[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
Mr. Bill Keller
New York Times
New York, NY 10036
4 December 2003
Gareth Jones – A Solitary Voice Crying in the Wilderness
Surely, you must now agree that on 31 March 1933, your Moscow correspondent, Walter Duranty, denigrated my uncle, Gareth Jones, when he wrote:
Since I talked with Mr. Jones I have made exhaustive inquiries about this alleged famine situation...There is no actual starvation or death from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.
My uncle was a fluent Russian linguist from Cambridge University and an experienced Foreign Affairs Advisor to former British Prime Minister, Lloyd George. After three independent visits into the off-beaten track of the Soviet Union in 1930 and 1931, as well as in 1933, his published articles, for the London Times, The Daily Express and Cardiff Western Mail, still arguably represent the most truthful contemporary reporting of the Five-Year-Plan.
Even your readers benefited from his poignant insights, when on 13 May 1933, your paper published Jones’ incisive understanding of the Soviet influences exerted upon your correspondent:
The censors have turned the [Moscow] journalists into masters of euphemism and understatement and hence they gave “famine” the polite name of “food shortage” and “starving to death” was softened to read as “widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition”.
Yet, disgracefully, Duranty, bolstered by the huge prestige of his recently awarded Pulitzer, clearly violated his duly expected responsibility to provide trustworthy reporting, for which your esteemed paper amply paid him. By effectively silencing Jones’ sole voice of despair, Duranty was irrefutably guilty of facilitating Stalin’s inhumanity. By association, you must readily appreciate that your paper is tarnished by this same historical ‘airbrush’.
many as ten million Ukrainians became innocent victims of Stalin’s enforced
famine-genocide, a story that began to unfold as early as 1930, when Jones first
forewarned of an inevitable course of starvation, death and destruction. [FYI
- Evidence of Gareth Jones’ 1930 predictions of an imminent famine was sent on
24 October, 2003, by airmail to your Publisher, Mr. Sulzberger, Jr.
It is noted that my letter has so far not been acknowledged.]
In October 2003, I personally airmailed each individual member of the current Pulitzer committee requesting that they consider in their deliberations, the unbiased reporting of my uncle, but, to date, I have received not a single reply. This makes me seriously doubt their sincerity in every aspect of their role in this brutal atrocity.
The original 1932 Pulitzer Committee declared that Duranty’s prize winning articles were an “intimate comprehension of conditions”. Incredibly, he did not visit one single collective farm or one factory, and never once ventured outside of Moscow for his Soviet reporting, throughout the whole year in question. This will always remain a very sad indictment upon the prestige of these awards and upon the journalistic standards of your paper.
To add insult to injury, your Publisher recently wrote to the Pulitzer Committee (coincidentally, the current Co-Chair of which is William Safire, who happens to be one of his own employees) expressing his concerns regarding the possible airbrushing of Duranty out of history. Perhaps, he should have considered if Duranty ever warranted being worthy given such a ‘prestigious’ award in the first place!
Jones, on the other hand, was literally ‘airbrushed’ out of existence in the true Stalinist meaning of the word. By courageously exposing the horrific truth of this Famine, Jones paid the ultimate price. In August 1935, just seven months after repeating his original famine reports within a series of articles for Hearst’s New York American, Jones was kidnapped and murdered by politically-controlled bandits in Inner Mongolia. Nevertheless, his conscience still stands above all others.
Until your paper bows to reason and returns Duranty’s (allegedly lost) Prize, you can rest assured that Jones’ ghost (and those of countless Ukrainian victims) will continue to haunt your Publisher’s ill-considered support of your former correspondent’s undeniably shoddy reporting and unforgivable deceit.
In any event, it is within your remit to rightfully, though belatedly, publish a public and posthumous apology to the true Liberal hero of this story, Gareth Jones. This, to every fair-minded person, is the only way to undo some of the wrong that was metered out to a truthful and honest man; who, had he lived, should have been applauded as one of the twentieth century’s most astute journalists.
Margaret Siriol Colley
M. B., Ch.B., D.R.C.O.G..
Jones Commemorative Website: http://www.garethjones.org/
C.C. Mr A. O. Sulzberger Jr., New York Times Publisher.
Mr D. Okrent, New York Times Public Editor.
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