Gareth Jones

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The Western Mail, Cardiff, April 3rd, 1933


- - - 


Why Britons Were Arrested

Stalin’s New Reign of Terror

What impressed me most throughout my journey was the cry of the hundreds of Russian peasants who said to me: 

“There is no bread. We are starving.”

 Mr. Gareth Jones, who returned during the week-end from his Russian tour, makes this statement in the first of a series of articles he is writing, exclusive to the “Western Mail & South Wales News,” on conditions in the Soviet Union. 

The first article is a discussion on Russian famine con­ditions with Kerensky, who was the last Prime Minister in Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution.  Kerensky states that the arrest of the British engineers arose from Stalin’s decision to inaugurate a reign of terror, and was an effort to explain the collapse of the Five Year Plan. 

 Mr. Gareth Jones himself narrowly escaped arrest.


 LONDON,  April 2.

The journey across Europe is over.  From Moscow the train took me to the Soviet frontier.  I saw the Red frontier soldiers with the fixed bayonets for the last time and before long we were in Latvia. 

American workers on the train, who had gone to Russia expecting a paradise but who were now leaving, cursing the hunger and the slavery, breathed deeply with relief.  The European express crossed Lithuania, East Prussia, the Polish Corridor, until Fascist, Jew-baiting Berlin was reached.  Eighteen hours after leaving Berlin I again saw London. 

What impressed me most throughout my European journey was the cry hundreds of Russian peasants who said to me when I tramped through the villages: “There is no bread.  We are starving.” 

Mr. Gareth Jones, who is now on the staff of the “Western Mail & South Wales News,” reached Cardiff yesterday from Russia after a tour in which, walking alone and without official guid­ance or surveillance by the Soviet authorities, he was able to make a personal study of the conditions in that country. 

He has brought back a story which will reveal to the British public the real conditions of life in Russia, where he found famine on a vast and tragic scale. 

In his articles for the Western Mail & South Wales News the truth about Russia which is practically a closed country so far as a British news­paper correspondents are concerned, will be told as he found it. 

Mr. Gareth Jones, who has been foreign affairs adviser on Mr. Lloyd George’s staff, has paid three visits to Russia since the war. He speaks Russian fluently, and in his last tour he came into contact with peasants, and workmen in the villages and industrial centre, with the leaders of art and literature and with the men who are holding high Government positions in the Soviet Republic.


Since the first revolution of March, 19l7, had swept the Tsarist régime away these peasants had had three masters - Kerensky,  Lenin, and Stalin.  I had seen the Russia of Stalin.  What would Kerensky say of the changes which had come over his country since he was overthrown by the Bolsheviks?  

Although he is in exile his life-work is to follow the results of the policy of rival, Stalin, and he has excellent sources of information.

M. Alexander Kerensky became Prime Minister of Russia in July 1917, and held power until the Bolshevik Revolution.  He was one of the most dangerous enemies of the Tsarist Government and played a great part. in the overthrow of the Monarchy in March, 1917. 

The views of the man who preceded Lenin are of historical interest today, when the most decisive spring sowing in the annals of Russia begins. 

Stubborn Stalin

 Kerensky said to me: “Before his death in 1924, Lenin in his famous political testament wrote that certain features of Stalin's character were dangerous to the Communist party.  Lenin had in mind the stubbornness of Stalin (Stalin’s will-power is stronger than his reason), and also the absence in Stalin of the feeling of personal fear.  When Stalin is convinced of something or wishes to obtain something he pushes straight on regardless of the consequences.  These two characteristics combined, stubbornness and absence of personal fear, have made Stalin into the grave-digger of the Bolshevik dictatorship.

"On the lines of the New Economic Policy, when freedom of internal trade was restored, Bolshevism could have reigned over Russia for decades.  But Stalin ended the New Economic Policy and within four years completely wrecked Russian agriculture.  The ruin of agriculture is the great achievement of the dictatorship of Stalin."

‘‘In my opinion, during all the existence of the Bolshevik dictatorship no one has dealt so severe a blow to the Communist party as Stalin.  Events are now moving rapidly, for not only the ordinary people but also many members of the Communist party and of the Young Communist League are against the regime." 

Countryside Ruined 

“You have just told me that you have seen with your own eyes the ruin of the Russian countryside, and all the evidence I receive from Russia confirms your observations." 

“Now in Russia famine is gripping a vast area and is far greater than in 1921 The Ukraine, the Volga, West Siberia, North Caucasia, the provinces which formerly supplied all Europe with grain, have no longer bread, meat, butter nor enough potatoes.  The stock of cattle has been reduced by two-thirds.  The peasant has hardly any agricultural implements, and the tractors destined for the collective farms and State farms are mainly broken and are at this present moment, when the spring sowing is beginning, in the repair shops."

“Russia is mainly an agricultural country and the destruction of agriculture will have as its inevitable logical conclusion the wrecking of industry, to build which the Russian peasant was expropriated from his land.  For the sake of industry all Russia was condemned to famine, “The Five Year-Plan is one of the greatest bluffs in history, and now the bill has to be met”. 

Arrested Britons 

 “How do you account for the arrest of the British engineers, M. Kerensky?” 

“I explain it thus. Stalin and his assistants know the real situation in Russia, and they want, by a terrible increase of terror, to frighten the growing opposition within the party."

"Besides some explanation for the collapse must be given to the workers themselves and to the Young Communists, and the scapegoats are Russian engineers and foreigners, whom they accuse of having sent bad machinery into Russia and of economic espionage and sabotage charges which are, of course, ridiculous." 

“The great cause of the catastrophe is the mad attempt of Stalin to bring serfdom back into Russia, not only in the villages, but also in the towns."

The Way Out 

“You ask me what is the way out of the chaos.  There is only one way out.  Freedom should be given to work, and to make and to buy, and to sell.  The peasant should have his land back and his right to free labour.  Only thus will he able to make a proper living.  In the towns freedom for the Trade Unions should be given back to the worker, because now the Russian is more exploited than the Negroes in the Colonies.  Russia should return to the foundation of civil law, which it received, from the Provisional Government." 

"Under Tsarism economic conditions were undoubtedly better than to-day, but Tsarism was doomed to destruction because the last Monarch hated political freedom.  If Tsarism had gone along the path of reform and had brought in a Constitution it would be existing today." 

“Now the present regime has destroyed those few bases of democratic rule which already existed, and has introduced a tyranny in which not only political, but also civil rights have been destroyed.  Thus the present regime is doomed, like the Monarchy."


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