Presentation on theme: "The Gareth Jones Diaries in ‘The Living’ www.garethjones.org Presentation Delivered by Nigel Linsan Colley at The Ukrainian Institute of America New York."— Presentation transcript:
The Gareth Jones Diaries in ‘The Living’ www.garethjones.org Presentation Delivered by Nigel Linsan Colley at The Ukrainian Institute of America New York on Sat 20th Nov 2010
It was in 2003, when my mother and I first came to New York to an International Conference on the Holodomor at Columbia University. This was as part of the Postcard Campaign to have Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize revoked. Hardly anybody outside of the Ukrainian Diaspora had heard of the 1932-33 famine-genocide and perhaps only a handful of academics had ever heard of Gareth Jones, the man who originally exposed the atrocity to the outside world…
During my childhood the tragic murder of my great uncle in 1935 by Chinese bandits was never mentioned within the family, as it was obviously still too distressing for Gareth’s remaining relatives, my grandmother Eirian, my aunt Gwyneth as well as my mother Siriol. It was whilst clearing Gwyneth’s home in 1988, after which she moved in with her younger sister, my grandmother, that a small briefcase was discovered which contained every ‘weekly’ letter that Gareth had sent to his parents from university through to his far off travels, plus about 20 or 30 innocuous, journalist pocket diaries, which to us telling a family story were far less important than his weekly letters and were therefore overlooked, except for his final ones from China…
Margaret Siriol Colley 2008 My mother who had been a doctor had recently retired and decided to investigate her uncle’s rather mysterious murder… c.1934
In 2001, after 3 years research I edited & published a book on behalf of my mother, entitled “Gareth Jones: A Manchukuo Incident”, based primarily on the British Foreign Office records surrounding their own investigations into Gareth’s murder in Inner Mongolia, along with the letters he sent home from his travels in the Far East. At that time we came to the conclusion that his murder was probably politically motivated and the most likely culprits were the Japanese in their then territorial expansion of Northern China. Just two pages were devoted to his Soviet reporting, though we did briefly mention in passing that he had written some articles about Soviet famine conditions which we considered to be merely ‘grim’, but that was about it… Neither of us had any idea of the importance of his role in exposing the Holodomor when we first started investigating the circumstances behind his mysterious murder.
Garethjones.org Before returning to my full time IT job, I decided to create a little website to promote my mother’s book on the then new medium of the internet, though I still remember it was against her wishes as she thought the internet would be a complete waste of time for selling books. However, I have never done what my mother wanted, so a website I went and made!
2003 – Morgan Williams at Columbia University … And that is where the story may well have ended… Except that nearly two years later in the late Summer of 2003, I received an email out of the blue from a Ukrainian activist called Morgan Williams, enquiring whether our Gareth Jones, was the fabled Gareth Jones who exposed the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33? To which I replied, that all I knew was that ‘our’ Gareth had written some articles on Soviet famine conditions!
Shortly thereafter through Morgan Williams we were put in contact with Professor James Mace & Professor Mark Von Hagen of Columbia University. Even today, I know not why, perhaps call it blind faith, but through the auspices of these two academics, my mother & I were invited to New York in 2003 to speak at an International Conference on the Holodomor at Columbia University.
2003 – Columbia University Siriol Colley, Professor Von Hagen & Professor James Mace
Around the same time as our 2003 trip to New York, Martin Sieff of United Press penned the following and most memorable opening to his article on Gareth supporting the then revocation of Duranty’s Pulitzer:
2003 – Martin Sieff – United Press “What can you expect if you fearlessly expose the systematic, genocidal murder of 10 million people? You can expect to be branded as a liar in the most prestigious newspaper in the United States. You can expect to be murdered yourself by bandits probably in the pay of conspirators perpetrating equally colossal, monstrous crimes against humanity. And you can even to be betrayed after your death and airbrushed out of existence by one of your closest professional colleagues and friends.”
On this same trip, I remember bringing along some of Gareth’s Soviet Diaries, which we showed Andrew Stuttaford at the Columbia Conference and also around the offices of the UNA… It was Irene Jarosewych the editor-in-chief of Svoboda and Roma Hadzewycz of The Ukrainian Weekly, who suggested without any basis of fact, that in their opinions, there was no doubt that Gareth had been murdered by the Bolsheviks – this was the very first time that I had considered this notion.
2003 – First New York Trip Andrew Stuttaford & Cheryl Madden perusing the diaries at Columbia University… At the Offices of The Ukrainian Weekly
A few months later I happened to read Andrew Stuttaford’s National Review blog in which he said he was currently reading ‘Manchukuo Incident’ and quoted from Gareth’s last letter home to his parents: " …we came to a huge collection of mud houses, with some stone in the middle surrounded by hills. It was Kalgan, the outpost for trade between the Mongols and China. There, two magnificent cars were waiting for us. We were to be the guests of Mr. Purpis, a Latvian, the "King of Kalgan" who is the chief trader in Inner Mongolia and sells about 30,000 horses each year to the Chinese Army. Our chauffeur drove us through the dirty town to a kind of mud-wall fortress on the outskirts of the town. It was Wostwag, the company for trading with the Mongols, a German firm…" Indiana Jones was, rather surprisingly, no relation.”
Of all the pages in our Manchukuo Incident book, I scratched my head & wondered why he chose this particular one to quote, so as one does, I decided to consult the then fledgling Google on the word; ‘Wostwag’. Almost unbelievably, a single reference came back from the Public Records Office in London and from the online précis, it informed me that British secret service records had been released into the public domain, literally a few weeks before, indicating that the Brits had known from 1929 that Wostwag was a trading front of the Soviet Secret Police. Furthermore, Mr Purpis ‘the king of Kalgan’ and head of Wostwag ‘was considered one of the cleverest & shrewdest men in the Far East’ & associated with the ‘Cheka’; the same man who had freely supplied Gareth with their car at his disposal! Pure coincidence or perhaps with more sinisterly intentional, I knew not?
However, further circumstantial evidence of Soviet culpability has subsequently come to light, including a 34-year British dossier relating to the Soviet spying activities of Gareth’s travelling companion & co-captee, Dr Herbert Mueller who not only assured Gareth before his fateful trip; ‘Absolutely Safe. No Bandits!’, but who was also conveniently and most unusually released unharmed after two days in captivity.
Moving on, I was fortunate enough to be invited by the UCCA to NY again in 2005 to give a speech at St Patrick’s but this time I chose to share my discoveries of quite probable Soviet culpability in Gareth’s murder and since then I have discovered more, but time does not permit me to elucidate here.
In May 2006, Dr Ludomyr Luciuk encouraged his Canadian Communities to pay for a tri-lingual plaque to be unveiled at Gareth’s first university at Aberystwyth in Wales, from where Gareth received a 1st class degree in French & German.
Ihor Kharchenko, London Ukrainian Ambassador at the unveiling of a Tri- lingual Plaque with Gareth's niece, Siriol, myself, the University Vice Chancellor, Chancellor, Lord Morgan and Prof. Lubomyr Luciuk. 2006 – May 2 nd Gareth ‘Recognised’ in Aberystwyth, Wales
June 2006 Illinois Ukrainian Museum Chicago University of Chicago, Urbana-Champaign
A month later, through Professor Federigo Argentieri, professor of History at the John Cabot American University in Rome, whom I knew through James Mace, I was invited to a week-long Ukrainian conference at the University of Chicago at Urbana Champaign at which we would be giving presentations on the final day. Due to my inability to speak Ukrainian, I took the opportunity to hide myself away and for the very first time, make a transcript of Gareth’s famine diaries – believe it or not, nobody, including ourselves, had taken the time to study their contents, relying upon his edited newspaper articles in order to prepare our speeches about Gareth. Without repeating what you are about to see in the film here are a few powerful diary entries which were not included in the final edit of The Living:
From T. [train], I walked about an hour, chatted to all. Talked to men on track. It was getting [to] sunset. One of them said:- “You’d better not go…
…further, for hooligans will rob you of your coat & your food & all.” The other, a handsome, determined young Communist, said “ Yes its dangerous. Come and stay with us in our village.” Communist took me along to the Selsoviet; full of young people & children. One of them belly swollen. ---------- All people say same ”XЛEБА HETУ BCE nyxnoie” (Bread Not Available) – One woman said:- “We are looking forward to death.”
Then to the cottage of the young Pres. of Village Soviet, decent fellow with smile, ruddy face, 27 yrs of age. His wife was there, with closely cropped hair with gold round earrings. V. kind.
Two soldiers came and they asked heaps of questions……. They had come to arrest a peasant thief who had killed another. The thief had gone to steal potatoes from the hut of [an] other. The owner of the hut had come out and the peasant had stabbed him with a knife. There were many cases of that happening.
Went to bed late, slept on floor. In one bed; Pres., his wife & her sister; & small bed for child. Woke up next morning before 8. The Communist leader of next Kolkhoz was there – a keen Revolutionary [who said]; “We have difficulties, but they have to be overcome.” “There’s seed in this village.” Cattle decrease disastrous. There used to be 200 oxen, now 6 horses & cattle here down by tremendous amount.
Breakfasted, then sister of wife did algebra lesson. The Communists realised & admitted that there was no grain. That was in Bockrenchenka in the Black Earth region. Lower down it is much worse. Talked to all the people as I tramped along the railway track. Ravens or crows (with…
… grey cap). White expanse of snow. Moscow – Sebastopol train rattled past with sleeping wagon. Politdel party members, etc. Went into village. There is no bread. “We’ve had no bread for 2 months”. “Each dvor had one or 2 cows. Now none. There are almost no oxen left & the horses have been dying off.”
“How can I live? I got a lb of bread for all my family & we came here for a short time, there is no food here. My family is in Kharkoff & I don’t know how they’ll live.” “We’re all getting (swollen) nyxливi.” “In this village 5 or 6 kulak families were sent away to Siberia & to cut wood in the Northern forests…
…also to build a railway in Murmansk.” But some of the kulaks live better than those who remain in the villages because there is now more bread in the towns. “In the south 20% of the population have died of hunger” said the young worker “and in some parts 50%. They’re murdering us.”
In the Ukraine. A little later I crossed the border from Greater Russia into Ukraine. Everywhere I talked to peasants who walked past – they all had the same story; “There is no bread – we haven’t had bread for 2 months – a lot are dying.” The first village had no more potatoes left and the store of БҮРЯК (beetroot) was running out.
2006 - Signing the 'Book of Honour' at the Montreal City Hall on behalf of Gareth One member of the audience in Chicago was Zorianna Hrycenko- Luhova, the wife of Yurij Luhovy who co-directed The Harvest of Despair in the 1980s and she arranged for me to make a trip to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal to repeat this same diary presentation in November 2006.
2007 was the start of the two year-long 75th anniversary commemorations, and I was invited to Calgary, then Winnipeg for a week and again to Montreal to spread the word of Gareth’s unique diaries; which I now realised probably represent the only western independent verification of what is arguably Stalin’s greatest atrocity…
2007 – Holodomor Memorials at Calgary & Winnipeg Laying Daffodils at Holodomor Memorial, Winnipeg City Hall Calgary Holodomor Memorial
Early in 2008, I was contacted by Mark Edwards, the Parisian-based, American producer of The Living saying that he had been commissioned by the Pres. Yushchenko and his wife to research and then produce a definitive documentary about the Holodomor. He mentioned he had come across our commemorative Gareth Jones website and would like discuss the possibility of our cooperation. Despite both of us living in Europe we eventually met up on a bitterly cold night in February 2008 at the Ukrainian National Home Restaurant in New York; where seemingly he became smitten by Gareth’s heroic story! Nothing was heard until early June 2008, when he asked if he could come with a researcher to look at our Gareth Jones materials including the ‘famine’ diaries… This he did and we went to Aberystwyth, Wales together where most of Gareth’s archives reside.
Mark Edwards. Producer of the Living at Aberystwyth
A fortnight later, I had again been invited by Professor Federigo Argentieri, to speak in Kyiv. Sergiy Bukovsky the director of The Living, and his wife came to see my presentation at the University and then asked me to their studio the next day, where I thought I would just be meeting of the rest of their film crew, prior to their filming trip to Wales a fortnight later. To my utter surprise, when I arrived at the studio I discovered that they had hired the best HD equipment in Kyiv with the intention of ‘screen-testing’ me to read Gareth’s dairies and letters in their film…
2008 June, Kyiv – Sergiy Bukovsky Director of The Living
The film was premiered in Ukraine in Nov 2008. I had three hours sleep before hot-footing it back to London on the first plane out of Kyiv so as to attend a lunchtime ceremony at Westminster, where Gareth and Malcolm Muggeridge were both posthumously awarded the Ukrainian Medals of Freedom.
From Nov 2008. Remembered in Sergiy Bukovsky’s film; The Living On Location, London, June 2008. Film Premiere, Kyiv, Nov 2008.
Ukrainian Order of Merit Posthumously Awarded to Gareth at Westminster Central Hall, Nov 2008
The British premiere of the film was in November 2009, in Cambridge together with a special exhibit of some of his diaries in the Wren Library at Trinity College, Gareth’s second alma mater; from where he received a 1st class degree in Russian & German language & literature. By now the world’s media were paying attention and 200 articles were published by the worldwide press, including The London Times and The Washington Post, along with BBC TV and radio coverage. Gareth’s website had over 100,000 hits that week. Conspicuous by its absence was The New York Times whose complicity in allowing Gareth’s name to be denigrated by Walter Duranty continues to this day. So much for the ‘Grey Lady’s maxim; ‘All the news that’s fit to print’.
Trinity College, Cambridge University - Nov 2009 Gareth’s Diaries exhibited The Wren Library at Trinity College along side Sir Issac Newton’s personally annotated copy of his Laws of Motion Masterpiece; The Principia Rory Finnin, Lecturer in Ukrainian Studies, Cambridge University.
Less than a week later through an invitation by the UCCA to attend the opening of an event at the United Nations; I was able to remind Arthur Sulzberger, the Publisher of the New York Times that the spectre of Gareth will continue to hover over them until they do the decent thing and hand back their ill-gotten Pulitzer. Credit where credit is due; I must hereby thank Victor Rudd, a very long term ‘friend of Gareth Jones’ for his erudite contributions to that speech in warning the world that the ‘history of the past matters’!
In Sept 2010, in a 50-year old ‘national institution’, academic TV quiz show on the BBC called ‘University Challenge’, which still regularly gets an audience of over 3m viewers, both Gareth & the Holodomor were the subject of a ‘General Knowledge’ question… Though the undergraduate contestants were clearly ignorant of the correct answer, that the question appeared on mainstream national prime-time television at all, shows that both Gareth and the Holodomor have together moved from airbrushed obscurity to academic recognition in the matter of a few years.
BBC’s ‘University Challenge’ October 2010 Gareth & the Holodomor - From Airbrushed Obscurity to International & Academic recognition in 7 years!
2010 November – New York & New Jersey In the 7 years since my first visit to NY, the terrible atrocity of the Holodomor has finally been acknowledged, together with the key role that Gareth played in telling that story more than 75 years ago. The film you are about to see shows how the two stories are inextricably entwined and is a lasting legacy from those who suffered the tragedy first-hand to be passed on to those who did not, ensuring that the lessons of the past will never be forgotten.