Gareth Jones

[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]



Stop Press


Complete Soviet Articles & Background Information


Précis of Gareth's Soviet Famine Articles


All Published Articles




Tell Them We Are Starving




Eyewitness to the Holodomor



More Than Grain of Truth



Manchukuo Incident





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


Gareth Recognised at Cambridge - Nov 2009


Reporter and the Genocide - Rome, March 2009


Order of Freedom Award -Nov 2008


Premiere of 'The Living' Documentary Kyiv - Nov 2008


Gareth Jones 'Famine' Diaries - Chicago 2008


Aberystwyth Memorial Plaque 2006





Scholarship Fund


Site Map




Legal Notices


Sponsored Links



The Daily Express, April 7th, 1933 Page 11



- - - 

Frosty Vigil Lasts all night

Black Bread 2s. per Slice

Bands of Homeless Children

- - -

By Gareth Jones

“Three hundred homeless boys were herded to be taken away.  One of them lay on the floor, his face red with fever.  Typhus…”

In this dramatic article Mr. Gareth Jones, who was until recently Mr. Lloyd George’s special foreign adviser, is writing these remarkable articles exclusively for the Daily Express.


IN 1930 I saw Kharkoff, the capital of the Ukraine, from the air.  A mast of scaffolding towered in the centre of the city, where there was to rise a range of skyscrapers.  I could see thousands of men like ants hurry-scurrying here and there. The Soviets were building. 

In 1931 I again saw Kharkoff.  The new houses and streets impressed me.  There was a spirit of adventurous construction among many of the young workers.  They were putting up at gigantic speed the vast tractor works.  “We’ll beat America,’’ they cried. 

In 1933 I have again seen Kharkoff.  It is no longer the city of 1930, when the skyscraper was the symbol of a happy future.  The spirit of adventure of 1931 has disappeared.  The cry, "We‘ll beat America" is muffled. 

I splashed my way through the streets.  The early Russian thaw had suddenly come and streams of water from the snow of yesterday poured along the gutters and formed pools in the middle of the road.  The houses now looked dilapidated, as if no one cared for them.  Many of the new constructions were lying idle. 

"They have been abandoned on account of financial difficulties an expert told me.  A heap of stone for building stood at the side of the road.  When I felt the stone it crumbled slightly between my fingers.  I went into one of the houses and examined the building work.  The bricks, which were themselves good, had great gaps and only a minimum of mortar between each other.  On the opposite side of the road a church had been blown up and men were busy shovelling the masonry and carting it away.  I heard later that for a long time the workers had refused to work on the site of the destroyed church.  “It is haunted,” they said.  Peasant children seated on doorsteps shouted at me as I passed, “Uncle, give me some kopeks (or bread).” 


Numbers of Ogpu soldiers with theirs green lapels passed by.  They are the land Ogpu, who control the countryside and are hated like the plague by the peasants.  Before long I heard people shout and quarrel and turning the corner I saw what was happening.  Outside a bread shop the windows of which had been battered in, and were now boarded with planks, a hundred ragged people were crying: “ We want bread.” 

Two Soviet policemen were keeping the people away front the doors and replying: “There is no bread, and there will be no bread to-day.”  There was an outburst of anger.  The queue lost its form and the mass of women  and peasants and workers surrounded the policemen.  “But citizens, there is no bread.  Do not blame me,” cried in despair.  I went up to a man in the queue.  “How long have you been standing here?”  “This is the second day,” he replied.  The crowd would not disperse.  There always remained a forlorn hope that a wagon of bread might suddenly turn up from the blue. 

Some of the bread queues in Kharkoff number from four thousands to seven thousands people.  They begin it to assemble at about three or four o’clock in the afternoon and stand all night in the bitter Russian frost for opening of the shop at seven o’clock in the morning.  


No wonder I thought as I made my way to market.  This bitterness expresses itself in those biting witticisms with which the Russians try to laugh away their sorrows.  In Kharkoff I heard the following: A louse and a pig a meet on the frontier of the Soviet Union.  The louse is going into Russia, while the pig a leaving.

“Why are you coming into Russia?” The pig asks

“I am coming,” because in Germany people are so clean that I cannot find a single place to rest, my head so I am entering the Soviet Union.  But why are you leaving Russia? 

The. pig answers: “In Russia to-day people are eating what we pigs used to eat.  So there is nothing left for me, and I’m saying good-bye.” 

The market provides me with a proof of the truth of this allegory. 

Ragged and diseased people loiter about the booths.  A boy is selling two slices of doughy black bread, which he holds in his band.  “One rouble each,” he says.  That means nominally 2s. for a slice of bread. 

I do not forget, however, that millions of people can get their small supply of bread at a very low price at the co-operative shops, provided they have bread-cards.  The peasant beggars, whom one cannot avoid in Russia, are here in scores.  Private traders, regarded by the Government as the scum of the earth, sell trinkets and odds-and-ends of clothing.  One of them, with a hooked nose, a swarthy complexion and black hair, is doing a slow trade in long, plaited locks of hair. 

“I am a Turk,” he said, “a refugee after the war but now I am doomed.  I am a private trader.  I get no bread card.  I have no rights.  I am taxed out of existence.  I just hang on to my life and that’s about all.” 

As I walk through the market I notice one group of people in the open, who sell home-made towels and clothes, some of which are decorated with artistic designs.  A drunken peasant reels and totters, laughing loudly-an example of the dangers of vodka upon an empty stomach. 

Near by a little gipsy girl, about eight years of age, is singing a tzigane song with all the dramatic emotion of an operatic contralto.  After each song she bows.  “Uncle, give me a rouble”.  I see another long queue, with its incessant bickering.  At least a thousand people stand for bread, which is being sold at a high price.  A highly-strung woman seeing that I am a foreigner snarls at me: “You see how fine it is here”. 

But the feature of the market which strikes me most is the number of ragged, homeless boys, in so-called “bezprizorny.”  With the foulest of rags and the most depraved of faces, they hover about.  In 1930 I saw few of these homeless boys.  The Soviet Government had made a gallant fight to remove the swarms of ruffians who were the legacy of the civil war.  In 1931 I saw still fewer, although they would sometimes shout in stations to passengers: “Give us cigarettes.” 

In 1933 I have seen the resurgence of the homeless boys.  They wander about the streets of the towns.  I have seen some being captured by the police and taken away.  When I left Kharkoff it was the homeless boys who remained as the last and deepest impression. 

In the station waiting-room three hundred of them were herded to be take away.  I peeped through the window.  One of them near the window lay on the floor, his face red with fever and breathing heavily, with his mouth open.  “Typhus,” said another man, who was looking at them.  Another lay in rags stretched on the ground, with part of his body uncovered, revealing dried up flesh and thin arms. 


I turned away and entered the train for Moscow.  In the corridor stood little girl.  She was well dressed.  Her cheeks were rosy.  She held a toy in one hand and a piece of cake in the other.  She was probably the daughter of a Communist Party member or of an engineer. 

In 1930 there were class differences.  In 1931 they were as great as ever.  In 1933 they are one of the most striking features of the Soviet Union.  These children are not the relics of the civil war.  They are the homeless children of hunger, most of them turned out from their homes to fend for themselves because the peasants have no bread. 

The train rolled on to Moscow.

To see a PDF facsimile of the above please CLICK HERE


Top of Page




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