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Wuhan, 1938

Wuhan, 1938: War, Refugees, and the Making of Modern China

STEPHEN R. MacKINNON
INCLUDES PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT CAPA
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Pages: 204
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppdg8
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  • Book Info
    Wuhan, 1938
    Book Description:

    During the spring of 1938, a flood of Chinese refugees displaced by the Anti-Japanese War (1937-1945) converged on the central Yangzi valley tricity complex of Wuhan. For ten remarkable months, in a highly charged atmosphere of carnage, heroism, and desperation, Wuhan held out against the Japanese in what would become a turning point in the war—and one that attracted international attention. Stephen MacKinnon for the first time tells the full story of Wuhan's defense and fall, and how the siege's aftermath led to new directions in the history of modern Chinese culture, society, and politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93460-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. PROLOGUE
    (pp. 1-4)

    ONE DRAMATIC STORY from the early days of the Anti-Japanese War (1937–45) remains largely untold: the saga of the refugees who clogged the rivers and roads of central China in flight from the ravages of the advancing Imperial Army. This forced migration of nearly a hundred million people not only changed Chinese politics; it altered the social, cultural, and economic landscape of modern China. The implications first became clear at Wuhan during the spring of 1938, just after the massacre of civilians by Japanese troops at Nanjing. A potpourri of refugees from all over coastal China, who seemed at...

  7. ONE WUHAN BEFORE THE WAR
    (pp. 5-17)

    LINKED ONLY BY FERRY CROSSINGS over hundreds of yards of treacherous river, each of Wuhan’s three cities—Wuchang, Hanyang, and Hankou—had a distinct identity and history. The relationship between the communities was often tense, aggravated perhaps by the infamously bad weather—hot and steamy in the summer, cold and clammy in the winter. Yet the metropolis we now call Wuhan dominated the economic and political life of the central Yangzi River region for well over a millennium.

    Twentieth-century Wuhan’s economic center was the bustling port of Hankou, whose pursuit of Western-style commercial and cultural modernity rose to a new...

  8. TWO DEFENDING CENTRAL CHINA, 1938: MILITARY LEADERSHIP AND STRATEGY
    (pp. 18-29)

    AT 7:00 A.M. ON THE DAMP, cold morning of January 24, 1938, a single shot rang out in the third-story sanctuary of Forever Spring (Changchun guan) temple, a quiet Taoist retreat nestled inconspicuously on the southern side of Shuangfeng hill, near the railway station just outside the eastern gate of Wuchang. General Hu Zongnan had put a bullet through the head of a kneeling middle-aged figure, General Han Fuju, whose army had just surrendered control of Shandong, north China’s most populous province. To this day, General Han remains the highest-ranking officer in the modern history of the Chinese military to...

  9. THREE THE BATTLE FOR XUZHOU AND THE DEFENSE OF WUHAN
    (pp. 31-43)

    THE BATTLE FOR CONTROL of the central Yangzi region lasted ten months, from January to October 1938. In terms of geography and order of battle, the initiative lay with the Japanese because of their superior firepower and maneuverability on land and in the air. Foreign observers at the time, and many historians agree in retrospect, faulted the Chinese leadership for failing to take the offensive in pursuit of the enemy, especially on those occasions when the Japanese were overextended, tied down, and retreating.¹ Before accepting such views, however, one should consider the difficulties the Chinese forces would have faced in...

  10. FOUR WUHAN’S REFUGEE CRISIS
    (pp. 44-61)

    ALTHOUGH THE AMERICAN EYEWITNESSES Anna Lee Jacoby and Theodore White exaggerated the lack of existing records, they were essentially correct in saying that the movement of peoples and the creation of refugee societies all over China’s hinterland are among the great untold stories of the Anti-Japanese War. InThunder Out of China(1946), they wrote:

    Through the long months of 1938, as the Chinese armies were pressed slowly back toward the interior, they found their way clogged by moving people. The breathing space of winter had given hundreds of thousands time to make their decision, and China was on the...

  11. FIVE CULTURE AND THE PRESS
    (pp. 62-82)

    IN 1938 NEARLY ALL of China’s important intellectuals descended on Wuhan. In a movement that was independent of any one party or state controlled entity, writers, dramatists, artists, and philosophers, as well as editors and journalists, began organizing cultural propaganda that would whip up maximum support for the defense of Wuhan among the urban and rural populations of the central Yangzi.

    Since the 1980s scholars like Li Zehou, Feng Chongyi, Edward Gunn, and Vera Schwarcz have argued that the Anti-Japanese War was a cultural disaster, bringing a sudden end to the liberalizing renaissance inaugurated by the May Fourth Movement of 1919.¹...

  12. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  13. SIX MOBILIZING YOUTH
    (pp. 83-96)

    OVER ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND student refugees passed through Wuhan in early 1938. The streets of the tricity throbbed with the energy of their patriotic speeches and wall posters. As the young journalist Israel Epstein wrote, “The sober commercial city of Hankou began to wear a different aspect. . . . On its walls were countless posters, wall newspapers, and proclamations. Daily they changed, reflecting events in China and in the world. The walls of Hankou were the platform of the people. . . . When the Chinese air force won a victory vivid placards announced the fact. When Hitler spoke...

  14. SEVEN ROMANTIC HANKOU: THE INTERNATIONAL DIMENSION
    (pp. 97-110)

    THE YEAR OF 1938 WAS pivotal internationally—a time when most of the news in the Western press was ominously grim: the failing defense and factional infighting at Madrid, concessions to Hitler by the major powers at Munich, and Stalin’s bloody purge of Soviet leaders and intellectuals. For this reason perhaps, the heroics of the defense of Wuhan seemed to sparkle by contrast, attracting more attention from Western governments and press than the occupation of Manchuria in 1931 or the Marco Polo Bridge incident of 1937. No tribute was more eloquent than the poetry and prose sent home by two...

  15. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 111-118)

    ON NOVEMBER 25, 1938, Chiang Kaishek convened a major military conference at Hengyang (on the railway line south of Changsha). The meeting was comparable to the one at Wuchang the previous January, at which top field commanders met for serious planning and strategizing, but this time Chiang acted with less bravado. He was humbled in particular by the scandal brewing around the tragically bungled torching of Changsha a few weeks earlier (for which he denied direct responsibility). The continuing influence of the Baoding group of generals was palpable. At the meeting, they mourned the loss of their mentor, Jiang Baili,...

  16. APPENDIX: WARTIME WUHAN, A CHRONOLOGY
    (pp. 119-122)
  17. NOTES
    (pp. 123-144)
  18. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 145-148)
  19. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 149-168)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 169-182)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 183-183)