Date of letter:1993-03-05
Address of author:Changsha City, Hunan Province
Date of event:1944 (approximate time)
Location of event:Not mentioned
Name of author:Zou Changgui
Name(s) of victim(s):Zou Lisheng(Zou Changgui’s father)
Type of atrocity:Others, Slave Laborers(SL, OT)
Other details:I was born in 1941. When I was three years old, my father Zou Lisheng took me to seek refuge at my aunt’s because of Japanese invasion. However, one day on his way home, my father was taken by the Japanese to be a porter, together with four other men. They were frequently beaten. After two of the fellows escaped, the Japanese increased labor intensity on my father and other two. My father was hung on a tree, beaten, and interrogated about the whereabouts of the two who had escaped. After the Japanese left, my father was saved and sent home. However, he died less than two months later.
Mr. Tong Zeng:
How have you been?
As a common Chinese person who was cruelly tortured suffered complete family loss due to Japanese imperialism, I send you my regards and greeting.
Yesterday, I read the article On-Going Claim of Chinese Civilians for Compensation Against Japan from Hunan Women’s News. It is a very justified topic. I fully agree that Chinese civilian’s right to demand war compensation against Japan is a naturally vested and undeniable right.
I am Zou Changgui and now work with Changsha Institute of Semiconductor Technology as an electrical engineer. My age is about the same as the famous Comrade Lei Feng’s and we have the similar experience. I [appreciate] that the Chinese government rescued me. I grew up at an orphanage, now called Jiucai Garden in Changsha. My elder sister has retired from the Dyeing Factory of Changsha. She supported me through Changsha Radio Technical School. I’ve worked until today since my graduation in 1964. The following is my past experience.
My family lived in Changsha. My father Zou Lisheng was a craftsman and opened a shoe shop in Changsha. He had 2 or 3 apprentices and my mother also worked in the shop. They specialized in making various cloth shoes, leather shoes and wooden flopper (wear when raining). The shop had some reputation, so my parents lived a comfortable life. Later they had my elder sister Zou Shuyun and me. Our family lived a warm, sweet and happy life.
But good days didn’t last long. Japan launched the war of aggression against China. Changsha was suffered too. I was born in 1941. When I was about 3, my mother hid from enemies in Zou’s house at Huanghua, Changsha and my father proposed to pay a visit to my aunt for the safety of the whole family. When my father got to my aunt’s house, my uncle and his eldest son (Wang Jusheng and Wang XX, I cannot remember clearly) were captured away by Japanese soldiers. We don’t know their whereabouts till today (they were victimized of course). On his way back home, my father was captured by Japanese by the Japanese soldiers to be a slave laborer. At that time, a total of 5 people were captured and my father Zou Lisheng was one of them. My father was over 50 then and weak. It was hard for him to carry over 50kg of guns and ammunition a long way. My mother told me that Japanese soldiers often kicked and beat him on the way and only gave him a meal in days because they treated Chinese people like livestock instead of humans. Two bold Chinese people ran away when Japanese soldiers were not watching, so the rest three were taken more harshly. They were hung and beaten and forced to tell the whereabouts of the escapees. But how could they know? So, the three had to carry more stuff. My father was weak and timid. After another two fled, my father became the last one and was treated more badly. The soldiers took out all anger on my father, claiming that my father helped with the escape of the other four. They beat my father with belt and carrying pole despite my father’s explanation due to the language barrier. More cruelly, they madly took off his pants (my mother told me that my father was still alive and was saved by passers-by from the tree and sent home). Setting fire to straws to burn his genitals?!! Just think about it, what kind of beasts were these Japanese soldiers? My father blacked out due to the torturing and the soldiers left. (I didn’t know about the details. My elder sister and aunt know more than me). I could not help to scream. I hate the Japanese soldiers and I want revenge. If I was assigned to execute the Japanese, I would pull the trigger without any hesitation. Only killing them all could possibly relieve some of my hatreds.
At that time, my father was taken home by kind people, but my mother told me that he died in less than 2 moths. My happy family fell apart like that. My mother sold the property and became a babysitter and my elder sister looked after me at home, collecting firewood and cooking. She was only a little over 10. It wasn’t until the People’s Liberation in 1949 that our life became better. My mother sent my elder sister and me to a refugee shelter (now Changsha Dyeing Factory). In 1950, my elder sister worked in the factory as an apprentice and I went to Changsha Orphanage (now Changsha Jiucai Garden), where I started elementary school, junior high and junior tech-high school, with the support from my elder sister. When I graduated from tech-high and was assigned a job in 1964. I thank the Communist Party and the Chinese government. If without the People’s Liberation, I might be dead now…..
I want to take a pause and thank you too. You are the first person to stand up speaking for thousands of Chinese people for their claims and compensations who were cruelly tortured by Japanese soldiers and demanding compensation for them. I want them to pay the debt with their life; I wish I could kill several Japanese people. Due to an isolated life for years, I became a lonely soul instead of socializing with others. The hatred still occupies my heart and my life! ….
I thank you for your courage. It is you who give me the power to write the letter, demanding the debt to be paid by the Japanese government and soldiers. After reading the article, I write to you immediately. I must pursue justice for my father Zou Lisheng.
Mr. Tong Zeng, I am sorry for my poor writing skills because I am long been engaged in technical work and seldom write. Please take your time to read this letter. If a signature is needed, I will sign and if evidence materials are required, I will write them. You have my full support in any form it needed. In a word, I am determined to join your program and pursue justice for victimized Chinese people.
Your follower: Zou Changgui
March 5, 1993
Mailing address: No. 96 Mailbox, Changsha (or No. 18 Research Institute, Heishipu, Changsha)