Zhu De

Zhū Dé (Template:Zh-c, Wade-Giles: Chu Teh, zi: Yùjiē 玉阶) (December 1, 1886July 6, 1976) was a Chinese Communist military leader and statesman. He is regarded as the founder of the Chinese Red Army (the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army) and the tactician who engineered the revolution from which emerged the People's Republic of China.

He was born into a large farming family in Yilong county, a hilly and isolated section of northern Sichuan province. After a secondary education funded by his Uncle, Zhu felt obliged to enrol for the district examinations (despite his dislike for the traditional Confucian education system). Zhu passed these examinations, to his surprise and was awarded a Zui-cai degree. Zhu hid these results from his family and travelled to Chengdu to study physical education. He became a PE teacher for a short time before joining the army. In 1904 Zhu De acted upon his anti Manchurian, republican sentiments and joined the Tongmenghui. In 1908, he entered the Yunnan Military Academy in Kunming. After his graduation, he taught in the academy. Zhu joined the rebellion that overthrew the Qing dynasty in 1911. He participated in military campaigns with armies of the Yunnan warlords and commanded units along the Laos and Vietnam borders in the early years of the Chinese Republic. In 1916, following the death of Zhu De's mentor, Cai E he developed a strong opium habit and fell into a life of decadence and warlordism. However, due to Zhu's love of reading and exposure to communism he decided to abandon his warlord lifestyle, recovering from his addiction to opium in 1920 in Shanghai. Zhu also attempted to join the Chinese Communist Party in early 1922 but was rejected due to his former warlord ties.

Zhu De began to read about Marxism and Leninism in Shanghai. In the mid-1920s, he went to Europe, studying at Göttingen University in Germany from 1922 to 1925 at which point he was expelled from the country by the government for his role in a number of student protests. Around this time, he joined the Communist Party. Zhou Enlai was one of his sponsors. In July 1925, he travelled to the Soviet Union to study military affairs. In 1926, he returned to China and took control of a military force in the Kuomintang under the First United Front (China).

In 1927, following the collapse of the First United Front Zhu De was ordered to lead a force against the Nanchang Uprising. However, as he had helped to orchestrate this uprising Zhu and his army defected from the GMD and fought against the Nationalist forces. Unfortunately for Zhu, the uprising failed to gather the support of the local working class and he was forced to flee Nanchang with his army. Under the fake name Wang Kai, Zhu managed to find shelter from a warlord Fan Shisheng for his remaining regiment and he eventually expanded his force.

Zhu's close affiliation with Mao Zedong began in 1928 when under the assistance of Chen Yi (communist) and Lin Biao, Zhu brought his army of 10,000 men to the Jinggang Mountains where Mao had formed a soviet in 1927. From these humble beginnings, Mao and Zhu built the Red Army into a skilled guerrilla force that consolidated and expanded their areas of control. Zhu's bravery and skill in leading these men made him a figure of immense prestige. Locals credited him with supernatural abilities. During this time Mao and Zhu became so closely connected that to the local peasant farmers they were known collectively as "ZhuMao". In 1929 Zhu and Mao were forced to flee Jinggangshan to Ruijin to the East following Guomindang military pressure. Here, they formed the Jiangxi Soviet which would eventually grow to cover some 30, 000 square kilometers and include some three million people. In 1931 Zhu was appointed leader of the Red Army in the Ruijin Congress by the CCP leadership. Zhu successfully led a conventional military force against the Guomindang during the Fourth Counter Encirclement Campaign, however he was not able to do the same during the Fifth Counter Encirclement Campaign and reluctantly the CCP began to make preparations to flee the Jiangxi Soviet. Zhu helped to form the 1934 break out from the soviet that would begin the Long March.

During the Long March, Zhu De and Zhang Guotao commanded the "western column" of the Red Army, which barely survived the retreat through Sichuan Province. In Yan'an, Zhu directed the reconstruction of the Red Army under the political guidance of Mao. During the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War, he held the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army. In 1940 Zhu De devised and organised the Hundred Regiments Offensive without the support of Mao; this campaign was very successful but has since been attributed as the reason for the devastating Japanese Three Alls Policy.

After 1949, Zhu was named Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). He was also the vice-Chairman of the Communist Party. In 1950 Zhu De oversaw the PLA during the Korean War. In 1955, he was made a marshal. In 1966 Zhu De was dismissed from his position in the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, however, thanks to the support of Zhou Enlai he was not killed or imprisoned. In 1971 Zhu was reinstated as the Chairman of the Standing Committee. He continued to be a prominent and respected elder statesman until his death in July 1976.

References[edit | edit source]

The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh by Agnes Smedley, Monthy Review Press, New York and London 1956

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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