On 19 February 1951, a state-sponsored funeral took place in north Taipei in which a splendid cenotaph to commemorate the “five hundred martyrs of Taiyuan”— heroic individuals who died defending a distant city in northern China against the Chinese Communist encirclement—was revealed. In the four decades that followed, the Nationalist government on Taiwan built a commemorative cult and a pedagogic enterprise centering on these figures. Yet, the martyrs' epic was a complete fiction, one used by Chiang Kai-shek's regime to erase the history of atrocities and mass displacement in the Chinese civil war. Following Taiwan's democratization in the 1990s, the repressed traumas returned in popular narratives; this recovery tore the hidden wounds wide open. By examining the tale of the five hundred martyrs as both history and metaphor, this article illustrates the importance of political forces in both suppressing and shaping traumatic memories in Taiwan.
The Heroic Tale of “Taiyuan's Five Hundred Martyrs” in the Chinese Civil War
Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang
,000 than World War I, World War II, the Russian Civil War, the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese Revolution, or the Belgian occupation of the Congo. But note that Pinker compares each of these events individually with earlier events that occurred over many
Wang Zhen, Alfred Tovias, Peter Bergamin, Menachem Klein, Tally Kritzman-Amir, and Pnina Peri
fight against the Japanese invasion and in China's civil war. There are other such stories, most of which take place before 1949. It is also noteworthy that Shai describes his own experiences and connections with China as a scholar who has long studied
Regulating technologies, authority, and aesthetics in the resettlement of Taipei military villages
year after the relocation, residents found themselves in a state of “social disarticulation” ( Cernea 1999: 30 ). In 1949, when the Chinese Civil War forced the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party—KMT) to retreat to Taiwan, settlements like Zhongxin Village