How People Live in Soviet Russia: Impressions from a Journey

Mendel Osherowitch
Kashtan Press

"Overlooked by mainstream scholarship for far too long, Mendel Osherowitch's book, How People Live in Soviet Russia, is one of the most penetrating and moving accounts of daily life in Soviet Ukraine during the Holodomor. Returning as a visitor after having lived in the USA for many decades, Osherowitch expected to witness his cherished socialist ideals being put into practice. Instead he encountered widespread degradation and the fear infusing the everyday existence of Jews and Gentiles alike. Recording his observations with an uncommon level of understanding and insight, Osherowitch produced a book that sheds a new and unexpected light on the history of the Great Famine of 1932-1933. A must-read."

- Professor Serhii Plokhy, Director, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University

"Mendel Osherowitch's account of his visit to Soviet Ukraine in the early winter of 1932 should not be missed by anyone trying to understand the terrible fate of Ukraine at a critical juncture in its history. His mastery of Ukrainian, Yiddish, and Russian, coupled with a winning personality and unobtrusive style of questioning, made it possible for him to talk with a wide spectrum of Ukrainians, Russians and Jews – in the factories and towns, during long train rides, and in casual encounters. He heard Party bosses and newspaper editors defend the horrific conditions people were living under, insisting it was all worthwhile because of the glorious socialist future as yet to come. Meanwhile, the workers and peasants were left baffled and battered by the emptiness of these Soviet promises.

Investigating the regime's ostensible accomplishments, Osherowitch provides heartrending descriptions of broken and starving men, women, and children, Jews and non-Jews alike, all desperate for a piece of bread, all hoping for succour from a sympathetic foreign visitor. His testimony reveals a deeply disturbing picture of the utter destitution of rural and city life just as the Ukrainian nation began suffering the death throes of extinction from an orchestrated famine."

- Professor Norman M. Naimark, Department of HIstory, Stanford University

Edited by Lubomyr Y. Luciuk, translated by Sharon Power.