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#177: American History: Fear Takes Hold During the Great Depression

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The son of a Depression-era refugee from Oklahoma who moved to California
The son of a Depression-era refugee from Oklahoma who moved to California

BARBARA KLEIN: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English. I'm Barbara Klein.

STEVE EMBER: And I'm Steve Ember.

The stock market crash of nineteen twenty-nine marked the beginning of the worst economic crisis in American history. Millions of people lost their jobs. Thousands lost their homes.

1929年美国股票市场崩盘为美国历史上最严重的经济危机拉开了帷幕。数百万人失去工作,成千上万人失去住所。

During the next several years, a large part of the richest nation on earth learned what it meant to be poor.

在此后的几年里,这个世界上最富裕的国家尝尽了贫穷的滋味。

Workers lost their jobs as factories closed. Business owners lost their stores and sometimes their homes. Farmers lost their land as they struggled with falling prices and natural disasters.

工人们因工厂倒闭而失去工作,企业主买卖关张,有的甚至连自己的房子也保不住。农民与下跌的农产品价格和自然灾害抗争,并失去了土地。

And Americans were not the only ones who suffered. This week in our series, we talk about the economic crisis that became the Great Depression.

然而,在这场经济危机中受到连累的并不仅仅是美国人。本周,我们就向您讲述这场后来演变成大萧条的经济危机。

(MUSIC "Creole Love Call"/Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra)

BARBARA KLEIN: One of America's greatest writers, John Steinbeck, described the depression this way:

约翰.斯坦贝克是美国最伟大的作家之一,他曾这样描写30年代的经济大萧条:

"It was a terrible, troubled time. I can't think of any ten years in history when so much happened in so many directions. Violent change took place. Our country was shaped, our lives changed, our government rebuilt."

"那是一个糟糕的,问题丛生的时期。历史上从没有过这样的十年,没有过十年间在如此多的方面发生这么多事的先例。猛烈和动荡的变化不断发生,重新塑造了美国的面貌,改变了我们的生活,也重建了美国政府。"

Steinbeck, winner of the nineteen sixty-two Nobel Prize in literature, said: "When the market fell, the factories, mines, and steelworks closed and then no one could buy anything, not even food."

这位1962年获得诺贝尔文学奖的作家说:"股票市场崩溃后,工厂、矿山和钢铁厂通通关门,然后,人们什么都买不起,连食物都买不起。"

STEVE EMBER: An unemployed auto worker in Detroit, Michigan, described the situation this way:

在密西根州的底特律,一位失业的汽车工人是这样描述当时情景的:

"Before daylight, we were on the way to the Chevrolet factory to look for work. The police were already there, waving us away from the office. They were saying, 'Nothing doing! No jobs! No jobs!' So now we were walking slowly through the falling snow to the employment office for the Dodge auto company. A big, well-fed man in a heavy overcoat stood at the door. 'No! No!' he said. There was no work."

"天还没亮,我们就出发去雪佛兰汽车公司找工作,而警察已经在那儿了,他们向我们挥手,让我们走开,他们说:'没有什么可做的,没有工作,没有工作!'于是我们在大雪中慢慢离开,去道奇汽车公司的就业办公室找工作。一个高大肥胖、穿着厚重大衣的人站在大门口对我们说:'没有,没有,这里没有工作!'"

One Texas farmer lost his farm and moved his family to California to look for work. "We can't send the children to school," he said, "because they have no clothes."

一位德克萨斯州的农民失去了自己的农场,全家搬到加州找工作。他说:"我没办法让孩子去上学,因为他们没有衣服穿。"

(MUSIC "Gloomy Sunday"/Billie Holiday)

BARBARA KLEIN: The economic crisis began with the stock market crash in October nineteen twenty-nine. For the first year, the economy fell very slowly. But it dropped sharply in nineteen thirty-one and nineteen thirty-two. And by the end of nineteen thirty-two, the economy collapsed almost completely.

这场经济危机始于1929年10月股票崩盘。危机第一年,美国经济只是缓慢下滑,但到了1931年和1932年,经济急速下滑,到1932年底,美国经济几乎完全崩溃。

During the three years following the stock market crash, the value of goods and services produced in America fell by almost half. The wealth of the average American dropped to a level lower than it had been twenty-five years earlier.

在股市崩盘后的三年里,美国生产总值下降了近一半,普通美国人的财富也大幅缩水,比25年前还低。

All the gains of the nineteen twenties were washed away.

20世纪二十年代积累的财富完全消失。

Unemployment rose sharply. The number of workers looking for a job jumped from three percent to more than twenty-five percent in just four years. One of every three or four workers was looking for a job in nineteen thirty-two.

失业人数急剧上升,在短短四年里,失业率从百分之3跳升到百分之25。到1932年,每三到四个美国人中就有一个在找工作。

STEVE EMBER: Those employment numbers did not include farmers. The men and women who grew the nation's food suffered terribly during the Great Depression. This was especially true in two states, Oklahoma and Texas.

而这些失业数字还没有算上农民。这些为国家种植粮食的人在大萧条时期遭受了严重的损失,特别是在奥克拉荷马州和德克萨斯州。

Farmers there were losing money because of falling prices for their crops. Then natural disaster struck. Year after year, little or no rain fell. The ground dried up. And then the wind blew away the earth in huge clouds of dust.

由于农产品价格下跌,那里的农民收入下降。后来又赶上自然灾害,连续多年几乎不见下雨,大地干涸,风一刮就黄沙蔽日。

"All that dust made some of the farmers leave," one Oklahoma farmer remembered later. "But my family stayed. We fought to live. Despite all the dust and the wind, we were planting seeds. But we got no crops. We had five crop failures in five years."

一位奥克拉荷马州的农民后来回忆道:"严重的风沙迫使一些农民离开,但我们家没有走,我们为了活下去而坚持。尽管风沙严重,我们仍然在地里播种,但我们没有什么收成,连续五年我们年年歉收。"

(MUSIC "Mean Low Blues"/Blues Birdhead)

BARBARA KLEIN: Falling production. Rising unemployment. Men begging in the streets. But there was more to the Great Depression. At that time, the federal government did not guarantee the money that people put in banks. When people could not repay loans, banks began to close.

生产下降,失业率上升,人们上街乞讨。但大萧条的悲剧还不止这些。当时,美国联邦政府没有为银行储蓄金提供保险,因此,当借款人无力偿还贷款时,银行开始相继倒闭。

In nineteen twenty-nine, six hundred fifty-nine banks with total holdings of two-hundred-million dollars went out of business. The next year, two times that number failed. And the year after that, almost twice that number of banks went out of business. Millions of persons lost all their savings. They had no money left.

1929年,美国659家银行关门,存款总额达2亿美元。第二年,倒闭银行数量增加了一倍,第三年,又增加了一倍。数百万人失去了存款,手里一分钱都没有了。

STEVE EMBER: The depression caused serious public health problems. Hospitals across the country were filled with sick people whose main illness was a lack of food. The health department in New York City found that one of every five of the city's children did not get enough food.

20世纪三十年代的经济大萧条不仅让很多人失去了土地、企业、住房和存款,还引起了严重的公共健康问题。全国各地的医院里都住满了病人,这些病人主要的病因是吃不饱饭。

Ninety-nine percent of the children attending a school in a coal-mining area of the country reportedly were underweight. In some places, people died of hunger.

纽约市卫生局发现,该市每五个孩子中就有一个在饿肚子。据报导,在美国一个煤矿产地的学校里,99%的学生体重偏低。一些地方还出现饿死人的现象。

(MUSIC "Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground)"/Blind Willie Johnson)

STEVE EMBER: The quality of housing also fell. Families were forced to crowd into small houses or apartments to share costs. Many people had no homes at all. They slept on public streets, buses or trains.

人们的居住质量也在下降。亲戚们挤在小房子或小公寓里,一起负担住房开支。许多人无家可归,只能住在大街上、公交车上或火车上。

One official in Chicago reported in nineteen thirty-one that several hundred women without homes were sleeping in city parks.

1931年,芝加哥一个官员报告说,有好几百名无家可归的妇女睡在芝加哥市的公园里。

In a number of cities, people without homes built their houses from whatever materials they could find. They used empty boxes or pieces of metal to build shelters in open areas.

在许多城市,无家可归的人们用一切他们所能找到的材料自己盖房,用空箱子或金属片在空地上盖窝棚。

BARBARA KLEIN: People called these areas of little temporary houses "Hoovervilles." They blamed President Hoover for their situation. So, too, did the men forced to sleep in public parks at night. They covered themselves with pieces of paper. And they called the paper "Hoover blankets." People without money in their pants called their empty pockets "Hoover flags."

人们把这种临时性的小窝棚区称为"胡佛村",因为他们认为,自己今天的惨境都是胡佛总统造成的。被迫睡在大街上的人也这么想,他们睡觉时身上盖的是纸片,他们把这些纸片称为"胡佛毯"。那些身无分文的人则把他们空空的裤兜称为"胡佛旗"。

People blamed President Hoover because they thought he was not doing enough to help them. Hoover did take several actions to try to improve the economy. But he resisted proposals for the federal government to provide aid in a major way. And he refused to let the government spend more money than it earned.

人们责怪胡佛总统没有尽力帮助他们。其实,胡佛为改善经济状况的确采取了一些措施,但他反对让联邦政府为人们提供大规模的援助,他拒绝让政府入不敷出。

Hoover told the nation: "Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive decision."

胡佛对全国人民说:"经济衰退不能通过立法或行政手段来治愈。"

Many conservative Americans agreed with him. But not the millions of Americans who were hungry and tired of looking for a job. They accused Hoover of not caring about common citizens.

许多保守的美国人同意他的观点,但数百万忍饥挨饿、找不到工作的人可不这么想。他们指责胡佛不关心普通民众。

One congressman from Alabama said: "In the White House, we have a man more interested in the money of the rich than in the stomachs of the poor."

阿拉巴马州的一位国会议员说:"在白宫,有一个人,他关心富人的财富,不在乎穷人的肚子。"

(MUSIC "I Surrender, Dear"/Red Norvo and His Swing Septet)

STEVE EMBER: On and on the Great Depression continued. Of course, some Americans were lucky. They kept their jobs. And they had enough money to enjoy the lower prices of most goods. Many people shared their earnings with friends in need.

大萧条在持续。当然也有一些幸运的美国人保住了工作,有足够的钱,享受低价产品。许多人向需要帮助的朋友伸出援手。

Years later, John Steinbeck wrote: "It seems odd now to say that we rarely had a job. There just weren't any jobs." But, he continued, "Given the sea and the gardens, we did pretty well with a minimum of theft. We didn't have to steal much." Farmers could not sell their crops, he explained, so they gave away all the fruit and vegetables that people could carry home.

几年后,约翰.斯坦贝克写到:"现在说我们几乎没有工作似乎不太合适,因为当时完全没有工作。" 但他接着说道:"我们有大海,有菜园,可以靠天吃天,几乎没什么小偷,因为我们不必去偷什么东西。"他解释说:"农民卖不掉他们的产品,所以就把所有的水果蔬菜都拿出来送人,你能拿多少就可以拿多少。"

BARBARA KLEIN: Other Americans reacted to the crisis by leading protests against the economic policies of the Hoover administration. In nineteen thirty-two, a large group of former soldiers gathered in Washington to demand help.

经济危机中,另外一些人则组织抗议胡佛政府的经济政策。1932年,许多退伍士兵聚集在华盛顿,要求政府为他们提供帮助。

More than eight thousand of them built the nation's largest Hooverville near the White House. Federal troops finally removed them by force and burned their shelters.

他们中的8000多人在白宫附近建起了美国最大的"胡佛村"。最后,联邦军队武力赶走了他们,并烧毁了他们盖起的窝棚。

(MUSIC "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"/Rudy Vallee)

Next week, we will look at how the Great Depression of the nineteen thirties affected other countries.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: This program was written by David Jarmul. I'm Steve Ember.

BARBARA KLEIN: And I'm Barbara Klein. You can find our series online with pictures, transcripts, MP3s, and podcasts at www.unsv.com. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- an American history series in VOA Special English.

___

This is program #177

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Fear Takes Hold During the Great Depression
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