Gareth Jones

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Tell Them We Are Starving




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'Are you Listening NYT?'  U.N. Speech - Nov 2009


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Reporter and the Genocide - Rome, March 2009


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Gareth Jones 'Famine' Diaries - Chicago 2008


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Holodomor Conference Speech on Gareth Jones

by Dr. Margaret Siriol Colley

The Man-Made Great Famine in Ukraine of 1932-1933 (Holodomor)

at the Harriman Institute, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York.

on Monday 10th November 2003


Gareth Jones - A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

"For almost 70 years, my uncle, Gareth Jones, the first named journalist to expose the 1932-33 famine genocide has been conveniently ‘airbrushed’ out of history, by being the first and main casualty in the politics of acknowledgement of the Holodomor.

His only crime was his journalistic pursuit of the truth. Sticking his head above the parapet, he refused to be silenced, on righting the moral injustices of the Soviet famine, which from first hand knowledge, he clearly knew to be true. Tragically, he paid the same ultimate price as many others who displeased the Stalinist regime.

Gareth Jones was kidnapped and murdered under mysterious circumstances by bandits in North China, just over six months after his last series of articles for Randolph Hearst in 1935, where he again, repeated his famine observations of March 1933.

You may ask who was Gareth Jones? Well, he was born in 1905 in Barry, South Wales, and educated first, in his father’s school, and then afterwards he attained two first class degrees, at the Universities of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Trinity College, Cambridge in French, German, and Russian.

In 1930, he became a foreign affairs advisor to Former Wartime Prime Minister David Lloyd George and first visited Russia and Ukraine in August 1930 . On leaving Moscow, on August 26th 1930 he wrote to his parents from Berlin:

I should like to quote a few passages from his letter:

‘Hurray! It is wonderful to be in Germany again, absolutely wonderful. Russia is in a very bad state; rotten, no food, only bread; oppression, injustice, misery among the workers and 90% discontented The winter is going to be one of great suffering there and there is starvation. The government is the most brutal in the world. This year thousands and thousands of the best men in Russia have been sent to Siberia and the prison island of Solovki. In the Donetz Basin conditions are unbearable. Many Russians are too weak to work.'

One should note that the convention of the time meant that the word “Russia’, was used in the West to describe all parts of the Soviet Union.

On his return to Britain, he was summoned to David Lloyd George’s country home in Churt where he met Lord Lothian. Lothian impressed with Gareth’s diary notes, introduced him to the editor the London Times, who subsequently published three unsigned articles entitled the 'Real Russia’.

Gareth wrote:

“The success of the Five-Year Plan would strengthen the hands of the Communists throughout the world. It might make the twentieth century a century of strugg1e between Capitalism and Communism.”

Soon after Gareth’s return from the Soviet Union, Ivy Lee of Wall Street, New York, the then renowned Public Relations Advisor to big business, engaged Gareth Jones’ services, especially for his in-depth knowledge of the Soviet Union.

Gareth arrived in New York in May 1931, and shortly after his arrival, he was invited to accompany a young Jack Heinz II, of Heinz Ketchup fame for an extensive six weeks tour of Russia and Ukraine in the late summer.

Gareth had kept a very extensive diary of their visit, which Jack Heinz later transcribed into a small book, entitled “Experiences in Russia – 1931: A Diary” -- in which Gareth wrote the foreword:

“With knowledge of Russia and the Russian language, it was possible to get off the beaten path, to talk with grimy workers and rough peasants, as well as such leaders as Lenin’s widow and Karl Radek. We visited vast engineering projects and factories, slept on the bug-infested floors of peasants’ huts, shared black bread and cabbage soup with the villagers - in short, got into direct touch with the Russian people in their struggle for existence and were thus able to test their reactions to the Soviet Government’s dramatic moves.:

Time does not permit me to quote from the book, but there are several references to starvation and deaths where “peasants had been sent away in thousands to starve”

After a year in the employ of Ivy Lee and due the fact that the United States was suffering from severe financial depression., Gareth returned to David Lloyd George for another year and unbeknown to many, he assisted the former wartime prime minister in writing his War Memoirs.

In London, in the September of 1932, Gareth learnt through several informed sources, including Malcolm Muggeridge, of reports emanating from Moscow, of a severe famine crisis in the Soviet Union. Professor Jules Menken (of the London School of Economics), an eminent economist of the time, told Gareth that he “dreaded this winter, when he thought millions would die of hunger and finally stated that “There was already famine in Ukraine.”

In light of this information on the 15th and 17th of October, Gareth wrote two prophetic articles published in the Cardiff Western Mail entitled: “Will There be Soup?” where he painted a very bleak picture of the coming Soviet winter.

Before returning to the Soviet Union, on February 23rd, Gareth through his connections with Lloyd George, became the first foreign journalist to be invited to fly with Adolf Hitler to a Frankfurt rally, just four days before the burning of the Reichstag, and he wrote in the Western Mail:

“If this aeroplane should crash the whole history of Europe would be changed. For a few feet away sits Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany and leader of the most volcanic nationalist awakening which the world has seen.”

Before leaving Germany he wrote in the Western Mail: "The Europe of 1933 has seen the birth of the Hitler dictatorship in Germany. What will it see in the Soviet Union?" Then, on the first of March 1933, with his usual frenetic lifestyle Gareth was in Moscow, where he embarked on a tour of Ukraine

On his way to Kharkoff, he narrowly escaped being arrested at a small railway station when he entered into conversation with some peasants. They were bewailing their hunger to him, and were gathering as a crowd, all murmuring, “There is no bread,” when a militiaman appeared. “Stop that growling,” he had shouted to the peasants; while to Gareth he said, “Come along; where are your documents?” An O.G.P.U. (secret police) man appeared from nowhere, and he was submitted to a thorough grueling of questions. After his fate had been decided the fortunate Gareth was allowed to proceed on his way.

He had piled his rucksack with many loaves of white bread, with butter, cheese, meat and chocolate, which he had bought at the foreign currency stores. Gareth believed that, “To see Russia one must travel “hard class,” and go by a slow train. Those tourists who travel “soft class.” and by express trains, get only impression, and do not see the real Russia.”

Gareth was later to write in The Daily Express in April 1933:

“In every little station the train stopped, and during one of these halts a man came up to me and whispered in German: “Tell them in England that we are starving, and that we are getting swollen.”

In one of the peasant’s cottages in which I stayed we slept nine in the room. It was pitiful to see that two out of the three children had swollen stomachs. All there was to eat in the hut was a very dirty watery soup, with a slice or two of potato, which all the family including myself, ate from a common bowl with wooden spoons.

Fear of death loomed over the cottage, for they had not enough potatoes to last until the next crop. When I shared my white bread and butter and cheese one of the peasant women said, “Now I have eaten such wonderful things, I can die happy.” I set forth again further towards the south and heard the villagers say, “We are waiting for death.” Many also said, “It is terrible here and many are dying, but further south it is much worse. “

On March 29th 1933, in Berlin, immediately on Gareth’s return from the Soviet Union, he issued a press release, which the 1931 Pulitzer Prize winner, H. R. Knickerbocker reported through the New York Evening Post Foreign Service.

Similar statements then appeared in the British press including the then Soviet–sympathetic Manchester Guardian, which quoted Gareth: “I walked alone through villages and twelve collective farms. Everywhere was the cry, “There is no bread; we are dying.”

Knickerbocker commented that:

“the Jones report, because of his position, because of his reputation for reliability and impartiality and because he was the only first-hand observer who had visited the Russian countryside since it was officially closed to foreigners, was bound to receive widespread attention in official England as well as among the public of the country.”
On March 31st, Walter Duranty made his outrageous and prompt rebuttal to Gareth’s press release:

“Since I talked with Mr. Jones I have made exhaustive inquiries about this alleged famine situation. . . . There is serious food shortage throughout the country with occasional cases of well-managed state or collective farms. The big cities and the army are adequately supplied with food. There is no actual starvation or death from starvation, but there is widespread is mortality from diseases due to malnutrition . . .”

“But - to put it brutally - you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”

Gareth immediately on his return to Britain wrote at least 20 articles. In fact over the previous four years he had published between forty to fifty articles in Britain, the USA and other countries.

The New York Times on May 13th, 1933, printed a letter of reply from ‘Mr. Jones’ to Walter Duranty’s article of March 31st, in which Gareth said:

“he stood by his statement that the Soviet Union was suffering from a severe famine. The censors had turned the 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”.”

Countering Walter Duranty’s rebuttal in the New York Times, Gareth Jones: "concluded by congratulating the Soviet Foreign Office on its skill in concealing the true situation in the U.S.S.R.. Moscow is not Russia, and the sight of well-fed people there, tends to hide the real Russia.”

On May 8th 1933, Gareth wrote a long letter to the Editor of the Manchester Guardian in support Muggeridge’ series, of three articles in which he concluded:

‘I hope fellow liberals, who boil at any injustices in Germany, or Italy, or Poland ,will express just one word of sympathy, with the millions of peasants, who are the victims of persecution and famine, in the Soviet Union’

After Gareth’s visit to the Soviet Union in 1933, he was banned from returning. In a letter to a friend he wrote:

“Alas! You will be very amused to hear that the inoffensive little 'Joneski' has achieved the dignity of being a marked man on the black list of the O.G.P.U. and is barred from entering the Soviet Union. I hear that there is a long list of crimes which I have committed under my name in the secret police file in Moscow and funnily enough espionage is said to be among them. As a matter of fact Litvinoff [the Soviet Foreign Minister] sent a special cable from Moscow, to the Soviet Embassy in London, to tell them to make the strongest of complaints to Mr. Lloyd George about me.”
Whilst working at The Western Mail and unable to return to the Soviet Union, Gareth gave many public lectures entitled: “The Enigma of Bolshevik Russia” throughout Britain and Ireland in 1933, and then across the United States in late 1934.

In October 1934, after one year in the 'wilderness', Gareth embarked on a ‘World Wide Fact-Finding Tour’, with his eventual destination to be Manchukuo. – otherwise known as Japanese controlled Manchuria. He wanted to find out what the Japanese were intending to do, in the light of their desire to expand territorially.

Following an earlier interview with Randolph Hearst in Wales, during the previous July, Gareth was invited to be a guest at St Simeon’s, Hearst’s American Estate on 1st January 1935. Here he was commissioned to write a series articles for Hearst’s New York American. These were printed on January 12th and 13th 1935, in which he was given a further platform to reassert his previous 1933 observations of famine in Ukraine:

Leaving the States on January 18th, he spent 6 weeks in Japan where he interviewed a number of very influential politicians, one being General Araki Sadao, who had designs on expanding northwards into Soviet Siberia.

After traveling extensively around the Pacific basin, Gareth had some transport laid at his disposal for an extensive trip into the wilds of Inner Mongolia by the German Wostwag Company - now known to be a trading front for the OGPU.

On his journey, he discovered a Chinese town that had been newly infiltrated by the Japanese and where troops were massing. Apprehended for a number of hours he and his German companion, were advised to take one of three routes back to the town of Kalgan. One was safe and the others infested by bad bandits. Despite taking the recommended route, they were both captured two days later, His companion was released, but Gareth was held for £8,000 ransom, but tragically, he was killed on August 12th 1935, after 14 days in captivity, and on the eve of his thirtieth birthday.

Paul Scheffer, the well-respected Editor-in-Chief of the non-Nazi Berliner Tageblatt – and who was previously, the first journalist banned by the Soviets in 1929 for his negative reporting of the Five-Year Plan - and who was a close friend of Gareth’s, wrote a front page editorial on August 16th 1935:

“The number of journalists with Gareth Jones initiative, and style, is nowadays, throughout the world, quickly falling, and, for this reason, the tragic death of this splendid man is a particularly big loss. The International Press is abandoning its colours - in some countries more quickly than in others - but it is a fact. Instead of independent minds, inspired by genuine feeling, there appear more and more men of routine, crippled journalists of widely different stamp who shoot from behind safe cover, and thereby sacrifice their consciences. The causes of this tendency are many. Today is not the time to speak of them."

For almost 70 years Gareth’s articles have been almost, but not quite forgotten... And now is the time to speak…

This year, the honest and truthful reporting of my uncle, has at last been rediscovered and vindicated for its original accuracy, over his 1933 public spat with Walter Duranty, within the columns of the New York Times.

Nevertheless, it is fitting, that here at Columbia University, the home of excellence for American journalism, that Gareth’s ghost has come back to haunt those who stopped at nothing, to silence his conscience.

And to end, I would like to thank you, Professor Von Hagen, for the honour of speaking at this prestigious platform, which to has allowed me to finally put my uncle’s soul to rest – by recognising at this conference, his courageous role, in one of the greatest barbaric episodes in humanity…"

One final word, I would like to point out that the Welsh are not English. Like Ukraine; we were somewhat of an oppressed minority and would would like to think that Gareth Jones, who very much appreciated his Welsh ancestry took added pleasure in helping the Ukrainians.

[Speech written by Nigel Linsan Colley; with additional contributions from Margaret Siriol Colley, Russ and Karen Chelak in Morristown, New Jersey on Sunday 9th November 2003] 


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