Stalin-Wells talk / the verbatim record and a discussion by G.B.Shaw,
H.G.Wells, J.M.Keynes, E.Toller and others. With three caricatures and cover
design by Low, December 1934. (London : New Statesman and Nation, 1934)
H. G. Wells was one of a number of left-wing writers who visited Russia in
the period between the wars. He travelled there in September 1920 and
interviewed Lenin. An account is given in his book, Russia in the
Shadows (1920). He criticised Lenin for his despotic rule, and pointed out
to him that the party leaders were already enjoying privileges denied to the
workers, but hoped that this would change as the revolution stabilised.
In July 1934 he again visited Russia. This time he met Stalin. His report of
the talk was published in the New Statesman 27 October 1934. In
subsequent issues of the paper other writers debated the issues raised in the
"Stalin-Wells talk". They included George Bernard Shaw and John Maynard Keynes.
Shaw had met Stalin in the Kremlin on 29 July 1931, and the Soviet leader had
facilitated his tour of Russia in which he was able to observe, at least to his
own satisfaction, that the statements being circulated about the famine in the
Ukraine were merely rumours. He had seen that the peasants had plenty of food.
In fact the famine had notoriously been caused by Stalin in his desperation to
achieve the goals of his five-year plan. An estimated ten million people, mostly
Ukrainians, died of starvation.
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