On the Trail of the Russian Famine

On the Trail of the Russian Famine

On the Trail of the Russian Famine

On the Trail of the Russian Famine

Excerpt

Between 1914 and 1922 Russia lived through war, revolution, famine, and plague, misfortunes from which she had suffered before, but not always in the same sequential order. It is with the famine that this book has to do. Although the hunger was at its worst in the period of bolshevism, it had already been felt in the days of the monarchy. The men associated with the work of the American Relief Administration saw starvation coming and prepared to stand by long before the world thought about it. And when the call for help came in 1921, the A.R.A. had a plan ready and a trained personnel to put in the field. We two were among the first to be sent to the famine front, and we had had some preparation for our task. We were students of Russian history and institutions; we had been in Russia before the outbreak of the war and had followed her course during the period of conflict. We had had some experience in relief work in Europe, knew something of its problems, especially the difficulty of securing accurate information. It was our duty as special investigators for the A.R.A. to follow wherever the famine called, to investigate on the spot the food situation, the best methods of relief, and to report back to our headquarters at Moscow. In this way it came about that we made the various journeys described in this book.

In addition to doing this purely technical work, we felt that, as students of the social sciences, we should record as objectively as possible the atmosphere and impressions of the present for the use of the historian of the future. We realized that we had before us a very unusual situation, and we were interested to learn how people acted who lived through it and how it affected us as observers. What we saw, heard, and felt we wrote down in our notebooks. Since 1923 Russia has changed, our views have changed, but we have left our notes unchanged except in the matter of form. We give here a picture of Russia as we saw her during our sojourn, and nothing more.

We do not discuss Russia's political and social system and . . .

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