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The Red MillionaireA Political Biography of Willy Munzenberg, Moscow's Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West$
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Sean McMeekin

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300098471

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300098471.001.0001

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Selling the Famine

Selling the Famine

Chapter:
(p.103) Chapter 6 Selling the Famine
Source:
The Red Millionaire
Author(s):

Sean McMeekin

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300098471.003.0007

This chapter tells the tale of the terrible drought that descended upon European Russia in 1921, when wells ran dry and “grain was burned as it came up from the ground.” Still, hungry peasants ate this burnt wheat, along with grass, weeds, and bark, to keep from starving. The Volga flowed at its lowest level in years, its waters only weakly replenished by the spring thaw. Typhus, cholera, typhoid fever, and smallpox raged through the affected area, rumors of cannibalism were rampant, and famine walked the land. Even the great breadbasket of the Ukraine, traditionally a source of agricultural reserves and grain exports, was suffering severe drought and was itself on the verge of famine. Finally, on 26 June 1921, the official Soviet organ Pravda finally admitted that Russia was facing a humanitarian catastrophe the likes of which the world may never have witnessed before.

Keywords:   drought, European Russia, burnt wheat, Volga, famine, Ukraine, Pravda, humanitarian catastrophe

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