The Gele Mountain Revolutionary Martyr’s Park at Shapingba District
During the Second-Sino Japanese War (1937-1945), the National Revolutionary Army 国民革命军 relied on foreign help to fight against the Japanese invading army.
In 1941, the USA started to set up an airlift to supply Chongqing 重庆 with medicine and other essential goods after the city had been the target of several Japanese air raids (Vogelsang 2013: 533). Due to the increasing engagement of the US in Chinese war affairs, the “Chinese-American Cooperation Institute 中美合作所” was founded in 1943 in the vicinity of Gele Mountain 歌乐山 near Chongqing. After the Second United Front ended in 1945, the compound of the former Cooperation Institute served another purpose: it was transformed by the Guomindang (GMD) into a concentration camp for CCP party members (Li 1988: 223). On 27. November 1949, only several days before the PLA captured Chongqing, the GMD soldiers started to commit a massacre in whose process 300 prisoners were killed. According to Song Yuanpu 宋原普, this slaughter can be seen as planned and organized action since there was a “black list” with prisoners that were executed (Song 1959: 51). In his novel “The Nest of Devils on Earth人間魔窟”, Song describes the Gele Mountain as a gloomy place with a cruel history that in his eyes should never be forgotten.
In 1954, a martyrs cemetery was established to commemorate the victims of this incident. Nine years later, a memorial was built that reflects both the history of the Chinese-American Cooperation Institute and the years when it served as a concentration camp. According to the website of the Xinhua News Agency, eleven single memorial sites can be found at the Gele Mountain Revolutionary Martyr’s Park 歌乐山革命烈士陵园. Besides several Martyr Statues 烈士群雕 and Recall Inscriptions 缅怀题字, there are also a Martery Plaza 烈士墓广场 and a Fresco of Martyrs, which are recalling to the victims of the massacre.
The probably most important part of the site might be the Martyrs Memorial Hall 烈士纪念馆. The museum not only contains original exhibits such as several instruments of torture that were used against the prison inmates. It also offers authentic pictures and documents like fragments of poems or letters written by the prisoners (Li 1988: 224).
Due to its ambivalent past, the Gele Mountain Revolutionary Martyrs Park can be seen as a place of memory with two historical narratives.
In the first instance, the Chinese war of resistance against the Japanese army, which was fought alongside the GMD, is portrayed by emphasizing the former function of the site as the Chinese American Cooperation Institute. On the other hand, the cruelty and inhuman methods of the GMD are emphasized that culminated in the massacre of 27 November 1949. The latter narrative seemingly can be ranked as the more relevant due to the setup of the memorial park in the post-1949 era, which is exclusively dedicated to the victims of the massacre.
Li Xianyao 黎先耀 (1988): Zhongguo bowuguan zhinan 中国博物馆指南 (Chinese Museum Guide). Beijing 北京: Chinese Tourism Publishing House.
Saich, Tony (1996): The rise to power of the Chinese Communist Party. Armonk: An East Gate Book.
Song Yuanpu 宋原普 (1959): Renjian moku 人間魔窟 (The nest of devils on earth). Beijing 北京: The Masses Publishing House.
Vogelsang, Kai (2013): Geschichte Chinas. Stuttgart: Reclam.
Website of the Xinhua News Agency: http://www.cq.xinhuanet.com/cqvr/lieshiliyuan/
List of Pictures:
Picture 1: Bookcover of Renjian moku 人間魔窟 (author: Marc A. Matten).
Featured Image/ Picture 2: Cemetery of Martyrs in Chongqing, China (source: https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%87%8D%E5%BA%86%E6%AD%8C%E4%B9%90%E5%B1%B1%E7%83%88%E5%A3%AB%E9%99%B5%E5%9B%AD#/media/File:ChongqingMartyrsCemetery.jpg, author: Fanghong – 自己的作品).