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Preserving the Red Army's courageous legacy

By Yan Dongjie | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-17 12:36
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When traveling, what I enjoy the most is not just the nature of the area, but also its history and folk culture. Landscapes can be appreciated through photographs, but revisiting history and experiencing customs has to be done in person.

One significant experience of my trip to Tongren in Guizhou province was learning about the heroic stories of the Red Army soldiers at Kunniu Mountain in Shiqian county.

In October 1934, during the Long March, the 52nd Regiment of the Sixth Army of Red Army intentionally led enemy forces to this strategic and treacherous place in order to cover the main force's retreat, ultimately choosing to sacrifice themselves by leaping off the cliff during the final battle.

Standing on the peak, looking down at the valley, and listening to the descendants of those Red Army soldiers recount stories of that time, my eyes became moist.

On Aug 7, 1934, the Sixth Army of Red Army began its westward march. This marked the beginning of a strategic shift for the Central Red Army and the start of the Long March. The Sixth Army crossed four provinces — Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangxi, and Guizhou — breaking through four Kuomintang blockades. On Oct 7, they reached Shiqian, where they were encircled by 24 enemy regiments.

In order to cover the main force's attempt to break free, the 52nd Regiment lured the enemy to the Kunniu Mountain area and engaged in three days and nights of fierce fighting.

When the Kuomintang troops forced local residents to walk in front of them and start the attack, the remaining 100-plus soldiers of the 52nd Regiment chose to jump off the cliff, which was dozens of meters high, in order to avoid harming innocent people.

As most of those who made their stand at Kunniu Mountain sacrificed themselves, and there were few records of what happened, this heroic feat remained unknown for a long time.

Tian Yundong, the secretary of the Shiqian County Committee of the CPC, mentioned that over 200 individuals, including survivors, Red Army descendants, eyewitnesses, and researchers, have been interviewed, and thousands of pages of Red Army manuscripts and investigation materials have been examined to reconstruct the events of the time.

"The Red Army was surrounded at Chuanyanba, with cliffs on all sides. They fought and retreated until they reached the edge of the cliff," surviving Red Army soldier Li Guobing recounted.

Chen Shirong, a signalman who survived the fall by being caught in vines, once told his son-in-law, Tan Zhixue that the bandits (referring to Kuomintang soldiers) were dressed like the civilians, making it difficult for the Red Army to distinguish between the two. "The Red Army was afraid of harming the civilians, so they held back and didn't fight as fiercely as they would have, otherwise, they wouldn't have suffered so much, and so many people wouldn't have jumped off the cliff," his son-in-law recalls Chen as saying.

Some residents witnessed the fierce battle and remembered the heroic deeds. Yao Zuhua, who was 11 years old at the time, recalled hiding on Kunniu Mountain and witnessing everything, pointing out the location where the Red Army soldiers leaped off the cliff.

Liu Guangrong, an elderly resident of Sanhe Township said, "Many died at the bottom of the river, some were hanging from the cliffs, bodies were everywhere." Meanwhile, Liu Chaoxuan, an elderly resident of Hetaowan, remembered that "the Red Army fired their guns high, not indiscriminately, and they didn't shoot at the civilians".

Now, Kunniu Mountain has been turned into a Red-themed education center. A torch-shaped monument, with the flag of the Six Army of the Red Army on its right side, and the outline of Kunniu Mountain on its left side is emblazoned with the words: "Kunniu Mountain Red Army Heroic Monument".

In 2014, Kunniu Mountain was designated the Patriotic Education Base of Tongren City, and in 2018, it was recognized as the Patriotic Education Base of Guizhou Province, and listed as a Provincial Cultural Relic Protection Unit.




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