By Gareth Jones, The Western Mail, Cardiff, Wales
Saturday, October 15, 1932, Article One of Two
"Will there be soup?" That is a question which the men and women of the
Soviet Union are asking anxiously, dreadingly (sic), when they think of the
rigours of the coming Russian winter. It is a question which is being asked,
not only in Communist Russia, but also in Capitalistic America: but in
Russia the voices of the questioners are fraught with greater fear, because
the harvest is failed and the food is not there.
I have before me a copy of the Izvestia, the organ of the Soviet Government,
a newspaper which often openly criticises failures in the Five-Year Plan.
This is what I read in the number of October 5th, in an article on the
Donetz Basin (the Glamorgan of Russia) which produces coal, iron and steel:
In the shops of Makeysvka [Makeyevka] (the Pontypridd of the Soviet Union)
the wives of the workers are waiting for vegetables. Now and then a loaded
lorry passes by. A thin autumn rain is falling monotonously. The housewife
waits . The shop attendant tries to calm her. "Now don't get excited
comrade housewife!" But she looks at a empty basket, thinks of the winter,
thinks of the cabbage, potatoes and tomatoes and asks one question: "Will
There be soup?"
In the Countryside
That is the Soviet Government's greatest problem in the last year of the
Five-Year Plan which ends on December 31st.
Why is their little soup? Why is meat short? Why is bread beginning to be
In search of answer to these questions I went to the Russian countryside,
talked to numerous peasants in the Russian language, lived in a wooden huts
and slept on their bug infested floors.
I used to take a train, not knowing my destination, drop out at some small
station and walk for miles until I was in Real Russia. And then I learned
from the mouths of the peasants themselves why there is not enough soup. It
was quite a different picture from that which the Communist had painted to
me in Moscow. A keen, well-built young Bolshevik said to me in the
Commissariat of Agriculture:
"Under the Five-Year Plan we are going to socialise agriculture. We're
going to sweep away the private farmer. By the end of the plan no peasants
will own land anymore. The villages will be turned into collective farms
where land and the cows and the horses and the pigs will be owned in common
and the land ploughed in common by tractors. Private property is a curse and
we will abolish it in the villages. Our new methods are increasing harvests
and are producing a happy and healthy countryside."
It was certainly not a healthy and happy countryside that I found when,
after along tramp across fields; I marched at night into the village near
the Volga about 1000 miles from where the well-built young Communist had
talk to me.
The sun had set in a deep red glow: below the steppes which stretched away
to the East had grown blacker and gloomier. I saw a light in a window of a
wooden hut, knocked, went inside and saw a group of shaggy, rough peasants.
They stared at me in amazement and soon all gathered around. "Where did I
come from? Was it true that there would be a Bolshevik Revolution in
England? Could one get meat in America? Would I stay in one of the huts?
They bustled around me with questions and offered hospitality. Before long
I was seated in a simple peasant's hut, and talking to the peasant's wife
with ragged, blotchy-face children crawling and running about.
"Is the enough food in Russia", I asked. She grew excited and said: "Of
course, there isn't. How could there be? They've taken the land from us to
make these Communist collective farms. We want our own land and look what
they've done to our cows. My husband and I had a fine cow. They took it
away and put all the cows of the village together and now cow is thin and
scraggy and we don't get enough milk."
There was a rap at the door. In came a handsome blackhead peasant with
flashing eyes and prominent white teeth. He hesitated to talk first of all,
but soon had confidence and said: "It's a dog's life now, ever since
they've forced us into collective farms. 1926 in 1927 were fine years when
we still had our own land. But it will be better to be under the earth than
to live now. Land, cow and bread they've taken away from us. Nearly all
our grain-and it was little enough-has been carted away and sent to the
towns and we're afraid to speak. What will we do during the winter?" He
ended with a grown of despair.
That is what I heard from the mouths of peasants in many parts of Russia.
"Why should we work?" they asked, "When our land and cow have been
taken away from us. Give us our land back." Therefore they do not cultivate
the land so thoroughly.
[Quoted in the Western Mail was also a Times telegram from Riga: "As a
result of increased food difficulties the Soviet authorities have decided to
reduce the rations of certain grades of professors and scientists by about
The www.ArtUkraine.com Information Service (ARTUIS) appreciates the
outstanding work that has been accomplished by Gareth Jones's niece, Dr.
Margaret Siriol Colley and her son Nigel Linson Colley to find, organize,
and post the very important archives of Gareth Jones on the web. ARTUIS
first connected with the Colley's in early 2002 and have been working
closely with them since that time concerning the archives. You can view
the Colley's website and the entire Gareth Jones archives at: