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Great Famine, The 1x53

When a devastating famine descended on Soviet Russia in 1921, the United States responded with a massive two-year relief campaign that battled starvation and disease, and saved millions of lives. By summer 1922, American kitchens were feeding nearly eleven million Soviet citizens a day. At the time, the American rescue operation was hailed as “the beau geste of the twentieth century.”  The American expedition took place as the embers of the 1917 Russian Revolution still smoldered. The nearly 300 American relief workers, most of them veterans of World War I, were the first group of outsiders to break through Russia’s isolation and to witness and record the impact of the revolution. This film sets a riveting story of American engagement with a distant and desperate people, an engagement hailed for its efficiency, grit, and generosity, within the larger story of the Russian Revolution and the roots of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry that would dominate the second half of the twentieth century.