following letter was written on behalf of Gareth in support of the 2003
Ukrainian campaign for revocation of Walter Duranty's 1932 Pulitzer Prize:
Margaret Siriol Colley,
The Pulitzer Prize Committee,
York, NY, USA, 10027.
open letter to the committee deliberating on the revocation of the 1932
Pulitzer Prize for Correspondence from Walter Duranty.
Duranty & Gareth Richard Vaughan Jones (1905 -1935)
is a personal plea to revoke the 1932 Pulitzer Prize from the infamous
journalist, Walter Duranty, who libelously damned the truthful reporting
of my uncle, Gareth Jones.
March 31st 1933, Gareth Jones, a young Welsh journalist, returning from an
investigative tour of Soviet Ukraine, who then dared to publicly expose
the severity of 1933 Soviet famine, was the prime recipient of Walter
Duranty’s villainous New York Times diatribe, ‘Russians
Hungry but not Starving’. By vaunting his then esteemed journalistic
reputation through the integrity of The New York Times to defame
Gareth Jones, Duranty brutally portrayed Jones of being both a scaremonger
and a liar. Duranty further stated, “There is no actual starvation
or death from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from disease
due to malnutrition”.
article was in immediate response Gareth Jones’ press report from Berlin
on March 29th 1933; and in attendance was Hubert. R. Knickerbocker (the
1931 Pulitzer Prize winner for his analysis and reporting of the Soviet
Five-Year Plan), who firmly believed Jones’ famine revelations,
elucidated through his cable despatch of the same day to The New York
of his position, because of his reputation for reliability and
impartiality and because he is the only first-hand observer who has
visited the Russian countryside since it was officially closed to
foreigners, is bound to receive widespread attention in official England
as well as among the public of the country”.
Jones had just returned from his third visit to the Soviet Union, and on
this occasion had undertaken a 40-mile walk through villages in the
countryside of Ukraine where he spoke to the peasants, and slept in their
of his Berlin press report were published in many American and British
newspapers including The Manchester Guardian, in which Malcolm
Muggeridge’s three unsigned murderous-starvation articles (dated March
25th, 27th and 28th 1933) had just been printed. Unfortunately, at
that time these reports went entirely unnoticed, as they stood without
credence. Nevertheless, during April 1933, Jones wrote at least 20
famine-related articles that were published in several newspapers,
including the Welsh Western Mail and The Daily Express of
London. Later articles by Gareth Jones on the crisis were published
in Britain and in the American press, including the Boston Sunday
Advertiser and The Washington Herald. He then embarked on
an extensive lecture tour entitled, The Enigma of Bolshevik Russia,
in Britain and Ireland, and subsequently, in 1934, across the USA.
It is therefore without doubt that he did more than any Western journalist
to broadcast the plight of the peasants in the Soviet Union.
Lyons in his 1937 book, Assignment in Utopia, described how the
foreign press corps in Moscow was assembled by the Soviet Press Censor,
Oumansky, to conspire as to how they could repudiate Gareth Jones’
Berlin report, especially since they were being inundated with enquiries
from their home news desks about his revelations. Duranty then took
it upon himself to deny there was a terrible famine situation in Russia,
and, following this, his notorious article was published in The New
York Times condemning Gareth Jones for falsifying the news. Lyons
wrote, “Poor Gareth Jones must have been the most surprised human being
alive when the facts he so painstakingly garnered from our mouths were
snowed under by our denials.”
to this insult of Jones by the foreign correspondents in Moscow,
the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maxim Litvinov sent a special
cable via their London Embassy to David Lloyd George banning Gareth Jones
(who was a former adviser on foreign affairs to the ex-Prime Minister)
from ever returning to the Soviet Union, and accusing him of espionage.
This was an utter disappointment to Jones, as he had spent his whole
academic career in Cambridge University studying the history and
literature as well as the language of Russia, in which he was fluent.
It had always been his particular wish to visit Ukraine where his mother
had spent three years in her youth, employed as a tutor in the 1890s.
return to Walter Duranty, The New York Times published Gareth
Jones’ letter of reply on May 13th 1933, in which he stood by his
I went in the Russian villages I heard the cry; “There is no bread, we
are dying,” and that there was famine in the Soviet Union, menacing the
lives of millions of people.
evidence was based on conversations with peasants who had migrated into
the towns from various parts of Russia. Peasants from the richest
[most fertile] parts of Russia were coming into the towns for bread. Their
story of the deaths in their villages from starvation, of the death of the
greater part of their cattle and horses and each conversation corroborated
the previous one…I talked with hundreds of peasants who were not the
“kulaks” - those mythical scapegoats for the hunger in Russia - but
ordinary peasants. I talked with them alone in Russian and jotted
down their conversations, which were an unanswerable indictment of Soviet
agricultural policy. The peasants said emphatically that the famine
was worse than in 1921 and that fellow-villagers were dying.”
ended his letter stingingly: “May I in conclusion congratulate the
Soviet Foreign Office on its skill in concealing the true situation in the
is not Russia, and the sight of well-fed people there tends to hide the
in another letter, to the Editor of the Soviet-sympathetic Manchester
Guardian, which was published on the 8th May
1933, he stated:
hope that fellow-Liberals who boil at any injustices in Germany or Italy
or Poland will just express one word of sympathy with the millions of
peasants who are the victims of persecution and famine in the Soviet
Jones truthful and independent reporting of the Soviet Union covered the
last three years of Stalin’s Five-Year Plan. He knew the Soviet Union
well, and had first visited the country in 1930. He wrote his first
three articles in the London Times in October 1930, entitled the Two
Russias, and in April 1931, wrote five more articles for The
Western Mail (Cardiff) describing the predicament of the Soviet
peasants. He visited the Soviet Union again in 1931 with Jack Heinz
II, who wrote an anonymous book based on Gareth Jones’ diaries entitled Experiences
in Russia – 1931: A Diary which describes in detail the suffering of
the Soviet peasants in Russia and Ukraine. Gareth Jones later wrote
a second series of articles in the London Times in October 1931,
recalling his particular impressions of the terrible treatment of the
kulaks. Further articles in anticipation of massive starvation
during the coming winter were printed in The Western Mail (Cardiff)
in October 1932 entitled “Will There be Soup?” Today, the fact
that Jones was writing about the Soviet Union during these years has
almost been completely forgotten.
his treatment by the pro-Soviet propagandists the courageous Gareth Jones
never wavered from his quest to expose the horrendous truth of the famine,
despite the onslaught of his antagonists. From Berlin in late March
1933, he wrote a personal letter to his former employer, David Lloyd
George stating: “The situation is so grave, so much worse than in 1921
that I am amazed at your admiration for Stalin.”
Jones’ honest reporting on the Soviet Union probably had a direct
bearing on his tragic death two years later. In the spring of 1935,
having interviewed eminent Japanese politicians and generals, who were
influencing world events in the Far East, Gareth Jones went ‘In
Search of News’[i]
in the northern reaches of China with the express ambition of ‘seeing
what the Japanese were up to’ in their newly colonised province of
Manchukuo. Sadly, he never reached his ultimate destination, as he
was captured by bandits, held for a ransom of 100,000 Mexican dollars, and
then murdered after 16 days in captivity. These bandits had been
controlled and coerced by the Japanese military, which was holding their
families to ransom.
Japanese were well aware that Gareth Jones would return to the Occident
and expose to the world their ambitions of territorial expansion
throughout the Far East in the same fearless manner as he previously
uncovered the Soviet famine in 1933.
to his untimely death Gareth Jones appears to have been forgotten by so
many today, except in Ukraine, where he is called the ‘Unsung Hero’.
conclusion, I would like to reiterate that the Pulitzer
Prize should be revoked from Walter Duranty, not just for his
falsification of Stalin’s ruthless execution of the Five-Year Plan of
Collectivisation, but also for his complete disregard for journalistic
integrity. Through abusing his position of authority as The New York
Times’ reporter in the Soviet Union, he villainously and publicly
denigrated the truthful articles of my uncle, and ashamedly did so, whilst
being fully aware of the on-going famine.
if you were seeking a means of restoring the international prestige
of the Pulitzer Prize, then you ought to consider bestowing the award
posthumously to Gareth Jones for his valiant and truthful international
exposure of the Soviet genocide-famine of 1933, and in doing so help
commemorate all the defenceless victims of Stalin’s inhumanity.
Margaret Siriol Colley (niece).
Linsan Colley (great nephew).