Memorial of the New Fourth Army Headquarter and Memorial Park of the South Anhui Incident Martyrs

As part of the united front formed by the Nationalists (GMD) and the Communists (CCP) to resist the Japanese invasion, the New Fourth Army of the National Revolutionary Army 国民革命军陆军新编第四军 (thereafter the NFA) was established in October 1937, which consisted mainly of the Red Army veterans in southern China. Between July 1938 and January 1941, the offices of the NFA Headquarter were located in villages at Yunling 云岭, 25 km west to Jing County 泾县 of Xuancheng City 宣城 (Benton).

In 1961 the site of the NFA Headquarter at Yunling was declared a national-level key cultural heritage. Chen Yi 陈毅 (1901-1972), an important commander of the NFA, calligraphed the characters of the “Memorial of (the Historic Site of) the NFA Headquarter 新四军军部旧址纪念馆” in 1963. The memorial was open to the public in 1985. 

Occupying a total area of 20,000 m², this memorial has preserved ten original buildings, including the commanding center 司令部, the main auditorium 大会堂, the political department 政治部,  etc.. They are among the best preserved sites of revolution in China. The architecture of these buildings features the distinct local style (see Picture 1). The memorial boasts a collection of more than 4,000 pictures and artefacts related to the NFA history and its military leaders (Jingxian wenlü ju). 

Picture 1. The main auditorium was used for conferences and entertainment activities. This building used to be the ancestral hall of the Chen Family at Yunling 

The Exhibition Hall of the NFA Historical Materials 新四军史料陈列馆, which belongs to the memorial, was completed in 2011. It possesses an exhibition area of 6,800 m² and uses various exhibition techniques to present its collection on the NFA history from 1937 to 1947, ranging from sand table models to various digital technologies (Jinghao).

Picture 2. The Exhibition Hall of the NFA Historical Materials

In July 1940, the GMD called for the transfer of all Communist units, including the NFA, north of the Yellow River in order to reduce internal strifes between Nationalist and Communist forces, which Gregor Benton attributes to “unauthorized Communist expansion north of the Yangzi River and south of the Yellow River” (681). After the victorious Battle of HuangQiao in October 1940, the CCP leaders in Yan’an wanted the NFA at Yunling to “go north, set up bases, governments, and schools there, and recruit 100,000 new troops” before the end of 1940 (Benton 694). By October 1940, however, roads to the west, south, and east of Yunling had been all blocked by Nationalist divisions. In December 1940 tensions rose quickly around Yunling, for example, the GMD actively increased their influences in the region; their agents purged Communist sympathizers (Benton 702).

The NFA’s evacuation from Yunling was preceded by constant negotiations among various players, including the NFA commanders Ye Ting 叶挺 (1896-1946) and Xiang Ying 项英(1898-1941)(especially the latter), CCP leaders in Yan’an, GMD leaders in Chongqing, and several GMD military generals. This had led to changes and confusions about the route and date of the evacuation.

The NFA started to leave Yunling at midnight on January 4th, 1941. Serious fighting between the NFA and the GMD forces began near Piling Peak 丕岭 on January 7th. Both sides accused the other for provoking the conflict. The NFA commanders Ye Ting and Xiang Ying could not agree on what to do. Xiang Ying even left the battlefield for a couple of days. The conflict continued till the January 14th. Only a small part of the NFA soldiers broke through the encirclement of the GMD forces. So far historians have not agreed on the casualties of the NFA in this conflict, which has been known as the South Anhui Incident 皖南事变. Estimates vary wildly: the number of the killed ranges from 2,000 to 17,000. Many of the NFA prisoners were sent to the Third War Zone’s Concentration and Instruction Column at Shangrao Concentration Camp (Benton 703-710). 

On January 17th, 1941, shortly after the South Anhui Incident, the GMD government disbanded the NFA on the grounds of military discipline, but the CCP immediately ordered the reorganization of the NFA (merging with the Eighth Routh Army) on January 20th, with its new headquarter in Yancheng. On January 18th, Zhou Enlai 周恩来 (1898-1976) referred to those killed in the South Anhui Incident as “those who fell in the national calamity 死国难者” in the Communist newspaper New China Daily  新华日报, suggesting their status of martyr. 

The Memorial Park of the South Anhui Incident Martyrs 皖南事变烈士陵园 was built in 1990 on the Shuixi Mountain 水西山 in Jing County and was open to the public in January 1991 to memorialize the South Anhui Incident fifty years ago.

The memorial park is made up of four commemorative spaces, whose sequence along the rising mountain should give a sense of progression: the Monument at the Entrance入口纪念碑,the Commemorative Theme Square 主题广场, the Commemorative Square with the Major Monument 主碑纪念广场 and the Tombs of Nameless Martyrs 无名烈士墓. Standing in the center of the whole memorial park is the major monument, which bears Deng Xiaoping’s 邓小平 (1904-1997) calligraphy “The Martyrs Who Fell in the South Anhui Incident are Immortal 皖南事变死难烈士永垂不朽.” On this Commemorative Square also stand nine pillars, in which only two are complete. They stand for the official version of the NFA casualties: among 9,000 NFA soldiers departing from Yunling only 2,000 survived the GMD attacks.

Picture 3. The Commemorative Square with the Major Monument

The Memorial Park also has an Exhibition Hall of the South Anhui Incident 皖南事变陈列馆. The exhibition has four parts: the Historical Background of the South Anhui Incident 皖南事变的历史背景; the South Anhui Incident that Shocked the World 震惊中外的皖南事变; the Reorganisation of the NFA Headquarter 重建新四军军部, and Heroes and Martyrs of the South Anhui Incident 皖南事变英烈 (Guo and Cui).

Both the Memorial of the NFA Headquarter and the Memorial Park of the South Anhui Incident Martyrs have served as national-level Bases for Patriotic Education 全国爱国注意教育基地 since 1995.

Bibliography:

Benton, Gregor (1986): “The South Anhui Incident.” In: The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 45, no. 4: 681-720. 

Guo Bei 郭蓓 and Cui Xin 崔欣 (eds. 2021): “Xinsijun junbu jiuzhi jinianguan ji Wannan shibian liesi lingyuan 新四军军部旧址纪念馆暨皖南事变烈士陵园 (The Memorial of the Historic Site of the NFA Headquarter and the Memorial Park of the South Anhui Incident Martyrs).” Zhongguo Jiangsu wang 中国江苏网 (June 27).

Jinghao 静好 (ed. 2014): “Xinsijun junbu jiuzhi jinianguan ji Wannan shibian liesi lingyuan 新四军军部旧址纪念馆及皖南事变烈士陵园 (The Memorial of the Historic Site of the NFA Headquarter and the Memorial Park of the South Anhui Incident Martyrs).” Anhui wenming wang 安徽文明网 (Dec. 8). 

Jingxian wenlü ju 泾县文旅局 (2021): “Wannan shibian lieshi lingyuan 皖南事变烈士陵园 (The Memorial Park of the South Anhui Incident Martyrs).” Official Site of Jingxian renmin zhengfu 泾县人民政府 (Nov. 3). 

Jingxian wenlü ju 泾县文旅局 (2021): “Yunling Xinsijun junbu jiuzhi jinianguan云岭新四军军部旧址纪念馆 (The Memorial of the Historic Site of the NFA Headquarter at Yunling).” Official Site of Jingxian renmin zhengfu 泾县人民政府 (Nov. 3). 

List of Pictures

Featured Image: The Exhibition Hall of the South Anhui Incident. Jinghao 静好 (ed. 2014): “Xinsijun junbu jiuzhi jinianguan ji Wannan shibian liesi lingyuan 新四军军部旧址纪念馆及皖南事变烈士陵园 (The Memorial of the Historic Site of the NFA Headquarter and the Memorial Park of the South Anhui Incident Martyrs).” Anhui wenming wang 安徽文明网 (Dec. 8). 

Picture 1. The Auditorium of the NFA Headquarter at Yunling.  Jingxian wenlü ju 泾县文旅局 (2021): “Yunling Xinsijun junbu jiuzhi jinianguan 云岭新四军军部旧址纪念馆 (The Memorial of the Historic Site of the NFA Headquarter at Yunling).” Official Site of Jingxian renmin zhengfu 泾县人民政府 (Nov. 3). 

Picture 2. The Exhibition Hall of the NFA Historical Materials.  Jingxian wenlü ju 泾县文旅局 (2021): “Yunling Xinsijun junbu jiuzhi jinianguan 云岭新四军军部旧址纪念馆 (The Memorial of the Historic Site of the NFA Headquarter at Yunling).” Official Site of Jingxian renmin zhengfu 泾县人民政府 (Nov. 3). 

Picture 3. The Commemorative Square with the Major Monument. Jingxian wenlü ju 泾县文旅局 (2021): “Wannan shibian lieshi lingyuan 皖南事变烈士陵园 (The Memorial Park of the South Anhui Incident Martyrs).” Official Site of Jingxian renmin zhengfu 泾县人民政府 (Nov. 3). 


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