Gareth Jones

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“Gareth Jones Murdered - Shot by his Kidnappers”.

(Article by Paul Scheffer - Editor in Chief)
Translated from the BERLINER TAGEBLATT -
Friday, August 16th, 1935, Evening Edition - Front Page Editorial
Saturday, August 17th, 1935  Morning Edition - Page 4

The reader will find in this edition the news that Gareth Jones, who for 18 days had been in the hands of bandits on the Mongolian frontier, has been shot by his kidnappers.  Kidnapping is a common form of crime throughout China; it is not limited to the wild and politically disorganised districts on the Mongolian and Manchurian frontiers.  But usually it is (as in a much discussed case at Shanghai) a matter of thieving and not of openly seizing the human person.  In this case however, the car in which Gareth Jones and Dr. Mueller were travelling was held up by a regular cannonade and robbed of everything. 

Dr Mueller returned - released as an intermediary.  There then followed some very obscure negotiations.  The bandits first reduced their demand for £8,000 and agreed upon a smaller sum but the money offered was not collected.  Why is not clear.  In regard to this it must be remarked that most of the money would have to be paid by the Governor of the Province. Afterwards we were told Jones was handed over to another band.  The Japanese Military Attaché went to the “General" of the Peace Corps to which the bandits “formerly” belonged. This was reported in our morning edition.  But when the Attaché reprimanded General Tschang  and the latter declared he would do all he could towards securing Jones' release the unfortunate man was already dead. 

Fear seized the bandits.  Was this due to the presence of Japanese so close to the Mongolian frontier?  So was Jones a victim, of the fact that whereas the power of the new masters was imposing enough to cause the bandits to renounce the 80,000 dollars it was not imposing enough to compel the liberation of the unfortunate captive? His end lies in the obscurity of the historic changes spreading over those immense territories. 

Another power was involved in this tragedy - England.  Gareth Jones told the bandits after his capture that he was an Englishman and what they must not dare touch him.  He was thereupon manhandled.  He was murdered although the murderers knew who he was and although it was formerly even in China true that the Englishman in most cases, was sacrosanct. That outlook has changed during the last decade - especially in the districts adjacent to Soviet territory.  The incident is nevertheless stupid and at time we know of no other case in which an Englishman was deliberately murdered through kidnapping.  Without a doubt certain silently introduced changes in English protective measures plays a part in the matter and also the defensive situation thereby created in the Far East. 

In these general reflections over the security of white men in distant lands, we do not forget Gareth Jones himself.  He was a born Journalist, an ornament of his much maligned and, in its essence and obligations, much misunderstood, profession. He was modest, clever, indefatigable and above all, honourable.  He was, without saying too much thereon, an enthusiastic English patriot.  He was a journalist because he was always receptive to new ideas, never failed in their analyses and in the urge to report on them in the light of his own direct impressions, fully and truthfully.  Through his articles on the “Soviet Union” in The Times, which did not appear under his own name, he immediately, though quite a young man, made a name for himself.  He did not succumb to routine.  He worked indefatigably in order to widen his outlook. He knew that without a wide outlook it is impossible to segregate and analyse impressions and to display them in all their dimensions. He regarded himself as one in the making, and never abandoned this view. He had that flair which makes the journalist. 

He developed himself on a definite system - by accepting promotion and then, after securing the gain, undertaking travels which he financed by writing articles for newspapers in different countries. During the last world tour for instance (for which he had worked for two years) he wrote for the “Berliner Tageblatt”. Jones then did editorial work for a provincial newspaper in his native Wales, thence accepting a new appointment in London. He thus was learning and simultaneously working as a Journalist without binding himself too early. 

The number of journalists with his 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.


Original German:

"Die Zahl der Publizisten seines Entwicklungsdranges, seines Stiles nimmt in der ganzen Welt gegenwärtig schnell ab, und darum ist der tragische Tod dieses vortrefflichen Mannes ein besonders grosser Verlust. Der Internationale Presse entfärbt sich, in manchen Ländern schneller, in anderen langsamer, aber es ist eine Tatsache. An die Stelle der selbständigen, von einem echten Gefühl, für ihre Aufgabe getragenen Köpfe treten immer mehr Routiniers, Krippenjournalisten oder sogar Revolverexistenzen der verschiedensten Ausprägung, die aus mehr oder weniger sicherer Deckung schiessen und daraus ihr Selbstbewusstsein schöpfen. Der Grunde für diese Entwicklung sind viele. Heute soll davon nicht die Rede sein."


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