Gareth Jones

[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]



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Complete Soviet Articles & Background Information


Précis of Gareth's Soviet Famine Articles


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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





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War on Unemployment (i)



Ex-Miner Cobblers, Carpenters and Gardeners



In every mining village and town in South Wales there are men idle.  At any hour of the day they stand on the street corner and while away the time.

Many of them are gifted.  In one small group Dai will have a good tenor voice.  Evan will have cunning hands made for craftsmanship.  A third will have be a champion at debating.  Most will have that keen intellect and sharpness most which characterises the South Wales miner.

Yet they stand idle.

Near every mining village and town there is land idle.  There are patches which could bring forth vegetables.  There are ugly slag-covered grounds which could be turned into football fields and parks.

In every village and town there are houses of the unemployed which want repairing.  There are chairs and tables which remain broken because the shillings for the repairs are missing.  There are clothes  and linen torn which want patching.

Everywhere there are brains idle, intellects lying fallow and degenerating.  The keenness is disappearing and the discussions are getting threadbare.  Apathy is growing, and disgust at life and at the economic system is taking the place of the love of labour and pride at skill.  Deterioration of the use of the hands has led to deterioration of the whole moral outlook.

Everywhere there is money idle which could coordinate all these forces. There are empty buildings and sheds.  There are books unused.


If Wales could bring all these idle forces together she would be grasping a wonderful opportunity of showing the world how a small nation can save itself from the demoralising effects of worklessness.  Get the idle gifted men, the unused land, the jobs which want doing, the sharp but discarded brain working together and a great war will have been won.

The war for the salvation of the workless is the greatest war which Wales has to wage.  Similar campaigns to save Wales have been carried out in the past.  Griffith Jones and Howell Harris saved the degenerating Wales in the eighteenth century by their schools, and inspired the whole nation with their enthusiasm for learning.  What was done by Welshmen in the eighteenth century can be repeated today.

The campaign has already been launched by unselfish, hard-working men in the Rhondda and elsewhere.  One of the headquarters of the campaign is the Maes-yr-Haf Settlement, Trealaw, Rhondda where William and Emma Noble beginning the battle.  Maes-yr-Haf is a house on a hill looking down upon the black valley near Tonypandy and looking up to the bare mountains of the Rhondda.  From this settlement William and Emma Noble extend their activities into the surrounding valleys, and their influence touches about 4,000 people.

The spirit behind the Maes-yr-Haf Settlement is typical of the best principles which should guide work with the unemployed.  William Noble say: “The first need of the unemployed man is the continued fellowship of sympathetic people and contact with associations that are stimulating and encouraging.  He must not be allowed to develop the idea that he is a social outcast.

Secondly, he must be helped in do things that are useful.  His skill most be maintained and encouraged, and new crafts taught if necessary.


“It is not good to make gifts in the form of charity which commands no exchange of service, for it is not temporary aid that is needed.  What is useful is to make provision for men to spend some of their time in centres, where equipment is provided and where they may be encouraged to make for themselves things which they need centres where they can build up friendship and exchange ideas with others of like interest.

The unemployed man who have got into contact with William Noble have through his inspiration built up many clubs is the Rhondda.  One of these “Unemployed Clubs” is housed in an old mineral water factory, another is in a stable.  The members of these clubs have altered them and decorated them and have done excellent work.

“How should these clubs be governed?”  I asked William Noble.

He replied: “Self-government is essential, and democratic control of all activities gives scope for many to share committee experience.  The clubs are striving to be independent, and there is weekly contribution of 3d from which they try to pay lighting, rent, rates, and other expenses.  It costs approximately £60 to start this kind of club.”


What do these clubs do?  In all a little cobbling a carried on, and some of the miner-cobblers have become expert.  Chairs and tables are made and repaired.  Unemployed men make toys for hospitals and for children.  Craftsmanship is again coming into its own.

The new hero of Wales is now the unemployed man who has turned himself into a craftsman.  All this work, however, is definitely non-commercial.  Members offer their services voluntarily for the work of drainage, bricklaying, glazing, wiring, and the quality of their labours has been excellent.  One of the principles guiding the work is it shall not compete on unfair terms with men in ordinary employment.  Only tasks are tackled which would otherwise be left undone.

“It is not only the physical side which is cultivated.  Classes meet in these clubs for discussions and lectures.  Unemployed miners become students of philosophy and economics, and of literature.  They form choirs, and each club has a piano.  The more energetic unemployed have made gymnasia for themselves, building vaulting horses from wood and sacking.

The clubs in the Rhondda test look for guidance in Maes-yr-Haf Settlement.  So it is well to return to the house on the hill and visit the workshops.


We enter the room where women are weaving.  We examine the rugs and the cloth they make.  The work is striking.  The patterns have an artistic value which contrasts with many factory products.  There is an individual note about each design.  

From a hut near the house there is a sound of revelry.  A social is in progress, and we can hear a Welsh song.  Nor is the Settlement without its humour.  We ask a little boy, aged four, what his name is.  He replies, “Ramsey MacDonald Jones,” and we wonder what the father thinks of the name now.

The unemployed men themselves are mainly responsible for the work they have done in the clubs, but the inspiration has come from William Noble, who is a Quaker, and his helpers.  Whilst many members of the Society of Friends have been consistent supporters of Maes-yr-Haf, the work itself is not organised by the Society of Friends.

The influence of William Noble is not limited to the Rhondda.  If we leave Tonypandy, descend into the Vale of Glamorgan and arrive in Wick, we will find an old malthouse.  The green fields of Y Fro, Forgannwg stretch all round.  To the south, across the Channel, there is a view of the mountains of Somerset and Devon.

In the solid grey malthouse seventeen men from the Rhondda have been working throughout the winter.  They have been making their new home shipshape.  Although some of them were men who had never handled a carpenters tool in their lives they now make chairs, tables, bookcases, and cupboards, which they will keep for their families.  Their handiwork will not be sold, since it is illegal for men receiving unemployment benefit to sell such products.


In the summer men will come each week from the Rhondda to camp in Wick.  The work is cultural also, for the educational side is extensive.  But the most striking impression one has in Wick is a magnificent bed of white, pink, yellow, and red tulips.  “We’ll beat Holland at Wick.”  That is the spirit in which the unemployed are working

Near Wick a new type of Welsh hero is living.  In the Middle Ages the Welsh hero was the fighter for liberty.  Later it was the educationalist.  Today the hero is the man who conquers unemployment.  Such a man is the workless Rhondda miner who becomes a craftsman.  Such a man also is Wyn Carter who, like an American pioneer, has battled against the scrub and brushwood and built up an excellent poultry farm.

There is a touch of adventure about his work.  He was a collier who learned joinery at the Maes-yr-Haf Settlement, and was one of five men whom Maes-yr-Haf settled on the land.  He looked bronzed, healthy, and happy when I went to see his farm.  His children were strong and red-cheeked.  A bonfire was burning where he had cleared brushwood.  He showed me the coops and sheds which he had built himself, and first class work they were.  Now he has 500 chickens.

It is estimated that such a man can be made self-supporting after a few years.  But his great difficulty is marketing.  Wyn Carter is, moreover, saving the country about £75 per year, for he does not receive unemployment insurance.

Those are some of the ways in which the war against unemployment is being carried on in Wales.  They are only small attacks, for the enemy has enormous strength, but there are other weapons in the war which will be described tomorrow  








Gareth Jones: A Manchukuo Incident



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