The Ruins of the Battle at the Pingxing Pass in Lingqiu County
After the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) broke out in July 1937, the Japanese invading army captured large areas in northeastern China, where one of the most important communist forces, the Eighth Route Army 八路军, was positioned (Schmidt-Glintzer 2008: 208). Several months later, the Eighth Route Army participated as the major force in the first successful counterattack against the imperial Japanese army in the Battle at the Pingxing Pass near Lingqiu County 灵丘县平型关战役, Shanxi Province 山西省.
As stated in an article published in the People’s Daily 人民日报, this battle is deemed to be the first major victory of the Chinese army after the beginning of the War of Resistance against Japan. On 25 September 1937, the 115th Division of the Eighth Route Army moved forward to the Japanese frontline, which was located near the Pingxing Pass (Li 1996: 9). Within one day, the division was able to prevail over the Japanese invaders. Furthermore, the Chinese forces seized a lot of military equipment that was left behind by the Japanese such as carts, rifles, machine guns, and artillery (People’s Daily 2005). In 1969, the “Memorial Hall of the Great Victory at the Pingxing Pass 平型关大捷纪念馆” was established. Since then, the museum has been expanded several times. Now it offers a Preface Hall 序厅, three main exhibition units, and a Diorama Exhibition Gallery 半景画馆, which presents the process of the battle with an oil painting background that is enlivened with three dimensional models in the foreground and light-sound effects produced by six computers and six projectors. They present the history of the Eighth Route Army in the Battle at the Pingxing Pass by using technological and artistic methods (Official website). In front of the museum the “Plaza of Generals and Marshals 将帅广场” is located. According to the website “Yi qi zhui ji”, it contains ten bronze statues of several commanders of the Eighth Route Army such as the later PLA marshals Lin Biao 林彪 (1907-1971) and Nie Rongzhen 聂荣臻 (1899-1992). In addition, twenty Cultural Walls 文化墙 can be found, which show excerpts of speeches given by members of the CCP Central Committee and high-ranking leaders of the Eighth Route Army.
In the north of the memorial museum, the “Ruins of the Great Victory at Pingxing Pass 平型关大捷遗址” displays original relics of the battle, such as the several combat bases of the Eighth Route Army.
As stated on the official website of the memorial, this area consists of thirteen parts. Besides the “Qiaogu Main Battlefield 乔沟主战场”, the former positions and ambush sites of different regiments can be found here. This is also the place, where the Liaoye Temple 老爷庙 is located, which functioned as the command post of the Eighth Route Army’s 686th Regiment.
Not least due to its role as the first victorious combat against the Japanese army, the Battle at the Pingxing Pass has occupied a significant position in the CCP’s historiography. The announcement of the Memorial as a Base for Patriotic Education 爱国主义教育基地 in 2001 demonstrates the high esteem the site and its history have enjoyed.
Bao Dan 鲍丹 (26.07.2005): “Datong: Pingxingguan xia xie hua zhang 大同: 平型关下写华章 (Great Harmony: Write a splendid character under the Pingxing Pass)”. In: People’s Daily 人民日报.
Dong Jinling 董金玲 (19.08.2015): „Pingxingguan dajie jinianguan平型关大捷纪念馆“. In: http://www.scio.gov.cn/ http://www.scio.gov.cn/ztk/dtzt/2015/33190/33196/33199/Document/1445045/1445045.htm (latest access: 22.09.2021).
Li Renyi 李人毅 (1996): Pingxingguan dajie 平型关大捷 (The Great Victory at Pingying Pass). Shenyang沈阳: Chufeng Literature and Culture Printing House.
Schimdt-Glintzer, Helwig (2008): Kleine Geschichte Chinas. München: C.H. Beck.
Official Website of the Memorial: http://www.pxgdjjng.cn/gypxgdjjng
Website “Yi qi zhui ji” : https://www.iwenbo.fun/museum/388.html
List of Pictures:
Featured Image/Picture 1: “Photograph of the “Old Man Temple” (Lao Ye Miao) on the site of the Battle of Pingxingguan, Pingxingguan Pass, Shanxi Province, China.” (source: 平型关战役遗址 – 维基百科，自由的百科全书 (wikipedia.org), author: Rolfmueller – 自己的作品.