My friends BJ, Rose, and I went to a local tourist site here in Shangrao. I have been trying to get out there to see it. It is an old war prison from the 1940’s. They call it s concentration camp. I guess you could say it is. But, not on the same level as a concentration camp from the German side of the war. They did have some brutal torture tactics. And, the conditions were not much better as to the treatment of the prisoners. Officially, on maps like Google, it is called The Relics of Shangrao. I am guessing that there is a translation purpose to that.
The following is an article from the China Daily. Keep in mind that it is a Chinese newspaper article. But, it does give you the facts about the place.
Shangrao Concentration Camp is located in the southern suburbs of Shangrao city in Jiangxi province.
In March 1941, the Kuomintang Government imprisoned 600 officials of the New Fourth Army who failed to break the siege in the Wannan Incident, including over 80 communists, anti-Japanese youth and patriots from five southeast provinces. The Kuomintang set up a large-scale concentration camp, Shangrao Concentration Camp, which extended to Maojialing, Qifengyan (where high officials were imprisoned), Zhoutian (for hard workers) and Licun (where the Kuomintang used soft tactics to win over its prisoners). Ye Ting, commander of the New Fourth Army, was once imprisoned at Qifengyan.
The Shangrao Concentration Camp was surrounded by high walls and wire netting, with densely distributed lookout posts and stern guards. A guard circle was set up within 15 km of the camp. Imprisoned revolutionaries staged the famous Maojialing Uprising there on May 25, 1942. When Japanese invaders captured Shangrao in June that year, the camp was moved to Fujian province. Revolutionaries held an uprising when they passed through Chishi town of Fujian, known as the Chishi Uprising.
A martyr cemetery was built in Maojialing in 1955 with a monument for the martyrs. The monument was inscribed by Zhou Enlai, which reads: Eternal glory to the revolutionary martyrs. The cemetery was renovated in 1980 and a Revolutionary Martyr Memorial was also built that year.
During my research online for this site to give you information. I came across this movie made in 1951 about this very camp. The description of the movie reads…
Shangrao Concentration Camp is set in the hellish confines of a Guomindang (Nationalist) prison, where the brutal officials try to force two female Communist prisoners to reveal their leader’s identity and location. While its subject and year of production might suggest a propaganda film, Shangrao has garnered some interesting (if chronologically impossible) comparisons to Bresson from some critics for its intense, haunting minimalism, though its true roots are in the Soviet cinema then widely distributed in China; in particular, the great cinematographer Zhu Jinming offers a brilliant echo of Dovzhenko’s overwhelming landscapes in his images of China’s rugged northern climes.
The movie is still available on various movie sites like Netflixs and Putlocker. I hope to watch it soon to see how it matches with what I saw today.
Before I go further in the blog about today’s trip, I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the site. I was hoping to see more historical things. It was mostly pictures of various prisoners who were there. There is not much to see, other than one of the prison buildings and the torture room. And, I suspect, now that I see that a movie was shot there, that the instruments of torture and other furnishings were movie props. But, it was still an interesting day.
Also, there is not much English at the site. Wheat little English there is, winds up being Chinaglish. You really have to read between the lines to understand what it is trying to say. I will give you some examples below.
It looks like English. When you read it aloud, it sounds like English. But, damn…your mind really has to work to understand it. I guess I know how my students feel sometimes with this. It is kind of like reading old English or reading Shakespeare.
These are pictures from prison building and the torture building. They are actually old Chinese homes that they converted into the prisons. Although this was a movie set once. I think it is still the original home/prison structure from the war period. The attention to detail in construction is pretty “spot on” from what I have seen in other period building in this area.
A little of my mother came out today. She and I share a belief in the supernatural (spirits). We both have had our experiences with it in the past. I was kind of hoping to find something in my pictures. Ha Ha.
In the museum that they had on the grounds, they gave an introduction, through drawings, of some of the torture processes they used. Rose, who reads and speaks Chinese well, said that they used the five elements of Chi in their torture. Fire, water, earth, air, and something else (???). All I know is that being buried alive is one of my largest fears in ways of dying.
We finished the day walking the grounds. It was a nice day. There are some burial plots, some monuments, and lots fo people enjoying a nice spring day. The picture of the kids and the other was fun. Their grandmother was climbing the long steps up. They were at the top cheering her on in unison. Grandmother had a cane to help with her walking. And, after two short breaks on the stairs, she finally made it to the top to the joy of the kids. It was heart warming to see family react this way.
I will end with this little oddity. There is a tomb there with a special recognition significance. It just so happened that the person buried there is from Ganyu, Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province. My old school town when I first arrived in China. I thought it was interesting.