68 Povolzhye Famine

Povolzhye Famine

Posted on July 27, 2009 by


Soon after the Revolution hit Russia the political changes in the country and bad weather in the south of the state led to the Russian famine of 1921, which is better known as Povolzhye famine. It began in early spring in 21 and lasted through 1922, being the most severe thing that ever happened in Russia.  More that 5 million people died during the year and a half, some of them passed away because they just had nothing to eat and some of them fell prey to their neighbors, parents or children.  To survive in those terrible conditions people ate corpses of their family members, who were killed or just died of starvation. This period was very hard for the region, but it could not happen so, if the Soviet government hadn’t traded the grains to the other European countries, wanting to get more money for its industrialization purposes. Please proceed only if you are ready to see those disturbing documentaries.


The wars wiped out the stores and the ardent sun made fields dry. First, people sold what they could sell but very soon even the supplies ware run out of products and didn’t want to take things for food. So, people started to eat cats, dogs, rats, birds, grass and finally, human beings. The cases involving cannibalism usually were not measured as a real crime, and were considered to be just a survival thing. Anyway, those people were sent to prisons, were cannibalism was a common practice as well.

Samara region, 13 April, 1922
“… in the larder we found two pieces, in the stove there was one piece of boiled human flesh, and in the inner porch there was a pot with jellied minced flesh of the same kind, and near the porch we found a lot of bones. When we asked the woman where she had taken the flesh from, she confessed that back in February her 8-year-old son Nikita died and then her 15-year-old daughter Anna and she took his copse and cut it into pieces, and as they were starving they ate it together. When there was nothing else left, she decided to kill the daughter for meat and did it in the early April. While the girl was sleeping, she slaughtered her and cut the corpse into pieces, and started to cook it. She gave the jellied flesh and liver to her neighbors Aculina and Evdokia, saying that it was horse meat. The human flesh, Anna’s thighs and feet are taken to the police as evidence, the boiled meat and bones and the jellied meat have been consigned to the earth…”


We don’t know what exactly happened to that woman who ate her kids. Most probably, she went to Gulag or somewhere like that, and maybe was eaten by her fellows as well. To remain above suspicion people preferred killing strangers or eat those who were already dead. Psychiatrists stated that those people were mentally sound and just had been driven to the most abysmal depths of hunger.

Cemeteries also had to be protected from those who wanted to take and cook the deceased. Students were ready to sell livers and lungs from the university dissection rooms, and in prisons people could have their dead cellmates cooked in the prison kitchen for dinner.


Since food was a rear thing to find, meat sales stopped as most probably meat pies and canned stewed meat would be made of human flesh and most of citizens could become cannibals unwillingly.


Only in a year and a half people of the region could enjoy bread and soup, though, there were not many of those who managed to survive and see food again.



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68 Responses to “Povolzhye Famine”

  1. boriska says:

    Why some of the photos have Chinese or Japanese letters?

    • 李钦 says:

      these characters are not Japanese,they are Chinese

      • boriska says:

        OK, but what does it mean and why is it there?

        • 李钦 says:

          first one: these females were deadly hungry so they ate bodies everyday
          third one:the photo of eating dead bodies
          fifth :the dead ones were buried in here
          sixth :they are desperately hungry so they eat people

          I don’t know where are these photos,maybe in somewhere ,china,frankly speaking,there was famine in china,1960s,hundreds of thousands of people were dead ,but they donnot eat bodies,but tree barks

      • MlSS lndia says:

        OMG Rusians are so poor and died of hunger while poor people in the west are fat and obese due to over abundance of food :(

        • ForYouMissIndia says:

          I have got used to your OMG comments, “MISS INDIA”. Keep up that good job of yours. Success!

        • ForYouMissIndia says:

          Everybody noticed your comments, “MissIndia”, so witty, so smart. Everybody likes you. What would become of the world without you?

  2. Pastka says:

    Extreme story, and sad.

  3. heatmiser says:

    We had all better get used to this idea. Last year the population of the planet consumed more food than was produced.



  4. w says:

    I think I would rather starve to death… mind you I am a vegetarian

  5. Foobar says:

    They did what they had to do. If i had the choice between certain death and eating human flesh (wich amongst connoisseurs is also known as long-pig), i would choose the latter.

  6. raf says:

    And russians are ofended when we say that communism is equal of fascism.

    • joh2008 says:

      There were a lot of famine years befor revolution. The year of 1891 – there were about 40 million hunger people, 4 million were dead. 1901 – 30 million and 2.8 million were dead. 1905-1908 – 4 million people were dead of hunger. 1911 – 1 million were dead. Nobody helped them then, the tzar didn’t care about it. By the way – there were no commies then. So the Tzarism is even worse than the Communism I guess.
      Now, a little bit about The Evel Empire of Democrasy… oops, I mean The United States of America. Didn’t you know that in Great Depression times about several million people were dead of hunger? So, dont be offendid when some people say that the Rooseveltizv is kinda fashism too.

      • Chris says:

        “joh2008″, good comment, but what are your source for mass starvation in the US during the Depression?

      • Dr vindaloo says:

        You are very right ,joh2008.one can`t imagine of that circumstances of that era.i mean from all over the capitalist world invaded CCCP to re appoint the tsarist regime.from east to west,north to south in every direction invaders systematically looted and destroyed all of CCCP infrastructure.so don`t forget the major role of the capitalist invaders in the great famine of the time.yes there were some “mistakes” done by few important commiserates but i would say the major cause of that famine just because of the Tsarist and their allies forces.

        • CZenda says:

          USA were actually sending grain to Soviet Russia after WWI to help the starving. They quit after it was found that Soviet Russia sells the grain it was given for free to other countries. IIRC, this re-selling of humanitarian aid was performed upon Lenin´s direct order.

          • Dr vindaloo says:

            CZend,you again try to “distort” the historical facts! ! !.yes US send some amount of grains and other food stuff to CCCP after the WW1,but for their US led allied troops.don`t blame the Lenin.one should appreciate the Lenin`s role in the early stage of the creation of peoples regime.by the way if Soviets were the true responsible of that famine,please tell us who were those people who again rebuild and prosperous the CCCP???

          • Kirov says:

            —– last continued form above:

            Example : Where is agriculture ? Biggest country in world can not even feed itself today, importing almost everything. Bad infrastructure, bad pay, impossible to start business because of corruption and burocracy. Only thing they have is resources like wood, nickel, gas etc… but we cannot process it even, sell it raw and others make the REAL money.
            Loan in bank is 25% interest annually!! Banks will not help people!! Result: bad econnomy and bad motivation.
            I’m sorry and again, hate often my country.

          • Stout Viking says:

            Kirov, it’s like you’ve put to words exactly what I was thinking. I don’t live in Russia anymore and I doubt I will ever return. I love the land but I hate the country. It’s been literally raped for almost a 100 years now and will continue being so. It saddens me to the depths of my heart.

      • Stout Viking says:

        Actually, the Irish potato famine wasn’t deliberate. It was caused because only one sort of potatoes was planted, and it quickly succumbed to a fungus that struck it. It was a very sensitive sort, a “spoiled breed” if I may say. If different sorts would be planted, at least some of the crops would be saved as well as people’s lives.

  7. sarzen says:

    Thats just sad…

  8. YJ says:

    First time that I have seen actual photograph of cannibalism.

  9. eastwind says:

    Yep, my western brothers, thats communism. Check “Golodomor” and look what commies did in Ukraine.

  10. eastwind says:


  11. maxD says:

    One wonders who took these photos and how could he find people willing to pose for them. In a situation where they were reduced to the level of beasts, basically, but were still thinking people. Bewildering.

  12. Vova says:

    KILL soviet government, especially NKVD

  13. 李钦 says:

    想不到毛子也吃同胞 啊
    IT shocked me because the subtitles of the photos are in Chinese
    who wanna learn Chinese?
    we can do a language exchange

  14. Truth says:

    ”People were being shot day and night throughout the biggest country in the world. Stalin even got to the point of killing people by random, by quotas.”


  15. ivan_terrible says:

    joh2008: following your thought, die of starvation is a simple stat. Try to build a democracy or communist state using your cannibal code.

  16. Sad says:

    That is terribly sad. I’m sorry anyone would ever be go through such misery. Its one thing to read that X people died of starvation but to actually see photos of those that are dead/dying is heart wrenching.

    I hope those people are at peace now, and anyone in the industrialized world realizes how fortunate we are to be live in a time/place where there is an abundance of food.

  17. Juhani says:

    The hunger was produced by two things: to subvert people to being content and utter incompetence (at the same time grain was rotting!).

    Yes, Nazis killed a lot. But they were not as cruel as the Soviet Union was.

    Perhaps after these pictures some of the readers might understand, why the Soviet Union must be placed on the same level as Nazi. In reality, the Soviet Union was even more cruel.

    If somebody is interested, then Lithuania made a propaganda movie about the Soviet Union and how they killed millions in Ukraine. It is propaganda, but after seeing it I lost my appetite, that never happened with documentaries about Nazis.

    • 李钦 says:

      though there are something bad under the dominion of communism,but I always believe that it will change and improve,for human beings’ ultimate happiness
      Proletarians around the world, unite!!!

      • too much vodka says:

        After the millions of victims of the Russian civil war, the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Great Terror in the USSR, the millions of victims of the famine caused by collectivisation in the USSR, the millions of victims of the Gulag, the complete nations deported by Stalin causing hundreds of thousands of victims, the millions of victims of Mao’s Great Leap forward, the millions of victims of Mao’s Cutlural Revolution, the millions of victims of the Red Khmer in Cambodia, the hundreds of thousands of victims of communist repression in Eastern Europe (Poland, DDR, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Albania, Yougoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria), the victims of communism in Vietnam, the millions of victims of the famines in North-Korea – and all this in less than a century, I do hope proletarians will find other ways to unite than through communism.

    • Vladimir80 says:

      We were in the middle of a Civil War. How does that make us more cruel than Nazis I don’t know. yxaxa

      • too much vodka says:

        Yes, but the war was long gone when the famine was organised by Stalin in the thirties. So how does that compare Stalin to Hitler?

  18. Vjay says:

    Here you can see, how much a regime is interested in its people (everywhere in the world).

  19. Chris D says:

    They could afford a photographer though…

  20. nw99 says:

    I’m wondering the chances of getting hepatitis. Looking at the wikipedia article (yes I know wiki is unbiased ) They have more documented cases involving Russia during wars, the latter being WWII. In the USA we have our few cannibal’s but I think we top the list with serial killers.

    Kirov: FSB can’t monitor Skype? I know here the govt can track just about anything, even cell phones that are turned off. Some day the internet will not be free, because it’s competing with old technology like phones and newspapers.

    • Kirov says:

      No FSB can not monitor Skype unless they first install special software on computer to be monitored. Which makes it very difficult. And it is easy to monitor cell phones when turned off. That is why criminals in Russia take out the battery all the time. Then it can not be done. Governments next step might be to make batteries unremovable!!!!!!

  21. Jesus Christ says:

    Judge not lest ye be judged.

  22. Vladimir80 says:

    It was a hard time no doubt, but the Soviet collective farming had not enacted enough be able to cope with the Civil War. Whites were running around killing Reds, it was a hard time.

  23. from spain says:

    Did the holodomor of Ucraine happened by the same time?

    • Nobody says:

      No. 1933 Holodomor were in whole USSR, not only in Ukraine!

    • Nobody says:

      No. 1933 Holodomor were in whole USSR, not only in Ukraine.

      • too much vodka says:

        The famine of 1932-1933 was more widespread than only in Ukraine, it was meant to force farmers in collective farms and to wipe out the class of independent farmers or kulaks. Stalin once said to Churchill that the war against the kulaks was a harder struggle than WWII – showing Stalins attitudes towards his own subjects. Nevertheless, Ukraïne was hit more – almost certain deliberately – than other regions in Russia. If not, how can one explain that while there was famine in Ukraine, bordering regions in Russia didn’t have a food shortage. After the famine, Russia sent ethnic Russians to Ukraïne to take the place of Ukrainians who died of starvation. Because of that, the amount of Russians in Ukraïne – which was smaller than nowadays Ukraine – doubled. So it’s hard to believe that Ukraine was not a certain kind of special target for Stalin.

    • authorized1 says:

      Actually there were several Holodomors in Ukraine, about 3 or 4 in the 20’s and 30’s, the one in 1933 was the most severe of them.

  24. Cossack says:

    Shocking pictures of terrible government imposed event.

    As long as people have to eat, there will be starvation. It is going on right now in Bhurma (Myanmar), India, and in many location on the African continent.

    As for how to get people half-mad by hunger to pose for pictures? Just threaten them with weapons, then promise them some food if they agree to pose for the picture.

  25. jkufner says:

    Tip: To get daily entertaiment news like this one, bookmark englishrussia.com or get RSS if it’s more convinient for you

  26. isaac says:

    How can you prove the autheticity of the pictures? It seems ridiculous that most of the photos look the same: people posing with dead bodies. They look like fake. I don’t mean that there were no famines in Russia, SU, or that there were no cases of cannibalism, but the identification of the source is missing or vague and it makes the whole thing bombastic, unserious.

  27. aussiesam says:

    I have never seen anything like this! The pictures make me sick and the fact that this was caused by someone else makes me sicker!!!

  28. Saddam says:

    With Putin we will live like that very soon!

  29. kto-to says:

    you all are sick

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