The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

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WELSHMAN'S STALIN WORK STILL INFORMING WORLD
  

By David Williamson, The Western Mail
The National Newspaper of Wales
Cardiff, Wales, Published on  www.icwales.co.uk
March 10, 2003

 

THE work of a Western Mail journalist who revealed to the world the starvation experienced by millions under the rule of Stalin is now being used by descendents to piece together the story of a disaster they call the Holodomor.

Gareth Jones travelled through Russia and the Ukraine in the early 1930s and was shocked at the famine conditions he encountered. An estimated seven to 10 million people died between 1932 and 1933.

Though denounced by newspaper colleagues who considered his revelations a danger to their privileged positions in Moscow, Ukrainians are now using the internet to circulate the devastating reports.

His niece, retired GP Dr Margaret Colley, and his great-nephew Nigel Colley maintain the website at  http://colley.co.uk/garethjones.

During the Soviet era, the suffering and death - much of it caused by disastrous Communist economic policies - was suppressed. Those trying to write a history of the tragedy were aware of Mr Jones's articles, but were able to read them only once they were in the family's on-line archive.

Descendents of those who were forced to flee, emigrating around the world, now hope to publish an anthology of his work.

Mr Jones, born in Barry in 1905, gave a press conference in Berlin days before he wrote in The Western Mail that Stalin had become "the gravedigger of the Bolshevik dictatorship".

Moscow-based foreign correspondents from Western newspapers were alarmed by the publication of the reports. The journalists knew that if they wrote in similar terms of the human and economic tragedy surrounding them, they would be expelled.

Even though Malcolm Muggeridge of the Manchester Guardian anonymously detailed the destruction of Soviet agriculture, the starvation of the peasants and the military's tactics of persecution, other members of the media sought to discredit Mr Jones's testimony.

The most serious repudiation came from Walter Duranty, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter of The New York Times.

He dismissed the eye-witness account as "a big scare story". While admitting that attempts to create giant collective farms had "made a mess of Soviet food production", Mr Duranty insisted there was "no actual starvation".

In a furious attack on the coterie of foreign correspondents who had turned against him, Mr Jones congratulated "the Soviet Foreign Office on its skill in concealing the true situation in the USSR".

He wrote, "Journalists ... are allowed to write, but the censorship has turned them into masters of understatement."

United Press Moscow correspondent Eugene Lyons was among the reporters who played down Mr Jones's stories. Four years later he wrote apologetically of his part in hiding the famine.

He said, "Throwing down Jones was as unpleasant a chore as fell to any of us in years of juggling facts to please dictatorial regimes - but throw him down we did, unanimously and in almost identical formulas of equivocation.

"Poor Gareth Jones must have been the most surprised human being alive when the facts he so painstakingly garnered from our mouths were snowed under by our denials."

His career survived the controversy and he was fast establishing a reputation as one of the most fascinating and significant journalists of his generation when his life was violently cut short.

He was murdered in 1935 on the eve of his 30th birthday by bandits while travelling in Inner Mongolia.

Dr Colley has recorded the details of his death in her book, A Manchukuo Incident.

Mr Jones's dispatches from Wales, America, Asia and Russia are also available on the family's website. There are also unique portraits of some of the most celebrated figures of his age.

Before joining The Western Mail Mr Jones had worked as an aide to former Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

This connection guaranteed him an audience with international figures such as Adolf Hitler, President Herbert Hoover, publisher William Randolph Hearst and architect Frank Lloyd Wright.


The Western Mail, Cardiff, Wales
http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/page.cfm?objectid=12717871 &method=full&siteid=50082
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