The Long March
After having been attacked by the Guomindang army several times, Otto Braun, a Russian agent, thought it was time for a change in tactics. He managed to gain control of the Red Army, and planned a retreat; they would try and break through the blockhouse lines and head for the Communist base on the Hunan-Hubei border. So on the 16th of October 1934, the 87’000 soldiers of the Red Army set out on the retreat, taking with them all their equipment of the Jiangxi Soviet that would be needed for setting up a new government. Thousands of bearers carried office furniture, files, a printing press, radio equipment, gold bars etc… It took the army 6 weeks to break through the blockhouse rings, and not much later at the Xiang River, they were forced to fight a major battle. By the end of the battle, the Red Army had lost 45’000 men, more than half than which they had started with. Many of the commanders blamed Braun for this, and when they had reached the town of Zunyi the leaders of the Communist Party decided to suspend Otto Braun and give Mao Zedong the military control of the Red Army back. It is hard to have an opinion about whether this was a great event, or an undignified shamble of a retreat. Of course surviving this deadly journey showed that China, the Communists to be more specific, was capable of great things. However, of course you cannot forget the 80’000 soldiers that did die. Was it really necessary to risks all those lives just to get to a “saver” place where then you would prepare for more fighting anyway? Had it not been easier to stay in Jiangxi province and handle with the Nationalists there? Or was it really necessary for the Communists to move? The Long March was simply a road to death. Only 7000 men reached their final destination in Shanxi, which left over 80’000 dead. During this time, the Red Army was constantly under attack by the GMD; aerial observation, machine-gunning and bombing were daily happenings. They were attacked by...
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