The Secrets of the Famine

(Where the NKVD - OGPU - Buried Thousands of Bodies)

Vasyl Zaiika

During the tragic years of the famine orchestrated by Moscow, I worked in the Donbas region in Mine 4-6 Maksymivka, as a coal quality inspector. My responsibility was to take samples of coal as it was loaded onto freight cars, and send these samples to the laboratory for testing. I then took the results of these tests to the chief inspection bureau.

In terms of work-time, my job was not regulated by norms, because the railyards supplied freight cars both day and night, and I had to appear at the time they arrived, whatever the time of day. The main street in Kadiivka, a town that I walked through each day, was Torhova street. Virtually all of the administrative and commercial buildings were located on this street.. There were various shops, a factory kitchen, a cafeteria for the workers of the "Illich" mine, a restaurant, and, at one end of the street, a bazaar that everyone called the "tolkuchka." During the spring of 1933, famine was raging in the countryside. Peasants were trying to save themselves by escaping to the cities and towns in droves, because there at least some food was being issued by ration card. However, most of the peasants got neither jobs nor food and died in the street.

The chief inspection bureau was located behind a school park across from Torhova street. Thus, everyday I walked along it and saw hundreds of people, emaciated by hunger, as they lolled all swollen on the sidewalks, and saw the dead and dying among them.

One night in May 1933, I was walking to the bureau on business and witnessed how drunken policemen or NKVD (OGPU) operatives, aided by some criminal elements (who always seemed to hang around the police), loaded the dead and half-dead onto trucks. The criminals, who were also drunk, paired up, took the bodies by the legs and arms and then threw them onto the trucks as if they were firewood. They always did this at night, in order that local residents not know where the bodies were taken or what was done with them. I too wondered about these secret burials many a time.

Once, also in May 1933, a messenger from the mine came to me at around one or two o'clock in the morning. He was a boy of about sixteen or seventeen, and he told me that the coal was being loaded at the mine. I dressed quickly and we set out toward it. In order to get there more quickly, we did not pass through the town, but cut across a field behind, following a path that led from the Parkom mine, past the no. 31 mine to the Maksymivs'ki mines. There were a number of auxiliary mineshaft exits along the way that were used for ventilation and as emergency outlets in case of collapse of one of the tunnels. These exits, or "shufry" as they were called, were excavated about two hundred to three hundred metres away from the main shaft, and when the coal in the mine was exhausted they were fenced off and then covered over.

The path we followed wound about eight to twelve metres past one of these "shufry" that had fallen into disuse. As we drew nearer to it, we saw a truck pull up. Some NKVD (OGPU) men got out, turned off the light in the truck, rolled back the fences around the exits and then the criminals began to throw the corpses and the dying into the shafts. We could hear the groans and cries of the unfortunate victims of this wantonness.

We could see the cargo of this "shipment" with complete clarity because the moon came out from behind a bank of clouds and lit up the sight of this unspeakable crime. It was obvious that the NKVD (OGPU) had given the order to use this place as a burial ground: the police would not have dared. When we got to about thirty or forty metres away from the "shufr" a voice from the truck stopped us: "Halt Who goes there?"

We stopped and a drunken NKVD (OGPU) man came up to us. We could now see his uniform. He drew his gun and said: "Who are you and what are you doing walking around here so late?" I had my certificate of place of work, so I showed it to him, explaining that I was on my way there, and that the boy was a messenger who was sent to me. I also said that we had taken a short cut to the mine to get there more quickly.

"What did you see or hear?" he asked sternly. I played stupid and replied: "We met nobody on the way, and we saw nothing and we heard nothing." All the while, two more NKVD (OGPU) men got off the truck and one of them said: "Maybe you want to go down there too?" and pointed to the "shufr." "I've already been in there;' I replied, "I worked in the mine for a couple of years, and now I've got another job."

The NVKD (OGPU) men said nothing in return and turned back to the truck, speaking in Russian, and left two of the criminals standing beside us like guards. I recognized one of them -- he was a pickpocket everyone called "Lafa." The NKVD (OGPU) men came back up to us and told us to get on our way to work. Then one of them, apparently the chief, said: "If you breathe a word of this anywhere, one word, about this night, then we'll see that you come back here."

We left, and the two of us promised each other not to tell anyone, any time, not a word. However, rumours were already circulating among the people, because many had seen bodies of those who had died in the famine buried in these "shufry." Mainly the no. 5 Semenivka shaft and the no. 8 Maksymivka shaft were used for this. Later all shafts so used were filled in and razed to the ground. Then they were divided into lots and sold to workers as gardens.

Thus the Muscovite-Bolshevik fascism hid the secrets of their bloody crimes. If something similar had happened in other countries, then the whole world would have known of it by now. Such crimes, that happened as more than seven million Ukrainian people were murdered by famine, should be investigated by an international tribunal. There are many witnesses of this famine and the killers in the Kremlin should be held accountable for their crimes. When a Korean airliner was shot down recently at the behest of the Kremlin, killing 269 passengers and crew, the whole free world spoke out against Moscow, and many statesmen and members of the press were moved. However, about the 50th anniversary of an unspeakable famine, the majority of the press is silent.