[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
Gareth Jones' 1933 Moscow Interview Notes with a Soviet Offical Denying the Existence of Any Famine?
In March 1933, Gareth was afforded some prestigeous interviews with several high-ranking Soviet officials in Moscow (before and after his off-limits trek to Ukraine ). These including amongst others; Finance Commisaar Grinko, Foreign Commissar Litvinov and the then Vice-Commissars for Education & also Light Industry (one of whom's name may have been, Lidin).
On the evening of the 8th March 1933, directly after a meeting with Karl Radek, editor of the Communist party newspaper Isvestia, Gareth's diary entry details an interview he had with an offical whose surname codedly began with the letter; 'L' in which they discussed the new found-freedom of Soviet playwrights to write without any state censorship.
Gareth as was he wont, 'subtly' broaches the subject of famine in the villages, asking 'L' if playwrights would be freely allowed to write about the current famine in the villages... To which Gareth was given a robust & forthright denial that any famine conditions existed in the Soviet Union , which probably represents one of the highest levels of political refutations at the time.
Two further points of interest stemming from this interview is that upon ‘L''s reply. Firstly, directly after the denial, Gareth wrote the single word; ‘Prevarication' to note the official's evasion of the truth. Secondly, Gareth being an erudite scholar of literature made a reference for himself; ‘See Hamlet'.
In researching the possible significance of Gareth's Shakespearean reference, it has been discovered that Hamlet was effectively banned by Stalin at the height of the Holodomor and never played again until after his death.
Furthermore, in the very first 1603 quarto of the well-known, ‘ To be or not to be ' soliloquy, Shakespeare wrote " the taste of hunger or a tyrant's reign, And thousand more calamities besides …" Though not a classical scholar myself, I wonder whether this particular sentence relating to famine may have some bearing upon Stalin, a former poet in his distaste for the ‘Scottish Play'?
Below is a legible image of the salient part of Gareth's interview, with a transcription and notes:
"Give us books for new readers, true books, with living truth".2
GJ [Gareth Jones]:
“ [which] Would describe famine in
L [itvinov]: “Well,
there is no famine.”
L: “Well, a gun would shoot shell far. You must take a longer view. The present hunger is temporary. In writing books you must have a longer view. It would be difficult to describe hunger.”
See Hamlet 4
Great respect for:
There are a few party writers.
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Footnotes & Personal Interpretation
Finally, if you have an opinion on the above critique or even my considered transcription of Gareth's hand-writing, then please email me, Nigel Colley with your constructive thoughts, which I will be glad to consider including on this page...
For further pages from Gareth's dairies relating to the Holodomor please click HERE
Original Research, Content & Site Design by Nigel Linsan Colley. Copyright © 2001-17 All Rights Reserved Original document transcriptions by M.S. Colley.Click here for Legal Notices. For all further details email: Nigel Colley or Tel: (+44) 0796 303 8888