The Holodomor letters

In the early 1930s, Oleksii managed to re-establish contact with his relatives back in the Kuban'. Many of the letters that they sent him (written in a heavily Ukrainian-inflected Russian) survive.

While most of the correspondence deals with relatively mundane personal and family matters, two letters written in 1933 are extremely important, as they provide a first hand account of the Holodomor that actually made it past the Soviet censors.

In a letter dated June 8, 1933, an unknown female relative living in Krasnodar describes how difficult it is to obtain bread. She also tells how those who have gold or foreign currency can purchase virtually unlimited quantities of wheat flour at the Torgtsin (hard currency store).

The detail shown here reads (in part): “Liza had a [gold] tooth pulled so that she could get flour...”

Oleksii responded by immediately remitting Czech hard currency to his relatives.

In a letter written a month later, the same relative can barely contain her joy at reporting that she received the money on July 29, and was immediately able to buy 20 kg of flour ("not white, of course").

In that same letter, the writer says that she was able to use the flour to make varenyky with the fruit from some fruit trees that they owned,  and says (in the underlined sentence) that this was the first thing made out of dough that they had seen in two years.