Herbert Hoover: The Making Of A Villain

May 2017

The richly decorated scroll above, dated July 10, 1923, was presented by the Soviet government to Her ben Hoover, chairman of the American Relief Administration during the Russian lamine just ended, “in the name of the millions of people who have been saved, as well as in the name of the whole working people of Soviet Russia … to express the most deeply felt sentiments of gratitude, and to state, that all the people inhabiting the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics never will forget the aid rendered to them by the American People …”

But only three years later, official Soviet downgrading of Hoover and the A.R.A. had begun. Volume I of the Large Soviet Encyclopedia , published in 1926, gave the total cost of the American relief as $1,455,861 (actually, some $60,000,000 had been expended, according to H. H. Fisher in The Famine in Soviet Russia, 1919-1923 ) and drastically understated the number of Russians aided. By 1950 the encyclopedia’s second edition was saying that during the famine, with A.R.A. help, “the capitalist world tried to use the difficulties of the USSR. Saboteurs and spies were setting fire to Soviet plants …” By 1956 the major article on the United States condemned Hoover’s White House term as leading toward “the policy of restoring German militarism.” Thus, as William Benton, publisher of the Encyclopaedia Britannica , has observed, Hoover in one generation had been relegated to a position “about as low as a capitalist politician can get” and had become “the murderer of millions of Russians instead of the savior of millions from starvation …”