861.48/1494: Telegram

The Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs (Chicherin) to the Secretary of State

Circular note to all governments. The vast movement for relief for the famine stricken population of the eastern provinces of European Russia which attracted the most diversified classes and the most varied public bodies nearly all countries of Europe and America is warmly welcomed by the Russian people and its workers’ and peasants’ government. At the same time it must be regretfully observed that these bodies as well as the press and even the governments nearly everywhere display inadequate acquaintance with the real state of affairs in Russia possessing far from accurate and verified data on the extent of the calamity and its concrete details. The organs of the Occidental and American press and the declarations of statesmen of all countries frequently contain absolutely false and sometimes exaggerated or erroneous ideas on the situation in the famine stricken provinces and even on the general condition of the Russian Republic.

The Russian government deems necessary therefore to request in the first place the governments of all countries to impart in official manner to citizens interested in the famine which befall part of Russia the following exact data on the question: The Famine Relief Commission of the Central Executive Committee recognized state of distress in ten provinces, viz., Astrakhan, Tsaritzin, Saratov, German Commune, Samara, Simbirsk, Tartar Republic, Tchuvsh Territory, also the following districts in Ufa province: Birsk, Belebei, also [Page 811] Yaransk, Urzhum, Malmyzh, Sovietsk in Viatka province and Serunsk and Krasnokokshaisk in Mari territory. Severe continuance drought in these ten provinces destroyed the harvest entirely or will yield 10 or 15 percent average but in some localities of these provinces the bad harvest will affect only certain kinds of the crops.

These ten provinces are inhabited by approximately eighteen million which will require minimum 41,000,000 poods food supplies from outside to sustain rural population on 50 percent usual rations excluding cattle and 18,000,000 poods to feed urban population. For seeds in localities where harvest is completely lost 15,000,000 poods are required before September 15th. Lacking quite exact data of harvest extent in all other parts of Russia it cannot yet at present be determined what portion of above stated requirements can be furnished by Russia herself. Famine stricken provinces have no past grain stocks left while deliveries from other provinces can only be extremely limited at present. Present distress in these provinces is therefore really very great yet nowhere occurred any of excesses and disorders falsely rumored by West European and American press. In some of hardest hit localities despairing population partly seeks with assistance Soviet authorities to move to more prosperous Russian provinces but this movement of famished inhabitants nowhere assumes any such form as would present slightest menace to public safety and order.

Russian government takes all available measures combatting calamity and relieving sufferers. Russian citizens independently [of any] political arrière pensée [are manifesting desire to help the starving]. Russian toiling masses everywhere show fullest readiness for self-denial imposing privations upon themselves to send relief to fellow citizens in distress. Also those who before revolution belonged to privileged classes unselfishly strive to help famine stricken. Alongside with government commission at [of] Central Executive Committee the government authorized the formation of the independent Famine Relief Committee composed of people outside of Soviet governmental spheres. This committee will itself distribute all food supplies at its disposal being a completely independent organization and enjoying full support of Soviet authorities in its activities. Delegates of this committee will shortly go abroad simultaneously with another delegation sent to Western Europe by the Central Executive Commission [Committee], by the Central Trade Union Council and by the Central Cooperative Union.

Information received daily of numerous organizations in all countries willing help famine stricken population in Russia meets with wishes of Russian people and government and with urgent need of famine stricken provinces for foreign aid. Addressing itself to all [Page 812] governments upon this subject the Russian government permits itself to express the hope that latter will present no obstacles to public bodies and individual citizens of their countries desirous to help famine stricken Russian citizens. Russian government will accept for this purpose any aid from whatever source it may come disregarding entirely existing political corelations. Expressing on behalf of Russian people warmest gratitude to foreign organizations and individuals manifesting such ardent desire to help famine stricken Russian citizens the Russian government thinks itself entitled to hope that the governments of other countries will present no obstacles nor barriers to these desires of their citizens.

The People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs

N. 2204 3/8/21.