Mao's Great Leap Forward killed millions

Discussion in 'Military History' started by ajtr, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Mao's Great Leap Forward 'killed 45 million in four years'


    Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday.

    Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known".

    Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.


    Mr Dikötter is the only author to have delved into the Chinese archives since they were reopened four years ago. He argued that this devastating period of history – which has until now remained hidden – has international resonance. "It ranks alongside the gulags and the Holocaust as one of the three greatest events of the 20th century.... It was like [the Cambodian communist dictator] Pol Pot's genocide multiplied 20 times over," he said.

    Between 1958 and 1962, a war raged between the peasants and the state; it was a period when a third of all homes in China were destroyed to produce fertiliser and when the nation descended into famine and starvation, Mr Dikötter said.

    His book, Mao's Great Famine; The Story of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, reveals that while this is a part of history that has been "quite forgotten" in the official memory of the People's Republic of China, there was a "staggering degree of violence" that was, remarkably, carefully catalogued in Public Security Bureau reports, which featured among the provincial archives he studied. In them, he found that the members of the rural farming communities were seen by the Party merely as "digits", or a faceless workforce. For those who committed any acts of disobedience, however minor, the punishments were huge.

    State retribution for tiny thefts, such as stealing a potato, even by a child, would include being tied up and thrown into a pond; parents were forced to bury their children alive or were doused in excrement and urine, others were set alight, or had a nose or ear cut off. One record shows how a man was branded with hot metal. People were forced to work naked in the middle of winter; 80 per cent of all the villagers in one region of a quarter of a million Chinese were banned from the official canteen because they were too old or ill to be effective workers, so were deliberately starved to death.

    Mr Dikötter said that he was once again examining the Party's archives for his next book, The Tragedy of Liberation, which will deal with the bloody advent of Communism in China from 1944 to 1957.

    He said the archives were already illuminating the extent of the atrocities of the period; one piece of evidence revealed that 13,000 opponents of the new regime were killed in one region alone, in just three weeks. "We know the outline of what went on but I will be looking into precisely what happened in this period, how it happened, and the human experiences behind the history," he said.

    Mr Dikötter, who teaches at the University of Hong Kong, said while it was difficult for any historian in China to write books that are critical of Mao, he felt he could not collude with the "conspiracy of silence" in what the Chinese rural community had suffered in recent history.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I am posting this so that the true picture of Mao's Great Leap is made a wee bit clear by sifting the wheat from the chaff and from facts and the fiction doled out by the Chinese Communists and their apologists.

    This will indicate the human suffering endured by a hapless Chinese population.

    It is not only this article which speaks of such inhuman existence, the book Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China is an autobiographical family history by Chinese writer Jung Chang. First published in 1991, Wild Swans contains a biography of the three female generations of Chang's family: her grandmother, her mother and finally her own autobiography and is an eyeopener. It is what one call unputdownable! It traces the history of China in a way and what moves a person is the indignity and inhuman behaviour the common Chinese faced during the later period of Mao's era.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I am posting this so that the true picture of Mao's Great Leap is made a wee bit clear by sifting the wheat from the chaff and from facts and the fiction doled out by the Chinese Communists and their apologists.

    This will indicate the human suffering endured by a hapless Chinese population.

    It is not only this article which speaks of such inhuman existence, the book Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China is an autobiographical family history by Chinese writer Jung Chang. First published in 1991, Wild Swans contains a biography of the three female generations of Chang's family: her grandmother, her mother and finally her own autobiography and is an eyeopener. It is what one call unputdownable! It traces the history of China in a way and what moves a person is the indignity and inhuman behaviour the common Chinese faced during the later period of Mao's era.
     
  5. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    China: A Great Leap Into the Abyss

    A Great Leap Into the Abyss

    By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW
    BEIJING — The document, written by Communist Party investigators as famine raged in China in 1961, reads almost like a cookbook.

    In Qiaotou district, in Sichuan Province, “An old lady named Luo Wenxiu was the first to start consuming human flesh,” investigators wrote. “After an entire family of seven had died, Luo dug up the body of the 3-year-old girl, Ma Fahui. She sliced up the girl’s flesh and spiced it with chili peppers before steaming and eating it.” The report, dated Feb. 9 of that year, is one of more than 100 astonishing documents collected by the historian Zhou Xun in a new book about Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, published by Yale University Press.

    In another, an investigator recounted how the body of a 5-year-old Sichuan boy provided “four separate meals” for his mother, who strangled him with a towel first. “Such shocking and disturbing incidents are by no means unique,” the investigator, Wang Deming, wrote in the report dated Jan. 27.

    Unlike the horrors of the Soviet gulag or the Holocaust, what happened in China during the Great Leap Forward has received little attention from the larger world, “even though it is one of the worst catastrophes in twentieth-century history,” writes Ms. Zhou, an assistant professor of history at the University of Hong Kong, in the introduction to “The Great Famine in China, 1958-1962.”

    “In China itself, the famine is a dark episode, one that is not discussed or officially recognized,” she writes.

    And while there have been other recent books — notably “Tombstone” by the Chinese journalist Yang Jisheng, and “Mao’s Great Famine” by the Dutch historian Frank Dikötter — what distinguishes Ms. Zhou’s is that it simply presents documents of the time, from sources that include reports by central and local officials, party investigation teams, minutes of official meetings, citizens’ letters and reports of the police investigations into theft, murder and cannibalism.

    Just as the mass murder of Poles by the Soviet secret police in Katyn in 1940 was confirmed with the revelation of the original execution orders signed by Stalin, she hopes that by showing original documents from the famine, readers will learn that “what took place is really beyond any doubt,” despite the Chinese government’s 50-year silence.

    Ms. Zhou and a growing number of Chinese — and some Western — scholars believe the Great Leap Forward, Mao’s campaign of breakneck industrialization and agricultural collectivization, resulted in the deaths of perhaps 45 million people, mostly in the countryside. People died from a combination of starvation, overwork and violence in the quest for a perfect Communist society.

    To document that, Ms. Zhou spent four years, starting in 2006, visiting dozens of county and provincial archives, some under military guard. Access was easier during the first two years of her research, a legacy, she believes, of the rule of former President Jiang Zemin. Still, she often gained access only through informal contacts, she said, declining to be more specific. In all, she photocopied, photographed or transcribed about 1,000 documents. (Ms. Zhou also conducted more than 100 interviews with survivors, to be published by Yale in a separate book.)

    The reports portray a society where abuse of power was commonplace and the death toll from starvation or violence exceeded 50 percent of the population in some areas. An elaborate vocabulary of violence developed: In Hunan, investigators from the provincial party committee found that in 11 communes in Liling County, 120 people were beaten during meetings that inaugurated a political campaign, with 20 seriously wounded or dying. “More than twenty types of torture were employed, most of them extremely dangerous,” including hanging people up like pigs to be slaughtered, investigators wrote. To “double cook” meant repeated beatings. “Tie up firewood” was to beat a bound victim. “White up and black down” referred to hauling a naked person onto a stage and beating him until he was discolored.

    Everywhere, people starved, as collectivization led to reduced output, the government requisitioned grain and people were forced to eat in communal canteens where rations were controlled by the people in charge. Orphans in homes in Fushun, Sichuan Province, ate dead rats out of toilets, the provincial Bureau of Civil Affairs reported in May 1962. People howled for food, ate mud — and eventually each other.

    Other stories are disturbing in different ways, such as the hundreds of women forced to work topless alongside topless men in Wugang County in Hunan Province in order, ostensibly, to increase production. “Since the day we came out of our mother’s wombs, we had never felt so humiliated,” Du Laojiu and Zhou Laochun were quoted as saying in a report officials from the county supervision committee, dated Dec. 18, 1958.

    Now, archives are shutting down again, Ms. Zhou says, with previously accessible documents sometimes even removed from catalogs, perhaps during the recent digitalization ordered by the State Archives Bureau. History is being silenced anew, she said by telephone.

    “They are weeding out a lot of things,” said Ms. Zhou.

    Why?

    “In China this kind of thing happens regularly,” she said. The authorities “loosen it up a bit,” then they close down again.

    “In a way it’s fear, it’s deliberate, so people don’t know what is going on,” she said. “You constantly worry, so you do self-censor, because you don’t really know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I think it’s terror, basically. It creates a kind of terror.”
     
  6. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    No matter. A DFI poll shows Churchill to be more evil than Mao, Hitler, or Stalin.
     
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  7. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    It is the way we study History. Mao, Stalin are never really covered in schools. So people really have no idea about the reality of these leaders.
     
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  8. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    Really? Wow! It's like talking about the Cold War space race and not mentioning Neil Armstrong... :confused:
     
  9. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Cold war isn't given much emphasis, because we were non-aligned. And no focus on China at all.
     
  10. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    Thanks every one for the honor of dedicating a thread on murderous me! ;)
     
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  11. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Something to do with the fact that the latter three didn't kill Indians.
     
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  12. ani82v

    ani82v Senior Member Senior Member

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    Not sure about other states but history books in our state did not cover the atrocities by communist regimens in Russia and China.
    I came to know about it only when I got internet connection! :p
     
  13. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    We are taught so selectively History, at the end of our schooling we do not have an idea of Indian History.
     

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