At a time when Stalin was dumping millions of tons of wheat on Western markets, while in Ukraine, men, women, and children were dying of starvation at the rate of 25,000 a day, 17 human beings a minute. Seven to ten million people perished in a famine caused not by war or natural disasters, but by ruthless decree.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this tragedy the Ukrainian Famine Research Committee (former name of UCRDC) gathered materials, sought out eye-witnesses, and documented this horrific event. Harvest of Despair is the product of this effort.
The documentary probes the tragic consequences of Ukraine’s struggle for greater cultural and political autonomy in the 1920s and 1930s. Through rare archival footage, the results of Stalin’s lethal countermeasures unfold in harrowing detail.
Harvest of Despair examines why this man-made famine remains so little known. Blinded by radical left-wing ideals, world statesmen, such as Edouard Herriot, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, and writers such as George Bernard Shaw, all contributed to the regime’s campaign of concealment. Even the democratic governments of the depression-hit West preferred to remain silent over Soviet Russia’s atrocities to continue import and export trade.
In 1932-33, roughly one-quarter of the entire population of Ukraine perished through brutal starvation. Harvest of Despair, through its stark, haunting images, provides the eloquent testimony of a lost generation that has been silenced too long."
In the year 1933, the place: was the Soviet Union. Behind the façade, food is being used as a weapon against people who have proven troublesome to Moscow. Famine is engineered deliberately, in the North Caucasus, The Volga Basin, and Ukraine. The Soviet Secret Police seal off Ukraine's borders. No one can get out or bring food in. A nation the size of France is strangled by hunger. In less than two years, 10 million people died. 7 million of them are in Ukraine, and 3 million of them are children.