Thursday, May 12, 2005

Someone mentioned Professor James Mace and reporter Walter Duranty in a comment to one of my previous posts - so I decided to put up more info on the two men and the issues surrounding them. (Note: unlike the comment's anonymous author, I do not see any connection between Professor James Mace and the Minister of Justice Roman Zvarych.)

Professor James Mace died unexpectedly a year ago and was buried in Kyiv. Here's part of his obituary:

Professor Mace spent most of his professional career researching and writing about Ukrainian history. He strongly advocated the fact that the Famine in Ukraine during the early 1930's was an act of genocide orchestrated by Joseph Stalin. Together with Robert Conquest he wrote the book “Harvest of Despair” dedicated to the innocent victims of the Stalin totalitarian regime-masterminded devastating famine of 1933. From 1986 to 1990 Professor Mace was a chairman of the commission, organized by the US Congress and President that was meant to investigate the Great Famine in Ukraine. Commission submitted to the US Congress the report on its investigations and produced three volume work "The Oral History of the Commission on the Ukraine Famine”, containing the evidence that irrefutably proved the Great Famine of 1933 to be an act of genocide.

And here's from one of Mace's texts on the Famine, accompanied by four eye-witness accounts - Soviet Man-Made Famine in Ukraine:

The Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933 occurred within the context the so-called "Stalinist Revolution from Above," a violent experiment social transformation in which state-orchestrated paranoia about and external enemies was used to blame shortcomings on the of class enemies. Like Naziism, Stalinism attempted to explain the world as a struggle between different categories of people, some of whom were considered inherently deleterious and whose elimination was an essential requisite toward the attainment of a new and better state of affairs. As degenerated offshoot of Marxism, Stalinism attempted to explain by using class categories rather than the racial ones employed by the Nazis. But what Hitler and Stalin had in common was a dualistic view of human society as composed of two implacably hostile forces, the "good" force destined for victory (Aryans for Hitler and the proletariat for Stalin) which could only liberate itself and achieve its destiny by destroying utterly the forces of evil (for Hitler, Jews and Gypsies, which he considered racially polluting elements, and for Stalin, representatives of "exploiter classes").


Walter Duranty covered the Soviet Union for the New York Times and won a 1932 Pulitzer Prize "for his series of dispatches on Russia especially the working out of the Five Year Plan." He is considered an apologist for Stalin's crimes by many, and members of the Ukrainian Diaspora communities have launched a protest campaign to revoke his Pulitzer.

Here's more about Duranty and one of his books, I Write As I Please (1935) - Walter Duranty: Liar for a Cause, by Taras Hunczak:

Duranty tells the reader that as a journalist he tried, from the very beginning "to lean over backwards in being fair to the Bolsheviks." Indeed, he pursued this line of reasoning so consistently as to become, ultimately, the apologist for the crimes committed by the Communist Party. Duranty was a great admirer of the first Five-Year Plan (adopted in 1929) which, according to him, "succeeded far better than anyone abroad expected." Discussing the plan, he says that in "the final issue the crux of the struggle came in the villages where an attempt was being made to socialize, virtually overnight, a hundred million of the stubbornnest and most ignorant peasants in the world." One should note that Duranty does not speak about collectivization. To him "socialization" is a much more acceptable term. Also, in the best Bolshevik tradition, Duranty refers to the peasants who resisted collectivization as "kulaks." (pp. 280-283).

A reader who is familiar with the period would note that there is not one word about the 1932-1933 Famine in Ukraine. He reports that on his way to Moscow he stopped in Ukraine where he observed "less evidence of damage, [damage from what? - T.H.] but there were empty cottages in the villages that are usually so crowded, and marked scarcity of animals and poultry." (p. 324).

Surely, he knew why the cottages were empty. Talking with William Strang, a representative of the British Foreign Office, about the same trip to Ukraine, Duranty not only discussed the problems (privately) in some detail, but expressed the opinion "that as many as 10 million people may have died directly or indirectly from lack of food in the Soviet Union during the past year." (1) His report to American readers, however, was considerably different. Obviously, responding to a request for a clarification of the situation, Duranty responded that "there is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition." (2)

No wonder Stalin, whom Duranty met on Christmas day in 1933, expressed his approval of Duranty's performance when he said to Duranty: "You have done a good job in your reporting of the USSR." (p. 166).

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