Diarmuid Johnson, Welsh Literature Abroad
Cymru/Wales, UK, October, 2003
WLA wishes to thank Nigel Linden Colley for his help in the preparation of
this introductory article to the life and career of Gareth Jones. Seventy
years ago, Josef Stalin, implementing a five year collectivisation plan for
Soviet agriculture, seized lands in the Ukraine, deported part of the
farming population, and precipitated a famine which caused the deaths of a
number estimated between seven and ten million people.
Of those who knew the truth about Stalin's regime, one did speak out.
His name was Gareth Jones, personal secretary to Lloyd George, a
brilliant young Welsh linguist and journalist.
In recent months, interest in the story of Gareth Jones (1905-1935) has been
rekindled. The publication of Gareth Jones, A Manchukuo Incident, Margaret
Siriol Colley's investigation of Gareth Jones' death, acted as a catalyst.
Now, extensive information on his career is available on The Gareth Jones
website. A biography is being planned in America. Hopes of publishing a
selection of the newspaper articles of Gareth Jones are also high. Most
remarkably, the jury of the Pulitzer Prize has recently seen fit to consider
honouring Jones with a posthumous award for his articles on the Ukrainian
famine of the early 1930s. Who was Gareth Jones, and how did he come to
publish on Stalinist Russia in The Western Mail?
The saga of Gareth Jones' involvement with the Ukraine may be traced to
1868, when a certain John Hughes, at the behest of Tzar Alexander II, began
to search for iron ore and coal in the vicinity of the present day city of
Donetz. Between 1889 and 1891, John Hughes' grandchildren were tutored in
the Ukraine by Mrs Annie Gwen Jones, Gareth Jones' mother.
Gareth Jones grew up in Barry, south Wales. After graduated from Cambridge
in 1929 with first class honours in German, French and Russian, Gareth Jones
was employed as Foreign Affairs Adviser to Prime Minister, David Lloyd
George with whom he worked until April 1931. He then joined Ivy Lee and
Associates in Wall Street, New York. Lee had an interest in Standard Oil,
and intended to write a book on the Soviet Union: Jones' brief was to
undertake the research.
In the summer of 1931, he was invited to accompany Jack Heinz II to Russia
for a six weeks tour. They travelled widely and visited the Ukraine. Jones
kept a diary: 'With knowledge of Russia and the Russian language, it was
possible to get off the beaten path, to talk with grimy workers and rough
peasants, as well as such leaders as Lenin's widow and Karl Radek. We
visited vast engineering projects and factories, slept on the bug-infested
floors of peasants' huts, shared black bread and cabbage soup with the
In 1933, Gareth Jones joined The Western Mail and in March of that year
again visited the Soviet Union: 'I walked alone through villages and twelve
collective farms. Everywhere was the cry, 'there is no bread; we are dying'.
This cry came to me from every part of Russia.' Such was the tone of Gareth
Jones' Western Mail articles: 'Russian Workers Disillusioned' (10.04.31),
'Russia Dreads the Coming of Winter (15.10.32), 'We Are Starving'
(03.04.33) read the bleak headlines.
On March 31st 1933, in The New York Times, Walter Duranty, recipient of
the 1932 Pulitzer Prize 'for his series of dispatches on Russia especially
the working out of the Five Year Plan' (www.pulitzer.org), countered Gareth
Jones, and wrote of the situation in Russia as follows as follows: '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
Another British journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, also published articles on
the state of affairs in Russia at this time. Three of them appeared
unaccredited in the Manchester Guardian on March 25th, 26th and 27th 1933.
Muggeridge's time in Russia is documented in his autobiography The Green
Stick (Collins, Glasgow 1972, 316pp).
In The Green Stick, Muggeridge writes as follows of Walter Duranty: 'It, of
course, suited his material interests thus to write everything the Soviet
authorities wanted him to - that collectivisation of agriculture was working
well, with no famine conditions anywhere; that the purges were justified,
confessions genuine, and the judicial procedure impeccable' (284).
continues: '...he admired Stalin and the regime precisely because they were
strong and ruthless' (284).
Interestingly, Muggeridge makes no reference to Gareth Jones in his 1972 The
Green Stick. Despite this, there can be no doubt that he knew him. It may be
suggested that Muggeridge, following Gareth Jones' premature death in 1935,
saw fit to associate his own name with the reporting of the Russian famine
by British journalism. However, in his book Winter in Moscow (1934),
Muggeridge devotes a chapter to a character whom he calls 'Pye'. Since the
time of the book's publication, readers of Winter in Moscow have presumed
'Pye' to be an alias for Muggeridge himself.
Recent research however suggests that 'Pye' is in fact a representation of
Gareth Jones. The account of 'Pye's' research - his seeking of first hand
information on the ground -and the conclusion drawn from this research -
the fact of widespread and acute hunger - are consistent with the contents
of Gareth Jones' newspaper articles about conditions in Russia from 1931
Having left Russia, Gareth Jones undertook a trip to the Far East. He met
his death on August 12th 1935. For more information see The Gareth Jones
Welsh Literature Abroad, Canolfan Mercator Centre, October, 2003
Y Buarth, Aberystwyth SY23 1NN, Cymru/Wales, UK
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