Gareth Jones

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Evening Post Foreign Service New York 1933

Famine grips Russia Millions Dying. Idle on Rise, Says Briton

Gareth Jones, Lloyd George Aid, Reports Devastation


  Asserts Reds Arrest British to Check Public Wrath-Peasants. “Wait for Death”

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BERLIN, March. 29th , - Russia today is in the grip of a famine which is proving as disastrous as the catastrophe of 1921 when millions died, reported Gareth Jones, Foreign Affairs secretary to former Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Great Britain, who arrived in Berlin this morning en route to London after a long walking tour through the Ukraine and other districts in the Soviet Union.

  Mr. Jones, who speaks Russian fluently, is the first foreigner to visit the Russian countryside since the Moscow authorities forbade foreign correspondents to leave the city.  His report, which he will deliver to the Royal Institute of International Affairs tomorrow, explains the reason for this prohibition.  Famine on a colossal scale, impending death of millions From hunger, murderous terror and the beginnings of serious unemployment in a land that had hitherto prided itself on the fact that every man had a job - this is the summary of Mr. Jones’s first-hand observations.

 He told the EVENING POST: “The arrest of the British engineers in Moscow is a symbol of panic in consequence of conditions worse than in 1921.  Millions are dying of hunger.  The trial, beginning Saturday, of the British engineers is merely a pendant to the recent shooting of thirty-five prominent workers in agriculture, including the Vice-Commissar of the Ministry of Agriculture, and is an attempt to check the popular wrath at the famine which haunts every district of the Soviet Union. 

"Everywhere was the cry, ‘There is no bread.  We are dying.  This cry came from every part of Russia, from the Volga,. Siberia, White Russia, the North Caucasus, Central Asia.  I tramped through the black earth region because that was once the richest farm land in Russia and because the correspondents have been forbidden to go there to see for themselves what is happening.

 “In the train a Communist denied ‘to me that there was a famine.  I flung a crust of bread which I had been eating from my own supply into a spittoon. A peasant fellow-passenger fished it out and ravenously ate it.  I threw an orange peel into the spittoon and the peasant again grabbed it and devoured it.  The Communist subsided.  I stayed overnight in a village where there used to be 200 oxen and where there now are six.  The peasants were eating the cattle fodder and had only a month’s supply left.  They told me that many had already died of hunger.  Two soldiers came to arrest a thief.  They warned me against travel by night as there were too many ‘starving’ desperate men.

  “‘We are waiting for death’ was my welcome, but See, we still, have our cattle fodder.  Go farther south.  There they have nothing.  Many houses are empty of people already dead,’ they cried.

 “A foreign expert returning from Kazakstan told me that 1,000,000 out of 5,000,000 there have died of hunger. I can believe it.  After Stalin, the most hated man in Russia is Bernard Shaw among  those who read his glowing descriptions of plentiful food in their starving land.  “The future is blacker than the present.  There is insufficient seed.  Many peasants are too weak physically to work on the land.  The new taxation policy, promising to take only a fixed amount of grain from the peasants, will fail to encourage production because the peasants refuse to trust the Government.”  In short, Mr. Jones concluded, the collectivization policy of the Government and the resistance of the peasants to it have brought Russia to the worst catastrophe since the famine of 1921 and have swept away the population of whole districts. 

 Coupled with this, the prime reason for the breakdown, he added, is the terror, lack of skill and collapse of transport and finance.  Unemployment is rapidly increasing, he declared, because of the lack of raw materials.  The lack of food and the ‘wrecking of the currency and credit system have forced many of the factories to close or to dismiss great numbers of workers.

 The Jones report, because of his position, because of his reputation for reliability and impartiality and because he is the only first-hand observer who has visited the Russian countryside since it was officially closed to foreigners, is bound to receive widespread attention in official England as well as among the public of the country.


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