Mass Killings Under Communism


Tihar Jail
May 5, 2011
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I have came across this Wikipedia entry, it's an interesting topic...

Mass killings occurred under some Communist regimes during the twentieth century with an estimated death toll numbering between 85 and 100 million.[1] Scholarship focuses on the causes of mass killings in single societies, though some claims of common causes for mass killings have been made. Some higher estimates of mass killings include not only mass murders or executions that took place during the elimination of political opponents, civil wars, terror campaigns, and land reforms, but also lives lost due to war, famine, disease, and exhaustion in labor camps. There are scholars who believe that government policies and mistakes in management contributed to these calamities, and, based on that conclusion combine all these deaths under the categories "mass killings", democide, politicide, "classicide", or loosely defined genocide. According to these scholars, the total death toll of the mass killings defined in this way amounts to many tens of millions; however, the validity of this approach is questioned by other scholars. As of 2011, academic consensus has not been achieved on causes of large scale killings by states, including by states governed by communists. In particular, the number of comparative studies suggesting causes is limited. The highest death tolls that have been documented in communist states occurred in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, in the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong, and in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. The estimates of the number of non-combatants killed by these three regimes alone range from a low of 21 million to a high of 70 million.[dubious – discuss][2] There have also been killings on a smaller scale in North Korea, Vietnam, and some Eastern European and African countries.

1 Terminology
2 Proposed causes
2.1 List of claims linking communism and mass killings
2.2 List of claims relating to a failure in the rule of law or economic conditions as cause
2.3 Other claims
2.3.1 Influence of national cultures
2.3.2 Secular values
2.3.3 Personal responsibility
3 Comparison to other mass killings
4 States where mass killings have occurred
4.1 Soviet Union
4.1.1 Red Terror
4.1.2 Great Purge (Yezhovshchina) National operations of the NKVD Great purge in Mongolia
4.1.3 Soviet killings during World War II
4.2 People's Republic of China
4.2.1 Land reform and the suppression of counterrevolutionaries
4.2.2 The Great Leap Forward
4.2.3 The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
4.3 Cambodia (Democratic Kampuchea)
4.4 Others
4.4.1 Bulgaria
4.4.2 East Germany
4.4.3 Romania
4.4.4 Democratic People's Republic of Korea
4.4.5 Democratic Republic of Vietnam
4.4.6 People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
4.4.7 Hungary
5 Controversies
5.1 Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
5.2 Soviet famine of 1932–1933
5.3 Mass deportations of ethnic minorities
5.4 Tibet
5.5 Inclusion of famine as killing
6 Notable executioners
7 Legal prosecution for genocide and genocide denial
8 See also
9 Footnotes
10 Bibliography
11 Further reading
12 External links



Veteran Hunter of Maleecha
Senior Member
Apr 7, 2010
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Stalin killed millions. A Stanford historian answers the question, was it genocide?

ass killing is still the way a lot of governments do business.

The past few decades have seen terrifying examples in Rwanda, Cambodia, Darfur, Bosnia.

Murder on a national scale, yes – but is it genocide? "The word carries a powerful punch," said Stanford history Professor Norman Naimark. "In international courts, it's considered the crime of crimes."

Nations have tugs of war over the official definition of the word "genocide" itself – which mentions only national, ethnic, racial and religious groups. The definition can determine, after all, international relations, foreign aid and national morale. Look at the annual international tussle over whether the 1915 Turkish massacre and deportation of the Armenians "counts" as genocide.

Naimark, author of the controversial new book Stalin's Genocides, argues that we need a much broader definition of genocide, one that includes nations killing social classes and political groups. His case in point: Stalin.

The book's title is plural for a reason: He argues that the Soviet elimination of a social class, the kulaks (who were higher-income farmers), and the subsequent killer famine among all Ukrainian peasants – as well as the notorious 1937 order No. 00447 that called for the mass execution and exile of "socially harmful elements" as "enemies of the people" – were, in fact, genocide.

Central State Archives of Photo, Audio, and Video Documents of Ukraine named after G. S. Pshenychnyi

A dispossessed kulak and his family in front of their home in Udachne village in Donets'ka oblast', 1930s.
"I make the argument that these matters shouldn't be seen as discrete episodes, but seen together," said Naimark, the Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor of Eastern European Studies and a respected authority on the Soviet regime. "It's a horrific case of genocide – the purposeful elimination of all or part of a social group, a political group."

Stalin had nearly a million of his own citizens executed, beginning in the 1930s. Millions more fell victim to forced labor, deportation, famine, massacres, and detention and interrogation by Stalin's henchmen.

"In some cases, a quota was established for the number to be executed, the number to be arrested," said Naimark. "Some officials overfulfilled as a way of showing their exuberance."

The term "genocide" was defined by the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The convention's work was shaped by the Holocaust – "that was considered the genocide," said Naimark.

"A catastrophe had just happened, and everyone was still thinking about the war that had just ended. This always occurs with international law – they outlaw what happened in the immediate past, not what's going to happen in the future."

In his book, he concludes that there was more similarity between Hitler and Stalin than usually acknowledged: "Both chewed up the lives of human beings in the name of a transformative vision of Utopia. Both destroyed their countries and societies, as well as vast numbers of people inside and outside their own states. Both, in the end, were genocidaires."

Central State Archives of Photo, Audio, and Video Documents of Ukraine named after G. S. Pshenychnyi

Shipment of grain from the Chervonyi Step collective farm to a procurement center, Kyivs'ka oblast', 1932. The sign reads 'Socialists' bread instead of kulak's bread.'
All early drafts of the U.N. genocide convention included social and political groups in its definition. But one hand that wasn't in the room guided the pen. The Soviet delegation vetoed any definition of genocide that might include the actions of its leader, Joseph Stalin. The Allies, exhausted by war, were loyal to their Soviet allies – to the detriment of subsequent generations.

Naimark argues that that the narrow definition of genocide is the dictator's unacknowledged legacy to us today.

Accounts "gloss over the genocidal character of the Soviet regime in the 1930s, which killed systematically rather than episodically," said Naimark. In the process of collectivization, for example, 30,000 kulaks were killed directly, mostly shot on the spot. About 2 million were forcibly deported to the Far North and Siberia.

They were called "enemies of the people," as well as swine, dogs, cockroaches, scum, vermin, filth, garbage, half animals, apes. Activists promoted murderous slogans: "We will exile the kulak by the thousand when necessary – shoot the kulak breed." "We will make soap of kulaks." "Our class enemies must be wiped off the face of the earth."

One Soviet report noted that gangs "drove the dekulakized naked in the streets, beat them, organized drinking bouts in their houses, shot over their heads, forced them to dig their own graves, undressed women and searched them, stole valuables, money, etc."

L.A. Cicero

Historian Norman Naimark

The destruction of the kulak class triggered the Ukrainian famine, during which 3 million to 5 million peasants died of starvation.

"There is a great deal of evidence of government connivance in the circumstances that brought on the shortage of grain and bad harvests in the first place and made it impossible for Ukrainians to find food for their survival," Naimark writes.

We will never know how many millions Stalin killed. "And yet somehow Stalin gets a pass," Ian Frazier wrote in a recent New Yorker article about the gulags. "People know he was horrible, but he has not yet been declared horrible officially."

Time magazine put Stalin on its cover 11 times. Russian public opinion polls still rank him near the top of the greatest leaders of Russian history, as if he were just another one of the powerful but bloodthirsty czars.

There's a reason for Russian obliviousness. Every family had not only victims but perpetrators. "A vast network of state organizations had to be mobilized to seize and kill that many people," Naimark wrote, estimating that tens of thousands were accomplices.

"How much can you move on? Can you put it in your past? How is a national identity formed when a central part of it is a crime?" Naimark asked. "The Germans have gone about it the right way," he said, pointing out that the Germany has pioneered research about the Holocaust and the crimes of the Nazi regime. "Through denial and obfuscation, the Turks have gone about it the wrong way."

Without a full examination of the past, Naimark observed, it's too easy for it to happen again.

Toward the end of his life, Stalin may have had another genocide in his crosshairs. We'll never know whether the concocted conspiracy of Jewish Kremlin doctors in 1952 would have resulted in the internal exile of the entire Jewish population. Whatever plans existed ended abruptly with Stalin's death in March 1953, as rumors of Jewish deportations were swirling.

One of Stalin's colleagues recalled the dictator reviewing an arrest list (really, a death list) and muttering to himself: "Who's going to remember all this riff-raff in ten or twenty years' time? No one. "¦ Who remembers the names now of the boyars Ivan the Terrible got rid of? No one. "¦ The people had to know he was getting rid of all his enemies. In the end, they all got what they deserved."

Who remembers? If Naimark has his way, perhaps we all will: "Every family had people who died. I'm convinced that they need to learn about their own past. There'll never be closure, but there will be a reckoning with the past."

Stalin killed millions. A Stanford historian answers the question, was it genocide?


Veteran Hunter of Maleecha
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Apr 7, 2010
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Stalin's mass murders were 'entirely rational' says new Russian textbook praising tyrant

Stalin acted 'entirely rationally' in executing and imprisoning millions of people in the Gulags, a controversial new Russian teaching manual claims.
Fifty-five years after the Soviet dictator died, the latest guide for teachers to promote patriotism among the Russian young said he did what he did to ensure the country's modernisation.
The manual, titled A History of Russia, 1900-1945, will form the basis of a new state-approved text book for use in schools next year.
It seems to follow an attempt backed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to re-evaluate Stalin's record in a more positive light.
Critics have taken exception, however, to numerous excerpts, which they say are essentially attempts to whitewash Stalin's crimes.
In the West, it has been widely accepted that in the 1920s millions were shot, exiled to Siberia, or died of starvation after their land, homes and meagre possessions, were taken to fulfil Stalin's vision of massive 'factory farms.'
In the 1930s millions more whom he considered or suspected a threat to the USSR were executed or exiled to Gulag labour camps in remote areas of Siberia or Central Asia, where many also died of disease, malnutrition and exposure.
Historians believe up to 20 million people perished as a result of his actions - more than the six million killed during Hitler's genocide of the Jews.

Worked to death: Although millions perished in Siberian Labour camps like this one, the textbook says that Stalin only did this to push through modernisation
Now the new teaching manual is attempting to tell a generation of Russian schoolchildren that Stalin acted rationally.
One of the authors, Anatoly Utkin, is keener to promote another statistic about Stalin, stressing some 10,000 books in his library had his personal jottings and marks in them.
'Can you tell me of any other leader, an American president, for example, who read 10,000 books?'

Starved: A Polish child sent to a camp after the USSR's invasion of Poland following Stalin's pact with Hitler
The manual informs teachers that the Great Terror of the 1930s came about because Stalin 'did not know who would deal the next blow, and for that reason he attacked every known group and movement, as well as those who were not his allies or of his mindset.'
It stresses to teachers that 'it is important to show that Stalin acted in a concrete historical situation' and that he acted 'entirely rationally - as the guardian of a system, as a consistent supporter of reshaping the country into an industrialised state.'
Editor Alexander Danilov said: 'We are not defending Stalin. We are just exploring his personality, explaining his motives and showing what he really achieved.'
The controversial manual is produced by the country's leading school book publishers Prosveshenije, a state-supported company that was a monopoly supplier of classroom texts in the Soviet era, and appears to be returning to that role.
The company boasts: 'We are proud that we brought up generations of Soviet people - and today we keep on improving our textbooks.'
With close links to the Kremlin, the company's website states: 'Prosveshenije remains one of the few effective instruments of national consolidation, a centre of forming and distributing Russian educational values.'
The teaching manual could not have been produced without the support and approval of the Russian government.
Prominent Russian historian Roy Medvedev dubbed the manual 'a falsification. Stalin by no means acted rationally all of the time, and many of his actions damaged the country.'

Vain: During his reign Stalin also enforced his own cult of personality
Before World War II, he said, 'many in the military ranks were arrested, like my father, for example, and their children, little boys, were sent to the front.'
Alexander Kamensky, head of the history department at the Russia State University for the Humanities, said the manual was, 'sadly,' a sign that teaching history in schools has become 'an ideological instrument.'
But it seems to echo Putin's remarks to a group of history teachers in June 2007 when he said while Stalin's purges were one of the darkest periods of the country's history, 'others cannot be allowed to impose a feeling of guilt on us.'
An earlier manual called Stalin an 'effective manager'.

Read more: Stalin's mass murders were 'entirely rational' says new Russian textbook praising tyrant | Mail Online


Veteran Hunter of Maleecha
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Apr 7, 2010
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Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, set in motion events designed to cause a famine in the Ukraine to destroy the people there seeking independence from his rule. As a result, an estimated 7,000,000 persons perished in this farming area, known as the breadbasket of Europe, with the people deprived of the food they had grown with their own hands.

The Ukrainian independence movement actually predated the Stalin era. Ukraine, which measures about the size of France, had been under the domination of the Imperial Czars of Russia for 200 years. With the collapse of the Czarist rule in March 1917, it seemed the long-awaited opportunity for independence had finally arrived. Optimistic Ukrainians declared their country to be an independent People's Republic and re-established the ancient capital city of Kiev as the seat of government.

However, their new-found freedom was short-lived. By the end of 1917, Vladimir Lenin, the first leader of the Soviet Union, sought to reclaim all of the areas formerly controlled by the Czars, especially the fertile Ukraine. As a result, four years of chaos and conflict followed in which Ukrainian national troops fought against Lenin's Red Army, and also against Russia's White Army (troops still loyal to the Czar) as well as other invading forces including the Germans and Poles.

By 1921, the battles ended with a Soviet victory while the western part of the Ukraine was divided-up among Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. The Soviets immediately began shipping out huge amounts of grain to feed the hungry people of Moscow and other big Russian cities. Coincidentally, a drought occurred in the Ukraine, resulting in widespread starvation and a surge of popular resentment against Lenin and the Soviets.

To lessen the deepening resentment, Lenin relaxed his grip on the country, stopped taking out so much grain, and even encouraged a free-market exchange of goods. This breath of fresh air renewed the people's interest in independence and resulted in a national revival movement celebrating their unique folk customs, language, poetry, music, arts, and Ukrainian orthodox religion.

But when Lenin died in 1924, he was succeeded by Joseph Stalin, one of the most ruthless humans ever to hold power. To Stalin, the burgeoning national revival movement and continuing loss of Soviet influence in the Ukraine was completely unacceptable. To crush the people's free spirit, he began to employ the same methods he had successfully used within the Soviet Union. Thus, beginning in 1929, over 5,000 Ukrainian scholars, scientists, cultural and religious leaders were arrested after being falsely accused of plotting an armed revolt. Those arrested were either shot without a trial or deported to prison camps in remote areas of Russia.

Stalin also imposed the Soviet system of land management known as collectivization. This resulted in the seizure of all privately owned farmlands and livestock, in a country where 80 percent of the people were traditional village farmers. Among those farmers, were a class of people called Kulaks by the Communists. They were formerly wealthy farmers that had owned 24 or more acres, or had employed farm workers. Stalin believed any future insurrection would be led by the Kulaks, thus he proclaimed a policy aimed at "liquidating the Kulaks as a class."

Declared "enemies of the people," the Kulaks were left homeless and without a single possession as everything was taken from them, even their pots and pans. It was also forbidden by law for anyone to aid dispossessed Kulak families. Some researchers estimate that ten million persons were thrown out of their homes, put on railroad box cars and deported to "special settlements" in the wilderness of Siberia during this era, with up to a third of them perishing amid the frigid living conditions. Men and older boys, along with childless women and unmarried girls, also became slave-workers in Soviet-run mines and big industrial projects.

Back in the Ukraine, once-proud village farmers were by now reduced to the level of rural factory workers on large collective farms. Anyone refusing to participate in the compulsory collectivization system was simply denounced as a Kulak and deported.

A propaganda campaign was started utilizing eager young Communist activists who spread out among the country folk attempting to shore up the people's support for the Soviet regime. However, their attempts failed. Despite the propaganda, ongoing coercion and threats, the people continued to resist through acts of rebellion and outright sabotage. They burned their own homes rather than surrender them. They took back their property, tools and farm animals from the collectives, harassed and even assassinated local Soviet authorities. This ultimately put them in direct conflict with the power and authority of Joseph Stalin.

Soviet troops and secret police were rushed in to put down the rebellion. They confronted rowdy farmers by firing warning shots above their heads. In some cases, however, they fired directly at the people. Stalin's secret police (GPU, predecessor of the KGB) also went to work waging a campaign of terror designed to break the people's will. GPU squads systematically attacked and killed uncooperative farmers.

Maps & Photo

Present day map of Russia showing the location of the Ukraine (highlighted in green).

Present day map of Ukraine.

A World War II era photo of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (on right) with top aide Viachislav Molotov who helped implement the 1932-33 famine policy in the Ukraine.
But the resistance continued. The people simply refused to become cogs in the Soviet farm machine and remained stubbornly determined to return to their pre-Soviet farming lifestyle. Some refused to work at all, leaving the wheat and oats to rot in unharvested fields. Once again, they were placing themselves in conflict with Stalin.

In Moscow, Stalin responded to their unyielding defiance by dictating a policy that would deliberately cause mass starvation and result in the deaths of millions.

By mid 1932, nearly 75 percent of the farms in the Ukraine had been forcibly collectivized. On Stalin's orders, mandatory quotas of foodstuffs to be shipped out to the Soviet Union were drastically increased in August, October and again in January 1933, until there was simply no food remaining to feed the people of the Ukraine.

Much of the hugely abundant wheat crop harvested by the Ukrainians that year was dumped on the foreign market to generate cash to aid Stalin's Five Year Plan for the modernization of the Soviet Union and also to help finance his massive military buildup. If the wheat had remained in the Ukraine, it was estimated to have been enough to feed all of the people there for up to two years.

Ukrainian Communists urgently appealed to Moscow for a reduction in the grain quotas and also asked for emergency food aid. Stalin responded by denouncing them and rushed in over 100,000 fiercely loyal Russian soldiers to purge the Ukrainian Communist Party. The Soviets then sealed off the borders of the Ukraine, preventing any food from entering, in effect turning the country into a gigantic concentration camp. Soviet police troops inside the Ukraine also went house to house seizing any stored up food, leaving farm families without a morsel. All food was considered to be the "sacred" property of the State. Anyone caught stealing State property, even an ear of corn or stubble of wheat, could be shot or imprisoned for not less than ten years.

Starvation quickly ensued throughout the Ukraine, with the most vulnerable, children and the elderly, first feeling the effects of malnutrition. The once-smiling young faces of children vanished forever amid the constant pain of hunger. It gnawed away at their bellies, which became grossly swollen, while their arms and legs became like sticks as they slowly starved to death.

Mothers in the countryside sometimes tossed their emaciated children onto passing railroad cars traveling toward cities such as Kiev in the hope someone there would take pity. But in the cities, children and adults who had already flocked there from the countryside were dropping dead in the streets, with their bodies carted away in horse-drawn wagons to be dumped in mass graves. Occasionally, people lying on the sidewalk who were thought to be dead, but were actually still alive, were also carted away and buried.

While police and Communist Party officials remained quite well fed, desperate Ukrainians ate leaves off bushes and trees, killed dogs, cats, frogs, mice and birds then cooked them. Others, gone mad with hunger, resorted to cannibalism, with parents sometimes even eating their own children.

Meanwhile, nearby Soviet-controlled granaries were said to be bursting at the seams from huge stocks of 'reserve' grain, which had not yet been shipped out of the Ukraine. In some locations, grain and potatoes were piled in the open, protected by barbed wire and armed GPU guards who shot down anyone attempting to take the food. Farm animals, considered necessary for production, were allowed to be fed, while the people living among them had absolutely nothing to eat.

By the spring of 1933, the height of the famine, an estimated 25,000 persons died every day in the Ukraine. Entire villages were perishing. In Europe, America and Canada, persons of Ukrainian descent and others responded to news reports of the famine by sending in food supplies. But Soviet authorities halted all food shipments at the border. It was the official policy of the Soviet Union to deny the existence of a famine and thus to refuse any outside assistance. Anyone claiming that there was in fact a famine was accused of spreading anti-Soviet propaganda. Inside the Soviet Union, a person could be arrested for even using the word 'famine' or 'hunger' or 'starvation' in a sentence.

The Soviets bolstered their famine denial by duping members of the foreign press and international celebrities through carefully staged photo opportunities in the Soviet Union and the Ukraine. The writer George Bernard Shaw, along with a group of British socialites, visited the Soviet Union and came away with a favorable impression which he disseminated to the world. Former French Premier Edouard Herriot was given a five-day stage-managed tour of the Ukraine, viewing spruced-up streets in Kiev and inspecting a 'model' collective farm. He also came away with a favorable impression and even declared there was indeed no famine.

Back in Moscow, six British engineers working in the Soviet Union were arrested and charged with sabotage, espionage and bribery, and threatened with the death penalty. The sensational show trial that followed was actually a cynical ruse to deflect the attention of foreign journalists from the famine. Journalists were warned they would be shut out of the trial completely if they wrote news stories about the famine. Most of the foreign press corp yielded to the Soviet demand and either didn't cover the famine or wrote stories sympathetic to the official Soviet propaganda line that it didn't exist. Among those was Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Walter Duranty of the New York Times who sent one dispatch stating "...all talk of famine now is ridiculous."

Outside the Soviet Union, governments of the West adopted a passive attitude toward the famine, although most of them had become aware of the true suffering in the Ukraine through confidential diplomatic channels. In November 1933, the United States, under its new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, even chose to formally recognized Stalin's Communist government and also negotiated a sweeping new trade agreement. The following year, the pattern of denial in the West culminated with the admission of the Soviet Union into the League of Nations.

Stalin's Five Year Plan for the modernization of the Soviet Union depended largely on the purchase of massive amounts of manufactured goods and technology from Western nations. Those nations were unwilling to disrupt lucrative trade agreements with the Soviet Union in order to pursue the matter of the famine.

By the end of 1933, nearly 25 percent of the population of the Ukraine, including three million children, had perished. The Kulaks as a class were destroyed and an entire nation of village farmers had been laid low. With his immediate objectives now achieved, Stalin allowed food distribution to resume inside the Ukraine and the famine subsided. However, political persecutions and further round-ups of 'enemies' continued unchecked in the years following the famine, interrupted only in June 1941 when Nazi troops stormed into the country. Hitler's troops, like all previous invaders, arrived in the Ukraine to rob the breadbasket of Europe and simply replaced one reign of terror with another.

Stalin's mass murders were 'entirely rational' says new Russian textbook praising tyrant | Mail Online


Veteran Hunter of Maleecha
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Apr 7, 2010
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Mao Zedong Genocide; One of the Worst

Mao Zedong Genocide; One of the Worst

The genocide that took place during Mao Zedong's rule in China is by far one of the worst genocides in history; worst being in terms of lives lost. It is estimated that Mao Zedong more than quadrupled the death toll of that during Hitler's rule in Germany. From 1958-1961, which was known as the Great Leap Forward, the most lives were lost. Many people were tortured, and many others went missing.
Mao Zedong's background
For years, he formed a group of anarchist, known as the "Revolutionary Army of Workers and Peasants" in a bookstore located in Changsha. Then, after the Chinese Communist Party was founded, Mao Zedong began fighting for his title as the Chairman. In 1945, he reached his goal and began using it to further his pursuits. As Chairman he led a Chinese Civil War and with the help of the rest of the CCP, formed the People's Republic of China. For ten years (1949-1959) he was the leader of this new government (and the genocide), and in the year of 1979, he was confirmed to be dead due to heart attack.

Lives lost in this genocide
The entire time period of this genocide was from 1958 to 1969. There were different segments during this time in which greater losses occurred. The worst being the three years of the Great Leap Forward, in which anywhere from 16 to 40 million lives were lost. The total amount - making this one of the worst genocides - is at minimum 45 million. This amount varies up to 70 million since new death records uncover more details. With the evidence being hidden, researchers must carefully search China's documents.

One reason behind this genocide, is that Mao Zedong wanted China to catch up economically with the western world; setting a goal of little over a decade to equal production output of competitors such as Great Britain. Land was taken from farmers due to the growth of communism, and steel grew as the main import; over 50%. With metal being purchased, there was less money left for food production. This of course led to famine. Many opposed this rapid change, but that only led to their death. In the first year, over half a million had been sentenced to their demise.

Mao Zedong wanted more than just a change in production level. He also wanted to destroy Chinese family culture. Reason being is that it opposed his preferred utopian ideas. Such thoughts were in the opposite direction of capitalism; focusing on equal distribution. This period of reform became known as the Cultural Revolution and took place from 1966-1969; with anywhere up to 30 million being murdered. From these horrifying numbers, it is easy to understand why this is one of the worst genocides in history.

Mao Zedong Genocide; One of the Worst - Yahoo! Voices -
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Tihar Jail
May 5, 2011
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There's a reason for Russian obliviousness. Every family had not only victims but perpetrators. "A vast network of state organizations had to be mobilized to seize and kill that many people," Naimark wrote, estimating that tens of thousands were accomplices.

This is a very good angle of continued Russian denial...


Veteran Hunter of Maleecha
Senior Member
Apr 7, 2010
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Mao's Great Leap Forward Killed 45 Million People

HONG KONG — The worst catastrophe in China's history, and one of the worst anywhere, was the Great Famine of 1958 to 1962, and to this day the ruling Communist Party has not fully acknowledged the degree to which it was a direct result of the forcible herding of villagers into communes under the "Great Leap Forward" that Mao Zedong launched in 1958.

To this day, the party attempts to cover up the disaster, usually by blaming the weather. Yet detailed records of the horror exist in the party's own national and local archives.

Access to these files would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago, but a quiet revolution has been taking place over the past few years as vast troves of documents have gradually been declassified. While the most sensitive information still remains locked up, researchers are being allowed for the first time to rummage through the dark night of the Maoist era.

From 2005 to 2009, I examined hundreds of documents all over China, traveling from subtropical Guangdong to arid Gansu Province near the deserts of Inner Mongolia.

The party records were usually housed on the local party committee premises, closely guarded by soldiers. Inside were acres of dusty, yellowing paper held together in folders that could contain anything from a single scrap of paper scribbled by a party secretary decades ago to neatly typewritten minutes of secret leadership meetings.

Historians have known for some time that the Great Leap Forward resulted in one of the world's worst famines. Demographers have used official census figures to estimate that 20 million to 30 million people died.

But inside the archives is an abundance of evidence, from the minutes of emergency committees to secret police reports and public security investigations, that show these estimates to be woefully inadequate.

In the summer of 1962, for instance, the head of the Public Security Bureau in Sichuan sent a long handwritten list of casualties to the local boss, Li Jingquan, informing him that 10.6 million people had died in his province from 1958 to 1961. In many other cases, local party committees investigated the scale of death in the immediate aftermath of the famine, leaving detailed computations of the scale of the horror.

In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths.

Between 2 and 3 million of these victims were tortured to death or summarily executed, often for the slightest infraction. People accused of not working hard enough were hung and beaten; sometimes they were bound and thrown into ponds. Punishments for the least violations included mutilation and forcing people to eat excrement.

One report dated Nov. 30, 1960, and circulated to the top leadership — most likely including Mao — tells how a man named Wang Ziyou had one of his ears chopped off, his legs tied up with iron wire and a 10-kilogram stone dropped on his back before he was branded with a sizzling tool. His crime: digging up a potato.

When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, the local boss, Xiong Dechang, forced his father to bury his son alive on the spot. The report of the investigative team sent by the provincial leadership in 1969 to interview survivors of the famine records that the man died of grief three weeks later.

Starvation was the punishment of first resort. As report after report shows, food was distributed by the spoonful according to merit and used to force people to obey the party. One inspector in Sichuan wrote that "commune members too sick to work are deprived of food. It hastens their death."

As the catastrophe unfolded, people were forced to resort to previously unthinkable acts to survive. As the moral fabric of society unraveled, they abused one another, stole from one another and poisoned one another. Sometimes they resorted to cannibalism.

One police investigation from Feb. 25, 1960, details some 50 cases in Yaohejia village in Gansu: "Name of culprit: Yang Zhongsheng. Name of victim: Yang Ecshun. Relationship with culprit: younger brother. Manner of crime: killed and eaten. Reason: livelihood issues."

The term "famine" tends to support the widespread view that the deaths were largely the result of half-baked and poorly executed economic programs. But the archives show that coercion, terror and violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward.

Mao was sent many reports about what was happening in the countryside, some of them scribbled in longhand. He knew about the horror, but pushed for even greater extractions of food.

At a secret meeting in Shanghai on March 25, 1959, he ordered the party to procure up to one-third of all the available grain — much more than ever before. The minutes of the meeting reveal a chairman insensitive to human loss: "When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill."

Mao's Great Famine was not merely an isolated episode in the making of modern China. It was its turning point. The subsequent Cultural Revolution was the leader's attempt to take revenge on the colleagues who had dared to oppose him during the Great Leap Forward.

To this day, there is little public information inside China about this dark past. Historians who are allowed to work in the party archives tend to publish their findings across the border in Hong Kong.

There is no museum, no monument, no remembrance day to honor the tens of millions of victims. Survivors, most of them in the countryside, are rarely given a voice, all too often taking their memories with them to their graves.

Issue 6, Spring 2011


Veteran Hunter of Maleecha
Senior Member
Apr 7, 2010
Country flag
Kill Tally

Kill tally: As many as 45 million deaths from starvation during the 'Great Leap Forward'. Tens of thousands killed and millions of lives ruined during the 'Cultural Revolution'.

Background: The Chinese begin to emerge as a distinct civilisation around 2500 BC. China develops as an imperial power in 221 BC when rival states are unified under the First Emperor. The following 2,000 years will see a succession of dynasties, although strict cultural traditions will gradually suffocate innovation and development. The increased influence of Western powers during the 19th Century and expansionary incursions by the Russians and Japanese further weakens the imperial system, which is also faced with growing internal dissent.

The republican revolution begins among discontented army units in Wuchang in Hubei Province on 10 October 1911 and quickly spreads. By late November 15 of country's the 24 provinces have declared their independence. On 12 February 1912 the last Manchu emperor, the child Puyi, abdicates. On 10 March Yuan Shikai, the commander-in-chief of the Imperial Army, is sworn in as provisional president of the Republic of China at a ceremony held in Beijing. More background.

Mini biography: Born on 26 December 1893 in the village of Shaoshan in Hunan Province, in China's south. His family are prosperous peasant farmers. He has two younger brothers and one sister.

Mao lives with his mother's family in a neighbouring village until he is eight. He then returns to Shaoshan to begin his education. When he is 10 he runs away from school. Following his expulsion from at least three other schools, his father refuses to continue to pay for his education.

When he is 14 Mao enters an arranged marriage with a 18-year-old cousin called Luo, although he never lives with her and she dies in 1910. Mao is allowed to resume his schooling. At age 16, and against his father's wishes, he leaves Shaoshan and enrols in a nearby higher primary school. It is during this period that his political consciousness begins to develop.

1911 - Mao enters a junior high school at Changsha, the provincial capital. He is briefly active in the republican revolution, joining a local army unit.

1912 - The Guomindang (Kuomintang or KMT - the National People's Party, or Nationalist Party) is formed in August. The party wins the majority of seats in elections held in February 1913 for the new, two-house parliament, but is forced to install the now dictatorial Yuan Shikai as president. To achieve international recognition, the new regime agrees to grant autonomy to Outer Mongolia and Tibet, which has now come under British influence.

In November Yuan Shikai makes a grab for absolute power, dissolving the Guomindang, removing its members from parliament and rewriting the constitution to make him president for life. By the time Yuan dies in 1916 China has become a theatre of conflict among "warlords" (provincial military leaders). Japan, recognising an opportunity to expand on territory annexed during the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, seizes the Shandong Province (across the Yellow Sea from Korea).

1913 - Mao enrols in the provincial normal school in Changsha, where he receives his last five years of formal education, graduating in 1918. While a student, Mao and his friends found a night school for workers.

1919 - On 4 May about 3,000 student gather in Tiananmen Square in Beijing to demonstrate against the Yuan Shikai government's acceptance of a clause in the 'Treaty of Versailles' settlement of the First World War that transfers Germany's rights in the Shandong Province to Japan.

The protests develop into the so-called 'May Fourth Movement'. Chinese nationalism is revitalised as intellectuals call for the modernisation and democratisation of society.

Mao is working as a library assistant at Beijing University when the movement begins. The period will mark his emergence as a Marxist-Leninist, although counter to Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy he will come to believe that the greatest potential for revolution in China lies with the peasantry rather than the urban proletariat. He returns to Changsha to promote the movement there but is forced to flee following a crackdown by a local warlord.

Also inspired by the movement, the Guomindang is reestablished in October and, with the aid of local warlords, quickly takes control of the south of China.

1920 - Mao returns to Changsha as head of a primary school and attempts to organise education for the masses. When his efforts are suppressed he turns to politics, forming a small communist group in Changsha.

1921 - The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) holds its First National Congress in Shanghai in July. The party is backed by the Soviet Union. It has only 57 members, 13 of who attend the congress. Mao participates in the meeting, acting as the recording secretary, and is appointed as the party's general secretary for Hunan Province, where on his return he begins to organise labour unions and strikes.

Meanwhile, Mao marries Yang Kaihui, the daughter of one of his teachers at the provincial normal school in Changsha and an active communist. The couple will have three sons, one of who dies as an infant. Around 1927 Mao will abandon his family to pursue his revolutionary goals.

1922 - When its alliance with the warlords collapses, the Guomindang turns to the newly established Soviet Union for help. The Soviets pledge to support both the Guomindang and the emerging CCP with their struggle for national unification. The dual support results in a Guomindang-CCP alliance, although the Guomindang vastly outnumbers the CCP, which now has only 123 members. Mao, who enthusiastically supports the alliance, works in the combined executive committees of the CCP and the Guomindang from his new base in Shanghai.

1923 - Chiang Kai-shek, a rising member of the Guomindang, is sent to Moscow for military and political training. Mao, meanwhile, becomes a full-time worker for the CCP, organising peasant and industrial unions. At the CCP's Third National Congress held at Guangzhou in June 1923 Mao is elected to the party Central Committee. By October 1925 he has become the acting head of the Guomindang's propaganda department.

1925 - Chiang, who has assumed the leadership of the Guomindang following the death of the movement's founder, launches a campaign against the northern warlords that captures half of China within nine months. However, the alliance with the CCP is beginning to crumble.

1927 - The split comes in July when Chiang turns violently on the CCP, executing many of its leaders and up to 3,500 party sympathisers. The Soviets shift their allegiance to the communists, who initiate a series of unsuccessful insurrection attempts, the 'Autumn Harvest Uprisings', including one led by Mao in Hunan Province.

Unperturbed, Mao begins to act on his belief that a successful revolution in China will have to spring from the peasantry, establishing peasant "soviets" (communist-run local governments) in the mountainous region along the border between Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. He also organises peasant and worker guerrilla forces that, by the end of the year, number about 10,000 troops, forming the nucleus of the Red Army. Mao's activities attract the attention the local Guomindang militia. He is captured and taken to be shot but manages to escape, only narrowly avoiding death.

Meanwhile, the CCP, which now has over 10,000 members on its party rolls, elects its first Political Bureau (Politburo) at its Fifth National Party Congress held in Wuhan in April and May.

1928 - Chiang and the Guomindang now control all of China. Nanking (now Nanjing) is made their capital, and will remain so for the next decade. The CCP now numbers 40,000.

Japan, meanwhile, sends troops to China to obstruct attempts by the Guomindang to unify the country. In June officers in the Kwantung (Guandong) Army, the Japanese Army unit stationed in Manchuria, begin an unauthorised campaign to precipitate a war with China. Both the Japanese high command and the Chinese refuse to take the bait.

1930 - Mao's sister and his second wife, Yang Kaihui, are executed by the nationalist governor of Hunan Province. Later the same year he marries again, to He Zichen, a schoolteacher and communist with whom he had been living since 1928. The couple will have five children. Also late in the year Mao puts down a revolt by soldiers in the small town of Futian in the Jiangxi province. It is reported that 2,000-3,000 officers and men are executed on Mao's orders.

1931 - In September conspirators in Japan's Kwantung Army stage the 'Manchurian Incident', blowing up a section of track on the South Manchuria Railway then blaming Chinese saboteurs.

With the Japanese Government powerless to intervene, the Kwantung Army mobilises, taking nearby Mukden (now Shenyang) then, in January 1932, attacking Shanghai, south of their territory in Shandong Province. A truce is called in March 1932. The Japanese then establish the puppet state of Manchukuo, centred on Manchuria and headed by the last Chinese emperor, Puyi.

Rather than concentrating its efforts against the Japanese, the Guomindang embarks on a series of "encirclement campaigns" against the communists. Mao responds with guerrilla tactics, instructing his forces to use a four-phased strategy: "The enemy advances; we retreat. The enemy camps; we harass. The enemy tires; we attack. The enemy retreats; we pursue."

Meanwhile, Mao's communists proclaim the Chinese Soviet Republic in Ruijin, Jiangxi Province. Mao is elected chairman of the republic. Land reforms introduced to the republic prove popular with the peasants and help to spread the communist's influence, although Mao is ruthless in enforcing party discipline. However, Mao's initial reign as chairman is shortlived.

After the CCP Central Committee relocates from Shanghai to Ruijin during the year Mao is stripped of his posts. The decision will have disastrous consequences for the communists, who abandon Mao's "hit and run" military tactics for head-on confrontation with the Guomindang, even though they are outnumbered seven to one.

1934 - When the Guomindang's fifth attempt at encircling the communist bases threatens to succeed, the Red Army and CCP are forced into retreat. The 'Long March' begins in Jiangxi Province on 15 October when the communists break through a gap in the Guomindang lines and begin a circuitous and initially unplanned trek of about 7,000 km through 11 provinces, 18 mountain ranges, and 24 rivers to Shaanxi Province to the northwest.

Throughout the march Guomindang forces and hostile warlords herd and harry the communists. Among those who die is one of Mao's younger brothers. Of the original 80,000 who set off only about 8,000 will reach the final destination when the march ends 12 months later in October 1935, although the communist's numbers are boosted by about 22,000 who have joined the march along the way.

Mao, whose tactical skills have contributed to the success of the march, has emerged as a hero and now has unchallenged command of the CCP, having been given the leadership of the party at a conference held at Zunyi in Guizhou Province in January 1935.

Based in Yan'an, the movement is destined to rapidly expand, with Mao coming to act as the intellectual as well as military authority of the party.

1936 - In December Guomindang troops forcibly detain Chiang Kai-shek for several days until he agrees to cease hostilities against the communists and cooperate with them to oppose the Japanese.

Meanwhile, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin invites Mao to send the surviving two sons from his second marriage to Moscow. The two boys remain in the Soviet Union until the 1940s.

1937 - The Second Sino-Japanese War breaks out on 7 July following a skirmish between Chinese and Japanese troops outside Beijing. Chinese forces evacuated Beijing on 28 July. The Japanese overrun Tianjin (100 km southeast of Beijing) on 30 July then attack Shanghai on 13 August. After a three-month siege, Shanghai falls and the Guomindang forces withdraw to the northwest towards their capital Nanking. The Japanese pursue.

The assault on Nanking begins on 10 December after the Chinese refuse to withdraw. When Nanking finally falls on 13 December, just hours after the Chinese forces have fled, the Japanese begin a bloodthirsty massacre that will last for six weeks.

At the urging of the Soviet Union, the CCP joins the Guomindang in a second united front against the Japanese, although their uneasy alliance begins to break down late in 1938. Mao sees the alliance as an excellent opportunity for the development of the party. "Our determined policy is 70% self-development, 20% compromise, and 10% fight the Japanese," he states.

Mao, meanwhile, divorces his third wife. In 1939 he marries the film actress Lan Ping, later known as Jiang Qing.

1940 - Conflict between the Guomindang and CCP starts to intensify in the areas of China not under Japanese control. Mao begins laying plans for the complete communist takeover China. His teachings become the central tenets of the CCP doctrine known as 'Mao Tse-Tung Thought'. Party membership rapidly expands, from 100,000 in 1937 to 1.2 million by 1945. The growing popularity of the communists also sees the size of the Red Army and the peasant militias increase dramatically.

1942 - Mao launches the first "rectification" campaign. To ensure their ideological purity, new party recruits are ordered to study 'Mao Tse-Tung Thought'. The campaign will come to be seen as the genesis of the Mao Tse-Tung personality cult that will sweep China in subsequent years.

1943 - Mao is formally acknowledged as head of the CCP when he is elected chairman of the CCP Central Committee and the Politburo. He will remain party leader until his death.

During the year Mao suffers another personal lose when his second younger brother is executed by the nationalists.

1945 - 'Mao Tse-Tung Thought' is formally adopted by the CCP at the Seventh Plenum of the Sixth National Party Congress held in Yan'an in April.

The US drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945 respectively, killing about 120,000 people outright and fatally injuring over 100,000 more.

Japanese Emperor Hirohito surrenders unconditionally on 15 August 1945, ending both the Second World War and the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Over 11 million Chinese have died during the Second World War. The Second Sino-Japanese War has claimed at least 20 million Chinese.

Following the defeat of the Japanese, hostilities between the Guomindang and CCP resume. The communists now have an advantage, having occupied vast areas formerly held by the Japanese and seized large quantities of surrendered Japanese arms. The communist army, which now numbers about one million troops, also receives supplies from the Soviet Union.

Although still numerically superior, the position of the Guomindang is weakened by the rampant corruption of its government and the accompanying political and economic chaos. The Guomindang does, however, receive aid from the United States, which also attempts to broker a settlement between the two warring parties.

However, talks between Mao and Chiang Kai-shek prove fruitless and full-scale civil war breaks our early in 1946. The Guomindang's numerical advantage is steadily eroded until by mid-1948 the two sides are almost even. Chiang's generals then begin to surrender en masse.

1949 - Mao's communists take Beijing without a fight in January and control the entire country by the end of the year. Chiang and several thousand of his troops flee to the island of Taiwan and proclaim Taipei as the temporary capital of China. Before fleeing Chiang has stripped the national treasury of about US$300 million.

On 1 October, at a ceremony held in Beijing, Mao formally proclaims the People's Republic of China. The CCP now claims a membership of 4.5 million, 90% of who are peasants. Mao is the party chairman and is exalted as the premier hero of the revolution. The government is headed by his right-hand-man, Zhou Enlai.

The CCP begins a program of moderated reform and receives widespread popular support internally and growing international recognition as China's legitimate government. China's high inflation is curbed, the economy is restored, and many war-damaged industrial plants and infrastructure facilities are rebuilt.

Starting from a small base, industrial output soars; the rail network is doubled; irrigation is expanded; the level of illiteracy is lowered; near universal health care is established; life expectancy rises; and women are given the same rights as men.

At the end of the year Mao takes his first journey abroad - to Moscow in the Soviet Union. He meets with Stalin and negotiates for military support and economic aid.

1950 - In May Mao agrees to a plan by the leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, to force a reunification with South Korea through a preemptive invasion. The Korean War begins on 25 June. It will last for three years and cost about three million lives but ends with no definitive outcome.

International support for the CCP government begins to falter in October when China becomes directly involved in the Korean War in response to a North Korean request for aid. At the same time, Tibet is invaded, bringing to an end almost 40 years of Tibetan self-rule.

Up to 440,000 Chinese "volunteer" troops will die during the Korean War, including Mao's eldest son from his second marriage. The war also ushers a sharp and prolonged deterioration in relations between China and the US.

1951 - The United Nations (UN) declares China to be an aggressor in Korea and sanctions a global embargo on the shipment of arms and war material to the China. The possibility that the People's Republic might replace Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists at the UN now seems remote.

Inside China the policies of moderation are replaced by a campaign against "enemies of the state" that will affect millions. Foreigners and Christian missionaries are branded as spies. Landlords and wealthy peasants are stripped of their land. Intellectuals, scientists, professionals, artists and writers are forced into "self-criticism" and public confessions of their failings in relation to communist ideals.

Incompetent and politically unreliable public officials are purged. Corrupt businessmen and industrialists are removed from the system. The bourgeoisie are held in suspicion. Reports suggest that from one to three million are executed during the campaign.

1953 - China's "transition to socialism" officially begins with the introduction of the first five-year plan. Emphasis is placed on the development of heavy industry, centralised planning, and the build-up of defence capability, following the model pioneered by the Soviet Union, which provides technical assistance and aid. At the same time, the pace of the collectivisation of the agricultural sector is hastened and banking, industry and trade are nationalised.

Between 1953 and 1957 the national income of China grows at an average rate of 8.9% a year.

1954 - The First National People's Congress, equivalent to the Chinese parliament, adopts a new constitution and formally elects Mao as chairman (president) of the People's Republic. The CCP now introduces measures to recruit intellectuals into the party apparatus. By 1956 intellectuals constitute nearly 12% of the party's 10.8 million members, while peasant membership has fallen to 69%.

1956 - As part of the ongoing effort to encourage intellectuals to participate in the regime, a new climate of political openness is fostered. Led by Mao, the movement takes the slogan "Let a hundred flowers bloom, let the hundred schools of thought contend." However, when the movement threatens to go out of control, the party pulls back, labelling its most outspoken critics as "bourgeois rightists" and launching the 'Anti-rightist Campaign'.

1957 - In November Mao makes his second trip to Moscow. He returns disillusioned with the Soviet system of development and determined to set China on an independent course. The trip is also distinguished by Mao's controversial declaration that there is no need to fear nuclear war.

Explaining his view he says, "If the worse came to the worst and half of mankind died, the other half would remain, while imperialism would be razed to the ground, and the whole world would become socialist: in a number of years there would be 2.7 billion people again and definitely more."

1958 - Mao launches the 'Great Leap Forward' to accelerate the development of all sectors of the economy at once. Breaking with the development theories practiced in the Soviet Union and applied to China during the first five year plan, the Great Leap Forward seeks to simultaneously develop industry and agriculture by employing surplus rural labour on either vast infrastructure projects or for small-scale, farm-based industries - the so-called "backyard furnaces."

The Great Leap Forward also aims to further entrench communist principles into the structure and functioning of social systems, a goal that is characterised by the development of people's communes in the countryside and selected urban areas. Between April and September 98% of the farm population is organised into communes.

Everyone, including CCP members, intellectuals, professionals, technical workers and the bourgeoisie is required to work in the communes, in factories and mines, and on public works projects in order to gain firsthand experience of manual labour and the conditions faced by the proletariat and peasantry.

It soon becomes apparent that the Great Leap Forward is an ill-considered failure. Rather than boosting production, the Great Leap Forward brings shortages of food and raw materials and the demoralisation and exhaustion of the workforce. The situation is exacerbated by poor harvests caused by bad weather and by Mao's refusal to hear of failures.

In 1959 and 1960 the gross value of agricultural output falls by 14% and 13% respectively. In 1961 output drops a further 2% to reach the lowest point since 1952. Widespread famine results, especially in rural areas.

It is estimated that from 1958 to 1961, 14 to 20 million more people die of starvation than in similar years of poor harvests. The number of reported births is about 23 million less than under normal circumstances.

Other estimates place the number who die because of the famine at between 23 and 45 million.

Mao refuses to recognise or deal with the reality of the situation, saying "When there is not enough to eat, people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill."

Even as the population starves harvests are commandeered for export to communist countries in Eastern Europe. In exchange China receives arms and political support. In 1958-1959 seven million tonnes of grain are exported.

At the same time, while industrial output does leap by 55% in 1958, subsequent years see large falls - 38% in 1961 and a further 16% in 1962.

Meanwhile, China hardens its foreign policies, bombing nationalist-held offshore islands, announcing that Taiwan will be liberated, and launching a propaganda assault on the US. Relations with the Soviet Union also begin to cool. Mao considers the post-Stalin leaders of the Soviet Union to be "revisionists". By the July 1960, the Soviets have recalled all of their technicians and advisers from China and reduced or cancelled economic and technical aid to the country.

1959 - In April the fallout of the Great Leap Forward sees Mao resign as chairman of the People's Republic, although he remains chairman of the CCP. Mao tells the party Central Committee, "The chaos was on a grand scale, and I take responsibility. I am a complete outsider when it comes to economic construction, and I understand nothing about industrial planning."

"Moderates", including State President Liu Shaoqi and Party General Secretary Deng Xiaoping, subsequently take over direction of the republic and begin to restore the economy.

1962 - Mao returns from the "second line" of decision-making and begins a campaign to purify the party of "capitalists" and "counter-revolutionaries", using his enormous status to hold sway. His 'Socialist Education Movement' seeks to restore ideological purity and intensify the class struggle, calling on the population to "to learn from the People's Liberation Army", which in turn is asked to promote 'Mao Tse-Tung Thought' as the guiding principle for a renewal of the revolution.

The school system is reorganised to accommodate the work schedule of communes and factories. Intellectuals and scholars are "reeducated" to accept that their participation in manual labour is needed to remove "bourgeois" influences. The education movement will become increasingly militant.

1965 - Mao, who has by now regained some control of the CCP, begins a purge of the party that will develop into the 'Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution' of 1966-76. Mao believes that the integrity of the CCP and its gains need to be defended against the emergence of a new elite of bureaucrats by a process of continuous revolution. Among those to be stripped of their party posts is Deng Xiaoping.

1966 - Millions of school and university students are organised into the 'Red Guards' to publicly criticise those in the party who are considered by Mao and his supporters to be "'Left' in form but 'Right' in essence." The Red Guards receive Mao's backing on 5 August when he publishes his article, 'Bombard the Headquarters', endorsing their revolutionary posters and slogans, then presides over their first mass demonstration, held in Tiananmen Square.

In October the Quotations from Chairman Mao (The Little Red Book) is published. Instilled with revolutionary fervour and guided by 'The Little Red Book', the Red Guards create havoc within the party and widespread social chaos. Under the general leadership of Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, their aim is to root out old customs, habits, and ways of thought.

Schools, colleges and universities are closed. Virtually all engineers, managers, scientists, technicians, and other professionals are "criticised," demoted or "sent down" to the countryside to "participate in labour." Many are jailed. Management of factories is placed in the hands of ill-equipped revolutionary committees. As a result, the country experiences a 14% decline in industrial production in 1967.

China's traditional respect for learning and the experience of age is turned on its head. Many cultural artefacts are damaged or destroyed. Cultural expression is severely curtailed. Religious practices are suppressed.

The CCP and government crumbles under the weight of "self-criticism", denunciations and forced confessions. Opposing political factions create their own Red Guards. Thousands die when the factions enter into open armed conflict.

The PLA becomes the only brake on a full-scale descent into anarchy.

1968 - The militant phase of the Cultural Revolution comes to an end towards the middle of the year when Mao reassesses the usefulness of revolutionary violence. The normalisation is also considered necessary because of a further deterioration in China's relations with the Soviet Union.

Many of the leaders of the Red Guards are arrested, universities are reopened, skilled workers are returned to the positions from which they were previously removed, and foreign companies are allowed to invest in selected projects.

1969 - The Cultural Revolution is further curtailed in April at the First Plenum of the CCP's Ninth National Party Congress, where Mao is confirmed as the supreme leader and his supporters are appointed to the senior party posts. The Mao acolyte and leader of the PLA, Lin Biao, becomes vice chairman of the CCP and is named as Mao's successor.

However, while the rebuilding of the CCP begins, the ramifications of the militant phase of the Cultural Revolution continue to be felt, with the party splitting into two main factions, the "radicals" led by Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, and the moderates led by Premier Zhou Enlai. The ageing Mao takes the role as elder statesman and intermediary between the two forces.

The Red Guards, meanwhile, are withdrawn from the political equation, with millions being forced to resettle in remote parts of the country, where they will remain until the 1980s.

In foreign affairs, relations with the Soviet Union reach rock bottom during the winter months of 1969 when Chinese and Soviet forces exchange fire across the border at the Ussuri River in China's northeast. The Soviets will subsequently station about a quarter of their combined armed forces along the Chinese frontier.

1971 - The tension between the radical and moderate factions comes to a head in September when Lin Biao stages an abortive coup d'état against Mao. His subsequent death in a plane crash as he attempts to flee the country marks the beginning of the end for the radicals and the ascension of the moderates.

Meanwhile, the CCP government receives international recognition when it takes the China seat at the UN, replacing the government in Taiwan.

1972 - The influence of the moderates and Mao's suspicion of the Soviets is reflected in a shift in China's foreign policies. Rapprochement with the US is confirmed when President Richard M. Nixon visits China in February. In September diplomatic relations are established with Japan.

1973 - The moderates' policies of modernisation are formally adopted by the CCP at the First Plenum of the 10th National Party Congress held in August, a meeting during which Mao makes his last official appearance.

The year is also marked by the rehabilitation of Deng Xiaoping, who is reinstated as a vice premier. Deng's position is further solidified in January 1975 when he is appointed as a vice chairman of the CCP and as a member of the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee, the apex of power in China.

1975 - Conflict between the radicals and moderates reemerges when Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, and her three principal radical associates (the so-called 'Gang of Four') launch a media campaign against Deng.

1976 - The final showdown between the radicals and moderates occurs following the death of Zhou Enlai in January. On 5 April, at a spontaneous mass demonstration held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing to memorialise Zhou, Mao's closest associates are openly criticised. The authorities forcibly suppress the demonstration, which is considered to be vote of support for Deng.

When Mao responds by blaming Deng for the demonstration and ordering that he be dismissed from all his public posts, the radicals appear to be on the ascendancy. However, in June the government announces that the increasingly ailing Mao will no longer receive foreign visitors. The radicals' days are now numbered. Mao dies of a heart attack in Beijing on 9 September. In October the Gang of Four are arrested.

The official announcement of Mao's death released by Hsinhua, the Chinese news agency, on 9 September states that, "All the victories of the Chinese people were achieved under the leadership of Chairman Mao; they are all great victories for Mao Tse-Tung thought. The radiance of Mao Tse-Tung thought will forever illuminate the road of advance of the Chinese people." Full copy of the announcement.

In its obituary published on 10 September the New York Times states that Mao was "one of the most remarkable personalities of the 20th Century."

"Mao was an infinitely complex man," the obituary says, "by turns shrewd and realistic, then impatient and a romantic dreamer, an individualist but also a strict disciplinarian. His motives seemed a mixture of the humanitarian and the totalitarian. He himself once commented that he was 'part monkey, part tiger', and perhaps after all he was riven with the same contradictions he was fond of analysing in the world around him." Full copy of the obituary.


1977 - At the First Plenum of the 11th National Party Congress held in August the Cultural Revolution is formally brought to an end and blame for its excesses are attributed entirely to the Gang of Four. Deng is exonerated from responsibility for the events at Tiananmen Square of the previous year and reappointed to all his posts. By 1978 Mao himself is beginning to be attacked.

1978 - The official reappraisal of Mao's legacy begins when the CCP repudiates the "two whatevers" policy - "support whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made and follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave."

In the closing months of the year, political activists begin to place posters airing their thoughts on the injustices of the Cultural Revolution on a section of wall near Tiananmen Square, the so-called Democracy Wall.

1979 - Mao's standing is further eroded when the CCP admits that its leadership had made serious political errors affecting the people. The Cultural Revolution is described as "an appalling catastrophe" and "the most severe setback to (the) socialist cause since (1949)." The party is subsequently purged of members who came to prominence during the Cultural Revolution.

1980 - The trials of the Gang of Four begin in November. Charges against them include the usurpation of state power and party leadership, and the persecution of some 750,000 people, including 34,375 who died during the Cultural Revolution. The trials end in January 1981, when all four are found guilty. Mao's wife is sentenced to death, although this is later commuted to life imprisonment.

1981 - In June the CCP formally adopts a resolution reviewing the 60 years since its founding that condemns the Cultural Revolution and assesses Mao role in it. "Chief responsibility for the grave 'Left' error of the 'cultural revolution', an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration, does indeed lie with Comrade Mao Tse-Tung," the resolution says. "Far from making a correct analysis of many problems, he confused right and wrong and the people with the enemy ... Herein lies his tragedy."

Several days later the new party chairman Hu Yaobang says that "although Comrade Mao Tse-Tung made grave mistakes in his later years, it is clear that if we consider his life work, his contributions to the Chinese revolution far outweigh his errors ... His immense contributions are immortal."

2005 - During the year the author Jung Chang releases a biography of Mao that claims that 70 million Chinese died as a result of his policies.

Asked in an interview "who was the real Mao Tse-Tung?", Chang replies: "The real Mao was completely amoral. He rejected morality as an adult decision when he was 24-years-old and he said the world exists only for me. And from then on he pursued what he wanted with basically increasing power, first to become supreme party leader and then the supreme leader of China, and then to dominate the world. He single-mindedly pursued these goals throughout his life.

"After he took power he said many times things like, 'we must conquer the Earth', 'we must set up an Earth control committee and make a uniform plan for the Earth', or , 'the Pacific Ocean isn't going to be peaceful unless we take it over'. So he was pursuing his own power until he died. ...

"He didn't achieve his superpower dream, because Mao basically was economically hopeless, and he actually left China in a shambles. ...

"Mao died full of self-pity that he didn't make it. ... But he never spared a thought for the 70 million deaths that his pursuit had cost the Chinese people."

Present day - In China, the personality cult surrounding Mao persists as strongly as ever before. Mao's embalmed body lies in a mausoleum on Tiananmen Square. A huge poster of Mao hangs at the square's main gate. His portrait is on every Chinese bank note. A statue of Mao can be found in every town and city. Each year millions of Chinese visit 'Red Tourism' sites such as Zunyi, where Mao took the leadership of the CCP, and Shaoshan, where he spent his childhood.

Comment: Poet, intellectual, soldier, leader, statesman, tyrant, hero, killer - Mao Tse-Tung must be rated as one of the most remarkable, influential and contradictory personalities of the 20th Century. Attempting to categorise Mao within the superficially black and white structure of this website was a difficult and presumptuous undertaking. It was numbers alone that tipped the balance to the side of the killers. A different interpretation could have put him on the side of the heroes.

Though the number of deaths that occurred in China as a result of Mao's reign places him in the same league as Stalin or Hitler, Mao was of a completely different calibre to those two genocidal murderers. In less than a lifetime he raised China from being a broken, feudalistic anachronism to a united world force. His legacy is as terrible as it is impressive, from the logical conclusion to his theory of continuous revolution as played out on Pol Pot's Killing Fields, to China's current global position as the country most likely to become the world's next superpower.

Mao Tse-Tung killer file


Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2
Sep 28, 2011
The Infamous Firing Squads

Thousands of Cubans have died in front of Castro's infamous firing squad. There was no discrimination, as far as the firing squad was concerned. Young and old, black and white, rich and poor were sent to 'el paredón' (the wall).

Many of those who helped Castro gain power, like Comandantes Ernesto Sori Marin and William Morgan, an American, were among the thousands who were shot.
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