The Liu Hulan Memorial in Wenshui County
During the Chinese Civil War (1945-1949), young people sacrificed themselves for the CCP. After the People’s Republic was founded, some of them were glorified as “role models” for the Communist movement, like the young soldier Dong Cunrui 董存瑞 (1929-1948), who was propagandized as a PLA role model in 1963. However, the commemoration of Liu Hulan’s martyrdom 刘胡兰 (1932–1947) represents an exception. She was killed by GMD-troops under the leadership of the warlord Yan Xishan 阎锡山 (1883-1960) in 1947 and was made a role model already in the same year (chineseposters.net).
Born in Wenshui County 文水县, Shanxi Province 山西省, she joined the Communist Party in 1946 (Huo 1999: 1, 9). On 12. January 1947, she was captured together with six peasants, who also fought for the CCP. Liu was executed along with them shortly afterward under the guillotine (Yi qi zhui ji). According to the website chineseposter.net, Mao Zedong 毛泽东 (1893-1976) wrote a short slogan in remembrance of her early death: “A great life, a glorious death 生的伟大，死的光荣”. This dedication might be the initial step of turning Liu into a martyr for the Communist revolution.
On Liu’s 10th death anniversary, the Liu Hulan Memorial in Wenshui County 文水县刘胡兰纪念馆 opened to the public.
In front of the exhibition hall, a marble tower can be found, which is decorated with Mao’s dedication to Liu (People’s Daily 人民日报1959). Between 1956 and 1999, the site had been renovated and expanded several times. The compound of today not only offers museum exhibitions but also consists of outdoor exhibits like statues or garden areas. Behind the exhibition hall, which displays authentic relics and documents of Liu’s life, the Seven Martyrs Memorial Hall 七烈士纪念厅 is located. It houses seven statues and seven portrayals of Liu and the other six martyrs (Guo 2021). In 1996, a video showroom was added to the site, where several inscriptions of famous party leaders are exhibited. As stated in the tourist guide published by Huo Zhanyue, Liu Hulan is the only Chinese martyr, to whom Mao and the former Presidents of the People’s Republic Deng Xiaoping 邓小平 (1904-1997) and Jiang Zemin 江泽民 (born 1926) offered their dedications (Huo 1999: 4). In addition, Liu’s grave and a white marble statue of her are can be found in the garden of the memorial. In the east of her grave, a Guanyin Temple 观音庙 is located. It represents the place, where Liu and the other six prisoners were imprisoned and executed (Guo 2021).
In 1997, the Liu Hulan Memorial was listed in the first batch of Bases for Patriotic Education 爱国主义教育基地. According to Huo Zhanyue, the site also functions as a base for morality and national defense, which addresses children and teenagers.
Edwards, Louise P. (2016): Women warriors and wartime spies of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Guo Bei 郭蓓 and Cui Xin 崔欣 (27.06.2021): “Liu Hulan jinianguan 刘胡兰纪念馆 (The Liu Hulan Memorial Hall)”. In: jschina.com.cn. http://jsnews.jschina.com.cn/2021/hsxal/xsdk/sx1/202106/t20210627_2807169.shtml (latest access 02.09.2021).
Huo Zhanyue (1999): Liu Hulan jiniangun 刘胡兰纪念馆 (The Liu Hulan Memorial Hall). Taiyuan 太原: Shanxi Economic Printing House
N.N. (06.09.1959): “Xiang guangda qingnian jinxing geming chuantong jiaoyu – Shanxi xiujian Liu Hulan jiniangun 向广大青年进行革命传统教育 山西修建刘胡兰纪念馆 (Educate young people extensively about revolutionary tradition– The Liu Hulan Memorial was built at Shanxi)”. In: People’s Daily 人民日报.
Website chineseposters.net: https://chineseposters.net/themes/liuhulan
Website Yi qi zhui ji: https://www.iwenbo.fun/museum/505.html
Website of the Online Memorial of Liu Hulan: https://720yun.com/t/b7fjvzeOOm7?scene_id=20522848
List of Pictures:
Featured Image : “Liu Hulan – educational posters of heroic persons” (source: https://chineseposters.net/posters/e15-405 , designer: Liu Yaozhen 刘耀真. Call number: BG E15/405 (Stefan R. Landsberger Private Collection)).
Picture 1 : “Yan Xishan, Aufnahme entstanden zwischen 1936 und 1945” (source: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yan_Xishan#/media/Datei:Yan_Xishan.jpg , author: Unknown author).
Picture 2 : “1962年 刘胡兰烈士陵园” (source: https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%88%98%E8%83%A1%E5%85%B0%E7%BA%AA%E5%BF%B5%E9%A6%86#/media/File:1962-03_1962%E5%B9%B4_%E5%88%98%E8%83%A1%E5%85%B0%E7%83%88%E5%A3%AB%E9%99%B5%E5%9B%AD.jpg , author : 《人民画报》.
Picture 3: “1962年 刘胡兰烈士陵园” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1962-03_1962%E5%B9%B4_%E5%88%98%E8%83%A1%E5%85%B0%E7%83%88%E5%A3%AB%E9%99%B5%E5%9B%AD2.jpg , author: 《人民画报》.