| 13Jul2007 | Andy Smart

Was my amazing uncle killed on orders of Stalin?

Since Bramcote GP Dr Margaret Siriol Colley retired, she has dedicated her life to digging for the truth about her uncle's murder 72 years ago. ANDY SMART reports on the end of her quest.

Earlier this week, she drew a line under her quest when she donated her uncle's personal effects to the National Library of Wales for safekeeping.

"It is time to let them go," said Dr Colley, 82. "I am very sad, but they have got to go at some time and they are taking up a lot of room."

Much of the information is documented in two books Dr Colley has written about her uncle's incredible life and mysterious death and she has now decided: "His belongings are part of the history and heritage of Wales."

Gareth Jones, who was born in 1905, crammed an enormous amount into his brief life.

He flew on a plane with Hitler, he worked for Lloyd George as his political secretary and he heroically reported on the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933.

The famine was allegedly organised by Stalin to smash any chance of Ukraine breaking away from the Soviet Union.

Party activists swarmed like locusts over the countryside using metal rods to probe between cottage floorboards to find hidden food. Starved peasants died in the fields and were buried in anonymous mass graves.

In March 1933, Jones, who was working as Lloyd George's Foreign Affairs Adviser, heard about the famine and decided to find out what was happening for himself.

He travelled to Moscow and took the long train south through the endless Eurasian Steppe to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

The snow had fallen heavily as he walked along the railway tracks into the countryside and saw that "there was no bread, many children had swollen stomachs, nearly all the horses and cows had died and people themselves were dying."

The death toll from the events that Jones witnessed could be as high as ten million -- there is no exact figure for victims of the famine, or Holodomor which means "hunger plague", in Ukrainian.

Jones's reports were objectively and beautifully written accounts of human suffering and of a land labouring under the shadow of winter and death.

He was unaware that on December 29 1932, the Communist Party had been instructed to collect every remaining scrap of grain from Ukraine within five days and that military units were surrounding villages in some areas to stop people fleeing. However, he conscientiously recorded the horrific conditions which the Soviets had created. "Along the route that I took going south I noticed frequently patches where the dry skeletons of last year's weeds were peeping above the snow??? I heard the villagers say 'We are waiting for Death'."

Jones was banned from visiting the Soviet Union ever again and his reports were attacked by journalists who wanted to suck up to the Stalin regime.

They enjoyed working in Moscow and were quite happy to lie about millions of people dying while they were living it up in elite restaurants.

Walter Duranty, a well-known American journalist and Moscow correspondent of the New York Times during the 1930s, frankly admitted in private that six million people may have died in the famine.

In public he lied repeatedly. He was awarded with a Pulitzer Prize and a well-paid berth in the Soviet capital.

Dr Colley believes her uncle's exposure of the Soviet-engineered famine and his subsequent murder by bandits was no coincidence.

"It is possible that the Soviet Secret police had a hand in his death," she maintains.

On May 2 2006, a plaque commemorating Gareth Jones was unveiled in the Old College at Aberystwyth University in the presence of the Ukrainian Ambassador and Dr Colley.

The Ambassador, Ihor Kharchenko, described Gareth as an "unsung hero of Ukraine".

"He is also however an unsung hero of Wales, of Britain and of journalism," says Dr Colley.

"It would be a fitting tribute to his memory if the Welsh Assembly passed an Early Day Motion acknowledging his bravery and honesty and condemning the famine genocide which he exposed to the world."

An international campaign is bidding to persuade governments around the world to recognise the Ukrainian famine as a genocide. For more details visit the website

For more information about the two books by Dr Colley, visit

Reader comments

Thanks are in order to Dr. Colley for making the valuable papers of Gareth Jones available to the academic world and the general public. The truth about the Soviet regime and Stalin's genocide against the Ukrainian nation must be known and publicly recognized.
Roman Serbyn, Montreal, Canada

Congratulations to Dr. Colley for speaking out about a subject which has been covered up in more ways than one. Her late uncle Gareth Jones, a very talented, dedicated journalist and an extremely brave man, did something that many others did not - he travelled to Ukraine during the Great Famine, saw the horrors there, and reported about them. This genocide has not been acknowledged as such in Britain. It is time!
Mariana Dzus, Munich, Germany (ex-Nottingham)