The Second Wave of Violent Persecution of Teachers: the Revolution of 1968
Presented at the 35th International Congress of Asian and North African Studies, Budapest, July 7-12, 1997.
This paper is the sequel to the author¡¯s previous paper entitled ¡°Student Attacks against Teachers: The Revolution of 1966.¡± Like that paper, it seeks to retrieve the unreported side of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). During the ¡°Cleansing the Class Ranks¡± movement of 1968, teachers became the main target of persecution once again. Many teachers were imprisoned in their schools for months or even years and some of them were beaten by students just as they had been during the so-called ¡°Red August¡± in 1966. In public and behind locked door, they often were tortured psychologically as well as physically. Those who were not able to bear the prolonged torture committed suicide. Meanwhile, the worship of Mao Zedong was becoming increasingly intense and reached its second peak, the first being in the summer of 1966. Based on the author¡¯s interviews with approximately 300 people from 90 schools, this paper is an attempt to describe the pattern of organized and violent persecution, and analyze its causes and consequences.
I. Topic and Method: the Deaths of Ordinary People and a Larger Picture of the Cultural Revolution
This paper is a sequel to my previous paper entitled "Student Attacks Against Teachers: the Revolution of 1966." As with the first paper, this one seeks to retrieve the unreported side of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976.
During the "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign of 1968-69 teachers once again became the main target of the Revolution. Many teachers were imprisoned in their schools for months or even years and some of them were beaten by students as they had been during the so-called "Red August" of 1966. They were physically and psychologically tortured both in public and behind locked doors. Those who were not able to bear the prolonged torture committed suicide. Meanwhile, the worship of Mao Zedong became increasingly fervent and reached its second peak, the first being the summer of 1966. This paper is an attempt to describe and analyze this second wave of violence against teachers.
As I explained in the first section of the paper "Student Attacks Against Teachers: the Revolution of 1966," many stories of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 were not reported at the time of their occurrence, while the media focused daily on praising the Revolution. This was true of the "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign as well. From the newspapers and documentary films published by the Chinese authorities at that time, we cannot find any details about how the "cleansing" process was carried out, nor can we find any mention of the victims who were detained or committed suicide as a result of the campaign.
After 1978, with the repudiation of the Revolution in the highest circle of the Party, the Chinese media cautiously started reporting the deaths of a small number of high-ranking cadres and celebrities who were victimized during the Cultural Revolution. The names of ordinary people like teachers, who were persecuted and died during the "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign 1968-1969, were not, however, as much as mentioned.
The three published general histories of the Cultural Revolution (one printed in 1986, one in 1988, and one in 1995 ) each has a section about the "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign. However, these books devote only short sections to the campaign, and the descriptions they give of the campaign are not detailed. The reasons why the authors of these books neglected the subject are probably include the fact that they paid more attention to those who were in powerful positions, and that they relied almost exclusively on written materials, and have done little in the way of oral history.
By neglecting the persecution of ordinary people, the whole picture of the Revolution can be reduced to a series of struggles between two groups, one headed by Lin Biao and the other by the so-called "Gang of Four" and other high-ranking cadres in the Party. Certainly, these high-level political figures were important participants in the Cultural Revolution, but the actions and consequences of the actions of huge numbers of less public figures are equally, if not more, important for understanding the extent and significance of the Cultural Revolution. In fact, from the experiences of ordinary people we can learn more about the institutional and societal changes the Revolution created.
Among all the long or short campaigns during the Revolution, the "Cleansing the Class Ranks" was the most prolonged and systematic one and hurt the largest number of ordinary people. I have tried to explore and record this, the darkest part of the Cultural Revolution, in order to display a larger and more realistic picture of the Revolution in which we apply a single standard when treating people's lives, no matter if they were the president of the state or a teacher in a middle school.
The fact that many stories of the Cultural Revolution were not reported forces us to go beyond the extant printed or filmed materials that historians usually employ for their studies. My investigation of the violent persecution of ordinary people started in 1980. Since then I have interviewed approximate 300 people who experienced the Cultural Revolution while they were in school.
Unfortunately, the stories of these people were not ignored by the media but are also absent from private records. Because many people were persecuted for things they had written in their diaries, most people stopped writing diaries or never talked about the Revolution in their diary or correspondence during the Revolution. Wang Li (1903-1986), a Chinese professor at Beijing University who wrote his diary everyday for his entire life, was one of the few exceptions. But he did not write in his diary when he was under "segregating examination," which meant he was locked up somewhere on campus. He restarted his diary on December 9, 1968. In the diary entry for that day, he wrote: "Today the military representative announced that I was a free man from today on with eight other faculty members at the Chinese Language and Literature Department. I am grateful even though I did not yell 'Long Live Chairman Mao' when they made the announcement." He was beaten severely during the campaign but he never recorded the torture explicitly.
In 1969, when those who were "shencha" ("examined") during the "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign received their "verdict," they were allowed to listen to the reading of the "verdict" but never obtain the "verdict" paper itself. Those "verdict" papers, which impacted their lives and the lives of their families and relatives in the following years, were put in each person's files (dangan) with other documents related to the cases after being read to them. Ordinary people never had a chance to see the contents of their personal files which were kept in a locked room as a part of the "jimi" ("secrets") of the Party and the State.
In 1979, when persecuted educators received their "reversed verdict" (ping fan) according to Deng Xiaoping's policy, all documents about their "crimes" that had been kept in the special offices of their schools for ten years were burned. For example, at the Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University, the four sacks of material were burned. At Beijing Eighth Middle School, they burned two sacks of materials. As the representatives of those who were labeled with certain criminal titles, some people were allowed to watch the burning but not allowed to read the documents, let alone retrieve them. Zhang Lianyuan, a physics teacher of Beijing Eighth Middle School, who was "examined" and whose wife Hu Xiuzheng, a chemistry teacher at the Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University, committed suicide, watched the papers burning. Among them, were documents that had destroyed his family. In short, for later historians, these kinds of authentic records for this period do not exist.
Even the Chinese term "zi sha" (suicide), which literally means "self-killing," has been a linguistic taboo in all documents and publications from the authorities, both during the Cultural Revolution and in its aftermath. During the Revolution, suicide was called "Zi jue yue dang he renmin," which literally means "to alienate oneself from the Party and people." After the Revolution, "Bei pohai zhi si," which literally means "to die from persecution," was commonly used. Rhetorically, avoiding the word "kill" is an effort to downplay the violence of the Revolution.
Nonetheless, many survivors remember the deaths of the victims of the "cleansing" campaign, even though the deaths and persecutions were not well documented and were in many cases hidden intentionally. I need to thank the interviewees who related often painful memories and helped me check the data from other sources they could find to double check the stories.
This paper is based on interviews and careful readings of written materials from that period. In the following sections, I cite written sources for my examples when they are available. The stories for which I do not cite footnotes are from my own interviews.
II. A Long List of People Who Committed Suicide
From my investigation of the "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign in schools, I find that almost every school had at least one educator who committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide during that period. I provide here a brief description of each of the cases I have been able to find.
The Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University: Hu Xiuzheng, a female chemistry teacher, committed suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of the student dormitory, August, 11, 1968, when she was detained in school. Liang Xikong, a male history teacher, and Zhou Xuemin, a female Chinese teacher, committed suicide after Hu died. Hu Xiuzheng was 35 at the time of her death.
The Middle School attached to Qinghua University: Zhao Xiaodong, a male physical education teacher, committed suicide by jumping from a tall building in the winter of 1968.
The Middle School attached to Beijing University: Wang Hou, a male custodian, committed suicide in July of 1968.
Beijing Fourth Middle School: a teacher committed suicide by cutting his throat with a pair of scissors.
Beijing Fifth Middle School: He Guanghan, a male Russian language teacher, the head of the foreign language program, committed suicide in 1968.
Beijing Sixth Middle School: Jiao Tingxun, a male history teacher, committed suicide by throwing himself into a vat that contained the paste for pasting the "big character posters" after Jiao was denounced and detained in the school.
Beijing Eighth Middle School: Gao Jiawang, a male teacher, committed suicide in autumn of 1968.
Beijing Erlonglu Middle School: Zhang Fang, a female physics teacher, hanged herself in 1968.
Beijing Jingshan School: Yu Gongshan, a male Chinese teachers of the division of the middle school, committed suicide on August 10, 1968, jumping from the fifth floor of a building in the school. Ji Xinmin, a female teacher of the division of the elementary school, committed suicide by jumping from a tall building in early 1969.
Mata Middle School, Jingyan County, Sichuan Province: Zhong Xianhua, a male mathematics teacher, died by hanging himself in 1968.
Jingyan County Elementary School, Sichuan Province: Hu Guangzhao, a male teacher, committed suicide by hitting his head with a hammer in 1968.
Shanghai Songjiang Second Middle School: Fan Gengsu, a male Chinese teacher, committed suicide in 1968.
Guangzhou Seventeenth Middle School, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province: Yang Aimei, a female Chinese teacher, committed suicide in late 1968.
Fujian Medical College, Fuzhou, Fujian Province: Wang Zhongfang, a male internal medicine professor, died in the place where he had been detained for about ten months on April 29, 1969 at the age of 56 . His family was told that he committed suicide by cutting the artery on his neck with a razor. Lin Qinglei, a male lecturer of internal medicine and a subordinate of Wang, committed suicide after Wang died. Although no evidence was ever produced, both Wang and Lin were accused of being "spies" along with more than one hundred people in the medical circle of this city.
Fujian Teachers College, Fujian Province: Huang Xinduo, a male mathematics professor, died in 1968. Shanghai Musical College: Chen Youxin, chairman of the Orchestra Department of Orchestra, committed suicide by jumping from a high building in the latter part of 1968. Shen Zhibai, chairman of the Chinese Music Department, committed suicide in 1968.
Huadong Teachers University, Shanghai: Chang Xiping, the secretary of the Party at the university, committed suicide on May 25, 1968. Li Jigu, a male history professor, committed suicide by throwing himself in the river that runs through the campus, July of 1968. Zhu Zhengkuan, foreign language teacher and librarian, committed suicide in 1968.
Ha'erbin Industry University, Heilongjiang Province: Tao Qian, a male engineering professor, whose specialty was metal cutting technology, died in 1968 when he was detained. His family was told that he committed suicide by cutting his throat with the lens of his glasses.
Changchun Industry University, Jilin Province: Xue Shimao, a male engineering professor, was beaten to death by four students and a worker in 1968. But at that time they claimed that he had committed suicide.
Qinghua University: Li Piji, a male professor of hydraulic engineering, committed suicide by jumping from the laboratory of his department, where he was detained, 1968. Huang Zhichong, a male professor of architecture, committed suicide by jumping from a high building.
Dept. of Western Languages: Meng Fudi, a male Spanish teacher, hanged himself. He was accused of being a member of the Sanminzhuyi Youth League and hiding this fact. Xu Yueru, a female administrator and a graduate of this department, hanged herself. Cheng Yuan, a female German language teacher, hanged herself. Cheng was accused of being a spy.
Dept. of Mathematics: Chen Yonghe, a male lecturer, committed suicide on November 11, 1968, by jumping from the room where Chen was detained. Chen was accused of being a member of a "counterrevolutionary group," which was in fact a group of people who played Bridge together. Dong Tiebao, a male computer science professor, committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree when he was detained on campus.
Dept. of Library Science: Wang Zhongmin, a male professor, committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in the Summer Palace, 1968.
Dept. of History: Li Yuan, a male lecturer of Chinese ancient history, died in a room of the university's administration building on April 20, 1968. Li was accused of being a spy and was detained there. His wife claimed that he must have been beaten to death because of the many wounds on Li's corpse. Wu Weineng, a male administrator, committed suicide on November 4, 1968. Jian Bozan, a male history professor, and vice president of the University, committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Jian and his wife left suicide notes and died together on December 18, 1968.
Dept. of Physics: Rao Yutai, a male professor, committed suicide in 1968.
Dept. of Chemistry, Lu Xikun, a male chemistry professor, committed suicide by drinking insecticide on June 24, 1968. He was under "examination" because of his "historical problem." His wife Lin Fang, a clerk of this department, committed suicide on July 19, 1968.
In this list, the suicides in middle schools may be complete for these schools since a middle school is usually small in size with about one hundred employees. As for the colleges and universities, the statistics are not comprehensive because an single interviewee from one department might not know what happened in another department. For example, according to a booklet compiled by the committee of the Communist Party at Beijing University in 1985, at this school during the "cleansing" campaign, twenty three people were "persecuted to death" which was the euphemism commonly used for "committed suicide" in official documents and publications for those who were beaten to death or committed suicide during the Revolution. But those who prepared this booklet refused to provide me with the names of the twenty three people. The list of thirteen names I give above is only a part of those who committed suicide at Beijing University at that period.
In addition, among the victims listed above, only three names, Jian Bozan of Beijing University, and Chen Youxin and Shen Zhibai of Shanghai Musical College, have been mentioned in the publications after the Cultural Revolution.
The large number of suicides was a main characteristic of the "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign. Those schools I was able to reach in my investigation were to a certain extent random and were limited in number. If I had be able to contact people from more schools, the list would no doubt be much longer.
I am not able to obtain an accurate number of suicides during the "Cleansing" campaign. Probably, the teacher suicides were approximately in the ratio of one to one hundred.
III. Why Did They Committed Suicide?
People may commit suicide for different reasons, such as psychological problems, for religious, or philosophical reasons, because of economic pressure, and so forth. However, the main cause of suicide for the people in the list above is obvious, since all of them committed suicide when they were attacked and tortured during the "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign. Many of them died when they were imprisoned on campuses.
The major techniques of persecution that were adopted during the campaign were:
1. Imprisoning the Target People in School for an Extended Period
In the summer of 1966, some schools, for example, Beijing Sixth Middle School mentioned in my previous paper, established jails on campus, detaining and torturing the educators. During the "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign every school that my investigation reached established a jail to detain the teachers and others who worked for the school. The official term used at that time was "geli shencha" ("segregated examination"). Later, a nickname "niupeng" ("ox shack") was commonly used for this kind of jail. Since the Revolution started, the target people were called "niuguisheshen" ("ox ghosts and snake demons") and the jails to confine them became "ox shacks."
At Beijing University, eight flat classroom buildings that were for foreign language classes before the Cultural Revolution were fenced in and renamed "jian gai da yuan" ("A Great Complex of Reform under Supervision") where more than two hundred professors and cadres were locked up for up to a year. Twenty to thirty people shared a classroom, sleeping side by side on the ground. There were three such rooms for female prisoners. All of the prisoners were ordered to do some manual work such as cleaning toilets during the day and to write "confessions" and "self-criticisms" in the evening. When they worked on campus and in the complex they could be insulted by children and beaten by the college students who were "supervising" them. The jail had three "laws": 1. Prisoners must lower their heads while walking; 2. Prisoners were not allowed to talk to each other. 3. Prisoners were not allowed to ask for or use the names of students who were "supervising" them even though the prisoners might have known the names before they were locked up.
On June 18, 1968, all people who were imprisoned in the "Great Complex of Reform under Supervision" were "struggled" and beaten brutally during a school-wide action. When they walked in single file along a path across the campus, students and others who stood on either side of the path beat them furiously with clubs and whips. This date was chosen to celebrate the violent event that had happened two years previous, on June 18 of 1966. The latter event in 1968 was of larger-scale and more violent than the former one in 1966.
Zheng Peidi, a twenty-six year old English teacher was detained in the "Great Complex" just one month after she gave birth to her first child. She was there for more than three months. Later she was locked in another building on campus for more than five months. Not only was she not allowed to go home but also her husband and her new born child were not allowed to visit her. When she requested that she needed to nurse her child, she was forced to go to the school clinic where she received an injection that discontinued her milk.
In addition, some people were detained in their departments instead of at this school-level jail. For example, Xia Weiyun, a clerk of the library of the Mathematics Department, was "segregated" in her department, while her husband Wang Li, an eminent linguist, was locked in the "Great Complex." Several students guarded her for two months until they could not find any evidence that could prove that had she joined the Sanminzhuyi Youth League before 1949.
Hu Shouwen, a lecturer of the Biology department of Beijing University, was imprisoned in the "Great Complex of Reform under Supervision." At noon one day during the summer of 1968, at the center of the courtyard one student forced him to lift his head and stare into the sun. When Hu closed his eyes by instinct, this student beat him. Hu's eyes were damaged. Hu's wife Pan Naimu was "segregated" in the department's jail. She was not allowed to sleep and was interrogated overnight. When Hu's father-in-law Pan Guangdan, a senior anthropology professor in Beijing Anthropology College and the translator of Darwin's works, was dying, Hu and his wife were not allowed to leave the places where they were locked up to see him. Before he died, Pan Guangdan told an old friend of him who could go to see him: "I used to follow a three S's strategy: surrender, submit and survive. Now I added a fourth S: succumb." He died without his daughter and son-in-law by him.
Unlike Beijing University, which was called the "highest school in China," Mata Middle School, Jingyan County, in Sichuan Province, is a remote, small countryside school. But what occurred there was similar to Beijing University. There were 30 teachers in total in this school and ten of them were under "examination." Among the ten teachers, one was retired and 79 years old, and one was female. The other eight teachers were forced to live in a small and broken room on campus. They were repeatedly denounced with high hats on their heads and black boards on their necks. Also, they were paraded through the market near the school. As a result, a mathematics teacher committed suicide.
2. Violent Interrogation
Those who were under "examination" were forced to "confess" their crimes. Violence was used during the interrogations, both in public and behind locked doors.
At the Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University, Hu Zhitao, the Vice Principal and a survivor of the violent incident of August 5, 1966 during which the principal Bian Zhongyun was beaten to death by students, was forced to stand at the "struggle meeting" for 48 hours in a row, while students took turns denouncing her. They did not allow her to sleep and attempted to force her to admit to various crimes that she had not committed.
At Huadong Teachers University, Li Jigu, a 71 year-old history professor, was interrogated for several days in a row by "Zhuan an zu" ("special group for the examination of a case") in July 1968. But he did not "confess" to the crime they wanted him to confess to. On the day before he committed suicide, he was forced to kneel on the floor for an entire day. In the evening, students of the "Zhuan an" group burned his back and neck, using a lit cigarette. They did not allow him to go home until the middle of the night. Li Jigu did not go home that night but committed suicide by throwing himself into a river.
At the Middle School attached to Beijing University, a clerk named Li Jie, was beaten because she was a concubine of a Japanese businessman during the Japanese occupation. Li was seriously injured and died shortly after she was beaten in autumn of 1968.
According to an unpublished "Brief History of Beijing Huimin (Islam) Middle School" (printed in 1986, Beijing Education Institute, Cao Erju did the actual writing), after July of 1968, more than 50% of the teachers and cadres of this school were "examined." Twenty-six were imprisoned in the school. Chinese teacher Guan Jiahua was beaten so severely that he was left handicapped and paralyzed.
"Segregated examination" and violent interrogation had serious physical and psychological consequences. Hu Xiuzheng, mentioned above, endured the hardship she suffered in the summer of 1966 when she and her husband were expelled from Beijing to her father-in-law's village. The whole family was insulted and attacked together for several months. At that time, she was not pessimistic and even encouraged her husband to survive. In the summer of 1968, however, she committed suicide after one week of being locked in school.
Wang Zhongshi, internal medicine professor of Fujian Medical College, died after ten months of imprisonment at the age of 56. His family was not allowed to see his corpse before the body was cremated. Wang left no suicide note. Wang's family did not believe that he committed suicide as the "Zhuan an" group claimed. Wang was a Catholic and did not have a knife with him when he was jailed there. Hence it is unlikely that he could have committed suicide by cutting the artery in his neck. At that time, he was accused of being a spy with more than one hundred doctors and teachers in the medicine community. After he was detained, a group of people went to his home and dug into the ground three feet deep but could not find any evidence. His family thinks that he must have been tortured during the interrogation. His blood pressure was high before he was detained and he was weak after ten months of confinement. These facts, they suspect, caused his death. As for the suicide, they think it was fabricated by the "Zhuan an" group. But they could not investigate the truth under the circumstances at that time.
To attempt to commit suicide was considered an action against the "cleansing." The persecutions of those who attempted to commit suicide but did not die were never reduced. At Beijing Architecture Material College, Cui Shunying, a mathematics teacher who was accused of being a "spy," attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the fourth floor where he was detained. He did not die but some of his bones were fractured. Afterwards, he was denounced at a "struggle meeting" still wrapped in bandages. Guo Bonian, principal of Beijing Second Middle School, attempted to committed suicide by hanging himself. He did not die. He stayed in the "team of labor reform" in his school with deep black scars on his neck.
In the summer of 1966, in Beijing alone more than 1,700 people were beaten to death openly by the Red Guards. On the surface, the persecution of 1968 was not as severe as that of 1966. Some people were still beaten in public but usually were beaten to death only behind locked doors. However, the wave of persecution in 1968 lasted for a longer time and was more systematic than in 1966. Therefore, the "Cleansing" campaign caused more people to committed suicide.
In the summer of 1966, when the large-scale violent persecution started, many victims thought the violence would be temporary. But by 1968, the Cultural Revolution had continued for two years and seemed endless. In 1966, some victims considered the violence to be the action of isolated young students. But in 1968, the persecution was led by the new authorities who were sent to the schools by Mao Zedong, whose power none could question. Besides the more sophisticated technology of persecution, probably this environment of despair was one of the reasons that caused the large numbers of suicides.
IV. Who Were "Examined?"
More educators were persecuted during the "cleansing" than in previous or subsequent campaigns.
At Beijing University, every teacher was requested to move to the school for the campaign, including those who had a residence on the campus. All men and women stayed in separate dormitories. At a series of meetings every morning, afternoon and evening, everyone took turns confessing his or her "problems." When a teacher finished, he or she was asked to leave, after which the others would "expose" this person's "problems." At times, the teacher would be told that he had been exposed by the others and that he should expose the others too. In this way, not only was every teacher attacked, but also every teacher was forced to attack other teachers.
Yuan Xingpei, who was a young teacher of the Chinese Department in 1968 and was not designated as a main target, recalled the daily routine: "All of the teachers of the Chinese Department sat in a room and attacked each other for the whole day and worshipped Chairman Mao twice per day, in the morning and evening. Those days were the most horrible days of my life."
Besides this kind of meeting for colleagues to attack each other as a "general exposing," many special groups named "Zhuan an zu" were established to "cleanse" the "zhongdian shencha duixiang" ("key target people"). At Beijing University alone, there were nine hundred such groups at a school with a population of ten thousand. In other words, there were at least nine hundred people who were "examined" as the "key targets."
According to the degree of the "problems," the teachers were treated differently, as the "dang de zhengce" ("the policy of the Party") emphasized at that time. Some were released quickly. Some even became members of the "special group for the examination of a case" and investigated other teacher's "problems." Some were locked in school all the time, including Sunday. Some were locked up but were occasionally allowed to go home on Sunday. Some were denounced at "struggle meetings." Some were arrested and sent to state jails.
So-called "problems" fell into two major categories. One was "historical counterrevolutionary." All people who were older than 34 years old in 1968, and hence older than 15 in 1949, could be considered a suspect of crimes in this category.
Lu Xikun, a chemistry professor at Beijing University, served as a Chinese-English interpreter for the American army during World War II when he was a college student. This had not been considered a "problem" because his work was a part of the resistance against Japanese invaders. But during the "cleansing" his role as interpreter for the Americans more than twenty years earlier was brought up again and he was attacked for it. Lu committed suicide. After he drank insecticide, he was in severe pain and took a knife to cut his wrist with a knife. One month later, his wife Lin Fang also committed suicide. They left three young children orphaned.
Lu Ping, the secretary of the Party at Beijing University and a senior Party member, was accused of being a "fake member of the Party." For this some students beat him and hung a big power bulb above him for several nights in a room in the Physics Building where he was detained. Those students wanted the strong light to rattle his nerves so that he would confess how he had became a "fake member of the Party."
When a female teacher of the Eastern Language Department of Beijing University was beaten by a female student with a club everyday because she insisted that she had not joined the Sanminzhuyi Youth League, Fu Ying, a senior chemistry professor, protested that the teacher might be telling the truth and that even if she had joined the league, she should not be beaten in such a way. As punishment for his protest, Fu Ying was beaten as well.
Those who refused to make up fabricated evidence for other's "problems" were subject to furious denouncement themselves. Xiang Jingjie, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Department of Beijing University, was asked to prove that his college dormitory roommate was a member of a spy organization in the 1940s. Actually, what his roommate attended was a bible study group. Xiang explained this to the students of the "Zhuan an" group. As a result, they organized about forty students to denounce Xiang and forced him to admit he was a spy too.
Those who refused to admit to the "problems" in their background were attacked for their "resistive attitude." Zhang Chuandao, a Chinese professor at Beijing University, refused to "confess" that he had served as a secretary of a district level branch of the Nationalist Party. For his resistance, he was given more serious punishment (cong yan) as a model of those who had "bad attitude" toward the "Cleansing" campaign. At a meeting of the entire school , armed soldiers put handcuffs on Zhang and dragged him into a police car in front of an audience of ten thousand. After the Revolution, Zhang received his "reversed verdict" because there was indeed no evidence to prove that he had served in such a position.
The "historical problems" also included the "problems" between 1949 and the Cultural Revolution. Wu Weineng, a staff member of the History Department of Beijing University, served as the chairman of the Cultural Revolution Committee of the Department. But Wu was "examined" in 1968 because he was accused of attacking the people's commune policy in the 1960s. Wu's father starved to death during the famine of the early 1960s in a people's commune named "Happiness" in Jiangsu Province. Actually, Wu just criticized the "Happiness" people's commune instead of the policy of the people's commune. Wu was forced to confess his "anti-Maoist" crime. In the evening of November 4, 1968, Wu did not show up at a meeting that he was asked to attend. Then, some empty bottles of insecticide were found by his bed. The next day, the Public Security Bureau called and reported that there were four corpses in a small lake near Beijing University campus. One of the four was Wu's. The three remaining were two teachers of Beijing Geology College and a student. A "struggle meeting" against Wu was held after his death. At the meeting, Wu was denounced with six accusations, such as a "traitor of the Party," a "counterrevolutionary," and so on.
In addition to the "historical counterrevolutionary," another category was "active counterrevolutionaries." We can see what kind of people were considered "active counterrevolutionaries" from the following examples.
Zheng Peidi, mentioned above, was detained as an "active counterrevolutionary." Zheng's uncle was the ex-husband of Jiang Qing, Mao's wife, before Jiang met Mao. Zheng once told this to her friend. She was accused of "viciously attacking beloved Comrade Jiang Qing" and detained for more than eight months.
Hu Xiuzheng in the list above did not have any "problems" herself. But her husband's father was labeled "louwang dizhu," "landlord who slipped through the net" in 1965. Her husband, also a middle school teacher, thought this was unfair and complained. As a result, in the summer of 1966, some people from her father-in-law's village came to Beijing, searched her home and kidnapped her and her husband, taking them back to the village, and even canceling their resident registration in Beijing. In 1967, she managed to get back to Beijing and restored their resident registration. In 1968, her efforts to return to Beijing was labeled "reversing a revolutionary verdict" and "viciously attacking the Cultural Revolution." She was denounced by students and detained in the school. What else she endured before her death is unknown. Her husband did not receive a suicide note or any her writings about her life during the "segregation." She committed suicide one week after she was taken away for detention, leaving a five-year-old daughter.
Many people were accused of being members of "counterrevolution small groups" that actually were some close friends who had been together to chat. Chen Yonghe, a teacher of the Mathematics Department at Beijing University, and a graduate of 1954 without any "problem" in his history, had outstanding achievement in his field. Chen was also a bridge enthusiast. He and his bridge partners were determined to be a "counterrevolutionary group" and Chen was detained on campus. Their conversation and jokes became "counterrevolutionary activities." At noon of November 4, 1968, Chen jumped from the window of the room where he was detained when the students who usually guarded him were away. The fall killed him.
Even though the teachers were attacked for reasons like "historical problems" or "active counterrevolutionary actions," those who had excellent performance in their teaching or research seem to have been more likely to be attacked, and when attacked were more likely to be seriously punished. For example, Zhou Xuemin, a Chinese teacher of the Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University, was honored as outstanding Chinese teacher in pedagogy. She committed suicide in 1968 after an extended period of persecution. Chen Yonghe in the last paragraph is another example of an academically successful teacher who was fiercely persecuted in 1968.
The teachers who were "examined" experienced much humiliation as well as physical attack. A teacher at the Middle school attached to Beijing Teachers College said: "The old proverb says 'a noble man would rather die than be humiliated." During the Cultural Revolution I changed it to "a noble man would rather be humiliated than die.' I forgot my dignity. Otherwise, I would have committed suicide at that time." His attitude is representative of the attitudes of the victims.
V. Who Carried out the Attacks?
The "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign was conducted under instructions from Mao, which were more detailed than the instructions Mao gave to the Red Guards in 1966. In 1968, Mao's instructions were spread throughout the country through the official channel of the newly established authorities entitled "Revolution Committees." Mao's instructions reached these authorities on all levels, from the highest provincial level to individual work units, and were subsequently implemented by them.
On May 13, 1968, Yao Wenyuan, one member of the later "Gang of Four," submitted a report to Mao Zedong entitled "Xinhua Print Factory's Experience on Mobilizing the Masses to Unfold the Struggle against Enemies." Yao wrote: "This article sums up some policy issues in the cleansing the class ranks." On May 19, 1968, Mao wrote comments on this report, stating "This is the best among this kind of materials that I have read." Mao's comment and the report were circulated with a "notification" as No. 74 document of 1968 from the Central Committee of the Party. In the notification, teachers and clerks in schools were listed as the objects of the "cleansing" campaign. These kinds of "documents" were read by the local cadres for ordinary people in each work unit. Later, a series of reports about the "Cleansing" at "six factories and two schools," were circulated to every work unit of the whole country just as this one had been. The "six factories" included the Xinhua Print Factory. The "two schools" were Beijing University and Qinghua University. Those reports were prepared by the military representatives from the 8341 army, which was Mao's guard regiment.
In each school, before August of 1968, the "Cleansing" was the responsibility of the military representatives and the "revolutionary committee." During that period, massive organizations still existed in schools and fought against each other. They accused their opponent of being "anti-Maoist" and competed to show how "loyal to Maoist" they were. Both sides were willing to attack the "class enemies" ruthlessly. They were especially interested in "digging out the enemies" from their opponent organizations.
One interviewee who was a student in Shanghai Middle School in Shanghai said: "I joined my organization in order to oppose the oppression from the early period of the Red Guards in 1966. In 1968, however, we attacked and persecuted the teachers who belonged to the opponent organization in order to attack it. I feel ashamed for what we did at that time.
In August of 1968, Mao Zedong sent "Maoist Propaganda Teams," which were made up of military people and factory workers, to all schools. They were in charge of all schools, including colleges, middle schools and elementary schools for years. The "Cleansing" campaign was the major project they were engaged in from 1968-1969.
All student organizations were ordered to disband in the summer of 1968. Students went back to the class they attended before the Cultural Revolution. They were organized by the "workers' and army's Maoist propaganda teams" to "cleanse" the teachers and administrators. Students did not have any academic courses and became the main resource for manpower for the "cleansing" campaign.
At the Western Language Department of Beijing University, the students who were French majors were sent to search the homes of the teachers who taught English and the students who were English majors were assigned to denounce the teachers who had not taught them. With this kind of arrangement, the students were free to become more furious and ruthless in attacking teachers whom they did not know.
After teachers "exposed" each other, they were assigned to attend a certain class to continue to "confess" their "problems" to students. All students were mobilized to examine the teachers. The students listened to their confession, denounced them and yelled slogans such as "You must make a clean confession, otherwise you take the road to destruction." At the Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University, an epileptic tenth grader could not bear the atmosphere at a "struggle meeting" and went into convulsions. She was criticized for "lacking class sense" by her classmates.
Those who were in charge of the "Cleansing" tried hard to make the process intensive and "dramatic." For example, when they determined to detain someone, they did not immediately inform this person. Instead, they held a big meeting and read some of Mao's quotations about class struggle first. Then, they asked the audience: "Does the class struggle still exist?" The audience would say "Yes." Then they announced: "Catch the hidden class enemy and bring him to the front." Several people who were prepared would grab this person from the audience, denounce him immediately and then imprison him. This kind of surprise attack created an atmosphere of horror. A teacher of Beijing Eleventh Girls School who was not imprisoned said: "Every morning when I left home I did not know if I could back home in the evening."
They also held "Kuan yan da hui" ("Treat with leniency or punish with severity meeting"). At this kind of meeting, they announced that they would, on the one hand, escalate the punishment of some people, such as handcuffing certain individuals and sending them to ordinary prison, while, on the other hand, releasing some people for their "good confessions." Lin Tao, a linguistics professor at Beijing University, was forced to confess that he and his friends planned to bomb the water tower on the campus. He did not at first confess. But after seeing his colleague Zhang Chuandao handcuffed and dragged into a police car, he confessed to the crime despite the fact that he did not know how to make a bomb and had no motivation to destroy the water tower.
For those who were under "examinations," many "Zhuan an" group were established. Usually, the "group" consist of one member of the "workers' and army of revolutionary Maoist propaganda teams" and several students. As mentioned above, there were nine hundred such groups at Beijing University in 1968. This meant that thousands of students worked as members of such groups in one school alone.
Those "Zhuan an" groups were devoted to interrogation and investigation. Physical punishment was commonly used by the "Zhuan an" groups. According to an interviewee who was a teacher under "examination," "a slap on the face during the interrogation was like a daily meal (jiachang bianfan)." At the Department of Electronic Engineering of Qinghua University, the "Zhuan an" group covered the eyes of a professor and beat him. At Beijing University, one punishment was "bao shu" ("holding a tree"). They force the victim to hold a tree but not to touch the trunk and maintain this position for hours. One of the most commonly used punishments in many schools was to kneel on the ground for hours. Some members of the "Zhuan an" group were cruel and often tortured the person who happened to be in his or her hands. Some even enjoyed the torturing.
In order to "dig out the hidden enemies," the "Zhuan an" groups used various ways to force people to admit their "crimes." One interviewee who was a student and a member of the "Zhuan an" group said that his co-workers of the group once discussed how to interrogate people in the early morning between 2 and 3 clock and make them confess. According to them, it was easier to destroy people's willpower and confidence at this time than other time in a day. Several interviewees who were "examined" in 1968 told how they were interrogated in the middle of night by the "Zhuan an" groups for many hours.
"Zhuan an" groups received money to travel around the country to carry out "waidiao" ("outside investigation"). "Wai diao" became an opportunity to travel with the government's money. In addition, when they interrogated people at night, they received free late night meals as a reward.
According to the interviewees, the students who served as members of the "Zhuan an" groups received better jobs than their ordinary classmates when they graduated. The Cultural Revolution claimed as one of its revolutionary principles opposition to material incentive and actually stopped giving factory workers bonuses for good performance in production. Ironically, personal, material incentives were given to some people as reward for persecuting people. Such incentives helped to fuel the enthusiasm for the Revolution.
VI. The Simultaneous Peak of Mass Worship of Mao
The mass worship of Mao Zedong reached its first peak with the rise of the Red Guard movement in the summer of 1966. The Red Guards started a set of new rites: wearing a Mao badge on the chest, carrying Mao's little red book at all times, waving the little red book during parades and rallies, singing and dancing in honor of Mao, hanging Mao's portrait and quotations everywhere, starting all speeches with Mao's quotations and ending by shouting "May Chairman Mao live for ten thousand years, ten million years" in as loud a voice as possible. All those rites remained in practice in 1968 and the mass worship of Mao became increasingly organized and institutionalized along with the "cleansing" campaign.
The Media contributed to the escalation of the worship. More and more of Mao's pictures and quotations appeared in the newspapers. For example, the "People's Daily" of March 10, 1968, had four pictures of Mao in its six pages. Fifteen of 17 headlines in the first five pages contained Mao's name. Even page six, reserved for world news, contained Mao's name in its top headline. Because of this, people could not use old newspaper to wrap things as they used to do because to stain Mao's pictures could be considered an action opposing Mao.
During the days when all teachers of Beijing University were ordered to "expose" "problems" of anybody as mentioned above, they had assemblies twice per day to do "zao qingzhi" (" morning request for instructions") and "wan huibao" ("evening report") to Mao. These two rites were implemented everywhere in 1968. In the morning and evening, all people had to line up in front of the portrait of Mao and said "May the great leader Chairman Mao live ten thousand years. May Vice Commander Lin Biao be in good health forever" together. Then they said "Beloved Chairman Mao, I ask for your instructions" for the morning ceremony and said "Beloved Chairman Mao, I am reporting to you now" for the evening ceremony. Then, everyone loudly read a quotation from Mao's writings one after another.
In addition, "tiantian du" ("everyday reading") was implemented in every work unit. Everyday people had to study Mao's work together for one hour. People recited Mao's quotations and articles. Some people became models because of their skill in recitation. On the other hand, if those who were under "segregation" were not able to recite Mao's quotation correctly, they would be physically punished. Chinese Professor Wang Li at Beijing University was beaten black and blue when he was imprisoned but he was never beaten for faulty recitation because he had very good memory from his professional training. Zhang Xia, the secretary of the branch of the Party at the Philosophy Department of Beijing University, once was punished to stand for an entire day because she was not able to correctly recite one of Mao's quotations.
In 1966, only the young Red Guards sang and danced in honor of Mao. But in 1968, everyone, including old people, had to perform these duties. Scenes of many people dancing together on streets or campuses while singing songs such as "Chairman Mao is the Sun That Never Falls" were common in 1968-1969.
People already had many factory-made badges of Mao but were requested to make some pieces of craftwork themselves to "biao zhongxin" ("show your loyalty") to Mao. People embroidered Mao's pictures on various fabrics, made red paper cuttings for Mao, and so on. Each work unit established a "zhong zi tai" ("platform of loyalty") to exhibit those pieces. If these kinds of items were damaged or stained, this would be considered an "active counterrevolutionary action." For example, a teacher of Beijing Architecture Material College was denounced because someone found that he put Mao's badge under his pillow with his dirty socks.
At the numerous meetings, including the "struggle meetings" and "Mao's work studying meetings," people often yelled many slogans. Some people accidentally made mistakes when they yelled slogans loudly and then were "struggled" against furiously. For example, Zhou Qiang, a teacher at the Chinese Department of Beijing University, once misread his speech draft at a meeting and corrected himself immediately. But he still was punished for this slip. Two persons held him in front of the audience and yelled "Down with the active counterrevolutionary Zhou Qiang."
In 1968, Mao issued some short instructions about the Revolution, which were called "newest instructions" while all his old instructions were called "highest instructions." Every time these instructions, which were usually about fifty characters long, were broadcast from the Central Radio Station at 8:00 PM, each work unit organized a parade through the streets to propagate Mao's new instruction. People carried Mao's portraits, waved red flags, beat drums, yelled slogans on the streets for several hours and even overnight.
During both the Red Guard movement and "Cleansing the Class Ranks" campaign, many ordinary people were persecuted and died from being beaten or from suicide, while mass worship of Mao reached its peak. This is not a coincidence. The worship of Mao no doubt created an atmosphere in which none dared disobey Mao's instructions. On the other hand, psychologically the general sense of terror and the personality-cult to Mao supported each other during the Revolution.
VII. The End of the "Cleansing"
In the first half of 1969, many who were "examined" received their "verdict" about their "problems." Many categories were created. For example, Han Jia'ao, the Vice Principal of the Middle School attached to Qinghua University, received a verdict that claimed that he "committed serious political errors" after being imprisoned for five months. The principal Wan Bangru was locked up for seven months and received a verdict that he "committed capitalist-roader errors." In this way, their problems were considered as "internal contradictions among the people". But some people's verdict were classified as "contradictions between the enemies and us." The two kinds of "contradictions" were invented by Mao in 1957. Also, some people's verdicts were "belonging to contradictions between the enemies and us but not wearing the cap that would be held in the hand of masses." This strange-sounding verdict meant that if they did anything wrong, they could be put in the enemy category at anytime, just like putting a cap on their heads. At Mata Middle School, which had 30 teachers, two teachers, Lao Peizhi and Zhang Pide, were expelled because of their "historical problems." Lao Peizhi died in the countryside before his verdict was reversed after the Revolution. Zhang Pide received his "reversed verdict" and returned to the school ten years later. Another teacher Zhang Zhengping was pronounced "suspended verdict" for seven years because there was no evidence to prove whether he was a "historical counterrevolutionary" or not.
In September of 1969, Lin Biao issued the "First General Order." Most universities and colleges were ordered to move to the countryside from the cities. People there were asked to finish packing in a week and were allowed to bring only a few basic belongings with them. Many campuses became camps for the army. Some classroom buildings and laboratories became residences for the families of military officers.
In middle schools, educators who were considered to "have problems" were ordered to leave their schools as punishment. For example, In Beijing Haidian District, most school principals were sent to the countryside in 1969 and were not allowed to return to Beijing until 1972 after Lin Biao died. More than 800 teachers of this District who were "examined" during the "Cleansing" were sent to build a coal mine where they stayed for at least one year. At the Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers College alone, more than 30 teachers were sent to the coal mine.
Before the ¡°Cleansing¡± campaign ended, two nationwide campaigns, "yi da san fan" and "qing cha 516," started. In 1970, approximately two hundred and eighty thousand people, including some teachers, were labeled ¡°counterrevolutionaries¡± and arrested. They received their terms of various years in official state jails.
From the stories of the "cleansing" campaign above, we can see how the massive violent persecution, which started in June of 1966 and reached its first peak in the bloody "Red August" of 1966, became increasingly organized and systematic in 1968. Vast amounts of time and energy were consumed to create enemies and then attack them. More and more people were terrorized and victimized. In the process of the persecution, the executioners tortured many people without reason. But those who were persecuted could never protest, resist or even surrender. Suicide became the only way to escape the unbearable pain of incessant persecution. When almost everyone was on the verge of being "cleansed," people had to protect themselves in order to survive, instead of standing up to criticize the persecution itself. After the ¡°cleansing¡± campaign, the persecution continued. Furthermore, in 1972 the "pilin pikong" ("Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius") campaign promoted the philosophy of persecution through attacking Confucius. The Revolution kept going through the destructive campaigns one after another. This continuous and increasing persecution of ordinary people was one of the major features of the Cultural Revolution. More research is needed on the persecution and the philosophy of persecution, as well as the long-term effects of the persecution on the structure and psychology in Chinese society in subsequent years.
From the stories of the "cleansing" campaign, we can see how the "revolutionary committee," which was the new authorities established in every work from 1967-1968, worked with its new leadership which was called "yi yuan hua" ("one-centered leadership"). In the front page of the People's Daily on March 31, 1968, under the title of the "newest instructions," Mao said "the Revolutionary Committee will implement a one-centered leadership." During the "cleansing" campaign, the Revolutionary Committee of each school established jails and detained people who worked for this school. In addition, the school authorities could ask police to come to school to arrest people and decide their sentences in jails. The revolutionary committee functioned like a law court, police and government administration all in one. The "Cleansing" campaign played an important role in this institutional change in the structure of power. Some scholars have argued that one of Mao's motivations for the Cultural Revolution was to oppose bureaucracy and have more or less considered this motivation a positive one. This interpretations ignored the new form of political power Mao established through the Cultural Revolution, and hence misses the point. Mao did not oppose bureaucracy in the abstract; he opposed bureaucracy that diluted his own power.
From the stories of the campaign we can see how the target people were helpless against persecution carried out in the name of the revolution. On the other hand, we can see how easily some people became persecutors. Starting from June of 1966, college and middle school students did not take any academic classes and then spent one year "cleansing" their teachers in 1968. The resentment and ambition of a generation of students were channeled into the persecution. There was not a big gap between innocence and cruelty: even very young students could be extremely vicious. People readily changed to adapt to changing circumstances. If we set aside the persecution of so many ordinary people, the persecutors need not take responsibility for what they did and can see themselves as victims of political maneuvering at the top rather than as active participants in the persecution. When we look at the persecution of ordinary teachers, however, we are presented with a much darker, more disturbing picture.
In the first section of this paper I emphasized that we should not take the Cultural Revolution as simply a conflict between political leaders who attained or lost power. Focusing on the persecution of ordinary people, I hope this paper has provided a larger picture about the Cultural Revolution in 1968 and can provoke further research into this tragedy.