'Dear Uncle, We have no bread or anything else to eat. Dad is completely exhausted from hunger and is lying on the bench, unable to get on his feet. Mother is blind from the hunger, so I have to guide her when she has to go outside. Please Uncle, take me to Kharkiv, because I too will die from hunger. I'm still young and I do so want to live. Here I will surely die, for every one else is dying.'
'On a battlefield men die quickly. Here I saw people dying alone by slow degrees, dying hideously, without even the excuse of sacrifice for a cause. They had been trapped and left to starve, each in his own home, by a political decision made in a far-off capital around conference and banqueting tables. There wasn't even the consolation of inevitability to relieve the horror. The worst sights were the little children with skeleton limbs dangling from balloon-like abdomens. Starvation had wiped every trace of youth from their faces, turning them into tortured gargoyles; only in their eyes still lingered the reminder of childhood. Everywhere we found men and women lying prone, their faces and bellies bloated, their eyes utterly expressionless.'
'We had a communal farm in Ukraine attached to my regiment. Everything was fine until last year (1932). Then we began to get letters asking for food. We sent what we could, but I didn't discover what had happened until I went to the farm only a month ago (March 1933). My God, you wouldn't believe it. The people were starving. Their animals were dead. There wasn't even a cat or dog in the whole village, and that was no good sign. Instead of 250 families there were only 73, and all of them were half-starved. They told me their seed grain was taken away last spring. "The order came that our farm must deliver 500 tons of grain. We needed 400 tons to sow our fields, and we only had 600 tons. But we gave the grain as ordered." And remember, these folks weren't kulaks, weren't class enemies. They were our own people. I was horrified.'
'When the first of the new grain was being delivered to the granary near the railroad station, I made a discovery which left me shaking. Stacked in the brick structure were the state reserves of grain ordered by the government for the previous year (1932), their existence hidden from the starving population by officialdom. Hundreds of men, women and children had died of hunger in these villages, though grain was hoarded almost outside their doors! The peasants who were with me when we found the 'State reserves' stared with unbelieving eyes. Later I found out that this had happened in many other parts of the country. Why it was done only Stalin's Politburo could tell - and it didn't.'
'Does Comrade Stalin - for that matter, does anyone in the Politburo -
know what's happening in Ukraine? Well, if not, I'll give you some idea. A train recently pulled into Kiev loaded with the corpses of people who had starved to death. It picked up corpses all the way from Poltava to Kiev.'
'I'm of peasant origin myself and the sufferings of my people hurt me deeply. Tears, blood, death, exile. And why? The land is fertile, the people are hard-working. Why must we let them starve and die and perish? The more I think of it the more confused I get.'