The Memorial Hall of the Zunyi Conference

Four months after the beginning of the Long March 长征 in October 1934, the Red Army 红军 captured the city Zunyi 遵义市 in Guizhou Province 贵州省 and held an enlarged Politburo conference there (Yang 1986: 235). Benjamin Yang argues that the conference took place from the 15th to 18th of January 1935 (Yang 1986: 238-239) and several high-ranking party leaders, such as Mao Zedong 毛泽东 (1893-1976), Politburo member Bo Gu 博古 (1907-1946) and the later premier minister Zhou Enlai 周恩来 (1898-1976) attended the Zunyi Conference 遵义会议 (Yang 1986: 247). According to Tony Saich, the critical analysis of errors related to the military struggle against the Guomindang (GMD, or the Nationalists) army was the essential part of this conference. Especially Bo Gu and the German Comintern agent Otto Braun (Chinese name: 李德,1900-1974) were blamed for the recent military defeats (Saich 1996: 644, 648). As Benjamin Yang argues, the conference contributed to the enhancement of Mao’s political power within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) (Yang 1986: 250-261), not least through appointing Mao as a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo. As the result Mao was able to prevail over his rivals within the party, among others, Bo Gu. In addition, the Zunyi Conference fostered the power of Zhou Enlai and the later PLA marshal Zhu De 朱德 (1886-1976), who both became influential leaders in political and military affairs after the foundation of the People’s Republic in 1949. 

The Memorial Hall of the Zunyi Conference遵义会议纪念馆 in the city of Zunyi  attempts to reconstruct the process of the conference and commemorate its significant impact on the Communist movement for the years to come. As stated on the official website of the memorial, the compound of the site is composed of four main parts, namely the Site of the Zunyi Conference 遵义会议会址, the Exhibition Hall of the Zunyi Conference 遵义会议陈列馆, the House Accommodating Mao Zedong, (CCP Central Committee member) Zhang Wentian 张闻天 (1900-1976) and (the vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission) Wang Jiaxiang 王稼祥 (1906-1974) during the Zunyi Conference 遵义会议期间毛泽东、张闻天、王稼祥住址 and the Historical Site of the General Political Department of the Red Army during the Zunyi Conference 遵义会议期间红军总政治部旧址. The memorial was opened in 1955. Nine years later, Mao’s calligraphy of “The Site of the Zunyi Conference 遵义会议会址” was added to a former venue (Yi qi zhui ji), indicating the political significance of the site. In 2015, the Exhibition Hall of the Zhunyi Conference was open to the public. According to an article published in the Guangming ribao 光明日报, the hall holds the following exhibition sections: A Shift of Strategy that Started the Long March 战略转移开始长征, The Great Turn of the Zunyi Conference 遵义会议伟大转折, (Military) Victory in Guizhou by Surprise Moves in Fighting 转战贵州、出奇制胜, Advance Bravely to Victory 勇往直前走向胜利 and The Spirit of the Zunyi Conference Lasts Forever 遵义会议精神永存. In addition, several authentic relics are exhibited in the hall, such as ferry boats, propaganda posters, and firearms used by the Red Army 红军 (Guangming ribao 2015). As the names of the several exhibition sections suggest, the hall not only reconstructs the history of the conference itself but also portrays the military context of the political decisions made during the Zunyi Conference. 

The house accommodating Mao Zedong, Zhang Wentian, and Wang Jiaxiang 王稼祥 (1906-1974) was built in 1933 and in January 1935 the three CCP leaders stayed here until the end of the conference. In 1980 and 2001 the house was renovated, and an exhibition room dedicated to Mao’s poems and calligraphy was added (official website)

The General Political Department of the Red Army during the Zunyi Conference was located in a catholic church, where the establishment of the Zunyi County Revolutionary Committee and other political issues were discussed in January 1935. This part of the memorial was repaired and renovated in 1978 and 1984. Open to the public in 1985, the restored parts include the site of the Red Army officier conference, offices and bedrooms of Red Army leaders such as the vice-president of the General Political Department Li Fuchun 李富春 (1900-1975), as well as the offices of various sections of the General Political Department  (official website). 

Due to the significant impact of the Zunyi Conference on the restaffing of the Politburo and, by extension, the reorganization of the CCP leadership, it is not surprising that the Zunyi Conference Memorial Hall appeared on the first list of Bases for Patriotic Education 爱国主义教育基地 in 1997.

Bibliography: 

Karl, Rebecca E. (2010): Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Li Jingya 李惊亚 (16.01.2015): “Zunyi huiyi xon chenlie guan zhengshi xiang gongzhong mianfei kaifang 遵义会议新陈列馆正式向公众免费开放 (The new exhibition hall of the Zunyi Conference is officially opened to the public for free)”. In: Guangming Ribao 光明日报.

Saich, Tony (1996): The rise to power of the Chinese Communist Party. Armonk: An East Gate Book.

Yang, Benjamin (1986): “The Zunyi Conference as One Step in Mao’s Rise to Power: A Survey of Historical Studies of the Chinese Communist Party”. In: China Quarterly. Vol 106. Pp. 235-271. 

Official website of the memorial: 

https://zunyihy.cn/

Website Yi qi zhui ji: 

https://www.iwenbo.fun/museum/4433.html

List of Pictures: 

Featured Image: “作者在GNU下重新上传” (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zunyi_Conference#/media/File:ZunyiMeeting.jpg , author: 小小新手.