1927年 女性が陸軍士官学校へ

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日本ではまだまだ女性議員へのヤジが問題になっているようですが、China DairyのWebでもこんな写真が紹介されています。これとは別に今日China DariyのSoul mates, sisters, and soldiers という記事が目に留まりました。これは戦争で犠牲になった方の追悼記念記事ですが、今回は黄埔軍官学校という陸軍士官学校に1927年に入学した女性兵士の人生が語られています。まだこの記事の主人公は108歳でご存命ですがなにより驚いたのは1927年戦前に女性が陸軍士官学校に入学しているということです。日本でこれはありうるでしょうか?戦前の日本女性のイメージは一部を除き専業主婦ましてや軍隊、陸軍士官学校などあり得ないのではないでしょうか。当然ソ連の影響もあったようですが、中国女性の社会進出はこのあたりに端を発しているのではないかと思いました。以前も書きましたが女性マネージャーの比率が多いのはロシア、次に中国になります。中国、意外と働く女性にとっては良いとこなのかもしれません。


写真、以下の記事はChina Dairyからです
The first generation of female students to enroll at China's first and best-known military academy not only struck a blow for women's rights, but also played a major role in defeating the Japanese during World War II, as Zhao Xu reports.

Huang Jingwen lay on a hospital bed desperately clinging to life. At 108 years old, there's very little about Huang to remind people that she once fought for the freedom of her country and herself, but that's what she did for more than two decades.
"My mother entered Whampoa in 1927 as one of its earliest female students," said Luo Xiaoqing, Huang's daughter, referring to the military academy founded in Guangzhou in 1924 by the renowned revolutionary Sun Yat-sen. "As the country's first modern military school, Whampoa quickly became a source of hope for a strong and unified China, and an emblem for those women who saw their own struggle for independence as an essential part of the country's transformation from a feudal empire to a democratic republic," Luo said.



Given that women had been oppressed for centuries in China, being able to sit in the Whampoa classrooms sometimes meant petitioning the school authorities - one young woman wrote a letter in her own blood - and breaking with their families. "Unsurprisingly, the school's decision to recruit females students at its branch in Wuhan in early 1927 provoked a huge outcry from the more conventional sections of society. But that was nothing compared with the pressure felt by those young women from both inside and out," said Chen Yu, an expert who has written several books about the academy. "Many of them were abashed at the prospect of regular physical checkups, and the photos they sent home after having their hair cut to suit a military life, totally enraged - and, some may say, scandalized - their families."

"Without being fully aware of it, they had put themselves at the forefront of a revolutionary storm that was about to sweep across China," he said. "Collectively, they became a potent symbol of change, inviting a mystique that has occasionally rendered their unique personalities a blur, along with their individual triumphs and sufferings."

According to Chen, 183 women were accepted by the academy in 1927. Several more groups were to follow during China's war with fascist Japan between 1937 and 1945, bringing the total to around 800. Passionate and idealistic, they resolutely asserted their place in a man's world, sometimes against their own femininity.

"The training routines at Whampoa were grueling, to say the least. The students were ordered to walk under the scorching sun for very long distances with heavy weights tied to their lower legs. A few of them had undergone foot-binding, a rather cruel process to which young Chinese girls had been subjected for centuries, giving them a pair of 'dainty' feet at the cost of broken bones. For them, the drill was doubly painful and stressful," said Chen. "But they all persisted. And although sick leave was granted, some insisted on continuing to train even during menstruation."
Reality of war

Testing as life at the academy could be, it was during the post-Whampoa days that the reality of war, filled with group sacrifices and personal loss, was fully brought to bear on the young women. Chen Baochen entered Whampoa in 1941, directly after graduation from a teacher training college in Yunnan province in the southwest of China. The only thing she ever wrote from the frontline was her will, addressed to her mother and penned on the eve of a fierce battle against the Japanese in July 1943. During the charge on the enemy-occupied highlands the day after she had written her will, Chen was shot in her right arm. Despite bleeding profusely, she lived to tell the tale.

"She had seen too many deaths to lament her own," said Su Shaolong, a 26-year-old university student who has joined an increasing number of volunteers across China who seek out the country's remaining World War II veterans to listen to, and record, their stories and ensure that their final days are lived in love and respect. "Even at age 89, she can still recall with great accuracy the scene that confronted her when she first entered a secret Japanese bunker after the Chinese victory. There, on the blood-soaked ground, were more than 60 'pairs' of dead Chinese and Japanese soldiers, all grappling together in the final act of killing."
Some female alumni became martyrs, including, most famously, Zhao Yiman, Huang's classmate, who was captured, tortured and executed by the Japanese at the age of 31 in 1936, before the official start of China's eight-year struggle against the invaders. Zhao's last letter to her only son, written in prison shortly before her execution, struck a deep chord with a generation of Chinese who followed in her footsteps.

According to Wang Yi, a high-school teacher turned amateur historian, many of the female Whampoa graduates worked at field hospitals, where they nursed the injured while contending with the daily reality of death. "All field hospitals were severely understaffed, and the soldiers who'd had their limbs blasted away often died in agony. As a result, the doctors and nurses were quite literally enveloped by a sea of endless groaning and imminent death," Wang said.

The 55-year-old has maintained close contact with two of the Whampoa graduates, Zhou Yuyun and Zheng Miao, who both served as field nurses during WWII. "They told me their job was to heal the soul as well as the body, and to console the inconsolable, those who had been crippled in the war and had no idea where their futures lay," she said. "Sometimes, illiterate soldiers asked the nurses to write letters home, and they readily obliged. Both recounted their experiences of throwing themselves across the bodies of the wounded during an enemy air raid."

If anything, the tragedy and chaos that engulfed China between the 1920s and 1940s only makes Hu Lanqi's story all the more exceptional. An early Whampoa graduate, Hu was a staunch revolutionary and a bold beauty who, to use her own words, "was always riding the crest of a wave, despite being repeatedly thrown onto the hard rocks". A Communist, who was promoted to the rank of major general by the Nationalist Government in the early 1940s, Hu was a lover - and many believe the lifelong love - of Chen Yi, one of the 10 marshals of the People's Republic. In December 1932, Hu made a speech at an anti-Nazi rally in Berlin, which led to a three-month prison sentence and in turn gave rise to her best-selling book In a German Women's Prison. A close friend of Maxim Gorky, Hu helped to carry the Russian writer's coffin at his funeral in 1936.

"It's true that some of these women belonged to the social elite and were indeed legendary," said Chen Yu, the Whampoa historian and a prolific writer. "But the true legend of the Whampoa women goes far deeper than that, in their unyielding spirit which lived on, probably more vigorously, in the latter half of their lives," he said, adding that the overwhelming majority of the women who enrolled at Whampoa in the 1930s and 40s had fought under the Nationalist flag. However, when World War II ended, the civil war began, and ending in victory for the Communists and the founding of the People's Republic of China in October 1949. "For the next three decades, those who had been affiliated with the Nationalist Party were put through a really hard time," Chen Yu said.
Hard times

Those times were equally tough for men and women, said Wang, the high-school teacher, who has investigated the lives of Zhou and Zheng - the only female Whampoa graduates she's met in person - deeply enough to understand their longings, loves and regrets.

After Japan's surrender, Zheng returned to the countryside in Hunan province with her husband, a surgeon whom she met and married at the field hospital. He died during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), not as a hero but as an "historic anti-revolutionary", a phrase used to describe those who fought under the Nationalist flag. With two children to support, Zheng worked as a nanny and a housemaid until the late 1980s, when she was in her mid-70s.

"These days, due to pure age, she's unable to move, and can barely see or hear," Wang said. "But every time she knows someone has come for her, she holds the visitor's hand and feels it with her own again and again, gently, softly. It's a habit formed over the long years of babysitting. She always makes you feel loved, in her heartbreaking, maternal way."

Although Zhou's story is different, it's also tinged with sadness. She gave birth to four children, but was forced to give her first and third - both boys - to her older sister, before leaving with the troops. Nowadays, the 95-year-old lives in Jiangsu province with her second son, who suffers from severe liver disease, and her only daughter. In late April, Zhou returned to her hometown in Hunan for the first time in almost 70 years. Her sister has long since passed away, but one of the boys Zhou entrusted to her was still there, aged 75.

"The other boy drowned in childhood, and Zhou only got to know about it years later, after 1949," said Wang, who accompanied the elderly lady on the trip and shared a hotel room with her. "Those were sleepless nights. We talked into the wee small hours," Wang said. "She told me she felt guilty about all her children. Because of her former association with the Nationalists, her only daughter was denied the opportunity of entering university in the 1970s."

The meeting between mother and son was rather "uneventful", according to Wang. "The son has cerebral thrombosis and was brought to our hotel room in a wheelchair. While he spoke in a slur, Zhou just wept. We all did."

But there was one other person Zhou insisted on seeing - Zheng. Both entered Whampoa in 1939, when the war against Japan was in its most critical stage. "The meeting was a crucial moment, delayed by well over half a century," said Wang. "Days before, Zheng had just celebrated her 100th birthday. And because she can't see, the two just held hands for a long time. And I guess that soothed a lot of the pain for both of them."

Reflecting on the remarkable, yet often little-known, lives lived by the women of Whampoa, Chen Yu felt that their existence has embraced a dichotomy: "I spoke to many of them in the 1980s, and they impressed me as both 'hard' and 'soft'. As hard as a soldier and warrior, and as soft as a mother, a wife and a daughter. When they talked about China, its past and future, they spoke with such infectious enthusiasm, yet when they spoke about themselves and their lost loves, they occasionally let out a sigh that went beyond all interpretation."

For Luo, Huang's daughter, the things shared by the members of this special group are far more important than their individual differences. "Throughout the latter half of her life, my mother has been looking for and writing to her classmates at Whampoa, and I believe that it was not just for the sake of memory," she said. "It's true that they lived disparate lives: Some became famous while others settled for anonymity; some reaped love while others waited for it their whole lives. But all of them answered the call when the country was in need. They are pioneers and patriots. And for that, they will be soul mates forever."

Contact the author at zhaoxu@chinadaily.com.cn

Yang Yang and Zhang Yuchen contributed to this story.

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