The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine, 1932-1933 (Holodomor)
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The Nansen Electronic Photographic Archive

Including Photographs of the Soviet Famine 1921-1923
3,500 Unique Photographs and Drawings
Some Photographs Are From Ukraine


High Commissioner for Relief In Russia Fridtjof Nansen and the organizations he worked with, such as the Save the Children International Union, the International Red Cross, and others took a considerable number of photographs of the Soviet 1921-1923 Famine. Many of these photographs were distributed around the world by the news media. Some of these photographs were used on postcards printed in Paris, Brussels, Geneva and other places to raise funds for the relief effort. (See postcard section of ArtUkraine for examples of the postcards)

A considerable number of photographs were taken in the Saratov area of Russia in November of 1921. Commissioner Nansen visited the relief efforts in that area at that time. The photographs show the horrors experienced by famine victims.

The Nansen Mission had an office in Kharkov, Ukraine during this time. The leaders of this office were T. G. Eybye, representative of the Danish Red Cross, together with Lena Tidemann.

The Nansen photographs are probably of the best that are available showing the Soviet famine. Many times photographs of the Soviet 1921-1923 Famine have been used to depict the Great Famine-Genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933 as original photographs of the Ukraine Famine in 1932-1933 are few in number as the Soviets did not allow photographs to be taken and the region was closed to journalists and all the news media.

One photograph from a cemetary in Buzuluk, Russia shows a pile of 70-80 human corpses, mostly children who were found dead in the course of a 2 day period during December of 1921. This is an except of a telegram from Fridtjof Nansen to the Red Cross on December 9, 1921. "I have visited Samara region/Misery worse than darkest imagination/ Buzuluk district were Friends work has 915,000 inhabitants of whom 537,000 have no food left/30,405 died in September, October, November but deathrate rapidly increasing and before spring at least two thirds of population will perish if help not promptly forthcoming."

Another photograph shows Fridtjof Nansen in Kharkov, Ukraine in 1923. He is among students in front of a canteen. He was in charge of "Nansen's Intellectual Relief", with offices in several cities. Their task was to supply students with daily food, clothing and books. second photo taken in Kharkov in 1923 shows the children from one of the many orphanages in Ukraine. They received relief from the Nansen Mission. On the back of the photograph are the signatrues of 39 children.

There is a photograph taken somewhere in Ukraine in 1921 showing representatives from the authorities discussing the poor harvest in the grain field.

In 1989 the University of Olso Library launched a project called Conservation of and Access to the Fridtjof Photographic Archive. The project has led to in-house development of a HyperCard/Macintosh based picture database (Media-Finder). From 8,000 old pictures, 3,500 unique photographs, drawings and some watercolors were selected, identified, dated, classifed, catalogued, described and digitalized. (The English translation of the Norwegian Library's website database cover 1,300 images) ( )

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