On March 10, 1933, Welsh reporter Gareth Jones smuggled out of a 3rd class carriage in Ukrainian no man’s land Or no more foreign journalists have the right to surrender. A white and desert expanse unfolds before him. He walks along the railway line so as not to get lost. Jones arrives in a village and meets a peasant, whom he quotes in an article: “There is no more bread. Everyone is bloated. We have nothing left to eat. In all the villages he passes through, Jones asks the same question: “Why the famine?” Invariably the peasants reply: “It’s the fault of the Bolsheviks.” They took everything from us. »
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After being arrested by the police in a small station, Jones hastened to return to England and published an article on March 31 in the London Evening Standard. He was just doing his job as a journalist. Jones went to cross-check his information on the ground by interviewing direct witnesses to the famine, when his Western colleagues remained in Moscow and contented themselves with slavishly relaying official statements from the Kremlin.
But organized oblivion was underway. Despite the efforts of Gareth Jones, the world chooses to ignore the famine which, between 1931 and 1933, caused 7 million Soviet victims, including 4 million Ukrainians, 1.5 million Kazakhs and as many Russians.
Beneficial Conspiracy of Silence
The famous New York Times correspondent in Moscow, Walter Duranty, just winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his glowing articles on Stalin’s policies, sounded the charge against Jones’ revelations: “Gareth Jones reveals a chilling story about the starvation in the Soviet Union. But there is no starvation or death from starvation. Rather, there is widespread mortality from malnutrition-related diseases. It is only too true that the novelty and mismanagement of collective agriculture caused the mess of Soviet food production. But, to put it bluntly, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. »
The other foreign correspondents, anxious to keep their authorization to work in the USSR, also agreed to let go of Jones, as the American Eugene Lyons remembers in his book Assignment in Utopia (“Assignment in Utopia”, Harcourt Brace, 1937, untranslated): “To denigrate Jones was as unpleasant a chore as that imposed on each of us after years of juggling facts to please dictatorial regimes. But we did it unanimously. This dirty business having been settled, someone ordered vodka and zakouskis. »
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