A new film, Mr Jones, is receiving rave reviews from the corporate media, praised for bringing to life a forgotten Welsh hero who helped expose supposed Stalinist crimes in Ukraine. Nothing, however, is said of the fact that his journey to Soviet Ukraine began and ended in Nazi Germany, where he was the guest of Adolf Hitler.
Mr Jones – coming to a cinema near you
Presented as a mere ‘Welsh journalist’, Gareth Jones was not in fact anything like your average correspondent for the South Wales Echo. Jones was a well-educated Cambridge graduate, reputedly with family links to Ukraine, a multilingual onetime secretary to former British prime minister David Lloyd George. Strange, then, that he should be remembered merely as a newspaperman.
Gareth Jones travelled to Soviet Ukraine and soon afterwards brought back a story of terrible suffering at the hands of Josef Stalin. Mr Jones was not in the USSR for very long, and in the Ukraine for even less. He was caught by Soviet authorities and thrown out, later travelling to Asia where he was found dead, supposedly killed by Chinese bandits.
The new film from anticommunist Polish director Agnieszka Holland attempts to ‘bring to life’ the claims that Mr Jones travelled to Ukraine and witnessed first-hand a manmade famine there. Hunger he may well have seen, but who put the idea into his head (or into the director’s) that it was manmade, let alone that it was a genocide, as our anti-Soviet director declares (joined of course by the Guardian newspaper)?
Polish director a rabid anti-Stalin hack
At the Internationale FilmFestpiele in Berlin, Ruptly news agency recorded Agnieszka Holland as stating:
“Why Stalin is a hero for contemporary Russians? Don’t ask me. It shows an enslavement of the mind and soul. Stalin was one of the greatest murderers in the history of humanity … and he’s responsible for thousands of millions of lives.”
You would think that being responsible for thousands of millions of deaths, Ms Holland might be able to depict just one factual event from real life in her film about the ‘forgotten hero’ Jones and the mass killer Stalin.
Instead, in this excessive and ludicrous piece of anti-Stalin propaganda, the director portrays Mr Jones eating human flesh – a piece of fantasy so galling that it forced a relation of Mr Jones to write in to the Sunday Times to deny that his great-uncle had ever taken part in cannibalism and to admit that as far as the records show, he never even saw any bodies in Ukraine! (Mr Jones: The true story, as not seen on screen by Philip Colley, The Times, 26 January 2020)
Mr Colley Jr said: “In the film, they have got him up a tree eating bark, eating human flesh, tripping over dead bodies. He didn’t witness any dead bodies or any cannibalism, let alone take part in any.” (Daily journalist’s family hit out at Hollywood over film about his life by David Sharman, Hold the Front Page, 29 January 2020)
But that fact hasn’t stopped BBC Wales from reporting on the man who exposed “a manmade famine in 1930s Ukraine” or the Financial Times from noting: “While Graham Greene lends the film a plot point, George Orwell (Joseph Mawle) turns up on screen, inspired by Jones’s reporting to start work on Animal Farm.”
Readers might be interested to know that the family also deny that Mr Jones ever met Mr Orwell!
What do we know about Mr Jones and who he met?
One or two persons whom Mr Jones most definitely did meet with are Messrs Hitler and Goebbels.
Just days before his entry into the Soviet Union, Gareth Jones took a flight in a private jet with Adolf Hitler and ate dinner at a five-star hotel with Dr Josef Goebbels. His notebooks record the events and are held at the National Library of Wales, pages of which have been uploaded online.
In these notes, Mr Jones recorded his pleasant reflections on Mr Goebbels, whom he saw as jovial and laughing “all the time” with a tremendous sense of humour. The website dedicated to his work, garethjones.org, records that Gareth was in Moscow just ten days after his meeting with Hitler, who at the same time had set fire to the Reichstag.
The jovial arsonists Hitler and Goebbels took Mr Jones to Nazi party rallies and, after his deportation from the USSR, Mr Jones was back in Berlin on 29 March 1933 to tell the German people all about the horrors he had witnessed in the Soviet Union.
From Hitler to the modern-day fascists
Agnieszka Holland, who participated in the ‘Prague spring’, has been honoured by the Ukrainian government for this most recent work of fiction. When she collected an award from the neo-fascists, where only a couple of years ago scores of trade unionists were set on fire inside their offices in Odessa, she saw no irony in declaring:
“I do not normally wear jewellery, but today I’m wearing an earring which symbolises the millions of victims of the great famine orchestrated by Stalin in the Ukraine … It shows that social engineering and megalomaniac power can lead to the destruction of nature and suffering, and eventually the deaths of millions. At the same time, Stalin managed to convince the world he is in charge of an island of freedom and justice.”
“This is an allusion to populist leaders who believe that powers gives them the right to design human beings, to design societies, nature or destroy nature,” she said. “Unfortunately we have a lot of populist leaders at the moment.” (Holland picks up best-movie award for film about the Ukraine’s great famine by Matt Day, The First News, 23 September 2019)
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky awarded Holland the Order of Princess Olga.
Journalistic fraud in the 1930s
In the autumn of 1934, an American using the name of Thomas Walker entered the Soviet Union. After less than a week in Moscow, the remainder of his 13-day stay was spent in transit to the Manchurian border, at which point he left the USSR never to return.
Four months later, a series of articles began to appear in the Hearst press in America by Walker, who was described as a “noted journalist, traveller and student of Russian affairs who has spent several years touring the Union of Soviet Russia”.
The articles described a famine in Ukraine that had claimed six million lives, and was illustrated with photographs of corpses and starving children. Walker was said to have smuggled in a camera under “the most difficult and dangerous circumstances”.
Louis Fischer, an American writer living in Moscow at the time, was suspicious. Why had the Hearst press sat on these sensational stories for ten months before publication? He established that Walker’s short visit to the Soviet Union could not possibly have allowed him even to visit the areas he claimed to describe and to have photographed.
He also pointed out that Walker’s photographic evidence was distinctly odd: not only were the pictures suggestive of an earlier decade (Fischer thought probably of the 1921 Volga famine), but they contained a mixture of scenes from both summer and winter. Fischer also noted that the 1933 harvest in the Ukraine had been a good one.
Some of the pictures were subsequently identified as having been taken in the Austro-Hungarian empire and in World War 1, and it was known that Hearst newspapers were digging up old pictures and retouching them for use as anti-Soviet propaganda.
Pictures sometimes appeared labelled as having been taken in Russia, and at other times the same picture was relocated to Ukraine for obviously political reasons.
Not only were the photographs a fraud, and the trip to Ukraine a fraud, but Thomas Walker himself was a fraud, turning out to be an escaped convict by the name of Robert Green, who had served time in jail for forgery.
At his subsequent trial following recapture, he admitted that the series of pictures used in the Hearst newspaper articles were fakes and had not been taken in the Ukraine as claimed.
Despite these facts, the same photos are still used on commemoration posters and websites today, as well as featuring in the film Harvest of Despair.
Far from exposing the crimes of Stalin and the USSR, the new film Mr Jones exposes the utter bankruptcy of modern western cinema and the thoughtless, prejudiced, virulently anticommunist propagandists who fill positions at the Guardian and other such institutions.
These real falsifiers of history need to be exposed and confronted for the barefaced liars that they are.