Historians have known for some time that the Great Leap Forward resulted in one of the world’s worst famines. Demographers have used official census figures to estimate that some 20 to 30 million people died.
But inside the archives is an abundance of evidence, from the minutes of emergency committees to secret police reports and public security investigations, that show these estimates to be woefully inadequate.
In the summer of 1962, for instance, the head of the Public Security Bureau in Sichuan sent a long handwritten list of casualties to the local boss, Li Jingquan, informing him that 10.6 million people had died in his province from 1958 to 1961. In many other cases, local party committees investigated the scale of death in the immediate aftermath of the famine, leaving detailed computations of the scale of the horror.
In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths.
Between 2 and 3 million of these victims were tortured to death or summarily executed, often for the slightest infraction. People accused of not working hard enough were hung and beaten; sometimes they were bound and thrown into ponds. Punishments for the least violations included mutilation and forcing people to eat excrement.
One report dated Nov. 30, 1960, and circulated to the top leadership — most likely including Mao — tells how a man named Wang Ziyou had one of his ears chopped off, his legs tied up with iron wire and a 10-kilo stone dropped on his back before he was branded with a sizzling tool. His crime: digging up a potato.
When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, the local boss, Xiong Dechang, forced his father to bury his son alive on the spot. The report of the investigative team sent by the provincial leadership in 1969 to interview survivors of the famine records that the man died of grief three weeks later.
I'm reading Bloodlands at the moment by Tom Snyder who recounts how up to five million Ukrainians starved in the early '30s due to forced collectivization. And three million kulaks or rich farmers also died on the way to being relocated in Siberia. Ain't it strange how the statist socialists never mention these atrocities on the Hitler Channel?
Starvation was the punishment of first resort. As report after report shows, food was distributed by the spoonful according to merit and used to force people to obey the party. One inspector in Sichuan wrote that “commune members too sick to work are deprived of food. It hastens their death.”
As the catastrophe unfolded, people were forced to resort to previously unthinkable acts to survive. As the moral fabric of society unraveled, they abused one another, stole from one another and poisoned one another. Sometimes they resorted to cannibalism.
One police investigation from Feb. 25, 1960, details some 50 cases in Yaohejia village in Gansu: “Name of culprit: Yang Zhongsheng. Name of victim: Yang Ecshun. Relationship with Culprit: Younger Brother. Manner of Crime: Killed and Eaten. Reason: Livelihood Issues.”
The term “famine” tends to support the widespread view that the deaths were largely the result of half-baked and poorly executed economic programs. But the archives show that coercion, terror and violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward.
Mao was sent many reports about what was happening in the countryside, some of them scribbled in longhand. He knew about the horror, but pushed for even greater extractions of food.
At a secret meeting in Shanghai on March 25, 1959, he ordered the party to procure up to one-third of all the available grain — much more than ever before. The minutes of the meeting reveal a chairman insensitive to human loss: “When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”
Cannibalism was also widespread in the Ukraine among the starving peasants. And like Stalin took revenge in the late thirties against the bureaucrats who didn't support his forced collectivization in the early '30s, Mao's Cultural Revolution ten years after the Great Leap consolidated his own political power.
Mao’s Great Famine was not merely an isolated episode in the making of modern China. It was its turning point. The subsequent Cultural Revolution was the leader’s attempt to take revenge on the colleagues who had dared to oppose him during the Great Leap Forward.
To this day, there is little public information inside China about this dark past. Historians who are allowed to work in the party archives tend to publish their findings across the border in Hong Kong.
There is no museum, no monument, no remembrance day to honor the tens of millions of victims. Survivors, most of them in the countryside, are rarely given a voice, all too often taking their memories with them to their graves.
The funniest part of the entire Communist saga is that after Mao took over in China, the post-Stalin Khrushchev crew tried to boss Mao and his buddies around when they visited Moscow and the always charming Mao let loose endless streams of obscenities at his Soviet hosts.
However, when it came to aping Josef Stalin, Mao was a total follower imitating him religiously [socialism is a religion after all] and even exceeding him in the number of citizens killed.
At least Hitler kept the vast majority of his own killing outside Germany, until the very end of World War II. Kim Jung-Il starved his people imitating Pol Pot who imitated Mao who imitated Stalin.....
Ain't socialism a great ideology and when can the Demonrats get us some?