December 13, 2018



Sequence number:s0218
Date of Letter:1993-01-08
Address of Author:Chongqing, Sichuan Province
Date of Event:1935、1938
Location of Event:Zibo City, Shandong Province
Name of Author:Zhao Xiulan
Name(s) of victim(s):Zhao Sufang
Type of atrocity:Air Bombings (AB)
Other Details:”1. The houses were burnt.
2. In 1935, the Japanese invaders air bombed Chongqing and burnt, killed, robbed and looted everywhere in daytime. Chinese people had to escape in valleys all time.
3. In 1938, the Japanese invaders air bombed Fo Village again.”




Comrade Tong,


When I received your letter in mid-December, I was overwhelmed by emotions and too inundated to figure out where to start my story. Now I have put down pieces of my life for you. Hope you won’t feel this nearly 90-year-old lady too verbose. If you find anything I share improper, please let me know.

I am from Boshan District, Shandong Province (citizen). I was married to Liaowu Village, Yidu Township, Zichuan District, Shandong Province (now collectively called Zibo).

My first child was born in 1932 when my husband was the director of the telephone bureau. The family was considered well to do at that time. My husband’s hobby was collecting books (mainly dictionaries and medical books), paintings and porcelains. Like most upper middle class families, our daily supplies and housewares were mostly made in Germany. Since Japan invaded China, the whole family had to escape to ravines many times to hide from the Japanese army’s burning, killing and looting. Our houses and properties had been burnt and looted over and over again. At the end only an old and torn quilt was left to keep out the cold in the ravines.

In 1935 when Japan entered China, the second child was born. The Japanese aircrafts bombed all the time. To survive, we had to go from one ravine to another everyday. The Japanese burnt, killed, and looted everywhere. From whatever direction we saw smoke came out, we knew which village was devastated. I dragged my older child and held my restless little one to pass through the ravines in cold and damped conditions. (By that time my husband had joined the Eighth Route Army. I only recall their commander’s name as Liao.) Overcome by terrors, y second child got sick and died at age 2.

In 1938, the Japanese attacked Fo Village and destroyed Commander Liao’s entire army. My husband fortunately dug himself out from the pile of dead bodies and escaped with us to Boshan to avoid the Chinese traitors. At that time, I was about to give birth to my third child. We could only take one narrow path to Boshan. There were lots of refugees. Whenever hearing the sound of approaching aircrafts, the crowd started to run in panic. Once the livestock nearly thrusted me down from a cliff. When the third child was over 1 year old, he showed extreme brightness and extraordinary memory. He was adored and called a prodigy by everyone. However, we started to flee again when the Japanese invaders attacked Boshan. The bombing, burning, killing and looting traumatized the newborn child and resulted in his death. I held my dead child without eating and drinking for days.

My fourth child was born in the year of the Dragon. We struggled to raise him to 5 years old. Chinese victory was around the corner, but the Japanese was bombing more savagely. There was no peace for the young and the old. Fear spread everywhere. The child had a bad cold but we could not get medical treatment for him. The cold turned into a high fever and he passed away. At that time, my mother also came to take refuge with us.

The parents of my husband were over 70 in 1942. They had to hide from bombing planes and the killing, burning and looting invaders. They could only walk with the help of canes. When they were too tired to go further, they hid in the ravines nearby. Unfortunately, that year was a lean year and the harvest was poor. There was not even chaff, only bark and broomcorn rods to eat. The elders were starved to death. The kids could not have bowel movements after eating bark and broomcorn rods, and the adults had to help them with wood sticks, which caused kids to cry loudly.

Japan had issued bonds, but there was no food in the villages. The abled-bodies didn’t dare to stay at home. They would rather join the Eighth Route Army to fight against the Japanese devils than get captured and used as cannon fodder or to build defensive towers for the Japanese. They worked in the fields in their spare time but the harvest was not even enough for tax grain. People had to buy maslin rationed by the Japanese. There was always a long line and prices changed often, sometimes within a day. There was never enough for all to buy. At that time, people said sarcastically: Confucius used 500 yuan as 1 yuan when worshiping the Temple of Heaven. The Japanese also claimed: use 500 yuan as I yuan.

Speaking of the Japanese devils, people hated them from the bottom of their hearts. During the war, women supported the front lines by planting crops and sending military shoes one after another.

The war took two old men and three children away from me. After the males in my family joined the Eighth Route guerrilla force, I became the breadwinner by working at home and in the field. I changed from a wealthy madam to a prematurely aged woman with nothing left.

The youngest child was born just before Japan surrendered. He would have died if China had not won in time. At that time, there were traitors accusing me as the wife of the Eighth Route soldiers. My young baby had to stay in jail with me and was tortured by the Japanese.

I will stop here, we can discuss the rest later. Hope to have your advices and comments.


Hope you are well!

Oral account by: Zhao Sufang
Written by: Zhao Xiulan
January 3rd, 1993

Contact: Project Contracting Company, Chongqing Railway Branch Bureau
Recipient: Zhao Xiulan





Air Bombing(AB)
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