Douglas Tottle   Globe and Mail   13-Dec-1986   Six photos misrepresented

Letter to the Editor:

Concerning the Globe and Mail's excerpts of Robert Conquest's book Harvest of Sorrow and its "genocide" interpretations of the thirties famine (Nov. 29, Dec. 1):

The six photos with the articles are misrepresentations and do not portray scenes from 1932-1933 in Ukraine.  They originate from the 1922 Russian famine, and their history of fraudulent application to Ukraine in 1933 is interesting.

The three photos (Nov. 29) appear in Ammende's 1936 Human Life in Russia.  The photo at the bottom left was stolen by Ammende from Dr. F. Nansen's 1922 Russian Famine booklet Information No. 22 (Geneva), page 16.  The photo at the bottom right, also from 1922 famine coverage, was first misused as "1933" in the Nazi organ Voelkischer Beobachter, Aug. 13, 1933.  The top photo portrays an off-angle photo of a scene from page 10 of La Famine en Russie, Geneva, 1922.

In the Dec. 1 excerpt, the top and bottom-left photos are "Thomas Walker" fakes published by the Hearst press of 1935 and later used by Ammende, who claimed a different photographer and year for them.  Louis Fischer exposed the Walker series in The Nation, March 13, 1935.  Walker never existed.  The "brothers in distress" on the right is copied from a 1922 newsreel.  It has been used to portray the twenties famine both in Peter Ustinov's Russia TV series and other publicized documentaries.

Five of the six photos do not even appear in Mr. Conquest's book.  This indicates that widespread use of fradulent [sic] photos as 1933 evidence is not an isolated event.  Since Mr. Conquest's Harvest of Sorrow itself utilizes the photos and accounts of both the non-existent Thomas Walker and the plagiarizer Ammende, his book cannot be the "meticulously researched" masterpiece claimed by its jacket notes.

Douglas Tottle