Hitler, Stalin and Mr Jones

Gareth Jones

Gareth Jones

04 July 2012

A former graduate of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth is the subject of a fascinating BBC4 documentary which was first aired on Thursday 5 July.

Hitler, Stalin and Mr Jones is part of the award winning series Storyville and can be viewed online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01kg4tx

Gareth Jones was an investigative journalist, born in Barry who travelled extensively through Russia and the Ukraine in the early 1930’s. He graduated from Aberystwyth in 1926 with a first in French before heading for Cambridge where he studied Russian.

After a period of working as a secretary for Lloyd George he travelled to Germany as Hitler ascended to power before visiting Russia several times in the early 1930’s.

With his knowledge of Russian, he was able to get off the beaten path roaming the country, meeting the people and saw for himself the mass deportations and  enforced starvation imposed on millions of people in the Ukraine and Russia by Stalin and the Soviet system.

On his return he was the first to write about the horrendous conditions which he witnessed in the Ukraine, exposing the grim reality of life under Stalin. This caused much controversy as many of the journalistic fraternity were very sympathetic to the Russian dictator and the communist system.

His reports for the The Times, the New York Evening Post and the Manchester Guardian, were widely circulated through Britain and the United States and as a result Stalin banned him from visiting Russia.

Undaunted, he still continued with his journalistic work, travelling to America to report on the Great Depression before moving on to the far east in 1934. He initially vistied Japan, and then continued into Japanese occupied China before turning his sights to Inner Mongolia, where he was caught by bandits and shot in mysterious circumstances at the age of 30.

One of the contributors to the programme is the historian, Professor Aled Gruffydd Jones, Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor at Aberystwyth University. Professor Jones advised on the history of Welsh student politics in the 1920s and the Liberal Party and Lloyd George.

On 2 May 2006, a plaque was unveiled in Gareth Jones' memory in the Old College at Aberystwyth University by the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, who described him as an "unsung hero of Ukraine".

Jones was also posthumously awarded in 2008 with the Ukrainian Order of Merit at a ceremony in Westminster Central Hall, by Ambassador of Ukraine to the UK, in reward for his exceptional services to the country and its people.

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