Gareth Jones

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TIME Magazine (U.S.A.). April 10,1933


- - -

Crusts on the Floor

Gareth Jones, a serious young man with glasses, arrived in Berlin last week after a three-week tour of the Ukraine. He had a dreadful tale to tell, and Berlin correspondents listened politely because serious Mr. Jones was once a private secretary to David Lloyd George and before making his trip to the Ukraine he spent many a long hour learning to speak Russian - far more fluently than most Russian correspondents.  Said he:

“I walked through the country visiting villages and investigating twelve collective farms.  Everywhere I heard the cry: ‘There is  no bread, we are dying!’ This cry is rising from all of Russia from the Volga district, from Siberia from White Russia from Central Asia and from the Ukraine black dirt country.

“Most officials deny any famine exists, but a few minutes following one such denial in a train I chanced to throw away a stale piece of my private supply of bread.  Like a shot a peasant dived to the floor grabbed the crust and devoured it.  The same performance was repeated later with an orange peel.  Even transport and G.P.U. officers warned me against travelling over the countryside at night because of the numbers of starving, desperate men . . .  A foreign expert who returned from Kazakstan told me that 1,000,000 of the 5,000,000 of inhabitants there have died of hunger. 

 “After Dictator Josef V. Stalin the starving Russians most hate George Bernard Shaw for his accounts of their plentiful food . . . There is insufficient feed and many peasants are too weak to work on the land and the future prospect seems blacker than the present. The peasants no longer trust their government and the change in the taxation policy came too late."

A rebuttal was promptly presented by Walter Duranty, a U.S. correspondent long in Soviet good graces, but it was a rebuttal of much mildness.

"The number of times foreigners, especially Britons have shaken rueful heads as they composed the Soviet Union’s epitaph can scarcely be computed This not to mention a more regrettable incident of three years ago when an American correspondent discovered half the Ukraine flaming with rebellion and proved it by authentic documents eagerly proffered by Rumanians. . . 

“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 wide is mortality from diseases due to malnutrition . . . In every Russian village food conditions will improve henceforth, but that will not answer one really vital question - What about the coming grain crop upon that depends not the future of the Soviet power which cannot and will not be smashed, but the future policy of the Kremlin.


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