Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana
The recent Indo-China clashes in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh got me interested in China and Chinese history. Have been reading up on it and am sharing some interesting stories from it. We have all heard about the terrible Holocaust (genocide of Jews) that took place during the Second World War (1941 – 1945), in the course of which an estimated 6 million Jews were killed. 🙁
Something similar or even worse took place in China during the period of the “Cultural Revolution” (1966 – 1976), and I had no idea about it! An estimated 20 million people died due to massacres, killings, or suicides during this period! This movement was launched by the communist dictator Mao Zedong (the founding father of China) to purge all elements of tradition or capitalism that existed in the country. It was a horrendous ten years marked by fear, destruction, chaos, and killings. Many ancient religious and cultural sites were totally destroyed and millions of people were unjustly persecuted and killed.
Scholars, scientists, and intellectuals were specifically targetted. It was horrifying to read about how many notable personalities were humiliated in public, and either killed or forced to commit suicide. For example, Yao Tongbin – a Chinese scientist and one of China’s foremost engineers, was beaten to death by a mob! Another story of Lao She – a Chinese novelist and one of the most significant figures of Chinese literature, is very distressing. He was condemned by the revolutionaries, paraded through the streets, and beaten publicly at the doorsteps of a temple in Beijing. Unable to bear this humiliation, he committed suicide by drowning himself in Beijing’s Taiping Lake. 🙁
Luckily, his relatives managed to save his manuscripts by hiding them and moving them from house to house. After hearing these surreal horror stories, one can only imagine how hideous the atmosphere might have been. Countless other innocent intellectuals, teachers, and senior officials were killed in this manner – mostly by brainwashed teenagers. The same kind of destruction was wreaked even in Tibet.
Though the revolution ended in 1976 after the death of Mao, the Chinese are still living in an autocratic state without the same democratic freedoms that we enjoy. Found this short video outlining the events during the Cultural Revolution.