Walter Duranty

Walter Duranty


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Walter Duranty was born in Liverpool on 25th May 1884. His father, William Steel Durranty, was a prosperous merchant who had inherited a sizeable fortune from his father, Alexander Duranty. It was a religious family and Walter later wrote: "When I was a child in Englands ecular books were not considered suitable reading for the young on the Sabbath Day, and their place was taken by improving works, like Pilgrim's Progress or, as in my home, by Foxe's Book of Martyrs, profusely illustrated... with martyrs being tortured."

Duranty was educated at Harrow School and soon showed a facility for language and according to his biographer, Sally J. Taylor, could translate English text "into perfect French, Latin and Greek... It was only in mathematics that the young Duranty fell down, turning in a mediocre performance." Duranty recalled that life at Harrow "was primarily a toughening or hardening process in which children learnt to conceal or repress their more tender emotions, and to create for themselves a fairly cheerful and self-controlled existence away from their homes."

Disaster struck in 1894. As James William Crowl pointed out: "When he was ten, Duranty's parents were killed in a train crash... Duranty was sent to live with his father's aging bachelor uncle who largely turned him over to a succession of English public schools. It was the beginning of his study of the classics... Smaller than is classmates and still trying to adjust to the loss of his family, he had to endure the taunts of fellow students because of his middle-class background. His unhappiness in these years left a lasting imprint, and much of his determination to excel and prove himself apparently stemmed from these early school experiences."

In 1903 Duranty began his studies at Emmanuel College. He enjoyed his time at Cambridge University and later claimed it "trained his mind" and "taught him how to "meet people without embarrassment". He took part in university debates which encouraged him "to get up on his feet and talk" and leant how to play bridge and poker. Duranty was also a keen member of the rowing team.

While at university one of his tutors told him that he was "unstable" and would not achieve much in life. Duranty later recalled: "I was much cast down by this reproof until one day I thought to myself that I did not particularly want to excel. What I wanted, I thought, and what I still want, I know, is to see and hear new things, and to find out - to find out the great things of world affairs and the samall things in people's minds, not for any profound purpose, good, bad, or indifferent, but for my own interest, entertainment and... amusement. It is perhaps a selfish philosophy and somewhat negative, but it is neither greedy nor cruel; nor is it foolish or frightened."

The author of Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty (1990) argues that Duranty was not an attractive looking young man: "He had a mug face, his hairline high, receding a bit already. He wore his hair cropped short in an abbreviated Roman style. His thick-lipped, sensual mouth seemed to have a slightly cynical twist around the corners. The nose was fine-chiseled but a shade too large, that bit too flat. The only relief in this none-too-handsome face was a pair of clear, gray eyes, slightly hooded, twinkling, letting it be known somehow that one was in the presence of a keen intellect, a man with an unusual sense of mischief and of humor. At full height, Duranty was no taller than five feet six inches; this as well as the look of youthful idealism he conveyed in his more serious moments made him look a good deal younger than he was. And his lively manner, his outrageous talk, added to the impression."

After leaving university Duranty spent his time enjoying himself in London, New York City and Paris. This was financed by a the trust fund his wealthy grandfather had provided. Duranty enjoyed the company of women. One of his girlfriends said: "He had a kind of magic... He could make you laugh. An evening with him was like an evening with no one else." Harrison Salisbury called him "one of the great lady's men of his generation". Another recalled: "When he hit upon a fascinating topic, like sex or politics, Duranty's eyes would sparkle with a tiny gleam, at once humourous and intriguing. And part of his charm was that Duranty... was also a good listener, always allowing the other person to talk as well."

Duranty became a close friend of Aleister Crowley. One person commented that their friendship was "cemented by the pair's common interest in smoking opium and in a woman, said to be a former artist's model... Jane Cheron." Crowley was later to describe Cheron in The Diary of a Drug Fiend (1922): "She was a brilliant brunette with a flashing smile and eyes with pupils like pin-points. She was a mass of charming contradictions. The nose and mouth suggested more than a trace of Semitic blood, but the wedge-shaped contour of the face betokened some very opposite strain. Her cheeks were hollow, and crow's feet marred the corners of her eyes. Dark purple rims suggested sensual indulgence pushed to the point of weariness. Though her hair was luxuriant, the eyebrows were almost non-existent. She had pencilled fine black arches above them."

While in New York City he met the journalist, Alexander Woollcott, who later commented about Durranty: "No other man... could make a purposeless hour at the sidewalk cafe so memorably delightful." They visited nightclubs and theatres together and it was Woolcott who first gave Durrantly the idea that he should take up journalism.

On his return to Paris he went to visit, Wythe Williams, the bureau chief of the New York Times. He took with him an article about the pilot, Adolphe Pégoud, who had just completed the world's first "looping the loop". Williams claimed that Duranty had "no sense of journalism" and therefore could not publish it. Duranty replied: "I know that... You please rewrite it and let me watch how it is done." Williams recalled in Dusk of Empire: The Decline of Europe (1937): "I did so with Duranty looking over my shoulder, and gave this well-known journalist his first lesson in preparing copy for a newspaper."

The article about Pégoud appeared in the New York Times on 2nd September, 1913: "Several days ago he left his machine in midair and came to earth in a parachute. While dropping to the ground he saw his aeroplane fly upside down by itself and land safely, right side up. He then conceived the idea of making the machine repeat the performance, with himself in it... At the moment of his departure he was by far the calmest person present. He rose to a height of 3,000 feet and then turned the nose of the machine earthward. For 200 feet it fell like a stone. It then turned inward till it was flying on its back, after which it rose perpendicularly upward. Then it completed the circle by regaining its normal flying position, having accomplished an apparent impossibility."

Duranty continued to visit Wythe Williams who later recorded : "His eyes always shining as he asked questions about what made up the news." Duranty brought several ideas for stories and eventually, in December, 1914, he decided to employ Duranty: "He (Duranty) finally talked himself into a position because he talked so much I could no longer refuse him and arranged with the New York Times to give him a salary."

In the winter of 1914 Alexander Woollcott, who also worked for the New York Times, joined Duranty and Williams in Paris. During this period Duranty described Woollcott as "an exhilarating companion of my youth". They together covered the trial of Henriette Caillaux, who had murdered Gaston Calmette, the editor of Le Figaro, who she had accused of slandering her husband, Joseph Caillaux, the Minister of Finance.

On the outbreak of the First World War Duranty, still based in Paris, was in a good position to report on the war. Other journalists who joined him in France included Richard Harding Davis, Philip Gibbs, Percival Phillips, William Beach Thomas, Henry Perry Robinson, Herbert Russell, Frederick Palmer, Floyd Gibbons, Edwin L. James and William Bolitho who worked for the Manchester Guardian. Duranty later argued that Bolitho taught him "nearly all about the newspaper business that is worth knowing." He added that Bolitho "possessed to a remarkable degree... the gift of making a quick and accurate summary of facts and drawing there from the right, logical and inevitable conclusions."

At first Duranty concentrated on reporting the impact that the war was having on civilians. In January 1916, he was in a French town behind the front-line that was hit by German howitzer guns: "At the smitten street... the firemen and police were busy amid the ruin, and bodies awaiting removal to the Morgue were lying on heaps of rubbish in the narrow courtyards. The houses that had been hit looked exactly like the photographs of gun-ravaged towns. Here half the front of a house had been torn away, leaving a child's cot hanging over the edge. Its occupant was somewhere under the ruins, and the neighbors were trying to comfort the frantic mother in the next-door kitchen. The worst case of all was a five-storey tenement at the end of a cul-de-sac.... Here the family of a zouave, Auguste Petitjcan, were celebrating the father's leave from the front. His wife and 15-year-old daughter, Lucie, his old father-in-law... and his sister... with her two little boys... had gathered around a table to hear stories of the war. Suddenly the war struck them. All seven were killed instantly. When I left there four bodies already had been recovered."

Wythe Williams was the main journalist covering the war for the New York Times. However, he got into serious trouble with the authorities in April 1917 when he sent an article criticizing French politicians and generals over the failed Nivelle Offensive without submitting it for approval. He was only saved from deportation by the intervention of George Clemenceau. Williams was now transferred to army headquarters and Duranty took over as the newspaper's main reporter from the front-line.

Frederick Palmer, who by this time was working as a censor, commented that it was a difficult job reporting the war: "The journalists... went and came always with a sense of incapacity and sometimes with a feeling that writing was a worthless business when others were fighting." Duranty later commented: "There were things I saw in the war which won't bear telling, but after a time you became hardened or callous or maybe a little crazy for the rest of your life."

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In his report for the New York Times on 3rd June, 1918, Duranty compared the battlefields to those of the American Civil War: "The observer might be watching a reproduction of one of the battle stories of Ambrose Bierce. Here is a battery position at the edge of a wood. A little further machine guns are installed to sweep the river bank, and among the trees behind them a battalion of infantry is under cover... On the heights to the left sudden smoke clouds leap up incessantly where the shells are obstructing the advance of the German infantry toward Chateau Thierry. From time to time one catches sight of them scurrying forward like ants across an interval of meadow between the woods that cover most of the country."

As Sally J. Taylor, the author of Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty (1990) has argued: "Duranty's rousing prose, heroic in form to match the momentous events he was describing. The ebullience and energy of his style were incomparable, even on the staff of the New York Times, and it brought him growing fame as a page-one war correspondent.... Duranty had this ability to figure out what readers would be curious about, what they wanted to know... imaginative, observant, he made a feast of the leavings of the other correspondents."

Duranty developed a reputation for writing reports that were highly critical of the Russian Revolution and the decision of Lenin and the Bolshevik Government for withdrawing from the First World War. "At French headquarters it was an axiom that the Bolsheviks were enemies of God and Man, and sold to Germany - a loathsome union of anti-Christ and Judas." Duranty believed that if Russia had remained on the side of the Allied forces, the war would now be over.

At the end of the First World War Duranty applied to enter Russia to report on the Civil War. The authorities refused as they had been upset by his hostile reporting in the New York Times. He therefore travelled to Finland where he reported on the initial White Guard victories over the Red Army. However, on 21st November, 1919, he admitted that General Nikolai Yudenich had withdrawn to Estonia "thoroughly beaten". Duranty was highly critical of the revolutionaries and described Bolshevism as "a compound of force, terror and espionage, utterly ruthless in conception and execution".

The following month Duranty was reporting the arrests of Bolsheviks in Latvia and the plan to export the communist revolution to the United States: "A great Bolshevist conspiracy has just been discovered here, and the leaders with the principal subordinates have been arrested to the number of 100. The object was to overthrow the Government and establish Bolshevist rule. Last, but not least, a Russian sailor was taken bearing large sums of money and jewels of great value concealed in the soles of his boots and a letter from one of Lenin's closest satellites to comrades in America... It is said to contain minute directions for the conduct of the Bolshevist campaign in America, for the organization of various centres, and the methods to be followed subsequently."

During this period Duranty was extremely hostile to the new Russian government. He wrote in the New York Times in January 1920: "An interrogation of Red prisoners in which The New York Times correspondent took part a couple of days ago reveals the Bolshevik system in its true light as one of the most damnable tyrannies in history. It is a pity some of the zealous advocates of Bolshevist theories were not present to learn how Bolshevism works in practice. Actually it is a compound of force, terror and espionage, utterly ruthless in conception and execution."

In March 1920 Duranty went to report on the communist rebellion that was taking place in the Rhineland. He was joined by his friend, William Bolitho, who had recently been covering a rebellion by coal miners in Alten Essen. Bolitho had spent time with the revolutionaries and was amazed by their attitude. According to Sally J. Taylor: "He told the leaders they had only one chance, and that was to threaten to blow up all the key mines and factories in the area, then go ahead and blow one up to show they meant to do what they threatened. Bolitho advised them that they could then bargain for certain political and economic concessions, as well as their own pardons... They had told Bolitho that if they blew up the mines, they would have nowhere to work afterwards. They preferred to throw themselves on the mercy of the authorities, who, Bolitho told Duranty, had already begun executing the men even before he could get out of town."

In the summer of 1921, Carr Van Anda, the managing director of the New York Times, sent Duranty to report on the new policy of war communism in Russia. At first, Maxim Litvinov, refused to let him into the country because of his previous hostile stories about the government. George Seldes, of the Chicago Tribune, said that nobody expected Duranty to get a visa. "Litvinov singled Walter Duranty out - he didn't want to admit him."

However, Litvinov changed his mind and did issue him with a visa after he read an article by Duranty that appeared in the New York Times on 13th August, 1921: "Lenin has thrown communism overboard. His signature appears in the official press of Moscow in August 9, abandoning State ownership, with the exception of a definite number of great industries of national importance - such as were controlled by the State in France, England and Germany during the war - and re-establishing payment by individuals for railroads, postal and other public services." However, like the other Western journalists, he was still not allowed into the famine areas.

David Randall, the author of The Great Reporters (2005) has argued: "Some time that summer, word began to leak out of the new Soviet state that people in their millions were starving in the Volga region. Checking these rumours was easier said than done. The Bolshevik government allowed no Western journalists to be based in Moscow, and coverage of the country was in the hands of reporters who hung around Riga's restaurants talking to emigres, White Russians and other unreliable witnesses.... The Soviets were not letting them in; they wanted US food aid, but were afraid the full extent of the tragedy would be revealed. After the Tribune's men kicked their heels for a week, Chicago cabled Floyd Gibbons to go to Riga himself..... The rest of the press had dutifully filled out an application form for entry. Not Gibbons. Instead he told his German pilot to keep his plane primed for take-off, and let it be known around the bars that lie was thinking of making an illicit flight into Russia. Sure enough, informants picked up the story, and next day Gibbons was summoned to see Litvinov, the Soviet ambassador. The meeting pitted the two wiliest brains in Riga against each other. Litvinov said he knew about Gibbons's plane, and warned him that if he tried to fly across the border he would be shot down. Gibbons countered by pointing out that the Russian border ran from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and anti-aircraft guns covered a mere traction of it. Litvinov then threatened to have Gibbons arrested, to which the reporter replied that the Soviets had just released all their US prisoners in order to secure food aid and were not likely to start incarcerating Americans again. Checkmate. That night, while the rest of the press fumed in Riga, Gibbons boarded a train for Moscow with Litvinov, and, after a few days in the capital, was on another train bound for the Volga."

Duranty said that Floyd Gibbons "fully deserved his success because he had accomplished the feat of bluffing the redoubtable Litvinov stone-cold... a noble piece of work." Over the next few days Gibbons was the only reporter to document the horrifying prospect of the deaths of as many as fifteen million people from starvation.

Duranty arrived in the Samara six days after Gibbons. He reported that the children were so thin that their "fingers are postively no fatter than a good sized match" and their arms were "no wider than rulers." One boy's face was "shrunk to the size of a woman's hand and the blue eyes are utterly disinterested. The body may weigh fourteen pounds - just skin tense over the wasted little skeleton." He added that unlike the children, most adults did not die "of actual hunger, but typhus, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and scurvy, the diseases of malnutrition, took their plenteous toll."

A week later Duranty was back in Moscow reporting that it was possible to dine well if you knew where to go and if you had the right money. He described the meals available in a restaurant near to his hotel: "fresh Astrakhan caviar, with pre-war vodka; white bread and butter, delicious borscht soup, with old sherry; grilled salmon and roast partridge, with vontage burgundy or champagne; cakes of every kind, cream, sugar, custard, fine Russian cheese, hot-house grapes, old port and older cognac."

Duranty accepted the policy of submitting his articles to the Russian censor before sending them to the New York Times. One of the American journalists based in the city, Paul Sheffer, later recalled: "The journalist in Moscow had to become master of a new art: the art of telling three-quarters, a half, still smaller fractions, of the truth; the art of not telling the truth in such a way that the truth would be made apparent to a thoughtful reader; or conversely, the art of telling the whole truth up to the point where its negative or positive significance would become apparent."

Duranty claimed that Bolshevik censorship was easier to deal with the restrictions imposed on him by the French authorities during the First World War. On 13th September 1923, complained: "Freedom of speech, as the term is understood in America, does not exist in Russia. Newspapers are all state-controlled and nothing may appear that does not meet the approval of the censorship." He went on to argue that the "country was too backward to understand what they were attempting, so the leaders of the country were obliged to control the reading material of the masses for their own good." He went on to argue that censorship had been tolerable until the trial of Archbishop Zepliak, when "panic and fear" began to dominate the Russian censors.

In his autobiography, Write As I Please (1935), Duranty recorded that William Bolitho once told him: "Don't forget ... that the majority of people and the majority of opinions are nearly always wrong about everything, not always, but nearly always, and if you ever are in doubt and can't make up your mind, and have to make it up, there are long odds in favor of your being right if you take the opposite view from the majority." Duranty claimed that he followed this advice and was always wary of information provided by the Russian authorities. Carr Van Anda, the managing editor of the New York Times, disagreed and told Duranty that he could not understand why he did not report on the execution of Father Butchkavitch, one of Zepliak's co-defendants.

Many years later Duranty admitted that it did not do a good job with the trial of Zepliak and Butchkavitch: "Honesty compels me to add that from a newspaper point of view I mishandled the whole trial. To begin with I underestimated its news value at home, which is an unpardonable sin for a reporter to commit; secondly, I was convinced that it was a more or less formal affair which would end quietly with an exchange of prisoners. At the outset I may have been right in this opinion but I held on to it too long and played down a story that I should have written up. My New York office dealt with my shortcomings more in sorrow than in anger, but I realized that I had failed them and asked myself why."

Despite the complaints that his reports were too pro-Soviet, Duranty was appointed as the New York Times correspondent in Moscow. One of his main tasks was to interpret government policy. In September 1923 Duranty speculated that Joseph Stalin and not Leon Trotsky would take over the leadership of the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin. "Trotsky is a great executive, but his brain cannot compare with Lenin's in analytical power.... But during the last year Stalin has shown judgment and analytical power not unworthy of Lenin. It is to him that the greatest part of the credit is clue for bringing about the new Russian Union, which history may regard as one of the most remarkable Constitutions in human history. Trotsky helped him in drawing it up, but Stalin's brain guided the pen."

Durantlater explained to his fellow reporter, Hubert Knickerbocker: "Of course I didn't go Bolshevik or think Bolshevism would work in Western countries or be good for them. I don't believe I even cared in those days whether it would be good for Russia, or work there in practice. But I did think that the Bolsheviks would win in their own country and that the Soviet Union would become a great force in world affairs."

While in Moscow Duranty married Jane Cheron. A regular visitor to their rented apartment was the journalist, George Seldes. He later recalled that Duranty was the "kind of man who wouldn't hesitate to attempt sexual conquests with his wife present." They employed a young cook, who Seldes described as "a very pretty peasant girl... pretty and young and vivacious and all of that; and tall, for a Russian." According to Seldes the young woman quickly became Duranty's mistress and Jane did not appear to be terribly upset by the arrangement.

Another visitor during this period was Bill Hayward, the former leader of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and senior figure in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Haywood had opposed the United States becoming involved in the First World War and he was arrested under the Espionage Act. After a long trial Haywood was sentenced to a fine of $20,000 and twenty years' imprisonment. Haywood jumped bail and fled to the Soviet Union. Hayward told Duranty he was "used to fighting scabs and police and mine-guards, but could not really tolerate the continuous ideological talk of the Bolsheviks. He predicted that the Soviet leadership would eventually split over these issues.

Duranty also got to know Alexandra Kollontai, a leading feminist in Soviet Russia. It was claimed that Duranty "was fascinated by Kollontai's controversial attitudes toward the relations between the sexes". During this period Kollontai suggested that "erotic friendships" among Bolsheviks that could "function as part of communism by forging bonds of commradely solidarity". To some of her critics she was advocating sexual promiscuity.

Kollantai became increasing critical of the Communist Party and joined with her friend, Alexander Shlyapnikov (Commissar for Labour) to form a faction that became known as the Workers' Opposition. In 1921 Kollantai published a pamphlet The Workers' Opposition, where she called for members of the party to be allowed to discuss policy issues and for more political freedom for trade unionists. She also advocated that before the government attempts to "rid Soviet institutions of the bureaucracy that lurks within them, the Party must first rid itself of its own bureaucracy." This attack on the Bolsheviks meant the end of Kollantai's political career in Russia. At the Tenth Party Congress in 1922, Lenin proposed a resolution that would ban all factions within the party. He argued that factions within the party were "harmful" and encouraged rebellions such as the Kronstadt Rising. The Party Congress agreed with Lenin and the Workers' Opposition was dissolved.

In 1923 George Seldes was expelled from the country. Seldes later reported in the Chicago Tribune that the main problem was the role played by Cheka in the Soviet Union: "Freedom, liberty, justice as we know it, democracy, all the fundamental human rights for which the world has been fighting for civilized centuries, have been abolished in Russia in order that the communist experiment might be made. They have been kept suppressed by the Cheka." Duranty responded by defending the country. He argued that: "freedom of speech and the press in America and England are the slow outcome of a centuries long fight for personal freedom. How can you expect Russia, just emerged from blackest tyranny, to share the attitude of Anglo-Saxons who struck the blow against royal tyrants a thousand years ago at Runnymede?"

Duranty also spent time in Berlin where he worked alongside journalists such as Edgar Ansel Mowrer, Hubert Knickerbocker, Dorothy Thompson, William Henry Chamberlin and Eugene Lyons. According to Mowrer: "Berlin in the nineteen twenties was a kind of stopping off place not only for Russians heading west, but for Americans entering or leaving the Soviet Union, including those who lived there and needed occasionally to come up for air. Among these were newsmen like H. R. Knickerbocker, Frederick Kuh, Walter Duranty, Eugene Lyons, William Henry Chamberlin, and the author, Maurice Hindus. In addition, Samuel Harper, the Russian specialist of the University of Chicago, never went in or out of the Soviet Fatherland without pausing in Berlin to report and enjoy a few good arguments."

Duranty also liked to visit France and while travelling on the boat train from Paris to Le Havre in November 1924, it "ran off the rails in a tunnel and another train ran into it". Duranty later explained how he found himself flying "twenty-five yards through the air". When he regained consciousness he discovered that he had "white pieces of bone sticking out above his shoe". He was taken to a local hospital where the surgeon felt he had to remove the leg between the ankle and the knee.

Duranty was convinced he was going to die. He wrote in Write As I Please (1935): "None of the things I have been afraid of before, complaints by my boss or the loss of my job or the opinion of my friends or any danger, are as bad as the thing I am facing now, which is death by slow torture. Than that there is nothing worse; if I escape it I can say to myself that I at least can no longer be frightened by anyone or anything. Now, facing death, I regret few of the things I have done, but I regret not doing a great many things I might have done and not saying or writing things I might have said or written."

On leaving hospital Duranty went to live with his wife who had recently rented a house in St. Tropez. Duranty was in so much pain that he returned to taking drugs. He found that morphine made the pain bearable, the morphine led to opium. Duranty admitted that "after a while, you are thoroughly hooked, and the horrible nightmares begin, and you find you are stuck like a fly on flypaper." He told a young friend: "If you ever get the chance, smoke opium two times. The first time, it will make you sick. The second time, smoke to enjoy it. And then, don't ever smoke it again!" Duranty told his friend, Robin Kinkead, that he eventually gave up drugs because they took away his sex drive - "an intolerable condition".

In January, 1924, Duranty returned to Moscow. Later that month he reported the death of Lenin; "Premier Lenin died last night at 6.50 o'clock. The immediate cause of death was paralysis of the respiratory centres due to a cerebral haemorrhage." On 24th January he described Lenin lying in state: "In the center of tile room Lenin lay on a high couch with four columns that gave the effect of a sort of old-fashioned four-poster bed without curtains. Over his feet was a grey rug with something stencilled on it, over his body a dark red blanket; and his head rested bare on a white pillow. The face was a yellow-white, like wax, without the slightest wrinkle and utterly calm. The eyes were closed, yet the expression was one of looking forward seeking something beyond his vision."

Duranty continued to predict that Joseph Stalin would eventually overcome Leon Trotsky to become the leader of the Soviet Union. On 31st July, 1926, he wrote that Trotsky was a "far abler and more popular" leader, Stalin had "more political sense than the rest of the Communist Party put together". Duranty went on to argue: "He (Stalin) is a remarkable personality, this son of a Georgian cobbler who veils his cold-blooded astuteness behind an apparently brusque simplicity." On 18th October he was reporting the "complete defeat for Trotsky and his associates". Sally J. Taylor, the author of Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty (1990) has suggested: "It was not a matter of Duranty's preferring one Socialist leader to the other. It was a matter of being right."

In December, 1926, Averell Harriman arrived in the Soviet Union on business matters. Duranty told him to meet with Stalin as he was the man of the future. Harriman later recalled that he found the journalist "particularly well-informed" with "good judgment". Harriman did not consider Duranty to be left-wing but explained that at that time "you were accused of being pro-Soviet" if you predicted the communist system in the Soviet Union would last.

Duranty also became friends with Dorothy Thompson. Taylor: "Her presence in Moscow was the occasion for a good deal of socializing, which included meeting other reporters in the Soviet capital." Thompson met Sinclair Lewis at one of Duranty's parties. Taylor points out: "Lewis and his wife were the guests of honor at a dinner given at Duranty's apartment. Always known for his outrageous behaviour. Lewis discoursed wisely on this occasion, did a brilliant reading of his own work, and then, dead drunk, fell asleep on Duranty's couch. Finally, not knowing what else to do, everybody just went home. Duranty always held it against Lewis, believing that Lewis had behaved deplorably."

During this period Duranty became friends with Louis Fischer and Vincent Sheean. He was also close to Hubert Knickerbocker, the Moscow correspondent for the International News Service. The two men began collaborating on a series of short stories. They agreed to write one a week. They then exchanged their stories and edited one another's work. The plan was to submit the stories they wrote together under Duranty's name, since it was better known than Knickerbocker's name.

In 1927 Knickerbocker was posted to Berlin but they continued to write stories together. On 27th June Duranty wrote to Knickerbocker: "I have just had a foul and bitter disappointment. That lousy bastard in New York wrote me a pompous and idiotic letter the upshot whereof was that he was sending the stories back without even trying to place any of them. I still don't really understand why, because he said they were splendidly written." According to Duranty the agent complained the stories "resembled episodes from real life rather than short stories and also deal with persons and events alien to American life." Duranty dismissed these views because it was "highbrow nonsense about the form and function of the short story... I suppose the blighter has never heard of Maupassant or disapproves of him".

In the summer of 1927 Vincent Sheean introduced Duranty to his new girlfriend, Rayna Prohme. Rayna wanted to study at the Lenin Institute "to be trained as a revolutionary instrument". Sheean was against the idea arguing that Marxism was "a false cloud". Taylor: "They took rooms together, arguing late into the night about her decision. But she found the debates tiring, and often had trouble getting out of bed the following morning."

While on a visit to the apartment of Dorothy Thompson, another journalist based in the Soviet Union, Rayna fainted. She soon became extremely ill and Durranty arranged for her to be seen by a local doctor. Rayna told Sheean: "The doctor thinks I am losing my mind and that is the worst thing of all. He won't say so, but that is what he thinks. I can tell by the way he holds matches in front of my eyes and tests my responses. He doesn't think I can focus on anything."

Vincent Sheean recalled in his autobiography, Personal History (1933): "She had spoken vaguely of the fear before, and all I could do was say that I did not believe it was well founded. But on the next day she felt certain that this was the case, and it kept her silent and almost afraid to speak, even to me. I sat beside her hour after hour in the dark, silent room, and blackness pressed down and in upon us." Sheean said that two or three times she raised her voice to say: "Don't tell anybody". Rayna Prohme died of encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, on Monday, 21st November 1927.

In November 1927, Duranty received news that one of his stories written with Hubert Knickerbocker, The Parrot , had been accepted for publication in the women's magazine, The Redbook. Knickerbocker was overjoyed: "Upon receipt of your letter I went into a trance during which I consumed half a bottle of Scotch... By God it would be great to get out of this grind of newspaper work. Once we have sold, say, twelve in a row, we could afford to talk about throwing up our jobs. But not until then." The story only made the men $40 but it did win the respected O. Henry Award for the year's best short story. Unfortunately, it was published under Duranty's name and Knickerbocker received none of the glory. Duranty wrote a letter of apology saying it was "awfully unfair that I should get the credit alone... and I'll be glad to sign any letter to the O. Henry people you care to suggest". However, it never happened and Knickerbocker was never acknowledged as the co-author of the story.

Eugene Lyons arrived in Moscow in December, 1927. Lyons wrote in his autobiography, Assignment in Utopia (1937): "Among the newspapermen, Walter Duranty, a little Englishman who had been in the New York Times service since the war, reigned supreme. Urbane, clever to a fault, a scintillating talker, he remained, after all his years in Russia, detached from its life and fate, curiously contemptuous of Russians. He spoke of Soviet triumphs and travail much as he might of a murder mystery he had read, but with not half the passion or sense of personal involvement. His spoken views of the Russian scene, when the mood was upon him, would have shocked New York radicals who mistook him for a Soviet enthusiast, even as they shocked me."

In 1928 John Gunther met Duranty in Moscow. "When one dines with him in Moscow, an extremely pretty girl, smart in semi-evening frock, opens the door, shaking hands. She then disappears again, and late in the evening, asks Walter if he wants to get to work, she has finished the Izvestia proofs. Then they go to bed together. In the morning, she shines the shoes. Mistress, secretary, servant. An unholy trinity for you! Of course, by Moscow law, since they share the same residence, she’s his wife, too."

In January 1930, an announcement of an all-out drive to collectivize agriculture, was published in Pravda. It was a belated admission of events that had been taking place in the countryside for almost two years. In an article published by Walter Duranty in the New York Times he argued: "Stalin in my opinion marks the beginning of a new militant phase - like militant communism - and is out to accomplish what Lenin could not - collectivization of the peasants".

Joseph Stalin had decided that the peasants were putting their own welfare before that of the Soviet Union. Local communist officials were given instructions to confiscate kulaks property. This land would then be used to form new collective farms. It has been argued that in the next eight weeks ten million peasant households were forced to join collective farms. The kulaks resisted this process. It has been estimated that during this period some "fourteen million head of cattle were destroyed, one-third of all pigs, one-quarter of all sheep and goats".

Stalin gave orders that the kulaks were to be "liquidated as a class". This was to take the form of exile either to Central Asia or to the timber regions of Siberia, where they were used as forced labour. Taylor: "Many of those exiled died, either along the way or in the makeshift camps where they were dumped, with inadequate food, clothing, and housing." Thousands were executed and an estimated five million were deported. Of these, approximately twenty-five per cent perished by the time they reached their destination.

Walter Duranty visited Central Asia in April 1930 and reported on the fate of the kulaks: "At the windows haggard faces, men and women, or a mother holding her child, with hands outstretched for a crust of bread or a cigarette. It was only the end of April but the heat was torrid and the air that came from the narrow windows was foul and stifling; for they had been fourteen days en route, not knowing where they were going nor caring much. They were more like caged animals than human beings, not wild beasts but dumb cattle, patient with suffering eyes. Debris and jetsam, victims of the March to Progress."

Eugene Lyons loyalty to the Soviet government resulted in him being chosen as the first western journalist to be granted an interview with Joseph Stalin. It took place on 22nd November, 1930. Lyons claimed that: "One cannot live in the shadow of Stalin's legend without coming under its spell. My pulse, I am sure, was high. No sooner, however, had I stepped across the threshold than diffidence and nervousness fell away. Stalin met me at the door and shook hands, smiling. There was a certain shyness in his smile and the handshake was not perfunctory. He was remarkably unlike the scowling, self-important dictator of popular imagination. His every gesture was a rebuke to the thousand little bureaucrats who had inflicted their puny greatness upon me in these Russian years.... At such close range, there was not a trace of the Napoleonic quality one sees in his self-conscious camera or oil portraits. The shaggy mustache, framing a sensual mouth and a smile nearly as full of teeth as Teddy Roosevelt's, gave his swarthy face a friendly, almost benignant look."

Duranty was furious when he heard that Stalin had granted Lyons this interview. He protested to the Soviet Press office that as the longest-serving Western correspondent in the country it was unfair not to give him an interview as well. A week after the interview Duranty was also granted an interview. Stalin told him that after the Russian Revolution the capitalist countries could have crushed the Bolsheviks: "But they waited too long. It is now too late." Stalin commented that the United States had no choice but to watch "socialism grow".

In the interview Stalin did express the fear that the Great Depression would lead to another world war. "When, where, and on what pretext it will begin I cannot tell, but it is inevitable that the efforts of the stronger power to overcome the economic crisis will force them to crush their weaker rivals. That does not necessary mean war - not for the time being - until a later day, when the giant powers must fight for markets among themselves."

Duranty argued that unlike Leon Trotsky Stalin was not gifted with any great intelligence, but "he had nevertheless outmaneuvered this brilliant member of the intelligentsia". On 18th January, 1931, he wrote in the New York Times: "Stalin has created a great Frankenstein monster, of which... he has become an integral part, made of comparatively insignificant and mediocre individuals, but whose mass desires, aims, and appetites have an enormous and irresistible power. I hope it is not true, and I devoutly hope so, but it haunts me unpleasantly. And perhaps haunts Stalin."

Duranty was one of the first journalists to identify correctly the changes that Joseph Stalin was making to the Soviet economy. On 14th June, 1931 Duranty argued in the New York Times that "the dominant principle in Russia today" was not "Marxism or Leninism" but "Stalinism". In his book, Write As I Please (1935): Stalin got rid of NEP as soon as he could, but instead of reverting to dogmatic Marxism, went forward to a collectvist system which the Russians... call socialism and which actually is not far removed from state capitalism. This is Stalinism as distinguished from Leninism."

Walter Duranty's wife was now living permanently in France. He obtained a large apartment at 53 Bolshaya Ordinka. The household included his mistress Katya, a chauffeur (Duranty owned a five-passenger touring car), a charlady and a cook. He also employed an assistant, Robin Kinkead, who did most of his research. Duranty told Kinkead that "most people are interested in sex and gold and blood, and if you get a story in which the lead combines all of those, you've got something."

In 1932 Duranty won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting of the Soviet Five Year Plan. The citation said: "Mr. Duranty's dispatches show profundity and intimate comprehension of conditions in Russia and of the causes of those conditions. They are marked by scholarship, profundity, impartiality, sound judgment and exceptional clarity and are excellent examples of the best type of foreign correspondence." James William Crowl argued in his book, Angels in Stalin's Paradise (1982): "What is so remarkable about Duranty's selection for the Pulitzer is that, for a decade, his reports had been slanted and distorted in a way that made a mockery of the award citation. Probably without parallel in the history of these prestigious prizes, the 1932 award went to a man whose reports concealed or disguised the conditions they claimed to reveal, and who may even have been paid by the Soviets for his deceptions."

In his acceptance speech Duranty pointed out: "I went to the Baltic states viciously anti-Bolshevik. From the French standpoint the Bolsheviks had betrayed the allies to Germany, repudiated the debts, nationalized women and were enemies of the human race. I discovered that the Bolsheviks were sincere enthusiasts, trying to regenerate a people that had been shockingly misgoverned, and I decided to try to give them their fair break. I still believe they are doing the best for the Russian masses and I believe in Bolshevism - for Russia - but more and more I am convinced it is unsuitable for the United States and Western Europe. It won't spread westward unless a new war wrecks the established system."

Some people argued that Duranty had been involved in a cover-up concerning the impact of the economic changes that were taking place in the Soviet Union. An official at the British Embassy reported on the 21st June 1932: "A record of over-staffing, overplanning and complete incompetence at the centre; of human misery, starvation, death and disease among the peasantry... the only creatures who have any life at all in the districts visited are boars, pigs and other swine. Men, women, and children, horses and other workers are left to die in order that the Five Year Plan shall at least succeed on paper."

Duranty argued that the United States should assume normal diplomatic relations with the Soviet government. With the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt to the presidency, the diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union seemed assured. In November 1933 the Soviets were invited to send a representative to Washington to begin negotiations. Duranty obtained permission to accompany Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov on his historic journey across the Atlantic. When they reached New York Duranty quoted Litvinov as describing the skyline as "looming like castle giants in the hazy morning".

As Jean Edward Smith pointed out in FDR (2007): "The ostensible outstanding issues involved freedom of religion for Americans in Russia and the continued agitation for world revolution mounted by the Comintern. The real sticking point was restitution of American property seized by the Soviet government in its nationalization decree of 1919. Roosevelt and Litvinov compromised. The agreement is known as the Litvinov Assignment. The Soviet government assigned to the United States its claim to all Russian property in the United States that antedated the Revolution. The United States agreed to seize the property on behalf of the Soviet Union, thus giving effect to the Soviet nationalization decree, and use the proceeds to pay the claims of Americans whose property in Russia had been confiscated.... Shortly after midnight on the morning of November 17, FDR and Litvinov signed the documents restoring diplomatic relations."

Duranty wrote in the New York Times on 18th November 1933 that he had just witnessed "the ten days that steadied the world". His role in the negotiations was recognized by a dinner given in Litvinov's honour at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The toastmaster, Hugh Lincoln Cooper introduced Duranty as "one of the great foreign correspondents of modern times, serving a great newspaper of this city". Alexander Woollcott commented, "one quite got the impression that America, in a spasm of discernment, was recognizing both Russia and Walter Duranty." Sally J. Taylor, the author of Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty (1990) has suggested that at this time "he was arguably the best-known foreign correspondent in the world".

On his return to Moscow Duranty was granted another interview with Joseph Stalin. In his autobiography, Write As I Please (1935) he quoted Stalin as saying: "You have done a good job in your reporting the USSR, though you are not a Marxist, because you try to tell the truth about our country and to understand it and to explain it to your readers. I might say that you bet on our horse to win when others thought it had no chance and I am sure you have not lost by it."

The journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, discovered the existence of widespread famine in the Soviet Union in 1933. He knew that his reports would be censored and so he sent them out of the country in the British diplomatic bag. On 25th March 1933, the Manchester Guardian published Muggeridge's report: "I mean starving in its absolute sense; not undernourished as, for example, most Oriental peasants... and some unemployed workers in Europe, but having had for weeks next to nothing to eat." Muggeridge quoted one peasant as saying: "We have nothing. They have taken everything away." Muggeridge supported this view: "It was true. The famine is an organized one." He went to Kuban where he saw well-fed troops being used to coerce peasant starving to death. Muggeridge argued it was "a military occupation; worse, active war" against the peasants.

Muggeridge travelled to Rostov-on-Don and found further examples of mass starvation. He claimed that many of the peasants had bodies swollen from hunger, and there was an "all-pervading sight and smell of death." When he asked why they did not have enough to eat, the inevitable answer came that the food had been taken by the government. Muggeridge reported on 28th March: "To say that there is a famine in some of the most fertile parts of Russia is to say much less than the truth; there is not only famine but - in the case of the North Caucasus at least - a state of war, a military occupation."

Malcolm Muggeridge left the Soviet Union and moved to Nazi Germany. Over the next few weeks he compared the crimes against their citizens of these two countries. He later described the famine as "one of the most monstrous crimes in history, so terrible that people in the future will scarcely be able to believe it ever happened."

On 31st March, 1933, The Evening Standard carried a report by Gareth Jones: "The main result of the Five Year Plan has been the tragic ruin of Russian agriculture. This ruin I saw in its grim reality. I tramped through a number of villages in the snow of March. I saw children with swollen bellies. I slept in peasants’ huts, sometimes nine of us in one room. I talked to every peasant I met, and the general conclusion I draw is that the present state of Russian agriculture is already catastrophic but that in a year’s time its condition will have worsened tenfold... The Five-Year Plan has built many fine factories. But it is bread that makes factory wheels go round, and the Five-Year Plan has destroyed the bread-supplier of Russia."

Eugene Lyons, the Moscow correspondent of the United Press International pointed out in in his autobiography, Assignment in Utopia (1937): "On emerging from Russia, Jones made a statement which, startling though it sounded, was little more than a summary of what the correspondents and foreign diplomats had told him. To protect us, and perhaps with some idea of heightening the authenticity of his reports, he emphasized his Ukrainian foray rather than our conversation as the chief source of his information. In any case, we all received urgent queries from our home offices on the subject. But the inquiries coincided with preparations under way for the trial of the British engineers. The need to remain on friendly terms with the censors at least for the duration of the trial was for all of us a compelling professional necessity."

Lyons and Duranty decided to try and undermine these reports by Jones. Lyons told Bassow Whitman, the author of The Moscow Correspondents: Reporting on Russia from the Revolution to Glasnost (1988): "We admitted enough to soothe our consciences, but in roundabout phrases that damned Jones a liar. The filthy business having been disposed of, someone ordered vodka."

Duranty published an article, Russians Hungry But Not Starving , in the New York Times on 31st March 1933, where he argued that there was a conspiracy in the agricultural sector by "wreckers" and "spoilers" had "made a mess of Soviet food production". However, he did admit that the Soviet government had made some harsh decisions: "To put it brutally - you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the Bolshevik leaders are just as indifferent to the casualties that may be involved in their drive toward socialism as any General during the World War who ordered a costly attack in order to show his superiors that he and his division possessed the proper soldierly spirit. In fact, the Bolsheviki are more indifferent because they are animated by fanatical conviction."

Duranty then went on to criticize Gareth Jones. He admitted that there had been "serious food shortages" but Jones was wrong to suggest that the Soviet Union was enduring a famine: "There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from disease due to malnutrition, especially in the Ukraine, North Caucasus, and Lower Volga." He then went on to claim that Jones description of famine in the Soviet Union was an example of "wishful thinking".

Eugene Lyons has argued: "Throwing down Jones was as unpleasant a chore as fell to any of us in years of juggling facts to please dictatorial regimes - but throw him down we did, unanimously and in almost identical formulas of equivocation. Poor Gareth Jones must have been the most surprised human being alive when the facts he so painstakingly garnered from our mouths were snowed under by our denials."

Gareth Jones wrote to the New York Times complaining about Duranty's article in the newspaper. He pointed out that he was not guilty of "the strange suggestion that I was forecasting the doom of the Soviet regime, a forecast I have never ventured". Jones argued that he had visited over twenty villages where he had seen incredible suffering. He accused journalists such as Duranty and Lyons of being turned "into masters of euphemism and understatement". Jones said that they had given "famine" the polite name of "food shortage" and "starving to death" is softened to read as "wide-spread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition".

Sally J. Taylor, the author of Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty (1990) has argued that Lyon's record on the famine was appalling: "He had been among the earliest to hear of it, suggested at first by the investigations of his own secretary and confirmed later by the findings of Barnes and Stoneman. But Lyons declined to go into the famine-stricken area.... The zealous Lyons fulminated about moral and ethical issues, but he had shown little inclination himself to interrupt what was an unusually successful social life in Moscow."

James William Crowl, the author of Angels in Stalin's Paradise (1982) attempted to explain why this cover-up took place: "Most of the reporters took shelter behind the censorship and kept quiet about the famine. They wrote about it only when they left Russia, and even then they found that their accounts were met with disbelief. Eugene Lyons, for instance, returned to New York late in 1933 and began to write cautiously about the famine. Soviet sympathizers and liberals treated him as a renegade, he recalls, though his first descriptions of the famine fell far short of the horrible conditions that he knew had existed. A few correspondents, among them Duranty and Fischer, went beyond mere compliance with the censorship. While most of their colleagues passively accepted the famine cover-up, they echoed Soviet denials of the famine and blasted anyone who carried word of conditions to the West. Their distortion of the news, then, went beyond the demands of the censorship and was a vital factor in convincing the West that there was little or no truth to the famine stories. Moreover, by their active role in the cover-up they made it more unlikely that the foreign press in Moscow might force some kind of showdown with the censors or confront the West with the truth about Soviet conditions."

Duranty and the other journalists who were based in Moscow were not allowed to travel into the areas that Malcolm Muggeridge and Jones had described the famine that was taking place. Later historians have estimated that as many as seven million people died during this period. Journalists such as Duranty were willing to accept the word of the Soviet authorities for their information. Duranty even told his friend, Hubert Knickerbocker, that the reported famine "is mostly bunk".

Duranty was not the only journalist in the Soviet Union who attacked Gareth Jones for his account of the famine. Louis Fischer questioned Jones estimate of a million dead: "Who counted them? How could anyone march through a country and count a million people? Of course people are hungry there - desperately hungry. Russia is turning over from agriculture to industrialism. It's like a man going into business on small capital."

William Henry Chamberlin was eventually allowed into Kuban that autumn. On 13th September, 1933, Chamberlain argued in the Christian Science Monitor: "The whole North Caucasus is now engaged in the task of getting in the richest harvest of years, and shows few outward signs of recent poor crops." However, Chamberlain told officials at the British Embassy that he estimated that two million had died in Kazakhstan, a half a million in the North Caucasus, and two million in the Ukraine.

Duranty was later to be attacked by Joseph Alsop for his coverage of the 1932-33 famine in the Soviet Union. "Duranty... covered up the horrors and deluded an entire generation by prettifying Soviet realities... He was given a Pulitzer Prize. He lived comfortably in Moscow, too, by courtesy of the KGB... Lying was his stock in trade." Alsop claimed that Duranty was responsible for an entire group of intellectuals who admired the Soviet experiment. However, but they were relying on "a lower class Englishman who had a thing about girls, a shrivelled little man with a clubbed foot and a limp... not a man ladies leapt naturally into the bed of."

In 1934 Duranty told Anne O'Hare McCormick, that it was "quite possible that as many as 10 million people may have died directly or indirectly from lack of food in the Soviet Union during the past year". According to Eugene Lyons in his autobiography, Assignment in Utopia (1937), McCormick replied: “But, Walter, you don’t mean that literally?” Duranty responded: “Hell I don’t... I’m being conservative, but they’re only Russians.”

Fellow journalist, William Harlan Stoneman, admitted that "Duranty was the grand old man of Moscow correspondents to whom everybody was referred if and when he was assigned to cover the Soviet Union. Duranty was invariably kind and considerate and went out of his way to help stray characters like myself. In return a hell of a lot of them took pleasure in criticizing him as a 'fellow traveller'. I have tried to avoid doing so."

In 1935 Duranty published his autobiography, I Write As I Please. It was a great success and became a bestseller. Taylor claimed: "It turned out to be an extremely readable book, written in the style of a comfortable, chatty monologue, and it remains perhaps the only record of Duranty's distinctive conversational style, capturing the considerable, if highly perishable, charm of his talk." The reviewer in the New York Times said the book would "make every reporter proud of the reporter's trade."

Duranty explain his political philosophy in his autobiography: "I did not particularly ask myself whether (a course of action) was a right path or a wrong path; for some reason I have never been deeply concerned with that phase of the question. Right and wrong are evasive terms at best and I have never felt that it was my problem - or that of any other reporter - to sit in moral judgment. What I want to know is whether a policy or a political line or a regime will work or not, and I refuse to let myself be side-tracked by moral issues or by abstract questions as to whether the said policy or line or regime would be suited to a different country and different circumstances."

Duranty blamed his experiences during the First World War for not being a humanitarian: "I saw too much useless slaughter in the World War - for that matter I think the War itself was useless, unless you believe that Hitler in the Kaiser's place is a benefit to humanity - to allow my judgment of results to be biased by the losses or suffering involved. I'm a reporter, not a humanitarian, and if a reporter can't see the wood for trees he can't describe the wood. You may call that special pleading or call me callous, and perhaps it is true, but you can't blame me for it: you must blame the War, because that was where my mental skin got thickened."

Following the assassination of Sergey Kirov by Leonid Nikolayev the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin claimed that this was part of a larger conspiracy led by Leon Trotsky against the government. This resulted in the arrest and trial in August, 1936, of Lev Kamenev, Gregory Zinoviev, Ivan Smirnov and thirteen other party members who had been critical of Stalin. All were found guilty and executed.

Duranty wrote in the The New Republic that while watching the trial he came to the conclusion "that the confessions are true". Based on these comments the editor of the journal argued: "Some commentators, writing at a long distance from the scene, profess doubt that the executed men (Zinoviev and Kamenev) were guilty. It is suggested that they may have participated in a piece of stage play for the sake of friends or members of their families, held by the Soviet government as hostages and to be set free in exchange for this sacrifice. We see no reason to accept any of these laboured hypotheses, or to take the trial in other than its face value. Foreign correspondents present at the trial pointed out that the stories of these sixteen defendants, covering a series of complicated happenings over nearly five years, corroborated each other to an extent that would be quite impossible if they were not substantially true. The defendants gave no evidence of having been coached, parroting confessions painfully memorized in advance, or of being under any sort of duress."

Leon Trotsky, who was living in exile in Mexico City, was furious with Duranty and described him as a "hypocritical psychologist" who tried to explain away the terrors of the regime with "glib and facile phrases." Trotsky condemned Joseph Stalin "for betraying socialism and dishonoring the revolution" and describing the leadership as being "dominated by a clique which holds the people in subjection by oppression and terror." The trial, Trotsky claimed was a "frame-up" that lacked "objectivity and impartiality" and volunteered to go before an international commission to prove his innocence."

On 14th July 1937, Duranty wrote another article on the show-trials, The Riddle of Russia , for The New Republic. He argued that since November 1934, that agents working for Nazi Germany had infiltrated the ranks of the Soviet leadership, while Trotsky, like an exiled monarch, was the leader of the conspiracy to overthrow Stalin. Duranty went on to claim that this conspiracy had involved many men in the highest echelons of government. But now "their Trojan horse was broken, and its occupants destroyed."

James William Crowl, the author of Angels in Stalin's Paradise (1982 has argued: "Although Louis Fischer reserved judgment on the trials, Duranty vigorously defended them. According to him, Trotsky had created a spy network at the very time that Germany and Japan were spreading their own spy organizations in Russia. He explained that the two groups shared a hatred for Stalin, and fascist agents had cooperated with the Trotskyites in Kirov's assassination. The show-trials, Duranty insisted, had revealed the Trotskyite-fascist link beyond question. The trials showed just as clearly, he argued (on 14th July, 1937), that Stalin's arrest of thousands of these agents had spared the country from a wave of assassinations. Duranty charged that those who worried about the rights of the defendants or claimed that their confessions had been gained by drugs or torture, only served the interests of Germany and Japan." The socialist journalist, Heywood Broun, accused Duranty of "writing editorials from Moscow disguised as news dispatches".

Duranty always underestimated the number killed during the Great Purge. As Sally J. Taylor, the author of Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty (1990) has argued: "As for the number of resulting casualties from the Great Purge, Duranty's estimates, which encompassed the years from 1936 to 1939, fell considerably short of other sources, a fact he himself admitted. Whereas the number of Party members arrested is usually put at just above one million, Duranty's own estimate was half this figure, and he neglected to mention that of those exiled into the forced labor camps of the GULAG, only a small percentage ever regained their freedom, as few as 50,000 by some estimates. As to those actually executed, reliable sources range from some 600,000 to one million, while Duranty maintained that only about 30,000 to 40,000 had been killed."

Harrison Salisbury has argued that during the years Duranty reported from Moscow, he was one of the highest-paid correspondents in the world. It is believed that he was paid $10,000 a year, plus expenses. Eugene Lyons, who by this time held extreme right-wing views argued that Duranty was under the control of the KGB while living in Moscow. He said they provided him with "an automobile, a particularly comfortable apartment, and a mistress by the KGB". Lyons also claimed that the wife of Maxim Litvinov told him "that she walked in on a scene at the Paris Embassy when Duranty was receiving some cash." Salisbury, who worked for the New York Times, denied that Duranty was corrupt: "He was not in the pay of the KGB or anybody except the New York Times. Duranty was simply incapable of reporting something that broke the pattern he had established."

Duranty was considered by many to be a great journalist. Walter Kerr wrote: "Others brought with them their own prejudices. They viewed everything with alarm. Duranty viewed it with alarm. Duranty viewed it with alarm, but he always placed the horrors into the main picture... he always saw more to Russia than just that. He saw a vitality, a strength, that most outsiders could not see." Walter Winchell claimed that Duranty "had a superior reporter's ability to spot significant details as well as a poets eloquence."

Duranty sometimes had difficulty writing. He told a friend: "My blackest depressions, despairing, tragic, almost suicidal, have been when I've tried to write and I couldn't. I think my worst moment came after I had signed a contract to write my first book... I thought I could never write anything good, and wished I was dead... I've never been satisfied with anything I've ever done... I've never been satisfied with anything."

In December, 1937, William Shirer, who was working for Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in Berlin, recruited Duranty to be interviewed about his views on the situation in the Soviet Union. The broadcast went well and listeners approved of his "clipped British accent". Duranty argued that Joseph Stalin was feeling isolated and was frightened of Germany in the west and Japan to the east. He also viewed China with renewed apprehension.

On 3rd May, 1939, Stalin removed his Jewish Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maxim Litvinov, from office. Litvinov, who had been closely associated with the Soviet Union's policy of an anti-fascist alliance. Duranty wrongly attributed this to Litvinov's poor health, dismissing any speculation that it might indicate a major change in Stalin's foreign policy.

Meetings soon took place between Vyacheslav Molotov, Litvinov's replacement and Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister. On 28th August, 1939, the Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed in Moscow. Under the terms of the agreement, both countries promised to remain neutral if either country became involved in a war. Within days, Adolf Hitler ordered an attack of Poland and this led to the Second World War. Duranty was criticised for being wrong about the dismissal of Litvinov.

In March, 1940, Duranty wrote in Atlantic Monthly that although the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were "to all intents and purposes allies" the natural animosity between the two countries, and indeed their rival systems of government, dictated that such an alliance could not last. It was, he wrote, an alliance built upon "a temporary community of interests and a joint dislike of others, which is surely a slender foundation on which to build a permanent edifice."

In 1940 Clare Hollingsworth met Duranty in Rumania. She had just left the staff of the Daily Telegraph to join the Daily Express. Hollingworth later remarked that Duranty enjoyed a position of high status amongst journalists and was described as the "dean of newspapermen". Hollingsworth added that "he was a respected, privileged senior correspondent". She remembered his gesturing widely with his cane, from side to side, as he climbed stairs or moved across the marble floors of the hotel, shouting "get out of my way". Hollingsworth found his behaviour "shocking", especially his predilection for opium and young women "for whom I presume he paid". Cyrus Sulzberger said that Duranty "made a gallant figure hobbling around in his straw hat and his wooden leg." Another journalist, Robert William St. John, said he was a familiar fixture, sitting in "a soft leather chair, deep and comfortable" in the bar of the Athenee Palace Hotel in Bucharest.

Duranty was expelled from Rumania on 25th September 1940. Duranty claimed that "in certain quarters I am regarded as a British agent!" Duranty returned to Soviet Union but the following month he was told that New York Times intended to close down the Moscow bureau at the end of the year. Duranty now became a foreign correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA).

On 17th June 1941 Duranty reported that an inside source in Moscow had told him that the Soviet Union would soon be at war with Germany. Although the source was "unimpeachable" Duranty said he found the story "improbable". He went on to argue that "it looks as though there was some rift in the relationship, but I shall be surprised if the clash occurs now." Five days later, Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa.

Cass Canfield was a friend of Duranty's and was with him when the invasion took place. In his autobiography, Up and Down and Around (1971) he wrote: "I attended a dinner dance on Long Island at the home of the John Parkinsons at which Walter Duranty, the expert on Russia and an indisputable authority on world affairs, was also a guest. As the men were having coffee and brandy, Duranty expatiated on the developing Soviet-Nazi crisis of the late spring of 1941, which he minimized. In fact, he argued convincingly that the idea of Hitler's attacking Russia was absurd. This assurance lifted our spirits and the dance went on merrily. Later in the evening I noticed Duranty sitting at a table enjoying his champagne. In the interval since dinner a pretty young blonde with whom I was dancing had told me some interesting news and, on a wicked impulse, I beckoned to Walter and advised him to cut in on the lady. She imparted to him the report she had heard earlier on the radio that the Nazi divisions had just invaded Soviet territory. Duranty's reaction would have done justice to a George Price cartoon; he rushed from the dance floor and was off in a flash to the Times office in New York."

Duranty now came under attack from a former colleague, Eugene Lyons. In his book, The Red Decade: The Stalinist Penetration of America (1941) Lyons criticized Duranty's reporting on the Soviet Union. He said that one of his major problems was that he believed that he never considered Russians to be quite human and could "only be managed with whips, bayonets, and execution squads". Lyons also rejected Duranty's view that Leon Trotsky had been the head of a "Fifth Column" in the Soviet Union. Instead, he thought Duranty was part of "Stalin's Fifth Column in America... that had... blind allegiance to the will of Moscow". According to Lyons his allegiance was "to a foreign dictator."

In December 1941 Duranty published The Kremlin and the People. In it he argued that the Great Purge was a successful attempt to destroy pro-Nazi forces in the Soviet Union. He claimed that: "It is unthinkable that Stalin... and the court martial could have sentenced their friends to death unless the proof of their guilt were overwhelming." Duranty goes on to argue that "it is unthinkable that Stalin and Voroshilov and Budyonny... could have sentenced their friends to death unless the proofs of guilt were overwhelming." James William Crowl points out: "Yet Duranty showed no interest in examining the evidence, and he appears to have accepted the charges solely on his faith in the Soviet leadership." In the book Duranty also supported the claim that Mikhail Tukhachevsky and other Red Army commanders were guilty of plotting with enemy agents. The accused had "all confessed guilt," and he took the suicide of General Yan Gamarnik as proof that they "had engaged in some deal with the Germans".

Louis Fischer, who had worked in Moscow with Duranty reviewed the book in the Saturday Review of Literature. He argued that Duranty's had provided no evidence at all for his "Fifth Column thesis" and that he had shown great naivety by believing the confessions of the show trails. Malcolm Muggeridge suggested in his autobiography, Chronicles of Wasted Time (1973) that there might have been psychological reasons for his defence of Joseph Stalin: "I had the feeling...that in thus justifying Soviet brutality and ruthlessness, Duranty was getting his own back for being small, and losing a leg... This is probably, in the end, the only real basis of the appeal of such regimes as Stalin's, and later Hitler's; they compensate for weakness and inadequacy... Duranty was a little browbeaten boy looking up admiringly at a big bully."

Duranty continued to believe this theory. He wrote to the publisher, Cass Canfield absolving Joseph Stalin of blame and claiming that it was the work of Nikolai Yezhov, the head of the NKVD: "I know that many innocent people suffered unjustly, but the fact remains that Russia was swept clean of Fifth Columnists, enemy agents and a whole raft of other dubious elements."

Duranty's next book was USSR: The Story of Soviet Russia (1944). He argued that Joseph Stalin was a popular leader who had successfully managed to reform this backward country: "In a bare quarter-century the USSR has accomplished ages of growth. The most ignorant and backward of all the white nations has moved into the forefront of social, economic, and political consciousness. Its obsolete agricultural system has been modernized and mechanized; its small and artificial industry has become gigantic and self-supporting; its illiterate masses have been educated and disciplined to appreciate and enjoy the benefits of collective effort."

Duranty moved to California and began work on his next book. Taylor, the author of Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty (1990) has argued: "By now, he was bald, so much so that it looked as if a swimming cap had been stretched across the top of his head. His sad sack face appeared distinctly unreal in the California sunshine, the wrinkles across his forehead so deep they looked as if they might have been stencilled in. His nose was large and prominent. His eyes, like dark half moons painted into his face and pointing slightly downwards at the sides, added to the appearance of self-parody. With a slightly pathetic expression on his face - half hoping, half expecting the worst - he seemed a caricature of the man he once was."

A fellow journalist, John Gunther, commented that Duranty was a very kind man. When his young son, Johnny, was dying of a brain tumour, visited him in hospital: "Walter Duranty, bless him, dropped in for two long afternoons, and enchanted Johnny with his conversation, making him laugh almost until he cried with anecdotes of his own school days at Harrow and how he had played hookey to see the Grand Prix in Paris."

Duranty's last book, Stalin & Co.: The Politburo, The Men Who Run Russia, was published in 1949. Unable to get employment as a journalist, his main source of income was from the lecture circuit. In the early 1950s he became a strong anti-communist and urged the government to send troops to help the British in Burma and the French in Vietnam. He also praised the activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation had been compiling information on Duranty since the 1930s. Some acquaintances suggested he was a secret member of the American Communist Party and a propaganda agent for the Soviet Union. The FBI could find no hard evidence that this was true and although they kept a close watch on the articles that he wrote the file was effectively closed in 1951.

In the 1950s Duranty had difficulty finding work. John Gunther, a successful journalist, helped him out financially. Duranty told Gunther: "Of all the successful people I've come across, you, my dear John, are the most utterly and sincerely modest, and I suppose that even now at the height of your career you haven't a tenth of the idea how much people really admire you.... For me, John, you stand so high above anyone I have known, you yourself as a person, not in relation to me, that I brought my troubles to you with complete confidence that henceforth it would be all right, that I could rely upon you. And of course you didn't disappoint me. You helped me not only with money but with encouragement that I needed equally, and I felt safe in your friendship. Perhaps I felt too safe, too sheltered and secure in the knowledge that I could count on you always. That's what worries me now, that you might think I would presume on that feeling of safety and take things for granted, almost as a matter of convenience. Perhaps in a way I did, but never in that way."

Walter Duranty was in poor health and on 8th September 1957 he entered Orange Memorial Hospital in Orlando. Aware that he was dying, Duranty married his long-term partner, Anna Enwright, on 26th September. He died from an internal hemorrhage on 3rd October, 1957. He was seventy-three years old.

When he was ten, Duranty's parents were killed in a train crash. The experience must have been a terrible one for him as it left him virtually without family, but he shied away from writing about it. In neither his reminiscences I Write As I Please or his semi-fictionalized autobiography Search Tor a Key does he dwell on the tragedy. It was the beginning of his study of the classics, and for anyone familiar with his journalism, his fondness for the classics is obvious. His articles and books are so studded with classical allusions as to make it something of a trademark for him.

While he excelled at these studies and won scholarships to Harrow and to Emmanuel College at Cambridge, Duranty's social life was painful. His unhappiness in these years left a lasting imprint, and much of his determination to excel and prove himself apparently stemmed from these early school experiences.

Duranty seemed an unlikely candidate for such heroic stuff. Short, balding, and unprepossessing in appearance, his one outstanding characteristic was a limp, which resulted from the loss of his left leg in a train accident in France some years before. That and his keen gray eyes were what saved him from the commonplace. No one, though, who had ever seen him animated, his eyes glittering, could forget the engaging and provocative style of his conversation, even if they did somehow forget exactly what it was he had said.

Perhaps it was the way he talked that made him such a hit with the ladies, for Duranty possessed this extraordinary attraction for women. His sexual escapades were legion, despite the loss of the leg - or, as some believed, because of it. The rumors were fed by his keeping a Russian mistress discreetly at home in Moscow and a French wife, even more discreetly, in a villa in St. Tropez.

Coeds from Eastern schools, departing from European tours to witness the building of Paradise, adored the Times correspondent and his titillating banter. He told them tales about the dangers of opium, to which he had briefly become addicted, so went the story, in the painful days following the loss of his leg. He chain-smoked Camels and sipped Scotch as he talked, making no apologies for his admiration of V. L Lenin and his successor Joseph Stalin, whose methods, he believed, would ultimately prove successful in the backward Russian state.

For them, and for his readership in America, Duranty created the leaders of the Soviet Union, much as a novelist creates a set of memorable characters. In his own unmistakable, personalized style, he vividly recounted the conflicts among them, the dramatic ebbs and flows of their struggles for power. Lenin: cold, logical, and wise. Trotsky: brilliant, but erratic; fatally flawed. Stalin: man of steel; "a Frankenstein monster."

Two exclusive interviews with the reclusive dictator gave the impression that Duranty was Stalin's Western confidant. The first was in 1930 at Duranty's request; the second, at Stalin's, on Christmas Day

1933 - a seeming reward for Duranty's part in helping to achieve U.S. recognition.

As Fascism rose in Europe and Japanese Imperialism threatened the East, Western powers sank deeper into the quagmire of the Great Depression, unable, it seemed at the time, to protect themselves from these forces. Against this background, Duranty touted the accomplishments of Stalin's Five-Year Plan, ushering in what would come to be called "the Red Decade." His stubborn chronicle of Soviet achievements made him the doyen of left-leaning Westerners who believed that what happened inside Soviet Russia held the key to the future for the rest of the world...

The brutality of Stalin's policy of collectivization that displaced millions, his establishing of the Gulag Archipelago that sent untold numbers of Soviet citizens to work and to die in unimaginable degra¬dation and squalor-these were lightly glossed over by the Soviet Press Office, in a policy of propaganda that succeeded even beyond the expectations of government officials. The bloody purges that would expunge Stalin's opponents from every sphere of Soviet life were but a dark shadow against the future.

But in 1933, the watershed year, when Stalin finally achieved U.S. recognition, disquieting rumors had begun to surface. There was a growing number of reports about a famine, purported to have taken place in the grain-growing districts of the Ukraine, the Northern Caucausus, and across the nomadic cattle country of Kazakhstan: a disaster that cost the lives of millions of peasants, a calamity of incalculable dimensions.

For later generations, as the sheer magnitude of that event began slowly to emerge, questions would arise as to why nobody knew, why the American public hadn't been told. How did Stalin manage to conceal the greatest man-made disaster in modern history, when perhaps as many as ten million men, women, and children were allowed to die by slow starvation as a result of their refusal to conform to Stalin's plan to collectivize agriculture?

Had this been a deliberate act of genocide against the Soviet peasantry, or, as Duranty characterized it, an example of anti-Communist propaganda promulgated in "an eleventh-hour attempt to avert American recognition by picturing the Soviet Union as a land of ruin and despair"?

Throughout his career Duranty would claim his only object as a journalist was "to find the truth and write it as best I could." Yet despite this high-minded goal, by 1957, the year of his death, Duranty would be labeled "the No. 1 Soviet apologist in the United States"; and in the years that followed, he would become the prototype for the dishonest reporter: "a fashionable liar," some would call him, "a journalistic shill," others would say.

What were the loyalties of this complicated man? What motivated the line of action he adopted?

"What I want to know is whether a policy or a political line or regime will work or not," Duranty once said; and he refused "to be sidetracked by moral issues or to sit in judgment in the acts of individuals or of states."

An interrogation of Red prisoners in which The New York Times correspondent took part a couple of days ago reveals the Bolshevik system in its true light as one of the most damnable tyrannies in history. Actually it is a compound of force, terror and espionage, utterly ruthless in conception and execution.

He had a mug face, his hairline high, receding a bit already. And his lively manner, his outrageous talk, added to the impression.

Several days ago he left his machine in midair and came to earth in a parachute. He then conceived the idea of making the machine repeat the performance, with himself in it....

At the moment of his departure he was by far the calmest person present.

He rose to a height of 3,000 feet and then turned the nose of the machine earthward. Then it completed the circle by regaining its normal flying position, having accomplished an apparent impossibility.

During these first years of the war, Duranty remained too much a novice to be considered for use as a war correspondent, and he stayed mainly in Paris, picking up what news was current in the capital. At home his countrymen were queuing up to enlist. In later years, there would emerge several myths-the sort that always surround celebrity - that purported to explain why Walter Duranty never served in the armed services himself during World War I. Some would say, mistakenly, that he was exempted from service because of his leg. Others had the notion he had lost his leg in the war, taking it as a matter of course. But it was still several years before Duranty would have the accident that cost him his left limb. Finally, a cult of pacifism grew up around the famous Duranty: in his obituary it would be said that "he was of the generation which was rigidly pacifist on political grounds.

Realistically speaking, it would hardly have been in character for the self-interested Duranty to rush home to join the throngs volunteering for what would become the most futile slaughter in the history of warfare. What Duranty really needed was an excuse, and the eloquent apologia he devolved later in life lent dignity to his rather conspicuous decision not to fight. He had known, he estimated, some 3,000 boys during his schooling, and "pitiless statistics" showed him that two-thirds of them were dead. "So that," Duranty wrote, "if you will forgive me, is why I don't talk of the friends of my youth and why I am not overproud to think I'm still alive."

Wythe Williams, on the other hand, volunteered to drive an ambu¬lance, disgruntled by a censorship system that prevented him from reaching the front. He was "determined to do something useful and served under fire at Amiens";°" anything seemed better to him than sitting uselessly around the Paris bureau. By early 1915, the French relented.

Some men in an army are what one terms cowards, that is they can't control their fear and their nerves break sooner or later. They try to run or hide in the first shell-hole, or shoot themselves in hand or foot and in extreme cases, deliberately seek the death they fear by putting their heads over the top of a trench; I've known that to happen. Then there is a larger group, whose nerves are dull. They don't much fear danger, or grow used to it, and carry on calmly with more interest most of the time in how they are fed and clothed and paid, and whether the trenches are damp or dry, and what the girls and eats and drinks will be like in their next period of rest behind the line, than in the enemy's shelling or their own fears. Finally there are the exceptional men, one in ten thousand or more, like Alexander and Sweeney, who get a real kick from danger, and the greater the danger the greater the kick.

Around each doorway was gathered an excited group of children half dressed and running about shouting. From the whole quarter arose a murmur like the buzz of a huge and angry hive of bees. As I stumbled through the darkness - the taxi was not allowed to pass - I heard constantly one word, "reprisals," as the keynote of every conversation and shouted in every gathering.... At the smitten street... Its occupant was somewhere under the ruins, and the neighbors were trying to comfort the frantic mother in the next-door kitchen.

The worst case of all was a five-storey tenement at the end of a cul-de-sac.... When I left there four bodies already had been recovered.

One of the first ones back in was a man who seemed an unlikely candidate - Duranty's old pal Alexander Woollcott, or Aleck, as he preferred to be called by his friends. Pudgy and artistically inclined, the New York Times drama critic didn't seem cut out for the vicissitudes of soldiering, but immediately after the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, there he was, lining up to share in all of the rights and privileges extended to a private in the U.S. Army. He hoped, he explained somewhat shamefacedly to his friends, that basic training would run some of the fat off him, and it must have done so because he good-humoredly made it through the ordeal and thus across the Atlantic, making light of any inconvenience or embarrassment he had suffered. What he had intended was to join the fighting men at the front, but he ended up on the "bedpan brigade" at a hospital in Savenay. Not surprisingly, he was immensely popular, not only with the string of celebrities who found their way into the orderly room at the hospital but also with his patients and fellow workers. Somehow, he always managed to have a bottle of something drinkable on hand for anything that could be construed as an appropriate occasion. Duranty turned up there regularly.'

And of course, when Woollcott wasn't on duty, he traveled to Paris, where he managed, despite the hardships imposed by the war, to live characteristically high. "His special haunts were the Cafe Napolitain, where he stood drinks to all comers and held forth oracularly to all listeners in alternate French and English, and the Cornille... in the Latin Quarter..." There, he initiated "a convivial poker game" that continued intermittently throughout the war. At Christmas in 1917, Woollcott, Duranty, and Wythe Williams managed to get together for "a real reunion" at the Parisian flat of Heywood Broun of the New York Tribune and his wife Ruth, who lured them all with the promise that they would "collapse from overeating" if they contrived to get there.

Surprisingly, Aleck Woollcott became one of the best-known war correspondents at the front. A few months after the Christmas feast at the Brouns he was drafted for work on Stars and Stripes, the U.S. military newspaper, where he met Harold Ross, later the editor of The New Yorker and one of the original founders of the Thanatopsis Club that met at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. Ross was running Stars and Stripes, and Private Albian A. Wallgren of the Marines was working up the cartoons.

Wallgren took one look at Woollcott and created the character that would make Woollcott the most beloved mascot of the American enlisted man. Soon, this new cartoon character appeared on the pages of Stars and Stripes: the figure of a "chubby soldier in uniform and a raincoat, his gas mask worn correctly across his chest, and a small musette bag at his side, tin hat placed correctly, straight across his head, puttees rolled beautifully, prancing with that almost effeminate rolling gait of Aleck's."

Meantime, Woollcott made his way fearlessly in and around the front, gathering material for the kinds of things the fighting men wanted to read: stories about rotten cooks, nosey dogs, leaky boots, and other common nuisances of life at the front. He was well known as "Our Intrepid Hero, Med. Sgt. Alexander H. Woollcott-A War Correspondent For Whom The Front Never Had No Terrors."'

Wherever Woollcott went, light-hearted stories followed. He wrote to a friend that he was "on Montmartre not long ago with my dear Walter Duranty, than whom no one can have a warmer spot in my foolish heart."

In the last twenty-four hours the violence of the fighting has increased still further. The limit of human endurance has been forced yet another notch higher. Along a front of nearly twenty miles the Germans are driving more than a quarter of a million men forward through a sea of blood. The defenders say that it is as though the whole of the German Army is engaged against them; no sooner is one battalion annihilated than another takes its place and another and another....

The grassy slopes of the hill bore a hideous carpet of thousands of German dead, over which new forces still advanced with the same madness of sacrifice as the Carthaginians of old, flinging their children, their possessions, and themselves into Moloch's furnace. The bloody religion of militarism that Germany has followed for forty years has led its votaries to culminating orgies of destruction.

As far as the eye could see the northern sky was split up with flashes that winked out continuously along the whole line. Nearly all were the sudden, broad glare of French "departures." But now and then a tiny triangle of light marked the explosion of a German "arrival."

Right ahead a crimson glow now rising high above the horizon, now scarcely distinguishable, told of a huge German munition dump that blazed for three long hours....

At brief intervals a white star shell or colored rocket would soar up from a German position. One could well imagine the desperate plight of some German commander as he called in vain for his own artillery to protect him against the inferno of destruction.

As the bombardment swelled in volume toward the dawn, the words "drum fire" exactly expressed the sound. All night the air had been filled with an enormous and irregular tumult, in which the deep drone of the allied aircraft passing, as it seemed, in an unbroken stream, to add their part to the work of destruction seemed the leitmotif of the cannon's thundersong.

But when the climax came it was like nothing so much as the roll of a titanic drum, explosion so thick upon explosion that no separate sound could be distinguished."

Grass and weeds are the tragedy of Ypres; one cannot even tell where the houses stood or the roads once ran. But the appalling shell-torn waste that is the battlefield of Flanders surpasses the wildest visions of Dore in ghastliness and gloom. For nearly four miles the road of rotting planks that is the sole passage across the ridges winds amid acres of shell holes merging one into another.

No single tree or bush or hedge or building remains to tell that human beings once cultivated this desert. Here lies a rusting tank and three broken caissons. Further on is a hole that was a dugout where men lived and died. Everywhere are shattered concrete barbed wire in crazy festoons, convex roofs of corrugated iron that gave some shelter against the elements, planks by millions for roadways, and faded crosses that mark innumerable graves.

This frightful realization of Macbeth's "blasted heath" is the resting place of tens of thousands of brave men to whom death must have been a relief from more than mortal hardship. Now only rats-huge, gaunt, and hungry since the humans have departed-inhabit the accursed spot.

Duranty was not, alas, just a scamp. He was also a man many regarded then and now as a scoundrel. Not for nothing did Malcolm Muggeridge call him “the greatest liar of any journalist I have met in fifty years of journalism,” or Joseph Alsop describe him as a “fashionable prostitute”, or Robert Conquest, later, call for every word he ever wrote about the Soviets and collectivization to be challenged again and again.

It’s possible that Duranty was in the pay of the Soviets, though another long-term New York Times correspondent, Harrison Salisbury, who looked into things during his own stay in Moscow, denied that Duranty was ever in the pay of anyone except the New York Times.

Perhaps. Yet it’s inescapable that his immediate reward for doggedly covering up mass murder in the Ukraine was the indulgence of the regime, the tumultuous applause he received in the Waldorf-Astoria in 1933 for assisting America’s diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union, and a call from Stalin four weeks after Duranty’s return to Moscow offering the unprecedented privilege of a second interview. Stalin’s words at the time, however accurately or inaccurately rendered by Duranty afterwards, were something he quoted with pride for the rest of his life:

You have done a good job in your reporting the USSR, though you are not a Marxist, because you try to tell the truth about our country and to understand it and to explain it to your readers. I might say that you bet on our horse to win when others thought it had no chance and I am sure you have not lost by it.

They were full of stories, because the tank corps "saw life," as they say in the Marines - and death. I do not know about the other armies, but with the French it was not considered tactful to ask after friends in any tank or battle-plane outfit who were not around when you came to visit. They might be on leave or just sick or slightly wounded, but the odds were they were dead. The tanks lost sixty per cent killed of their effectives in the French Army, which is the highest mortality for any branch of any fighting service in the War.

While we were talking, there came a phone message from the line ahead saying that a stray shell had hit one of the tanks, which had gone up in flames. The commanding officer said quietly, "That's too bad ... I wonder which it was. Can you get the number?" Five minutes later they phoned again to say it was number seventeen, which was the one I had ridden in, and that they were sending back the bodies because there was not much firing, just an occasional shell or so. So I saw them and felt sick ... black and incredibly shriveled, like three little faceless ****** boys.

A great Bolshevist conspiracy has just been discovered here, and the leaders with the principal subordinates have been arrested to the number of 100. The object was to overthrow the Government and establish Bolshevist rule.

Last, but not least, a Russian sailor was taken bearing large sums of money and jewels of great value concealed in the soles of his boots and a letter from one of Lenin's closest satellites to comrades in America... It is said to contain minute directions for the conduct of the Bolshevist campaign in America, for the organization of various centres, and the methods to be followed subsequently.

It was an elitist philosophy that would make its appearance again and again in Duranty's writing. In a way, Duranty took Bolitho's idea to heart in ways Bolitho himself never anticipated. By following the credo in reporting Russia, Duranty thought he had found an inside track on the truth. Somehow, he believed, merely by taking the minority view, he would be able to see through the outward hypocrisy of men's actions and into their innermost motivations.

Duranty also came up with another hypothesis of his own: that if he put himself in another man's shoes and asked himself what he would do if he were in that man's situation, he would somehow be able to see further and deeper into the man than others, and in many cases be able to predict the future.

Lenin has thrown communism overboard. His signature appears in the official press of Moscow in August 9, abandoning State ownership, with the exception of a definite number of great industries of national importance - such as were controlled by the State in France, England and Germany during the war - and re-establishing payment by individuals for railroads, postal and other public services.

Loads of'white flour sacks, some on big motor trucks, stirred the Tartar population from its usual Oriental calm. Slant-eved women wearing round skull caps, colored scarfs, short skirts and high embroidered leather boots, paused in their bargaining at the market stalls, pointing in surprise. The children ran eagerly forward. The wild little Tartar horses plunged in terror. A gleam even came to the lustreless eyes of a dying boy on the sidewalk, long past help, and the gaunt old crone beside him raised her skinny fingers to shade her eyes that she might see better. One figure only paid no attention to the approach of relief - that of a dead man lying with his feet in the gutter.

Honesty compels me to add that from a newspaper point of view I mishandled the whole trial. My New York office dealt with my shortcomings more in sorrow than in anger, but I realized that I had failed them and asked myself why.

Trotsky is a great executive, but his brain cannot compare with Lenin's in analytical power. Djerjinsky goes straight to his appointed goal without fear or favor and gets there somehow, no matter what are the obstacles, but he is also inferior to Lenin in analytical capacity. Rykoff and Kameneff are first-class administrators, and hardly more.

But during the last year Stalin has shown judgment and analytical power not unworthy of Lenin. Trotsky helped him in drawing it up, but Stalin's brain guided the pen.

The Treaty of Rapallo confirmed my impression that the Red Star was destined to rise high and shine bright in the international heavens.

When my friend Knickerbocker read this line in my manuscript he commented quickly, "And then you decided to hitch your wagon to that star." "Yes, in a sense," I replied. "Of course I didn't go Bolshevik or think Bolshevism would work in Western countries or be good for them. But I did think that the Bolsheviks would win in their own country and that the Soviet Union would become a great force in world affairs. If you want to know, Stalin himself expressed my attitude rather neatly the last time I saw him, on Christmas Day 1933. He said, "You have done a good job in your reporting of the U.S.S.R. although you are not a Marxist, because you tried to tell the truth about our country and to understand it and explain it to your readers. I might say that you bet on our horse to win when others thought it had no chance, and I am sure you have not lost by it."

"Did Stalin say that?" Knick asked in surprise. "Then there must be more humanity than I thought in that steel skull of his." "Of course he's human," I said, "but the trouble with you and so many other people is that they won't admit that the Bolsheviks regard themselves as fighting a war in which it is their duty to be just as ruthless and dispassionate in gaining their objectives as any leaders in any war. As far as I'm concerned, I don't see that I have been any less accurate about Russia because I failed to stress casualties so hard as some of my colleagues, than I was in reporting battles on the French Front when I said more about the importance of the victory than the lives it cost. I saw too much useless slaughter in the World War - for that matter I think the War itself was useless, unless you believe that Hitler in the Kaiser's place is a benefit to humanity - to allow my judgement of results to be biased by the losses or suffering involved.

None of the things I have been afraid of before, complaints by my boss or the loss of my job or the opinion of my friends or any danger, are as bad as the thing I am facing now, which is death by slow torture. Now, facing death, I regret few of the things I have done, but I regret not doing a great many things I might have done and not saying or writing things I might have said or written. "Henceforth," I thought to myself, "If I do get back I shall do as I please and think as I please and write as I please, without fear or favor." I was half delirious, but that was a good thought, which stayed with me and strengthened me. Of course it was impossible, as I found out later.

At 11.20 o'clock this morning President Kalinin briefly opened the session of the All-Russian Soviet Congress and requested everyone to stand. He had not slept all night and tears were streaming down his haggard face....

"I bring you terrible news about our dear comrade, Vladimir Ilyich." High up in the gallery a woman uttered a low, wailing cry that was followed by a burst of sobs.

"Yesterday," faltered Kalinin, "yesterday, he suffered a further stroke of paralysis and-" There was a long pause as if the speaker were unable to nerve himself to pronounce the fatal word: then, with an effort which shook his whole body, it came - "died."

The emotional Slav temperament reacted immediately. From all over the huge opera house came sobs and wailing, not loud or shrill, but pitifully mournful, spreading and increasing.

First, Lenin lying in state - such simple state amid such grandeur - in the columned hall of the former Nobles' Club; second, the face and shoulders of Kalinin helping to bear Lenin's coffin from the station, when two steps down from the platform its weight was suddenly thrown on him in front. Kalinin was a typical Russian peasant driven by misery like millions of his fellows to work whole or part time in a city factory. During these moments of strain he symbolised the struggle of Russia's 140.000,000 peasants against the blind enmity of nature and human oppression. For two nights he had not slept and, as the level ground relieved part of the burden, he staggered from sheer exhaustion. But on he went like an old peasant ploughing the stubborn earth, with sweat pouring down his cheeks in an icy snow-flecked gale, until he reached a gun caisson with six white horses waiting in the station yard to carry the coffin to the Nobles' Club...

In the center of tile room Lenin lay on a high couch with four columns that gave the effect of a sort of old-fashioned four-poster bed without curtains. The eyes were closed, yet the expression was one of looking forward seeking something beyond his vision.

Berlin in the nineteen twenties was a kind of stopping off place not only for Russians heading west, but for Americans entering or leaving the Soviet Union, including those who lived there and needed occasionally to come up for air. In addition, Samuel Harper, the Russian specialist of the University of Chicago, never went in or out of the Soviet Fatherland without pausing in Berlin to report and enjoy a few good arguments.

These men had varying views of communism. Chamberlin, Kuh, Hindus, Lyons, and Harper were for some years hopeful about the revolution. Duranty always got along well with the Kremlin. He argued that the Russians deserved nothing better.

Knickerbocker, on the other hand, recognized from the first that the U.S.S.R. was at war with the world and prophesied that no good would come of it. I trusted Knick's judgment.

Junius Wood of the Chicago Daily News looked on the Soviet Union with such disdain that the Bolsheviks, unable to believe that anyone would dare treat them as he did, let him get away with it. Arriving in Russia for the first time, he immediately wrote a highly critical piece. Promptly the censor called him in and said: "Mr. Wood, you are new here, but I must warn you that if you write any more dispatches like the last, which I have stopped, you will wake up some morning to find yourself in Riga."

To which, Junius said: "Is that a threat or a promise?" "I don't understand you, Mr. Wood."

"Do you believe I came to your God-forsaken country because I wanted to? The greatest favor you can do me is to expel me and get me sent somewhere else."

At another time, when foreign correspondents were called to the Foreign Office in the middle of night only to be handed an "important news announcement" at the door, Junius went home and wrote:

"According to the doorman at the Soviet Foreign Office," etc. etc. Again the censor intervened, but Junius remained in Russia as long as the paper wanted to keep him there.

And gradually, one by one, several of the original enthusiasts, Chamberlin, Lyons, and, in 1939, even Sam Harper, turned thumbs down on the "great experiment."

Thanks to the comings and goings of these and other Soviet experts, Berlin was probably better informed about events in Russia than other Western capitals.

Stalin has created a great Frankenstein monster, of which... And perhaps haunts Stalin.

I went to the Baltic states viciously anti-Bolshevik. It won't spread westward unless a new war wrecks the established system.

Mr. They are marked by scholarship, profundity, impartiality, sound judgment and exceptional clarity and are excellent examples of the best type of foreign correspondence.

What is so remarkable about Duranty's selection for the Pulitzer is that, for a decade, his reports had been slanted and distorted in a way that made a mockery of the award citation. Probably without parallel in the history of these prestigious prizes, the 1932 award went to a man whose reports concealed or disguised the conditions they claimed to reveal, and who may even have been paid by the Soviets for his deceptions.

I am convinced that the trend of Soviet developments is steadily and rapidly forward. In emphasizing this trend, therefore, I create a correct impression. Those prejudiced observers who harp on difficulties and mistakes distort the picture. The art of reporting is selection. Many correspondents select true facts to tell untruths

In the middle of the diplomatic duel between Great Britain and the Soviet Union over the accused British engineers there appears from a British source a big scare story in the American press about famine in the Soviet Union, with "thousands already dead and millions menaced by death and starvation."

Its author is Gareth Jones, who is a former secretary to David Lloyd George and who recently spent three weeks in the Soviet Union and reached the conclusion that the country was "on the verge of a terrific smash," as he told the writer.

Mr. Jones is a man of a keen and active mind, and he has taken the trouble to learn Russian, which he speaks with considerable fluency, but the writer thought Mr. Jones's judgment was somewhat hasty and asked him on what it was based. It appeared that he had made a forty-mile walk through villages in the neighborhood of Kharkov and had found conditions sad.

I suggested that that was a rather inadequate cross-section of a big country but nothing could shake his conviction of impending doom....

Jones told me there was virtually no bread in the villages he had visited and that the adults were haggard, guant and discouraged, but that he had seen no dead or dying animals or human beings.

I believed him because I knew it to be correct not only of some parts of the Ukraine but of sections of the North Caucasus and lower Volga regions and, for that matter, Kazakstan, where the attempt to change the stock-raising nomads of the type and the period of Abraham and Isaac into 1933 collective grain farmers has produced the most deplorable results.

It is all too true that the novelty and mismanagement of collective farming, plus the quite efficient conspiracy of Feodor M. Konar and his associates in agricultural commissariats, have made a mess of Soviet food production. (Konar was executed for sabotage.)

But - to put it brutally - you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the Bolshevist leaders are just as indifferent to the casualties that may be involved in their drive toward socializaton as any General during the World War who ordered a costly attack in order to show his superiors that he and his division possessed the proper soldierly spirit. In fact, the Bolsheviki are more indifferent because they are animated by fanatical conviction.

Since I talked to Mr. Jones I have made exhaustive inquiries about this alleged famine situation. I have inquired in Soviet commissariats and in foreign embassies with their network of consuls, and I have tabulated information from Britons working as specialists and from my personal connections, Russian and foreign.

All of this seems to me to be more trustworthy information than I could get by a brief trip through any one area. The Soviet Union is too big to permit a hasty study, and it is the foreign correspondent's job to present a whole picture, not a part of it. And here are the facts:

There is a serious shortage food shortage throughout the country, with occasional cases of well-managed State or collective farms. The big cities and the army are adequately supplied with food. There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.

In short, conditions are definitely bad in certain sections - the Ukraine, North Caucasus and Lower Volga. The rest of the country is on short rations but nothing worse. These conditions are bad, but there is no famine.

The critical months in this country are February and March, after which a supply of eggs, milk and vegetables comes to supplement the shortage of bread - if, as now, there is a shortage of bread. In every Russian village food conditions will improve henceforth, but that will not answer one really vital question - What about the coming grain crop?

Upon that depends not the future of the Soviet power, which cannot and will not be smashed, but the future policy of the Kremlin. If through climatic conditions, as in 1921, the crop fails, then, indeed, Russia will be menaced by famine. If not, the present difficulties will be speedily forgotten.

On my return from Russia at the end of March, I stated in an interview in Berlin that everywhere I went in the Russian villages I heard the cry; “There is no bread, we are dying,” and that there was famine in the Soviet Union, menacing the lives of millions of people.

Walter Duranty, whom I must thank for his continued kindness and helpfulness to hundreds of American and British visitors to Moscow, immediately cabled a denial of the famine. He suggested that my judgment was only based on a forty-mile tramp through villages. He stated that he had inquired in Soviet commissariats and in the foreign embassies and had come to the conclusion that there was no famine, but that there was a “serious food shortage throughout the country... No actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.”

While partially agreeing with my statement, he implied that my report was a “scare story” and compared it with certain fantastic prophecies of Soviet downfall. He also made the strange suggestion that I was forecasting the doom of the Soviet régime, a forecast I have never ventured.

I stand by my statement that Soviet Russia is suffering from a severe famine. It would be foolish to draw this conclusion from my tramp through a small part of vast Russia, although I must remind Mr. Duranty that it was my third visit to Russia, that I devoted four years of university life to the study of the Russian language and history and that on this occasion alone I visited in all twenty villages, not only in the Ukraine, but also in the black earth district, and in the Moscow region, and that I slept in peasants’ cottages, and did not immediately leave for the next village.

My first evidence was gathered from foreign observers. Since Mr. Duranty introduces consuls into the discussion, a thing I am loath to do, for they are official representatives of their countries and should not be quoted, may I say that I discussed the Russian situation with between twenty and thirty consuls and diplomatic representatives of various nations and that their evidence supported my point of view. But they are not allowed to express their views in the press, and therefore remain silent.

Journalists, on the other hand, are allowed to write, but the censorship has turned them into masters of euphemism and understatement. Hence they give “famine” the polite name of “food shortage” and “starving to death” is softened down to read as “widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.” Consuls are not so reticent in private conversation.

My second evidence was based on conversations with peasants who had migrated into the towns from various parts of Russia. Peasants from the richest parts of Russia coming into the towns for bread. Their story of the deaths in their villages from starvation and of the death of the greater part of their cattle and horses was tragic, and each conversation corroborated the previous one.

Third, my evidence was based upon letters written by German colonists in Russia, appealing for help to their compatriots in Germany. “My brother’s four children have died of hunger.” “We have had no bread for six months.” “If we do not get help from abroad, there is nothing left but to die of hunger.” Those are typical passages from these letters.

Fourth, I gathered evidence from journalists and technical experts who had been in the countryside. In The Manchester Guardian, which has been exceedingly sympathetic toward the Soviet régime, there appeared on March 25, 27 and 28 an excellent series of articles on “The Soviet and the Peasantry” (which had not been submitted to the censor). The correspondent, who had visited North Caucasus and the Ukraine, states: “To say that there is famine in some of the’ most fertile parts of Russia is to say much less than the truth: there is not only famine, but - in the case of the North Caucasus at least - a state of war, a military occupation.” Of the Ukraine, he writes: “The population is starving.”

My final evidence is based on my talks with hundreds of peasants. They were not the “kulaks”- those mythical scapegoats for the hunger in Russia-but ordinary peasants. I talked with them alone in Russian and jotted down their conversations, which are an unanswerable indictment of Soviet agricultural policy. The peasants said emphatically that the famine was worse than in 1921 and that fellow-villagers had died or were dying.

Mr. Duranty says that I saw in the villages no dead human beings nor animals. That is true, but one does not need a particularly nimble brain to grasp that even in the Russian famine districts the dead are buried and that there the dead animals are devoured.

May I in conclusion congratulate the Soviet Foreign Office on its skill in concealing the true situation in the U.S.S.R.? Moscow is not Russia, and the sight of well fed people there tends to hide the real Russia.

One may think one believes in a life after death, but it is generally a vague sort of belief, rather a hope than a belief, and death is the End. If you come very near to death and get familiar so to speak with death, you begin to feel that you have reached ultimate issues and that you don't give a damn....

None of the things I have been afraid of before, complaints by my boss or the loss of my job or the opinion of my friends or any danger, are as bad as the thing I am facing now, which is death by slow torture. Of course it was impossible, as I found out later.

I did not particularly ask myself whether (a course of action) was a right path or a wrong path; for some reason I have never been deeply concerned with that phase of the question. What I want to know is whether a policy or a political line or a regime will work or not, and I refuse to let myself be side-tracked by moral issues or by abstract questions as to whether the said policy or line or regime would be suited to a different country and different circumstances...

I saw too much useless slaughter in the World War - for that matter I think the War itself was useless, unless you believe that Hitler in the Kaiser's place is a benefit to humanity - to allow my judgment of results to be biased by the losses or suffering involved. You may call that special pleading or call me callous, and perhaps it is true, but you can't blame me for it: you must blame the War, because that was where my mental skin got thickened.

Duranty wrote about the purges in parts of two books that were published in the early 1940's. In The Kremlin and the People, appearing in 1941, he insisted again that the Great Purge had eliminated a "Fifth Column" of Trotskyite and fascist agents. Scoffing at claims that the accused may not have been guilty of the charges against them, he argued "it is unthinkable that Stalin and Voroshilov and Budonny... could have sentenced their friends to death unless the proofs of guilt were overwhelming." Yet Duranty showed no interest in examining the evidence, and he appears to have accepted the charges solely on his faith in the Soviet leadership. Thus, he claimed that "Piatakov's execution and the execution of Muralov are to me the strongest proof that they were guilty." In the case of the secret trial of Marshal Tukhachevsky and other Red Army commanders in June 1937, Duranty explained that they had been caught plotting with enemy agents. The accused had "all confessed guilt," he noted, and he took the suicide of General Gamarnik as proof that they "had engaged in some deal with the Germans.

Three years later, in his book U.S.S.R., Duranty's position seemed less dogmatic, but only because he could no longer find a publisher willing to print his earlier views. His first version of the book apparently expressed such strong support for Stalin's actions during the purge era that it was rejected by the major publishers. In its rewritten form he offered a sympathetic explanation for Stalin's actions, rather than a justification for them. Indeed, he seemed willing to concede that Stalin might have overreacted to what had appeared to him to be a terrorist threat.

Duranty argued that on the eve of the purge the Soviet Union had been menaced by Germany and Japan, and Stalin had been expecting a wave of terrorism designed to weaken the Soviets in preparation for a fascist military attack. Kirov's assassination seemed to indicate that the assault had begun, Duranty claimed, especially since Louis Barthou, the French foreign minister sympathetic to Russia, had been murdered two months earlier. Stalin may have panicked by arresting anyone with a reason for cooperating with enemy agents, Duranty admitted, but he claimed that under the circumstances the arrests had been reasonable and necessary. He argued, as he had earlier, that the arrests had crushed the terrorist conspiracy and kept Russia From being invaded in the mid-1930's.

I had the feeling...that in thus justifying Soviet brutality and ruthlessness, Duranty was getting his own back for being small, and losing a leg... Duranty was a little browbeaten boy looking up admiringly at a big bully.

The Bolsheviks have a modern and sensible view about murder. They regard it as the most serious crime one individual can commit upon another, but their criminal code is intended primarily for the protection of society rather than of the individual. Therefore, there is no death penalty for murder in the U.S.S.R., only the maximum prison sentence of ten years, that is for a single murder or at most two murders. If any citizen makes a habit of murder, then he becomes a menace to society and is shot as such. On the other hand, the Bolsheviks are ruthless in regard to crimes against the State - high treason or the murder of officials in pursuance of their duty, or a murder actuated by political motives, and, since I932, even the theft of State property may be punished by what is called "the highest measure of social protection, namely shooting" - that is the formula in which death sentences are worded. This makes it all the more surprising that they do not consider an insane murderer to be a public menace, and shoot him without compunction.

I remember one case where this question was raised in a Soviet court and hotly debated by Press and public. Several years ago a gang of footpads haunted the outlying villages in the woods around Moscow, where many people spend the summer months. This gang committed many murders and its victims were always killed in the same way, strangled with a cord or wire twisted tight round their throats by a small piece of wood at the back of the neck. When at last they were caught and brought to trial it was found that their leader was a boy of thirteen, who they declared planned all their operations but took no part in the attacks until the victim lay helpless with the cord around his neck. Then this engaging child twisted the cord or wire until the end had come. The boy made no attempt to deny the testimony of his accomplices, but the reports of the cases declared that he eyed them so terribly that they faltered in their confessions. The adults were shot at once as a danger to society but the boy was remanded for psychopathic examination. He appeared perfectly normal, indeed of unusual intelligence and strength of character, as one might well imagine. He said calmly that all the evidence was true; he had been the leader of the gang and had ordered all its doings. "But why," they asked him, "did these hulking men obey you?" "I told them to," he said simply, "and they did what they were told." Asked why he finished the victims off himself, he replied, "Because I liked to see their eyes pop out." This was too much for the psychopaths, or for the police authorities, I don't know which. In any case the boy was shot.

War was approaching for the United States; the country was tense, anticipating the worst. The experts, and they were many. reported the truth as they saw it; sometimes they were right. sometimes not. There was much confusion.

Like most people I became increasingly restless, wanting something meaningful to do and not knowing what. When Mayor La Guardia called for air-raid wardens in 1939, I volunteered and was put in charge of operations in southeastern Manhattan an arduous assignment for it meant patrolling nights, in addition to working full time at the office during the day. However, I got to know the city community from housewives to undertakers, and this was a compensation. Another satisfaction was working closely with the New York police, for whom I developed considerable admiration. Most of the policemen were Irish, and were lively additions to the parties put on every couple of weeks to boost morale. Patrolman Mike Murphy, who was smart and full of initiative, could be counted on to bring gaiety to any social gathering, and it was not surprising that he rose quickly in the ranks to become New York Police Commissioner not many years later.

Across the oceans things were going from bad to worse as the Germans and Japanese advanced. Returning from a business trip the spring the Nazis were taking Paris, I crossed the Atlantic with Dorothy Thompson, the gifted newspaper commentator and wife of Sinclair Lewis. In the smoking saloon of the ship she was the center of attention, not only because she was a brilliant observer of the political scene and had just completed a survey of Swiss military power, but because she was a vivid character with a vitality which she confirmed by the proud assertion: "When I make love, the house shakes." On the ship's radio we heard, one evening, the voice of Franklin D. Roosevelt informing, and attempting to reassure, the American people about the state of American preparedness. When he'd finished, Dorothy observed that the President's figures showed that our Army and Air Force strength was about equal to that of the Swiss, a situation which we found alarming.

During this period of stress Jane and I attended a dinner dance on Long Island at the home of the John Parkinsons at which Walter Duranty, the expert on Russia and an indisputable authority on world affairs, was also a guest. This assurance lifted our spirits and the dance went on merrily.

Later in the evening I noticed Duranty sitting at a table enjoying his champagne. Duranty's reaction would have done justice to a George Price cartoon; he rushed from the dance floor and was off in a flash to the Times office in New York.

In such ways the experts managed to keep people shuttling between confidence and despair.

As time passed, it became apparent that the Nazis could not bomb New York; accordingly, air-raid protection became superfluous. I turned to propaganda, to promoting United States participation in the war-a worthy effort but one that, in turn, became unnecessary when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Among the newspapermen, Walter Duranty, a little Englishman who had been in the New York Times service since the war, reigned supreme. His spoken views of the Russian scene, when the mood was upon him, would have shocked New York radicals who mistook him for a Soviet enthusiast, even as they shocked me.

In Moscow the great purge trials were held in August 1936, January 1937, and March 1938. Although Fischer reserved judgment on the trials, Duranty vigorously defended them. He explained that the two groups shared a hatred for Stalin, and fascist agents had cooperated with the Trotskyites in Kirov's assassination.

The show-trials, Duranty insisted, had revealed the Trotskyite-fascist link beyond question. Duranty charged that those who worried about the rights of the defendants or claimed that their confessions had been gained by drugs or torture, only served the interests of Germany and Japan.

In a bare quarter-century the USSR has accomplished ages of growth. Its obsolete agricultural system has been modernized and mechanized; its small and artificial industry has become gigantic and self-supporting; its illiterate masses have been educated and disciplined to appreciate and enjoy the benefits of collective effort.

Of all the successful people I've come across, you, my dear John, are the most utterly and sincerely modest, and I suppose that even now at the height of your career you haven't a tenth of the idea how much people really admire you....

For me, John, you stand so high above anyone I have known, you yourself as a person, not in relation to me, that I brought my troubles to you with complete confidence that henceforth it would be all right, that I could rely upon you. Perhaps in a way I did, but never in that way.


Walter Duranty - History

Stalin's apologist : Walter Duranty, the New York Times man in Moscow,
by S.J. Taylor, (New York : Oxford University Press, 1990)

Reporters have gained a reputation almost as opprobrious as that of lawyers. For irascibility and truth telling, reporters, like lawyers, rank high on the one and low on the other. Among the respective parties, however, reporters and lawyers mutually assure the adoration of their peers, what we might call MAA - Mutually Assured Adoration. Reporters, to hear them tell it, are kind, considerate, only concerned with the truth of an issue, and could not be bought off for all the money Midas could make.

Those of us living in the post-Woodward and Bernstein world find this attitudinizing laughable. Reporters are, however, by virtue of controlling the communication media, still able to pull a fast one on the public (Bill Clinton comes to mind, for example). Even with the public's collective bad attitude against them, they keep repeating the same lies and sure enough, someone other than a reporter begins to believe in them.

Such is the case with Walter Duranty, long held in high esteem as the consummate reporter - a reporter's reporter, if you will. So it is with some amusement that, once in a while, we are allowed to see a liberal icon bite the dust with such crashing force and noise, that the subsequent deafening sound and pother leaves us with some feeling of exhilaration. This should not be misconstrued as so much schadenfreude rather, just the warm, almost alpenglow of happiness that we were right all along.

Duranty was a chain-smoking, Scotch drinking vulgar sort of man who made no apologies for his admiration of Stalin. He was held in awe by other journalists, especially young female journalists. He did not fail to use the awe to his advantage, or rather their disadvantage. As Fascism rose in Europe, and Japanese jingoism emerged in the East, Duranty wrote glowing accounts of Stalin's Five-Year Plan. Almost single-handedly did Duranty aid and abet one of the world's most prolific mass murderers, knowing all the while what was going on, but refraining from saying precisely what he knew to be true. He had swallowed the ends-justifies-the-means-argument hook, line and sinker. Duranty loved to repeat, when Stalin's atrocities were brought to light, "you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs." Those "eggs" were the heads of men, women and children, and those "few" were merely tens of millions.

As Stalin exiled untold numbers of Soviet citizens to die in Gulags, the Soviet propaganda machine glossed this over, never
expecting to get a reasonable hearing, but prepared to deny everything. Duranty's acceptacnce of the official line exceeded even Stalin's wildest expectations. Taylor's book is a tour de force on the vile, brutish, and nasty life that was Duranty's. His fall in this book is as if from a skyscraper. That his own paper, the New York Times, refuses to acknowledge his perfidy only makes the read all the more savory. Readers now know that the "paper of record" knows that we know. When this story is added to yet another media icon crash, H.L. Mencken and his anti-semitic, booboisie racism, the liberal downfall is complete. Not only are we able to see liberalism's clay fee we are now treated to the certifying papers of its alleged dementia.

What an oddity of life -- or is it rather God's inexhaustible sense of humor? -- that Duranty would come from an affluent middle class family with a Harrow-Eton education. His nuclear family was Presbyterian to its core. Though the rumor of a "public school" education dogged Duranty as part of the myth of the rugged reporter, Duranty's facility for reading Latin, Greek, French and, later, Russian belied any such nonsense. For all his posturing, Duranty was perhaps the best-educated reporter in all Europe.

But if this did not seal his intellectual credentials, Duranty's progressive intellectual effluvia did. His embrace of homosexuality -- he thought it part of every boy's upbringing -- and his unbridled sexual immorality, underscored what comes with a first-rate education in this country. The only difference between Duranty's education then, and a public school education now, was that the Dewey revolution was not yet complete. While gaining a classical education, Duranty also gained the Dewey pother of moral myopia. Today, with Dewey's humanism complete, classical education has vanished entirely, but immorality is everywhere abundant, right down to the condom-on-the-cucumber exercises in grade schools.

The young Duranty showed a penchant for the novelist's -- not the reporter's -- flair, however, a flair that would serve him well in later years. An instructor pointed this out to him and Duranty himself would later admit to it. His flair - though it might just as well be called a flaw -- was that he saw "too many sides to a question to be sure which one of them was quite true." His instructor called it the "curse of Reuben, instability." But Duranty saw Reuben's curse - "unstable as water thou shalt not excel" -- as hardly anything to be too concerned about: "I did not particularly want to excel." Rather, Duranty wanted to "see and hear new things."
He did both. But his propensity to see all sides, or too many, prevented Duranty from discriminating between a new good thing, and a new, but murderous one.

Early in his life, Duranty went to Paris and met up with Aleister Crowley. Crowley proved to be a schoolmaster for Duranty's sexual and drug-taking orgies. Indeed, Duranty's sexual prowess became proverbial. He did nothing to dispel this report, often bringing women home for a short stay even after he married. He drank gallons of liquor, and slipped into and out of opiate miasmas. Moreover, he liked to talk about the effects of opium on his penis. In some cases, he even wrote to friends about it in kind of salvific language. To anyone who would listen, Duranty would talk about his or another's "stick, staff or rod" as he called it. This cannot be discounted as the locker room ravings of a puerile and immature young man. The records for these conversations come to us after Duranty had turned thirty.

Duranty's big break came while he was living in the Latin Quarter in Paris. He reported on Alphonse Pegoud, an aviator who flew a plane upside down for the first time. From Duranty's friend Wythe Williams, the head of the Paris bureau for the New York Times, Duranty learned how copy for a story was created. This resulted in Duranty's first byline. Without a nickel in his pocket, Duranty parlayed the rather nondescript piece that, for all we know, Williams had written, into a paying job with the paper of record.

Later that year, Duranty, Crowley and Victor Neuburg in a mock Mass, with Duranty reciting and composing Latin verses,
attempted to sodomize each other. When asked later about these unspeakable events, Duranty would only say that he had "ceased to believe in anything", more of an obvious observation than an explanation. Apparently, Duranty did not know that this would mean he would therefore release himself to be capable of everything.

Though Williams probably wrote Duranty's first story, or at least the lion's share of it, Duranty's reporting efforts were no fluke. But he would always remain more writer than reporter. While this certainly made Duranty stories more than the run-of-the-mill 5Ws, it also lured him into the reporter's bane. The more often Duranty composed while he wrote, the more likely he was to allow the fiction part of writing to take over. In one important case, Duranty was asked by the Allied forces to write a false story. Duranty wrestled with the idea and finally wrote his "eye-witness account." later, in e.e. cummings style, he wrote a poem asking whether the "end justified the means". He decided that it didn't. But in the same poem, he wrote, "whether a noble end justified any means/i wasn't so sure about that." In fact, Duranty went even further, musing that perhaps a "noble end might justify a somewhat doubtful means." That the "somewhat doubtful means" would come in the form of the Soviet Union serves to reveal "what mighty portents rise from trivial things."

But more myth-building had to occur. In a train accident that nearly cost him his life, Duranty instead lost his left leg. He was on a train from Paris to Le Harve in 1924. The wreck sent him twenty-five yards through the air and splintered his shin. After surgical repair and a cast, the leg was found to be gangrenous. The surgeon told Duranty it would have to come off. This tragic event left Duranty in a slough of despond. But eventually, it became part of the myth. Again and again, young reporters would tell of the story of how Duranty, in search of truth, lost his leg. Later, some would report how he lost it covering the war. The stories were embellished and recast so that Duranty sounded the war-hero/reporter. Duranty exulted in these stories and did little to discount them.

While covering events all over Paris, Duranty had little success. He did write and publish in the Times, but his stories, he felt, lacked something. Then, as he recounts, "luck broke my way in the shape of the great Russian famine which threatened to cost about 30,000,000 lives, and probably did cost 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 including deaths from disease." It did not prove too lucky for the Russians, neither then, nor over the next seventy years. But it did help establish Duranty as the premier reporter in Europe, and the number one Useful Idiot for Lenin first, and flater or Stalin.

In Duranty's reportage of this event he attempted to stress the New Economic Policy of Lenin, rather than the loss of life. He
compared Lenin's work with that of the Allies after World War I, an association that could not have been missed by Red Party members. Duranty began the story on the NEP in high dungeon:

Lenin has thrown communism overboard. His signature appears in the official press of Moscow on August 9,
abandoning State ownership, with the exception of a definite number of great industries of national importance - such as
were controlled by the State in France, England and Germany during the war -- and re-establishing payment by
individuals for railroads, postal and other public services.

On the basis of this story, Duranty was given provisional admittance to the Soviet Union.

The initial admittance grew to several years. Duranty set up house with a Russian peasant girl named Katya, even in the presence of his wife, Jane. But Jane could hardly have cared for too long. She was far more interested in drug-taking. Duranty would later refer to these years, 1922-1924, as the most pleasant of his entire stay in Moscow.

During this time Duranty met everybody who was anybody, it seemed. He made friends with Isadora Duncan, William Bolitho, Alexander Woolcott, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, George Seldes and many others. He also collaborated with H.R. Knickerbocker on a series of short stories. He and "Knick" as he was called, wrote six stories together, but all under Duranty's name. The agreement allowed that the next six would be under Knickerbocker's name, Duranty going first since he was more "famous". To the surprise of Duranty and everyone else, one of the stories was voted Best Short Story of 1929. Most likely, the first draft had been Knickerbocker's. True to form, however, Duranty never once mentioned to the award presenters that the work was not entirely his own. Later, after he had received a congratulatory letter from Knick, he wrote back saying how "noble and honest" Knick was since the story was "your work as much as mine". Duranty told Knick that if he would compose a letter to the O'Henry people, "I'll be glad to sign [it]." Knickerbocker never did.

Amid the evolution of the Soviet Union came reports, typically from one source -- Malcolm Muggeridge -- that all was not well in stars and scythe. Duranty shrugged these stories off by telling those who dared to inquire that eggs have to be broken in order for an omelet to be made. But others began to see the discrepancies between Duranty's stories and what they saw when they visited, men such as e.e. cummings and economist Charles A. Beard. Again, Duranty brushed them off as so many lumpenproletariat: "If a foreign correspondent is looking for a bed of roses, he would do well to go into floriculture." But what Duranty was loathe to admit was not that anyone thought the Soviet Union a bed of roses. What they objected to was a garden of thorn as sharp as knives being referred to as a soft cushion worthy of worldwide emulation.

Even when the purges were at their height, Duranty grew hostile to anyone who questioned his reporting, or cast aspersions his way. When, in 1930, Duranty saw firsthand the exiled kulaks, he dismissed it, saying "[I've] seen worse debris than that, trains full of wounded in the Front in France going back to be patched up for a fresh bout of slaughter." Though he argued against the notion that "Patriotism and Progress" were worth the Allied effort, he rarely applied the same logic to Stalin's killing machine. Duranty even linked Stalin's persona to the survival of the Communist Party and, ultimately, the Soviet Union. The irony was apparently missed by Duranty: that a man single-handedly responsible for tens of millions of deaths of his own people could be inextricably linked to their survival. Just how many eggs it took to make this omelet, Duranty was happy to let Stalin decide.

After these stories, Duranty got an interview with Lucifer incarnate, Stalin himself. In the interview, Duranty praised Stalin's progressive ideals, his firm control of a wild country, and his brilliant political instincts. Stalin came out of the subsequent story a world figure on the order of Roosevelt or Churchill.

Duranty had accomplished the impossible: he had taken a mere thug whose bloodshed was unparalleled in Europe at the time, and unsurpassed until Mao, and lifted him to the status of world leader, superpower. What Duranty had done for Stalin did not begin to compare with what Stalin did for Duranty. Once the story appeared, Duranty went from well-known reporter to world-class celebrity.

Duranty lived up to his celebrity status, or rather, lived it to the hilt. He stole men's fiancees, slept with other men's wives, cheating on his own wife, practically in front of her. He entertained royally, taking advantage at every turn. When Will Rogers toured Europe, he wanted to see "the great Walter Duranty". Thankfully, Rogers stayed out of politics. Duranty also played the role of sage-reporter. He once told a young reporter, "What people are interested in are sex and gold and blood, and if you get a story in which the lead combines all of those, you've got something." Apparently between Stalin's bloodletting, Duranty's immorality, and the money the two of them made in service of each other, Duranty had gotten it right after all.

During the Ukraine famine, Duranty argued that the stories were "bunk" which predicted pestilential deaths. Although Duranty never witnessed first hand any of the actual places where the deaths occurred, he made reference to the tragedy by alluding go the Battle of Verdun, when allies died at the rate of 6,000 per day. But the horns of the dilemma by which Duranty sought not to be gored (but which Muggeridge pointed out, did in fact finally gore him) were these: he wanted to write in such a way that if the famine became generally known outside of Russia, he could appear to have predicted it. On the other hand, if it remained known only in Russia, he could appear to have pooh-poohed it. Even when Ukrainian peasants were dying at the rate of 25,000 a day, the story remained within the clenched and bloodstained fist of the tightly censorious Stalin.

Duranty overlooked the horrors of the Soviet Union by frequently taking flight from the carnage. Several times a year he would go to Europe and forget all he'd seen. But even Duranty could not get away from everything. One night in a hotel in Athens, as he was sitting by the window enjoying the breeze, he suddenly noticed his shirt smelled like burning flesh. He instantly thought the management was robbing its customers and burning the bodies of its victims. Duranty left immediately and checked into another hotel, sending a cab over to get his things the next morning. Perhaps all Duranty smelled was the filth of his own equivocations in the deaths of millions.

At fifty-one, Duranty published I Write as I Please. The book became an instant best-seller. The book sparked a long and involved controversy over whether Duranty was the greatest living reporter, and whether he could be trusted to report accurately on the Soviet Union. About all the dispute did was stir up more sales for Duranty.

As the work of scholars grew, and the outbreak of dissention between Trotsky and Stalin widened, Duranty began to feel the heat. The exiled Trotsky openly criticized Duranty and his work, sparking so many exchanges in The New Republic that the magazine had to call a moratorium on the letters. At first, this seemed exactly what Duranty wanted because it sold his name again and again. But as the controversy dragged on, it began to cast aspersions on the famous reporter.

Duranty's work not only aggravated Trotsky, but it also began to weary Stalin. Duranty now found himself in the position of being denied dispatches when he wrote on certain topics. Shortly thereafter came Litvinov's removal as Minister of Foreign Affairs over the German question. His replacement was Vyacheslav Molotov. The news came in so unexpectedly that the two stringers for the Times, Duranty and Denny, were caught unawares. Denny proved too drunk to write the story. Duranry wrote his, but gave the whole event a very innocuous interpretation. One of Duranty's friends, Henry Shapiro, bet him the Germans would attack the Soviets. Duranty laughed and bet him ten to one it would never happen. His friend raised the odds to 100 to one. Duranty later paidup.

After World War II, as his usual communications with Stalin became less and less frequent, Duranty decided to take on
Hollywood. It seemed fitting, really, given all the fiction Duranty had managed to write about the Soviet Union. But the ploy failed miserably, and Duranty found himself in the inestimable position of having to borrow money from anyone who would lend it to him. He found respite in a kind of sideshow performance between him and Knickerbocker. But night after night of shows and hotels took their toll and Duranty finally gave it up.

One further incident will, perhaps, help readers to understand just who Walter Duranty was. The prolific and hugely successful writer, John Gunther, had always befriended Duranty, even after Duranty hit on Gunther's wife. But more than that, Gunther lent Duranty huge sums of money, knowing it would never be paid back. Tragically, Gunther's only son was diagnosed with a brain tumor during the boy's junior year in college. The operations (both unsuccessful) and the medical care, drained the wealthy Gunther of virtually all he had. He became indentured to publishers who would loan him $10,000 as an advance. Gunther would take the money and pay for his son's medical expenses, then stay up all day and night for weeks writing a book, or completing a piece.

While Gunther's son went down hill rapidly, Duranty visited him on two successive afternoons. With the young man covered in bandages, half blind, and unable to use his left side, Duranty tried to cheer him up. So far so good. But it turns out that, though he had made the visit to see Gunther's son, Duranty managed to "borrow" $500 from Gunther before he left. Duranty had pulled Gunther away to a restaurant for drinks and conversation. As Gunther handed Duranty the check, the restaurant management told Gunther he had a phone call. The voice informed him his son had just died.

Duranty's own end occurred some years later at the age of seventy-three. An internal hemorrhage complicated by pulmonary
emphysema finally took him. He died a broken and gaunt man, hardly the celebrity he had been, save for the myth he had helped create. Taylor's book, if widely read, should help demythologize this opprobrious man and his more noxious philosophy. CM


Strip Pulitzer Prize from New York Times over Cover-up of Genocide in Ukraine in 1932-33 by its correspondent

On November 24, 1933, the Soviet Union threw a lavish dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for 1,500 in honor of President Franklin Roosevelt’s recognition of the Soviet Union. They feasted on fancy wines, caviar, and Boeuf Stroganoff, then later in the evening gave a standing ovation to the special guest of honor, Walter Duranty, The New York Times’ foreign correspondent in Moscow and 1932 Pulitzer Prize winner.

Outside the ballroom, the Great Depression was devastating capitalism and the Soviet Union was devastating Ukraine by starving to death millions to bring them to heel.

November in Canada is Holodomor Remembrance Month, designed to remember one of the greatest crimes against humanity in history, a premeditated genocide perpetrated by Josef Stalin to collectivize farms and destroy Ukrainian society. Up to ten million died. “Holodomor” means death by hunger in Ukrainian.

But the man feted years ago in New York, Walter Duranty, knew about Stalin’s mass murder and deliberately covered it up. It was a monstrous example of journalistic malpractice, unearthed as a result of research conducted by the Ukrainian diaspora and historians.

They and others demanded that Duranty be expunged from the list of Pulitzer winners for his misdeeds.

The New York Times even hired a consultant, Columbia Professor Mark von Hagen, to examine Duranty’s work and he later said he believed the board should indeed take such action. ''They should take it away for the greater honor and glory of The New York Times,'' he said. ''He really was kind of a disgrace in the history of The New York Times.''

The Pulitzer Prize Board took six months to study the request, and decided in 2003 not to take its prize from Duranty because it concluded there was no evidence of “deliberate deception” and that, besides, he was not alive to defend himself.

However, British Foreign Office archives prove that Duranty deceived the world when he admitted to a diplomat that “possibly as many as ten million people had died of lack of food in the USSR.”

Further, a documentary produced by the Canadian diaspora called “Harvest of Despair” contained an on-camera interview with famous British writer, Malcolm Muggeridge. He called Duranty “the biggest liar of all time,” adding that he not only covered up the tragedy for Stalin but also shamed writers who wrote about it. Muggeridge wrote several stories about the famine for British newspapers at the time.

“This is the most terrible thing I’ve ever seen precisely because of the deliberation with which it was done and total absence of any kind of sympathy,” said Muggeridge.

In 1991, Boris Yeltsin acknowledged the existence of Stalin's genocide in Ukraine and in 2003 the United Nations adopted a joint statement on the Great Famine of 1932-33, signed by twenty-five countries including Russia, stating that: "The Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine (Holodomor). took from seven million to ten million innocent lives, and became a national tragedy for the Ukrainian people.”

Even so, Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly denied the famine ever happened or, for that matter, that he has meddled in elections in the West or invaded Ukraine and killed 10,000 and displaced 1.6 million people.

Clearly this initiative deserves to be reprised. Diaspora Ukrainians would welcome a chance to set the record straight. In the broader context, it could help to put the lie to Moscow’s deception then and now. Duranty may be long since dead, but Russia continues the Soviet Union’s strategy of fake news, the use of media plants like Duranty, cyber propaganda, censorship, abuse of Ukrainians, and manipulation of western democracies.

The Pulitzer Prize Board should take a principled stand against this and other onslaughts against truth and decency.


Ukrainian Genocide: NY Times Still Covering Up

The New York Times prides itself on being the national "newspaper of record" and still carries its longtime motto, "All the News That’s Fit to Print" in the upper left-hand corner of its front page. If we are to believe the Times’ motto, the week-long Holodomor commemoration didn’t take place, or at least it didn’t qualify as "news." A search of the Times website &mdash using both visual scan and their own search engine &mdash yielded zero results for current or recent stories.

Using the Times’ search engine and various combinations of "Holodomor," "Ukraine," and "Ukrainian famine," brings up a number of articles, most of which are years or decades old. The most recent entry was a September 6 article covering a visit to Ukraine by Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife. They are shown in a photograph with President Yushchenko and his wife. The caption for the photo reads: "Vice President Cheney, his wife Lynne, left, and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and his wife at the memorial for the victims of the Holodomor in Kiev, Ukraine, on Friday." However, there is no explanation of Holodomor for the Times’ readers, 99 percent of whom have never seen or heard the word before.

The photograph accompanies an article entitled, "Cheney Pledges Support for Ukraine," which reports on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine over Ukraine’s desire to join NATO. However, there is no mention of Holodomor or famine in the article.

There was plenty of Times coverage of other breaking European and World "news" on November 22: an increase in boar hunting in Germany, the semi-retirement of famed French chef Olivier Roellinger, Russian President Medvedev’s trip to Venezuela, an inquiry into the alleged crimes of General Franco in Spain during the 1930s, etc.

The Times neglect of the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor is especially inexcusable, inasmuch as the Times served as an indispensable handmaiden to Stalin as he carried out this horrendous crime against humanity. While the communists carried out the mass annihilation of the Ukrainian farmers, the Times assured the Western world that all reports of starvation in Ukraine were merely anti-Soviet propaganda. Times reporter Walter Duranty, known as "Stalin’s Apologist," became a willing tool for the Kremlin and denounced as liars those heroic journalists who dared to report the truth &mdash that Ukrainians were dying by the millions, their bodies filling the streets of many towns and villages. The two most notable of those journalists were Gareth Jones of Wales and Malcolm Muggeridge of England, both of whom are revered in Ukraine and were posthumously awarded the country’s Order of Freedom on November 22 at a ceremony in Westminster.

Jones, who wrote for The Western Mail, The Times [of London], The Manchester Guardian, and other European and American newspapers became a "marked man," due to his outspoken and fearless exposés of Soviet atrocities, corruption, and failures. In 1935, he was kidnapped and murdered in Mongolia. Although authorities claimed his death was the work of bandits, evidence showed the deed was actually an assassination, carried out by the NKVD, forerunner of the KGB.

Meanwhile, the Times’ Walter Duranty, basking in the glory of a Pulitzer Prize for his sychophantic pro-Stalin reportage, continued to promote the communist line. Without the Times and Duranty providing cover, it would have been politically impossible for President Franklin Roosevelt to grant recognition to the Soviet regime. Four presidents before him and as many Secretaries of State had adamantly refused recognition because of the numerous crimes and atrocities of the communist regime and because of its continuing sponsorship of communist subversive activities within the United States. However, with the Times covering up Stalin’s crimes, including the famine genocide in the Ukraine, Roosevelt was free to arrange official U.S. recognition for the U.S.S.R. on November 16, 1933.

No mea culpa from the Times

The New York Times got away with its perfidy for decades, though this publication and its predecessors (American Opinion and The Review of The News), along with other conservative publications, had been exposing the Times’‘ key role in the Holodomor cover-up for years. Ukrainian groups had been demanding that the Times admit its deception, but to no avail. It was not until 2003, when it was reeling from a scandal involving another of its star reporters, Jayson Blair, that it appeared the Times might be forced to come clean on one of the biggest journalistic crimes of all times.

Under pressure from the Ukrainian community to return Duranty’s ill-gotten Pulitzer to the Pulitzer Prize Board, the Times hired Professor Mark Von Hagen of Columbia University to make an independent assessment of Duranty’s coverage of the Soviet Union during the 1930s. Dr. Von Hagen called Duranty a "disgrace" and criticized his work for its "uncritical acceptance of the Soviet self-justification for its cruel and wasteful regime.” He recommended that the Pulitzer Board take back Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize. Reporting on Von Hagen’s verdict on October 23, 2003, Times writer Jacques Steinberg attempted to give the appearance that the Times had already issued a sufficient pronouncement of public contrition. Steinberg wrote:

That The Times regretted the lapses in Mr. Duranty’s coverage was apparent as early as 1986, in a review of Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine (Oxford University Press). In the review, Craig R. Whitney, who reported for The Times from Moscow from 1977 to 1980, wrote that Mr. Duranty "denied the existence of the famine in his dispatches until it was almost over, despite much evidence to the contrary that was published in his own paper at the time."

That, apparently, is the Times’ idea of justice: a one-sentence half-apology to make up for reams of propaganda enabling and covering up the murder of millions. Steinberg cited a letter by Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher of the Times, to the Pulitzer Board. In the letter, Sulzberger referred to Duranty’s reporting merely as "slovenly," as though he had been careless, rather than deliberately and criminally mendacious. Steinberg then went on to reiterate a theme propounded by Sulzberger, who argued, incredibly, that to strip Duranty and the Times of the Pulitzer would be to engage in Stalinism. Steinberg reported:

Mr. Sulzberger wrote that the newspaper did not have Mr. Duranty’s prize, and thus could not ”return” it. While careful to advise the board that the newspaper would ”respect” its decision on whether to rescind the award, Mr. Sulzberger asked the board to consider two things. First, he wrote, such an action might evoke the ”Stalinist practice to airbrush purged figures out of official records and histories.” He also wrote of his fear that ”the board would be setting a precedent for revisiting its judgments over many decades.”

Bill Keller, the Times’ executive editor repeated the same line, telling Steinberg, "As someone who spent time in the Soviet Union while it still existed, the notion of airbrushing history kind of gives me the creeps.”

Professor Von Hagen responded to the Times’ twisted and deceptive excuse for failing to relinquish the Pulitzer, pointing out the obvious:

Airbrushing was intended to suppress the truth about what was happening under Stalin. The aim of revoking Walter Duranty’s prize is the opposite: to bring greater awareness of the potential long-term damage that his reporting did for our understanding of the Soviet Union.

The Times’ Airbrush Still Working Overtime

The Times ran out the clock on the Duranty-Pulitzer-Holodomor issue in 2003, simply allowing it to die down, apparently confident that only diehard Ukrainian activists would remember. In so doing, the Times compounded its culpability. Not only is the Times the principal agent in the western media responsible for airbrushing of Stalin’s crimes out of existence, it continues to use the airbrush to prevent any exposure of its past involvement in those deeds. An important case in point is its suppression of a document that has come to be known as the "Gordon Dispatch." This is a recently released memorandum by George A. Gordon, U.S. Charge d’Affairs in Berlin, Germany, to the U.S. Secretary of State. Gordon said of Duranty, who had just come from the Soviet Union and had stopped by the embassy before going on vacation, "Duranty pointed out that ‘in agreement with The New York Times and the Soviet authorities’ his official dispatches always reflect the official opinion of the Soviet regime and not his own."

The Times’ defense in recent years &mdash that Duranty pulled the wool over the eyes of the Times &mdash is shown to be likely false. The Gordon Dispatch indicates that it was the Times itself, not merely Duranty, that was responsible for the pro-Stalin, pro-Soviet slant in the Times’ pages. But in the case of Holodomor the Times was guilty of far worse than "slanting" the news it was a willful collaborator in a "crime of the century," a willful collaborator in blatant propaganda to cover up that crime. The Times has never mentioned the Gordon Dispatch. According to Ukrainian scholars like Dr. Walter Zaryckyj, an adjunct professor at New York University, the management of the Times has not attempted to atone for paper’s egregious sins in the Holodomor-Duranty case by thoroughly airing the facts, admitting its guilt, publicly apologizing, and unequivocally denouncing Duranty and returning the Pulitzer Prize. "They were allowed to get off in 2003," on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Holodomor, Dr. Zaryckyj told The New American, because not enough other members of the media, academia, and the public pressed the issue, when the Times was most vulnerable. "Now it is the 75th anniversary and the Times shows no sign of changing its ways," he said. "This would have been the perfect time to interview the remaining survivors of the Holodomor and to cover the commemoration [in Kiev, New York City, and elsewhere] and bring world attention to this terrible crime and its victims. The survivors are in their 80s and 90s five years from now, at the 80th anniversary, most of them will have passed away."

As far as the Times is concerned, apparently, they will be airbrushed out of history, along with the Holodomor commemoration this year and the original victims of the Holodomor 75 years ago.


The Times and Its Errors (and Ours)

(Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

In response to the newspaper’s “1619 Project,” Peter Kirsanow takes the New York Times to task for Walter Duranty’s coverage of the USSR and the famine that killed millions in Ukraine. “Maybe it should devote a tiny portion of its 1619 Project resources to reframing its history of the Ukrainian famine. . . . The New York Times would do well to correct its own profound mistakes and biases before rewriting history to suit its ideological imperatives.”

Duranty’s work was indeed dreadful. As one critical account put it:

Taking Soviet propaganda at face value this way was completely misleading, as talking with ordinary Russians might have revealed even at the time. Duranty’s prize-winning articles quoted not a single one – only Stalin, who forced farmers all over the Soviet Union into collective farms and sent those who resisted to concentration camps. Collectivization was the main cause of a famine that killed millions of people in Ukraine, the Soviet breadbasket.

That is a statement from the New York Times itself. Another account from the Times:

On Christmas Day in 1933, Joseph Stalin conferred this orchid on his favorite Western journalist:

“You have done a good job in your reporting the U.S.S.R., though you are not a Marxist, because you try to tell the truth about our country . . . I might say that you bet on our horse to win when others thought it had no chance and I am sure you have not lost by it.”

The reporter was Walter Duranty, then The New York Times’s Moscow correspondent, who is credited with coining the term “Stalinism.” He was fascinated, almost mesmerized by the harsh system he described. And having bet on Stalin’s rise in the 1920’s, Mr. Duranty remained loyally partial to his horse. The result was some of the worst reporting to appear in this newspaper.

The Pulitzer Committee, which has its own problems, has declined to revoke the prize on the grounds that Duranty’s reporting was incompetent and sloppy but not willfully deceptive. The Times says it has no Duranty prize in its possession to give back (or, I suppose, ritually burn). It is fair to say that the paper should do more on that front, e.g., that it should not count this Pulitzer among its total when it brags about that sort of thing. But the Times has to its credit publicly acknowledged its error and the bias that led to it. To claim otherwise is inconsistent with the facts and unfair to the efforts that the Times has made, however delayed or deficient, to correct the record.

There are things that have been published in the pages of National Review over the years that we regret, for good reason. I do not think that there are very many publications that have been around for very long that do not have similar regrets.

Not that the Times is a great exemplar of that spirit. On Wednesday, it published a piece by James Poniewozik, who is inconsolable over the fact that Donald Trump’s former press secretary is to appear on “Dancing with the Stars.” He offers a mock confession: “It isn’t cool to get mad about things like this. It’s so strident. It’s so earnest. If you high-mindedly wrestle with a goofy sideshow like ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ you just get glitter all over you, and the show gets ratings.” But the problem with Poniewozik’s sentiment is not that it is strident or earnest, still less that it is high-minded — it is that it is petty and vindictive. It is in the spirit of Joaquin Castro, who wishes to ruin the businesses and families of San Antonio residents — his constituents — for the sin of having made donations to the presidential candidate of the other party. There are times when social pressure of that sort is appropriate, but this is not the Montgomery bus boycott — it’s a congressman going after people for simply making campaign donations to the presidential nominee of one of the two major parties. I myself would not be inclined to make such a donation, but the congressman’s reaction is disproportionate, petty, vindictive, and hysterical.

We could use a good deal less of that, I think. There is plenty to criticize in the New York Times, especially in its coverage of national political affairs. But using its mistakes from the Thirties as a cudgel—to pretend that they discredit the institution in toto, now and forever — may not be the best example for any of us to set. I do not think that National Review ’s wrongheadedness in the 1950s is the entirety of this magazine’s legacy or of Bill Buckley’s. I don’t think that anything similar is true of The New Republic or the CBS Evening News or the New York Times.

Devin Gordon, writing in The Atlantic, shows the shallowness of this spirit, taking Joe Rogan to task for having the independence of mind to interview people that people like Devin Gordon believe should be and have been cast into the outer dark. On Rogan, Gordon laments

his insistence on seeing value in people even when he shouldn’t, even when they’ve forfeited any right to it, even when the harm outweighs the good. It comes from a generous place, but it amounts to careless cruelty. He just won’t write people off, and then he compounds the sin by throwing them a lifeline at the moment when they least deserve it.

Who are these miscreants? Milo Yiannapoulos, Alex Jones, etc. Not Slobodan Milošević — Milo and Alex Jones. Gordon wonders why it is that Rogan is so popular. That this mystifies him so is both hilarious and instructive. Joe Rogan, whatever his other qualities, is interested in the world Devin Gordon is interested in Twitter pettiness. And, as it turns out, the world is more interesting than Devin Gordon’s baroque rules of etiquette and his secondhand vendettas.

Perhaps there is a lesson in there for all of us. I’ve probably written 30 Walter Duranty jokes. That probably wasn’t the best use of my time.


Walter Duranty privately admitted there was a famine

But in a 2003 article by The Guardian, Walter Duranty held other views in private where he admitted that he believed the famine had killed millions.

“British Foreign Office documents show that Duranty confided to a diplomat at the British Embassy in Moscow that he believed around 10 million people had perished [in the Ukraine famine],” wrote Askold Krushelnycky for The Guardian.

Opinions on why Walter Duranty reported falsely range from him being blackmailed by the Soviets for his sexual appetites to an egotistical desire for celebrity.

Krushelnycky’s article was the last time the now-dead Duranty got widespread press, thanks to a campaign by Ukrainian-Americans and other organizations seeking to have him stripped of his Pulitzer Prize.

In response to the campaign, The New York Times issued a statement explaining his reporting.

“Duranty, one of the most famous correspondents of his day, won the prize for 13 articles written in 1931 analyzing the Soviet Union under Stalin. Times correspondents and others have since largely discredited his coverage,” said the statement.

“Duranty’s cabled dispatches had to pass Soviet censorship, and Stalin’s propaganda machine was powerful and omnipresent,” the statement said. “Duranty’s analyses relied on official sources as his primary source of information, accounting for the most significant flaw in his coverage — his consistent underestimation of Stalin’s brutality,” it continued.

Starved Ukrainian peasants on a street in Kharkiv, 1933. (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

This would be all well and good if no one paid any attention to what Duranty wrote and what The New York Times’ published at the time, but that was not the case. His words carried weight during the 1930s.

Duranty was a celebrity and was fawned on by left-leaning Westerners who believed what he wrote. Not only that, his reporting and so-called expertise heavily influenced official American views about the Soviet Union. Even at the very highest levels.

“For beyond his questionable probity, he wielded great influence in shaping American attitudes toward the Soviet Union during its fledgling years, and even played a central role in pressuring Franklin D. Roosevelt to open diplomatic relations with Moscow,” wrote Francine du Plessix Gray for a New York Times review of the biography on Duranty by Sally. J. Taylor.


Josef Stalin ordered that grain quotas in the Ukraine be increased in 1932 to the point that Ukrainian peasants responsible for producing it would have none left for their own sustenance. The NKVD enforced Stalin&rsquos policy, collecting the grain and overseeing the death by starvation of an estimated 7 million Ukrainian people as a result. Stalin&rsquos actions were motivated by his desire to end Ukrainian nationalism.

Walter Duranty was the Moscow bureau chief for the New York Times, and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his work from Moscow in 1931. In 1932 and the following year, while Stalin&rsquos policies were leading to the deaths of so many in the Ukraine, Duranty sent back stories to the New York Times which lauded the work of the Soviet government and Josef Stalin. The New York Times was the source for much of the international news of smaller newspapers across the country, which could not afford their own overseas correspondents, and Duranty&rsquos work was repeated nationwide.

Duranty reported on some deaths in the Ukraine, attributing them to disease rather than starvation, and described reports from other sources of the true events in the Ukraine as being nothing more than &ldquomalignant propaganda&rdquo from those hostile to the Soviet regime. Duranty&rsquos reports denying the famine and the effects of Stalin&rsquos policies were a major influence on government policy towards the Soviet Union, given the prestige of the New York Times.

There were obviously conflicting reports describing the famine, the numbers of people dying, and the effects of Soviet policy, but the Times denied them and stood by their correspondent. Duranty too defended his reporting against contradictory accounts appearing in British newspapers, describing them as, &ldquo…there appears from a British source a big scare story in the American press about famine in the Soviet Union…&rdquo Duranty published his comments in a story which appeared in the Times under the headline &ldquoRussians Hungry, But Not Starving.&rdquo

Malcolm Muggeridge was the Moscow correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, a British publication which reported the events of the Holodomor as they occurred, and frequently debated with Duranty in print. In his memoirs years later, Muggeridge referred to what he called Duranty&rsquos &ldquopersistent lying.&rdquo The New York Times wrote in 1990 that Duranty&rsquos work from Moscow was a result of his believing in the system installed by the Communists. &ldquoHe saw what he wanted to see,&rdquo wrote the Times.


Walter Duranty - History

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Stalin's Apologist, Walter Duranty: The New York Times's Man in Moscow, by S.J. Taylor. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Hb., 404 pp., illustrated, $24.95 ISBN 0-19-505700-7.

Flamboyant and opinionated, Walter Duranty represented the quintessence of the star newspaper reporter. His beat was the Soviet Union. From the Revolution to the Second World War, Duranty's dispatches were front page news.

Yet readers of The New York Times had little idea of the real Walter Duranty, who was a complex, amoral figure. S.J. Taylor's superb biography explores the dark side of Duranty's personality as well as the impact his reporting had on the world's perception of Joseph Stalin's Marxist dictatorship.

Taylor demonstrates how Duranty's character flaws influenced his reporting. Stalin's Apologist is the story of how Walter Duranty sold out for perks and privileges granted by the Stalinist elite. Abandoning any last shred of personal ethics, Duranty allowed himself to be prostituted and used to cover up the crimes of the Soviet regime.

Duranty's journalistic corruption hit bottom in the early 1930's. During the forced collectivization of agriculture in the Ukraine, brutal implementation of Stalin's Five-Year Plan was achieved through a contrived famine and massive deportations resulting in up to eight to ten million deaths. Knowing full well this atrocity was taking place, Walter Duranty chose to cover up rather than report it to the world (a decision which evidently had the full approval of his bosses at the Times).

Duranty's self-indulgent, egoistic approach to living surfaced early in life. The son of a prosperous, staunchly Presbyterian English family, he attended the elite "public" schools of Harrow and Bedford, then was graduated from Cambridge. But despite his ruling-class education, Duranty despised the British aristocracy, while simultaneously evincing no sympathy for working people (or at least those who lacked power and influence).

During his adult years, Duranty rarely returned to England. His biographer succinctly describes his family relations, or lack thereof, in the following passage:

When his mother died in 1916, there was no word from Duranty. Fourteen years later, his sister died at forty-five, a spinster. Her life has been devoted to her father, who outlived her by three years. And when in 1933, plagued by senility and , the diseases of old age, William Steel Duranty died, he left a personal estate valued at merely £430, besides the house his daughter had left him &ndash a pathetic come-down from his early days of opulence and plenty. Walter Duranty's only acknowledgement of his family in all of those years was a curt document notorized in Moscow, authorizing his father's solicitors to sell the house, take their fee, and send him the proceeds.

Publicly, he solved the problem once and for all in his autobiography, , by killing off his parents in a railway accident and orphaning himself at the age of ten, an only child.

It put an end to any unwelcome questions.

On leaving college, he spent several years touring, coming to ground in pre-World War-I Paris, after he had squandered an inheritance left him by his grandfather.

Bohemian and roue, Duranty secured a reputation as a cosmopolitan globe-trotter through his witty conversation and fluency in several languages. Despite his short stature and lack of good looks, he was never at a loss for female companionship, even after a train accident left him with a wooden leg. Head-up for money, Duranty persuaded Wythe Williams, head of the Paris bureau of The New York Times, to pay him to write a story about a Frenchman who was going to fly an airplane upside down. Three months later, on December 1, 1913, Duranty was hired by The New York Times. Duranty spent his days in Paris perfecting his journalistic technique, while his nights were devoted to dissolute meddling in hobbies that are today styled "New Age." A constant companion of Duranty in the pre-war "City of Light" was the occultist and black magician, Aleister Crowley, whom the Britsh press had dubbed "the Wickedest Man in the World." Crowley claimed other titles for himself, but preferred to be called "Beast 666."

One of Crowley's many female companions, Jane Cheron, performed the role of Scarlet Woman (as in the Book of Revelations) in Crowley's debauched rituals. Duranty was later to marry Cheron, although they rarely lived together. Marriage did not, of course, prevent him from perpetually chasing skirts, sometimes before his wife's eyes.

On December 31, 1913 Crowley began a series of 23 ritualistic ''workings'' of sex magic with Duranty and another partner named Victor Neuburg. Crowley was later to claim pompously that these "Paris workings" had been the "magical" cause of the First World War, a prelude to the new Aeon, the Age of Horus.[1] As for Duranty's opinion of the Paris rituals, Ms. Taylor reports that he ''would later say little, only that he no longer believed in anything."

Aleister Crowley and Jane Cheron were lifelong heroin addicts. Duranty, too, was quite partial to alcohol and drugs, being at one time addicted to opium, although in fairness his opium habit can be traced in part to recuperation for the accident which cost him his leg.

When the First World War began in August 1914, Duranty initially covered the war for The New York Times from the French capital. When he had gained sufficient professional experience, he was promoted to war correspondent, filing many dispatches on the horrors of trench warfare based on his visits to the front.

When Duranty began work as a reporter, his writing reflected the prevalent bias of English society. At the time of the First World War, his personal prejudices were as virulently anti-German as those of most other Englishmen: in his autobiographical I Write As I Please he later admitted to having written at least one falsified WWI propaganda story.

After the war, Duranty traveled through Germany, Poland, and the Baltic states, reporting on the poverty and revolutionary turmoil besetting war-torn Eastern Europe.

In 1920, famine began to ravage the Soviet Union, a direct result of the turmoil of the Revolution. Five to six million people starved to death or died from disease, a mass tragedy of the early years of Bolshevism which was to foreshadow the far greater evil to befall the Ukraine, North Caucasus and the Lower Volga a decade later.

The Soviet leadership sought financial aid from the West, ostensibly to aid victims of the famine, but in reality to secure the Red tyranny. One of the stipulations of Herbert Hoover's American Relief Association was that the Bolsheviks allow Western reporters into Russia. Maxim Litvonov, a Jew and prominent Bolshevik, later to become Soviet Foreign Minister, determined which journalists were granted visas. After some wrangling (he had written a few anti-Soviet articles earlier), Duranty was allowed into the Soviet Union as a reporter.

In the economic free-for-all of Lenin's short-lived New Economic Policy, Duranty was able to parlay his access to foreign currency into a house in Moscow, complete with English-style fireplace. He lived in luxury, particularly when compared to the average citizen in the "Worker's Paradise," and was able to purchase imported food, candies, cigarettes and razor blades. He owned an automobile and had a retinue of servants including a chauffeur, cleaning lady, secretary, cook, and mistress (Duranty's wife chose conveniently to live in France.)

Walter Duranty had also considerable travel privileges within the Soviet Union, and could of course leave the country for pleasure or business in Paris, New York and other world capitals. He learned to speak and read Russian, an invaluable skill for discovering what really went on in the Soviet Union. Soon enough, The New York Times's man in Moscow had many friends among the Soviet elite.

When Lenin died in January, 1924, a struggle for power ensued among the Bolshevist elite. Duranty shrewdly predicted that Stalin would come out on top.[2] During this period many pundits were forecasting that communism would not last, yet Duranty confidently predicted the survival of the Soviet system.

Duranty was among the earliest Western journalists to praise the Soviet crash programs that forced Marxism on the Russian people. He coined the infamous slogan "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs,"[3] which he was to use frequently in his writing. Inevitably, he was seen by many as an apologist for Soviet communism, and Duranty's detractors took to calling The New York Times "the Uptown Daily Worker."

In January an all-out drive to collectivize Soviet agriculture was announced in Pravda. On a trip to Central Asia that year, Duranty managed to see a trainload of exiled kulaks.[4] Transported in foul, wretchedly hot railroad cars with barred windows, Duranty described them as:

. more like caged animals than human beings, not wild beasts but dumb cattle, patient with suffering eyes. Debris and jetsam, victims of the March to Progress.[5]

Bolshevism was returning the peasant to a condition of servitude far more hideous than any Tsarist-era serfdom. Seeing such magnitude of mass suffering should have alerted Duranty to what was really happening in the Soviet Union, yet as Taylor details, Duranty quickly dismissed what he had seen, writing that he had "seen worse debris than that, trains full of wounded from the Front in France going back to be patched up for a fresh bout of slaughter."

In late 1930, Duranty was honored by being granted an interview with Stalin himself.[6] The author of Stalin's Apologist details how, with the publication of this exclusive interview with Stalin, Duranty became an international celebrity and one of the best-known journalists in the world.

Duranty won the Pulitzer Prize for best news correspondent in 1932. Special citation was made of his dispatches dealing with the Soviet Five-Year Plan. In his acceptance speech he said that he had come "to respect the Soviet leaders, especially Stalin, whom I consider to have grown into a really great statesman."[7]

During that year a debate was raging in the United States over recognition of the Soviet Union. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, while campaigning for the presidency, invited Duranty to lunch to discuss the situation in the USSR.

While Walter Duranty was rubbing elbows with the powerful, a conspiracy of deliberate starvation was being implemented in the Soviet Union. One of the first to report the famine in Ukraine to the West was Andrew Cairns. In the spring of 1932 this young Canadian agricultural expert traveled through the grain-growing districts of southern Russia, reporting to his superiors on widespread food shortages and starvation. He was accompanied by D. Otto Schiller, an agricultural specialist attached to the German embassy in Moscow, who was fluent in both Russian and Ukrainian. Cairn's detailed letters describing the widespread suffering he had seen were made available to the highest levels of the British Government.

But Cairns's reports were never published by British authorities. J.S. Taylor reports:

Many years later, asked why he had not published the report on his own authority, Cairns would admit that he had been overly discouraged, even threatened, from doing so by powerful political figures of the Left in Great Britain whom he believed at the time could do him great harm. He named Beatrice Webb, specifically, who, with her husband Sidney, would praise the accomplishments of Stalin's Five-Year Plan in their massive, two-volume work

Cairns's employer, the Empire Trading Board, went into liquidation, and Cairns did not return to the Soviet Union. Dr. Schiller published a "devastating" report in Germany, which resulted in his being immediately expelled from the Soviet Union.

During this period the Soviets were attempting to appropriate as much agricultural produce from the peasants as possible, to sell abroad. The foreign exchange thus obtained was used to finance heavy industry. In private conversations late in 1932 with William Strang, counsellor at the British Embassy in Moscow, Duranty confirmed that there was indeed a "present breakdown in [Soviet] agriculture." Duranty told Strang: "There are millions of people in Russia, peasants, whom it is fairly safe to leave in want. But the industrial proletariat, about 10 percent of the population, must at all costs be fed if the revolution is to be safeguarded."

Duranty filed a dispatch in December 1932 which described the situation in Soviet agriculture in negative terms. As a result Duranty was visited by powerful Soviet authorities, who upbraided him for his faithlessness. Fearful he would not be allowed back into Russia, Duranty postponed a trip to France (at this time Duranty's Soviet mistress, Katya, was pregnant with his child).

Taylor details how, at the end of 1932, the noose was steadily drawn around the collective neck of the Soviet peasant.[8] An international passport system was introduced which kept the starving kulaks from migrating to the cities. In the spring of 1933 a law was passed which forbade a peasant to leave the collective farm where he was employed ''without a contract from his future employers, ratified by the collective farm authorities." Duranty praised these measures, claiming they were designed "to purge the city of undesirable elements."

After two American newspapermen, William Stoneman of the Chicago Daily News and Ralph Barnes of the New York Herald Tribune, filed reports on the famine, the Soviet authorities instituted a ban on travel for foreign journalists.

Malcolm Muggeridge, a young English journalist for the Manchester Guardian with pro-Soviet sympathies, arrived in Moscow in September 1932. Soon he became disenchanted with the Soviet system. By late winter, 1933, reporters in Moscow were hearing rumors that the grain crop would be totally inadequate to feed the population. Muggeridge set off on his own, without permission, to investigate the situation.

At the end of March 1933 he published a series of articles in the Guardian confirming widespread famine. His reports had been delivered to England in the British diplomatic bag. Muggeridge wrote that "The famine is an organized one" and that it was "a military occupation worse, active war." He wrote of "frequent cases of suicides and sometimes even of cannibalism . the conditions would have been incredible to [Muggeridge] if he had not seen them with his own eyes."

The Guardian played down the stories and Muggeridge accused the editors of mutilating his accounts. Muggeridge was attacked by the left-leaning British establishment and blacklisted.

Several other journalists visited the stricken regions and honestly reported what they had seen. William Henry Chamberlin sent dispatches to The Christian Science Monitor and the Manchester Guardian. Gareth Jones traveled through the stricken area for three weeks. In a press conference in Berlin, a lecture in London, and finally in an article in the Guardian, Jones reported the mass starvation.

Alarmed at the publicity, Moscow applied strong pressure on Western journalists to contradict Jones' account. Duranty obligingly obeyed his masters and for the occassion again trotted out his "omelette" quote. His article was titled "Russians Hungry But Not Starving."[9]

But &ndash to put it brutally &ndash you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the Bolshevik leaders are just as indifferent to the casualties that may be involved in their drive toward socialism as any General during the World War who ordered a costly attack in order to show his superiors that he and his division possessed the proper soldierly spirit. In fact, the Bolsheviki are more indifferent because they are animated by fanatical conviction.

Throughout 1933 Duranty continued to play down the extent of the famine. He claimed "There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition . "

In September of that year he reported that ''the use of the word famine in connection with the North Caucasus is a sheer absurdity." He wrote of "plump babies" and "fat calves." Maxim Litvinov found Duranty's words useful in deflecting a letter of inquiry from an American Congressman, Herman Kopelmann of Connecticut.

Shocking proof of the discrepancy between what Duranty reported and what he knew to be the truth is revealed in a September 30, 1933 British Embassy dispatch which reads in part:

According to Mr. Duranty the population of the North Caucasus and the Lower Volga had decreased in the past year by three million, and the population of the Ukraine by four to five million. The Ukraine has been bled white . Mr. Duranty thinks it quite possible that as many as ten million people may have died directly or indirectly from lack of food in the Soviet Union during the past year.

Newspaper readers did not get the unvarnished truth. What they got was evasion, cover-up and falsification.

Walter Duranty had reached the peak of international success and fame by selling out to a totalitarian regime and covering up one of the greatest atrocities of the twentieth century.

Malcolm Muggeridge was later to say that Duranty was "the greatest liar of any journalist I have met in fifty years of journalism." Stuart Alsop's verdict was that Duranty was "a fashionable prostitute" and "lying was his stock in trade."

Duranty was awarded for his mendacity by the American and Soviet establishment. He received permission to accompany Litvinov across the Atlantic on the S.S. Berengaria for negotiations leading to American recognition of the Soviet Union. Duranty was present at the November 18, 1933 press conference in which President Roosevelt proudly announced that the U.S. would recognize the U.S.S.R. Duranty was also among the guests of honor at a lavish dinner for 1,500 dignitaries at New York's Waldorf-Astoria.

Stalin granted Duranty a second exclusive interview on Christmas Day, 1933.[10]

There were to be other occasions when Walter Duranty would conspicuously serve as apologist for the Soviet regime. In 1936 a series of show trials and purges began against alleged opponents of the Stalinist regime.

In January 1937, sixteen prominent Soviet officials were accused of conspiring with Germany and Japan to overthrow the Soviet government. Trotsky, in exile in Mexico, was absurdly accused in absentia of plotting with the Nazis.

Public confession of guilt by many of the defendants astounded the West. Ms. Taylor writes:

Predictably, Western response to this second trial was one of confusion, and there was a half-willing reluctance to believe in the guilt of the accused. If the confessions were true, the reasoning went, it demonstrated that conditions within the country were so bad that avowed and dedicated Party members would conspire with Fascists to overthrow their own government. If untrue, the trials were an indictment of the entire system in the Soviet Union.

Duranty wrote in The New Republic that he believed the confessions to be true. Outraged, Trotsky directly attacked Duranty in a speech for his "psychological divinations." In 1938, at the last and largest of the trials, Nikolai Bukharin, a former member of the Politburo, condemned Duranty from the dock.

With the coming of World War II, The New York Times began to cut back on and centralize operations. Late in 1940, the Moscow bureau was closed down. At the end of that year, Walter Duranty's twenty-five years with The New York Times came to an end.

Duranty left his mistress Katya and their seven-year-old son Michael behind in Moscow. He did not make it easy for them to contact him. In 1948 Katya managed to get a letter through to him. In awkward English she wrote:

I don't believe it is possible to forget, that here, in Moscow growing up your only the son, that we lived together nearly for twenty years, that I gave you the best years of my life . Could not you write to me something, or if you don't want to do that, for God knows what reason, you must send a letter to Mike. He is already 15 years old, he is not a child any longer and understands things very well. He wants to know and must know where his father is, why his father keeps silence for such a long time.

Although he occasionally sent a little money, Duranty never made an effort to see them again.

In the last years of his life Duranty lived in Hollywood and Florida. Until his death in 1957 he continued to write and lecture, although increasingly his political views were out of date.

Now, three and a half decades after Walter Duranty's death, the Soviet system is defunct, assigned to the garbage heap of history. What is astounding is that it managed to survive for seventy years.

J.S. Taylor's excellent book demonstrates how, in addition to Duranty, many Western journalists, "intellectuals," businessmen and diplomats ignored the crimes of Stalin and company. The New York Times, the so-called "Newspaper of Record," and scores of other publications suppressed the truth and spewed the Soviet line.

Nor did Western complicity in an apology for Soviet atrocities end with Stalin's death. At the 1945-46 show trials in Nuremberg, Germany, Allied apologists for Stalin worked hand-in-hand with the murderous functionaries who had created the Ukrainian famine, the show trials and the gulag. The same physical and mental torture techniques developed by Soviet commissars were used on Germans.

Even today, the "Nazi-hunting" office of Special Investigations hunts down and deports from America aged immigrants who served, often in their teenage years, as guards and other low-ranking functionaries of the Axis nations half a century ago, using information, evidence, and testimony originally supplied by the same henchmen who helped carry out Stalin's terror famine and his numerous other sanguinary crimes. Meanwhile, leading lieutenants, not infrequently Jewish, of Stalin and his successors live on untroubled, in the "postcommunist" Soviet Union or in Israel and the West, to be sent off with discreet obituaries in Duranty's old paper, The New York Times, when they finally expire. Clearly, for the media which dominates today's popular (and "informed") mentality, the duty of "memory" and the "demands of "justice" (as regards the "Holocaust") are not to be honored for far greater, and essentially unpunished, crimes of communism.

Marxism's deadly toll of human suffering would have been impossible without the complicity of thousands of apologists for Stalin. Walter Duranty was but a single sordid example. Many more biographies remain to be written. Much more revising of the lies and evasions of the Western Establishment's "Sovietologists," revision based on the public record of the past seventy-five years as well as the documents coming to light in Russian and other archives, lies before us.


Stalin’s Famines and Walter Duranty

For many, particularly most Ukrainians, Walter Duranty is a figure of hate, a man trusted with telling the truth about Stalin, only to repeat deliberate untruths, even when he was in a privileged position to highlight Stalin’s famines.

Walter Duranty, A British born, Irish American who had lost a leg in a train crash in France in 1924, was the New York Times correspondent in Moscow from the end of the Russian Civil War onwards.

He was in a prime position to witness the rise of Stalin and he rationalised and explained away the most violent aspects of Lenin’s social restructuring of Russian society. Of the Red Terror and the subsequent establishment of the Gulags for class enemies, Duranty argued that it was a re-imposition of a more traditionally Russian way of doing things.

Ever since Peter The Great had started to modernise and Westernise Russia, the trouble had started, claimed Duranty. Russia needed autocratic rule that would prevent individualism and encourage collectivism, because, as an Asiatic people, not Europeans, he claimed, the freedoms of the west ill suited Russians.

In this crudely simplistic way he explained how and why Lenin’s re-introduction of private enterprise in the guise of the New Economic Policy had been flawed, and that Stalin’s abandonment of that policy was the correct way forward.

Duranty was but one of a whole generation of Western intellectuals and observers at the time who smiled upon the Soviet Union, H.G.Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Sidney and Beatrice Webb were all mightily impressed with what they saw when they visited, and didn’t stop to question whether what they had been shown was a complete picture of the new Soviet society.

Though Duranty predicted the destruction of Russia’s kulaks (the wealthier peasants who were slightly better at farming than their neighbours, and who were accused of being counter revolutionaries), when the campaign to collectivise their farms resulted in famine, Duranty’s great crime was to assist in the cover up.

Soviet Union Famine and Starvation

The British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge described Duranty as ‘the biggest liar I have ever known’, and both Muggeridge and Welsh journalist Gareth Jones wrote truthful accounts of the famine that killed at least five million in the British and US press.

Duranty, having seen the famine with his own eyes, said:

Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda. The food shortage, however, which has affected the whole population in the last year and particularly in the grain-producing provinces—the Ukraine, North Caucasus, the Lower Volga—has, however, caused heavy loss of life.

Duranty also denounced Jones’ reporting as false, claiming that tense Anglo- Soviet relations were at fault, over the case of six British engineers from the Metro-Vickers company, working on the Moscow underground project, accused of spying:

In the middle of the diplomatic duel between Great Britain and the Soviet Union over the accused British engineers, there appears from a British source a big scare story in the American press about famine in the Soviet Union, with ‘thousands already dead and millions menaced by death from starvation.

Duranty’s attempts at damage limitation were warmly received by Stalin, who granted him an exclusive interview, and his later coverage of the show trials won him a Pulitzer Prize. Duranty was never discredited in his lifetime and was held up publicly as an example of liberal journalism at its best. Since the end of the Soviet Union, however, the demand from the Ukraine, the nation worst affected by Stalin’s famines has been growing to see Duranty posthumously stripped of his Pulitzer and publicly shamed as a liar.


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Comments:

  1. Jasmin

    I am sorry, that I interrupt you, but I suggest to go another by.

  2. Ghazi

    Confusion.

  3. Abdul- Matin

    Competent point of view, in a seductive way

  4. Vobar

    What are the correct words ... Super, great idea

  5. Steiner

    not new,



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