Wetland archives the worst part of the Long March

CCTV News

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This year marks the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Long March, an epic military retreat by the Red Army in the 1930s to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang Party.

The soldiers swept up in China’s civil war fought, starved, and persisted. It was one of history’s greatest journeys, and today on this Martyrs’ Day. 

CCTV’s Tao Yuan reports.

Wetland archives the worst part of the Long March

Wetland archives the worst part of the Long March

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Long March, an epic military retreat by the Red Army in the 1930s to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang Party. The soldiers swept up in China’s civil war fought, starved, and persisted. It was one of history’s greatest journeys, and today on this Martyrs’ Day. CCTV’s Tao Yuan reports.

No enemy soldiers, no enemy planes. Nothing besides quiet nature.

But during the Long March, grasslands hid miles and miles of treacherous swamp

For China’s languishing troops, every step was dangerous.

Gong Chan’s father was one of the red army soldiers, who never made it out.

“It was hard to tell the swamps from grass. The troops didn’t have enough oxygen, didn’t have enough to eat. They reached their limit. My father said he watched his comrades sink into the swamps. the more they struggled to get out, the faster they sank. It was impossible to pull them back up,” Gong said.

The marching troops were low on food. They largely relied on wild herbs.

When that was hard to come by, they killed what few horses they had left.

And when that meat ran out, they boiled their leather belts or shoes to fill their stomachs.

There’s no official account of how many people died, but unofficial estimates put the figure at more than 10,000.

A soldier named Wang Ping, who would later become one of China’s founding generals, was tasked with retrieving the troops that fell behind.

“I inspected the other side of the river with a telescope and saw at least seven to eight hundred men. When we crossed the river, we found them just sitting there, back to back, not moving in the slightest. We inspected them one by one, none were breathing. I couldn’t hold back my tears. We laid them down, to make them more comfortable, and to check for anyone alive. At the end, we found a young comrade breathing. I had a soldier carry him on his back. But after we crossed the river, he died, too,” Wang said.

The troops spent seven days marching through the swamps.

On the last day, the rain suddenly stopped, and a beam of sunlight broke through the sky.

“It was as if to welcome us lucky ones who escaped hell alive. We stood on solid ground. We smiled,” Wang said.


Khairy Tourk on Long March and its impact of Chinese history

For more Insight into the Long March and its impact of China’s history, CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar spoke with Khairy Tourk, a professor of economics at the Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business and worked as a consultant for the International Monetary Fund.