hunger

Photo of the Day

John Hornby’s cabin on the Thelon River as it appeared in 1978.

A Tragic Adventure

This is the story of a tragic expedition by three young Englishmen that went horribly wrong in the barren North West territory of Canada. Against the background of a tragic story of a trapping and a exploring expedition that ran foul of food shortage is the diary of written by one of the victims, a boy of 18 who started off with a boyish zest for adventure, hero worship for his older cousin, leader of the party, and who never flinched, no matter what fearful odds of death and starvation he faced. The diary was kept by the author until the day, he the last survivor died. The skeletons were found, three years later.

No trees. That is the Indian name for the great expanse of tundra…more than half a million square miles…spread across North-Western Canada. Samuel Hearne named it the Barren Ground. It is a wilderness rather than a desert…

Few white men had travelled through that country. One man… John (Jack) Hornby… was determined to learn how to live there. And he died there… of starvation… on April the 16th, 1927….

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Photo of the Day

Maria Tchebotareva. Trying to feed her four hungry children during the massive 1932-1933 famine, the peasant mother allegedly stole three pounds of rye from her former field— confiscated by the state as part of collectivization. Soviet authorities sentenced her to ten years in the Gulag. When her sentence expired in 1943, it was arbitrarily extended until the end of the war in 1945. After her release, she was required to live in exile near her Gulag camp north of the Arctic Circle, and she was not able to return home until 1956, after the death of Stalin. Maria Tchebotareva never found her children after her release. Courtesy of the Gulag Museum at Perm-36.

Brutal

Warning, some people may find this story Disturbing.

Have you ever been late to work?

In the Stalin era, a person who arrived late to work three times could be sent to the Gulag for three years.

Have you ever told a joke about a government official?

In the Stalin era, many were sent to the Gulag for up to 25 years for telling an innocent joke about a Communist Party official.

If your family was starving, would you take a few potatoes left in a field after harvest?

In the Stalin era, a person could be sent to the Gulag for up to ten years for such petty theft.

The transportation methods to the Gulags were often even more disturbing and painful than the camps themselves. Most long journeys began at the railroad station. However, prisoners were not loaded onto trains at the station in full public view; they were loaded at sidings down the track, away from public glare. It was done secretively – just as the process of arrest late at night. It was usual for up to sixty or more people to be crammed into one carriage, which was constructed from wooden planks and had a few rows of horizontal boards to sleep on. There was no illumination, and rats and vermin abounded. No matter the weather, the captives were only allowed to wear the clothes they were arrested in.

“The night search, the most degrading procedure, was frequently repeated. “Get up! Get undressed! Hands up! Out into the hall! Line up against the wall.” Naked we were especially frightened. “Among the blind, the one-eyed is king,” and next to them I was still a hero—for the time being. Our hair was undone. What were they looking for? What more could they take away from us? There was something, however: they pulled out all the ties that had been holding up the nuns’ skirts and our underwear.”

Conditions in the camps, for those who survived the trip, were extremely harsh. Prisoners received insufficient clothing and inadequate food rations which made it difficult to endure the severe weather and the long working hours. As a result, the death rate from exhaustion and disease in the camps was enormously high.

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