London: The chilling private diaries of a British reporter, who was murdered for exposing wartime Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's atrocities, are to go on public display for the first time.
Gareth Jones trekked across Soviet Ukraine – then officially off limits to Western journalists -- to report on the "Holomodor" -- the man-made famine that killed millions between 1932 and 1933.
In March 1933, Jones returned to Berlin to file a press release describing how millions of peasants were starving to death while the Soviet regime exported grain to the West. His chilling report appeared in world's newspapers, including the 'Manchester Guardian' and the 'New York Evening Post'.
But Jones' work was dismissed as a "scare story" by Western journalists based in Moscow, keen to maintain favour with Stalin's government, and he was banned from the USSR. Two years later, while working in China, he was murdered, aged 30.
Later investigations into the circumstances of his death uncovered a trail of Soviet involvement. Now, 74 years on, his private diaries are to go on display, thanks to Jones' niece Dr Margaret Siriol Colley, now 84, who was 10 when the reporter was murdered and attended his memorial service in 1935.
"I remember when he was captured, and the 16 days of awful agony as we waited to learn whether he would be released. When he died I helped my parents escort his ashes from Paddington to our home in Barry. I have a vivid memory of sitting opposite his casket in the train compartment," she was quoted by 'The Daily Telegraph' as saying.
In fact, in his Ukrainian diaries, Jones recorded seeing hundreds queuing for bread and meeting desperate villagers driven to eat cattle fodder.
Entries describe the suffering he witnessed in chilling detail. Jones wrote about dying families begging him for bread and a starving peasant fishing for orange peel in a spittoon.
First Published: Friday, November 13, 2009, 16:24