable situation’, so say even older, well balanced Jews in their despair. The Ukrainian Population of Ukraine is bitterly opposed to any dependence of Ukraine on Russia in the future.” The report added, in a note “Among the 31 millions of the population of the Soviet Ukrainian Republic over 75% are Ukrainians. The remaining part of the population are Russians, Jews, Poles and some other non-numerous nationalities. A.M.”.

Another letter to Rogers arrives from Margolin sent on August 17. Margolin has since updated his findings with recent information from fellow Ukrainians including “the President of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party, Izaak Mazeppa”, who, Margolin said “is one of the Ukrainian delegates at the Second International”. This is particularly important, he said, since the “views of the group he represents seem to me very sound and genuinely democratic.” Margolin suggests that his friend Rogers “and Mr. Klots might be interested in Mr. Mazeppa’s letter…” Seven pages written in french are sent to the State Department. Mazeppa reached out to England and America “a notre cause” (“in our struggle) of an independent Ukraine. But his appeal for US government aid to a nationalist Ukrainian movement against the Kremlin falls on deaf ears. The Ukrainians will still have to endure famine, war and 59 years more of constant oppression and terror before realizing their independence and national liberation from the Kremlin’s grip that bounds their lives and resources. Mazeppa’s enclosed letter dated July 20, 1932 is addressed to Arnold Davidovitch. It confirms Stalin’s worst fear. Ukraine, insists the nationalist leader was never Bolshevist, and remains in spirit free unlike the Russian people:

Contrairement a ce que pretendent certains enemies de la cause ukrainienne, ce n’est pas vrai que le people ukrainien ne tient pas a l’Ukraine independante. Sans exaggeration on peut affirmer qu’aujourd’hui on ne trouverait pas un seul Ukranien politiquement concient qui ne tiendrait a l’independence nationale de l’Ukraine. Tous les partis politique ukrainiens, sans aucune exception, ont aujourd’hui le meme mot d’ordre: l’independence de l’Ukraine.”

Briefly paraphrased Mazeppa declares there isn’t a Ukrainian alive who would not welcome the national independence of the Ukraine. All that might have seemed very interesting at the moment. For Kelley the most urgent matter, however, was expansion of the international communist movement and subversion of the American democratic system inside America’s borders.

That summer Kelley keeps Stimson informed of a “sub-agency of the Communist International in Berlin having “funneled over a half-million dollars” to buy weapons for the Chinese communist revolution. Kelley tells his boss that the money was certainly not intended for “trade union” activities. (761.62/277; A. Meier, 201)

This same summer Bullitt travels on the same route from Moscow south into the Crimea towards the Black Sea but he sees little of that Ukrainian life that animated Witkin’s trip or which figures in Margolin’s numbers. Fischer had alerted Bullitt that Stalin “although away in the Caucasus, two days’ journey from Moscow – was closely following my negotiations, and that he advised the Committee to reverse itself.” Bullitt learns that “Fischer got his information from a member of the Committee of Ten” and confirmed by Krestensky, Acting Commissar for Foreign Affairs. “When we tried to see him in connection with the Bank’s books,” Bullitt discovers, “he sent back word that until Stalin and the Central Committee finished with us, he could not see us even informally.” Without a deal in hand Bullitt returns to America sometime late August 1932. He might have traveled through the Ukraine and riveted the world’s attention on the coming famine. Bullitt this time instead prefers secret diplomacy to chasing headlines set to newsprint selling newspapers owned by his Consortium pals. Lenin was dead. Trotsky the internationalist and doctrinaire communist for “Permanent Revolution” is living in exile. Nikolai Bukharin who moved the Party closer to the Stalinist line of “Socialism in one country” has been marginalized. It appears Bullitt and his fellow Americans in Riga and Washington feel as though they are part of a historical process over which they have no control. They grind their teeth, grin and smoke, drink their cognac and whiskeys and advance their government careers unable to change the course of events of their public service. Yet each one of them like Bullitt will suffer dreams and fantasies of another world if only life could have been different as Bullitt does four years later as ambassador in his beloved Paris when he had time and distance to reflect on life in the US after Stalin and his Consortium backers twisted and welded the great hopes of socialist experiment into a industrial totalitarian complex of grinding machines, forced labor, terror, exile, executions and famine. By then it is too late.

The Plans of the Consortium thoroughly depress Bullitt who seems forever disillusioned since the prime of his heyday when he was the young and adventuring idealist embarking to Red Square on the House mission to Lenin for Wilson. The world had changed horribly since then and Bullitt played his role as they all did in the Russian section to promote the Department’s plans put in place ultimately by the executive authority of the President. The Russians are still struggling to survive. Of that he could be sure. In 1919 during the chaos of civil war, terror and famine, Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution had promised a great proletarian future. The glowing accounts of life in the Soviet Union whether written by Duranty or the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce seemed paradoxically similar to official Soviet propaganda. Instead of embracing the Soviet industrial revolution, Bullitt winced, grimaced at the singularly sour and gray face of despair and infectious paranoia of the Russians whom he had once found so eager to welcome the American foreigner. What would Bullitt do now?

Desperate not to be left out of the circle in the changing order of power Bullitt frequently writes the enigmatic Col. House, the Consortium ace always at the center of power. Neither shows any interest in the famine or treachery of the communist regime or compassion for the Ukraine. The Consortium would get their man in Moscow but in the end the final choice would be left to FDR.

FDR is the smoothest of operators around whom all the President’s men turn playing out their roles. To his credit Bullitt is still the establishment’s Bolshevik, a chum who counts among his friends “Ave” Harriman and song and drama star Cole Porter of Yale, together in the very rich and party scene of the Astor Vanderbilt society. (Cole Porter’s 1934 song You’re the Top contains the lyric, “You’re the top, you’re a Waldorf salad”.) But when he is alone Bullitt doesn’t really a friend in the world. He whimpers about his loneliness and seeks intellectual comfort in the bourgeois sexual mythology of the famed psychoanalyst in Vienna, Sigmund Freud who did more than his share to screw up the 20th century mindset of Bullitt’s generation and their sons. Bullitt was a lonely man, and he’ll be the loneliest man in Moscow after Stalin is no longer amused to keep him around.

Bullitt doesn’t miss the opportunity to send House his New Year greetings. “I meant to write you in my last letter that I had made arrangements in London to have any question whatever asked in the House of Commons: so that if you want anything explored by that means you have only to let me know.” Just to drive home the nail, Bullitt persists and writes the following week, “I should, of course, be glad to have you show Roosevelt my letter and I hope you will, as you suggest, let him know that I might not be altogether useless.” If that’s any reference to the abortive 1919 mission, the less said the better. Then throwing on more flattery which Bullitt was famously unashamed to do, he cautioned House that his own contact with Roosevelt “was so slight that I should have to come into contact with him de novo, and I should of course rather come to him through you than through anyone else in the world.”

Bullitt and “the Colonel” it was purely an honorary title, his health prevented any military career , renewed their correspondence in the mid 1920s as well as meeting in Europe, New York, and at Bullitt’s farm in the Berkshires. Their correspondence picked up in 1930, after Bullitt became more involved in his work with the Viennese psychologist Sigmund Freud ever since their collaboration for Bullitt’s vindictive book on Woodrow Wilson. In March 1930 Bullitt reminded House of their dinner with the Turkish ambassador in Vienna when told “not to talk about the Armenian Genocide”, or the slaughter of a million people by the Turks in 1915. Bullitt keeps House well informed about his progress, prompting House on July 31, 1930 to advise Bullitt that he use more discretion and ‘write with moderation and without bias so that your influence may carry with those who disagree as well as those who agree with you.”

According to scholar Casella- Blackburn, in The Donkey, the Carrot, and the Club, Bullitt had so thoroughly impressed House, Wilson’s adviser that House initiated the process leading to Bullitt’s work for Roosevelt. Bullitt had sent a letter from Europe on political conditions there; House reassured Bullitt that he would ‘let the Governor read it in confidence so that he may have the benefit of the information you give.” Late 1931 Bullitt writes House on Soviet-Euro relations. “Incidently in London I ran into the information, ‘direct’ information, that the Soviet Government intended to endure any provocation rather than go to war with Japan.” (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 74-5, William C. Bullitt Papers, Yale Univ. Archives)

Bullitt is still an actor without role. By the time Bullitt sits firm in the saddle with the new Democratic administration he will display for FDR the same passion for early 20th century American liberalism that he and journalist Walter Lippmann coin for President Wilson when he officially pushes America into the First World War, backed by George Creel’s government phalanx of CPI (Committee of Public Information) journalists. Then Bullitt was a junior Washington reporter and learned then if you wanted to pole-vault your career, better to keep House’s direct telephone number. On April 6, 1917 he writes Wilson after briefly meeting the newly declared war President, “I just want to tell you,” Bullitt ventured, “that today you said the things which everyone in the world who cares about the future of Humanity has been waiting for you to say. And you said them supremely well. You’ve made yourself the leader of everyone in the world who wants real peace.” Back in the Wilson era when weeks after Lenin smashed the Constituent Assembly ending all chances of compromise between Bolsheviks and democratic parties by February 1918 Bullitt is urging House to recognize the Bolsheviks and give them everything they need to survive. Writing then he declares “… it is so obvious that no words could so effectively stamp the President’s address with uncompromising liberalism as would the act of recognizing the Bolsheviki”. Then Bullitt had pleaded with House to replace the US ambassador Francis with “an Ambassador who will not be an obvious target for radical attack … and will be able in at least some measure to understand what the Bolsheviki are about?” But Bullitt was young and very brash then and he didn’t know much at all who Francis was or what Francis was really up to there in the grab for Tsarist concessions. Had he really known more about the Bolshevik mentality, or Russian history which he confessed to Croly he was not too up on, he might have had more diplomatic skill with Stalin. (W. Brownell and R. N. Billings, “Pipeline to the President”, 67)

Freud and Bullitt together share a dislike bordering on mocking contempt for Woodrow Wilson. Unwilling to be perceived as an adoptee of “the American method”, the Viennese Freud confesses, “As far as a single individual can be responsible for the misery of this part of the world, he surely is.” In his chapter titled “The Ugly Americans” Peter Gay depicts Bullitt’s collaboration with Freud in 1930 having first contacted him in the mid-twenties about collaborating on a psychological historical portrait of Wilson and the Versailles Treaty debacle. Freud could not forgive him for making a blunder of his “Fourteen Points”, calling them “fantastic promises” beyond the scope of any reality. Freud has little affection for America, and late in his life refers to it as an “anti-Paradise”. He added, :”Yes, America is gigantic, but a gigantic mistake.” and finds it bothersome late in his life with his publishing firm Verlag to be “working for the dollar”. In 1932 he said, “My suspicion of America is unconquerable.” The description in Peter Gay’s seminal work on Freud leaves with Bullitt political suicide before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September 1919 revealing details of his secret diplomatic mission and revealing confidential secrets including Lansing’s opposition to the treaty. Freud’s loyal and strong-minded daughter Anna exhibited no fondness for Bullitt finding him more than a little intolerable. “There is no doubt about it that my father over-estimated Bullitt. I never did.” (Anna Freud to Dr. Max Schur, Nov. 6, 1966, P. Gay, Freud, 555-70, 776 note.)

During this time 1930-31 Bullitt writes frequently to House of his work with Freud; mid-December he and his daughter settle in Vienna while he observes Austria “slowly sliding towards the abyss of stagnation and starvation”. That month House writes asking to be kept informed, “How are you and Prof. Freud getting along with your book. I shall be eager to see it.” Bullitt replied “The book is at last finished … at least there is now a complete manuscript and I am beginning to think about politics again” It was only published after the death of Wilson’s widow,and a year after Bullitt dies in 1966, titled Thomas Woodrow Wilson. (P. Gay, Freud, 557-8)

This time his technique with FDR was identical but bore more fruit. Bullitt leans on Louis Wehle, FDR’s Harvard classmate, and prominent New York lawyer who had helped keep Roosevelt’s presidential ambitions alive during the twenties; Wehle is also a mutual friend of Col. House. For too long now Bullitt has been out of the loop and doesn’t know where to go or who to turn to. Wehle tells him to stick to his loyalities in the Democratic Party that he spurned a decade before in the highly publicized scandal and turned his nose up at the Party and exiled himself to the Mediterranean resorts of southern France. Bullitt is depressed and lonely, estranged from Louise Bryant who he left in Paris in a messy divorce with a meager settlement and taking away from her their young daughter. Bryant loathed Bullitt and never stopped loving Reed. Wehle tells him to be patient and stay close to House who proposes Bullitt to Roosevelt for the Paris ambassador job, but it goes instead to Jesse Strauss, the wealthy campaign backer and president of Macy’s department store in New York. On August 28 he writes House again prostrating himself with devout loyalty common to sinners, saints and other scoundrels. Bullitt makes a final plea to House, “If I can be of the slightest use please command me. I am entirely at the disposal of Roosevelt and yourself for any service you may wish in the campaign.” Why didn’t anyone call?

His luck changed. By September 3, Bullitt writes House of his encounter with Louis Howe, intimate friend of FDR and his presidential campaign manager. Bullitt signs on as a speech writer at the NY headquarters. A lucky break for the man banished from the Democratic Party center after his flash in the glory of history that led to Lenin and Freud. Still it’s a step down and Bullitt knows that the longer he stays there he’d be in a rut. Ironically those earlier days with House and Wilson are his only claim to the job in Moscow. He went for it like a devil back from hell desperate to get closer to Roosevelt and this time stick. Bullitt tells House “… as you said on the phone, there is no reason why, if he wants me, he should not lift me out of the New York organization”. Roosevelt promised to raise taxes on the wealthy. Bullitt worries the Democrats had little money. He wrote, “… there seems to be scarcely a penny to elect Mr. Roosevelt”. (W. Brownell and R. N. Billings, 126)

Louis Wehle is no insignificant conduit either. He writes FDR August 13 telling him to use Bullitt in Europe. Wehle later takes credit for recommending Bullitt for Moscow telling FDR “… if we should recognize Russia, he would by all odds be your best man as our first ambassador”. Few Americans today have any clue who was Louis Wehle and his power he sways over the White House. A lawyer and member of Wilson’s war cabinet he sat on the US Shipping Board and the Emergency Fleet Corporation from the first year of the Great War to 1919. The next year he brokered the Hoover-FDR ticket in the presidential contest. A Consortium man Louis Wehle was undoubtedly a Pilgrim. Owner of the Genesse Brewing Company in Rochester, New York Wehle made it big when Prohibition was repealed and thirsty Americans on the dole in need of a drink rediscovered the pleasure of cheap legal beer. Wehle too was a genteel landowner, with 1,700 acres near Rochester where he keeps a harness racing track, a duck-breeding pond and a shooting range. During the Second World War, FDR appointed Louis Wehle ambassador to the Netherlands for a year replaced in 1955 by Stanley Hornbeck; Wehle is more at ease sitting on “Ave” Harriman’s New York Governor’s staff as his Conservation Commissioner and peacefully enjoy his promenades in the woods away from the limelight of politics.

Two weeks later Bullitt is on the inside track writing speeches in FDR’s campaign Manhattan headquarters scheming his way back into Roosevelt’s Democratic organization. He liked to chat up FDR’s longtime personal Secretary Marguerite (‘Missy”) LeHand who September 12 sends Bullitt instructions to contact Moley, the organizer from Columbia University in charge of Roosevelt’s “brains trust”. Bullitt is quickly tasked and excelled speech writing on foreign policy issues. Two days later Bullitt writes his candidate applauding FDR’s speech in Topeka, Kansas on a notepad from the Yale Club located behind Grand Central Station at Vanderbilt Ave and 44th Street. “My dear Governor Roosevelt”, he writes, and calls the Topeka Radio speech “the most spiriting address that I have heard since Wilson’s speeches in 1918. You not only said the right things but also said them with a 1776 spirit. That is what I care most about in American life and that is what we need in the White House.” That’s laying it on thick. If there is one thing Bullitt has learned to do well its how to flatter his way into a job and in his case it means jumping hurdles over the State Department careerists. He tells his boss he’s now at work in the State Department “preparing a memorandum on foreign policy which might perhaps be of some service if you should wish to make an address on foreign affairs. Mr. Hoover’s foreign policy has been as inept as his domestic administration, and I think you could, if you wished, point that out in an address as stirring as your address of today.”

Side-stepping Stimson Bullitt is still an undersecretary without portfolio. His path to a steady job at the State Department is not yet clear. Dreams of springtime in Paris have more appeal than stark wintry nights in Moscow. Bullitt kept a thick address book of influential society contacts to the millionaire social set of New England’s blue-blood Brahmins, careful not to fall to far astray of the American “establishment” to which he belongs and yearns to serve. He can still count on the senior power guard of House and Baruch who remain in reach. In a letter to FDR he encloses a personal check for $1,000 with the right few words, “Please use the cheque in any way you see fit. Please also use me in any way you wish.”

It worked. Bullitt is hired as a speech writer drafting Roosevelt’s speech at the Commonwealth Club on September 23 in San Francisco warning that “the American economy had achieved a state of maturity that without state interference would lead inevitably to consolidation and control by a private economic oligarchy”. It’s a direct swipe at DuPont – Mellon Consortium gang behind Hoover and weary of Roosevelt. In that speech Roosevelt warned “we are working against horrible odds in this point of time”. The next day humorist Will Rogers introduces Roosevelt to 120,000 people in the Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl with McAdoo and James Farley sharing the podium. Rogers will go to Russia as a goodwill ambassador and calls it “the poorest country in the world for a Communist to go to… there is no Communists or Reds there”, no strikers, no agitators, no protests. (I. Gellman, 141; A. Hamby, For the Survival of Democracy, Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s, 2004, 106; Richard M. Ketchum, Will Rogers, His Life and Times, American Heritage, 1973, 348)

Something clicked in FDR’s mind. Still out west on the campaign trail he sent back a handwritten note advising Bullitt contact Moley. Once back east FDR summoned Bullitt to meet him October 5 together with Wehle who observed the two men bond. “There was a certain community of social background,” Wehle writes, “as well as temperamental congeniality… But there was a difference: in the main Roosevelt was apt to absorb only what he could grasp quickly; Bullitt had the capacity for prodigious, sustained toil…Yet he could swiftly and vividly make available to Roosevelt his scholarship of history and also his familiarity with Europe and current leaders.” (W. Brownell and R. N. Billings, 128-9; Louis Wehle, Threads, 114-9)

Less than a month after Moscow, Wehle observed that Bullitt had become “thoroughly disillusioned by the development of the US under Stalin.” He did not long to return. Bullitt might have Paris but not yet. Instead Wehle advises Bullitt to “formulate the principles for an agreement of recognition between the United States and the US”. He turns out to be a valuable speech writer. “To anyone who fears that the presence of a Russian Ambassador in Washington will promote communism in this country, I should like to say this: I have no more use for Communism than Mr. Hoover has; but I know that communists are produced not by ideas or the presence of a few human beings, but by foul living conditions.” What about bayonets, printing presses American trucks and farm machines and the chance to create the New Soviet man? No, something much more foul and sinister is making communism in Russia but nothing is said of the totalitarian mechanization of the masses by Consortium billionaires and Big Business which FDR needs to be elected to the White House. In no political speeches must American industrial aid to Stalin be mentioned. (SPEECH 1932 Folder 594, Box 168, W. C. Bullitt Papers, Archives, Yale Univ.)

There is the Bullitt speech for FDR attacking the Hoover and Stimson foreign policy towards Japan, Manchuria and the League: “The essence of Mr. Hoover’s policy is to present a permanent controversy to the world. He has not only achieved the greatest diplomatic defeat that the United States has suffered in a century but also has won the enmity of Japan and created a situation filled with danger of future war…and let us remember for our future guidance the words of Theodore Roosevelt: ‘I do not believe in our taking a position anywhere unless we can make good’.” Calling his policy in the Far East closing “the Open Door”, he renamed it “the Open Sore”, destroying American prestige in the Far East certain to get a chuckle out of the candidate. This would not be a stumbling block for Bullitt during the chimera abusing the trust of Americans over FDR’s Russian policy.

Bullitt and FDR chide Hoover for not moving fast enough to pressure the Japanese to temper their imperialist rape of China. The Japanese could, and readily did point to America’s domination of the Philippines where Stimson himself had sat high, in Manila, as America’s imperial Governor after its annexation from the Spanish in the 1898 war. Now they quote TR in his letter to President Taft, December 22, 1910: “The Open Door policy in China was an excellent thing, and I hope it will be a good thing in the future so far as it can be maintained by general diplomatic agreement; but, as has been proved by the whole history of Manchuria, alike under Russia and under Japan, the ‘Open Door’ policy, as a matter of fact, completely disappears as soon as a powerful nation determines to disregard it, and is willing to run the risk of war rather than forgo its intention’.” The fact was that at that time, and Bullitt called attention to the fact of the findings of the commission of the League of Nations on the Japanese occupation of Manchurian provinces in China and installing its puppet government “maintained by Japanese bayonets”. (SPEECH 1932 Folder 594, Box 168, W. C. Bullitt Papers, Archives, Yale Univ.)

More likely the initiative for the normalization of US relations with the Kremlin came from Stimson and the CFR. Stimson (1867-50) lived throughout his life witness and participant at the pinnacle of the American power establishment in the Consortium. Born to a wealthy New York family long involved in Republican politics Henry L. Stimson (Phillips Academy, Yale, Harvard Law (1890) joined the prestigious Wall Street law firm of Root and Clark in 1891, becoming a partner two years later. Elihu Root (1845-37), Teddy Roosevelt’s Secretary of war (1899-04), Secretary of state (1905-09), US Senator, head of Wilson’s 1917 Mission to Russia under Kerensky’s Provisional Government, and the major influence and role model for Stimson. Two years later Henry Stimson married Mabel Wellington White, a great-great granddaughter of America’s founding father Roger Sherman. In 1906, Stimson was appointed a US Attorney for the Southern District of New York but was defeated as the Republican candidate in his 1910 bid for governor. His consolation prized was a cabinet seat in the Taft White House as Secretary of War (1911-13).

In 1927, President Coolidge sent him to Nicaragua to calm things down. His was the onerous task of bearing the White Man’s Burden. There he imposed military dictatorship saying the Nicaraguan people “were not fitted for the responsibilities that go with independence and still less fitted for popular self-government.” After his apprenticeship in Nicaragua disarming rebels and freedom fighters seeking land reform, better working conditions, schools for their children, social justice and a negotiated peace, Stimson is rewarded with the Philippines seized by his mentor Teddy Roosevelt and Elihu Root presiding over the America’s massacre of over a million inhabitants. For two years Henry Stimson enjoys the congenial comforts with all the aura of a 19th century colonial viceroy in the famed style of Joseph Conrad; actually he’s America’s Governor-General of the archipelago. Whoever said America was not interested in imperial conquest and Empire is not familiar with the American pacification of the Philippines and over a million dead nationals alarmed with sticks and knives shot by American troops like animals on a turkey hunt. Stimson vigorously opposes Filipino national independence as had done his predecessor General Leonard Wood. In 1929, Hoover brings Stimson back to Washington to be his Secretary of State. FDR will do the same during the Second World War as his Secretary of War and intimately responsible for coordinating the Manhattan Bomb Project that nukes Japan twice to end the war. Stimson at the time in Manila, however, has much catching up to do with the New World Order that he helps to shape. In 1929, when he takes over Hoover’s State Department, he shuts down MI-8, the crypto-analytic office. “Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail,” he declares. (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 77)

According to author M. Cassella-Blackburn, opposition to US government recognition of the Soviets stemmed principally from Hornbeck and Kelley. President Hoover publicly took the position that recognition could ‘lose the moral standing we had theretofore held in the controversy with Japan.” Japan’s march into Siberia in 1918 was still etched in his memory. Stimson argued that America risked losing moral prestige by recognizing the communist dictatorship. Down the hall in the State Department the staunch anti-communist Kelley was forever obsessed with the Kremlin’s call for a world communist revolution. He feared the Bolsheviks with the animosity and outrage helpless men once faced the plague. Only now it’s the Holodomor and he could care less for that. The Soviet menace was a blight to the civilized world, and he claimed the image of the US would suffer constant propaganda attacks as an “opportunist nation”. Kelley’s paranoia would be enough to exacerbate any debate on the famine crisis and further obstruct any proposals for emergency aid relief from Washington, a definite “no-go” during the worsening depression at home. Moscow he argued showed no loyalty to accepted codes of ethical conduct and international law. We know from the record that Kelley covered up the famine and terror as best he could rather than raise flags long before it reached critical mass and risked becoming a political issue. The disturbing irony is that Kelley’s personal aversion to the Bolsheviki was so great that he felt compelled to show no regret in readily sacrificing the Ukrainians and other indigenous peoples in Russian republics even to the point of making only a meek response to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in September 1931. Thereafter Moscow pushes harder for US recognition. (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 92)

Like a sick bird with a bellyache of Christian principles Kelley harked daily against the ruthless atheists in Moscow. When it came to aiding the patriotic Ukrainian nationalists fighting for their survival and the survival of their nation Kelley does nothing to sound the alarm or show any discontent. He harped about Soviet violation of international principles yet he fails to see how his belief in “principles” were irreconcilable with own the irreconcilable contradictions of his class. Like a man possessed with an obsession his way was blocked. Kelley misses the opportunity to heed the recalcitrant resistance of the peasants and their latent and irrepressible nationalism which still offered itself up as a valuable resource for freedom. But what could he do more than curse the communists and turn his back? He was a Consortium man, their tool. Nor did he have FDR’s ear and never would, lacking the finesse and status of his peer Bullitt, and too fanatic to serve Harriman. Kelley is bound by contusely shared “principles” and cultural affinity with Stimson and Hoover who disparaged struggles of national liberation regardless of Japanese expansion in the Far East.

A year later while he’s assembling documents and awaiting FDR’s return from vacation, Kelley writes a memorandum on July 27 in the doldrum indolence of summer calm in Washington while Ukrainians are dying by the hundreds and thousands each day: “An essential prerequisite to the establishment of harmonious and trustful relations with the Soviet Government is the abandonment by the present rulers of their revolutionary aims.” Ha! What a buffon. Absurd that it was but Kelley still believed it with no less irony than that which animated his denial of the Holodomor. Was this an unsaid detail in the quid pro quo for Stalin in a recognition deal with FDR? The Department really had no idea how to handle the monster in the Kremlin apart from letting FDR have his fun encouraging more military industrialization to hold off the Japanese and the Germans as well as the Russian and Ukrainian masses. To Hell with democratic national liberation struggles. When did the great American democracy ever support one? Ask any American in or out of the State Department. All that was Wilsonian bunk long discarded since the Versailles debacle over the real goals of Empire bound in secret treaties. In the memorandum Kelley prepares the road map for the President how to proceed “in the way of the establishment with Russia of the relations…” Strictly speaking, respect for non-interference in internal affairs by both nations was the rule. (R. Kelley memorandum July 27, 1933, US State Department)

“The fundamental obstacle in the way of the establishment with Russia of the relations usual between nations in diplomatic intercourse is the world revolutionary aims and practices of the rulers of that country… It would seem, therefore, that an essential prerequisite to the establishment of harmonious and trustful relations with the Soviet Government is abandonment by the present rulers of Russia of their world revolutionary aims and the discontinuance of their activities designed to bring about the realization of such aims. More specifically and with particular regard to the United States, this prerequisite involves the abandonment by Moscow of direction, supervision, control, financing, et cetera, through every agency utilized for the purpose, of communist and other related activities in the United States.” This had been done ever since Stalin’s takeover of absolute dictatorship. No mention of the famine here. Evidently, the Soviet experts failed to grasp the meaning of Stalin’s consolidation of power, his purge of Bukharin and the Rightist opposition, and Trotsky’s ban from the Party and deportation. Trotsky was still too famous to kill. Stalin would wait until the time was right.

Back in Washington Stimson writes Senator William E. Borah September 8, 1932. Republican President Hoover is a rabid anti-Bolshevik. The Secretary underlines his doctrine towards the USSR in the strategic advantage of a military alliance with Stalin against further military occupation of China by the Japanese. Years later FDR recalled Stimson’s early opposition to the Japanese in a wartime radio broadcast in October 1944 saying, “Let us always remember that this very war might have been averted if Henry Stimson’s views had prevailed when in 1931, the Japanese ruthlessly attacked and raped Manchuria.”

From 1930-31 Stimson leads the US delegations at the 1930 Naval Conference on disarmament in London and again in Geneva conference in 1932. That year he formally issued the Stimson Doctrine against the Japanese invasion of Manchuria to check any situation and reject any treaty that limits US treaty rights or brought about by aggressive action. It was empty threat, no stronger than a paper tiger. The Consortium uses that argument that it was the Japanese incursion into China that justified the rapproachment of a strategic alliance between America and the Soviet Union. (Stimson to Borah September 8, 1932)

Jonathan Haslam explores the politics of selling the Chinese Eastern railway and Stalin’s “abandoning” the Chinese communists in his book Soviet Union and the Threat from the East, 1933-1941: Moscow, Tokyo, and the Prelude to the Pacific War (1992). But they already been abandoned by Stalin during the years 1925 to 1927. Stalin fears losing control over Outer Mongolia. The Chinese Eastern railway was a strategic supply link in a wilderness of rugged terrain. Litvinov pushes for the sale. The Soviets paid the ransom with 20,000 gold rubles and in a non-aggression pact avoided war. “The greater our plans of development, the more rapid their pace, the greater is our interest in the preservation of peace,” Litvinov explained in a speech to the Central Committee early January 1933. (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 92-100, in Edward M. Bennett’s Recognition of Russia : An American Foreign Policy Dilemma, Watham, MA, 1970; Jonathan Haslam, Soviet Union and the Threat from the East, 1933-1941; FDR Radio Address at the New York dinner of the Foreign Policy Association, Oct. 21, 1944; M. Cassella-Blackburn writes in 1931 the Soviets push hard for recognition from Hoover. Also cited is Adam Ulam’s Expansion and Coexistence, 1972; Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS): Soviet Union 1933-39 , Washington DC, 1952, 3; Military attaché in Japan to Assistant Chief of Staff, 2/23/33, cites a confidential Japanese communique between the Russia and the US; Cassella-Blackburn gives no elaboration in concluding, “Last, Japan threatened Asia and American interests in the region. If aggressive Japanese actions could be curtailed the United States and Soviet Union were the two Pacific Rim powers most likely to do it.”, 95; See HLS in FRUS: Soviet Union 1933-39)

The US State Department knew declining Soviet imports for 1932 meant that the Kremlin offers “a good credit risk, all the more important due to the depression. Most of the major debtor nations had repudiated their debts or were in the process.” So declares the US Department of Commerce 1932 report praising the Soviet economy regardless of the sudden drop of American imports. The report is bullish on trade with the USSR, and it states, “American exports to the Soviet Union have increased 233 percent as compared with American exports to prewar Russia, American imports from the Soviet Union have actually fallen off nearly 20 percent.” M. Cassella-Blackburn observes that the drop was principally due to “threats of embargoes and propaganda about conditions in the Soviet Union, calculated to so increase business uncertainty and injure trade credits”. As a result “Soviet purchasers have been compelled to take their orders to other countries.” In fact the drop was enormous, 61%. For the same period Soviet orders for German imports increased 62%. Hoover’s pro-Soviet commerce department was in a virtual trade war with Kelley’s desk. Kelley argued what FDR feared, that Russian exports were shrinking as markets dried up and the Soviets would cause credit problems later. They were causing payment problems with Hitler’s Reich. Kelley’s report describes the Soviet state monopoly as “a weapon of political pressure which has almost infinite possibilities”; it could “turn off and on like a water faucet, regardless of all conditions”. (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 93)

Before the end of the year, in December 5, Welles’ friend Drew Pearson, the syndicated columnist featured a story in the Baltimore Sun on Skvirsky and recognition citing Senator Borah pro and Kelley con. It didn’t escape the attention of the Foreign Commissar Litvinov or Foreign Trade Commissar Rosengoltz and was clipped for the Soviet files. Or was that, too, just smoke to give an impression of anti-Bolshevism inside the State Department while Commerce and the ARCC vigorously pushed trade and exports for Soviet industrial development, including militarily conversion during these critical years of the famine-terror. “The Soviet Union, according to a recent Government statement in the British House of Commons, is the only European country which has a 100 percent record on foreign trade payments during the past few years.”

How the report got into Soviet files and lost from American sight perplexed Amtorg Board chairman Peter Bogdanov. On July 26, 1932, just weeks after Stalin’s draconian ultimatum for impossible grain procurements to the Ukrainian Communist Party leaders, Bogdanov wrote N. Yerzov (“a pathological case, a dwarf”), soon to replace Yagoda as head of the NKVD, and Rosengoltz, Soviet Foreign Trade Commissar in Moscow to explain the ruse. A flurry of negative mail from the Central Committee would surely mean the Gulag! The trade figures were wrong! The decline Bogdanov cried out wasn’t his fault. There was a serious masquerade of competing agencies and directives. Something very odd was going on here in Washington, he said. Things would improve once the Americans agree to send a new ambassador, and an embassy equipped with a professional staff of commercial attaches! Something serious for God’s sake! Bogdanov knew when to hold his tongue. Wasn’t FDR really an atheist too? Surely there was a change in the winds. Between the chaos of communism and the doldrums of bureaucracy, from Moscow to Washington, the future seemed irrepressibly bleak and obscure. Somehow FDR, paralyzed with polio, his legs strapped with metal rods which the public seldom ever saw and photographers would not dare to reveal, might make sense of it all. Six months later, after FDR’s election, the Soviet Central Control Commission, Narkom Workers and Peasants Inspection suggested to the Soviet Central Committee suppressing Amtorg’s trade representatives. Strangely, it was not followed by any official recommendation but noted Soviet industrial development, both economically and militarily without divulging details during the critical years of the famine-terror. (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 93-7; “Memorandum of Trade with the Soviet Union”, US Dept of Commerce report in Soviet files for 1932, March 17, 1932 Arkhiv Vneshnei Politiki Rossiski Federatsii (AVP RF), f. Ref ra no USA, o 16, d.6, Moscow; re. Yerzov, N. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers, 81)

That same fatal summer in June 1932 FDR invites Duranty to sit with him in the Governor’s Executive Mansion in Albany for hours when they “talked about Russia.” Stalin, the Kremlin, secret police, farms, industry, the Plans. And of course, however could they not talk about the famine? “I turned the tables on Walter Duranty!” laughed candidate Roosevelt afterward. “I asked all the questions. It was fascinating!” It must have been. FDR laughed. Duranty laughed. Everybody laughed! FDR had a knack for slap-dash laughter. Its disarming. He would pick Duranty’s brains for all he knew about Stalin, the Politburo, and the Russian farmers. Time describes Duranty as “a small, calm, wooden-legged Englishman”, an injury from the war. Three years later in I Write As I Please, Duranty goes so far to certify that FDR has “a broadminded interest and profound knowledge of Soviet affairs”.

“IS THE SOVIET VILLAGE DYING? ”

The US State Department now has a decidedly different take on food conditions. Countless reports arriving from many different sources converge with a single message. It’s bad, very bad. Felix Cole transits from Riga dispatch No. 543 on July 11, 1932, “Economic Conditions in Russia in the Second Quarter of 1932”. This time Cole’s dispatch is recognized for its importance: four copies of the memo are circulated through the administration to “MID”, “Com” (Secretary of Commerce sic), and “Agr” (Secretary of Agriculture sic). Cole gets straight to the crux of the alarming food scarcity. For some unexplained reason or lack of one it takes two weeks before Kelley stamps it with his initials on July 25. Bullitt is somewhere between Moscow and Berlin. Stimson is back and forth between Highhold and Woodley. The Secretary is too preoccupied with Geneva disarmament issues, Japanese encroachments in the Far East and regular meetings with Fed and British bankers to give Ukraine any serious attention.

The Soviet harvest and Stalin treatment of the peasants is apparently now of paramount concern to the White House. Or, so it might seem, at least to a few cabinet members.

As though he sought to shake Washington out of its mid-summer doldrums, just when the harvest season gears up, Cole writes “the attention of the Soviet public and of foreign observers has been centered particularly on the important developments in Russian agriculture and the changes in the Government’s peasant policy”. Cole calls “the agricultural situation” since the beginning of the year “scarcely favorable”.

Cole describes conditions in more detail: “There was a general lack of agricultural products, which made itself felt in numerous difficulties with the food supply and with the supply of seed grain to certain districts. There seems to be no doubt that these difficulties in the food supply were of a more serious nature than any that have occurred in several years, particularly in the Ukraine and in those districts which had poor crops last year. (italics added)

In addition to this, the decline in the quantity of live stock, which had been noted since the beginning of extensive collectivization in 1929, had apparently continued apace during the first part of this year… It may be said that in general the circumstances were much more favorable this year for a successful completion of the sowing campaign than was the case in 1931. There were more agricultural machinery; the new collective farms had the benefit of last year’s experience; finally, the campaign was begun two weeks earlier than last year. Nevertheless, the results were on the whole less favorable. While the Soviet press hailed the completion of the campaign as a success, this position was based chiefly on the fact that the acreage sown by collective farms and tractor stations increased proportionately, as compared with that sown by the individual peasants. The fact remains that taken in its entirety, the sowing campaign progressed even more slowly than last year, lagging anywhere from one to four million hectares behind last year’s record, as the quarter progressed. The sowings of individual peasants fell far below the planned figures.” (italics added)

Cole quickly gets to the heart of the problem which will break wide open with the Holodomor peak next spring. The American diplomat writes, “The situation in the Ukraine was particularly unfavorable and if it had not been for successful sowing operations in some of the newer agricultural regions, the failure of the Ukraine would have presented the country with a very serious situation. As it is, the sowing of cereal crops for the country as a whole appears to have been very unsuccessful. On June 20, when the period for wheat sowings may be considered to have elapsed even in most of the northern districts, the area sown to wheat was over 3,500,000 hectares less than last year, whereas a difference of only 1,800,000 hectares had been foreseen in the plan. The area sown to wheat, barley, oats and corn together was 7,285,000 hectares (about 15 per cent) less than in 1931, whereas the plan had provided for a decrease of only 2,550,000 hectares. Even the relatively successful sowing of non-cereal crops could not offset the generally unfavorable result.” (italics added)

Cole relies on Soviet state figures, dubious and not to be trusted but what else can he do in these circumstances? Hay-harvesting also suffers badly in spite of the good weather. Cole states results are poor due to “the rapid collectivization”. Referring to soviet steps to increase the crop yield, Cole describes the surprisingly sudden soviet step back to ease the grain quota and tax burden on the peasants described as “numerous administrative measures designed to encourage the productive efforts of the agricultural population” with collective and individual peasants now “granted the right to take a certain of their products to the towns and cities and to sell them there on the open market at whatever prices they could get.” But the new tactic is not working to sufficiently increase the harvest and avoid disaster. If the great achievement of Soviet socialism is still an experiment promising a golden future the peasants aren’t buying it.

The new socialism of the Bolsheviks is no better than the old capitalist past. Instead of collective abundance of socialist prosperity the peasants suffer increasing penury and servitude worse than before the war and revolution.

Nor is Cole duped by this staged stop-gap measure, knowing well that the peasants have little food and wish even less to part with it or send anything to the cities already straining from the rural scarcity. The American Consul scoffs at reports of a breakthrough in the agricultural imbroglio that cite Stalin’s reforms as done “in the foreign press as the ‘little NEP”, referring to Lenin’s program before he was physically incapacitated. He writes, “This is of course an exaggeration. The mere fact that the Government, having permitted the peasants to bring these products to the market and sell at free prices, has not relinquished its strict control over the further distribution and is determined to prevent the reappearance of the private middleman, – this fact alone is sufficient to distinguish the new system from the conditions prevailing under the New Economic Policy.” Nor is it “new”. Duranty has frequently briefed the State Department on food conditions. Now with the severe strain impacting a hard-pressed reality the embarrassment could hardly compensate for the negligence forecasting alarm under the duress and pain of death en masse imposed either by starvation or Stalin’s shock brigades.

Cole, nonetheless, spins it. Never panic. Remain calm, detached, disinterested. Alarm is mixed with restraint. Opposites blend. Black and white turns gray. Millions of peasants will disappear in that dark gray of disbelief and indifference. The socialist leaders will deny any contradiction in socialist method. Linguistic artifices of rhetoric and ambiguity engulf the Terror-Famine with the skill to describe as well as to deceive casting truth in illusion so that in the end Cole depicts Stalin’s killing assault on the countryside as “a far-going change, which will affect not only the peasants, but the entire Soviet economic structure, and the results, which cannot yet be foreseen, will warrant the closest attention.” Diplomatic speak or a mouthful of crock. However you wish to call it, it’s classic Cole. Subterfuge. A concerted urgent call for remedial action is blunted by the Department tacit “Do Nothing, Wait and See” stance. Nevertheless odd and strangely out of character it may appear to the outsider, the government’s man on the scene doesn’t allow himself to act as though he might or ought to understand the tenacity of the wolf in the Kremlin. Yet, Cole declares that “the measure was adopted at so late a date that it can scarcely affect the sowing campaign”. Unwilling to admit the incredible severity of repression but unlike his friend Lord Strang over at the British Embassy Cole makes it clear enough in his dispatch: the Ukrainians are doomed and the State Department knows it.

Indications elsewhere point to general economic breakdown. Steel production continues to slump. Conveyors at tractor assembling plants, for instance, at Stalingrad, Kharkov and the AMO works cease to operate. Productivity levels plunge at the giant Kharkov tractor plant falling “50 per cent less in June than in April”. Worse, Stalingrad’s show-case Tractor Plant, a gemstone of progress in the Kremlin’s showcase of industrial capacity “was out of operation most of the month of June”. The new Automobile Plant, at Nizhi Novgorod northeast of Moscow nearly the size of all of Ford’s factories at River Rouge (sic) has closed entirely since the first half of April. Attempts failed to operate during the first quarter due largely to the departure of American skilled workers who ran the plant in 1932 when “summer production averaged 29-30 cars per day” and near the end of the year “increased to about 50 cars”. The plant reopened on April 15 with resumed productivity. By July 1 the plant was producing about 1,000 machines. But typically they “were incomplete”.

You see, reader, this is incredible, really! This gigantic Nijni-Novgorod plant has been built precisely on the lines of the Ford Motor Company plant in Detroit. Soviet workers, however, are unaccustomed and untrained for the particular level of mechanization necessary to operate it. Three months after the plant opened production grinds to a halt due to complete disorganization. Similar shutdowns push Stalin’s miracle of state socialism over the edge. Soviet industrialization planned by the Soviets and the Consortium is a general disaster. The Americans evidently had no idea what they were dealing with getting mixed up with revolutionary Russia. Plants like the Konstantinovsky zinc factory, the Rostov agricultural machinery plant, the Moscow ball-bearing plant, the Petrovsky Iron Foundry, the Dnyeprostalh Trust Works et cetera all of these suffer breakdowns. Plans for the Soviet tractor industry in 1933 with already severely lowered targets aimed at only 43 % of its capacity “amounting to 65,000 machines”. But this high figure is due to the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant put into operation. (Rosja Sowiecka / Soviet Russia, Jan. 31, 1933). In the same issue sent by the US Embassy in Warsaw, the writers ask, “Is the soviet Village Dying?” East European embassies know that many skilled Americans continue to leave because of indigestible food and soup no better than “dishwater”. (SDDF 861.50/785; 861.5017-Living Conditions/ 607)

About this time the Consortium cover-up takes another twist into the bizarre. Something must have seemed very out of sync and certainly raised eyebrows evoking grotesque grimaces about a wierd request during the wretched famine. It’s sent to the Riga Legation and circulated to top officials in the Russian Division. The government asks each officer to write a memorandum for their boss in Washington. This time it’s the head of the Legation who is instructed to act as the chief officer in this episode. Robert F. Skinner circulates a memorandum on July 30 titled “Success or failure of the Russian Experiment” and sends it back home in dispatch No. 650. It shows precisely how dangerously warped some minds have become under the Kafkaesque nightmare of the Holodomor. (Robert F. Skinner memorandum July 30,1932, US State Department files)

Bob Skinner’s American subordinates at Riga are individually instructed to go on record. That includes Messrs. Cole, Gwynn, Kennan, Harrison, Lehrs, Callman, and even the boss Skinner, himself too. Their response is destined to “HLS”, the Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson himself. Skinner writes that he had taken it upon himself to ask his team to contemplate “the spiritual values” of the United States. Who could have thought that the story should come down to a single question in their heads? It deserves a place in the annals of State Department history as one of the most specious and mundane idiocies of this perverse and insane period ever produced by the upper rank of the diplomatic corps. How utterly inane it must have seemed to the well-informed staff trapped in the crossfire of the Consortium cover-up and Ukrainians in the former Romanov empire and other oppressed ethnic peoples dying in the most miserable conditions, exterminated by forced starvation and terrorized by Stalin’s paranoia. Yet Skinner is absolutely serious and he intends to collect in a few words the doubt and guilt of the highly suspect individual. These are strange times my friend and all is not well indeed in the hearts and minds of men.

This is not some harmless prank of an innocent buffon! (Or is it? How many times has the Soviet prisoner been taken out of the cell to be shot only to find see it again! What wonderful bliss to hear the metal door shut and that reassuring turn of the jailers key!) Assuming the severity of Department officialdom in such matters Skinner is no less inspired by a moral travesty of bureaucratic dementia testing the Legation’s spin-doctor and his loyal servants. Yes! It was a good mental and moral test. How is everyone on the team holding up? Time for a reality check! (in an utterly unreal and make-believe fantasy land) where the gravity of life and death is not found in questions but answers! And if you don’t have it quick, then to the devil with you. They have them all ready for you. Sign!

“It is clear enough to all who are following Russian affairs,” Skinner declares, “that materially a great deal has been accomplished, much more planned, and that Russia must soon become unrecognizable as contrasted with life not so long ago under the Czar. But what of contentment, what of the spiritual values? There is something going on in Russia not wholly incomparable with the recent industrial advancement of the United States; there is work for everybody; economic organization comes on apace; mines, industry, and agricultural lands are coming into productivity; but in all of this, there is little of communism, and the success realized is obviously the consequence of a fairly rapid return to the old wicked capitalistic system. There is no need for us to be deceived by stock phrases about the proletariat and Karl Marx. Russia, economically, is as certainly tied to the gold exchange as any other country, and with gold moving out steadily, with credits more and more restricted, with much waste and incompetency despite progress, it seems not improbable that eventually an economic crisis may overtake Russia such as has overtaken the western world. This should follow upon the completion of the immense producing establishments when there will be more goods than the country can absorb, when it will be as difficult to find work for labor as up to now it has been difficult to find labor for work… Can present day enthusiasm survive such a test?”

Skinner observes that Russia’s religious and moral faith had been replaced by “a purely bread-and-butter conception of life”. He writes, “Beauty and sweetness no longer seem to count”. God Almighty! These people were struggling to stay alive! How bourgeois and conventional of Mr. Skinner, obviously not mentally equipped to debate with the Marxist dialectic antagonist determined to expose the capitalist parasite feeding off the backs of the working class. Still, Skinner concludes, “On the whole, Russia presents an ugly picture, and it is difficult for us with our training quite to convince ourselves that the Russians have found happiness in contemplating it, yet the truth is a great many of them do.” It’s obvious that Skinner had no idea of whom or what he was trying to describe, the aggressor or his victim? Had he even read The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels? He doesn’t say nor does it matter anymore… (SDDF 861.5017 Living Conditions/510, classified as 861.00/11496).

Responding from his distant perch George Kennan on August 19 produced a remarkable tract titled “Memorandum for the Minister”. Kennan was elegant with his choice of words, a valuable quality for the Consortium which took notice and didn’t hesitate to use his literary skills to write the acceptable public record of the American armed intervention in Russia’s Civil War, a two-volume study still considered the reference book or masterly white-wash of America’s undeclared war and secret support of Lenin and the Bolshevik regime. Now Kennan is careful not to admit that all is lost under Stalin’s system of labour death camps, general socialized terror, collective farms, depopulation, and arbitrary prison terms denigrating any trace of individuality under the present depravity of the communist system of Soviet regulations, arrests, and executions. He is careful not to remark about starvation, or the Holodomor and extermination of the Ukrainians. All is not over he says. Things are not as bad as they seem. It can’t be. The Consortium has yet to accomplish its goals. The great work of Comrade Stalin is still unfinished. With repression comes more repression. There is no room for liberalism, no deviation from the orders that come from Moscow. (George Kennan, “Memorandum for the Minister”, Aug. 19, 1932, US State Department)

Kennan reveals his own uncertainty and a peculiar unwillingness to concede that the Consortium socialist experiment in monopoly of resources and labor under Stalin’s absolute system of socialized repression has been a colossal pathetic failure of which he has played no small part with his benign servitude to US policy and procedures. Life in the Soviet Union was not so bad! There were always new orders from Moscow, new production plans to be fulfilled, progress in every step forward! Everything for the Plans! After the Holodomor, what’s next? The worst is yet to come. And he was right. World war is only a few years away. German factories turn day and night. The Nazis Reich is arming and mobilizing its invasion force near the border. But Kennan doesn’t speak of production quotas, armaments and war plans. Instead Kennan here offered a cagey warning, “Russia can become over-night the worst moral chaos.”

In this extract, Kennan added, “In a country which for nearly twenty years has lived in a continual state of extreme social and political tension, – where fifteen to twenty million people have been killed in military operations, exiled to prison camps, forced to emigrate or deprived of all civic rights for political reasons, – where the ideals, principles, beliefs and social position of all but a tiny minority have been forcibly turned upside-down by government action, – in such a country it is obvious that there are infinite degrees of attitude towards environment, varying from the most complete misery and bitterness to the most exalted enthusiasm.” Between the extremes and 150 million people held at the point of a bayonet and machine guns the possibilities are unlimited. So much has been built, with great losses but so much more can be accomplished with even greater communist sacrifice and socialized hard work under the collective system. But then Kennan conceded the contradictions of power tearing apart the fabric of Russian life woven over centuries. “It must be remembered in this connection that most every detail in the life of every individual in Russia is regulated by a centralized political power which is unparalleled in modern history, and that this power is not at present being exercised in the interests of the welfare and happiness of the present generation.” The country, Kennan concedes, is dictated to by “a single group”, with life “still being administered in the interests of a doctrine … the inevitable violent communist revolution in all countries… ” Kennan, Kelley and a great many others still believed it but not Stalin or the Consortium. A total economic fall-out of the system, Kennan warns, is not unlikely. Kennan confirmed the Consortium concern behind Roosevelt’s tactic of official diplomatic recognition of Stalin and de facto approval and legitimization of his repressive measures to bring iron-clad stability to prevent further deterioration of the general disorder pervading communist Russia. Of course there is the constant card now of the Japanese menace in Manchuria on Russia’s southern eastern flank. But it is never amounts to more than that. For his part Kennan admits that the Plans had been a particular social and economic disaster. “The policy of rapid and forced industrialization turns out to be an economic mistake. The rate of construction cannot be maintained. Collectivized agriculture cannot reabsorb the masses of transient labor released from the construction projects, not do these masses, uprooted and inspired with vague political hopes, wish to be reabsorbed by the countryside. They pile into the big cities. Discontent and increasingly government expenses do their work. Foreign credit breaks down. Depreciation gains the upper hand over production. The system falls to pieces… From the most morally unified country in the world, Russia can become over-night the worst moral chaos.” What is he talking about, this junior diplomat in the US? What does he mean and what are his intentions? The Consortium plan for monopoly of a state socialized system based on cheap slave labor exploiting ignorant illiterate peasants controlled by a minority of Jewish intellectuals never dreamed of the sort of liberation and happiness that catches Kennan by his tongue. Fully aware that the end is near for the Ukrainians and Russians in other territories of the Soviet Union now undergoing worsening conditions of famine Kennan has shifted into damage control to distance himself and the embassy as far as the imagination can bear with any link of responsibility by the West for catastrophe falling down on their heads.

From afar in the offices of the Riga Legation the American Russian observers have read too many depressing reports about Bolshevik state terror, and murder. Kennan and his colleagues know the crisis has reached critical mass and nobody can hide the damage in terms either of economic waste or human collateral. These diplomats are observers and analysts, not policy makers. It’s now a numbers game and pointing fingers at multiple causes none of which will ever do the Ukrainians any good. But Kennan still has a job to do. He cannot any longer fight back the current and any attempt at that would just look too ridiculous. Better now not to restrain his pessimism, so he turns the table around. “If it is true,” he concludes, “consequently, that there is a portion of the population which is now in a happy and enthusiastic frame of mind, there is nothing to show that this fortunate situation is based on any permanent foundation, or holds any particular promise for the future.” Kennan must be remembered for uttering not a word of concern or compassion for the millions of displaced peasants who have lost their farms and families, besieged by the Terror-Famine, the concentration camps and forced labor of a people driven to national resistance in the Ukraine and elsewhere in order to preserve their human dignity before all traces of that too are expunged from them. That is exactly what the Consortium and The Five-Year Plans had done to them in what Solzhenitsyn calls it “the monstrous cattle drive of collectivization” in the hands of Stalin.

Kennan will be rewarded for his artful taciturnity. In a few years the Germans Reich will move east sacking the Ukraine, surround Leningrad, Moscow, the Volga, descend the foothills of the Caucasus. Solzhenitsyn remembers these days in The Gulag Archipelago: “Everything for the Front!… And still the camps held, security officers were holding back the Fifth Column, holding back Hitler!” With orders to shoot any deserter or suspect collaborator giving aide or shelter to the Nazi invader.

Late January 1933 with the new Democratic President-elect preparing to occupy the White House in a whirlwind of bank failures Kennan will reconfirm this report with a lengthy memorandum to the Department that industrialization and collectivization have failed. In it he states “conditions at the present moment are more unfavorable than at any time since the notable famine of 1921”. But his shot across the bow of the ship of State comes too late. The famine has sealed their fate and the Ukrainians are doomed. So, in the end, Kennan is writing not of the future. It is about the past, a past that has shaped what is to come for these peasants–and what has been done to them. Kennan will survive long enough to meet with Solzhenitsyn. Had he ever cared to sit down and debate with the Nobel writer? What a great show it would have been to see them with William F. Buckley on Firing Line. Does any film exist of these icons in the rubble of what would have had to have been a classic encounter of “the Big Lie” then and for posterity?

US Consul L. M. Harrison sees a rise in the standard of living in this “new culture” and enjoyment by the masses of consumer goods as the “spiritual” path to contentment and security. Such a fine way to condone terror and death by hunger! This was their mission and they did it well. “For the past five years,” Harrison declares, “the Soviet state has paid its wages largely in hope. It is still paying largely in the same coin. This cannot continue indefinitely or the youth of Russia will develop into embittered and disillusioned men. …” But Stalin would never allow that to happen, Mr. Consul Harrison! He has misjudged Stalin, this is not the Party line of the collective spirit. Doesn’t the Consul know how Stalin’s forces respond to this sort of “counterrevolutionary” provocation? Come on guys, what are you doing in the embassy rooms, reading comic books? Don’t you remember when hundreds of Ukrainian cadets refused to punish the peasants, he sent them all to the Sovolski Monastery. And not to pray! They would learn the virtue of Soviet discipline. Harrison will fall on his head and maybe recover his wits but Stalin is a nightmare from which the Ukrainians could not wake up.

Picture the scene in this first harvest season of the Holodomor but you have to experience it to know it. The Ukrainians were hoping for relief or a quick death! There is unrelenting Genocide spreading in all directions with a terror that leaves nothing untouched. Villages are ransacked for hidden grain sealed behind walls, under floors, in attics, buried in the ground, behind the house, in distant fields. Spies are everywhere. Brainwashed youth who don’t know better, have had their minds bashed in with incessant propaganda for their glorious new socialist future inform on their fathers and mothers, guardians of the evil old ways, symbols of the old and decrepit counter-revolutionary past. Those who resist have their brains bashed in with the butt of a gun. Enemies of the State! And there they are, these apparently well-fed bureaucrats and privileged but poorly paid career civil servants in the Riga Legation in Latvia, safely snug in their tiny office building hundreds of miles from Moscow, in the Baltic Republics, spying on the most diabolical and treacherous police state of organized terror in the world entrenched in the middle of a systematically man-made extermination of an national resistance of the Ukrainian population. They act as though their heads are buried deep in the sand knowing fully well who they are working for and what has transpired and their complicity in spinning a new twist on the hellish course plunging the Ukrainians and all fellow Russians deeper into darkness. Every day they read similar reports telling of the horrors, interviews with American visitors and workmen, eye-witnesses and participants of the ensuing Genocide. Harrison balks and then falls miserably into his bottomless pit again unable to provide a clear assessment of any utility that might alter the mindset at Foggy Bottom. Why didn’t these men go and see for themselves the truth of it all?

“This new culture,” Harrison writes, “is a definite break with the past, and there are no standards by which it can be evaluated as yet. It demands years of accomplishment before it can be judged.” Bravo! He passes the rhetoric test with flying colors! Read it again, where he says “before it can be judged”! As so, like with the murder of ten million people, it still remained, – this a decade after twenty millions Russians (actually many more but who is counting?) had perished in war, revolution and famine – and it’s still too early to judge, as though the world has no standards anymore, or has shifted morality to another paradigm of principles, leaving the reader to nod with indifference. These true believers will not tell you how the Soviet Empire just sort of happened, without any financial planning or assistance from the same gang behind their very own careers! Of course, it’s not an easy thing for them to admit. Well done, Consul Harrison. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you! Anyway its all too incredible to be true! Stand in line but keep your head down. Don’t be too inquisitive. Observe but not too much! Remember your place if you want a promotion! Career assured! Long live the bureaucrats! At least these government men won’t be shot. Not unless there is a war. Damn the peasants and their confounded traditions! Backward superstitions! The Soviets promise modernity, progress! …

Just as the British Foreign Office “received reports about the famine from a large number of different sources”, so, too, the American government through its channels are well informed. But there is a tendency in some analysts dispatches to be dismissive and worse, report that the oppressed “natives” of Ukraine’s indigenous agricultural population accepted with a certain complacency or leniency their Soviet oppressors much more “than they have been in the past to their former rulers.” Next in the line to get a good understanding of the thinking of American “experts” at Riga feeding Kelley and Co. useless information among the consuls, ambassadors, military spies, and undersecretaries is the very able John H. Lehrs, an able Russian hand ever since he was born there, multilingual, Vice Consul under Francis, Poole and Sumners during their coup in Petrograd and top adviser for Hoover in the Liaison Division of the Russian Unit of ARA Hoover. Would Lehrs at this moment be any more direct and honest in his understanding of the Russians? Lehrs refers to the peasantry and illiterate masses, writing, “The gulf between the educated class, or the ‘intelligentsia’, and the mass, or ‘the people’ (narod), as the two groups were commonly referred to in Russia, has never been bridged, and by broad analogy it is comparable with the lack of mutual understanding which frequently exists in colonial possessions between the natives and the government race.” Oh, yes, of course lets not forget that great divide between the “have nots” and the “haves”, the elites and those marginalized stupid masses. Lehrs describes the Bolshevik 1917 October coup as “essentially the overthrow by the masses of the hegemony of the intelligentsia”, when in fact the opposite was the truth, with the aid of the American capitalists whether from Schiff, Kahn, Warburg, or Crane, Davison, Thompson and others of the Anglo-American Consortium of industrialists, financiers and their agents in the field. Come on, guys! Who is fooling whom? (Go take another look at that detailed two-volume study by Kennan’s fairytale history of the 1917 Bolshevik coup and America’s armed intervention in the Russian Civil War. Do not be mistaken; Kennan is a cunning and clever with a literary wit and his superiors make good use of it. He owes his career to that one!)

Information is only meaningful and useful if others don’t have it. In the end, all their paper-pushing efforts and reports meant nothing except to leave a trail of complicity and denial – the conspiracy is elsewhere and more nefariously sheathed from obvious exposure. Lehrs writes of the dictatorship of the masses by the masses: “In view of this circumstance the Russian masses appear to be much more lenient to the Soviet regime and its officials than they have been in the past to their former rulers.” Again “Bravo” Johnny boy! No national uprising. He’s astounded at their passivity while not mentioning the utter barbarity of the tortures inflicted upon them, nothing of the kind which existed under Czar Nicholas or his strong father Alexsander III. And the best and strongest of them having been slaughtered in the First World War only to have their Revolution stolen from them by a foreign-backed coup d’état in Moscow. So, Consul Lehrs, just who is going to unseat the Bolshevik Commissars! Ha! And who put them there in the first place, John? Lehrs then gets lost in the contradictions again and can’t find his way out of the madness. Ha! He’s no master dialectician! Skipped his Marxist-Leninist lessons! The Party always has the right answer!

Eureka! Lehrs comes to his senses, conceding the Soviet leaders rule “with the aid of suppressive measures”. It requires a stretch of the imagination to take his report seriously; is he really catching on? No, this is another of the intentionally “faked” documents to divert. Lehrs neither speaks Ukrainian nor Russian. How could he possibly know these people he declares now to so well understand? And of Bolshevism he wouldn’t last five minutes in debate talking the “Bolsheviki” dialectic of reductio absurdum. But it does stink of the colonial racism of the superior Anglo-Saxon civilization of members in the Pilgrims Society, CFR and in the slew of foreign policy institutes, think tanks, university clubs …

At least Lehrs grants the peasants some status – in numbers – they “constitute four-fifths of the total population”. But of course Lenin and all the revolutionary Bolsheviks, and the Consortium knew that since the day of Tolstoy! That’s why it’s a gulag, John! Lehrs acknowledges that the Soviet leaders during the Five-Year Plan suppressed the peasantry “exiling several millions who actively opposed” Soviet dispossession “of all land, cattle, and implements” stripping them of ownership and “reducing them to the position of farm hands”. It’s the strangest thing that he then writes that this “collectivization of agriculture” failed to blow the whistle to draw attention to Stalin’s plan of extermination. Lehrs acknowledged that peasant resistance did not collapse at the point of bayonet or forced exile and he accepts that “even that has been unable to break the passive resistance of the peasantry.” Yet Lehrs is one of the few observers there openly disturbed by the ravages of Soviet propaganda, especially by those seductive pictures of smiling farm maidens sitting on top of Ford tractors on the state collective farms not far from unseen mass graves. “Foreigners who have traveled in Russia,” he went on, “have been impressed by the concentrated and troubled look of the people. Soviet propaganda has been attempting to eradicate that impression by the somewhat crude method of publishing pictures of ‘smiling faces’, and recently a national campaign has been inaugurated by the Soviet authorities to stimulate mirth in Russia.” Laughter, gaiety, joy! A new campaign – a real one, not a fake! – launched by the overfed, masters of the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat!” Long live the Sotsialisticheskaya Industria! The American diplomat is not taken by the rituals of the new proletarian society of Party socialism.

“The Soviet press”, Lehrs tells his superiors “frequently refers to the enthusiasm with which, it is alleged, the masses are carrying out the Government’s economic program. The study of the developments in Soviet agriculture and industry, covering a period of several years, fails to produce any evidence that is the case. On the contrary, as has been stated above, there is ample evidence that the masses are dissatisfied and that they manifest their displeasure by passive resistance.” A new class of youthful tormenters and liquidators assumed positions of power and privilege. But Lehrs does not find these bloody-minded people outside the prison gates or in the embassies or corporations or banking investment firms of the west conducting the business that grinds othe wheels of forced labor of the Soviet death camps.

As he wrestles with his own culture of innocence with all the blaring contradictions inherent in bourgeois liberalism constantly attacked by the Marxist-Leninist dialecticians up and down the ranks of the CP, Lehrs found these same party members eager naturally “enjoying as they do privileges withheld from the rest of the people … pleased with their positions in life.” Why wouldn’t they be? What about him? Is self-enjoyment, even at the price of risking individuality, a perversion of Marxist-Leninism? What is better than for the working class to be in Stalin’s labor camps building canals, dams and giant factories if only fed and sometimes not fed deprived even a crust of bread? These were people on whom Stalin depends to build the great new socialist order. The Komsomol NKVD-led shock brigades of the Party nomenklatura descend into the countryside. Many of the leaders of the intelligentsia call them “vermin” and diseased minds as fatal as cholera and the plague destroying the Ukraine and Russia.

Consul Lehrs writes, “Members of the Communist Party and of the Union of Youth, soldiers of the Red Army, and men of the GPU police… Youths of 18 to 25, from among whom the majority of the directors of collective farms have been recruited, doubtlessly enjoy their positions of unlimited authority over hundreds of peasants.” Unfortunately, Consul Lehrs does not see the forest through the trees. He’s looking straight at the big picture but he doesn’t see the whole prison security blanket thrown over all of Russia and its vassal republics, nor does he understand the Russian temperament. Tensions rise with each passing month with the peak of the Holodomor around the corner to finish those too weak to survive the freezing cold of winter. And still there are people in the embassies who don’t hear the cry of the wolves moving in for the kill.

No man is immune from the chill of death when it is creeps near. Cole’s reply shows more respect of an enlightened observer. And what way out of his dream did he find from the absurdity of Skinner’s benign and servile callousness. He and his associates all know the famine will be terrible. It is no secret to either one of them and it hits each one way or the other, not without empathy more or less but they will never be able to grasp the hand of the victim with any real genuine compassion. Nor should they. It’s not their mission. The legacy of the crime is already evident before the next spring comes around with a fury. All the government’s men are resolute in their denial of complicity. That much is not in doubt. But Cole, like his boss and mentor in the White House, also takes the long view commensurate with his knowledge gained from experience of the past. In his seven-page official memorandum titled “Inside Russia since the last Tsarist summer of 1917” written during a most critical period of the Holodomor the American chargé d’ affaires Felix Cole embarks on a curious deflection of jaded cynicism whereby he finds himself comfortably aloof, not that he is looking away, off somewhere in the distance where he cannot see the victims of the Consortium intrigue crawling on the dry hard earth with outstretched arms. When he is asked to speak of the events in the Soviet Union resulting in the economic and social disaster of The Plans and its Holodomor Cole finds himself wanting to be somewhere else, indeed very far away. In the utter helplessness of the place, what would you do?

For that matter Felix Cole has always been somewhere else and no where at all in this land of mystery upon mystery. In fact he has nothing in common with the Russian or Ukrainian worker and when he says he has been with Russians “ever since the 1st of January 1913”, his human alienation from feeling their pain and suffering is that much more regrettable. It would be worse than sad if it were true. Rather, it would be utterly pathetic, rather. Does he dare grossly flatter himself?

Educated and cultured men of the Consortium endowed with too much privilege are capable of that peculiar disconnect. Its a smooth, stylish affair of deception for which they are well rewarded and they flatter themselves when they do it. What can be more revolting, reader, than such deliberate disregard for the truth marked by a twitch of compassion? It is what gives fascism its power to destroy the victim as well as the transgressor, both destroyed in that rarest of proximity of human transference. This is what is so dangerous about men who walk as though they own the world performing functions for a greater power that limits and controls freedom and expression of liberty without which there can be no goodness or happiness of the individual or society. Without the individual there is no true society. And they know it. The Russians know it too except they cannot admit it openly or risk the Gulag or be shot by orders of the Party and their perfect leader Stalin. These creatures of fascism are weary of that very thing as it encroaches upon their daily life. Borders do not keep it away. As with pestilence and disease corruption and moral decay is infectious, invisible, and often fatal. Like a poison infecting their minds, pulsating in their veins, these are old men who have cheated death once or so many times that they have so little life left in them they no longer can feel anymore. Imagine that, a life without feeling. That is a dead life, a most terrible contradiction. Even their victims are more alive than these people with their comforts and wealth and intimate “circle of friends”.

“AT THE KHARKOV TRACTOR PLANT…”

But they are all living on the edge. “At the Kharkov Tractor Plant” Beal went on, “the foreigners were in despair at having to work alongside starving, stupefied and dazed Russian workers. Not only was it extremely depressing to the spirits to see the emaciated condition of the men, but they could get little cooperation from them in that state.” American workers did object and protest. An America worker complained, “This food is not fit for pigs”. Then he told his fellow workers, “I learned in the labor movement in America that those who do not work shall not eat, and it seems to me about time that those who do work shall eat!” He was lucky. Within two weeks he was gone, deported, and denounced by the American Communist Party as a “Social Fascist”. An American ‘specialist” demanded the plant director, Swistoon, a pint of milk for foundry workers and threatened to quit. Beal recalls, “The order was carried out. How the factory workers loved Tom Stewart!” (F. Beal, 291)

Beal is fascinated how Russians and Ukrainians at the plant adapted to the automation of mechanized production. Machines are the rage, the marvel of the industrialization of the masses. Mostly illiterate and dazed by the suddenness and rapidity of change that had turned their lives upside down, the peasants and workers take their place alongside western machines and supervisors of the new communist reality. “Communists in Detroit rave against the monotonous life-sucking belt system operating at the Ford plant. Had I not done so myself in Pontiac, Michigan? But I never heard a word uttered against its use in Soviet Russia. The belt system is in the assembling department. It is here that the tractor of automobile comes to life, beginning with the placing of the chassis on the moving platform. The assembly line (belt) moves on, workmen on each side slip in the various parts needed in building the machine. Finally – the line moving all the time – all the parts are fitted and the finished car moves off the conveyor. The trouble with the Kharkov Tractor Plant was that the belt or conveyor never moved fast enough for the Communist bosses.”

Beal objects to the “piece-work and the speed up” system of the communist bosses justified in the name of “the greater cause of Socialism”. He writes, “Every hardship, every iniquity and every injustice was being perpetrated in the holy name of the Revolution and the Classless Society! At the same time the Stalin policy created more classes among the Russian workers than under capitalism and suppressed with a malled fist every true radical and revolutionary manifestation on the part of the masses.” Unemployment around the plant. Job-seekers from kulak families were rejected as were starving workers from collective farms. Old men were turned away by communist functionaries and told “go to the field and die!” The soviet official tells Beal, “It’s time we put these old people out of the way”. (F. Beal, 292-3)

They call it Fordizatsia. It is the pride of both Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone friends of the President Hoover. Beal observed it from the inside, and he writes: “The Tractor Plant, one of the glories of the “workers’ fatherland’, is surrounded by a high brick wall. Every entrance is guarded by a soldier with loaded rifle and fixed bayonet. In addition there are watchmen at the entrances to the factory grounds. To get in one must show a pas. Every person entering the plant, including all the workers, must have a pass with the bearer’s photograph on it, stamped and signed by the chiefs of the factory of the GPU. Only guided tourists are excepted from this rule. A worker has a hard time getting to his job if, by accident, he leaves his pass at home, or, what is much worse, if he loses it. In the latter case, he has to be hired all over again. I have seen men, old plant workers, pleading with the guard for a chance to get to their jobs, panicky lest they lose their food allowance for that day. Every few months, the administration changes the type of pass and every worker and employee must get a new identification card. This usual passport system was devised to enchain the workers and restrict them to certain zones. On the whole, it has accomplished the purpose of forcing the men to stay on their jobs regardless of working conditions. Thus, a worker in Kharkov having a passport good only for that zone, could not get a job if he moved, for instance, to Rostov, or Stalingrad.” (E. Briggs, Proud Servant)

Factory work went on with novices, unqualified “engineers” unskilled and poorly trained who replaced better qualified men. Belts were poorly repaired, inferior metals used to make parts that broke, measurements were sloppy. Production stalled and sometimes ceased. Tractors were turned out but quickly broke, errors blamed always on peasants. Beal sums it all up:“The same system prevailed in other great plants all over the country. But on paper the results somehow looked impressive. The industrialization of the Soviet Union appeared to be going ahead by leaps and bounds, and helped to disguise the appalling starvation and enslavement of the great masses.” (F. Beal, 295)

The horrible famine conditions and GPU secret police repression sickened Beal too. Here he describes conditions he saw throughout the Ukraine that fall 1932. “Whenever I went in the Ukraine, I saw thousands of homeless outcasts about the streets with great watery blisters on their feet and ankles resulting from diseases of malnutrition. I would see them sit down on the ground and prick these blisters to let out water and then get up and drag themselves about their begging. Of course, they stole anything they could lay their hands on and the factories, whose workers had planted vegetable gardens and cabbage patches to supplement their own slim rations, would be compelled to post guards with orders to shoot to kill these pitiable foragers. In some instances they waylaid, robbed and killed some better-faring compatriot in the dark, but they were usually deterred from this sort of thing by the thought of some awful retaliation of the GPU. I saw this state of things in Kharkov. I saw it in Odessa, Kiev, and other cities.”

“The condition existed all over the southern part of the USSR. All these people were called kulaks, and the government slogan was ‘Liquidate the kulaks!’ They were not allowed to have passports. They were not allowed to ride trains. They were not allowed to have jobs in the factories because the factory authorities could not feed them, although the official reason was that ‘they might wreck the machinery’. The Soviet Government had further given orders that no one might feed these runaway peasants. Such is the spell of fanatical propaganda coupled with unparallelled terror that the workers in the cities, themselves living on the lowest of rations and under nigh unbearable living conditions, would often denounce these peasants to the GPU. But they continue to run away from the collectives by the millions. They robbed freight trains. They plundered cooperative stores for food. The Central Committee of the Communist Party issued orders and decrees, threatened these anti-social elements with ‘the highest measure of social defense’ – capital punishment.” Reader, these conditions had they been known to Americans would have been enough to rock the Consortium to its foundations. But Henry Ford who himself in the early twenties was flattered to pose as a Presidential candidate appears and hired anti-union thugs to smash up communist sympathizers and trade unionists showed no compassion for the kulaks or masses of starving Ukrainian men, women and children.

Fred Beal vividly describes what he witnessed:

“The starving peasants and workers stormed the foreign colony at the Kharkov Tractor Plant every day. With piteous cries for food, they went from house to house and from door to door whenever they could get past the guards stationed there. It was the only hope of getting bread. There was none on the land. The Stalin clique was determined, however, to teach the famine-stricken people ‘a lesson in Communist dictatorship’. These crowds of roving peasants were augmented by discharged workers from factories, workers who couldn’t keep up with the Stalin pace or who had grumbled, protested, or fallen into disfavor with their overseers. For a worker to get fired in Soviet Russia means death by starvation, unless he can learn the art of begging or is fortunate enough to have some kind relative in the capitalist countries. For when a worker is fired, he loses his work-card. And when he loses his work-card, he loses his bread-card and the right to live in the government-owned houses or barracks. The discharged worker cannot depend on help from friends who have barely enough food for their own existence. Besides, the GPU ‘discourages’ any aid to such victims. So the Tractor Plant and our foreign colony there was besieged by droves of begging and pleading people, seeking a few crumbs of bread, some potato peelings, or some fish bones. Not a day passed without groups of these disinherited peasants and workers, young and old, men and women, knocking at our doors. They would dig into the garbage boxes and fight like packs of wild dogs for food remains.”

“The Stalin clique positively hated these intruders, especially the peasants. The hungry folks stood in the way of the bureaucrats anxious to make a good showing before the visiting delegations and tourists. Indeed, of what use was the propaganda put out in America, claiming that the Soviet worker was prosperous and always employed, if these hungry, shelterless, jobless ‘beggars’ were permitted to expose the truth? The soviet authorities, with the aid of the Communist Party members of the factory, who were eager to win favors from the high officials, would round up the starving people in the streets, collect them in great herds, and turn them over to the GPU. I saw it happen many times. It was a weekly occurrence. Sometimes a raid would be improvised a few hours before the arrival of a foreign delegation. I confess that I even took part of some extent in these inhuman dragnets.” (F. Beal, 297)

At gunpoint the GPU block Beal and a group of foreign workers on a trip from Kharkov into the villages. Timing is critical. This fall 1932 Beal and a foreign worker make it out one early morning undetected. “The Stalin dictatorship,” Beal observes, “frowned on any attempts on the part of even foreign Communists to see what was going on in the country.”

Then Beal is stopped. For the naive sight-seeing tourist Beal makes it clear the reasons for the Soviet travel restriction. Beal is furious but he has to keep low if he wants to live.  “The things we saw are not what the visitor to Russia sees,” Beal writes. “The tourists would see only the special farms. One of these is the GPU Commune located in the Kharkov district. It is called the ‘Red Star’. The peasants working on this farm are hand-picked members of the Communist Party and the Young Communist League. They are well-fed and housed. The cows are contented and the tractors, under the management of strapping young shock troops, actually plow the fields. But 95 per cent of the collectives and state farms are radically different from this. They walked miles from behind the plant Beal and his friend came across a woman at work in a field, a DOPR (prisoners’ corps) worker. Her bony uncovered legs were spotted with boils and scabs. First she ran, then when assured Beal was a foreigner, she stopped. ‘They took my husband and my son,’ she told them. ‘They killed them. I’m sure, and now they want to kill me.’ The woman wept, hysterically and fell to the ground, and her fists beat the earth.”

Beal’s companion related her story. ‘The father and son had been shipped to some unknown place for failure to make the quota. The quota is the tax in kind set by the Soviet Commissars.” Her husband had been a skilled wood worker, was captured by the Germans in the First World War, later fought in the Red Army against the Whites, and after Lenin’s Land Decree for the peasants he prospered on a small plot with a cow, horse and plow. But when he was ‘short four bushels of wheat and three of potatoes’. And guilty of sabotage.” Beal found other workers on a Sovhoz or state work farm where “the majority of the peasants were prisoners. All were in a bad condition, weak and undernourished.” Further on was a collective farm which had only water, and no milk “for six months”.

Another woman along the way sat alongside a field of tomatoes and weeds. She told Beal the reasons she did nothing now. “‘We had some nice tomatoes last year and the government came and took them all away from us. The same with the potatoes and everything else we raised. We had nothing to live on through the winter. Citizen, do you think “I” can pull all those weeds? There were two thousands of us here once. Now there are only about one hundred left, and God knows what will happen to the rest of us this winter!’”

The others had all “died or ran way.” She told Beal, “‘Now, there are only a few children and one sick cow’.” Beal and his comrade walk across “mile after mile” of untilled fields abandoned to weeds. “Yet at this very time the Moscow News was telling Americans that Ukraine was one hundred percent cultivated!” They past a dead man with “flies, ants and worms” feeding on a rotting corpse, and fresh graves marked by Greek crosses near “skeletons of horses and cows”. Ghost fields. They passed two men struggle with a tractor. “A real tractor it was and running, too.” In a field past some houses of a Stalin Commune they found “an abandoned John Deere Combine of late model” rusting in a field. Beal waited in a house with cots each with a gray blanket and waited for the workers to return from work. “Now, at the ‘Red Star’ Commune, of the GPU, the workers had come rushing in from work, happy, full of life and energy. But not these men and women. They dragged themselves in sad, hungry, and completely exhausted. They sat at the table like so many mechanical men, not talking to each other, just waiting, each with a tin spoon in his hand, for the cabbage soup to come.” They were served soup, bread and hot tea. He learned there too workers had fled from lack of food. (F. Beal, 298-312)

Beal ventured deeper in the land of harvest of dead souls.

“In the spring of 1933, when the last of the winter snows had melted away, I made a random visit to a Ukrainian collective near the village of Chekhuyev. In company with a Russian-American comrade from the factory, I took the train from our little station of Lossevo and rode for two hours to Chekhuyev. From this place, we walked east for several miles. We met not a living soul. We came upon a dead horse and a dead man upon the side of a road. The horse still lay harnessed to the wagon. The man was still holding the reins in his lifeless stiff hands. Both had died from starvation, it seemed.”

“The atmosphere itself seemed filled with death and desolation. The village we reached was the worst of all possible sights. The only human there was an old woman who passed us on the village street. She hobbled along with the aid of a stick. Her clothes were just a bunch of rags tied together. When she came close to us she lifted the stick as if to strike us but the movement petered out in weakness. She spat at us and mumbled something incoherent, something my friend could not make out, though he knew the language well. Her feet were dreadfully swollen. She sat down and pricked her swollen feet with a sharp stick, to let the water out of the huge blisters. There was a large hole in the top of her foot from continuous piercing of the skin. She was stark mad. She laughed when she sat down and screamed with pain when she squeezed her foot. She spat at us again.”

“We moved on. There was no other life. The village was dead. Going up to one of the shacks, we looked in a window. We saw a dead man propped up on a built-in Russian stove. His back was against the wall, he was rigid and staring straight at us with his faraway dead eyes. I shall always remember that ghastly sight. I have seen dead people who had died naturally, before. But this was from a cause and a definite one. A cause which I was somehow associated with, which I had been supporting. How that deathly gaze pierced me! How it caused me to writhe in mental agony! As I look back, I think that unforgettable scene had more effect than any other in deciding me to do what I could do to rectify my horrible mistake in supporting the Stalinists of Russia and the Third International. We found more dead people in what had been their homes. Some bodies were decomposed,. Others were fresher. When we opened the doors, huge rats would scamper to their holes and then come out and stare at us. At one house, there was a sign somehow printed on the door in crude Russian letters.”

“My friend read it: ‘God bless those who enter here, may they never suffer as we have’. Inside two men and a child lay dead with an icon alongside of them. There was a sign on the door of another house. It read: ‘My son. We couldn’t wait. God be with you’. Two old people were dead in there. We took it to mean they couldn’t wait for a food package to arrive, possibly from Moscow or even from America. Maybe their son had been in the Red Army; perhaps he was a factory worker. If it was food they had been waiting for, either the boy had not sent it or it had been stolen by some hungry mail-censor. Many of the houses were empty. But, in the rear, the graves told a story of desolation and ghastly death. More signs were stuck up on the graves by those who buried them: ‘I LOVE Stalin. BURY HIM HERE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! THE COLLECTIVE DIED ON US! WE TRIED A COLLECTIVE. THIS IS THE RESULT!’”

On his way back Beal learns the village would be burned. “Three or four others in the vicinity had already been burned. Not a trace of the houses or of the dead bodies in them was left.” Beal’s faith in the great Soviet communist “experiment” is broken. Still he continues editing the American Communist Factory paper, Tempo of the Kharkov Tractor Plant. How else can he live without a job for food card rations. “I constantly saw the most unbelievable tragedies. It was common to see people drop dead from starvation. On no occasion that I can remember did I fail to see a death from starvation during my travels to the city.” (italics added.)

“The Stalin dictatorship has one thing which works in its favor: the horrors of Soviet life are such that few people in the Western World could be brought to believe them.” Beal compares what he lived and witnessed “like a ghoulish dream…At the city bazaar I saw a woman lie down and die. Her begging days were over. Wrapped tight around her and hugging her breast was an infant sucking at her nipples. The people about paid little attention. Death meant freedom ! The few who hovered around shook their heads in utmost sorrow. A militiaman blew his whistle and when another came, they both took her body and the suckling to the police station. This police station was crowded all the time with homeless workers and peasants who had been picked up during the day. These were destined to receive a bullet of mercy or to be shipped in cattle cars to some prison camp. On a visit to Odessa, I saw many such freight cars loaded with these unfortunate people. As they passed our train, I could smell the stench of these cooped-up beings. It was particularly terrible to see young people in these groups. But they were there, along with the old ones. Once, I saw a lad of about nineteen walking in the gutter. He was smiling and brave looking, as if he were proud of whatever he had done. Behind him was an officer with a drawn pistol. When an officer parades an individual down a Russian street with a drawn gun, it means ‘that’ person is to be shot.”

There in Kharkov Beal meets with Petrovsky, Stalin’s ruthless henchman and currently President of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic for the Holodomor. With his superior Erenburg in propaganda work they interrogate Petrovsky about the millions dead and dying all over Russia.

“”What are we going to tell them?’ they smirked? ‘Tell them nothing. What they say is true.’ Long live the Glorious Revolution!’ In fact, the only known statement by a named Russian official was the admission of Petrovsky, president of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, that they knew millions were dying.” (F. Beal, “Word From Nowhere”, Proletarian Journey, 254-5)

Beal tries to get it right in his mind what has really happened as here he explains how the great richness of this beautiful land of the Ukraine and its population is destroyed by Stalin and his band of thugs running his communist regime: “Now the Ukraine is known as the bread-basket of Europe. Its soil is as rich as that of Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. That black earth will grow anything, given only the seed and care. What then was the cause of this general starvation? One of the answers is Stalin’s forced collectivization. The peasants stubbornly fought the campaign ordered from the Kremlin. Their seeds were confiscated and distributed only to collective and state farms. Their horses and cows were expropriated. The right of disposing of their crops was denied the individual peasants. Farm implements were made unavailable to them. Heavy taxes were placed upon peasant households and collected at the point of a gun. Scores of thousands were killed outright because they refused to go to the collectives. Red Army detachments were sent into the villages for that purpose. The inhabitants of hundreds of villages literally died in their tracks and, in thousands of other villages, the peasants abandoned their homes after the forcible seizure of from 60 to 90 percent of their grain. Great numbers took to the roads, flocked to the cities, and wandered as far as their legs could carry them. The tragedy of these living corpses, who were often without even the customary rags in the coldest weather, was more gruesome than the tragedy of the dead.” Beal rides “the International train” passing scores of abandoned and lost children at every station between Kharkov and Moscow.

On one occasion the American Fred Beal is ordered to join in a sweep by the GPU agents and other communist officials to rid the area just prior to a visit of foreigners, Americans, Germans and Brits. “Often I thought: ‘It won’t be long, I cannot stand it!’ It was horrible to see the starved people dragged along the road, their bare swollen feet against sharp rocks. Their looks and dress could not be described. For months they had been slowly starving to death. Hardly any of these people could ever again eat a square meal – their stomachs would not bear it. Scurvy and boils covered their bodies. Their legs were bloated. Some were insane and spat at the guards and the Young Communists who teased them. Huddled together by the well-fed GPU men, the hundreds caught in the round-up and roughly thrown together in one batch made a slight (cry sic) which mocked at Humanity.” Young Pioneers, children taught to hate the beggars and brainwashed with cant phrases parroted to their masters helped GPU agents catch those who tried to escape. A group of women screamed “Citizens, citizens! Don’t send us away!” Beal observes, “They knew that they were about to be carried off a long distance, where they would be dumped into the wilderness, miles away from cities, so that they would perish without embarrassing the Soviet Government before foreign delegates and tourists.”

“I had never dreamed that Communists could stoop so low as to round up hungry people, load them up upon trucks or trains, and ship them to some wasteland in order that they might die there. Yet it was a regular practice. I was witnessing myself how human beings were being tossed into the high trucks like sacks of wheat… As the two trucks were being loaded with the human cargo consigned to perdition, some of the victims fought back, but due to their weakened condition their blows had little effect. The children among the prisoners climbed in of their own free will. They apparently looked upon it as a joy-ride. Many of the young ones did manage to escape en route and reach the cities again….An hour later the foreign delegation arrived to inspect the boasted Soviet industrial giant and to enjoy a hearty meal. More than one speaker exhorted the foreigners to bear witness to the world that there is no starvation in Russia. There were many such raids. The Stalinists, after dumping their victims in the barren fields, trusted that none would ever come back alive. But some did, and they would tell us foreigners what happened to them in the wilderness.” One such boy carried wood for Beal in return for food. Three times he had been captured and escaped. Beal learned that the old and weak perished on the roads or in the fields.

“Right there and then I was determined to make a complete break with the Stalin gang and return to the capitalist world, no matter what the consequences…”

Beal observed first-hand the Soviet propagandists at work on the naive and beguiling foreign visitors “and even newspaper correspondents” eager to soak up the Soviet Big Lie. “And how gullible the average tourist turned out to be! I was particularly struck by the gushing enthusiasm of these well-fed pilgrims over the happy and contented Russian workers who had at last ‘come into their own’. These tourists could stand by watching Russian workers seat beads while carrying heavy loads on their backs or almost faint from hunger and heat in the foundry and get lyrical about it!”

The machine unionist Fred Beal studies the behavior of the foreign visitor carefully guided by the authorities through the haze of illusions of Bolshevik Russia and cleverly convinced “that ‘the Five-Year Plan is a hundred percent fulfilled”, he writes. And there was always the problem of the radical American upon seeing the truth, unwilling to reveal it back home, like the member of a John Reed Club who told him in Kharkov “that he would not dare tell his friends back home some of the things he had seen in Russia. “‘They wouldn’t believe me’, he said to me in my room, ‘and I’d be an outcast’. (F. Beal, Proletarian Journey, 317)

Intourist agents working with the GPU services would whisk tourist groups to the Red Cross hotel where they would be given the finest rooms in town, obliged to eat meals at the hotel (“elsewhere the cost would be ten or more American dollars per person”) for a one, almost never two day visit. Well dressed, stocky and fit American labor leaders appeared out of place alongside their famished soviet comrades.

Friends from America take Beal aside “‘Tell me, Comrade Beal, do you think this is really a success? It will be better in the future, won’t it? … America is fully industrialized; we won’t have to go through this suffering, will we?’” And when the visitors raved about Soviet construction, Fred Beal might offer them a job in a Soviet factory which they’d decline as an insult to the American way of life.

Spring 1933. Conditions worsen. Beal and the workers at Kharkov Tractor Plant are urged to create their own gardening collective and raise products to combat the food crisis. Beal writes, “the Stalin government fear that a general peasant revolt might break out at any time.”

Such was the propaganda. They were given 125 acres and a new tractor from the plant. “This tractor circled the field a few times, coughed … and died! It was never resurrected and eventually carted away. We then took to the shovel and the lowly hoe, and did our own digging…” One of the Americans received a large box of seeds from the US. The collective fought among themselves for rights to cultivate private gardens.

Beal recalls what happened when the Ford plant closed in Detroit and many workers took up the communist offer for a job in the Soviet Union; in 1933 when news arrived in Kharkov that the plant had reopened many Americans wanted to return. The American government let them go. What else could it do? Tell them the truth about Soviet Russia? The State Department does little to nothing to help them to get out or get them back.

Smith a naturalized Finn who Beal describes as the “political Tsar of the foreign section of the All-Soviet Tractor Trust” arrives from Moscow. An American openly confronts the Finn about the Holodomor and starvation conditions in the city. “Do you know people are dropping dead from starvation here on the streets?” Beal observes, writing, “Instantly Smith was on the alert. ‘Where did you read that – in the Chicago Tribune?'” (italics added.)

The foreigners knew better for themselves. “The Finn Smith shouted to his audience. ‘ What do you mean – coming to the Soviet Union to criticize and make demands? Where do you think you are – in Union Square? Here the dictatorship rules with an iron hand! It is unmerciful to its enemies! We will not let bourgeois sentiments stand in our way! What about the Russians who are not getting a third of the bread you get – are they complaining? NO!’ Smith turned his anger on the ‘Fascist dog, creeping in our midst from some capitalist country’, keeping the American worker suppressed, unemployed and under racial and economic tyranny. The American workers then voted a resolution to support Stalin and the Red Army.”

That night Beal dines with Smith back at the Red Hotel in Kharkov, dismisses any blame on Nazi fascist infiltration of the worker community, and tells Smith to tell the truth about starvation in Russia. Did he have to recall that William Foster had once eagerly sold Liberty Bonds for the war gang in Washington?

“The American Party members”, Beal tells Smith, “are asking why so many peasants are being arrested and why so many of them are being shot and exiled. You can’t continue calling them all ‘kulaks’. But all Smith wanted was for the foreigners ‘to get the plant running and to teach the Russians how to run the plant. After that, we can dispense with their services and they can go back to their capitalist fatherland…’”

Beal also accounts for the self-imposed censorship of the foreign correspondents, writing, “But why did most of the American correspondents in Moscow fail to reveal the truth of the insufferable conditions”? Soviet travel restrictions, fear of offending their soviet hosts and losing their jobs… Ironically, Beal considers Chamberlin, Issac Don Levine with the Chicago Daily News, Eugene Lyons, all of them, “independent and fearless”. “All”, Beal recalls in his book Proletarian Journey “are obliged to leave Russia in order to tell the full truth”. But he know that’s not the whole story. Not by a long shot, longer than the White-Sea Canal! Longer than the Trans-Siberian rails! And reader we know about Chamberlin. and about Levine, too, no less corrupt than the other poisonous vipers of their crowd, even less transparent and immersed in the America abyss emerging well enough to lead anti-Stalinist conservatives with Fischer, Lyons, Chamberlin and others in the postwar era and get jolly good pay for it too.

Don Levine was born in 1892 in Mozyr in the Ukraine and emigrated to America in 1911. A free-lance journalist Levine returned to Russia in 1919. That year he publishes with Maria Botchkareva, a volunteer soldier in the Woman’s Death Battalion, Yashka: My Life As Peasant, Exile, and Soldier, and follows that in 1920 with Letters from the Kaiser to the Czar.

During the Holodomor Levine turns his sympathies away from Stalin and the communists writing a column for the Hearst newspapers and exposed Stalin’s horrors in Letters from Russian Prisons (1925) receiving support from defenders of civil liberties including Roger Baldwin of the ACLU, Bertrand Russell, and Albert Einstein who denounced what he described as “the regime of frightfulness in Russia.” Einstein refused to support or attend the 1932 World Anti-War Congress because of its “glorification of Soviet Russia”. Einstein declared, “At the top there appears to be a personal struggle in which the foulest means are used by power-hungry individuals acting from purely selfish motives. At the bottom there seems to be complete suppression of the individual and freedom of speech. One wonders whether life is worth living under such conditions.”

Levine is a suspicious character. The Ukrainian-born Russian Jew turned American journalist also writes The Mind of the Assassin about the assassination of Leon Trotsky. He’s later hired by Life magazine. In the sixties Levine surfaces again in a deal to buy the controversial Zapruder film showing the motorcade murder of JFK in Dallas by multiple assassins and tells Marina Oswald’s story (wife of Lee Harvey Oswald). (Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007, 379-80)

Einstein had read Levine’s descriptions of the terror gulag in Letters from Russian Prisons and followed by a biography of Stalin calling the strong denunciation of Stalin’s crimes “profound”, and in March 1932 he wrote Levine, “Violence breeds violence. Liberty is the necessary foundation for the development of all true values.” Later this year Einstein invites Freud to participate in the Institute for Intellectual Cooperation. One the subject of elimination of war Einstein proposed a stronger obligation imposed on sovereign nations to abide by international law stronger than the League of Nations.

In their correspondence Einstein writes, “The quest of international security involves the unconditional surrender of every nation, in a certain measure, of its liberty of action – its sovereignty that is to say – and it is clear that no other road can lead to such security. Einstein would later urge such restraint to stop the use of the atomic bomb. Einstein asked the “expert in the lore of human instincts” what to do about the “lust for hatred and destruction” arousing military aggression, “Is it possible to control man’s mental evolution so as to make him secure against the psychosis of hate and destructiveness?” Freud agreed that man’s “instincts to destroy and kill, which we assimilate as aggressive or destructive instincts” need to be balanced by “those that conserve and unify, which we call ‘erotic’ … Each of these instincts is every whit as indispensable as its opposite, and all the phenomena of life derive from their activity, whether they work in concert or in opposition.”

Freud’s conclusion is pessimistic. “The upshot of these observations,” Freud writes, “is that there is no likelihood of our being able to suppress humanity’s aggressive tendencies. In some happy corners of the earth, they say, where nature brings forth abundantly whatever man desires, there flourish races whose lives go gently by; unknowing of aggression or constraint. This I can hardly credit; I would like further details about these happy folk. The Bolshevists, too, aspire to do away with human aggressiveness by insuring the satisfaction of material needs and enforcing equality between man and man. To me this hope seems vain. Meanwhile they busily perfect armaments.”

Late 1929 Freud noted with the pang of caustic irony, “Passed over for the Nobel Prize” for Civilization and Its Discontents, but he remains cheerful of exceptionally good sales of 12,000 copies sold out in the first edition; a second edition went to press the next year shadowed by Hitler’s Nazi party’s surprise victory in the Reichstag elections in September 1930 increasing to 107 from 12 the number of deputies. Freud repeats the theme in summing up his life’s work in his essay “Civilization and Its Discontents”: In the last paragraph Freud summons the courage to leave his modern readers with a dark but realistic pragmatism about the future. Essentially the world of mankind so far as it has evolved has proved itself doomed.

“The fateful question for the human species seems to me,” Freud writes, “to be whether and to what extent their cultural development will succeed in mastering the disturbance of communal life by the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction. It may be that in this respect precisely the present time deserves a special interest. Men have gained control over the forces of nature to such an extent that with their help they would have no difficulty in exterminating one another to the last man. They know this, and hence comes a large part of their current unrest, their unhappiness and their mood of anxiety. And now it is to be expected that the other of the two ‘Heavenly Powers’, eternal Eros, will make an effort to assert himself in the struggle with his equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee with what success and with what result?” (Walter Issacson, Sigmund Freud to Albert Einstein, 1932; Einstein, 382; Sigmund Freud, The Freud Reader,, Peter Gray ed., NY: W. W. Norton, 1989, 772)

But Fred Beal whose education in politics comes from grass roots and streets shared with men and woman few of whom ever had a university education, thinks he is on the right track. Beal writes, “The fundamental reason why this truth from Russia does not reach the world is to be found in the corrupting influence of the autocratic state. All governments have their satellites in the form of semi-official press correspondents who disseminate ‘inspired’ news. Rigid soviet censorship combines with foreign correspondents he says who are unable to get at facts.

“They become rewrite men,” Beal explains. “They cannot collect and report news from their own sources of information. They are confined to translating and transmitting items which appear in the rigidly censored Soviet newspapers”. Beal describes how the intimidation on the Soviet government press produces a working environment of “servility to Stalin” that westerners find “inconceivable” and “beyond comprehension”. He doesn’t call it coercion. It is more subtle than the barrel of a gun that will come soon enough.

On the other side, of course, are the “facts” or “opinion” of the capitalist press. Beal writes of the Soviet press of the menace that threatens and undermines American press freedom as well: “It practices an almost inconceivable deception upon the western world. Its weapons are denunciation and prevarication. It exists for propaganda and not for information. Its aim is to proselytize (sic) and not to seek the truth.” Beal says he at one time “used to denounce the capitalist press as a ‘kept’ press” and journalists lowly “prostitutes of opinion”. A true patriot, his experience of Soviet conditions, and in particular the Holodomor inspire in him a new love for the precious America concept of freedom as a constitutional right of the individual in a democratic state. Now he finds that only in the absolute dictatorship of a totalitarian statehood as in the Soviet Union was “a complete prostitution of the press possible”. In America, Bell is convinced, the proliferation of the press precludes a total suppression of the truth. “No one is powerful enough,” Bell writes, “to corner all the papers, to acquire all the printing presses, to own all the publications, to employ all the writers, and to outlaw all opposition”. He blamed the Soviet dictatorship and its complete and absolute domination of the press and public opinion as “that source of pollution to give the outside world a picture of the people’s life under the Soviet system”. Perhaps Fred Beal believed in Einstein’s theory of incompleteness, or that simply the freedom of thought, and that of the idea of freedom itself makes it so. Or that the power of the Consortium or a Hitler or Stalin cannot prove it otherwise. The communists would more likely label it bourgeois liberal decadent thought, intellectual rubbish, with nothing more than a concept to be dialectically materialized.

But trapped in the Kharkov Tractor Plant Beal is now virtually a “political refugee” from America. For the Soviets Beal is too important a Stalinist loyalist to purge now. The Soviets allow him travel abroad, and, in 1933, Beal sails back to the United States. Roger Baldwin cables Beal not to risk a return, that by doing so he will surely end up in prison. “

Go back East”, Baldwin advises. “Well, not as bad as Soviet prison,” Beal must have thought. Beal is also a friend of the legendary figure Big Bill Haywood of the IWW, the Utah miners’ son “who died a crushed and embittered man in the land of his refuge Soviet Russia”. Haywood, too, had fled the US, in 1921, successfully defended by Clarence Darrow against a young prosecutor, freshly elected to the US Senate, William E. Borah, in a jury trial charged with murdering the ex-Governor of Idaho, an arch-enemy of the miners and the working class. These were the days when the average America worker earned $523.12 a year (unskilled laborers earned less) according to the 1905 Census Bureau when a family required $800 just to get by. During the contentious postwar era of revolutionary passions and social unrest, the notorious “Red Scare” bombings and the 1919 Palmer raids of alleged government conspiracy plots by the Justice Department the fugitive Bill Haywood is welcomed in Soviet Russia though he was deeply affected by the death by typhus of his friend radical writer John Reed in Moscow in October 1920, another fugitive wanted by J. Edgar Hoover as America’s Public Enemy Number One who had to ask for confirmation from the State Department, “Is he still dead?”. Haywood, too, had written a book before he died, but the Soviet censor deleted the sections on Soviet Russia, and instead fabricated a hero’s funeral in Moscow. “The changed attitude of many capitalists”, Beal writes, “who were looking forward to large commercial deals and huge profits in the Soviet Union, was evident in the press. Led by Walter Duranty of The New York Times, a chorus of praise for the Communist regime resounds throughout our country.”

THE AMERICAN FORD WORKER IN SOVIET RUSSIA – FRED BEAL

This summer the American communist and Ford tractor worker at Kharkov Fred Beal walks through a ghost village seeing on walls of huts and offices pictures of Stalin and Beria. In his “Introduction and Acknowledgments”, author Simon Serbag Montefiore credits Robert Conquest for inspiring him to write his book on Stalin “who has been the most patient, generous supporter and adviser throughout…”, and able to access the State Archive of Russian Federation (GARF) lucky to get into the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI) in 1999, and other Russian archival material. (Simon Serbag Montefiore, Stalin, The Court of the Red Tsar, NY: Knopf, 2004; Fred E. Beal, Word From Nowhere, London, R. Hale, 1937, 254-5 published in the US under the title of Proletarian Journey; on industrialization, see R. Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, 168)

Fred Beal lived in Kharkov, Ukraine’s capital during the worst period of the famine-terror in the Ukraine of the winter of the Holodomor 1932-1933. He finally emerged from the USSR to tell his story in his book titled Proletarian Journey published in 1937. Beal was no casual observer. The “proletarian” worker had served in the ranks of US Army during the First World War disposing the guts of dead American soldiers, literally. That was his assignment, removing victims of the Spanish influenza, so-called battle casualties. Nearly half of the hundred and eight thousand American war deaths are results of the epidemic. The war ends before Beal could join up with the AEF in France. Back home during the 1920s Beal evolves into a radical labor leader fighting for better working conditions and made his mark as a skilled union activist in the tough immigrant textile towns of New Bedford and Lawrence in Massachusetts. His civil rights activism with progressives in the South earns him was a 20-year prison sentence in North Carolina but he slips out of the country to try his luck with Soviet socialist experiment.

Still a fugitive during the Depression in January 1931 Beal again eludes authorities reentering the US and for months he avoids police. Beal describes the contemporary mood in the US. Beal finds himself caught in the twilight zone between illusion and reality. “The Five-Year propaganda,” he writes, “was at its zenith. Magazines and newspapers, capitalist publications all, were overflowing with exuberant reports, fantastic statistics, prophetic interpretations of Soviet progress. Travelers returned from Russia with ecstatic accounts. I was bewildered. I could no longer get my bearings in this topsy-turvy scene. Why even Roger Baldwin privately knew one truth about Russia and publicly professed another.” ACLU founder and Havard man Baldwin’s response to the Soviet famine-terror, is summed up in one word when he tells him, “‘Politics, Fred, politics’.”

Beal explained his situation this way: “I, too, was persuaded to withhold my criticism of Soviet Russia. ‘Do not give comfort to the enemy by telling the truth about Russia… Just give them a chance! They are going to do marvelous things for the workers. One cannot make a revolution with silk gloves. One cannot build Socialism without sacrifices. What are the difficulties today as compared with the glorious future of Communism?’” Beal considers Baldwin as a New Englander of Puritan stock, a privileged Harvard graduate and excellent labor lawyer. In 1931 Baldwin and American communists and other friends advise Beal to return to the Soviet Union “and give the Soviets another chance”. Liberals and conservatives alike played the old tune that ‘Things have changed for the better in the Soviet Union.” Many of them know that American capitalists are investing big bucks into Stalin’s bold Russian reconstruction. They knew along with thousands of other American workers who sailed overseas to help build Soviet socialist plants and factories based on plans and technology of American capitalists, Beal faced head-on the blaring contradictions of the paradox of truth inscribed in the myth of the Soviet and American propaganda. Finding work conditions no better in the U.S he secretly ships out again back to the USSR in September 1931. (F. Beal, 274)

Settling in Kharkov Beal experiences life first-hand on the ground as a Soviet factory worker in the net the false socialist paradise trumpeted by Kremlin Commissars and the American Communist Party and their Soviet agents. Although I didn’t know it at the time, as a young man fresh out of Yale had an indirect distant connection with Beal. Throughout the Holodomor famine years Beal is counseled by his friend Roger Baldwin, the Harvard social libertarian lawyer (Class 1910), and founder of the American Civil Liberties Union during Wilson’s repression of civil dissent and opposition to the war in 1917.

A few years after meeting separately with Baldwin, Henry Lodge, and Solzhenitsyn at Harvard that day commencement speech, I met with the octogenarian Baldwin alone in a New Jersey hospital ward. Upright in bed Roger was still sprite and full of life. Ironically, not long after I sat across a table in the modest kitchen of a small Manhattan apartment with the former American communist Corliss Lamont, bellicose son of Thomas Lamont who still hadn’t settled bitter scores over Baldwin’s liberal brand of social activism. So late in his life Roger had grown frail but still that spark of youth not to accept social injustices and weakness permanently set his face aglow. Baldwin wondered why at the time I should persist in writing a book on John Reed, who broke away from Eugene Debs and the mainstream pro-war American Socialist Party and crossed over to the Lenin-Trotsky Bolshevik band of soviet communists. Baldwin had also been a trusted friend of Reed and his wife Louise Bryant during their early years in Greenwich Village of downtown Manhattan and passed her letters from Reed in Russia.

In his book Beal describes Baldwin “a champion of civil liberties and an apologist of Stalin’s system of terror”. What a contradiction! Baldwin a Stalinist? Such was the confused and twisted political climate of the thirties in America for the down-and-out in those stark years of the Depression when union organizers fought, often violently, to improve labor conditions and the rights of workers under the heel of Consortium capitalists. This is the same era when Sinclair Lewis wrote his novel It Can’t Happen Here (1935) about a fascist takeover of the American presidency, awaking the public that a figure no less dangerous than a Benito Mussolini or an Adolf Hitler but with a more congenial persona some may think akin to a Harriman, a Rockefeller, – or even a Roosevelt –, might likewise use the radio and propaganda media to stage a coup. Or, a General Douglas MacArthur, the Army Chief of Staff who led FDR’s 1933 Inaugural parade and who FDR had denounced the previous summer as one of the two most dangerous men in America. Jonathan Alter writes of the meeting February 1, 1933 when Lippmann meets with Roosevelt at Warm Springs and advised the President-elect that it might be necessary to assume dictatorial powers to save the country from bankruptcy and anarchy. (Jonathan Alter, The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006, 187)

What were American capitalists up to investing in Soviet communism? For the most part Soviet communists and Wall Street ignored or denied it. It took years for Fred Beal, Eugene Lyons and others to publish their Soviet memoirs critical of Stalin’s totalitarian slave state fueling a national debate made more contentious once Roosevelt extended the olive branch to normalize relations between the two governments with the Nazi Reich the European powder keg squarely in the middle. By late 1933 by which time the Holodomor reaches its peak, FDR’s policy of extending formal relations to Stalinist Russia seemed more like a tame gesture of recognition of the status quo. The icing on the cake of Consortium business for these war planners who justified the famine, it was the only diplomatic thing to do. (re. J. Alter, re. Gen. MacArthur, 223)

Food conditions in Russia have profoundly worsened during Beal’s nine months stay in America. Around Kharkov and Kiev the forced food blockades instituted a food “reverse” ban making it a crime to bring food into the Ukraine from Soviet Russia and Soviet Belarus without written permission. Authorities restrict the volume of food entering the region. Beal uses his precious dollars to buy supplies at the Torgsin stores. “What an extraordinary institution was the Torgsin! It developed out of the shipment of food packages from abroad to relatives and foreigners in Russia. The appeals of the latter to individuals in America and elsewhere started a stream of food parcels to the Soviet Union.” The Soviets developed the stores “into a nation-wide chain where the recipients of orders from abroad as well as Russians owning gold or foreign currency obtained food supplies. The vast majority of the population could only pass the Torgsin stores and look hungrily into the windows. For the Soviet currency was not valid in these shops. Fortunate were those who had generous kin in America, the land which according to the reports in the Soviet press at the time was in the throes of hunger and on the verge of collapse.” Beal comes across a Torgsin store where a Afro-American actress worked, in Russia since she performed for the Czar. The US embassy eventually expedited her return in 1934. (F. Beal, 275-6)

Assigned a propaganda job at the Kharkov tractor plant in the colony of foreign workers “mostly Americans, Germans and Czechoslovaks” Beal meets his “chief”, a Ukrainian woman back from Los Angeles. Beal is in a good position to learn whats going on and often gets instructions from Clarence Hathaway, Moscow representative of the American Communist Party and a junior member of the American Politburo of the CPUSA led by Foster and Browder. Hathaway, too, is a member of the Soviet Comintern of world communists and later editor of the Daily Worker in New York. Here Beal learns the foreigners task of “showing the Russians how to produce tractors without giving way to their individualistic tendencies and loose political notions”. In other words, Beal and his comrades endure endless repetition of the doctrinaire Bolsheviki and communist slogans for collective solidarity to defeat the foreign imperialists preparing to destroy Soviet Russia.

Beal’s assignment in the Ukraine is not disregarded by the authorities and offers him a particularly unique vantage position from which to observe the Soviets besieged by the Holodomor. “I was thrown in contact,” he recalled, “with the highest Soviet officials, such as Petrovsky, the President of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic; with Skrypnyk, Vice-president of the Council of People’s Commissars and member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; with the all-powerful Postichev (Pavel Petrovich Postyshev sic), who had been sent down by Stalin from Moscow to weed out the rebels in the Ukrainian Communist Party; and the leading officials of the GPU.”

Postyshev’s mission is two-fold: to accelerate grain seizures in the Ukraine thereby intensifying famine and suppress lingering individual and cultural traces of Ukrainian national identity that had been previously tolerated. Beal’s mission is to organize the several hundred foreign workers among ten thousand Russians, a formidable task. After his first attempt to call a meeting without a communist Party official present, Beal is reprimanded by a GPU official for an unpardonable breach in party procedure. From then on he has no illusions of Soviet party discipline. He learns quickly, and he writes in his book, “In reality, the Soviet regime was a dictatorship over the proletariat!” For him and the other foreigners there is no turning back. It will take a miracle to ever leave the USSR alive. (The GPU, or Gosudarstvennoe politscheskoe upravlenie, was the dreaded political police and ubiquitous successor to the Cheka (1921-28; Grigory Ivanovich Petrovsky (1878-58), veteran Bolshevik revolutionary, President of the Ukraine, 1919-39, director of the Museum of the Revolution in Moscow, purged in 1939.)

Let us, reader, take a closer look at what it meant to be a member of the Soviet Communist Party and leader in Soviet Ukraine. Mykola Skrypnyk paid the price of living with this new young generation of brutes and idiots in the CP bowing down to the inscrutable and infallible Stalin. Kiev professor Stanislav Kulchytsky writes in his article “Was Ukraine Under Soviet Occupation” published in 2007 in the national newspaper The Day: “Unlike Rakovsky, Mykola Skrypnyk was sincerely outraged by the restriction and directives that ran counter to the Soviet government’s declarations. He went so far as to make statements about the party’s ‘double-entry bookkeeping’ in regard to the nationality question. In both Diaspora and post-Soviet historiography Skrypnyk is an extraordinarily positive figure. I do not want to engage in polemics about this assessment. He was a very decent individual with a tragic destiny. Nor can one overlook his Herculean efforts in de-Russifying the Ukrainian Soviet republic and the North Caucasus territories that were inhabited by ethnic Ukrainians. One should not underestimate his role in transforming Ukrainians from an ethnographic mass into a nation aware of its historic past. It was Skrypnyk who, together with a group of leading members of the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries, who initially became Borotbists and later communists, did his best to ensure that the Soviet power lost its occupational character in Ukraine. He became one of the leaders of the Bolshevik Party at an early stage and was a convinced supporter of dictatorial methods of administration. He was also one of the founders of the notorious Cheka.” (S. Kulchytsky, “Was Ukraine Under Soviet Occupation”, The Day, Kyiv, July 10 2007 and July 17, 2007)

Prof. Kulchystsky further tells us, “Ukraine could be conquered by a million-strong army, but it was never fully controlled. Ukrainians had to become convinced that the Soviet government was their government. Officials, propagandists, Chekists, and teachers had to communicate in Ukrainian in official institutions, educational establishments, and the mass media. Addressing the 7th All-Ukraine Party Conference in April 1923, Trotsky noted that the estrangement of the ruling party and the Soviet apparatus from the bulk of the population was dangerous. One hundred times more dangerous, he believed, were misunderstandings with the peasantry if the latter did not belong to the nationality that was the ruling one in tsarist Russia. Hence the conclusion: they needed not only economic linkage with the peasant market (already established by the New Economic Policy); they also had to ponder the national linkage: language, school, and culture. The same thing was said a few days later by Stalin, when he addressed the 12th Congress of the RCP(B), except that he emphasized good relations rather than misunderstandings and their disastrous consequences: “…so that the Soviet power becomes dear also to the peasantry of other nationalities, so that it is understandable to it, so that it functions in their native languages, so that schools and organs of power are staffed with local people, who know the language, customs, and manner of life of the non-Russian nationalities.” The campaign that was launched by the 12th Party Congress became known as indigenization (korenizatsiia) whereby Soviet power took root in the national regions. In Ukraine, indigenization acquired the form of Ukrainization.”

Foreigner workers at the Kharkov tractor plant are all paid more than “the Russians”. Lavishly treated their enclave lives in separate model American-styled homes making them “a privileged class, divided by a chasm from the ten thousand Russian workers employed there.” Beal opposes the double-standard. His Soviet handlers warn him to shut up, and just see to it that the foreign workers are kept from revolting over poor living conditions. No complaints! Complaints will not be tolerated! But Beal follows good party discipline and registers their objections –, no heat, wood, coal, bread during winter. Famished and exhausted workers are “unable to go to work because of being hungry”. Beal’s group stages a hunger march. “The foreign correspondents in Moscow never got hold of this sort of news. If they did, they could not send it out to their papers. Moscow would expel them.” Beal knew that if ever “the capitalist press” picked it up, Stalin’s secret police would have arrested the leaders as “enemies of the people”. These are the Gulag days! Many of the German workers write home how rotten communist conditions really are. At least German industry feeds its workers! German trains run on time!

Beal witnessed the Fame Terror repression of the Ukraine. He observes, “The large colony of privileged foreign workers at the Kharkov Tractor Plant subsisted on a starvation diet.” A restaurant factor kitchen served noonday meal, bowl of cabbage soup “with a herring bone or two swimming in it, one slice of bread, and a few ounces of barley gruel. That was all.” Ordinary workers served no meat “except on special occasions, such as Soviet celebrations or the arrival of foreign tourists”. Workers ate in shifts, sometimes missing meals. Health conditions were unsanitary, workers went without soap. Shock troop workers (udarniks) might obtain shoes or a coat. Beal observed, “The common worker got nothing. Every man and woman in the plant was surrounded by stool pigeons, members of the GPU and other secret agents. They would turn the worker in for the slightest grumbling against his lot, not to speak of an attempt to organize any resistance to it. Sometimes members of the Communist Party and even the privileged udarnik would act as spies upon the common worker, inform upon him and turn in even supposedly good friends either by reason of fear or in the hope of advancement and getting favors from the authorities. The only weapon the common Soviet worker has in his agonizing efforts to throw off the shackles of his masters is the weapon of ‘silent sabotage’. The fear of getting shot or starvation in exile threatens any one who resorts to this means of protest. So inexorable is the terror that a strike among the Russian workers or a hunger march is almost inconceivable. Yet so extreme was the despair that all over Russia the workers were engaged in a great spontaneous campaign of silent sabotage’. The shock troopers at the Kharkov Tractor Plant were inspired or coerced by the Communist Party leaders to slave day and night, often in freezing weather, for the ‘workers government’… Most of the shock workers were simply stool-pigeons, however, who delivered their less fortunate and more exhausted fellow-workers to the terrorist authorities.”

As an American worker Beal learns how the Soviet authorities define socialist egalitarianism. Beal is free to travel to other cities and factories. Apart from Moscow and Leningrad, he writes, “I never saw any Russian workers whose average life was easier than that of the mass at the Kharkov Tractor Plant. I did see worse conditions. Beneath the privileged classes of the soldiers of the Red Army, of the officers of the GPU, of the specialists in charge of technical departments, of the higher Communist bureaucrats, and of the select udarniks, the vast class of the Russian workers was in a state of serfdom which defies exact definition.” (F. Beal, Proletarian Journey, Chapter 21, “Labor Under The Hammer And Sickle”, 287)

“The Kharkov Tractor Plant”, Beal writes, “was one of the most important Soviet undertakings and conditions there were supposed to be among the best in Russia”. Beal found working conditions “far and away worse than anything I had ever seen in America”. Hungry and emaciated workers were left without food, leave refused, and left to die in bunks, lacking privileged status to gain access to hospitals or medical relief. Workers had to work or they would be left without food, and die. “Workers tried heroically to keep up the fight. One mistake, one let-up and their places would be taken by others; they would be ‘removed’ or sent out into the open without a food ticket, without shelter or without a job. If by chance a worker lost his passport, he would absolutely be without a place in the economic structure of the country. Poor as his job might be, it was the only path to stave off complete starvation.” (F. Beal, 291)

AMERICA’S OWN AMAZING PHOTO STAR WITNESS: MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE

Henry Luce finds a lucky star and makes a fortune with her. Young and attractive the ace photographer Margaret Bourke-White is destined to be one of the most famous women in America with a stellar career that takes her around the world. Weeks before the Germans invade in 1941 she and her husband writer Erskine Caldwell (Tobacco Road) are in the Soviet Union. She writes two books of Russian experience, Eyes on Russia (1931), and Shooting the Russian War (1942). When Luce launches Life Magazine in November 1936 Bourke-White shoots Peck Dam for its first cover and stays with the magazine her entire career; Luce keeps her name on the masthead long after she took her last Life photo in 1957, four years after she suffers Parkinsons and is compelled to retire to her home in the small quiet coastal town on Long Island Sound an hour outside Manhattan, in Darien, Connecticut, where I grew up as a child and walked many of the same roads past the same elegant and secluded homes nestled under the trees. My family shopped in the same small, friendly and very discreet community. A year before I left for Yale Margaret Bourke-White dies in 1971. After the war (always for Luce and Life) she is the last reporter to interview Mahatma Gandhi hours before his assassination. But America’s most remarkable photographer-reporter misses perhaps the biggest scoop of all.

At the height of Consortium investment in Stalin’s Five Year Plans Margaret is given a special honor and permission as the first foreign photographer to take pictures of Soviet industry. In fact the American photographer is given the red carpet reserved for the visiting dignitary. During this critical period of the Holodomor working exclusively for Luce she takes three trips to the Soviet Union between 1930 and 1932 each summer “making hundreds of exposures in every region of the country and on every aspect of life there”, according to biographer Jonathan Silverman. Bourke-White is there in 1932, received by Stalin’s Narkomindel agents but she keeps silent about famine and appears to know little about State Terror on three trips to the USSR. Stalin even permits her to visit Georgia where she photographs his mother and her humanity and sympathy for the Russian Georgians can be confusing. (Jonathan Silverman, For the World To See: The Life of Margaret Bourke-White, 1983, Intro., 3; Margaret Bourke-White, The Taste of War, London: Century, 1985)

Her pictures are stunning and sharp as her quick-witted mind and beguiling smile that capture any scene or personality within her view. Luce knows if she could so easily render the image and imagination of America’s new industrial society she will have no trouble representing the grandiose ambitions of the Soviet leader, the embodiment of all the passions and hopes of all the republics of Soviet Russia, in fact, of every thread of life, every cloud, and river, from sea to sea, every tree, valley and mountain, even the air itself. When he first sees her photos of Cleveland’s Otis steel plants in 1929 knows the value of a dimaond when he finds it and Luce falls head over heels for this young woman. He snatches her to promote the Consortium Soviet Plans and uses her to sell magazines mixing glamour and technology promoting progress as only the Consortium can produce it in this Modern Age of the Machine.

Luce sends Margaret Bourke-White a telegram and quickly has her under contract for his new business magazine Fortune launched in 1929 at a dollar a monthly issue which he uses to sell the Five Year Plans of the Soviet “experiment”, and this when the “penny newspapers” still cost only a few cents. Her sleek panoramic photos of the extraordinary art-deco architecture of the Chrysler Building in construction above the New York skyline struck at the heart of America then in the throws of the Depression and symbolizes the powerful reach of these new masters of the world over the rising masses. Its all part of the ideal for the future Luce wants to visually embody in his magazines and in the photo image link, fuse and unite the mind of America with a view of the world and sell it so everyone can feel they have and be a part of it too. His is a global plan, a Consortium plan. Completed in only two years the Chrysler Building with its eerie giant gargoyles towering above the skyscraper streets of Manhattan becomes her signature trademark enshrined in her photos of success, power and beauty of man, woman and machine, men and steel in the America’s new modern postwar society hand in hand with Stalin and the Soviet Union.

The big wheels of the Consortium send her on three trips to Russia during this period; by 1936 she becomes one of one of the ten most prominent women in America and perhaps the best known photographer in the world. In a meeting with Hoover arranged by her proud Cleveland Congressman James T. Begg, the President preps her and sent her off with official blessings of the White House.

Luce sends her to Germany June 30, 1930 aboard the SS Bremen while she waits for a Soviet visa. The Soviet authorities, however, do not permit visas to foreign photographers. They are not prepared for this; it is most unusual and will have to follow correct soviet procedures before they can give her an answer. So, in Germany Bourke-White shoots Krupps Iron Works with images which these merchants of death prefer to liken to some romantic glorified elegance of the marriage of man and machine. Luce loves it all.

Later, in 1939, Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center presents Margaret’s mural-size photos “Trapping the Magical Waves of Sound” and keeps the show up for two decades. Luce uses her commercial art work in over forty-five issues of Fortune earning her a small fortune and national fame with her face on commercial products feeding the consumer market in the spin-off of the mass consumer product culture (Maxwell House coffee, Camel cigarettes, Victor records, etc.). She’s a good Consortium girl making tons of money for Luce and herself. During the Great Depression, Time reports her income at $50,000 a year in 1931, an astounding sum and it makes her the highest paid woman in America and listed in Who’s Who. In Manhattan Bourke-White rents an expensive penthouse at the top of the Chrysler building, raising cactus and alligators, eating her rare turtles kept in the garden. In 1930 Hoover’s Farm Security Administration selects her photos for an economics textbook.

At first the Soviets keep her waiting. The Soviets always have “special considerations”. Why should they be in such a hurry to favor these capitalists with their snooping cameras? Five weeks after her arrival in Berlin she gets her visa with permission to shoot Soviet industrial works. Apparently she is allowed to travel freely so she thinks. Luce had managed a media coup like no other. The Soviets are impressed by her work and understand the propaganda potential to attract foreign investment.

Her images are bold and strike the right tone to please the Soviet and Consortium censors. Official commissions to publish her work in Soviet magazines encourage the authorities to cut through bureaucratic red tape; she carries an official pass granting her a permit requiring all Soviet citizens to aid and assist her, and a handful of recommendations from personalities and friends: Louis Fischer, his Russian wife Markoosha, a linguist with the Soviet Foreign Office, the famous cineaste Sergei Eisenstein… She is perfect for what the Consortium-Soviet needs to project the best image of the socialist New Society of the proletarian revolution. In the totalitarian dictatorship Stalin couldn’t have wished for a better PR marketing campaign just when he needs it most.

Bourke-White arrives in Moscow prepared with all her elaborate technical equipment in tow to tour the important industrial sites including the great tractor factory at Stalingrad. During five weeks, she takes nearly three thousand negatives while filming dams, collectives, factories, workers and peasants. When Margaret returns to America with awesome images of Russia in the full tumult of construction she carries with her the first complete documentary of the emerging “New Society” of Communist Russia. Absent are the bloody walls of Lubyanka, stark faces of prisoners or the Gulag death camps. Instead Margaret Bourke-White brings back smiling faces of Mother Russia in all her reborn glory matched laudatory texts with upbeat photos of robust happy workers and children. Two young publishers Dick Simon and Max Schuster look over her photos during lunch in her elegant penthouse studio towering above all of Manhattan. They agree to sell a photo book of her Soviet trip. Max tells her to get her friends to publish a few photographs to help promote the book, published the next year titled Eyes on Russia.

The Soviet regime never had a better propagandist in the West who helped move the United States one step closer to accept recognition of the Soviet Union than the beautiful young talented photographer Margaret Bourke-White. Nothing like it had ever been done before, by man, or woman. Combined with eight illustrated articles in Fortune, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Vanity Fair and other periodicals, her reputation soars with the brilliance of her talent and her celebrity adding to her fame. Only 28, Margaret Bourke-White is a popular draw on the cross-country lecture circuit promoting friendly reviews of the Soviet Union, telling her charming story in black and white, images of happy strong citizens of Russian communism. Nothing could have been more damaging to the cause of saving Ukrainians from Stalin’s murderous repression but this photo-shoot is no fact-finding mission. It seems that whatever the cunning Luce spoons out the Americans swallowed with all the ignorant innocence of a child. Luce realized the fulfillment of a publisher’s best dream and establishes contacts for her return the next year with the head of the Soviet publishing house; A. B. Khalatoff, a leading Bolshevik slips her a thick roll of rubles and assigns her a reliable guide. Khalatoff, too, will be liquidated by Stalin in 1937.

In this tight pro-Soviet crowd Bourke-White also collaborates with Lincoln Steffens, always eager to get into the act showing a photo of a steel mill for his fourth printing of his autobiography in July. Nor has his popularity waned since he visited Russia in 1919. Now a younger generation of radical leftists and communists fill John Reed Clubs across the country; socialist writer Granville Hicks will soon publish his Reed biography, in 1935. Fischer, too, uses her photos to flaunt his pro-Soviet writings.

The Bourke-White photo campaign is a huge hit. The press celebrates her trip with bold praise. “Russia is the most interesting place, industrially, in the world right now.” Editors at the New York Herald Tribune give her a huge Russian spread on February 8, 1931. Fortune reserved nine pages that month titled “Soviet Panorama”; seven more pages highlight Eyes on Russia. Luce explains to his readers that Bourke-White is “both reporter and artist.” The art of propaganda is the propaganda of art. This is how art works and makes money. Art obscures reality transforming it into the abstract. The Soviet masters of propaganda and Luce knows this all too well. What better way than to make oppression appear heroic, even seem beautiful. Stalin couldn’t have asked for more. It’s all too wonderful to be true! (It wasn’t.) The ultimate perversion of the Truth. With her magic touch Luce finds a perfect blend to mystify and confuse the reality of what the Consortium was doing in the Soviet slave state. Fortune framed each photo for the art connotation, but also provided a caption and a brief paragraph of propaganda under each picture to convey the reporter’s function. The crowning achievement of their collaboration is glaringly evident in the haunting portrait of Stalin on the cover of Time in 1943, another Luce master-stroke.

Gary D. Saretzky in his essay “Margaret Bourke-White: “Eyes on Russia,” (The Photo Review, 1999) writes, “By comparison to Eyes on Russia, the captions in Fortune were much more detailed and specific, and emphasized the industry rather than the worker where both were present. For example, ‘The Red October Rolling Mills in Stalingrad’ in Fortune became ‘An Iron Puddler’ in Eyes on Russia. Other captions changed in Eyes on Russia reflect Bourke-White’s text; for example, ‘Pattern in Thread’ in Fortune became ‘The Woman Who Wept for Joy’. The Russian woman actually cried because she was thrilled to be photographed by the beautiful and famous American!” (Gary D. Saretzky, “Margaret Bourke-White: “Eyes on Russia,” The Photo Review, 22, 3 & 4, Summer/Fall 1999, 1-14)

For her visit to Dneprostroi to see the construction site of the giant plant of the worlds largest hydroelectric dam, Margaret Bourke-White is given the Intourist royal tour. When it comes down to work the trip turns out to be tortuous and informal, in typical Russian style but her Russian assistants do everything to help her accomplish her task. Technical difficulties abound when setting up shots at the giant hydroelectric dam construction on the Dnieper River. And at the Red October Rolling Mills outside Stalingrad she exposes 100 plates from a vibrating traveling crane in the hope that just one would come out. “One of my favorite photos”, she recalls, “shows a blast furnace under construction in the Soviet Union. The photo shows a cloudy sky at the top, then as you scan down the picture it gets more and more complicated, with scaffolding, cranes and wires creating a complex maze of shapes. The detail is amazing, and makes for quite a breathtaking scene.” Her book and articles tells of her experiences and what she learned about the Russians whereas instead the American press talked about this working wonder woman. Luce knew how to sell magazines. To hell with the Russians; Americans want to read about Margaret Bourke-White, their girl.

Of course Stalin hears about the woman and of her success that precedes her return. Stalin is amused. She arrives in the summer 1931 with an official invitation in hand for a session at the Magnitogorsk mines with the world’s richest ore deposits. Early 1932 The New York Times Magazine covers the trip in six articles. Margaret returns for a third trip that summer, again under official invitation to film the spirit of the Russian people. She even asks to travel in the countryside with motion picture equipment. And again she passes through Germany filming young soldiers in training, travels to Georgia and the Caucasus Mountains. Eastman Kodak donated 20,000 feet of movie film in exchange for the right to use her footage for an educational film on Communist Russia. In December 1932, the Daily News in New York published “Girl Puts Soviet Russia on 20,000 Feet of Film; Margaret Bourke-White Breaks Red Barrier”. But her attempts to sell the mostly pro-Soviet styled propaganda fail.

After she returns from Russia and hooks up with writer Erskin Caldwell and tours America’s hard-hit depression regions does she begin to demonstrate a critical political voice, in particular during her war tours through Italy and Germany where she photographs Buchenwald, in 1945, though by this time she is already a creature of the culture that has made her what she has become and she owes it all to Luce, for better or for worse. And that’s the point. We will never know had she spoken out about the Holodomor. Instead, we are left with the sort of mystifying praise put forward by her biographer Silverman writing, “Dangerous and daring assignments were always more attractive than others… She liked pursuing pictures that no other photographer had attempted before… The thrill of taking risks was only a part of what made photography to her, however. From her earlier days as a professional photographer, Bourke-White’s aim had been to record the Big Thing, of the Age: the burning issues and central drama of the times in which she lived. Taking risks was warranted, she felt, for the sake of preserving history-in-the-making.” And Luce and his friends in the war work knew what he was getting and how to exploit her work. “Life magazine used Bourke-White’s photographs to show Americans how big an undertaking the war was, and how efficiently the military was handling the whole operation… It troubled Bourke-White deeply that the patterns of thought responsible for starting the war were still not being confronted in earnest by the occupation forces. She felt that the evil persisted in Germany, and it frightened her.” After Berlin fell to the Russians Bourke-White stays on in Germany to witness the postwar process of the occupational forces. She is not encouraged and she declares, “We poured out our lives and boundless treasure to win a mechanical victory and now we had no patience for the things of the spirit which alone can save us from another far greater catastrophe. It was time to go home.”(J. Silverman, Intro., 6)

In a style that recalls the farce of Joe Davies’ recycled prewar propaganda book Mission to Moscow, the spin-off of Democratic money-man and fixer married to one of the richest women in the world, cereal queen Marjorie Merriweather Post, and FDR backer-turned dotty ambassador to America’s most-favored dictator, Bourke-White reports her encounter with Soviet communism with uncanny genuine affection touched by the exuding Russian warmth and love felt upon her hearty welcome there. When she returns as Stalin’s official guest during this desperate year 1942, with Moscow, Stalingrad, Leningrad all under siege, and Ukraine totally devastated by the German Nazi invasion and Stalin’s torch and burn policy of leaving no home or factory standing, so that nothing is left behind to comfort the enemy, in a land with no refugees and where no man, woman and child not fighting on the front is a partisan combatant, Margaret brings closer to America the strong and enduring healthy good virtues of the Russian character in spite of all what she calls their “secretiveness”. In 1942, months after America enters the war and is supplying Russia with indispensable Lend-Lease supplies essential for the country to withstand the ferocious Nazi machine, now a common enemy, and with millions of Russians already massacred, captured and starving, and when it is not the time to denounce the Great Dictator, Bourke-White recalls her visit to “the resort town of Sukhumi” on the Black Sea, when she went swimming the day before the “inevitable” war erupted ripped across the Ukrainian frontier: “An unnamed Mason and Dixon’s line separates Georgia, in the south, from Great Russia. Georgia was the last of the major republics to come into the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, and its people are independent and proud. They have the same superiority in their attitude toward Russian northerners that our old Southern families have toward Yankees. The large-eyed handsome Georgian people show the touch of their sunny climate: they sing more and joke oftener than their countrymen to the north, and their south hospitality is fabulous.” By then she ought to be a veritable expert on Russia. She certainly is no dumb-wit ignorant of the Gulag, disappearances, destroyed lives under totalitarian rule. And so they sang a Georgian song for the American girl and they all laughed, and everyone was happy. She knows her limits if she wants to pursue her career here and take more photos… (M. Bourke-White, “Way Down South in Georgia”, Shooting the Russian War, 26)

Her articles of the Holodomor era emphasize her adventurous efforts to make a movie traveling through the socialist republic of Georgia, Stalin’s backyard. Her tiny caravan with her special guide (NKVD) from Moscow travel to Baku where they are then met and escorted by a military guard of fugitive Turkish assassins. They live in the wilderness and sleep in caves. When she meets up with the omnipotent No. 1 she makes portraits and films of Stalin’s mother and family relations; his great aunt is caught laughing as she emerges from her underground bungalow. Bourke-White reproduces these images in her gravure portfolio, USSR Photographs (1934). Kodak produces two films: Eyes on Russia, and Red Republic.

At Magnitogorsk Bourke-White marveled at the world’s largest steel colossus ever known to man. Back home the Consortium persists in telling its lies. “For the first time, she focused upon workers,” Chicago University’s Thomas Parke Hughes writes, “portraying them as other than inanimate machine tenders.” These were the gulag workers of the Consortium and their No. 1 in the Kremlin. This year she lets Louis Fischer use her photos to illustrate and sell his new book Machines and Men in Russia. In the end the Margaret Bourke-White story of the USSR is the story of Henry Luce, of Stalin’s Russia, of soviet heroes and socialist progress, not of the soviet citizens as victims who paid the price that gave her subject material that makes her rich and famous. Not until late 1934 in the summer when Luce sends her with Walker Evans and James Agee to shoot America’s Dust Bowl in the drought-stricken West does she finally grasp the meaning of utter helplessness in the face of “total tragedy”. To have a broader idea of the cultural rendering of these depression days read the engrossing descriptions by Morris Dickstein in Dancing in the Dark (2009). Of Bourke-White in the USSR, he writes, “… it was largely technology that attracted Bourke-White, even on her pioneering trips to the Soviet Union; she photographed people largely for scale. In many cases her industrial style involves the suppression of the human vantage point entirely.” (Morris Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression, NY: W. W. Norton, 2009, 102)

In his brief and token chapter, “The Record of the West” in Harvest of Sorrow, Conquest choses to quote a long passage from Eugene Lyons’ Assignment in Utopia (1937). It is too late to help the Ukraine but nonetheless it is to Lyon’s credit in his conscience-torn effort to restore some truth to the crime of organized concealment by Moscow’s pool of foreign correspondents. It’s a good piece of writing that says a lot and bears looking at again. Here we see how the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce (ARCC) satisfies their requirements by playing along with the Soviet farce. All part of the arrangement with the Soviet authorities and everyone knew it, and got used to it, including The New York Times and The Nation. (Eugene Lyons, Assignment in Utopia, NY: Harcourt Brace, 1937)

Catastrophe and death are normal headliners approved by editors and publishers to sell newspapers. Lyons writes, “For the special purpose of appeasing American public opinion, an American ‘commission’ was dispatched to the lumber area and in due time it attested truthfully that it had not seen forced labor. No one in the foreign colony was more amused by this clowning around than the ‘commissioners’ themselves.” It was a total sham, deliberately contrived, a pathetic mockery and abuse of America’s so-called constitutional press “freedom”, and a grotesque disrespect for all the victims of the US-backed and financed dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. Lyons would be rewarded with a plum job as editor of America’s mainstream conservative monthly Reader’s Digest. The food on his plate was in part payment for letting the Ukrainians starve without their cries heard in the western press. Lyons wrote of the visit to the lumber gulag work camps: “They were : a salesman of American machinery, long resident in Moscow and dependent on official good-will for his business; a young American reporter without a steady job and therefore in the USSR by sufferance of the government; and the resident Secretary of the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce (probably Spencer Williams sic), a paid employee of the organization whose usefulness depended on maintaining cordial relations with the Soviet authorities. I knew all three men intimately, and it is betraying no secret to record that each of them was as thoroughly convinced of the widespread employment of forced labor in the lumber industry as Hamilton Fish or Dr. Deterding. They went to the North for the ride, or because it was difficult to refuse, and they placated their conscience by merely asserting ambiguously that they personally had seen no signs of forced labor; they did not indicate that they made no genuine effort to find it and that their official guides steered the ‘investigation’. Their findings, published with all solemnity and transmitted obediently by the American correspondents to the United States, were a good deal along the line of a later ‘commission’ in search of forced labor in the Don Basin coal area. One of the ‘commissoners’, the famous American photographer Jimmy Abbe, put it to me this way. ‘Sure, we saw no forced labor. When we approached anything that looked like it, we all closed our eyes tight and kept them closed. We weren’t going to lie about it’.” Just like Cambridge’s monkeys of deceit carved in the college door… (E. Lyons, Assignment in Utopia, 71; R. Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, 313-4)

Conquest turned his readers’ eyes to age-old Russian techniques at deception. In particular are repeated reported cases of “Potemkin” villages, those phantom soviet towns with staged sets to delude foreign delegations including privileged American guests there to see first-hand the success of collective farms. Instead of finding grim reality, these carefully guided visitors were presented with a hoax of deception and contrivance with healthy “waitresses” and “public” actors brought to replace starving beggars and peasants in towns and village stations all rounded up into the same lorries that had dumped the fallen dead buried in barren fields miles away and told to stay away, or be driven to an unknown fate never to be seen again. “But even if it had been genuine,” retorts the former British spy and informer, “how could it refute the first hand evidence from elsewhere of Muggeridge and all the others?”

“Even if it had been genuine…”? What in Hell is Conquest trying to pull off here? Well, we know now. A decade later, during the war, the Soviets would give FDR’s vice president, Henry Wallace, an agricultural expert, the same sham show and he too played out his part as a willing dupe only this time millions of Russians were dead and dying to thwart the Nazi invasion. So even then, even if Wallace did know better, – and there is scant evidence this farm expert ever did, – he too was told to keep his mouth shut. By then Americans, too, were paying in blood the price for not having told the truth of the 1933 Holodomor and for having failed to learn the most simple moral lesson taught in elementary school that it is never too late or too early to do the right thing and to tell the truth or sound the alarm before the whole house burns down.

Why trust a con-man? Conquest does his best to distinguish complicity with mass murder from responsibility for the crime. Conquest – if that is his real name, – constantly turned truth on its head, to twist it just a little or enough to confuse and divert readers away from the reality that manifests all great political events and systemic tragedies of the scale of the Ukraine Holodomor.

In that same year 1973 when Conquest reaches for book honors publishing The Great Terror across the globe poor indefatigable and relentless Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn emerges from the shadows and smuggles out his earth-shaking trilogy Gulag Archipelago. (The Swedish Nobel committee had sent a secret team into the USSR to contact Solzhenitsyn.) Spies and whores share more than shame if that. Take the money and do it again.

Solzhenitsyn’s book creates an uproar of news about Stalin’s national system of the Gulag and earns him the Nobel Prize for Literature. For his part, Conquest blames “hostility to the peasants” and cultured snobbism for the censorship and confusion about the terror, and like Duranty would have blamed the peasants as well for having caused the Gulag. It all seems a bit too deja-vue reminiscent of the NYT-Durantyesque syndrome. But we know Conquest s a dye-in-the-wool Consortium man, a spy for the British secret service, an informer on fellow left-wing writers and NKVD agents. Really, reader, how low can you get? A tool on the payroll of the establishment with a guaranteed income and professional status and academic prestige bringing academia to a new low in the gutter of conspiratorial pursuits, this is his end and it reads like a textbook on spin and sleaze where everybody has blood on their hands.

As Lyons tells it and so does Conquest a generation later. This is a tight small community of foreign correspondents hobnobbing with diplomats in Moscow. They all knew what systematic massacre is going on in the countryside, for months, and years and in this small world of mingling strategies and tangled alliances they stayed quiet about it while they pursued their successful careers with rewards and perks. Arf. Arf. Arf.

In a chapter titled “The Record of the West” Conquest observes that by March 1933 the British Embassy is describing village conditions in the Kuban and the Ukraine as “appalling”. (It takes a lot for the British imperialists to use such strong language.) Incredibly odd, Conquest overlooks that Gareth Jones’ sensational international press conference in Berlin blew the Holodomor story wide open; First Secretary Lord William Strang of the British embassy warns Jones that he’s be wise to drop it entirely and just walk away. “It never happened,” is Strang’s approach to Stalin’s latest extermination campaign. In 1986, Conquest writes, “Thus, in one way or another, the truth was available, was in some sense known in the West. The task of the Soviet Government was to destroy, distort, or blanket this knowledge. In the first phase, then, the famine was ignore or denied. In the Soviet press itself, there was no reference to it. This was true even of the Ukrainian papers. The disjunction between reality and report was quite extraordinary.” Disjunction? Odd choice intended to mean nothing. Rien. More poppycock.

Intelligence reports by Polish diplomats in March tell of extraordinary measures taken by the authorities in Kiev. Mass dismissals of laborers empty factories. Office workers are told to stop work. The alarmed diplomats report the general breakdown. They write, “Bread ration cards are taken away without exception from all those who have been dismissed. In the future, the loss of employment will result in the necessity to leave the city in connection with the system of passports that is being introduced. The number of thefts and robberies is increasing along with the growing number of unemployed people. In many cases, dismissed laborers and state officials are invited to leave for the countryside. However, owing to the famine reigning there and the dissatisfaction of the urban population, those who are unemployed try at any cost to remain in the city.” The Poles know they might be next. (Yuriy Shapoval, “Foreign Diplomats on the Holodomor in Ukraine”, Holodomor Studies Journal, v. 1, Issue 1, Winter-Spring 2009, 41-54, citing TsVA, file I.303.4.1867, fol. 130)

Near the end of the decade with the Germans and Russians dividing up Poland, Britain’s FO continued to argue in favor of monitoring their interest in the primary stability of the regime as we see here in a communication between its two British agents, Maclean to Seeds : “The point of view of this embassy has for some time past been that, except in the event of war or of a collapse of the economic system, there is no reason to anticipate anything in the nature of a political upheaval in the Soviet Union.” Convinced of prevailing Russian backwardness under the Czar, privations and passivity, Maclean felt justified in taking the view that “twenty years of a totalitarian regime, coupled with hermetical isolation, have produced a nation which accepts blindly the existing system because it knows no other, and swallows the grotesque conception of life forced upon it because, unaided, it can conceive of no other.” (“The Political Stability of the Soviet Union, Memorandum March 6, 1939; M. Hughes, Inside the Enigma: British officials in Russia, 1900-1939, 2003, 265)

Anglo-Soviet relations during the two decades is also neatly summed up by writer Michael Hughes in his book Inside the Enigma: British officials in Russia, 1900-1939 (2003) with an anecdote of a FO memorandum observing “sadly” in the early 1930s with pacifism the vogue of public discontent “that because Britain’s relationship with Russia was such a controversial political issue at home, it was virtually impossible to put in place a coherent and sustainable policy.” Diplomats and historians blame the politicians who raised their hands in the air in sheer utter helplessness. If such behavior on the part of “the experts” in the art of diplomacy and trade were true it would surely reflect a very dim view of Britain’s alliance with its former sister monarchy. Crackers! This is pure subterfuge on the part of Hughes. Is there water at the bottom of the ocean? Or, is it only on the surface.

That kind of specious argument is not even remotely tenuous. It’s blatantly absurd. Sheer blasphemy. For the record points the compass clearly towards the deliberate policy of the generations and centuries of imperial dominion over the poor savages of the world to stake relations in Moscow, same as ever on trade and finance even while the brilliant lights of Empire fade over its vast domains with each dying old reactionary in the House of Lords. And as happened with the First World War when after all the folly it lost an entire generation of its finest youth, Great Britain came not only once but twice begging to the Americans to bail them out and save their anachronistic Empire again while the guns of August blasted east in June 1941. (M. Hughes, Inside the Enigma, Ft. note 2)

But let’s hear some more from Hughes: “… The task facing the Embassy in keeping abreast of Soviet affairs during the 1930s was an enormous one. Since power was so heavily concentrated in the hands of Stalin and a handful of other leaders, British representatives could only speculate about the motives of the men who determined the country’s fate … they were never able to provide London with much significant information about purely political matters.” If we were to believe the Michael Hughes version, then Stalin, the Kremlin and the Soviet Union all together is truly the most formidable and impregnable fortress. Had we not known of Russia’s dependence on the Consortium’s financial and industrial connection that probably would pass – and that’s just the way the Consortium writers and electronic and publishing media played it these past years. (M. Hughes, Inside the Enigma, 271)

Hughes has good reason to say the task was formidable for the embassy from the very beginning dealing with the Bolsheviks, Lenin, Trotsky and now dealing with Stalin but to conclude that Stalin’s distrust of the British was due largely in part to the awkwardness of British diplomacy and the mixed signals coming from London culminating in the failure of Ottawa in the summer of 1932 at exactly the time Stalin mounts a national frenzy to celebrate the “success” of the West’s first Five-Year-Plan. During the thirties “the British government proved stubbornly reluctant to seek closer relations with Moscow even though a resurgent Germany was once again clearly a major threat to the international status quo.” Insurgent German fascism was already a very nasty problem in Berlin in 1933 with hundreds of thousands of prisoners, thousands shot, and sent to concentration camps. But it is not enough to excuse these old men from the quagmire they now find themselves in. They botched it so utterly and Stalin’s draconian measures were so complete that its really insipid dribble when Hughes writes, “Diplomacy has always been an essentially human affair, in which success cannot be reduced to simple formulas or guaranteed by elaborate training programs.” It would be sheepish and inconsistent with the record of Consortium investments to dismiss their intentions attributable to “simple formulas” or “training programs” when their actual agenda was preparation for world war.” (British records on the famine here cited by M. Hughes, includes Ovey to Henderson, March 14, 1930, Chancery to Northern Department, June 10, 1933, W. Strang to J. Simon, April 9, 1933, W. Strang to John Simon, 17 July 1933, Ovey to Foreign Office March 5, 1933; in M. Carynnyk, L.Y. Luciuk, B. S. Kordan, The Foreign Office and the Famine, British Documents on Ukraine and the Great Famine of 1932-33; FO 418/76, “Report by Consul-General Bullard on Conditions in the Northern Part of his District”, enclosed with Reader Bullard toW. Strang, Aug. 6, 1932; W. Strang to J. Simon, May 8, 1933 (summary of various letters)

“It was more frequent than uncommon to hear talk among the British diplomats and observers about the traumatic loss of human life who blamed the catastrophe on a Jewish conspiracy, accusing the ‘Yids’ of ‘pumping out all the wealth of Russia, transferring it abroad’.” The high number of prominent Jews in the Communist Party hierarchy led many to consider Jews and Bolsheviks synonymous. This may be consistent with the anti-Semitism prevalent in offices of strategic planning or resentment of the significant influence of Rothschild on the Bank of England and the City. “Several correspondents were quite explicit in their views that there was only one way to destroy these ‘Soviet-Jewish machinations’, and they warned the Embassy, ‘If you do not want the same thing to happen in England join the Hitler movement’.” One needn’t look further than Berlin to know that tragically no matter how muddled it had already come to testing the best and worst of human nature. (FO 371/17251, Chancery to Northern Department 19 June 1933; M. Hughes, Inside the Engima, 244)

Hughes evidently read a large number of letters “believed to be genuine by the Embassy”, and some obvious fakes, but the “vast majority” of which the Embassy forwarded excerpts from “a few of the more literate letters” telling of “a graphic, first-hand insight into conditions in the provinces. In spite of all the evidence, British diplomats still found it difficult to comprehend the sheer scale of the tragedy taking place in the countryside; ironically, staff at the Foreign Office in London probably had a greater sense of the extent of the suffering, since they received reports about the famine from a large number of different sources. Even though Lord Strang from private conversations with the journalists that up to ten million peasants had died during collectivization and its aftermath, he seemed to find it hard to accept that this ‘fantastic figure’ was accurate.” (M. Hughes, 244, citing W. Strang to J. Simon, July 17, 1933 BDFA, 2A, v. 11)

Hughes wrestles with the moral quagmire of supposedly civilized citizens of the noble British Empire, just over a decade and a half of butchering its own aristocracy first to be eliminated leading on the ignorant masses as fodder in the First World War, over a duration of four years!, now writes, with obvious understatement known only to the proper Englishman, A number of his colleagues also struggle to believe that such casualties could occur as a result of a deliberate policy adopted by a government indifferent to the suffering it created for millions of its own people, though Sir Esmond Ovey himself had few doubts that “the Soviet government was determined to push through its rural revolution whatever the cost in human lives.” Stalin had already proven to the West what he was prepared to do in order to consolidate the Russian empire through totalitarian socialism and using Anglo-American investment and cooperation to do it. When looking at the reality of famine and death whether a dialectical Bolshevik or western rhetorician you’d either have to be insane or an utter liar and not see it so. (M. Hughes, 244 re. Ovey to Foreign Office, March 5, 1933, FO 371/17251)

Hughes does acknowledge Muggeridge’s charge against the British government for “hushing up the scale of the famine during the 1930s”. Hughes brushes the motive as possibly geopolitically inspired “in order to focus public concern on the threat posed by the rising power of Nazi Germany”. How odd that seems while the Anglo-American Consortium is economically behind that fascist regime as well. Hughes concludes without proof “If there was any such attempt to conceal the tragedy unfolding in Russia, it certainly took place in London rather than at the Moscow Embassy.”

British diplomats on the scene may, for their part, have acted “curiously disengaged from the horrors on which they reported”, but that’s easily excused by “the virtues of objectivity and detachment” so highly esteemed in their honorable profession. Let nothing stain British honor or tarnish the stellar reputations of the King and Queen, for God’s sake! Again Hughes, with a deep sigh pleading to at last put the matter at rest regardless of dates or the timeliness of the Holodomor and events leading up to it in Russia as well as abroad, indifferent to the economic intrigues and political fortunes at stake in the capitals of the West straining under the bankruptcy of their own governments, national economies struggling against fascism at home, soon to launch into a full-scale Second World War against fascism in Berlin, writes with the consummate skill of rhetoric so highly admired in British education, implying the clamor about famine, or even the very existence of it was “much ado about nothing”, writes, “In any case, although Embassy staff received hundreds of reports about the plight of rural Russia during collectivization, they seldom witnessed the suffering with their own eyes… .” Indeed, blame it on the executioner, only who is he? (M. Hughes, 244 cites Carynnyk, Lubormyr, Kordan, xvii-lxi)

British ambassador Sir Edmund Ovey calls Stalin’s introduction of new system of internal passports restricting travel “virtual economic and political enslavement”. Ovey is both an experienced and professional diplomat. Michael Hughes avails an excellent portrait in Inside the Enigma: British officials in Russia, 1900-1939 (2003). Lord Chilston (Vienna, Budapest) precipitously replaces Ovey late 1933.

Author Michael Hughes: “The new Ambassador, suave and debonair Sir Esmond Ovey, had dealt with Soviet affairs during his time at the Northern Department of the Foreign Office in the early 1920s, but he lacked any first-hand knowledge of the country, having served in Mexico and Argentina prior to taking up his duties in Moscow. Ovey was a typical product of the British diplomatic establishment, combining professional reticence with an ability to charm all those who came into contact with him. Although dogged by ill-health during his three years in Moscow, he was a single-minded individual who came to the country committed to improving commercial relations between Britain and Russia – a subject that filled dozens of his dispatches. The new Ambassador was initially disoriented on first arriving in Russia, since he had to come to terms not only with the political rituals of Soviet society but also with the alien quality of Russian life. His first impressions as he arrived by train from Poland were comparatively favourable; he believed that the dilapidated state of the towns and villages was no worse ‘than which distinguishes many off the smaller towns and the outskirts of the larger towns in North America’.” Soviet realities quickly set him straight that “one is undoubtedly living in a city and country which either are or imagine themselves to be in a state of siege”. Nothing could disguise the fact that as he expressed the authorities lived in a state of “quasi-religious war” with the population it ruled. Hughes adds that Ovey’s state of mind “was shared by his staff”. Ovey was assisted by Edward Walker, from the British foreign offices at Riga, and unlike his colleagues, was conversant in Russia: “The Foreign Office’s long-standing reluctance to allow senior diplomatic staff to remain in a particular country for any great length of time made it difficult for individual officials to develop their expertise, though it did help them to retain a broad perspective and flexibility that was of value in their peripatetic lifestyle … few of them served there for more than three or four years at a time, which meant that they were often transferred at precisely the moment when they had started to develop a knowledge of the country and its people.” (M. Hughes, Inside the Enigma: British officials in Russia, 1900-1939, 2003, 224-26)

When Ovey is recalled he is replaced by Lord Chilston, actually Aretas Akers-Douglas, 2st Viscount Chilston, born in 1876. His father was a conservative politician in the House of Commons and Home Secretary in Lord Balfour’s government (1902-1905); in 1911 he is made Viscount Chilston, of Boughton Malherbe in the farm country of the County of Kent some thirty miles from Dover on the Channel. It is a title in UK peerage of rank created especially for him the same year. And thus he became the distinguished Baron Douglas of Baads in the County of Midlothian while also in the Peerage. The upper class must keep up its appearance and set the right example to the lowly uncultured masses. It is his son the second Viscount who takes over Ovey’s duties in 1933 until 1938. This will be his last such mission for crown and country before he retires to the bucolic charm of his country estate.

Of course Soviet officials insisted on total denial. American officials preferred not to comment or when pressed by infrequent news reports cited unfortunate conditions and praised the Soviet economic experiment. Given the constitutional legality of an American free press, Conquest’s criticism of the Soviets would have also been worthy of the tacit abrogation of American press freedoms by the Consortium, or worse if it had to come to that, “to destroy, distort, or blanket this knowledge”. Their constant irritant nightmare is the occasional truth that leaks through the Consortium stranglehold on their press in the West.

The writer Arthur Koestler lived in Kharkov during these critical famine years 1930-32. His father was a Russian Jew who settled in northeast Hungary in 1860. Born in Budapest (1905). Educated at the University of Vienna (1922-26). Koestler joina the Communist Party in Germany in 1931, and the Comintern. For two years, 1933 and 1934 having left his communist activism in Berlin, Koestler travels throughout the USSR, the Caucasus and Central Asia, assigned by the Party to write a book celebrating the Five-Year Plan. Koestler finds life under the Soviet system unacceptable. Further, it is barely comprehensible that the Soviet press remains completely devoid of news of famine conditions while peasants are reduced to skeletons, women and children fall dying in the dust of Kharkov while other peasants go on living, smiling even. Koestler lives with healthy robust Russian women, and strong, virile men aloft tractors in the giant combines of the Urals in the north Russia farm-belt and throughout Ukraine converted into communist collectives spurred on by revolutionary slogan banners and awards to shock brigades.

When the Soviets reject his manuscript Koestler leaves for Paris where he joins the anti-fascist movement, had a fist-fight with the young Albert Camus, and is inclined in the prewar atmosphere of Paris to indulge his youthful passions while writing a highly successful sex encyclopedia. This is Paris of the same era of writers and lovers Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller. Here Koestler also edits the anti-Stalin and anti-Hitler weekly Zukunft with Willi Münzenberg. In 1936, he leaves for Spain, is captured in the Civil War, sentenced to death, freed in a prison exchange with the Franco loyalists, and resigns from the CP in 1938 during Stalin’s trials of the Great Purge. Two years later he publishes his stringent anti-communist novel, Darkness at Noon (1941) ; published in France five years later, Le Zero et l’Infini sells over 400,000 copies. In The Yogi and the Commissar (1945), Koestler writes that “…not one word about the local famine, epidemics, the dying out of whole villages; even the fact that there was no electricity in Kharkov was not once mentioned in the Kharkov papers. The enormous land was covered with a blanket of silence.” Koestler remains a harsh critic of Soviet totalitarianism until his turn to science, mysticism and the symbolic transformation of man through art, writing The Act of Creation, in 1956. (Arthur Koestler, The Yogi and the Commissar, 1945, 137-8; R. Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, 311-4)

By mid-summer forced collectivization is now in full force. July Congress would impose new repressions under Molotov and Kaganovich. Conquest wrote that Stalin has already made it clear that the peasants needed to be crushed in order to smash Ukrainian culture and insurgent nationalism. In his book Harvest of Sorrow, Conquest put it like this: “The nationality problem is, Stalin wrote, in its very essence, a problem of the peasantry.” Blame it on the peasants! Incredible! Its always the poor and oppressed who bear the burden! Break some eggs! Make an omelet! Sweep them under the rug! Forget and move on! Victims of their own fate are never a legitimate grievance of Genocide! See the dark clouds on the horizon? War is inevitable! Conquest, following the Pied Piper is ready to concede that it was perfectly natural that the all-powerful Stalin imposed mass terror against the peasants to force the country into submission. They had it coming the worthless slime. Let them have it but good! Oh, but wait. Conquest and his crowd overlook to mention that Stalin’s grab for power was backed by the powerful western capitalist bankers and industrialists. How is this oversight possible? We know who is playing the flute. We know who is holding the puppet strings?

For British ambassador William Strang it is no secret that the Pilgrims in the Consortium were behind the Plans. Is it any wonder that he is peeved about Jones’ insolent truth-telling published by The Times in London? A half century later the Brits and Americans used Conquest as far and in such a way that Jones would never dare. Some men are more easy preys of subterfuge. Kennan was like that, Henderson too but they opted for the more monotonous diplomatic career than the excitement the sudden adrenalin rush of the secret informer. Both share a common ground. They work for the same employer. They are paid to betray. It is to that they owe their livelihood and sell their souls. A simple trade-off for money, status, power and security. What scoundrel or naive and impressionable young man, or woman, wouldn’t do it? America has more in common with Russia than the State Department liked to admit. Living with dictatorship Russians learned above all how to survive and still find happiness while chasing down spies and traitors. Americans in bed with Stalin and his kind learned to do that too.

A line drawn between fiction and fact is always a bit unclear and fuzzy when used to recall the memory of the dead especially when it serves “special considerations” to conceal the crime after generations of struggle. In thus doing so Conquest concedes Stalin’s method was first “the destruction of Ukrainian nationalism’s social base – the individual land-holdings”, shooting village teachers accused of conspiracy along with urban intellectuals in the concocted SVU “plot”. Conquest records “scores of such reports” of summary executions against village district heads, and doctors.” By mid-1932 nearly 70% of Ukrainian peasants were in kolkhozes. Collectivization drives by this time had crushed most of the recalcitrant regions through mass action in the North Caucasus and the Ukraine. Yet even with all that Stalin was not satisfied and refused to relent. He pushed the repression with more vigor against the Ukrainian intelligentsia. Kosior too at first described the struggle: “…the nationalist deviation in the Communist Party of the Ukraine ….played an exceptional role in causing and deepening the crisis in agriculture.” Kosior, a Stalinist, had been First Secretary of the Ukrainian Party since 1928; he too is soon eliminated.

Police Chief Balitsky is another party hack. Head of the GPU of the Ukrainian SSR enlisted to pump out the last remaining grain out of the Ukraine and purge Ukrainian national social elements under the Postyshev-Kosior orders Balitsky was of the most vengeful Bolshevik scum. “In 1933”, Conquest wrItes, “the fist of the OGPU hit out in two directions. First at the kulak and Petliuraist elements in the villages and secondly at the leading centres of nationalism.” Elsewhere, other Soviet republics suffered as terribly if not more than in the Ukraine – Kazakhstan, Ubekistan, Kirgizia … all these territories were devastated of humans, animals and grain… In Mongolia, by 1932 more than eight million livestock were gone; with over a third of their total herds decimated; the Kremlin gave up there and abandoned collectivization. Here again it’s a classic play of simple historical revisionism. Just give a little truth and the lie suddenly becomes more credible. Any good propagandist knows that! (R. Conquest, “Assault on the Ukraine 1930-32”, Harvest of Sorrow, 218-20)

Yuriy Shapoval, a Holodomor researcher at the Ukraine National Academy of Sciences in Kyiv described what happened: A “massive operation to inflict an operational blow on the class enemy began already in the fall of 1932. Its goal was also to uncover ‘counter-revolutionary centers that are organizing sabotage and the disruption of the state grain deliveries and other economic-political measures.’ At this point, the Chekists significantly escalated the scale of their actions. In Soviet Ukrainian agriculture a “counter-revolutionary organization” was uncovered, in which agrarian specialists were implicated and which was soon “linked” with similar organizations in Moscow, Rostov, and Minsk. In Moscow arrested Ukrainian specialists were also implicated in some kind of all-Union organization whose goal, according to official claims, was ‘to wreck agriculture and cause a famine in the country.’ Arrests throughout the regions had a mass character, and the thirty-five members of that mythical organization headed by the former Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the USSR, a Ukrainian named Fedir Konar, were sentenced to death by the Collegium of the OGPU of the USSR on March 11, 1933. Between November 1932 and January 1933 alone, the GPU of the Ukrainian SSR liquidated 1,208 ‘counter-revolutionary’ collective farm groups. In 1933, nearly 200,000 people were “purged” at 24,191 collective farms. The inspections affected Soviet state farms, the Zagotzerno (Grain Procurement) system, and the system of food cooperatives. It should be noted that a ‘purge’ of the CP(B)U itself was also proclaimed. A significant contingent of individuals who could be easily blamed for organizing the famine was thereby formed.” (Yuriy Shapoval, “Foreign Diplomats on the Holodomor in Ukraine”, Holodomor Studies, 2009, citing Yuri Shapoval and Vadym Zolotariov, Vsevolod Balytsky. Osoba, chas, otochennia, Kyiv: Stylos, 2002, 193)

Even Zara Witkin, the skilled and privileged Russian-born architect from California who had been free to go where he pleased now found his itinerary abbreviated on his trip south to see “the greatest project of the new Soviet industrialization and electrification program, Dneprostroi.” It was not his habit to complain about the use of forced labor on Consortium-engineered dams and megaprojects. It being so common he seldom did. Forced labor came with the job. Everyone at his level knew that. Witkin tells of his tour south, leaving out the unpleasantness of Soviet oppression. “Early the next morning,” Witkin writes, “we arrived at the town which had been built near the great dam on the Dnieper River. We were brought to the hotel over unpaved roads from which the hot, dry wind blew up continual clouds of fine dust.” Nor does Witkin doesn’t speak of famine as he toured south along the dusty countryside. “Our first thought was to wash off the accumulated dirt of several nights and days. No towels were to be found in our room. With the guide, I went to the manager’s room and rapped on the door. No answer. I pounded while the guide pleaded with me to desist. Suddenly the door was opened and an angry face appeared. ‘Are you the manager?’ I demanded. He nodded affirmatively. ‘We want towels,’ I said. He looked blankly at me and made no answer. I repeated my request, the guide translating, and the manager expostulating in Russian. He was furious at being awakened as early as 9:30 in the morning!”

“At this my accumulated irritation of many days exploded in a terrific denunciation of the Intourist officials, here, en route, in Moscow, everywhere. ‘We would not move one step’, I said, until the manager produced towels. Suddenly he spoke to me in English! We found this evasiveness frequently in the USSR. But we got the towels. The luxury of that bath—even though only cold water—the first in a week of filthy travel! We dressed and ate hurriedly, eager to see the great dam. It was a mile away through the dusty streets. By the time we had walked to the river’s edge, the fine dust had filled every exposed pore. We dug it out of our eyes and looked about us.”

“The wide river surged against the great concrete wall and broke into clouds of foam. It was a tremendous and inspiring sight. Locomotive cranes moved slowly and irresistibly over the dam. On the farther side was the enormous power-house, under construction. Transmission towers, like great steel giants, stalked away into the distant hills. For some minutes I watched the scene. Then we started over the dam, across the river, carefully observing the concrete form-work, conveying systems and the construction equipment in use. Much of it was of American make. Various tools lay scattered, half buried in the sand and debris. In mid-stream we met a lovely phenomenon. The water pouring through the sluice gates in great cascades caused a continual spray which the wind caught and blew back over the dam. This cool, refreshing mist enveloped us in the midst of the burning, dusty day. A perpetual rainbow gleamed in this vapor-cloud. On the other river-bank we visited the community which had been built for the foreign engineers on the work. It was composed of separate cottages and offices for the administration. Then we entered the power-house, descending deep into the bowels of this gigantic building, to watch the setting of a giant turbine. Then we came up and went back across the river over the dam. We had seen the greatest project of the new Soviet industrialization and electrification program, Dneprostroi!” Spoken like a true Stalinist! Not a word about General Electric! Silence about Westinghouse! These are taboo words in the Soviet Union. Ford was different. Everyone loves the Ford tractor if only there were spare parts! Witkin has good reason to rejoice. He’s treated like the master of ceremonies, a foreign architect with knowledge and experience far above and beyond the Russian’s experience. Here is a Russian returning from America! With a university education and diplomas! He has returned to help the people of his Motherland break the chains of poverty and ignorance! Of this they could be proud, and Witkin is very proud too. Alas, how would he suspect that the famous Soviet movie star he loved was a secret informer controlled by Stalin and the OGPU agents who followed his every move and whose life depended on “special considerations”.

Zara Witkin was one of the more fortunate architects to have a job. In fact he was ecstatic that it had put him on the world stage. Witkin is literally living on top of the world. Not in New York in the Chrylser or Empire State building. But the Soviets make sure their star architect had his full of delights including the most beguiling movie actress adored by the soviet masses. As the responsible for “the rationalization of the Soviet construction industry” Witkin was given long reins by his handlers. He’s able to travel widely in the rural back country off-limits to tourists and journalists. “Our route was now to the south,” Witkin writes in his memoirs which were nearly lost. He has a flair to describe scenes that come back to life under our eyes, such as here when traveling south to the Ukraine. “We collected our luggage for the next trip,” Witkin wrote, “which was to be by the night train to Sevastopol. There was no passenger automobile available. A light truck was to take us to the station. We bounced several miles over rough, stony roads. On assurances that a dining-car was attached to our train, no food had been given us. The exact hour of the arrival of the train was unknown. We simply had to wait until it came. Hundreds of people, ragged, lying or sitting in the dirt, some in mud, with their belongings in sacks, also awaited some train to carry them elsewhere. They were almost indistinguishable from their bags. About an hour later our train arrived. Fearful of another telegram from me to Moscow Intourist headquarters, the officials gave us first-class accommodations in an ‘International’ (Pullman) sleeping-car. This was the first time since the night we had left Moscow that we were to ride in a berth. With profound relief and keen anticipation of a good rest we entered our car. But the dust of Dneprostroi had saturated my nasal passages. Soon after we pulled out of the station, my nose began to bleed profusely. This night, too, was lost to see I had to get down from my berth half a dozen times to stop the flow of blood.” Imagine just how the forced laborers had to endure these working conditions without proper nourishment or sanitation.”

“We were now advancing into southern Russia. Despite the physical hardship of the trip, the dreadful sights, and the annoyances and irritations we were subjected to, a salubrious quality of the air gave us a sense of physical exuberance.” Unfortunately, here from Witkin we have only a hint of the abject misery he witnessed of this famine-stricken region. Witkin continues south to the Black Sea. “In the morning,” Witkin writes, “we arrived in Sevastopol. While waiting in front of our hotel for our automobile, I watched a gang of workers attempting to raise a heavy swinging scaffold of crude, wooden construction to the top of the building. They pulled on the ropes, forcing the scaffold up against the front of the building, scraping its way and smashing windows as it went. At the second story level there was a large hotel sign. Unless special care was taken to pull the scaffold out and around this sign, it would be struck and damaged. Oblivious to possibilities, the workmen forced the scaffold up along the face of the building and dislodged the sign. It crashed to the sidewalk, nearly killing two men. This incident was of special significance. A year later, the government paper, Izvestiia , in a long article dealing with my work, then the rationalization of the Soviet construction industry, began with a description of this incident.” (Zara Witkin, Memoirs, 1932-34)

In June 1932 Zara Witkin is in Moscow with his friends discreetly swapping stories on life in the USSR that they dare not tell in public in reach of microphones and informers. His perspective from the top down is decidedly different and perhaps less political than John Scott’s descriptions of the workers’ life in a giant industrial plant. Witkin writes, “…on my return, I made this observation to Eugene Lyons, the American correspondent. Several days afterward the Kharkov Tractor Plant and several of its managers received the Order of Lenin, the highest Soviet decoration for outstanding performance and meritorious work! When this was announced, I was astounded. Lyons probably doubted the accuracy of my observations. But sixty days later, the Kharkov Tractor Plant was subjected to rigorous investigation by a commission of the highest officials in the Commissariat of Heavy Industry for failure to fulfill its program, bad workmanship, waste of material, etc. This incident was followed by several other such cases, especially the high award of honors to the Kursk railway, which soon after broke down and almost ceased operation. Frequently, it seemed like the blind judging the blind.” To comprehend more fully the elaborate deviations and corrections inherent in the Russian ingenuity to cope with the extremities of unrealizable goals of the Plans the reader is encouraged to enlist the assistance of Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn and his volumes of The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956.

Witkin’s Memoirs 1932-34 portray a life-style of enthusiasm and boldness that make Americans typically stand out in a crowd much to their amusement with the effect that he made fast friends and attracted jealous enemies. But the thrill quickly fades. After two years Witkin has had enough of the Bolsheviki and their intimidations. He leaves, disillusioned and broken-hearted. Rather, he flees for his life. With his intimate knowledge of Soviet military and industrial installations, many of his own creation, he is lucky to get out or even stay alive. (Zara Witkin, Memoirs 1932-34)

Many not so fortunate simply disappeared. Once the idealist socialist expats were caught up in the Soviet “meat grinder” without a passport and their travel limited there was little if anything the State Department could do. While Stimson’s diary is conspicuously scant to mention Soviet business, nevertheless Soviet-American trade soared under his wing in Hoover’s presidency. Woe to the American worker looking for a job in the USSR who expects the US government would protect its citizens there. When Connecticut Congressman C. B. McClintock queries Stimson about it, the stern patriarch declares, “Persons who proceed to Russia in present circumstances must do so at their own risk.” For his part Bob Kelley responds to concerns over naturalized Russian Americans returning to the Soviet Union fearful that they risked jeopardy by telling them that since the Washington and Moscow shared no naturalization treaty, there was not much the US could do to give “assurance that such a person would not be treated as a Russian citizen should he place himself within the jurisdiction of Russia”. (K. Siegel, Loans and Legitimacy, 105)

In the hot dry summer on his way to the huge electrical dam in Dnepropetrovsk on the 1400 mile Dnieper river to the Black Sea built with western technology Witkin passed through vast wheat fields of the kolkhozes preparing for the harvest. He wrote, “Then down to Rostov, Dneprostroi and Yalta. That evening we caught the train for Dneprostroi. Again we had no places to sit… Dnepropetrovsk, formerly Ekaterinoslav, proved intensely interesting. As we strolled on the main street in the hot, dusty afternoon, stores with some actual goods on display attracted our attention. There was more color and individuality among the people in this district than we had encountered till then. This was the Ukraine.”

August in 1932 Stalin staged huge celebrations for the completion ahead of schedule of the giant Dnieper Dam with the pageantry of propaganda that only the great Socialist nations are capable of producing. His technological feat, Duranty observes, is “celebrated in a way that echoed around the world… Millions of Russians acres were deserted and untilled; millions of Russian peasants were begging for bread or dying. But Japan did not attack.” (W. Duranty, USSR, The Story of Soviet Russia, 193)

Stalin courts disaster to avert catastrophe. Duranty writes, “The Tractor Stations were powerless without gasoline, no matter who controlled them, and the fields of the Caucasus and the Ukraine could not be sown without grain. Here the picture was completed by the order that fifty thousand Communists and a hundred thousand tons of grain, and everything else needful, should be mobilized immediately for the spring sowing campaign in the Caucasus. Because it shows that the gasoline was available now, that there was grain for seed, that help could be given, in food and seed grain both, to the starving, desperate population of the Caucasus and the Ukraine and the Lower Volga…” (W. Duranty, “Man-made Famine”, USSR, The Story of Soviet Russia, 195)

Duranty says in his famine-revisited book (1941) that he was there in Russia spring 1933. That’s not quite right; Duranty doesn’t tour the Ukraine that year until late summer-early fall. He then cleverly uses that book to justify Consortium investment for technology transfer to the totalitarian communist war machine. On Stalin’s military conversion of civil technology two years after Hitler invades Poland and German Nazi divisions are shifted to invade the Ukraine in June 1941 Duranty relates that conditions are radically different than during that fatal year of 1933. “War preparedness took precedence over the peaceful industrial program,” Duranty declares, “and it was decided to speed up the industrial development of the areas remote from potential attack. This was in keeping with the Government’s policy of developing Siberia, but it involved great changes in planning. The Russians did their best to combine military and civil needs by pressing the construction of tractor factories, for instance, which could easily be converted to the production of army tanks, and chemical plants which could produce fertilizers or high explosives as required. At this time, they puzzled American construction engineers employed to supervise the building of their new factories, by demanding much greater strength and solidity than seemed necessary. The Americans learned, or guessed that this extra margin was provided in view of possible conversion of the factories to war production.” (W. Duranty, “Man-made Famine”, USSR, The Story of Soviet Russia, 201-02)

In 1933 for The New York Times Walter Duranty sticks to his belt-tightening Bolshevik tricks of damage control in referring to the authenticity of official government announcements shortly after Jones’ press conference in Berlin shook the foundations of the Kremlin and rattled its propaganda offices in the Narkomindel. Duranty writes, “The first sign of improvement in the agrarian situation came from the North Caucasus, upon which the Kremlin had concentrated its efforts as being the southernmost and therefore earliest sown of the major grain-producing regions” On April 6th the Kremlin declares sowing for the first three days of the month already more than double even four times the previous year, Duranty adds, “proof that the mass of the peasants was at last rallying to Socialist farming with ‘the invaluable help and leadership of the political department of the machine tractor stations’… On April 20th the Moscow press announced that a total of 25,000,000 acres had been sown in the North Caucasus, Ukraine and Lower Volga regions, as compared to 8,000,000 acres in the previous year. Weather conditions were unusually favorable, but the gains were really due to the political sections of the tractor stations, whose commanders cleared our inefficiency, laziness and graft in the collective farm managements without regard for local ‘pull’ or connections. They also were able to provide adequate supplies of grain for seed and food, and there was now no shortage of oil and fuel for the tractor caravans which moved in an orderly procession from south to north in accordance with the ploughing and sowing period of each region. There was a new spirit among the peasants, who began to say, ‘Moscow has not forgotten us’. They have sent men with whips to chase the dogs that were biting us.’…The favorable prognostics of the spring were justified by the greatest grain crop in Russian history, and the grain collections were actually completed before the end of the year, by December 14th, two and a half months earlier than ever before. ” (W. Duranty, “Man-made Famine”, USSR, The Story of Soviet Russia, 1941, 202)

Worse, in Rostov that September Duranty admits (he will do it again in 1941) the situation was in fact “undoubtedly bad”, but the rumours he dismissed as “absurd”. Upon his return he declared Ukraine had been “bled white”. He is convinced by Alksandr Asatkin, the head political section of the Ukraine Machine-Tractor Stations that coming harvest would be adequate to feed the population of 33 million. On September 19 Duranty calls the season a bumper harvest with a “generally excellent crop”. That when years later he accepts the figure of 10 million deaths! Duranty doesn’t tell how difficult it was for him to navigate the food blockades erected that fall manned by troops and militia to stop peasants from leaving the villages and inundating the cities with news of the famine. Polish intelligence dated September 1932 describes the reality suppressed by Duranty : “Nearly all of Ukraine is traveling in search of bread, the trains are packed to the rafters; to get on a train [people] have to stand in lineups for several days.” (Yuriy Shapoval, “Foreign Diplomats on the Holodomor in Ukraine”, Holodomor Studies, 2009, citing TsVA, file I.303.4.5424, 28)

Delays and new plans are “injected into the Plan in 1930”, Conquest wrote of this period. “Industrialization itself became a matter of crash programs rather than the carefully planned growth envisaged by the Right, or even the original devisers of the Five Year Plan.” Conquest has it only partly right. The plan was chaotically thrown together with fantastic figures and unrealizable goals and underwent constant revision by American and foreign engineers. Conquest referred to a passage from former communist Fred Beal’s, Proletarian Journey (1937) : “We are told for instance, of a school of ‘engineers’ attached to the Kharkov Tractor Works. The pupils, picked for ‘unusual ability or political reliability’ were rushed through the courses, and sent at once to the factories. ‘They would attempt at once to correct the work of foreign specialists, bringing untold confusion and wrecking the activities of really able technicians. Fine and expensive machinery was ruined…’.” That confirms reliable accounts by Zara Witkin, Antony Sutton and nearly every other American and foreigner working anywhere in the USSR. Conquest adds, “The numbers transferred to industry grew beyond expectation (many cities had populations ‘higher than the plan had envisaged’ – at Dneprostov, for example, 64,000 instead of 38,000)… The bulk of the new industrial workers could nevertheless only come through the villages. Between 1929 and 1932, 12.5 million new hands entered industry and 8.5 million of them were from rural areas.” This is not insignificant! The pool of slave labor necessary to reach the goals of the industrial Plan which still failed despite the inhuman tempo and conditions came from Stalin’s collectivization as did the famine. Western bankers and industrialists are behind the whole show. Consortium players from the First World War to the Second neatly wrapped The Plans in their strategy for the next world war while supporting their demagogues Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini.

STALIN PREPARES THE REPRESSION:” WE MIGHT LOSE UKRAINE. MIND YOU….”

Stalin moves deftly to crush any revolt. He is ruthless in his manner, coy and cunning firm as steel. “Unless we immediately start to improve the situation in Ukraine,” he wrote, “we might lose Ukraine. Mind you, that Pilsudski is not sleeping, and his agents in Ukraine are many times stronger than Redens or Koisor might think. Also keep in mind that the ranks of the Ukrainian Communist Party (500,000 members, ha-ha) have quite a few (yes, quite a few!) rotten elements, conscious and unconscious followers of Petliura*, and finally, direct agents of Pilsudski. As soon as matters take a turn for the worse, these elements will rush to open the front inside (and outside) of the party, against the party. The worst thing is that the Ukrainian leadership is blind to these dangers. This can no longer continue.” (Stalin to Kaganovich, August 11, 1932, re. “If we don’t make an effort now to improve the situation in Ukraine we may lose Ukraine.” , O.V. Khlevnyuk et al., eds., Stalin i Kaganovich. Perepiska. 1931-1936, Moscow, 2001, 273-75, in Michael Ellman, “The Role of Leadership Perceptions and of Intent in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1934”, Europe-Asia Studies, v. 57, Sept. 6, 2005, 823-41; “The situation was worsened in Stalin’s view by the way the Ukrainisation policy had been applied, which had strengthened the anti-Soviet elements in both Ukraine and Russia (e.g. the North Caucasus; Stalin i Kaganovich. Neizdannaia perepiska. 1931-1936, Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2001, 274; Ukrainian nationalist Simon Vasilyevich Petlyura Ukrainian headed anti-Bolshevik forces in Ukraine 1919-19, assassinated in Paris exile 1942)

Elsewhere and preoccupied with his Russian banking business for his Consortium masters, Bullitt learns that the National City man has invited for the Russian Soviet State Bank to join in the talks “because I believed them to be favorable to an early settlement with the National City Bank”. Further, he adds, “I repeated my old argument of impossibility as to the credit plan, and made a new summing up of the arguments previously advanced in support of the 1927 plan for the so-called “Public Debt”. He figured that of the $50 million some $35 million “was deposited with the Committee in New York, and of the twenty-five million, some fifteen million was deposited.”

Baryshikoff had already been given all the details in New York. Soviet annual gold production “remained relatively low, only slightly upwards of thirty-five million dollars”. But National City rejects a credit plan of 50 to 100 million dollars, as well as “an arrangement for an association of American manufacturers who would carry their own credit risk, but American banks to finance the manufacturer”. Thus the Consortium planners with the eyes always keen to the exigences and inevitability of an outbreak of war, here or there (does it really matter where?), have worked out a viable banking scheme for Stalin and are prepared to force it through as long as Japanese encroachment in Manchuria makes him the weaker partner in the untold story of the National City Bank role in FDR’s deal to recognize the USSR. (W. C. Bullitt Papers, Yale Univ. Archives)

Stimson’s curiosity is aroused. He yearns to know how it would all unravel that fatal summer of 1932.

Documents of private bank debts, steps and procedures of details pertaining to US government recognition of Stalin’s Soviet Communist Dictatorship are stacked or filed orderly during secret talks with Soviet leaders under the shadow intensified extermination and continuous depopulations of starving villages. Special rail cars normally designated to transport cattle are assigned; caravans of armed trucks create streams of prisoners to the gulags dispersed throughout Russia, in the Urals and Eastern Siberia.

As the Kremlin transports more grain exports for sale on the world market, Bill Bullitt jaunts about Europe for National City on a bid to bring Stalin closer to the table as a legitimate partner for the Consortium. But there is another problem in all this diplomatic maneuvering. Wherever Bullitt went he would be recognized by journalists eager for a scoop Stimson would never send Bullitt; he detested him. Before FDR’s nomination it would not be in House’s cards. Especially with the recognition card was back on the table a public scandal over the Morgan-Rockefeller money in bed with the communists would be devastating for either political party. How did the Consortium keep a lid on it before the spectacle of diplomacy was exposed as a shambles? And Stalin, too, is desperately worried that news of the Holodomor will spill out into the western press. In a letter to Kaganovich written in June the Soviet leader frets that “several tens of thousands of Ukrainian collective farmers are still traveling all over the European part of the USSR and demoralizing the collective farms for us with their complaints and whining.” (Yuriy Shapoval, “Foreign Diplomats on the Holodomor in Ukraine”, Holodomor Studies; Stalin i Kaganovich. Neizdannaia perepiska. 1931 to 1936, Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2001, 179)

Small world for expats in Russia these days. During his trek through Moscow and the Ukraine that summer Gareth Jones makes sure he meets Spencer Williams of ARCC. In the ARCC shuffle, in 1930, Spencer Williams is hired replacing Smith. Many like Duranty, Chamberlin, and Lyons prefer Smith known for his tight links to the Bols. “I had a talk with Spencer Williams,” Jones wrote, “of the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce here (sic). He is a rather mild man, and it is a tough job he has these days.”

Jones makes some notes: “The Five-Year Plan is only a slogan not necessarily a schedule which must be fulfilled”; “Stalin’s new policy is merely a temporary phase”; “There is little private trade left in the country now; and next year there will not be any!”; “Diesel engines are being turned out in quantity, but quality is lacking. Two or three boats on the Black Sea have proceeded at too fast a tempo, and, also, there is a general tendency for managers to be easy in making inspections”; “Labour has too high a turnover and is nomadic. Food and housing rumors fly about to the effect that better conditions exist elsewhere, so workers move off”; “A decline or rise in the exports of the USSR will depend very much on the world crisis”; “Last year was the test year for agriculture. The Russians succeeded. This year is the test year in industry. Most of the orders for machinery are now going to England.” Jones hears their side of the story, and writes, “A worker tells Jones, ‘Only when we are dead will conditions be better. They are much worse now than before the Revolution. The peasants are very angry. We only get salt fish, but in the Kremlin they get everything’.” Williams stays on as ARCC’s PR man in Moscow until the end of the decade.

Years later after Hitler invades Poland and Stalin’s Red Army gets driven back by the Finns Spencer Williams disappeared from Moscow and resurfaced reporting in Time from London (March 1940) that the Consortium ARCC’s trade agent “at last could talk freely—even of famine.” Time thought it useful to tell readers that ARCC had shut down the Moscow office “until further notice.” Luce’s magazine adds, “Almost every U. S. business bigwig who has been to Moscow knows slender, dry, efficient Spencer Williams. Most of them have rushed to him at one time or another for help in dealing with Bolshevik mountains of red tape. Interviewed in London by reporters and Columbia Broadcasting System last week. Spencer Williams said: ‘A general rise of 35% in all food prices was decreed about the middle of January.’ That’s a story no newspaper correspondent was allowed to send… ‘There’s still bread in Russia and as long as there is bread there is no famine. My experience in Russia goes back to periods of relative plenty and virtual famine, and in my opinion the food supply when I left Moscow was worse than at any time since the famine of 1933. Most of the people standing in these queues are women – housewives or servants or older members of a family. But it’s always been remarked in Russia that the ‘women say what the men think.’ And during the periods this winter when the temperature fell at times to 45° below zero, women in the queues were heard to say ‘We’ve had enough of this: we’ll not go through this again ‘Such remarks I never heard in Russia, even during the days of the 1933 famine.’ The pro-Soviet trade lobbyist then said what the Russians know is that ‘the Soviet leaders of today are ‘doped by their own propaganda’ and the Kremlin ‘has brought the level of intelligence of all Russia down to its own… The Kremlin actually was surprised and deeply resentful of the fact that the Finns shot at them… The Slav intellect can’t understand anyone fighting for such an abstract thing as freedom ’.” (Time, March 18, 1940)

THE STRANGE BUT TRUE REVELATIONS OF COMMANDER GUY CARR

But there are others who write of the calamity of the miscarriage of justice. A former submarine commander and author of Pawns in the Game (1958) Guy Carr doggedly pursues this murky mystery with the passionate determination of an officer of His Majesty’s Service peering into a subterranean saga. For over a half-century before the 2008 financial debacle during the Bush administration Carr tracks the malicious path taken by the Consortium money men up leading to the 1929 Wall Street. “Then, after speculative investments had just about reached their peak,” Carr notes, “vast amounts of money were withdrawn from circulation. Credits were restricted. Calls were made on loans. In 1922-25 a minor depression was experienced. This economic juggling was a preliminary experiment before the Powers-That-Be brought about the great depression of 1930. After 1925 financial policy was reversed and conditions steadily improved until prosperity in America, Britain, Canada, and Australia, reached an all-time record. Speculation in stocks and bonds and real estate went wild. Then, towards the end of 1929 came the sudden crash, and the greatest depression ever known settled down over the free world. Millions of people were rendered destitute. Thousands committed suicide. Misgovernment was blamed for the economic upset which made paupers out of tens of millions of people, and trillionaires out of three hundred who were already millionaires.” (italics added)

Carr’s book predates Sutton’s 3-volume magna opus on western technology transfers to the Soviet Union. Stalin is still warm in his grave. A ghostly horror hangs over the Kremlin and all of Russia is spiraling deep into the hysterical numbing paralysis of Cold War militarization, a year before Khrushchev assumes power.

Guy Carr tells it the way no establishment journalist dare, and he writes, “In 1925 Stalin started his five-year industrial plans to increase the so-called Sovietized countries internal recovery. The plan was to exploit the natural resources, manufacture raw materials into useful commodities, and modernize industrial and agricultural machinery. This vast Five Year Plan was financed by loans from the international bankers. This programme, when added to the development of the Russian and German war potential under the Abmachungen (agreements) … gave a great boost to Soviet economy. The fact that the Rulers of Russia could use millions of men and women as slaves gave those who enslaved them an additional advantage over nations which employ paid labour, and maintain a high standard of living. The next move was the collectivization of farms. For centuries the serfs in Russia had been little better than slaves of the landed proprietors. Lenin had won their support by promising them even greater concessions than they had been granted under the benevolent rule of Premier Peter Arkadyevich Stolypin from 1906 to 1914, when over 2,000,000 peasant families seceded from the village mir and became individual land owners. By January 1st, 1916, the number had increased to 6,200,000 families. But, in order to secure the loans they had made for the Abmachungen and industrial development programmes, the international bankers insisted that they control the import and export trade of the Sovietized nations.” (italics added)

A generation has passed since the Holodomor climaxing in the brutality of the World War but Carr is unwilling to let it pass into that Orwellian “memory hole” sucking up complacent two- car and home in the suburbs American culture. “They also demanded,” Carr writes, “the collectivization of farms as the only means to obtain greatly increased agricultural production. History records what happened when Stalin enforced the edicts. He has always been blamed personally for the inhuman atrocities which made the peasants comply with the laws. Many versions of what happened have been given. The truth, as I reported it to American newspapers in 1930, has never been published to date. It is acknowledged that over 5,000,000 peasants were executed, or systematically starved to death, because they refused to obey, or tried to evade the edicts. Over 5,000,000 more were sent to forced labour in Siberia. What is not generally known is the fact that the grain which was confiscated from the Russian farmers was pooled together with a vast quantity of grain purchased by the agents of the international bankers in other countries except Canada and the United States. In addition to this corner on grain the international bankers bought up huge supplies of processed and frozen meats in the Argentine and other meat producing countries. Canada and the United States could not find a market for their cattle, or their grain.”

Carr elaborates further how the Versailles lawyer and banker clique of the Consortium negotiate the postwar world of the cataclysmic rise and fall of the twenties: “During the period 1920-1929 the international bankers subsidized shipping in most countries except Britain, Canada, and the United States. As the result of this commercial piracy, it became impossible for ships owned in Britain, Canada, and the United States to compete with ships owned by other countries. Thousands of ships were tied up idle in their home ports. Export trade fell off to an all-time low. The falling off of exports from the allied nations was accompanied by increasing the importation of cheaply manufactured goods from Germany, Japan, and central European countries. To enjoy reasonable prosperity, five out of every eight wage-earners in Canada must obtain their pay directly or indirectly as a result of the export trade. When the export trade falls off a recession immediately follows, due to loss of purchasing power among five-eighths of the population. This immediately affects those who earn their living by rendering services of one kind or another. If the export trade remains down, then the recession deteriorates into a depression.”

And what about all that talk about Russian “dumping” of grain stocks on the world wheat market? Carr explained, “To make absolutely sure that the skids were completely knocked from under the economic structures of allied countries, the men who had cornered grain and meats began to dump their supplies on the markets of the world at prices below the cost of production in Canada, America and Australia. This action brought about a situation in which the granaries of the countries allied together in World War I were bursting with grain they couldn’t sell, while the people of other countries were starving to death for want of bread and meat. Britain needs to earn £85,000,000 a year from her ocean services in order to offset her unfavourable annual trade balance each year. The British economy was given a severe jolt when unfair competition made it impossible for her to earn this money. The British people were forced to buy their bread and meat in the cheapest markets. This artificially produce d economic mess-up was used by the men who master-mind international intrigue to cause grave misunderstanding between different units of the British Commonwealth of Nations and thus weaken the bonds of Empire.”

Carr added, “As the result of this economic war, the shipping, industrial, and agricultural activities of the allied or capitalistic countries were brought to a virtual standstill, while the Soviet States and the Axis Powers worked at full capacity. Once again it must be remembered that the men who plot and plan the World Revolutionary Movement always work on the fundamental principle that wars end depressions and pave the way for revolutionary action in countries that still remain to be subjugated. This being a fact, it was essential to the furthering of their Long Range Plans to arrange international affairs so they could bring about World War II when they wished to do so …”

“By the end of the 1929-31 Labour Government, British trade with Russia had totally failed to live up to its 1929 promise. Instead of exports of £150 million the actual total had been a little over £9 million, or £15 million if Empire re-exports were taken into account. Imports had run over £32 million, a fact most Conservatives were to leap upon with glee. There had been widespread accusation of ‘slave labour’ and ‘dumping’ by the Russians on the Tory benches, hotly denied by many trades unionists though with less vehemence by Henderson* and Dalton**, who largely believed them to be true.” (H.D. Henderson, senior ranking official of the FO, member the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), insider in the Milner Group and a Fellow of All Souls; **Hugh Dalton, under-secretary of State at the FO in the 1929 Labour Government; National Labour and Home Secretary, MacDonald, National Labour and PM)

In Trading with the Bolsheviks Professor Andrew Williams examines the bond between London and Ottawa for period between 1932 and 1933. “The Labour Party until 1932,” he writes, “at least was still a party of free trade, as had been the Liberal regimes of Mackenzie King in Canada until 1930. Bennett is a Conservative believer in tariff controls and Empire Preference, like many in the National Government elected in Britain in November 1931, especially Neville Chamberlain, new Chancellor of the Exchequer.” Free trade liberals remain in the new British cabinet, including Snowden (National Labour and Lord Privy Seal), and Herbert Samuel. (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 193)

Williams description of London’s attitude to the Jewish Bolsheviks is not irrelevant when considering the prevailing moral degradation that reigned over the ethos of the place from manor to manor to the gentlemen clubs of ornate dark drawing rooms and gallant dinner parties. “The argument throughout,” Williams writes, “was not about the amount of trade but its effects. Trade was seen by Lloyd George and the Labour Party, as well as significant members of the Conservative Party as ‘stabilizing’ Russia, encouraging what we might call ‘convergence; and ‘interdependence’. It also found favour with large sections of heavy industry. But ranged against these opinions were most of the City, most of the Foreign Office and ironically, most of the Board of Trade. We can only speculate about whether there was a common ‘culture’ in these opponents. Certainly, they all felt that they were defending ‘principle’, but also they had a visceral, almost personal, dislike of the Bolsheviks. There are, for example, numerous examples of Foreign Office officials referring to the Russian leadership in strong tones of anti-Semitism and a distaste not meted out to any other diplomats except possibly, and then only rarely, the Turks. They were seen as incapable of keeping their word, duplicitous and scheming.

Let’s take a closer look with Williams at some of these insiders with influence in the FO and on the cabinet of the British PM: Hugh Dalton, Under-Secretary of State at the FO during the 1929 Labour Government experiences a division in the FO: those “typified” in Eyre Crowe** (Permanent Secretary), attaching no great importance to Anglo-Soviet relations, regarding the Russians as dirt … this school triumphed as soon as Austen came in (late 1924); the other, tending towards the possibility of improved relations “anxious to take up, firmly and in detail, particular branches of the Trade Agreement.” Hugh Dalton (1887-62), Eton, Kings College, Cambridge, born in Neath, Wales, son of the Chaplain to Queen Victoria and a tutor of the King, earned a Ph. D. in economics (University of London, 1920). During the Second World War Churchill appointed him Minister of Economic Warfare (1940); he established the Special Operations Executive, member of the excom of the Political Warfare Executive; Dalton became Chancellor of the Exchequer (1945); he nationalizes the Bank of England (1946).** Sir Eyre Alexander Barby Wichart Crowe (1864-25) Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Office (1920-25), Assistant Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; Crowe leads the political section of Versailles’ British Delegation from June 1919. (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 88)

But then Prof. Williams finds he’s caught in a pickle between rhetoric and reality. Whatever their idiosyncrasies the Pilgrim-packed Consortium pro-Soviet trade lobby prevailed. Where is he taking us now?

“In this case,” Williams cites, “why were businesses that did do trade with Russia quite happy to continue? And why was the President of the Board of Trade candid in saying that Russian trade was largely a reciprocal benefit, even in 1927? We can also find plenty of examples of Foreign Office officials in Russia who felt that trade could only be beneficial. The Conservatives evidently hoped that they could isolate the Comintern without damaging trade too much. The question must be whether the Comintern was really a threat, domestically or in the Empire, as many suggested it wasn’t, with the events of 1926 seemingly to demonstrate the Russians’ basic incapacity to influence British politics. However, Conservative and FO suspicion of the possibility or desirability of doing real business with the Russia of the 1920s seems very grounded in fact. The concessions policy had at least two false starts, in 1922 and 1926. Those who had lost their possessions of pre-1917 had every reason to feel aggrieved. Quite obviously Krassin, the main architect of détente through trade, could not deliver the goods, given the nature of the Bolshevik regime and its competing power centres, a situation not resolved until about 1928. The decision after 1922 of the Conservative Party and most of Whitehall was that Russian trade was not worth the trouble, when the Empire offered such easy benefits and political advantage. The policy of ‘masterly inactivity’ towards Russia had sound logic behind it. If there had been a pot of Russian gold at the end of Lloyd George’s trade rainbow of early 1922 the course of Anglo-Soviet relations might have been different.” (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 88)

And so Prof. Williams found the incentive of British trade with the Bols “severely hampered by a three-way split between the FO (British Foreign Office), the Treasury and the Board of Trade” which sent a rep to Moscow “but they never proved great advocates of extensive British export credits, which Henderson wanted for political as well as economic reasons. The Treasury under Philip Snowden proved as fiscally conservative as under any Conservative government. The Russians acted true to form throughout in the trade as well as in debt and propaganda discussions by promising huge trade opportunities and the resolution of the debt problem if credits were granted. A Cabinet meeting on 5 March 1930 in an atmosphere of growing financial and economic hardship could only produce twelve months of limited credits, a meager harvest for Henderson to present to the Russians. A Temporary Commercial Agreement, renewable or denounceable by both parties after two years, was signed in April, but debt talks broke down when it became obvious that no huge credits, never mind a loan, were going to emerge.” Williams sends the reader to consult his book Labour and Russia, The Attitude of the Labour Party to the USSR, 1924-1934 (1989). (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 194)

Williams writes that from the British standpoint of Empire and self-interest, the FO in 1931 reasoned “the Russian trade crock of gold for Britain had proved a chimera” and with elections to consider the debates in Commons had shown trade with Russian Bolsheviks somewhat of a “a political embarrassment”. But Bennett in Ottawa has his own special consideration. “Firstly,” Williams finds, “it is clear from his papers that he felt he was leading some kind of holy crusade against Russia. At least half his papers on Russia are pleas from religious groups or congratulations from ordinary citizens praising his hard line on ‘Godless Russia’. They were balanced by pleas for more contact and trade with Russia, but he seems largely to have discounted these as the utterances of communists or cranks.” (A. J. Williams, 194)

Richard Bedford Bennett (1870-47) had never been to Russia before or after the Bols seized power in 1917. A Canadian businessman, lawyer and politician, Bennett serves as the 11th PM of Canada, from August 7 to October 23, 1935. He’s an Empire Pilgrim and Consortium man. A defeat at the polls prompts his moving to London where he’s promptly “elevated” to the House of Lords as 1st Viscount Bennett PC, KC.

Bennett comes from family descended from a long line English Tory settlers who during the American Revolution were compelled to leave their homes in Connecticut and migrate to Nova Scotia where they prospered in the China trade as shipbuilders. Bennett owns the E. B. Eddy match company which might not sound so impressive but it happens to be the largest safety match manufacturer in Canada making him one of the richest men on the North American continent. Passionately anti-communist Bennett preferred privately philanthropy and helped many poor men through university.During the Depression it was not rare for Bennett to send a five dollar bill a family in need and he estimated paying out $2 million in hand to pocket charity. The rich often do this; it makes them feel closer in touch without getting their hands dirty and pricks their conscience to remind them they still have one. Hey Mr., can you spare a dime? All that while millions are starved and worked to death.

Accordingly, Canada’s Prime Minister Richard Bennett lobbies for a trade embargo of the Russians to back Hoover and buy American products instead. Williams wrote, “Skelton had been told by the Canadian representative in Washington, H.H. Wrong, that Hoover had suggested that ‘recovery would be facilitated if several of the more important trading powers took steps to limit their imports from Russia’.” By Order in Council February 17, 1931 Soviet exports to Canada now banned included “coal, wood-pulp, lumber and timber of all kinds, asbestos and furs”. The Soviets retaliated in kind, banning all Canadian imports. The Canadian rep H. H. Wrong, on information from Bell’s spring 1930 visit to the USSR, wrote Dr. Skelton on November 11, 1930 that the Soviet Union is in a “desperate state” and in dire need of foreign exchange. (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 194, 214 citing “Canada and Soviet Trade” RG 19/4665 (PAC), 214, footnote 33, sourced RG/732/103 (PAC); Oscar Douglas Skelton (1878-41) earned a Ph.D. in political economy at the Univ. of Chicago (1908) which makes him a colleague of Samuel Harper and William Dodd, US ambassador in Berlin; Skelton is also Dean of Arts at Queen’s University (1919-25), a delegate at the League of Nations, in Geneva (1924), and a longtime friend of King when he’s PM and Secretary of State for External Affairs. Skelton dies from a heart attack driving a car in Ottawa in 1941.)

Prof. Andrew Williams cast more light on the political problem for this Empire man. Williams writes, “The key problem for Bennett had been, and was to remain, the prospect of Russian wheat exports. Canadian wheat’s lack of markets, and the resulting unemployment, were still recognized as Canada’s main problem after the August election of 1930 and in March 1931 by the British High Commissioner in Ottawa, and his interpretation can be taken as an accurate assessment of Canadian public opinion. Bennett could therefore present the embargo on some Russian imports as a measure enjoying widespread public support in Canada. But Bennett’s action against the USSR presupposed that to ban imports of Russian wheat was to hit the right target in the right way: was there in fact any evidence of an impending or actual flood of Russian exports of wheat, or anything else for that matter? Until 1931 the answer must be that such evidence was lacking.”

By 1931 the British have become the principal buyers of Russian-Ukrainian wheat. Williams continues on the trail, writing, “One British expert wrote in a confidential memorandum that ‘There is … no doubt that any reasonable forecast of the competition which must be expected from Russia (from wheat exports) would be of immense value to all British wheat producers and we are desperately in the dark still’.” (A. J. Williams, 194-5, footnote 214, 35. S.L. Holmes on Cairns’ report ‘Russian Wheat’, Feb. 7, 1931, DO35/196/6 9PRO); Williams adds, “The American Department of Commerce was convinced that there would be no flood of Soviet wheat exports until 1931, at least. Williams points to correspondence Klein to George Akerson, Hoover’s secretary, Feb. 19, 1930, Hoover Presidential Papers, Box no. 993)

The Canadian Premier R.B.J. Bennett, in office since 1920 pushed for Canadian exports over Russian, especially when he feared Russian wheat flooding the world market. Nor did he ignore the threat of furs, timber, coal, asbestos. By mid-1931 Jimmy. Thomas, MP since 1910, expelled from the Labour Party when he joined Ramsay MacDonald’s coalition government, learns “that Russia was now the premier supplier of British wheat imports (each bushel a potential supplanter of a Canadian bushel), and that such imports were up from nothing in 1929 to over five million bushels in the first three months of 1931 alone.” (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 195)

Canada was a primary export market along with the US and Britain. Bennett raised tariffs on items over 100 percent; at the 1930 Imperial Conference in London he urges MacDonald, Snowden and Thomas, (Secretary of State for the Dominions) follow in step. They refused. Williams writes, “His problem was that he had to persuade the British because Britain was the world’s greatest importer of wheat (190,000,000 bushels in 1928), of which 50 percent came from Canada and Australia. Canada had about 250 million bushels to export every year in the late 1920s, so a loss of the British market to, say, Russia, would be disastrous.” By 1931 Bennett considered a general trade embargo on Russia banning the five staple Russian products for export – timber, furs, coal, asbestos and grain. If Bennett could have his way, Canadian, US and British trade restrictions might even topple the Bolshevik regime, according to Williams who noted, however, “the key problem for Bennett had been, and was to remain, the prospect of Russian wheat exports.” (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 194)

Williams argues against Bennett’s cause for alarm of a Russian flood of exports undermining the Canadian economy. That just wasn’t going to happen. “Until early 1931 the answer must be that such evidence was lacking,” the professor Williams observes. “One British expert wrote in a confidential memorandum that ‘There is … no doubt that any reasonable forecast of the competition which must be expected from Russia (from wheat exports) would be of immense value to all British wheat producers and we are desperately in the dark still.” Internal FO memos (Clark and Thomas) mid-1931 indicate that Russia had become Britain’s chief supplier of wheat imports, supplanting Canadian exports and now “were up from nothing in 1929 to over five million bushels in the first three months of 1931 alone”. (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 195)

Prof. Williams’ elaborated his basic tenet summed up here quoting from his chapter “Anglo-Soviet relations 1929-35”: “The peak of trade with the West came during the first Five Year Plan, between 1928 and 1931, attaining an import peak of $569 million in 1931, then declining rapidly to $120 million by 1936, although this was during a period of an immense decline of global trade due to the Depression … the Soviet Union aimed at autocracy and as it developed its own industries progressively shut out trade to reduce reliance on imports. Total Soviet trade was negligible in 1922-9, built up quite rapidly to the 1931 summit and then crashed by 1935-6.”

Williams even goes so far as to divert the concealment and isolation of Soviet trade with the West due to “the ‘danger of contamination’ for the Soviets” driving them away from making “concessions throughout their short life (1923-30)”. Williams, however, does acknowledge that from 1921 to 1929 “172 concession agreements were signed, including those for technical assistance. It is said that 2.670 firms and individuals proposed concessions, of which only 6-7 per cent were accepted by Moscow. They were mainly in the areas of oil, mining, timber, paper, sugar, cement, phosphates, matches, and in the chemical and electro-technical industries, a list presented in 1922 at Genoa by the Soviet delegation. These concessions were always controversial in the West because they usually entailed Western companies restarting the businesses of Western companies that had been dispossessed after the Revolution… They never commanded more than 4 per cent (in 1928) of total Soviet trade before their wholesale dissolution in 1930 when the total monopoly of foreign trade was decreed in Moscow”. That is, excluding Hammer’s pencils and Harriman’s stake in manganese, or Britain’s Lena Goldfields… (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 10-1, 195)

Wheat expert Cairns went on to counter alarmist fears of excessive Russian wheat exports or dumping that otherwise would undermine Canada’s trade balance. Williams writes that the young scot Andrew Cairns’ Russian wheat reports strongly confirm that under the present circumstances “the Soviet Union could not possibly be a short-, medium- or even long-term threat to Canadian exporters of grain, except at the margin. In short, there ‘are many reasons for being optimistic about the probable effects of Russian competition on the position of primary producers in the Dominions’.”

For Cairns, collectivization posed no threat under the current Soviet system of the Kolkhozes and Sovhoses. H. D. Henderson, senior ranking official of the FO, writes British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald confirming MacDonald had “definitely” read the Cairn reports from the FO describing them as “an interesting if squalid story of black bread, hunger, tears and death”. Britain sought large quantities of wheat but Bennett learns that the Russians are unable to supply it. Williams does refer to the famine, writing “the Russians did continue to export sufficient to starve their peasants further, and to make it impossible radically to decrease Canadian stocks, which continued to overhang the market until well into the late 1930s. Russia’s strategy hinged, in the area of wheat, on Russia’s power to impede wheat producer cartel action by the ‘big four’ – Canada, the United States, Australia, and Argentina. Cairns revelations therefore did little to objectively lighten Bennett’s load.” (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 195-6)

In a private conversation between Pierre de Boal* US Charge in Ottawa, and Bennett, in February 1933, the Canadian PM confides that he might lean in the direction that would “free himself from the criticism that his economic policy in embracing the Empire had isolated Canada from its natural market, the United States.” But change with Ottawa comes too slow to help the Ukrainians if it comes at all. In 1931, Gordon Stewart writes in Canada and the End of Empire (2005) in respect to foreign trade and lower tariffs Benjamin Wallace in the Office of the Economic adviser “excoriated the traditional American approach since the end of the Civil War of building up high tariff walls.”

This is an approach, Wallace wrote, that “simply forced Canada into imperial and nationalist alternatives.” Wallace insists “the greatest error in the commercial policy of the United States has been the treatment of Canada. Canadians are of the same language and stock, and have essentially the same standard of living and the same political outlook and ideals as Americans. The boundary between us is largely artificial and Canada is so divided geographically that the natural trade routes are North and South. There is no military, or political, or economic reason for not treating Canada economically as part of the United States. …if anything is ever to be done to initiate closer trade relations between the US and Canada it should be done before June 1932 when the next imperial conference meets.” That change was in the air and not overlooked by Bullitt who, as a delegate to the 1933 London Economic Conference advised Roosevelt “via Canada we might make a hole in the Ottawa agreements”. (Gordon T. Stewart, “An Objective of US Foreign Policy since the Founding of the Republic”, Canada and the End of Empire, editor Phillip Buckner, UBC Press, 2005, 97-8. *Pierre de Boal (1895-66), St. Pauls School (1915), an aviator with the Lafayette Esquadrille in the First World War then flew with the US Army Signal Corps surviving aerial combat with the Croix de Guerre and Legion d’Honneur; in the Foreign Service Pierre de Boal was posted in Mexico City, Belgrade, Warsaw, Berne, Lima, Ottawa, Geneva, then posted ambassador far from harm’s way to Nicaragua and Bolivia.)

Williams asserts that in the months following the Ottawa conference in June and the collapse of the Anglo-Russian trade agreement by the end of 1932 MacDonald’s government had played out its “Russian trade card”. Williams, who gives away no secrets in his restrained establishment treatment of the British-Soviet trade, writes “MacDonald brought with him a well-founded wariness of the political unpredictability of the USSR”. Yet that much could just as well be said of Paris and Washington. Their shattered economies are shaking governments tottering on the edge. London’s Conservatives are still snorting over Stalin’s confiscation of the Lena Goldfields concession “with the Russians offering compensation of two and a half million pounds”; Berlin’s International Court of Arbitration decried 13 millions. Now resentment over the Vickers’ engineers arrests by Stalin’s Cheka agents overshadows the foreign company’s role in building the giant Dnieperstroi Dam. Of London’s troubles, Williams writes, “More wide-ranging and drastic measures would have to be found. By early 1931 there was also a wide perception of an impending British balance of payments and sterling crisis.” FDR’s devaluation in the summer of 1932 scorched relations with the Bank of England.

“The tone of Cabinet minutes”, Williams observed, “for the latter part of 1931 and 1932 are indicative of a widespread sense of dismay in the British Government as the Depression deepened.” Now with the Holodomor threatening stability in Moscow Bennett and his British allies in London’s cabinet ventured “to teach the Russians a lesson. Viscount Haisham, Secretary of War, echoed many Conservatives in feeling that the Soviet five-year plans had as object to ‘smash our trade’. Paradoxically, however, (and here’s the rub sic) the Committee of Imperial Defense (CID) felt that the Russians were maintaining a strategic industry by buying large quantities of British machine tools.

Viscount Runciman* seems to have shared this view, even asking for increased credits to ensure that such orders were carried out. MacDonald also repeatedly expressed great ‘apprehension’… At the next Cabinet he even asked the committee to reconsider its verdict that pressure would have to be put on Russia to reduce Britain’s trade deficit in some way, ” (A. Williams, 197-9; *Sir Walter Runciman, Viscount Runciman of Oxford (1847-37), briefly a Liberal MP advocate of increasing trade with the USSR, is featured on Time cover, November 30, 1931, lived an extraordinary life, authored Windjammers and Sea Tramps, telling how he ran away to sea at 11 and learned the ropes to become a master mariner in age of Joseph Conrad seeking adventure and fortune on last of the tall ships.)

At the height of the Holodomor Canada is faced with the problem of stopping Russian trade in world markets and to prevent it from undermining the home economy. This is the focus of the famous 1932 Conference of Ottawa. Ottawa gains a political and trade victory over Stalin but it does not help the Ukrainians. The Soviet Union, on the contrary, was strained more than ever and not unlike the Great Powers is unable to pay its foreign debts. Summing up the conference Williams writes, “The final result was the inclusion of Article XXI, binding Britain to an anti-dumping clause in the Ottawa Final Act. This was clearly aimed mainly at the USSR and imposed preferential British duties on some of the USSR’s main exports, including wheat and timber.” Baldwins’ Chancellor of the Exchequer Neville Chamberlain, considered “the toughest negotiator in the Cabinet”, – he would be remembered as the capitulator to Nazis later at Munich, – wrote his brother, on October 24, 1932, “we achieved a great deal more than I had expected…(A)s for Russia … though I am willing to extend the length of credit in order to keep a valuable trade I am reluctant to expand the volume of credits and thus put ourselves more and more at the mercy of a country (which is ) unstable and unfriendly and whose financial situation is not calculated to inspire confidence. But I am not fanatical…I do not regard Russia as an unclean thing which we must not touch…” Bennett’s Article XXI contesting shipments of Soviet grain is hailed by the anti-communist public sector and the Canadian press while the Ukrainians are left to beg for bread. (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 201)

Back in Parliament when the Liberals in MacDonald’s government dissent over Conservative pressures to reduce Soviet imports, they bolt claiming the denigration of Russian trade is pandering to the “height of folly”. The senior dons of the British FO are out on thin ice once news from Ottawa leaks. MacDonald fretted over Stalin’s reaction, and appeal to Sir John Simon and Lord William Strang to stroke the Kremlin’s back. On October 6, 1932 Simon meets veteran Bolshevik Commissar Sokolnikov soon recalled to Moscow to explain the Ottawa betrayal. Sokolnikov ask for clarification of the Ottawa trade decision. Williams writes, “Simon lied and told him that no decision had been made but that an improvement in trade figures (which had already happened in fact) would be welcome and that a settlement of the dispute over the Lena Goldfields would help.” That double-cross sets the stage for Sir Edmund Ovey’s arrival in Moscow and his subsequent verbal lashing by the wit of Litvinov. Turn-about is fair play. The Bolsheviks thrive at that game.

Mid-October just six days after MacDonald’s Cabinet agrees formally to renounce the Ottawa trade agreement Litvinov insists that Ovey explain what went wrong since Solkolnikov’s assurances. Litvinov accuses London, Ovey writes in his report to the FO, calling the setback a “victory of an extremist anti-Russian group in the United Kingdom” against the position put forward by the Secretary for the Dominions (Thomas) of the Russian clause in the Ottawa Agreement. Litvinov leaves “depressed and pessimistic” and suspected, he tells Sir Edmund, “that some secret bargain was made with Canada that Anglo-Russian agreement should in any case be terminated.” He throws down the American card that if Roosevelt should replace Hoover Litvinov fears another snag in relations.

An adviser of Stalin consoles Ovey not to worry. Lord Strang dismisses fears of retaliation over Article XXI convinced of Britain’s superior status as a necessary market for Russian goods. (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 203, ftn. 61-3)

Home for the July 4th Independence Day weekend, Stimson relaxed on Sunday at Highhold, and after leaving the Bronson Winthrop house rode down to find Mable at the Beach Club. He’s pleased with his chat with his young PR whip Arthur Page all bullish about the economy turning the corner to recovery. “He sees a slight pick-up in commodity prices …”, Stimson notes. The Democratic Convention is the hot news now. “They finally nominated Franklin Roosevelt,” Stimson wrote in his diary, “by a deal engineered evidently by McAdoo and Hearst under which the Garner delegation came over to Franklin Roosevelt and afterwards Garner was nominated for Vice President. Franklin Roosevelt then flew over from Albany to Chicago and made a speech of acceptance to the whole Convention before it had dispersed. This made a great hit with the newspapermen. The speech was pretty good and the idea was pretty good. … it was a good thing to catch the eye. Everybody is beginning to think that Roosevelt is going to put up a hard fight. I have thought so from the beginning.”

Twenty-three years have passed since Stimson lost against Teddy Roosevelt in his bid for Governor of New York in 1910. Stimson’s career in politics came crashing down under the same Democratic landslide that installed a cherry-face 28-year-old freshman politician and lawyer in the New York state legislature – Franklin D. Roosevelt. He wouldn’t know it at the time but for Stimson the loss to TR was something between destiny and mystery written in the stars. Stimson was the man who kept the secrets sitting side to side to more presidents than any man in US history.

After the Democratic Convention Col. House makes his move. A week later back in the office Monday Allen Klots and Shepard Morgan of Chase National deliver Stimson “an astounding proposal” from House. Col. House says he wants “to take the whole question of debts and reparations out of politics by an agreement between Roosevelt and Hoover”. Stimson is told House has agreed to press Roosevelt to accept and is going to see him this Thursday at his Beverly home. House wants Hoover’s stand on it before the meeting. Stimson is delighted. He talks to Hoover and that evening Stimson dines with Klots and Bundy at Woodley.

“We were all of the opinion,” Stimson pens in his diary, ‘that if offered a possible chance of a very great stroke for the benefit of the world and for the benefit of Mr. Hoover in particular by which we might get the whole thing out of politics provided somebody is willing to be big and take chances”. That night Stimson passes the deal over to Ogden Mills and “begged for his help”. Hoover called Stimson in the morning telling him “that we were getting in very bad with the people of the United States”. Hoover is upset over new press attacks by Hearst, and, in particular, Stimson’s work “to offset the work of the British Treasury”. Stimson shrugs, clears himself to Hoover and reporters that day in the regular press conference showing his own press release of last June 8.

The big obstacle now is the President. Stimson feels Hoover is a beaten man and completely “tired out”. He worries Hoover “has lost perspective”. He observes that “nobody can do otherwise who stays in Washington during these past three years without any break as he has”. Three years of the Great Depression since the October 1929 crash of Wall Street. There is no empathy or sympathy here. Stimson is preoccupied with the Japanese militarists in Manchuria. On July 20 Stimson meets with his predecessor Frank Kellogg back from the Geneva Disarmament talks. Stimson notes that his predecessor Kellogg has “no use for Sir John Simon”. Kellogg and Simon had talked tough about reductions, but Stimson writes, “Of course he indicated that there was going to be no reduction at all in naval affairs until 1938, or somewhere thereabout. As Kellogg put it, ‘How can we expect the other people to disarm if the British took that attitude’.” The disarmament talks are reached a state of near total collapse as the world powers slide closer to war. Stimson is troubled, unsure how to handle the British. He writes, “It is evident that we are going to be up against the issue this fall. I am trying to think out ahead what to do.” He assigns Hornbeck the task of sorting it out in a speech for the Secretary “really for the purpose of laying the foundation stone for the whole policy by giving my views of the Kellogg Pact and the importance of the concerted action of the nations under it… ” Late July Stimson understands that it’s clear with Seymour Parker Gilbert (1892-38) that the conference intends to keep off its agenda “discussions of reparations and debts and tariff schedules or rates”. For the record Stimson writes in his diary, “History will not know that we tried to invoke it and were blocked by the British…”

Kellogg and Stimson lunch with Hoover at the White House. They advise the President to leave Washington and to “go out West” and campaign. Less than four months remain before the election.

In the Far East all signs point towards world war. The Secretary makes another entry into his diary: “August 10. Meet with Japanese ambassador leaving Washington and “came to say good-bye”. Stimson tells him the Japanese militarist government has crossed the line and should not be mistaken that they are “just at the beginning of their trouble; that the 30,000,000 Chinese in Manchuria were going to make a long fight, and that their Japanese conduct was going to lead to years of anarchy and war probably in Manchuria, perhaps a World War; that it looked very bad.” (HLS Diary, re. Seymour P. Gilbert, July 27, 1932)

While Stimson appears weak and unable to do much to restrain the Japanese military penetration in Manchuria he shows little more than indifference towards Stalin and Soviet Russia where this fatal summer in July 1932 a more deadly scenario of power politics intensifies repression on the Ukrainians. Fields with late sowing go unharvested, once healthy and able peasants and their families and entire villages starve. Famine is widespread. The Consortium’s absolute dictator loses all patience and again forces the Ukraine to its knees. Even the conquering Mongols had never been so ruthlessly determined to exterminate their foreign enemy.

Bullitt travels to Moscow arriving there May 21. With him is J. L. Curtis, assistant vice-president of National City and Hartford Beaumont of Shearman & Sterling. He’s immediately met by George I. Andreytchine, the friendly Soviet vice commissar of Mosamtorg (Amtorg in Moscow), and a member of the Communist Party who had first met Bullitt in America when he worked with the radical labour leader Bill Haywood’s International Workers of the World (IWW). Andreytchine, in fact, had been condemned with Haywood as one of his 14 “chief aids”, fined for anti-war protests against the First World War and sentenced 20 years in prison by a federal judge in the nationally famous IWW trial in Chicago. “Big Bill” Haywood (1869-28) moved to Moscow in the early 1920s and attended Reed’s funeral ceremonies. Haywood stays on and dies there disillusioned and embittered.

Andreytchine is still a bonefide member of the Communist Party but that won’t protect him or anyone these days. Stalin purges the Party constantly. Andreytchine and Bullitt became fast friends. Both enjoys each other’s comraderie, especially Anrdreychine who feels a special comfort next to his important American guest. As a child Andreytchine had grown up in Bulgaria where the King took a special fondness to him and paid his education expenses. He warns Bullitt about the local criminal elements, the CHEKA-GPU-NKVD secret police, and other querks of the new Soviet mentality. In the Bullitt Papers collection at the Yale Archives there is a document probably dating to this time titled “SUGGESTIONS RE: THE DESIRABILITY OF SENDING AN OFFICIAL AMERICAN COMMISSION TO THE U.S.S.R”. This document is about collectivization and the peasant revolt movement; there is a folder labeled “402” identified only as “Spec Asst to the Sec of State – Negotiations with the US, 1932, MEMORANDUM OF CERTAIN CONVERSATIONS IN RUSSIA REGARDING DEBTS, RECOGNITION. MAY – JULY, 1932”. It is a curious document oddly overlooked by Bullitt historians. (W. C. Bullitt Papers, Yale Univ. Library Archives, folder 402, Box 110)

Bullitt wants to improve relations and trade with the Soviets, and more importantly become an accepted player with the Consortium gang. The peasant farmers and their families are readily forsaken to the priority of debt recovery through gold and grain sales existing in one and separate worlds divided by war greed politics and persecution of the Slavic Ukrainian population of men, women and children. Now only life and death divide them and keeps their separateness apart in a once united world. Ultimately the terror sweeps them out of sight. It is worthy to note that there is virtually nothing to show that any of these bank men, including Bullitt were even the slightest concerned with the loss of human life as a result of oppression and famine in the Ukraine.

As it is, by summer 1932 Bullitt finds himself in the maze of key banking insiders on the Kremlin scene playing a part trying to settle millions of dollars of privately-held debt under the stigma of a national Genocide. It’s a pathetic arrangement for him but this is his destiny. Fate has thrown him another card so what can he do? He has a daughter back home and his former wife is shooting dope and getting drunk in Paris. Both of them live under the shadow of Jack Reed. Now he is in the thick of a Genocide and trying to cut a deal with the Bols and National City. Among the people Bullitt hangs out with in Moscow in May and June are his friends Lyons, Duranty, Fischer of the foreign press pool. To be sure Bullitt came prepared with an extensive list of political and social contacts of Moscow’s elite diplomatic circuit with links to the Consortium, the ARCC in the CFR and men of National City. It was the way he got around and he did what he had to do.

Bullitt meets Mikhail Osipovich Reikhel, Chief of the Foreign Currency Department in charge of International Settlements and Vice Commissar for Finance. Bullitt notes that a National City banker (no names) at this time travels to the Cossack region of Dnieprostroi to inspect progress on the huge hydroelectric project and to Kharkov, capital of Soviet Ukraine. There the banker observed thousands of laborers in work camps. Bullitt wrote, “Meshlauk wanted me to see these places, and I wanted to see Col. Cooper’s brother, Dexter Cooper, at Dnieprostroi. He has influence with Winter, an engineer made Vice-Commissar for Heavy Industry with Piatakov, ‘and I am told it is the first time a professional man has been made a Commissar’.

Although Bullitt during this crucial period of intense Soviet preparations to deal with the grain crisis, he ignores it. There is no evidence that Bullitt gave it any serious attention. He most probably called upon his friend Duranty and others of the foreign press to get the latest dope on the Soviets. Duranty is writing his series on Stalin and the US for The New York Times that gets him the Pulitzer. Bullitt keeps his head down. He’s not here to grab headlines.

Molotov and Kaganovich harangue the Ukrainian Communist Party leaders assembled at the Third All-Ukrainian Conference. It is to be the deciding blow. Ukrainian Party leaders Skrypnyk, Kosior, Chubar appeal that the spring sowing campaign had failed to produce the grain harvest projected by leaders higher up in the Party hierarchy. The grain targets are excessive, they argued. Chubar, head of the Ukrainian Soviet Government was reported by Pravda, July 7 as blaming unrealistic quotas imposed on the kolkhozes in their haste to concede to Party discipline. It was a suicidal plea. “It is wrong,” he was reported to have said, “to accept an order regardless of its practicability, and then try to distort Party policy, to destroy revolutionary law and order, to ruin the economy of the Kolkhozes, justifying all this by orders from above.”

There is madness everywhere. The communist system has gone berserk. They argue. Even whispering halls have ears! Suspicion and fear thicken the atmosphere with charges and accusation. The Party is questioned. They have written their own death sentence. How dare he challenge the Party! Saboteur! Wrecker! What did it matter that conditions were brutal in the villages throughout the vast and once fertile plains of the Ukraine. In spite of that Stalin orders a delivery target of 7.7 million tons.

A week after the conference, Pravda reports Molotov’s counterattack on “anti-Bolshevik” critics of the procurement policy. “There would be no concessions or vacillations,” Molotov vowed, “in the problem of fulfillment of the task set by the Party and the Soviet government.” No concessions! Shock brigades to the countryside! Soviet justice must prevail against the Ukrainian usurpers! Stalin’s order is reduced to 6.6 million tons but it is never collected. Fields and huts are stripped bare. So is the political will of leaders who yet dare to resist Stalin’s death-grip on the Party. Apparently an incident provoking a showdown at the highest level of Party leadership fails to find sufficient clarity in the dispatches of the foreign embassies to foresee the elements combining to bring upon them the perfect storm of terror and famine.

This bellwether summer 1932 Martemyan N. Ryutin (1890-37) and a group of minor party officials including other followers of Bukharin who have opposed collectivization challenge Stalin by signing their “Appeal to All Members of the All Union Communist Party (Bolshevik)”. It’s a letter of inflammatory protest against Stalin’s brutality and sent to the Central Committee in the autumn 1932. A former Secretary of the Moscow Party Committee Ryutin is accused of a plot against Stalin. This is very bad for Ryutin; he had already been arrested once, September 1930 but Stalin reconsidered and the OGPU (Security Police) Collegium is instructed not to condemn him as an “enemy of the people” but to let him go, cleared of any criminal intent! Ryutin is given a warning only this time he can feel the noose tightening around his neck.

So he swings the helm to a different tack. But this time his paper, known as “the Ryutin Platform” proposes an economic retreat, a reduction of investment in heavy industry and the liberation of the peasants that would allow them to leave the collective and state farms. Everyone knows he’s risking his life but Ryutin’s courageous indignation is nothing less than heroic. What else could he do? Russia is going over the cliff. Since 1930 the Gulag has become a way of life and death for Great Soviet Experiment. How is the Party going to survive?

They have had enough of Stalin! They issue a revolutionary call to the nation. The terror must end! They really put their necks out this time. The “Ryutin Platform” condemns Stalin as “the evil genius of the Russian Revolution”. They point to the terror, famine and lawlessness existing both in the party and in the countryside, the collapse of genuine planning. They accuse the Party for supporting an official press reduced “in the hands of Stalin and his clique to a monstrous factory of lies… Stalin and his clique will not and cannot voluntarily give up their position, so they must be removed by force”.

Not until 1989 did the text of the “Ryutin Platform” become public and its content is so outrageously aggressive in its condemnation of the Five Year Plan and the horrors of collectivization that it raised suspicions of possible “OGPU provocation”.

Christopher Andrew writes in The Sword and the Shield, “it denounced Stalin as ‘the evil genius of the Russian Revolution, motivated to the edge of the abyss’, and demanded his removal from power. ‘It is shameful for proletarian revolutionaries to tolerate any longer Stalin’s yoke, his arbitrariness, his scorn for the Party and the labouring masses.'” Stalin sees it all as a call for his assassination. Stalin’s proposal that Ryutin be shot. “We mustn’t do that!”, Sergei M. Kirov (1886-34) head of the Leningrad Party, and Stalin’s close supporter, protested. “Ryutin”, Kirov insists, “is not a hopeless case, he’s merely gone astray.”

The Politburo refuses to execute Comrade Ryutin. Party leaders cite Lenin’s opposition to the death penalty for any member of the Politburo. Ryutin and his other comedians are expelled from the Party; Ryutin gets a tenner in the Gulag. Such mercy from the Great Dictator; for five years Stalin lets him fester and rot in a cold prison cell, then satisfied with the punishment orders him executed. And Stalin’s Commissar of Heavy Industry, the Georgian Grigorii K. (Sergo) Ordzhonikidze (1886-37) must deliver on next summer’s success of the Consortium’s invincible Five Year Plan for Industry. All this while the most stealthy wolf of wolves plans his next strike. Kirov’s day will come and none too soon… (re. Kirov and Ryutin, in C, Andrew and V. Mitrokhin, 69)

Stalin’s campaign of Terror-Famine steps up the pace. The coming winter will bring peak killing levels. Soviet grain procurements rise steadily from 10.8 million (1928-29) to 16.1 million (1929-30), to 22.1 million (1930-31), and to 22.8 million (1931-32). Former British spy and informer Robert Conquest determined to lay full blame for the Genocide on the Stalinists cites Naum Jasny, in 1949, observing that “three years after the start of mass collectivization, the government had more than doubled the amount of grain it took from the countryside.” There’s no way Stalin can keep the lid on this now. From the Port of Odessa on the Black Sea the Japanese Consul travels north in June through the Crimea and the Ukraine and reports that “in comparison with the peasants of other republics, Ukrainian peasants make a pitiful impression with their ragged clothing, their emaciated bodies, and their begging: even in large railway stations peasants and their wives and children stretch out their hands for alms and beg for bread…” (N. Jasny, 541; R. Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow, “The End of Free Peasantry”, 174-5; HDA SBU, Odessa, file 66, v. 4, fol. 2241; Yuriy Shapoval, “Foreign Diplomats on the Holodomor in Ukraine”, Holodomor Studies Journal, v. 1, Issue 1, Winter-Spring 2009, 41-54)

The Consortium steadily pushes their secret agenda on debts. The Soviets refuse to proceed without recognition first, and to be followed by negotiations later. Louis Fischer is to met in Berlin May 25with Col. Cooper. (However, if not Fischer, perhaps the liaison agent is Wannamaker of the famous Philadelphia department store family – the name is barely legible on a document in the Bullitt collection in the Yale archives). We know that either Bullitt, or Fischer “left Moscow on May 19. “Met with Baryshnikoff and Leven for dinner. Reviewing the Plan of 1927. Baryshnikoff said finally that if the National City Bank would leave … the so-called public debt, to be discussed between the U.S.A. and the US., he thought he could reach a speedy settlement … unsolved … debt issues … negotiations. Informal.” (W.C. Bullitt Papers, Yale University Archives)

Bullitt reports his meeting on the 16th for lunch with Fischer: “He had seen several members of the Central Committee, and one member of the Committee of Ten. He had also talked with Karahan (Karakhan sic), Borodin, and several others. They concurred in thinking there was no object in continuing the negotiations until after the American elections in November. They thought Roosevelt might be elected, and be more favorable than Hoover to Recognition. In the interval, the German situation might have cleared, and the general question of international debts have got nearer a settlement. The US crop would be harvested and they could then estimate better what a realistic attitude they should adopt toward the National City Bank”.

June 1932 Bullitt stays in Moscow. In the city of spies and informers corporate agents and conmen here he is the man on the scene testing testing European waters for his handlers in America – House, Baruch and Cromwell and their group while sounding out opinions of European leaders and journalists. He’ll meet up with Eugene Lyon, UPI wire correspondent and a close friend Zara Witkin (his last name is a form of the Russian Utkin) returned from the Ukraine and the Crimea full of stories of his trip.

Zara Witkin proves to be one of the most important American engineer architects for the Stalin’s Five Year Plan of Industry. Witkin has both talent and connections eased by his fluency in Russian. When he needs a place to stay he moves in with Lyons and his beautiful Russian wife at their sumptuous flat which later Armand Hammer takes away from them in a Catch-22 plot with the soviets. The Moscow community of foreigners is a tightly-knit crowd. It seems everyone knows everyone, more or less. Armand Hammer is the shrewdest of Russian businessmen and later leads the group that controls Occidental Petroleum.

“Franklin Roosevelt will be the next President”, Bullitt tells Lyons off the record, “and American recognition of the Soviet government will be one of the first acts of his administration.” Together they drive to the Kremlin. Lyons remains waiting in the car while Bullitt visits John Reed’s tomb. Lyons recounted the scene: “Reed’s ashes were buried on Red Square, just outside the Kremlin wall, along with other native and foreign heroes of the revolution.” Lyons and Andreychine had obtained the necessary propusk to enter the tomb area. “Bullitt carrying a large floral wreath, walked solemnly toward Reed’s grave. We saw him place the flowers on the stone and stand there with bowed head for several minutes. “Billy” returned. Tears were rolling down his cheeks and his features were drawn with sorrow”. Was he crying for Reed or Bryant, or himself? They rode back to the New Moscow hotel in silence. He and his daughter repeat the gesture in 1933 when he returns as Ambassador.” Strange Lyons thought to see such a display of emotion in a diplomat. But remember reader, we know Lyons is a confessed liar and it serves his writing profession well.

Of course that’s not what happened.

The Consortium uses diplomacy as the perfect ruse to cover the reality of the enslavement of millions of Russians under the dictatorship. Bullitt learns firsthand that the Holodomor is already a State secret. No journalist dare pursue it. Just as it became a taboo in the Soviet Union so it is in the State Department and throughout the Consortium zones of power in Washington and Wall Street. End of story. Period. The Consortium always has ways of marginalizing and eliminating dangerous threats. Stalin’s subsequent little house-cleaning of the Purges took care of those criminally responsible for the “excesses” and “failures” of The Plans while he stood behind the curtain rewriting the script and pulling levers with his masterful power to murder at will. The top tier in the Consortium never trusted Bullitt. True friends he seldom has. Bullitt cultivates friendships like cuff-links, and lost them just as easily wearing them on his wrist and leaving them aside when they no longer satisfied his vanity. Litvinov is abroad in London.

During that summer 1932 the Lyonses vacation at Klyasma on the river thirty miles outside Moscow. Their neighbors included the family of Jimmy Abbe from Maine and Newport News, Rhodes Island who started his career as a boy with a $1 Kodak camera before becoming one of the best photographers immortalizing Broadway and film stars like Mary Pickford, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Douglas Fairbanks, Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, and his child discovery the little Jackie Coogan, the Keystone Cops, Rudolph Valentino with Natacha Rambova, Fred and Adele Astaire, Louise Brooks, Gloria Swanson, and the great Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova… Jimmy Abbe was bold and persistent enough to get his foot in the door for a photo shoot with Stalin used as proof that the great dictator had not died contrary to rumors. In his book I Photograph Russia (1934) Abbe writes of the Kremlin dictator seated alone at a long conference table under a portrait of Marx, “There was nothing of the fanatic about him; his whole appearance registered strength”. When the session was over Abbe recalled, “As I turned to leave he moved back to his desk, a lonely man who had grasped so much power he had cut himself off from Humanity.”

Chaplin never goes to Russia during the Stalin regime. It would have made for an iconic encounter but that rendezvous never happened. In 1927 Stalin interrupts the shooting of Sergei Eisenstein’s October adapted from John Reed’s book Ten Days That Shook The World, insisting “to cut every reference to Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev”; in 1929 Eisenstein is checked again and in The General Line ordered not to depict the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class”. Extermination is not yet in vogue. Soviet film censors also tried to get to Chaplin in Hollywood, the new mecca for artists, writers, illustrators thrilled by the new art form. Chaplin, still the highest paid performer in the business not only acts in his own films but directs, produces and writes the music scores. His company United Artists with Mary Pickford has a steady run of hits. His character of the Tramp is a champion of the downtrodden and oppressed that became a sensation in 1915 survives the transition from silent to talking pictures.

Chaplin is far too wily to be duped by the Russians and their dumb-witted approaches to get his blockbuster distribution rights on the cheap Chaplin artfully rebuffs their approaches. When their NKVD agent and Eisenstein’s companion Ivor Montagu turns his pockets inside out complaining “ “all about the five-year plan, the need of the Soviet Union to import machinery, the shortage of valuta’”. In his 1964 autobiography written in Swiss exile, Chaplin recalls, “I saw a lot of them. They used to play very bad tennis on my court …” Chaplin resisted, arguing “It is the principle of the thing. Pictures are worth something. They give Henry Ford valuta for tractors and my pictures must be worth at least as much as several tractors.” (C. Chaplin, My Autobiography, 339-41; Kenneth S. Lynn, With Eisenstein in Hollywood, Chaplin and His Times, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1997, 96-7)

Always eager to help the honest man or woman on the dole during the Depression years Chaplin lives up to his image as the unemployed hapless and impoverished tramp eager to find work but incapable of holding a job in the upside down world of confused values and exploited labor by money-crazed population. As the highest paid entertainer in America during the First World War and one of the country’s most outspoken Liberty Loan Drive speakers Chaplin is suddenly rich beyond his dreams, and spent it generously amused by his good fortune and the luck of it all earned by simply putting a mirror in front of the parody while the world laughs at its foibles and uncanny human nature.

Gracious and humble, praised by kings and paupers alike for putting a face on this depressed war torn world, Chaplin will soon become a target of the FBI, as ridiculous and absurd as his comedies, and all the while pursued by the US government Red-baiters in the US Justice Department for his reputation to taking the side of the downtrodden crushed under the heel of unmitigated capitalism Chaplin finds himself in an ever-tightening vendetta of government persecution and official hypocrisy that will compel him to flee the country with the young beautiful aspiring actress Oona O’Neil, daughter of the famous playwright who he had met during his Greenwich Village days with the Provincetown Players with Max and Crystal Eastman, Dudley Field Malone and others. On perhaps more than one occasion he befriended George Andreytchine, Bullitt’s future informal attaché in Moscow, the IWW fugitive activist facing a long prison sentence destined to perish in Soviet custody. After the war US government agents of the Treasury Department hound him unrelentingly as well as patrimony and divorce lawyers desperate to serve him papers to seize his assets. Hollywood censors intervene to impose changes in his movies whenever they felt morally outraged by his satire and humor.

Chaplin travels frequently to Europe for openings, swamped by invitations from the Shaw, Wells, the Astors and their crowd, Anne Morgan, the Windsors of Buckingham Palace, and MPs. He has long and friendly conversations with world leaders, capitalists, politicians and artists too numerous to name, whether it was the King of England, or Mahatma Gandhi. To Eisenstein he added, “Discussing communism with him one day, I asked if he thought that the educated proletarian was mentally equal to the aristocrat with his generations of cultural background. I think he was surprised at my ignorance. Eisenstein, who came from a Russian middle-class family of engineers, said: ‘If educated, the cerebral strength of the masses is like rich new soil’.”After the war Chaplin sees Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible, and considers it “the acme of all historical pictures. Chaplin recalls, “He dealt with history poetically – an excellent way of dealing with it. When I realize how distorted even recent events have become, history as such only arouses my skepticism – whereas a poetic interpretation achieves a general effect of the period. After all, there are more valid facts and details in works of art than there are in history books.”(C. Chaplin, 323)

Writer, and for a brief spell socialist governor of California, Upton Sinclair remains a close friend of Chaplin since more youthful days in 1918. Now decades later during the Stalin’s tightening grip on Soviet Russia he has a talk about communism and socialist economics. Chaplin writes in My Autobiography, he explains to H.G. Wells how he first got interested in socialism. For his part, in 1914, Wells stays at the National Hotel in Moscow, and again, in 1920, when he meets Lenin and “the country of Bolsheviks”. He recalls, “We were driving to his house in Pasadena for lunch and he asked me in his soft-spoken way if I believed in the profit system. I said facetiously that it required an accountant to answer that … and from that moment I became interested and saw politics not as history but as an economic problem.” Upon his third visit in 1934 Wells again stays at the National Hotel. Speaking to reporters he recalled Lenin’s invitation, “Come back and see us in ten years.” (C. Chaplin, 350)

Chaplin visits Berlin, on his way to Vienna and Venice. In March 1932, he joins Marlene Dietrich for tea along with Reichstag politicians. There he meets Einstein who praises Modern Times, “You’re not a comedian, he tells him, You’re an economist.” His films are popular with the Germans but banned by the Italian dictator as anti-capitalist and “Bolshevist” propaganda. His 1940 hit, The Great Dictator, is banned in Germany; Hitler reportedly saw it twice in private screenings. Chaplin skips Moscow and arrives in Tokyo via Bali and the South Pacific.

Less than a year after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria,  Chaplin succeeds in becoming a big item at the US embassy when a plot to murder him is foiled. At one point the conspirators consider assassinating him during his visit to Prime Minister Inukai’s residence. The Japanese ringleader Koga told the judge, “Chaplin is a popular figure in the United States and the darling of the capitalist press. We believed that killing him would cause a war with America, and thus we could kill two birds with a single stone.” (K. S. Lynn, 347-55)

Comintern 1935. That summer soviet official Boris Z. Shumiatsky is sent to Hollywood to persuade Chaplin telling him that he really must reshoot the end of Modern Times for a more glamorous image of the virtues capitalism. Chaplin is amused and at the same time perplexed. When a leak to the hostile anti-communist Hollywood press threatens a backlash at the box office any enthusiasm Chaplin might have held for the plan fades and he is more relieved than frustrated not to have the extra work.

We find also in communist Russia at this time Spencer Williams, a corporate publicist from Ithaca, New York here for the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce (ARRC). Traveling with his wife Caroline and amusing themselves in the country while making idyllic movies of naked bathing, they relax with journalist Bill Chamberlin and his Russian born wife Sonya who he married in Greenwich Village. With them too is Consortium watchdog Henry Luce of Time, and FDR’s aide and speech-writer Stanley High, a Methodist “preacher and publicist”. Future Soviet spy Alfred Stern is the husband of Edith Rosenwald, the daughter and heiress of the recently deceased founder of the Sears, Roebuck retail fortune, the philanthropist Julius Rosenwald who had built and saved the company of Richard Sears with his millions and a personal motto: “”Treat people fairly and honestly and generously and their response will be fair and honest and generous.” It’s not quite the Russian way but it works in capitalist America. It is Rosenwald who coined the pledged “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back”. He retired as president of Sears in 1924, devoting his life to philanthropy helping set up thousands of schools to help poor black families and children of the Southern United States, and contributing to Jewish charities and the University of Chicago. In spite of their philanthropic activities while pursuing other noble and beneficent deeds neither his daughter nor her friends feel compelled to help the Russians or the Ukrainians in their most dire time of need or deliver them from famine or from their supreme dictator saviour of his proletarian masses.

And why is that? Their presence in these times cannot be related without regard to circumstances. These Americans know the Holodomor is happening and that the American banks and corporations are eager partners. After all, it’s the talk of the town (behind closed doors and away from microphones, spies and informers everywhere, at every table, every passer-by…). They too experience the food scarcity but its affects very little this crowd of Consortium chic. Luce has his hand on the pulse of Consortium activities but never likes Russia. In fact he loathes the communists and their rugged primitive Slavic passions and for the most part considers Soviet Russia a crude affront to the cultured civility of the West. Luce is no lover of Pushkin or Tolstoy.

The “Red Millionaire” Alfred Stern fills the shoes of the pro-Soviet American charming dilettante with a pedigree. Phillips Exeter, Harvard, marriage in 1921 to Edith Stern; they divorce fifteen years later, in 1936, taking his million dollar settlement to bed with his new wife Martha Dodd, daughter of ambassador William Dodd, and femme fatale of the 1930s with a string of famous lovers too many to mention that included the poet Carl Sandburg, writer Thomas Wolfe, Nazi Gestapo chief Rudolf Deis, General Ernest Udet. second in command under Göering of the Luftwaffe, Louis Ferdinand, grandson of the Kaiser … and the Soviet spy in Berlin Boris Vinogradov whom she’d known for three years and agreed to marry.

Martha Dodd succeeds where many other women might be less daring and exploits her sexual favors with immodest exuberance. In one conversation with an NKVD interlocutor when she’s having waiting for a Moscow visa, he writes, “The conversation ended with this instructive colloquy: ‘Martha made the remark that all men were vulnerable somewhere. Does this mean, I asked her, that you feel that you could sleep with almost any man if you chose to? ‘Yes,’ she said, and then: ‘It might be advantageous at times… This Martha meant in terms of political work.'” Six months after the German invasion, in a letter to one of NKVD contacts, on December 26, 1941, she proposes numerous associates for recruitment as likely agents, including her husband Alfred Stern. (A. Weinstein, 64-5)

Before her ambassador father returns to Washington, Martha Dodd visits the Soviet Union and meets with agents of the Soviet foreign intelligence section; reports are forwarded to Commissar Yezhov. On March 14, 1937, she delivers her “Statement to the Soviet Government”. An NKVD memorandum mirrors her request and self-declared desire to offer her “services of any kind and at any time … to the party for use at its discretion”. Although she has a highly exaggerated perception of her value as a soviet asset her comment about her father, the State Department and Dodd’s refusal “to cooperate with bankers, businessmen” merits attention. She declares in her statement “I’m afraid he will retire this summer or fall. He was of great benefit to the Roosevelt administration, contributing an anti-Nazi view. In any case, this was with regard to Hull and Roosevelt. Most State Department officials work with the Nazis, for example, Dunn, chief of the European department; Phillips, currently in Rome; Bullitt; and others. My father tried to prevent trade agreements (with Germany); he refused to cooperate with bankers, businessmen, etc. Recently he cabled Hull and Roosevelt concerning a supposed loan to Germany which is supported by Bullitt and Blum (Leon Blum, Prime Minister of France), Davis, Phillips, and England… Except for Roosevelt and Hull, the State Department, representatives of American business circles, and the Germans all wish to remove my father.” Martha aims to exploit her father’s resignation into an Nazi-contrived anti-US “provocation once he decides the question of timing” and turn it to the advantage of the Soviets. “To resign and to publish a protest? He could be convinced to do it if it had significance for the USSR.” With Roosevelt filling diplomatic posts she gives a list of “capitalists who financed him”, and comments “Having little experience with respect to European politics, Roosevelt will appoint … people or groups who will be dangerous now and in time of war.” (A. Weinstein, 55-6)

Her requests to become a Soviet agent reach Stalin. No response from Stalin survives in NKVD files no is there a trace that he has a second thought about her. Nor is she told that her lover agent Vinogradov is executed by Stalin in 1938 not long after his departure from Berlin according to rigid Soviet procedure. Instead, he is forced to write her a letter pretending all is well with his new posting in Moscow. She replies, rejoicing at the good news “You work in the press office, don’t you? Are you happy? Did you find a girl you can love instead of me?” She tells him of her recent marriage to Stern, and hopes to meet Boris later that summer during their trip to the USSR. “You know, honey, that for me, you meant more in my life than anybody else. You also know that, if I am needed, I will be ready to come when called.” So, while her lover is tortured with millions of Russians who disappear in the Great Purge she dreams lives the life of the millionaire’s wife with a splendid apartment on 57th Street in Manhattan, servants, a chauffeur, a personal secretary. Soon, she dreams, her husband Alfred will write a check to FDR for $50,000 and she’ll be the wife of the next ambassador to Moscow… It never happens. Hitler, too, regrets not making better use of her. Stalin duped her and lets her live; for decades Martha Dodd and Alfred Stern spy for the NKVD-KGB. She later flees the US when charged with espionage, and dies in Prague, in 1990. (John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, Yale, 1999, 270; A. Weinstein, 60-1)

Witkin has little time for idleness. His source of inspiration is spilling over with impossible ambition. The American-born to Russian immigrants living in California, Zara Witkin inspects the farmland and future harvest and makes inquiries for the Soviet Trust of heavy industry including the Kharkov Tractor Plant managed with American and foreign engineers and technology from Ford Motor Co. of Detroit. But despite his high-level clearance Witkin is barred from a top-secret aviation plant in Odessa on the Black Sea. “We intended to make a thorough inspection of the farm,” Witkin writes, and he adds, “Its management methods were of especial interest to us. To allow ample time for the officials to begin their work and get out the necessary daily orders, we did not appear at the director’s office until ten o’clock. It was locked! No one was there! We waited three-quarters of an hour. Then the bookkeeper came. I recalled the reputation of the manager, Margolin, who had been so lauded in descriptions of this farm in several books on Soviet Russia.” Witkin refers to Arnold D. Margolin, an American of Ukrainian descent who maintains a close correspondence with Undersecretary Rogers and Kelley yearning for a national insurgence to topple Soviet totalitarianism.

Witkin tells what went down: “A few minutes later the assistant director arrived. It was then about eleven o’clock. This official invited us in. We were seated and he began to tell us about the farm. We asked about the distribution of various crops. He pointed to some maps which hung on the wall. They were in colored crayon showing different crops under cultivation. This graphical study pleased me. It seemed systematic. Here, at least, was a sign of order. We decided to go into the fields to see the cultivation of some particular crop. Spring wheat was selected, shown in green on the map. The assistant director hesitated peculiarly. We pressed our guide for explanation. There was a short, lively colloquy between her and the assistant director. When the conversational smoke cleared, we discovered that the map was two years old and bore no relation to the present crops in the fields! The assistant director could not tell us of their actual position or extent. ‘Take us to any part of the farm where work is in progress’, I said. ‘I want to see the methods in use, the machinery employed and the way of handling the farm employees in collective cultivation’.”

The extraordinary emptiness of the fields amazed us. We were told that plowing was being done at night because of the fierce midday heat. The tractors, therefore, must have carried lights. We asked to see them and were conducted to the spot where the machines were parked. All the headlights were broken! Not one was in operating condition! The assistant director hurried to explain the visible idleness. He said that this was a ‘rest-day’. But some people were at work, we observed. Other excuses for the paralysis which hung over the farm were tentatively put forward. As quickly as we discovered that one was false, another was suggested. Work was actually at a standstill. That was the fact. There was nothing to do but return to the headquarters of the farm. There, we looked through the machine-shop where tractors and other farm machinery were repaired. It was in indescribable confusion. The floor was piled high with broken parts, metal cuttings and oiled waste. Several machines lay about in various stages of disassembly. Lathes, presses and other machines looked dirty and uncared for. It was a disheartening sight. Across the road, a gang of workers were moving a tractor and wagon out of the field, through an opening in the fence. By amazing maneuvering, the driver of the tractor had managed to get the wagon wheel hooked in the fence. Vociferous debate alternating with sudden hysterical attempts to move the wagon resulted almost in uprooting the fence. This was too much for my silent endurance. I walked over to the men and directed them to get a strong plank. With it we wedged the wagon over so that it cleared the fence opening. Then it was pulled through triumphantly.”

“By this time it was well past the lunch hour, and we hurried to the dining-room. A toilet, too foul for use, opened directly into it. The odors did not enhance the appetite. On the great Verblud State Experimental Farm of the Soviet Union, we had anticipated some wholesome farm food. Soup, milk and coffee were served to us. The soup was made of the customary sour cabbage. The milk had a peculiar taste. After one swallow we rejected it. The ‘coffee’ was a grain substitute, none too palatable. Soon after the meal we suffered mild stomach disturbances. That was the last straw…”

Fritz F. W. Winter from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company is employed by Cooper’s Dnieperstroy Dam construction project and cited in dispatch No. 1197 dated March 21, 1933 sent by George S. Messersmith (1883-60), a rising Foreign Service diplomat soon appointed ambassador to Austria (1934-38), and jointly heads the US Consulate in Berlin until 1939, when he returns to Washington and sent on as ambassador to Cuba (1941); after the war Messersmith is posted as ambassador to Mexico and Argentina. With his foot in the door one step away from retirement in 1947 Ambassador Messersmith heads the Mexican Light and Power Company as board chairman.

Messersmith is well-liked at State. He spent the years of World War I as Consul at Curacao in the Netherlands West Indies, where life was not always calm in the exotic paradise of beaches and palm trees; he discovered a secret German code, which enabled authorities in the United States to arrest and deport a number of enemy agents. In Berlin he stood his ground with the top Nazis and it was said Hitler “frothed at the mouth” on hearing his name. “In various dispatches I have informed the Department that the period of physical persecution of the Jews may be considered as over…”, Messersmith writes later this year in his long dispatch on the Jews in Germany. (George S. Messersmith Papers, Sept. 21, 1933, “Present State of the Anti-Semitic Movement in Germany”, Item 305, Univ. of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware. Messersmith GS Berlin. Dispatch No. 1596 to Hull)

Louis Fischer also has a plan. Louis Fischer plays all the roles – spy, double-agent, State Department informer, left-wing communist, Stalin’s messenger and next to his friend Duranty the Consortium’s top journalist in Moscow. Assigned to The Nation Fischer is deeply embedded in Moscow’s Party power hierarchy and as such an essential contact for Bullitt. They meet often and sound each other out, trading and selling. A unique bedfellow for diplomats and politicians they wonder. Is Fischer a Bol? A communist or one of us? Can they trust him? Who is he really working for? The Consortium use him to get their money back and further their deals with the Kremlin. He likes to pose as the channel from Stalin to FDR. Bullitt also observes that Fischer has top connections with the “Group of Ten Borodin etc.” In 1933 Bullitt will met him again with Duranty, in New York, during the summer in preliminary meetings prior to the secret talks between Moscow and Washington.

Fischer wants Bullitt (“with no new money”) to speak with Col. Hugh Cooper – “the only foreigner who has access to Stalin”. Bullitt meets with Dexter Cooper tickled to declare “all the Coopers are from my native state of Maine”. After their “talk” plans to see Colonel Cooper. Bullitt learns from Pyatakov that “an American syndicate has proposed to raise fifty million dollars to finance German trade with Russia”. The National City man said he had “never heard of it. Bullitt wants to know more. Pyatakov tells Bullitt that National City bank property seized by the Bolsheviks “was never nationalized… American banks could make an arrangement with the German government, whereby American funds frozen in Germany, could be invested in Russian credits. Germany could manufacture and sell to Russia, but Russia would pay America.” The National City man refuses. The National City Bank credits in Germany, he says, are “not of the type to make his suggestion appeal to us.” Bullitt thinks, however, “that more than 80% of our German credits would be paid.” And he adds “I did not believe Germany would consent to any such tripartite arrangement.” Bullitt tells his Soviet interlocutors that “a settlement with the National City Bank would give the US a better credit rating than it now had, so that possibly instead of discounting their paper in some instances at as high as 48%, they could get the current rates.”

On the 12th, Bullitt holds a three hour meeting with Meshlauk – Valerii Ivanovich Mezhlauk – (1893-38) and Kalmanovitch (Kaganovich sic) over dinner. He wants to meet with Pyatakov still in Germany “where he had been trying to negotiate additional credits”. The Soviet line is firm – no talks on debts “prior to recognition”. They agree on a general figure, $86 million. American market conditions preempt any credit arrangement. What to do? Bullitt learns that “Meshlauk suggested eight years duration. They might propose the same terms for a hundred million. This would give forty million in eight years and they would retire the credit in equal eight installments.” Bullitt insists on “the impossibility of doing anything of this kind because of the American attitude”, No problem counter the Soviets, we take “twenty-five million for five years”. Again Bullitt insists “no credit seemed feasible.”

A Bolshevik since 1907 Mezhlauk Valerii Ivanovich is later state and party leader. in military politics during the Civil War, People’s Commissar of Transport, and he remains a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of National Economy in the 1920s. During the late twenties and early thirties Mezhlauk also sits on the All-Union Central Executive Committee, the Council of People’s Commissars, the State Planning Commission and the Council of Labor and Defense, in both councils holding the chair from 1934. In 1937 he briefly replaces Stalin’s intimate associate Ordzhonikidze as People’s Commissar of Heavy Industry. Poor Mezhlauk. When Stalin no longer needs him Mezhlauk too is purged, arrested as an “enemy of the people” and executed July 29, 1938. Dead men never pose a threat. They don’t tell secrets. They do their duty as good faithful Party men especially inside the orbit of the Proletarian myth.

Talks for National City resume days later. Bullitt offers the carrot with the stick. No deal say the Bols. Bullitt observed, “They took the attitude that having abandoned “Recognition” as a condition precedent to negotiations, they would make no further concessions. They wanted fifty or a hundred million dollars for eight years; if it was a hundred million they offered 7 % normal interest and 5 % interest to apply on the old debts. If it was fifty million, then it would be 7% normal interest and 3% excess interest.”

Bullitt writes, “Fischer also said that the Government was always worrying about coalitions being formed against the USSR and if the U.S.A. could find occasion to say it would not meddle in the Soviet internal affairs as it had meddled through the Siberian Expedition, it could be arranged to have a contemporaneous statement from the USSR against propaganda.” Fischer tries a different ploy “to arrange a different approach for me than through Moshlauk”. Bullitt tells him “that unless the suggestion came from the Central Committee I should stick to Moshlauk during the current conferences.” Fischer will persist during the summer and fall “to hammer down his views.”

Bullitt dines with an unnamed member of a small preparatory commission of Americans on loans and recognition issues. Fischer and Duranty know all about these secret negotiations for National City and Bullitt’s review of the Five Year Plans for the Rockefeller Morgan money – but nothing of it all is reported in the press. Deep background and all off the record.

Riga is no less close to the scene in the Ukraine than Warsaw and the Polish diplomats in Kiev and Kharkov grow extremely stressed by Soviet repression of the Ukrainians. The Polish Consul, for example, in Kiev, on May 11 the Polish Consul writes: “I report that every day I received increasingly more news about the famine in Right-Bank Ukraine, which is felt particularly acutely in the province. According to the latest reports, almost every day there are cases of people who are collapsing from weakness and exhaustion being collected from the streets of such cities as Vinnytsia and Uman. The situation may even be worse in the countryside, where, according to information from a reliable source, robberies and murders as a result of starvation are daily occurrences.” (Y. Shapoval, “Foreign Diplomats on the Holodomor in Ukraine”, Holodomor Studies, 2009, citing Central Military Archive, Tsentralnyi Viiskovyi Arkhiv, henceforth: TsVA, Warsaw, Department II of the Chief Command, file I.303.4.3043, folder 64)

Bullitt learns more about Soviet willingness to export its 1932 wheat harvest and link it to offset the National City debt. It’s an outrageous plan but it might work! Take the Ukrainian grain and pay off the Americans. This debt reduction plan hinges on the death of the Ukrainians including millions of helpless children and Genocide against an entire proud but ruthlessly subjugated nation but that doesn’t bother the dandy Yaleman Bill Bullitt eager to please his Consortium peers and make it an integral part of the framework of official recognition talks in Washington. A definite boost to his spotted career!

The Bullitt’s papers stored the Yale library archives reveal that the Japanese problem also put pressure on the deal. Bullitt writes, “Fischer thinks, nevertheless, there still remains Soviet willingness to come to terms with the National City Bank, but not with so many unknown factors in the situation to complicate a deal. Stalin is still much preoccupied about Japan and is curious to know what repercussions there would be in the USA if Russia recognized Manchuko (Manchuria sic). The problem of the Chinese Eastern Railway makes it quite difficult not to recognize Manchuko at least as a Government de facto. Stalin wants a official diplomatic recognition and has nothing to gain by antagonizing the Americans.

Louis Fischer promises to make a further ‘investigation’. Bullitt concluded. ”The writer, probably Fischer and co-member of the mission visited Stalingrad on the 14th to meet Maridian and Baryshnikoff (sic) “but only briefly”. Bullitt lunched with him on the 15th, writing that that day, “he, and another Vice-Commissar of the State Bank, by name Leven, were my hosts. I reviewed all of my negotiations to date.” (William C. Bullitt Papers, Yale Univ. Archives, ibid.)

Bullitt’s papers shed light on the Consortium money trail. He writes, “Baryshnikoff said he had been twenty-one days in New York, seen the Chase people, and many other bankers and industrialists, including, I believe Ford (Henry or Edsel, sic), and Owen D. Young”. The Fords, Chase bankers, Young… they are all key Consortium players. “He endorsed my position fully,” Bullitt writes back, “and would try to bring a similar conviction to his Government. He was, on the 20th to be put in charge of all financing connected with carrying out the Five Year Plan.” He had heard Arkus’ and Meshlauk’s versions of our conversations, and found us in accord in our memory of them. He agreed entirely that there was no chance of a credit in New York to the USSR, or to any other foreign Government.” Bullitt’s views mirror those of the bankers, and even National City which proposes “a plan of settlement which would involve no new advances by the National City Bank but would grow out of the Plan of 1927.” (William C. Bullitt Papers, Yale Univ. Archives, ibid.)

In Moscow Bullitt’s negotiations proceed directly with the Central Committee of the Party. A final meeting lasts two hours between the City’s bankers and the Soviets. Bullitt reports that “Meshlauk said the Central Committee felt the USSR had existed fifteen years without Recognition, and they could continue to exist without it. It seemed to me a natural conclusion, and I said so. But Meshlauk expostulated very earnestly that he thought Recognition most important and that he wanted to remove every obstacle in its path.”

Stalin keeps his cards close to his chest. The Soviet CC has refused the Mitchell Plan of 1927 “based on their conception of public policy” while holding out for better terms between National City and the Gosbank, and more business between the two countries. Charles E. Mitchell, National City chairman also sits on the board of the Nazi–American chemical giant IG Farben along with Henry Ford and Paul Warburg of the Bank of Manhattan is also chairman of the NY Fed. Four Consortium men are also members of the American IG Farben board with Mitchell: Edsel B. Ford, president of Ford, W. C. Teagle, a director of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of New Jersey, and Paul Warburg. In 1928 Henry Ford combined his German assets with Farben. (William C. Bullitt Papers, Yale Univ. Archives, ibid.)

Stalin wants a deal. “I could assure any appropriate public authority in the U.S.A,” the National City rep was told, and Bullitt reported, “that that in the event of Recognition, the USSR was prepared to make an equitable adjustment of its indebtedness, including claims, but excluding the Kerensky debt, and the payments made by Bakhmetioff after the Revolution of November 1917. As to propaganda, the speech of Stalin about a year ago, (1931) and the financial strain on Russia imposed by the Five Year Plan, would constitute their answer: they were not interested in world revolution or propaganda.” That was the bottom line. Bullitt adds, “Sidney Webb had spent several hours with Trotsky this spring trying to convince him. World Revolution was no longer to be considered as a possibility. Arkus, says the writer, is “the most experienced of their staff in debt negotiations”. Kalmanovich (Kaganovich sic) was away on “vacation” leaving Meshlauk “the sole representative of the Central Committee, with power to call on such technical advisers as he felt he required”.

Comrade Lazar Kaganovich away on “vacation”? Not quite. Kaganovitch is fighting for his life. He won’t get a second chance if he fails Stalin now. It is exactly during the harvest that Stalin is more than ever concerned about peasant resistance. Naturally tight-lipped even around his closest associates, Stalin is sometimes compelled to write instructions from a distance, for example, when he is away in the Crimea at some southern dacha on the Black Sea. To Lazar Kaganovich, Secretary of the CC AUCP (b), in a letter dated August 11 Stalin sends a message of rage over objections by district (raion) party committees in Kiev and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts calling the latest instructions for grain procurements unrealistic. Stalin lets loose his fury charging the entire leadership of the Ukrainian SSR with disloyalty and not executing his orders to seize grain he swears has been hidden by the rogue peasants. He orders a “purge” of Ukrainian society and total effort to liquidate “Ukrainian nationalists”.

EMPIRES COME AND GO, BUT THE ROTHSCHILDS REMAIN ROTHSCHILDS…

For men of conscience it could not have been a pleasant thought, if indeed a thought had occurred, as it were, that this should be a policy of doing nothing while appearing to govern with moral and civil restraint. But these are the men and politics of Empire. It is what it is and that is what it was. Empires come and go but the Rothschilds remain Rothschilds. For the British MPs MacDonald’s ministers faced with the ills of Depression and its own internal banking crisis prepared the field with political dynamite. To imagine the general population in the capital of the King’s Empire blithely munching their breakfast cereals and buttering their bread baked when the people are falling down dead by the millions from starvation does not bode well for the cherished sanctity of moral grace. That might make them grind their teeth on their smoking pipe. But diplomats are not priests. They have offices to protect. Such men don’t take kindly to falling off their horse, without a servant to push them back in the saddle.

Williams refers to “the diplomatic breach of 1927, since when the Conservatives had tried to ignore Russia.” In addition to the official political hostility which prevailed, there also existed strong reservations in the City concerning any extension of financial credits to a state which had reneged on the debts of its Czarist predecessor… The main support for greater ties had proved, ironically, to come from industrial concerns for Britain (particularly in the engineering sector, which had suffered most from increased competition in its export markets since 1918), and from major importers of raw materials, particularly of wheat, timber, and oil products. Britain was the world’s premier importer of wheat and timber in the inter-war period.” Prof. Williams adds, “Britain was also Canada’s biggest commodity export market, especially for wheat…” (A. J. Williams, “The imperial factor and Anglo-Soviet relations, 1929-35, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 185; op cit. 212 note 2).

With a broad-stroke of falsification causes and manipulations of the First World War once again strike a stake in the heart of an accurate and relevant account as establishment authors of mass media apply their dark trade of systemic distortion to deceive the democratic voting masses. Here in the world perceived through the prism of Kent University professor Andrew Williams geopolitical affairs of the First World War, Russian Revolution and Allied trade relations are reduced to random events and separate events of a chaotic and unpredictable nature where inept and selfless leaders tumble and fall about in the halls of power bungling uncoordinated and divergent national interests without a common thread which bonds them to any oligarchic national group or international organization beyond the aristocratic eccentricities of their ingrained ruling class Empire. Salient facts are mixed with clever distortions neatly tailored and garnished. It rings of saber-sharp distinction of the Cadogan class where arrogance renders courage harmfully incompetent. Williams is not unlike his fellow Brit the informer Robert Conquest, or Chicago University’s Katherine Siegel joining the proud rank of establishment distortionists placed in academic positions. It is particularly nauseating to read bad history or disinformation when with unabashed confidence it is presented that his view is clear and his course sure while dishing out a voodoo assessment of a historical record which Williams insists the reader “must” swallow such as a sick patent takes the knowing doctor’s medicine. (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 1992)

Andrew Williams twists and turns history into strange angles of perspective and here gets much considerably not right. Nevertheless, as is typically the fashion of fact-ridden fantasists, Williams does bring to light curious documents such as details of Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s intrigues with the Russians at Genoa in 1922, or the visit in the summer of 1932 of Andrew Cairns of the Empire Marketing Board to Russia, found in Ramsay MacDonald’s papers at Kew, and in the London School of Economics archives of E. M. H. Lloyd, a ranking civil servant. One can imagine what he might have to say if anything at all about the Holodomor: “terrible mess, that”. “Most unfortunate business.” “Hard to believe it really happened at all”. “As bad as that, was it, really?” And so on with the corrupted pundits of fiction skilled in rhetoric and constitutional law. Such enemies of the truth who pose as truth-bearers ought to be purged from the profession. But they are paid too well for their complicity in the crime, each year a new crop from Oxford and Cambridge, plentiful and useful to the Consortium from generation to generation. Edward M. Hastings Lloyd was the author of Food and Inflation in the Middle East, 1940-45, published by Cambridge University in conjunction with the University of Chicago, and The Food Research Institute of Stanford (1956).

Odd that professor Williams should cite Lloyd, who also wrote Experiments in State Control: at the War Office and the Ministry of Food (Oxford-Clarendon Press). Shortly before publishing that, in 1924, in his service during the Great War, Lloyd occupied his place in the Raw Materials Section of the War Office rising to Assistant Secretary to the Food Minister. An interesting note about E.M.H. Lloyd appears in Derek J. Oddy’s From Plain Fare to Fusion Food: British Diet from the 1890s to the 1990s: “… E.M.H. Lloyd although a career civil servant, had avoided departmental ties and loyalties for most of the interwar period. Lloyd became Secretary of the Empire Marketing Board’s Research Committee in 1926 and, later, Secretary to the Market Supply Committee when it was formed after the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1933, came into operation. Lloyd’s work made aware of the problems faced by British agriculture during the final years of free trade and, once protection was adopted, led him to the view that governments rather than market forces must determine food supply.” (Gerry R. Rubin, Private Property, Government Requisition and the Constitution, 1914-1927, Hambledon & London; 2003; Derek J. Oddy’s From Plain Fare to Fusion Food: British Diet from the 1890s to the 1990s, 125; Edward M. Hastings Lloyd, Food and Inflation in the Middle East, 1940-45, Cambridge Univ., Press, Univ. of Chicago Press, The Food Research Institute, Stanford Univ. Press, 1956)

“The Canadian wheat pool”, Williams writes, “sent one of its most promising officials, Andrew Cairns, on a series of trips through European and other areas of Russia, in 1930 and 1932. His brief mission was to examine the state of the Russian wheat crop, which he was able to do with an expert eye. The results of these visits give a fascinating insight into the disastrous policies, not only of collectivization, with its liquidation of the ‘Kulaks’, but also of the effects of Soviet agronomist Lysenko’s crackpot agricultural techniques. The second visit, during May 1932, organized under the auspices of the British embassy in Moscow, produced three reports of quite unprecedented detail on the decline of Russian agriculture, and especially on the massive destruction of cereal crops in the Ukraine.”

Williams discreetly adds, in a footnote: “Cairns’ letters were sent to the Foreign Office, the Empire Marketing Board, the Canadian Wheat Pools, Bennett* and others. The visit was arranged by Strang in Leningrad.” He observes, “The American Department of Commerce was convinced that there would be no flood of Soviet wheat exports until 1931 at least.” Evidently Lord Strang does not show these reports to Duranty or Lyons neither to Muggeridge or Jones. Nor does Cairns reveal his confidential findings to the Moscow foreign press pool. “The FO,” Andrew Williams observes, “was largely basing its assessments on reports it received from William Strang in Leningrad and Ambassador Sir Esmond Ovey in Moscow. Both are fairly dismissive of the likelihood of Soviet retaliation should the temporary commercial agreement be renounced and renegotiated.” (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 195, 204, 214, ft. 37; Andrew Cairns report, “Russian Wheat”, Feb. 7, 1931, DO35/196/6 (PRO); 214 in ft. 35, Williams refers to Hoover Presidential Papers, Box 993; *Richard B. Bennett, Consortium player, Canadian Prime Minister 1935, later granted title 1st Viscount Bennett PC, KC)

THE CAIRNS REPORT & CANADIAN GRAIN EXPORTS

Meet Dr. Andrew Cairns. He’s played no small part in the incredible Holodomor tragedy. So why then has he remained virtually ignored by writers, historians and researchers although his eye-witness accounts of the Terror-Famine reached the highest level at the British Foreign Office and Downing Street? Dr. Cairns is a dedicated agriculture expert born in Scotland who took his degrees in Canada at the University of Alberta earning him in 1923 a gold medal in agriculture; advanced studies lead to a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Minnesota. Eight years later, in 1931, Cairns is director of the grain department of the Empire Marketing Board (London) in charge of developing a data intelligence division. Largely for proving particularly talented and useful and for having kept his silence about the famine, Cairns is promoted, in 1934, to Permanent Secretary of the World Wheat Advisory Commission (London). By the time he is appointed Secretary of the Washington Wheat Conference (1941-42) Cairns becomes increasing troubled by what he saw and remained glum and argumentative when later working for the US government to help fight starvation caused by that war, and working under Herbert H. Lehman as director of food for UNFAA, an official UN employee of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Secretary-general of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers. Cairns’ career abruptly ends in an airplane accident outside New Delhi in 1958. (Allan Nevins, Herbert H. Lehman and his Era, NY: Scribners,1963; Andrew Cairns, The Soviet Famine, 1932-33: An Eyewitness Account of Conditions in the Spring and Summer of 1932, Research Report No. 35, xxvii, 122 ed. Tony Kuz, Edmonton, 1989; re. Cairns Russian Wheat Report, <www.utoronto.ca/cius/publications/rr/rr35.html>; Sir John Latham, Papers, National Library Australia Series 54, Minister for External Affairs, 1932-34, contains correspondence (Feb. 1932-Oct. 1934), and three reports by Andrew Cairns to the Empire Marketing Board on his travels in Western Siberia, the Volga region, Ukraine, Crimea and Caucasus in June-Aug. 1932, and a report of a visit by Capt. H. J. Feakes to China and Japan in July 1933; “A Question of Betrayal, the Anglo-American Powers and the Ukrainian Question”, Ukraine Today, perspectives for the future, ed. Halyna Koscharsky, Commack, NY: Nova Science, 1995)

Andrew J. Williams, a British subject and a lecturer in international relations at the University of Kent at Canterbury summarizes his findings concerning Soviet wheat exports during the Genocidal years of the Holodomor. The neat rendition is ripe with interesting and very important details that might otherwise pass without much concern in view of the delicate complexity of Anglo cabinet politics at the time of Bolshevik trade with its principal partners France, England, Germany and the United States. Yet we see through citations from rare diplomatic sources including FO Secretary Sir John Simon, Secretary Lord William Strang and Ambassador Sir Esmond Ovey in Moscow that no matter how fundamentally flawed, Empire trade with the Russians shadowed as it were by a pitfall of false conclusions pertaining to elements of strategic interest central to the Holodomor in the end fail to attribute cabinet politics much importance from which it remains oddly aloof. Yet with the Williams account we find demonstrably remarkable by its absence not even the slightest reference to Russian famine which if and when seriously considered had no serious consequences whatsoever for the Empire though significantly affecting the international wheat market within the calculations of Great Britain’s trade balance. Not only at stake here is Great Britain’s rapidly declining world rank and prestige as well as its complete dependence on agricultural imports and, in particular grain and timber. Odd that Williams should add (in a cursory footnote) a fact most pertinent but neglected by Holodomor writers that “Britain was also Canada’s biggest commodity export market, especially for wheat…”

Russian grain and wheat are not negligible commodities for either London or Washington. In 1932 Great Britain is the largest market for wheat imports in the world and there was no finer wheat than produced by the rich black earth of the Ukraine where wheat has been for centuries literally the source of life as well as for half of all the USSR with valuable hidden grain reserves for the Red Army. That the Ottawa Empire Conference came at a time when millions of people are starving under intensified repression and terror by London’s trade partner with rumours of Russian ‘dumping’ in the press only complicated the task of sorting out the agenda. Only Great Britain appears not to have had one.

For we are told by Williams citing Cabinet Minutes of July 12, 1932 that apart from stressing their imperial orientation “the British delegation was sent with no particular brief to Ottawa.” Canada was desperately looking for wiggle room to free up trade relations and gain advantage with its trade partner the United States south of the border. “American policy makers had thought that the empire bogey,” Gordon T. Stewart observed, “which had frequently bedeviled US relations with Canada since 1783 and which had last reared its head with the trade-preference system set up at the Ottawa imperial conference in 1932, had receded into the history books.” Apparently London is content on loosening “the imperial link” of the past binding Ottawa and London.

“The Cabinet minutes record”, wheat expert A. J. Williams observes, “that ‘no decisions have been taken on any of the controversial points that might be raised.” A political crisis nearly toppled Ramsay MacDonald’s shaky coalition government; in August 1932 Christopher Addison, (1869-51), the British minister of Agriculture resigns charging that the government was victim to a “bankers’ ramp”, out-foxed by the Bank of England. Later the Leader of the House of Lords 1st Viscount Addison KG, PC, himself a prominent doctor, Fellow of the Royal Surgeons, and a liberal socialist politician plucked from his national efforts to care for England’s neglected children to serve during the Great War in Lloyd George’s cabinet as minister of Munitions and then Minister of Health, alas, he too, will do nothing to raise a finger to help Ukraine. In December, at Geneva, Sir John Simon attracted more opprobrium when he failed to condemn Japanese incursions in their invasion of Manchuria. No matter. In the next year of the 1933 Holodomor his second wife Kathleen R. Harvey, the Viscountess Simon, enjoys the grand honor as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Sir John is also a fellow of All Souls* (1897) and was called to the bar at the Inner Temple,in 1899. (A. J. Williams, Trading with the Bolsheviks, 215, ft. note, 48, CAB 23/72, Minutes of 12 July 1932; Gordon T. Stewart, “An Objective of US Foreign Policy since the Founding of the Republic”, Canada and the End of Empire, ed. Phillip Buckner, UBC Press, 2005, 100-101; *All Souls College: “The Warden and College of the Souls of all Faithful People deceased in the University of Oxford; Unique to All Souls members become Fellows entitling status as full members of the College’s governing body. With an endowment of £236 million (2007) All Souls is one of the wealthiest colleges. It was founded in 1438 by Henry VI of England and Henry Chichhele, fellow of New College and Archbishop of Canterbury. Presently it is primarily an academic research institution. Members included Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, thrice Prime Minister, and T. E. Lawrence of Lawrence of Arabia fame.)