I'm a former Nationalist,a prisoner of war.
Once I was on the other side,
I had to re-educate myselfand adopt communist thought.
So I did just that.
Before, the two sides fought.
I belonged to the Nationalist Army.
I was taken prisonerbut they spared my life,
without humiliating me,they even gave me a job.
So of course, I was grateful.
A naive view, perhaps,but it was my view.
It was in this state of mindthat I joined the PLA,
for about 8 years.
8 years of good and loyal serviceto this army.
It's certainly true, on one hand,I did feel indebted.
On the other hand,
I was youngand had to think of my future.
I worked hard during that time.
I was often congratulated.
I even carried outsome commendable acts.
On more than one occasion,
I was made a cadre
to reorganize the various units.
That's how it was back then.
But when the army decidedto do an internal purge,
the former cadres were dismissed
to make way for the new ones.
I was transferredto the civil service.
Once I was in the civil sector...
When I was still in the army,
my work mainly involvedimplementing political decisions.
No point going back overthe errors of the past.
In the job...
At that time, the Communist partywas constantly recruiting.
It had no choice!
It lacked resources.Especially in north Shaanxi.
To liberate the whole country,it needed men!
Everyone stood to gain.
We needed to work, to earn our crust.
The Party needed men.
It's true, it recruitednon-stop back then.
During the timeI worked for the army,
I achieved good results.
I enjoyed a certain prestige.
When it was demobilized,nothing was ever the same again.
In the army,we could express ourselves,
have different opinionsfrom our leaders.
As long as you didn'tbegrudge the task,
personal initiative was encouraged.
We could express ourselves,be creative.
So I carried out my jobquite enthusiastically.
With the new assignment,
all that changed.
Business activitieswere just beginning.
were now managedby demobilized soldiers,
with a few exceptions.
These demobilized soldiers
were nearly all former Nationalists.
Isn't that right?
The Party would never have sent itsnew cadres into the civil service!
It got rid of the others.
They were dismissed or transferred,
the country needed them.
The civil sector needed developing
and the economy needed a boost.
Once in the civil sector,I carried on as I had in the army.
I thought my political situationwas resolved.
My past wasn't flawlessbut I had confessed.
My story was no longer a burden.
My nationalist pastno longer weighed me down.
Enterprising and bold at work,that's what I was.
But, in our new work unit,
there were only transferred soldiers
and a few old cadres.
Some of them had workedfor the Old Regime.
They were usually redeployed.
But there were alsoCommunist veterans.
They were given managerial posts.
This meant that in the workplace
there were civiliansand displaced soldiers.
Among the displaced,one group stood apart,
those who were from the Old Regime.
To be part of the Old Regime,
according to Mao Zedong's thoughton the class struggle,
"I give you a bowl of riceand you follow the movement."
You can't say anything.
That's how things stood.
1956, the "counterrevolutionaries".
1955, the "Three-anti".
No! You don't know.
I wasn't too worriedby the campaign of '56
but the psychologicalpressure was intense.
We were cut off from our families,
those who were allegedly difficult
were regrouped to do theirexamination of conscience,
and to wait forthe criticism sessions.
That lasted for several months.
For me, completelydevoted to my work,
I felt a real sense of injustice.
From when we were encouragedto criticize the Party
until the beginning of theAnti-Rightist campaign...
Mao Zedong had launchedhis "visibility project."
An open conspiracy.
They had to lure the snakesfrom their holes!
Some of them wanted to seize power.
Leading officials, famous rightists.
So we were encouragedto express our criticism.
The mobilization became permanent.
We had to talk about the work,about the leaders' practices.
We had to confide in the Party!
To tell the truth!
Truths were told.
But were we really ableto criticize the Communist Party?
The truth mustn't be anti-communist.
It must be limited to work,and the Party cell leaders.
At that time, in the oil companyI'd been transferred to,
the unit secretarywas a former serviceman,
a bully,transferred to the civil sector.
He understood nothing about economy
but he was in chargeof the entire company,
from human resources to business.
He really wasn't qualifiedfor the job.
This was a real problem,on a professional level.
A unit secretarylacking the competence
to manage a company,that caused problems.
It was as if there were two clans,
the civilians on one side,the displaced soldiers on the other.
The servicemen took advantageof this atmosphere of distrust
to crush the civilians.
Some civilians had a trade
but they had often learned itbefore the liberation.
Isn't that right?
So, in that context,
they became the enemythat had to be destroyed.
All those from the Old Societywere suspects.
If you looked atthe various departments,
most people came from the Old Regime.
Where would they have foundso many new cadres at that time?
They had no choice but to usecadres from the Old Regime.
It goes without saying thatthe atmosphere lacked unity.
Another major problemwas the ongoing campaigns.
The fight againstthe counterrevolutionaries,
the Anti-Rightist movement,
they all upheld the "5%."
Chairman Mao believed
5% of people were wrongdoers.
He wasn't entirely wrong.
According to him,no more than 5% of people were bad.
That wasn't so many.
According to him, there wasa mere handful of wrongdoers.
But at that time, the sloganhad to be strictly applied.
5%, no more, no less!
In a group of 100 people,they had to pick out 5 rightists.
If you didn't find them,you were the conservative rightist.
Isn't that so?
I wish they'd takenreality into account.
They wanted an exact percentage.
They wanted to showthat they were having a cleanup
and getting rid ofthe bad and the antis.
They didn't care about progressingalong the path of Communism.
If there were 1% of bad people,you had to catch that 1%.
What if there were 10%,why only catch 5%?
It was the perfect wayto sow ill-feeling!
Look for the truth in the facts.
That is, after all, theMarxist-Leninist dialectic, isn't it?
About the 5% doctrine...
I voiced my reservations
But, for them, that meantI was going against the Party.
I was against the 5%decided on at the top.
I believed that if there was one,we should arrest one.
"Seize the bad elements",as we would say.
What if we found 10,11, 12 or 13 of them?
That didn't amount to 5%per work unit!
It was at most a national average.
The enemies were a minority.
If you had 20 of them in your unit,you were meant to arrest 20.
And if there was only one,you only arrested one.
By using a percentage,
in my opinion, the executive leveladopted a dogmatic approach.
To lay down this rule...
To be totally strict about it,
was to demonstrate blind dogmatism.
That's the second questionthat I rebelled against.
The first being the incompetenceof the unit secretary.
The second onethat got me into trouble
was definitely my oppositionto that 5% policy.
There was also the matterof the lack of democracy.
Under this dictatorship of the Party,
there were only members of the Party,old cadres
who had participated inthe Long March and had shed blood.
Old military cadreswho'd been to war.
They had the power.
They had no intentionof giving it up.
We had to follow the ordersof the unit secretary.
Those that came from other leadershad to be treated with caution.
Their concept of powerwas problematic.
Criticism voiced by the masses,in the workplace,
was never heard.
If your remarks weren't appreciated,you were anti-Party.
To disagree with the leaderswas concrete proof of dissidence.
We could sum it up like that.
When I pointed outthe lack of democracy,
after I was demobilizedand transferred to the company,
I wasn't accusing the whole nation.I was incapable of that.
I was concerned about lifewithin the company.
That's when I raised the issueof the lack of democracy.
This lack was real.
It created a divide betweenthe leaders and the population.
Between the leaders and the masses,the divide had been created.
Once you were named a rightist,
did you have to undergopublic criticism sessions?
The criticism sessions?They were endless!
I refused to admitthat I was against the Party,
but they harassed me.
Who knows how manycriticism sessions I endured?
I was tormented until the very end.
A report had to be writtenafter each session.
We repeated ourselves endlessly.
And I stuck to my convictionthat I wasn't in the wrong.
Even when they sent me toa re-education through labor camp,
I didn't sign any documentation.
I didn't admit to any wrongdoing.
The divide I signaledreally did exist.
They hung on to their percentageinstead of going by the facts.
How could I have admittedto wrongdoing?
The oil company made the accusation.
It was managed by the Cereals Bureau.
Before that, it depended onthe Trade Bureau.
With the reform,oil and grains were grouped together
within one same Bureau.
It was this bureauthat pronounced the verdict.
It was the Cereals Bureau
who declared me a rightist.
The rightists were divided
into two categories...if I remember rightly.
You were one of the menwho kept their position.
The rightistswere denied their wages
and were sent to Jiabiangou camp.
There, the men weredivided into 2 categories.
Those who had beendismissed from their role
and those who hadkept their position.
I was in the second category.
I wasn't at the top of the ladder,with the most radical,
with the ultra-rightists.
But later on they said there wereonly ultra-rightists in Jiabiangou.
So between the ultras-rightistssent to Jiabiangou,
yet another distinction was made.
What about your younger brother?
My younger brother... his story...
A real injustice!
He was a student.He had studied in the Liberated Zone.
It was in 1954 or 1953,
that he left Yan'an.
He came here,to the Construction Bureau
to work in a surveyors' company.
He became a surveyor's assistant.
He took measurementsfor the urban development of Lanzhou.
He was very intelligent.
He had always hadexcellent marks in mathematics.
But he had a very stubborn nature.
When he got an idea into his head,he didn't give up on it easily.
So, in that field,
anything that involvedurban development...
From surveyor's assistanthe became an engineer.
He was technical staff.
At that time, developing townssummoned from the country's interior
many engineers and employees.
He was intelligentand quick to spot the problems.
He was also very conscientious.
So he was put to work in auditing.
As an inspector.
He was asked to checkalready validated projects.
He was asked forhis technical expertise.
The biggest chargebrought against him
was linked to a planning projectfor the entire city of Lanzhou.
A project already validatedby the Bureau,
that he was asked to check.
As soon as he set eyes on it,he picked up on the inconsistencies.
There were many inconsistenciesin the town planning work.
During a municipal meeting,
Zhou Zhinanexplained his point of view.
As he was convinced,
he offered to go to the site.
On site, the regionaland municipal officials
saw the facts with their own eyes.
Zhou Zhinan was right.
When they came to this realization,
they conceded thatZhou Zhinan's report was justified.
They redid the plans
and got rid of the old manager.
The official who hadvalidated the first plan
held it against him.
Zhou Zhinan was too youngto be implicated in the Old Regime.
He only started to work in 1953.
He quickly got promotedand was given big responsibilities.
He supervised everything.
In the end, he had won!
The leaders rewarded him,he was given a pay rise.
He had moved up several ranksduring this time.
His salary followed suit.
But, the following year,with the new campaign,
he was deemeda counterrevolutionary element.
For having been in conflictwith his superiors.
When the verdict was passed,
my brother took the opportunity,while washing his bed cover,
to write a note that he asked us
to give to the Party'smunicipal committee.
We took the letter with us
and passed it to the Party Secretary.
So it was the Party secretary
who took care ofannulling the accusation.
Zhou Zhinan was off the hook.
But the next year, we wereencouraged to speak out!
There certainly were criticismsto be made about the leaders,
about their undemocratic actions,
their lack of considerationof comments from the lower ranks
and their grandiloquence.That's what he reproached them for.
His criticisms were specific.
He pointed outthat the divide was huge.
He spoke of a "great wall"between the people and the leaders.
A wall that separated them.
Unless it was knocked down,we wouldn't be able to progress.
He was against their approaches.
That is roughly
what the old leadership team evokedto bring him down.
During that time,he had been promoted,
he had even received bonuses.
But on a political level,he wasn't spared.
I was chargedwith being a rightist in 1957.
Towards the month of Augustor September 1957.
- You left in February 1958.- I went to Jiabiangou in 1958.
My brother arrived at the campin April or May of the same year.
The meetingsand criticism sessions...
of all his colleaguesit was he who underwent the most.
He refused to acknowledgeany wrongdoing whatsoever.
The accusation was not retracted
and he was saddled withthe label of ultra-rightist.
Wearing this ultra-rightist hat,he was sent to Jiabiangou.
You didn't have enough to eat!You said so in your letters.
I saw it with my own eyes.
She came to see the situation.
In 1958, they were given food.
Don't speak about Jiabiangou.
In 1959,they ate their own harvests.
In 1960,they had nothing left to eat.
Nothing to fill their bowl.
I saw them eat gruel made of seeds.
They crushed the seedsto make a mash.
- Desert date palm leaves.- That was in the autumn of 1960.
I was worriedthat you didn't have enough to eat!
They had 250 grams of food
per person, per day.
When I got home, I told the family.
His sister and her husbandimmediately said:
"250 grams,that's not enough to live on!"
What is more, they had to share that
with the cadres and the cooks.
You can imagine what was left!
There was nothing left for them.
I sent them food on a regular basis.
From October to Decemberwas when most people died.
I don't know how many timeswe sent food to him in that period.
It was my nephew, my sister's son,
who would set offwith a large case on his back.
At that time it was hardto find food to buy.
Some noodles and a few biscuits.
And one time, a few cabbages.
We kept the heartsof our big cabbages for him.
And some wheat bran that we roastedand put in a bag for him.
That kept him goingfor several months.
Three months.The last three months,
she came 5 times... no, 4 times!
Once, she came with my sister-in-law.
And twice with my eldest son.
- I had a bit of corn at least.- My nephew went twice.
They were starving.
At that time, Zhou Zhinanworked in the sheepfold.
One day,he ate a lamb's placenta.
And as they lacked water,
he ate it raw, without washing it.
They were no longer human.
Why did they starve them so?
We didn't dare feed them
in case they weren't ableto evacuate the feces.
What if it did themmore harm than good?
That did happen.
They brought us food every few weeks.
They had to take the trainfrom Lanzhou to Mingshui,
disembark at Gaotaiand walk for 5 km.
My eldest son went to see his uncleat the sheepfold.
He did the journey especially.
His uncle was sleepingon grass and dried leaves.
My son, who was only 13 yrs old,fell asleep on his straw mat.
The walk had tired him,and as he slept,
he wet his uncle's bed cover.
When he came home,the poor thing was crying!
Once, he went to get us3 bowls of gruel.
One bowl each.As he was still hungry
and we felt sorry for him,we left him our bowls.
I just tasted it and said:"It's bitter, you can have it!
In 2 days we'll be home,we can manage without it.
As you went to get all the bowlsyou can eat them."
He swallowed the lot, in one go.
He was starving.
The last 3 monthswere the most lethal.
Once, she came and saw uslying down next to each other.
A sleeping area this long,in a ditch they had dug.
She came back 10 days later...
They were lying downnext to each other.
One of them was from Lanzhou,from Jiuquan street.
He said to me,"Go to my brother when you get back."
His brother lived in Jiuquan street.He was a driver.
He asked his brotherto do all he could to help him.
I went to his brother'sand his sister-in-law said:
"I have several childrenwho don't have enough to eat,
how can I help him?
I have nothing left to eat."
- When I went back there...- He was dead.
They had taken all of the deadout of the dormitory.
- To take them where?- They were all dead.
My brother first workedon the sites outside the camp.
When he came back to Mingshui,
the cadres decidedhe would look after the sheep.
He was rigidly honestand stubborn as a mule!
Starving as we were,he never drank a drop of milk!
He was like that. At first,he didn't let anyone drink the milk.
Later on, he let them.
The men went anyway, in secret.
They had to struggle to survive,after all.
The ewes may have been skinny,
but as soon as they began lambing,there was some milk.
At first,he didn't let anyone drink the milk.
Afterwards, he let them,but still didn't drink any himself.
So you can see what he was like.
Right until the end,he didn't drink a drop of milk.
During the timeof her 3rd or 4th visit,
we were really very worried.
There were more and more deaths.
She would bring us suppliesevery 10 days or 2 weeks,
and my brother and Iwould share the food.
We would both have likedto get out of there alive,
but we knew that wasn't possible.
So my younger brother Zhou Zhinanmade a decision.
I had 4 children.
He had 3, plus his wife.
Our parents were looked afterby our elder sister and her husband.
A 3rd sister of ourshad a good position.
She was in the army.
She had 7 childrenbut the army paid well.
Everyone saved 50 gramsof grain per day.
There were lots of mouths to feed.
My 3rd younger sistergave money for the grain.
The ration cardsand things like that...
usually camefrom the 2nd elder sister.
The 3rd younger sisterhelped with her money.
She could save 50 gramsof grain per child.
Everyone saved50 grams of grain per day.
It was enough to feed our family.
There were the ration cardson top of that.
We needed themto buy noodles and biscuits
to send to themfor those few months.
He Fengming kept a detailed recordof what we received.
Your brother didn't thinkit would be enough to save you both?
Yes, so he made his decision:he would stop eating!
He didn't eat any moreof the food they brought us.
When I arrived in Jiabiangou,
one week later,
a group leader.
At that time,a group was made up of 18 people.
Above us was the production brigade.
...was made up of 5 teams.
The brigades weren't lead by one head
but by deputy-heads of teams.
At the time, our deputy-headof team was Guan Jingwen.
I was set to infrastructure work.
I left production.
After a while,
I became head of group.
Guan Jingwenwas deputy-head of a team.
One day,23 rightists arrived
from the Tongwei district.
The file on these 23 rightists
said that they were colluding.
So, in Jiabiangou,
they preferred to keep them together,
so as not to risk them regrouping.
As they had no choice,
they kept this group of 23apart from the others.
There were meant to be18 people in a group
but there were 23 in this one.
We kept them togetherto have more control over them.
Deputy-head of team Guan Jingwen
became the head of this little group.
Head of the group.
I, who was head of a group,
found myself taking onGuan Jingwen's position.
We swapped roles.
He became head of groupand I a deputy-head of team.
How was your brother's healthwhen he was in Mingshui?
His health wasn't too bad,
especially given that in Mingshuiwe were already dying of hunger.
The men no longer left their beds.
At the time, he wasa deputy-head of team.
He organized the men's daily lives
in the ditchesthat served as shelters.
As the men were too weak,
he made fires for them,
brought them water.
He also helped themempty their buckets.
As a deputy-head of team,
he was easily able to eat a bit extra
when he distributed the food.
My brother managed to survivethanks to his position.
Even though he was sick,he managed to survive.
managed to survive.
I was put in charge of the sheepfold
and that saved me!
I was in charge of the sheepfold.
I took the sheep out to graze
which meant thatI didn't eat with the others.
If I'd had the same ration as them,
I'd never have had the strengthto take the sheep out to graze.
I think of my parents,born into a turbulent society,
at a time whenthe nation was in danger.
Born in a poorand isolated countryside,
but into a familythat respected the rituals.
They experienced the nation's ruinbut also its prosperity,
and many complex changes.
Eight troubled decades
spent in pain and misery,
that's very difficult to talk about.
As young adults,they were able to lend their talents
to serve the new nation.
When they were older,they suffered injustices.
But, thanks to the meritsof our ancestors,
to the love of family and friends,
and the support of those around them,
they overcame the worst catastrophes,they survived hunger and cold.
In the evening of their livesthey rediscovered peace and serenity.
Washed clean of the humiliations,they were able to raise their heads.
Today, their children,who've tried not to disappoint them,
are speaking to you,dead souls of the Hexi Corridor,
decimated families,scattered bones,
to you,victims of the Cultural Revolution,
to you, companions of misfortune,who died unjustly.
Those who are lucky enoughto be alive today
remember with emotionand speak with effusion.
I remember my father,guardian of ancestral virtues,
and of the Zhou family'sprinciples of behavior.
He left the school of Yulin
to defend a comrade,the victim of an injustice.
In the town planning departmentof Lanzhou,
he sacrificed himself for his work,he accumulated merits.
He suffered many attacks,for having offended a superior.
In 1957, he was sent tothe Hexi Corridor for 3 years.
Condemned a rightist,he nearly died.
He wore the rightist hatfor 26 years.
Deprived of his dreams,
he remained true to his principlesthroughout his life.
He never regretted his integrity.
He always remainedloyal to the nation.
Back in his village,very weak,
he collected kindling and manureand led the mule.
First to rise, last to bed,he never stopped,
he did all he couldfor his large family.
Serving an unjustified sentence,his life was hanging on a thread,
he gave to his eldest sonhis portion of survival.
Two brothers in tears,in each other's arms.
Back in his land,with precarious living conditions,
he forgot no member of his family,
demonstrating a greatand sincere filial piety.
Aged 60, he should havemade the most of his life,
but he preferred to livea frugal life,
to help those in need,
and support poor students,
demonstrating a great kindness.
My mother, who had been sick sincechildhood, had a weak constitution
but she was always thereto meet our needs.
47 years of looking after the elders,never once failing to do her duty.
She lived modestly, working non-stop.
She often wore rags and ate gruel.
But her sacrifices enabledour poor family,
her 2 sons and 4 daughtersto survive the famines.
With her strength of characterand her foresight,
taking care of her relationshipwith others at all times,
she set us on the right path.
She protected us from hardship,
followed our schooling,made sure we had good morals.
We have overcome hardship
and we all have a profession,
thanks to her educationthroughout all those years.
My parents had a good reputation.
Their moral sense lives on in us.
It nourishes our heartsand we cherish it.
They will be forever in the heartsof those who witnessed their lives.
They placed our educationabove everything.
What they did for us has no price.
Their descendantsmust follow their teachings
and ensure its survival.
Give thanks to society,provide for the needs of the elders.
Take care of the weakest,look after your neighbor.
Save money for the family,help the young find their way.
And thus,put our parents' souls to rest.
Rest in peace, dear parents!
One, two, three, push!
Slowly round the bend.
Further in that direction!
It's not easy!
Further, a bit further.
We must push at the same time!
Let the rope out a bit more.
Come on, come on!
Let it down slowly.
Lift it up!
Lift it up!
Give me a shovel.
Let them finish,you can go down afterwards.
You are exhausted! Stay here.
Let them finish!
You can't go down.
Kneel down here!
You can't behave like this!
Sit back to back to push it in!
Here! Here's the shovel!
Lean against my back.
Put yourselves back to back!
Wait! Wait a minute!
- Are you ready?- I'm ready.
It's OK, it's OK.
My brother,you can't go down there!
You put it in crooked!
The Communist partytreated him badly enough!
I'm not afraid.
You put it in crooked!
That's the best we can do.
Wait a while before you go down.
Yanlin wants to come down.Is that OK with you?
Let him come down!
Be careful, slowly does it!
Call the Fengshui masterto calm the situation.
Who will look after Yanlin's cap?
Straighten it a little on this side.
Hold on tight!
Hurry up and come up!
Come on, let's do it from both sides.
It's the end.I want to die as quickly as possible.
Dead, I'll suffer less.
Let's eat dinner first!
Eat, it'll get cold.
Do that afterwards.
But I put it all carefully away.
I can't find it.
Perhaps Yang Xianhui took it?
Come and eat.
Help yourself to vegetables.
Don't forget to drink that.
I just can't lay my hands on it.
Which farm were yousent to as a rightist?
Shigong farm, in Anxi county.
Later on, we were transferredto another farm.
Today, it's called Yinma farm n°3.
Huanghua still exists.
- I think it does.- Definitely.
Some of us are still there.
How many years were you there for?
for more than one year in Anxi.
And 2 years in Yumen.
During those 2 years,we were dying of hunger.
We ate grains
that we cooked with beetroot.
Our farm was one ofthe better-off ones.
We washed the grainsso we could remove the husks,
then we steamed themwith pieces of beetroot.
Once it was cooked,we took a ladleful.
We were also alloweda ladleful of gruel.
People started to die on the farm.
Like Li Zhuoting, from the RailwayDepartment's performing troupe.
He was a well-known actorat that time.
He slept right next to me.
We slept on a "kang"made of dried clay.
A long area on which we put mats.
He slept on that side of the roomand I slept on the other.
Sometimes, I got up early.
As I went past, I took his clothesand passed them to him.
One morning, we were late.
It was time to go to work,so I shook him.
"Get up, it's time!"
I touched himand I realized.
He was dead.
His body was already cold.
I'd spent the nightwith a dead person.
Once re-educated,I was politically rehabilitated,
I was sentto the logging operation in Nanhua.
Is that where you heardabout Mingshui?
The mass grave?Our shepherd told me about it.
He'd graze his sheepnear this mass grave.
I quickly went to see.
I wanted to see it with my own eyes.
When I saw it...
A real massacre!
"Re-education camp cemetery"written on a big sign.
Then I understood.
A directorof Gansu construction office
died in Mingshui.
His son was the secretaryof the Party committee
at the Northeast rubber factory.
At the time,he got on well with Song Ping.
Song Ping wrote a letterto the Gaotai district.
In Nanhua,he was told to go to Mingshui.
And in Mingshui,he came to see me.
Thanks to me, he found him!
He was able to find his father.
At the time,we could find the bodies,
because the nameswere clearly written on stones.
That's what happened for Song Ping.
He came back in a carwith a doctor.
They had a casket in their van.
He picked up his father's bones.
I sent 4 men to help him.
He gave each of them 20 yuans.
20 yuans for each of the workers!
Then, he invited us to eat there.
He'd brought food with him.
The Lanzhou rightistsand ours clubbed together.
Everyone gave some money.
We got over 10,000 yuansto erect a stele in Jiabiangou.
At first, the agreementwas given for the stele.
The Jiuquan administrationapproved it.
The Civil Administration directorin particular supported us.
But who knows why?
3 days later,he'd changed his mind.
He ignored us completely.
In the end,
we set off for Jiabiangou.
The stele was ready,the names were engraved!
The stone-cuttershad done a good job.
The names were already engraved!
In the end,
as the directorhad decided to ignore us,
the stele was completely erased.
We went to find a Mr. Li,
And also someonefrom Social Stability,
The director of this office saidwe'd have his answer the next day.
We were in a hurry to erect the stelesince we were already there.
The base was ready.
Did you see the photo?
Yes, I saw it.
- Did you?- Yes.
Everything was ready.
So, Zhang Suiqing and Iwent to Gaotai.
We both went to Gaotai-Mingshui.
I knew they'd soon build a wall
and close it all off with a wall.
That's how it is...
Outside the wall, there were bones.
Lots of them!
We picked up the big bonesand the debris
and put it all in a large bag.
The two of us filled a large bag
like those plastic bags you get now.
We'd bought glovesto pick up the bones.
we put it all in a box this big.
We put the bagcontaining the bones
in the big box. We put it all in.
Then, we carried it over there.
We said to the guard
that we'd come back the next dayor the day after.
I went back with Zhang Suiqing2 days later.
We'd taken a suitcase with us.
The suitcase we took with us
let us put all the bones in.
We had to sayit was our luggage
or we couldn't havegot on the bus.
Once we were in the district,
we went to find the district headwho supported us.
The Office of Civil Affairsfound us a car.
The director drove us!
The Civil Administration directordrove us to Mingshui!
On the way, he even tookthe mayor of Nanhua.
He saidby the next Day of the Dead,
we would have a stele in Gaotai
and another in Jiabiangou.
In fact,we couldn't erect a single one!
When we sawit wasn't working in Jiabiangou,
we realizedit'd be just the same in Gaotai.
The order came from on high.
It had also becomeimpossible in Gaotai.
Forbiddenfrom erecting a stele.
It came from on high...
The provincial governmenthad phoned.
So, we went to Jiuquanwith the bones.
The two of us.
We had set aside an enclosurefor the cemetery.
We took the bag with all the bones inand tipped it into the enclosure.
Then, we covered it with earth.
To cover up the bones.
Zhang had writtensomething on a sign.
"Under this earth...
Under this earth rest bones."
That's what he wrote.
So, that day,after we'd finished in Jiuquan,
we went to Suzhou.
The town of Jiuquan ignored us,
but Suzhou was ready to cooperate.
We went to see the authorities.
The director of Propagandaand the director of Stability
told us: "Tomorrow,
you'll have a clear answer,don't worry."
The next day, we were waitingat the hotel in Jiuquan.
By way of an answer,they sent 2 young cadres.
That's when they said to us:
"Your construction is illegal!You must destroy it.
If you don't, we'll do it for you."
The next day,when we went to Jiabiangou,
the bulldozer had already been!
They'd even destroyed our bridge.
Even the bridge...so we couldn't get across.
We haven't been backto Jiabiangou in 2 years.
In view of the situation,there's no point.
It's been 2 years...
Couldn't you bury the bonesin Mingshui?
No, it wasn't possible.
I talked about it to Zhang,
but he saidthe bones from Jiabiangou
had to be taken back to Jiabiangou.
After making the grave
and the funeral enclosure,
we wanted to put them inside.
something weird happened!
The suitcase wouldn't goin the enclosure.
It was a light case...but we couldn't pull it!
We just couldn't move it.
Who knows why?
The bones didn't wantto stay in Jiabiangou.
That's what I thought.
Zhang agreed with me.
They didn't want to be buried there.
Those human bones
may have a souland don't want to stay there.
Zhang Suiqing readpassages from the Bible.
He burned paper money.
He added some incense.
After that, we were ableto get them in and bury them.
- In the enclosure?- Yes, in the funeral enclosure.
But the district of Suzhouno longer agreed.
The next day,they knocked everything down.
We rushed to Gaotai,but it was the same there.
After that, the head of the farmwas ousted,
because he'd helped us.
How did you approach him?
We told him we were there
with the intentionof building a memorial.
Many of these rightistswere well-known people
and in time,the place could become...
a tourist attraction!
He agreed that it wasa good thing for the region.
He was all for it!
So, he was removedfor supporting us.
I still have many documents.
I think that as soon as you come in,they're watching us.
They knowyou're coming to my place.
As soon as someone comes here,they know.
How do they watch you?
I don't know, but they knowwhen someone visits me.
I'll look in the bedroom.
I have more in there.
Why can't I find them?
At the time,no-one bothered me.
At the time,
the State had a monopolyon the purchase and sale of grain.
Purchasing and sales were unified.
Once, with Han Jingkui,
the present secretary of the League,
we were overtaken on the roadby about 10 vehicles.
The district chief caught upwith us on a motorbike.
The road was flooded,and he couldn't go on.
So, we helped himpush his motorbike.
While he was cleaning his boots,
he asked me to checkwhere these vehicles came from.
"If they're from Ding'an,they should go feed the peasants!"
"Force the peasants to supplywhen they're starving?
A surplus can only be providedif it exists!
With no surplus,we supply nothing."
As the district chief said it,
I sent the vehicles away.
I took him literally.
At the time, we werean agricultural cooperative.
A superior type of cooperative!
It wasn't an ordinary cooperative.
There were 2 types ofagricultural production cooperatives.
Ours had developedto the superior level.
So, I sent the vehicles away.
the district chief took down my name.
During a meeting, he sent for me.
I took the opportunityto give my opinion
on the Party's policyof a State monopoly.
I said that the Stateshould buy and sell,
but the State bought and didn't sell.
It boughtand didn't sell to the peasants.
Looking back,my words were sensible.
But to them, I was attackingthe Communist Party's policy.
Until then, I hadn't hadthe slightest problem!
I wasn't the target.
But the directive was to formteams of 4 rightists
and they only had 3.
In the end,
Wang Zhiqing,the community arts center director,
suggested my name.
He said that my familyhad a high status.
And I was a memberof the Communist Youth League!
They added me to the listand I became a rightist.
I had nothing to be ashamed of.
I wasn't at fault.
I was unfairly accusedfor over 20 years.
Were the peasants in Gaotaistarving to death?
Gaotai waswhere the most people died!
Most starved to death.
In 1961, members of my familywere still starving to death.
In town, the sick couldn't stand.
Only one personin my family survived.
It was impossible to get help.
Houses everywhere were empty.
People were put in themand given a little food
in the hope of saving them.
Upon my return in 1961,we still hoped to save lives.
Did many peasants starve to deathin the Hexi Corridor?
Especially in my home village,Taizisi.
The worst situation in all China.
The village of Taizisi,in the canton of Xuanhua.
- Gaotai?- Yes, my village.
- Gaotai district?- Yes.
7.5 km from the town.
Almost all the men died.
Only the women were left.
The village secretarywas very active!
He gave everything to the State
he found in the loftsand in peasants' homes.
People starved to death.
They even strippedthe bark off trees.
How many starved to death?
There are over 1,000 peoplein the village now.
So, several hundred died.
The men all starved to death.Only the women were left.
Some got away.
It was unbearable.
What about your family?
In my family...
my big brother was in town,
two other brothers were in Yumen,
and a 4th starved to death.
We don't know where his wife is.
My parents also died of starvation.
- Your relatives?- They all starved.
2 nephews starved to death.
My parents, 2 nephewsand my 4th brother.
5 or 6 family membersstarved to death.
Those who worked outsidesurvived.
You only found outwhen you returned in 1961?
When I came home,the house was empty.
The only person still alivewas my 4th brother's wife.
She was the only survivor.
In Taizisi, peoplehad started eating human flesh.
People ate the dead.
When people died,we'd go and bury them.
In the evening,people went and cut off the flesh.
Does his stomach hurt?
He complains every evening.
Does it hurt or is he bloated?
- What about now?- Yes.
And his stools?
At first, very liquid.
It's been better for 2 days.His stools are more solid.
But it stinks!
- Thicker?- Yes, that's it.
.- How often does he go?- 3 times since yesterday.
Morning, noon, and afternoon.
.- Is he thirsty?- He doesn't drink.
- Does he drink a bit?- Rarely.
Does defecating take long?
It was better,but he hasn't eaten since yesterday.
Is Chinese medicine OK?
- Will you take it?- It's what he needs.
It's the only thingthat will do any good.
What's his name?
His name is Tian Zihuan.
Tian, and the first name?
Tian, then what?
"Zi"... "Tian Zi..."
Yes, Tian Zihuan.
I'll leave you here.
Well, come home.
They've turned off the heating.
It's not warm!
They only turn it on in the evening.
It's not warm, is it?
Sit down if you're cold.
- Sit down!- Don't worry.
In the spring of 1958,
many rightistswere sent to Jiabiangou.
At the time...
they asked us who could cook.
I said I could
and I started working in the canteen.
It was a refectoryfor over 1,000 people.
There were about 60 of us...
60 working in the kitchens.
I started in the kitchens.
At the time...
how old was I?
22 or 23 years old.
With my character,
I don't thinkI deserve to be blamed.
I'm already readyto bend over backwards
to do a task I've been given.
I always do my best.
That's how I started,doing small tasks
before I became an assistant
and ended up head of the canteen.
That's how it happened.
At the start,
with 27 kilos of cereals a month,it was still OK.
But for those who did physical work,
it wasn't enough.
I was aware of that.
At the time, we must have had80 mules in the camp.
I don't need to tell youwe ate them all.
Some were already dead.We killed the others.
We ate all the mules.
I can confirm that.
In July and August 1960,
we couldn't cope.
In July and August 1959,
they sorted the most able-bodied.
They were all transferredto Mingshui.
There were 1,500 in Mingshui?
Yes, something like that.
At the time, I heardthat about 700 men,
the most resistant,those who could still walk,
were sent to Mingshui.
Mingshui was a farmin the district of Gaotai.
When we arrived,
the land was still farmed.
The millet hadn't been picked.
There wereno permanent structures over there.
Just 3 clay huts.
We made 3 stations of them.
The west station
was for the construction teamwith about 650 people.
The central onewas for the farming team
with hundreds of people.
The eastern one
was for all those who camefrom Xintiandun, I think.
An old farm annex.
In all, over 1,000 came from there.
the quantity of cereals allocatedwent down to 15 pounds.
That's 7.5 kilos.
A ration of half a poundper person per day.
Or 250 grams.
1 to 3 people died each day.
It was very disturbing.
Then, the number increased
up to 9 a day.
We were worried.
tens of people died each day.
We were totally helpless.
Having arrived in December,
yes, in December,
the Northwest Conference
to save people, was over
and a rescue plan had been set up.
The province sent us a backup team.
We had a former revolutionary,the mayor of Jinta
called Zhang Heqiang.
He was in the campfor regionalism.
He was in the dormitory,like the others,
on the floor, side by side.
2 pieces of woodmarked out the central aisle.
was lying there.
The delegation came in.They'd come to see him.
He sat up.
"Mr. Mayor, we're here today,
because you'll soonbe able to go home.
Hang in there."
"Do you have any cigarettes with you?I wouldn't mind one."
The people from the delegationtook out a pack from Lanzhou
"Just rest,we'll soon get you out of here."
From that day on, the work units
started to comeand get their employees.
Jiuquan,the prefecture which administered us,
had sent a young manfrom the Civil Administration
The prefecture had sent himto Jiabiangou, to Mingshui camp
to get the people from Jiuquan.
But he couldn't finda vehicle right away.
He needed a busand he couldn't find one.
It took him 3 days to find one.
On the 4th day,when he reached Mingshui,
Zhang Heqianghad already starved to death.
3 days too many.
He'd starved to death.
The person in chargeof the people from Jiuquan
came into the kitchens.It was the middle of winter.
Cooking was underway. You couldn'tsee because of all the steam.
He shouted from the door:
My name is Qi Luji.
" Qi Luji!""I'm here!"
"Where are you?""I'm here!"
Young Liu came over.
"How come you look so healthy?"
"I work in the kitchens
and I manage to eata bit more than the others.
It keeps me alive."
At the start,we were afraid of dying young.
Then, when they decided to help us,
there were over 1,000 sheepleft in the camp.
The director gave orders
to choose the animals
which were the weakest andwouldn't make it through the winter,
to kill about 20 of themand make soup out of them.
So, every evening,we had better rations.
Then, we managed to cook carrots.
With meat in the soup,
it made a bowl per person.
A cook carried the pot,
and with the ladle,
I served everyone.
One evening, we went near a body.
We bumped into itas we were walking.
We checked it with our feet.It was stiff.
We were hardened.It didn't scare us anymore.
It had become banal to seedead people. It no longer scared us.
At the time,
even though I wasjust a kitchen assistant,
I had great power in that situation!
An extra bowl of foodcould save someone's life.
One bowl less could kill.
That was how it was.
As for the cooks,
they ate in secret!
A little more soupwasn't enough for them.
They were hungry.
So, during the night,they got organized
and cooked themselves noodle balls.
When I saw that, I said to them:
"Every ball you eatcondemns several people to death."
Have more broth if you want.Drink your fill,
but don't eat like that."
Did you bury the dead?
No, I never did.
But I know that...
when they buried a dead person,
they opened it upto take out the innards
and after making a fire,they grilled them and ate them.
I know that.
Why did I join the canteenin the spring of 1958?
I'd heard that in Gaotai,people were starving to death.
Among the population,people were dying.
I was given the example of a family.
A couple with 5 daughters
and a boy, the youngest.
They were starving,completely desperate.
The father brought them togetherto find a solution.
"We're dying here.What'll we do?"
And he suggestedkilling the youngest.
Killing and cooking him!
The eldest sister intervened,
saying he was the only sonand he'd be the head of the family.
"I'll take his place,
The father took a knifefrom his sleeve,
determined to kill his daughter.
He stabbed her,
and they cooked her.
That was the rumor.
I saw the way things were going.
A terrible situation!
It made your blood run cold!
We were in danger.
It was bad.People were starving to death!
A former comrade-in-arms,
secretary of the League committee,at district level.
A guy from Shaanxisaid to me:
"I'll join the farming teamand learn the technique,
so later on, we can farm the land."
I said to him:"Do it without me!
I'm going to work in the canteen."
I realized we should considerourselves lucky if we survived.
So much for the technique!
I didn't thinkI'd learn anything in the kitchens,
but it was quite the opposite.
I ate my fill.
I spent 8 hours in the kitchens.
So, I thought...politically, I'm done for.
I'm excluded from the Party.
I was nothing!
Politically, I was ruined.
I considered the problemfrom every angle.
I'd been a philosophy teacher.
I taught Marxism-Leninismto administration staff.
After some thought, I said to myself:
"I learned philosophy,
why not learn Chinese medicine?"
It was much simpler than philosophy!
It was concreteand much easier to tackle.
My curiosity was stirred up!
I started reading after work.
I bought books from bookstores.
That's where I learnedthe basics of Chinese medicine.
Once I got out of this camp
and had gotten ridof my rightist label
and recovered my cadre status,
I still had to rejoin the Party.
I was given a new post.
I'll continuewhat I was talking about last time.
Working at the tax office,I used my trips
to treat people.
I made a name for myself!
Everyone knew meand came to consult me.
It's the people who let meget into the hospital!
In 1964,with the social education movement,
there weren'tany traditional doctors.
They were condemned as"counter-revolutionaries".
So, I was let into the hospital.
How many of youwere there from Jinta?
About 20.I don't know exactly.
Only 2 or 3 survived.
Another came through.Zhao Debang!
The chief of Public Security.
The one who arrested me!
That's someone else I saved.
- From Jinta?- Yes.
Why did he have you arrested?
He was the chief of Public Security.
In January 1958,
he arrested me subject tothe district committee's decision.
Later, he was accused of regionalism,
and we went to Jiabiangou together.
He said to me:
don't blame me for all this."
3 of us went to Jiabiangou.
The chief of the tax office,
He never went home.
With the 2 of us,
that made 3 people.
The Zhang correspondent,the former district chief,
was told to accompany us.
At the intersection,
we got out of the car.
The correspondent said to us:
"Rest in the shade under the trees.
I'll go get a cart
to take your things to Jiabiangou."
So, there I was,sitting under a tree,
next to my enemy Zhao Dabang!
Fate had brought us together.
He spoke first.
"Don't blame me for all this!"
You arrested me,and I shouldn't blame you?"
"You can't understand.
The district committee secretary,Gao Jinguang,
gathered evidence against you
before telling meto execute you.
During your interrogation,
Gao Jinguang phoned meto find out if you'd confessed."
I said: "No, not yet."
"Put another pair of ironson his feet!"
"Chief, we're not allowed to,not even for condemned men.
He already has irons on his feet.
"Whether it's allowed or not,do it properly!"
It so happens I'd denouncedcertain problems concerning him.
It was during the movementto rectify the Party!
So, I'd offended him.
He'd sworn to kill me.
The chief of Public Securityquickly brought his men together.
A group of 5who were under his command.
Like the district secretary,he had a small squad.
He hurriedly summoned themto decide what to do.
"The secretary wantsto use double irons.
It's totally forbidden.
And yet he's issued the orderto do so.
What do we do?"
They came up with a compromise.
They decided to cuff my handsbehind my back.
I already had 9-kilo ironson my feet,
and they put others behind my back.
At night, I couldn't sleep.
I leaned against the wallwith a pillow.
That's how I slept for entire nights.
In all, 3 nights in irons.
My cellmates fed me.
On the morning of the 4th day,
Public Security came
and took off my cuffs.
Without saying a word,they released me and left.
Why did Gao Jinguang want to knowif I'd confessed?
He asked that question,
because the first interrogationhad lasted 8 days,
and on the last day, he said to me:
"You sound guilty!"I said: "Of course I'm not!"
"Doesn't the editorial entitled
'Here is why' of the People's Daily
reflect the viewof central government
and the policy of central power?"
"Of course!""Well, then."
This article clearly stated
that there were 3 criteriato qualify a rightist.
What are they?
and class origin.
I took part in the revolution at 16,
when I was still in high school.
My social origins?
We were average peasants!
What's the problem?
I never workedunder the old regime.
Why is my past problematic?
I said to them: "I don't understand.You'll have to explain it to me."
the Jiabiangou farm directorwas Zhang Heqiang,
the chief of our district.
At the provincial conferencein February 1958,
Zhang Zhongliang was Party secretary.
After the conference,
in our district of Jinta,
Lu Yugong, the general secretaryof the province,
was put in chargeof problem solving in the district.
He was the deputy
and simultaneously heldprovincial and local positions
while remainingJinta committee secretary.
Because it was him,
we dared to voice criticismsduring rectification meetings.
With the conference starting,
Lu Yugong,as secretary general of the province,
had to attend meetings.
During the conference,
the secretary Lu Yugong,this old revolutionary,
was accused of being partof Song Chengliang's clique.
So, we didn't see him again.
As he didn't come back,
Gao Jinguang found himself promoted.
He became district secretary.
The rectification movement ended
and was replacedby the anti-rightist movement.
A new struggleunder Gao Jinguang's leadership.
At the provincial conference,someone said:
"Qi Luji, that rightist."Ultra-rightist even!
"The ultra-rightist Qi Lujisays that Lu is lucid."
I'd said that Lu Yugong was lucid.
said the same about Lu Yugong.He supported his position.
So, they took this opportunityto accuse 24 people.
They said that with Zhang Heqiang,we formed a clique.
That's how Zhang Heqiangwas removed,
and Gao Jinguang took power.
The Party conference brought downthe district chief, Zhang Heqiang.
And Gao Jinguang found himselfat the head of Jinta's affairs.
Absolute power was in his hands.
That's how he accusedZhang Heqiang of regionalism.
From then on,
Zhang Heqiang,the former director of Jiabiangou,
was stripped of his functionsby the conference
and sent to Jiabiangouto be re-educated.
What criticisms did you voice?
It was about the food.
Gao Jinguang went aroundwith 2 young women,
a disaster for the peasants.
He ate their chickens!
That's just one example.
The 7 points I raisedall concerned him.
His arbitrary decisions.
10 recommendations,the last of which was
reinforcingthe district's collective running.
There was also reinforcingthe united front!
Massively unite the intellectuals.
2 examples of my 10 propositions.
Are you always alone at home?
When my children go to work,I'm on my own.
a classmate from elementary school.
He went to North Koreaas a volunteer.
When he returned,
he told me that Mao Zedong's son,Mao Anying,
had died in Korea.
That wasn't the official version!
I found it hard to believe.
Was it true?
I didn't darebreathe a word about it.
In an old newspaper that I had...
it said that...
Mao's first wifehad been killed by the Nationalists.
Mao was already elderly.
People said there wasanother son somewhere
and that the Partywas looking everywhere for him.
It wasn't clear.
I couldn't stop thinking about it.
One of his sons had gone missing,
and they hoped he was still alive.
Now another one had died.
Feeling somewhat emotional,I took a schoolmate's notebook,
On the notebook...
there was a portrait of Maoand I drew some tears on it.
At high school I was accusedof acting like a spoiled child
and of having disfiguredPresident Mao's image.
It caused a big stir and I had toundergo a criticism session.
I was given 2 severe reprimandsand 2 lighter ones.
I had to keep explaining myself,so I'd had enough
and I left the high school.
That's what happened.
I believe the Rectification Movementhad its targets.
My case was already loaded,add to that the gossip
and the fact that one's not alwayscareful about what one says,
everything was written downand immediately politicized.
When were you sent to Jiabiangou?
I was sent to Jiabiangou
in April 1954.
In 1957 or in 1958?
In April 1958.
Before we left,
they gathered us together
and told us to work hardand to reform efficiently.
They said we'd be given employmentwhen we got out.
We were accompanied by a teacher.
He wasn't from our schooland I can't remember his name.
What was his name?
He was assigned to us.
We took the train to Xigu.
At the Xigu refinery,we joined a few rightists.
They were under strict surveillance
by armed guards.
We joined their group.
From then on,
we felt we were losing our freedom.
When we arrived at Jiuquan,we were escorted by force
to the Re-education Bureau.
It had been a short night,we had barely slept.
We'd spent one dayand one night on the train.
We left in the morning,and arrived at dawn the next day.
The Re-education Bureau
took us to Jiabiangou in a truck.
That's what happened.
we arrived in 1958.
For the national holiday, I think,
Jiabiangou had selectedsome people for a show,
to give a few artistic performancesin Jiuquan.
We weren't told about any of that.
Those selectedcame from different teams,
but when they returned,they were put together in one team.
Each team was in chargeof a plot of land
and when they took men awayit was problematic.
They couldn't lessenthe team's labor-force.
That made people unhappy.So they were placed together.
That way, they could rehearsewithout jeopardizing the others
whilst continuing to farm their land.
In actual fact,they performed no more shows
and their new task
was to bury the camp's dead,discreetly.
Did you know any of the dead?
Everyone I knew died there.
I knew a Liu Ershen,
and Lu Fa,from Lanzhou Post Office.
Lu Fa was from Lintao.
I saw Liu Ershen again later onbut Lu Fa died there.
Once, I went to seewhere the dead were buried.
That's the place...
...the place thatXu Xiashan spoke about last time.
He spoke of the sheepfold,but the sheepfold wasn't there.
The sheepfold was up top,not down below.
I remember that in 1958,
the old barracks,
that was in the camp,the former dining hall.
Over here was the warehouse
and further to the west,
the surrounding wall.
Behind that wall...
Beyond that wall...
there was a sort of hill,or rather, two terraces.
In that place,someone hung themselves in 1958.
I remember it well.
I don't know who the person was.
There was a very simple room,
of about 7 or 8 square meters.
I don't know what it was used for,but a man hung himself there.
At that time, we were alreadyquite indifferent to death.
All we thought aboutwas feeding ourselves,
and seeing people diewas a part of daily life.
We thought thatnone of us would survive
but we were obsessed by hunger!
Did any of your colleagues die there?
I can still remembersome of their names.
A man from the city administration,
a certain Zhang Weirang.
A teacher too.
And also Du Yaoshun.
Cai Yuanruiwas my elementary school teacher.
Du Yaoshun, my militaryinstructor at high school.
There was also...
Oh damn, sometimes his name...
A former teacher,who had become a head teacher,
first of an elementary schoolthen of a high school.
Ah, the names!
But I remember them well,I can see their faces.
There was also a teacherfrom a private school.
And another,whose name was Yu Ruxian.
He died early on.
In the end he lost his mind.
A peasant,whose family knew nothing
and wondered whyhe didn't send them any money.
He'd ask me for moneyand stamps too.
He didn't even have enoughto buy himself a stamp.
How did I realize he was going crazy?
He stole a padlock with no key!Strange, isn't it?
A small padlock with no key,I've no idea who it belonged to,
he stole it.
Wang Xinwen.He worked at...
the Guangming Daily.
He was an editor
at the Gansu province branch.
He also lost his mind in the end.
He was there at the same time as usand he'd say:
"I don't understand, I writeto my friends but nobody replies."
I'd say to myself:"You're surprised they don't reply?
It would get them into trouble!"
It had never occurred to him.
He said: "At the Bureau,with the direct line,
I was constantly interrupted.I had so many calls
that they had toadd an extension for me.
And now, they don't evenreply to my letters!"
How could they have replied?
Many of us lost our minds.
My job was watering,
I did that for a long time.
While we're on the subject...
Although I'd nevergrown anything in sand,
coming from a peasant family,I'd heard about it.
Here, the canalsrapidly filled with sand.
Back home, the soils were different,the earth retained the water.
There was little rainfall each year,but we survived.
In Jiabiangou, the sand blew awaywith the slightest breeze
and when we tried to usewater from the furrows,
it had often disappeared.
The Congress had been clear:
whoever let water get awaywould be brought to justice.
One day I was told to go water.
I went unwillingly.
Deep down, I was scared.
After a day and a night of work,
the person in charge must havethought that I was good at it,
that I could do this work.
They took me out ofagriculture team n°3
and assigned me to watering.
I did that for one year, until 1960.
From 1959 until the sowing season,in spring 1960,
when I had to water the land at theend of March, beginning of April.
Afterwards, they assigned meto growing vegetables.
There, I had to water all year round.
Zhang Guobin gave mesteamed bread rolls.
I have some cigarettes!
He was head of a brigade,his food wasn't rationed.
He had that privilege!
When you're in charge of 50 people,
if you don't shout and move around,how do you manage?
As a leader,he didn't do the physical work
but he knew howto make himself heard.
He pushed us to achieve our targets.
Zhang Guobin couldn't readbut he was very intelligent.
Zhang Guobin.He was from Sichuan.
How had a person from Sichuancome to be in Jiuquan?
To escape the famine,
he had enrolled inthe Nationalist Army, back then.
Later on, he had found refugein Jiuquan and got married there.
Over time,he made his niche there,
and despite not being able to write,
he had becomesecretary of the commune.
But, his past caught up with him.
Before, in Sichuan,the mafia was very active.
It organized robberies,
but as the adultswere too easily recognized,
kids like Zhangdid the transfers
and they were paidfor their deliveries.
So Zhang was the conveyor,
but he hadn'tadmitted that to the Party.
The Party must have come across him
when they capturedsome secret agents from Kuomintang.
He had an exceptional mind.
He remembered absolutely everything.
When he organized the productionhe memorized everything.
One day, he said something to me,
"We give you a joband you say: I know, I know.
You are so proud!
I haven't said anything yetand you say you know already!"
He was right, I didn't know anything.He hadn't said anything yet!
Zhang Guobin gave meone bread roll per day.
If I'm alive today,it's partly thanks to him.
And yet, we sharedno particular bond.
People thereweren't all in the same boat.
Some prisonerswere members of the Party,
others came from the upper classes.
In the end, Zhang Guobin wasassigned to water distribution.
He came to tell mehe was going to the reservoir.
I remember the way he looked at me.I offered him two things.
My sunglassesthat I bought before leaving.
A neighbor and "historic rightist",who had experienced the camp,
had told me about the sandstormsand temperature changes,
and I had bought some glasses.
One pair of ordinary glasses andone pair to protect me from the wind.
It was very cold there
and my family had sent mea pair of fur-lined boots.
When he told me he was leaving,
I said to him: "I'm giving you theseglasses and this pair of boots."
He took the items willingly.
Today, I am indebted to Zhou Lanting.
Zhang Guobin,I was able to show him my gratitude.
Zhang Guobin died at the reservoir.
He knew many thingsabout the campaigns.
With his family responsibilities,the pressure was too much.
I was still in Jiabiangouwhen I heard the news.
People no longerresembled human beings!
Today, we're in good health.That wasn't the case back then.
You should have seen people walking.
Their legs no longer moved,
they had to use their waiststo take a step.
People used to cutthe handles from shovels
to make canes out of them.
You should have seen them.And their faces!
Oh yes, there was Qi Baiwen, too!
Qi Baiwen,which company was he from?
Where did he come from?
He was passionate about acupuncture.
He had installed an acupuncture boardin his dormitory.
He also had books about medicine.
Qi Baiwen died at Mingshui.
The head of production found himbut didn't recognize him.
He was obviouslya member of our team.
When he went through his pockets
he found a notebook,or something like that,
and he realized it was Qi Baiwen.
The head of teamasked us to bury him.
This is what he said:
"If you are good peopleyou'll bury him very deep,
otherwise he'll be eatenby the dogs or the wolves."
He was unrecognizable.
Nothing like the man we'd known.
Impossible to create that look withmake-up. He was just skin and bones.
It was no longer him!
This Qi Baiwen, where was he from?
I think he was from Gansu,but from which work unit?
Perhaps from the Yonghua transports.
Wasn't he from Tianshui?
Did I not mention Qi Baiwen before?
- No, never.- Never?
Word of his deathspread quickly back then.
We were in the same group,
before we were separated.
How did he die?
I don't know.
Maybe he was looking for food
along the railway tracks?
In November,it started to snow there.
In the shelters,dug out of the ground,
we used logs of wood
that were 26 feet long,we laid them down to make a roof.
Between the logs,we inserted tufts of dried grasses
that had been formed by the wind.
Naturally, we could see the starsand the hail stung our faces.
It was winter,
we had nothing to eatand it was so cold.
That's why there wereso many deaths in Mingshui.
Did you dig the ditches yourselves?
They were there already.I don't know who dug them.
Our shelter had two dormitories.
They were dug out next to each other,
rectangular or square.
We got into them via a slopewhich led to the separating wall.
We gained some heightwith the earth from the ditch
that had built up on the sides.
We went in via the slopeto go to one side or the other.
There were 6 dormitoriesdug out in that way.
On the ground, we scattered some hay
that we kept in placewith a log of wood.
There was nothing inside.You put your bags in the corner.
I don't remember having a mattress,just a cover.
One day they came and arrested me.The Party is cautious!
They had sent a cadre from Henan,a young guy, quite bold.
He followed us everywhere.
The Public Security of Lanzhoumust have appointed him.
8 of us dug the canal.He was always there.
I wondered what he wanted from us,but I wasn't particularly afraid.
We walked along the buckwheat fieldsseeding the plants as we went.
He followed us as we worked,discreet and calm.
"Work hard in order to removeyour rightist hat."
I hadn't worried about that problemfor a long time.
When you're starving,you quickly forget your damn hat!
As if we even stood a chanceof getting rid of it!
When we got back,he followed me to the office.
He still said nothing.
The heads of teams got together
to organize the workload.
Then, they announced a protocol.
That's when I saw a policemancome out of the adjacent room.
He read out my arrest warrantand handcuffed me.
He handcuffed you?
- Who are you talking about?- The man who followed you.
No, he was a cadre from the camp.
A cadre sent by the camp,to oversee our work.
I only realized laterhe was following me.
He didn't speak much.
"Work hard to removeyour rightist hat."
He accompanied us like that,calmly, to the office.
And there, he told me that Liang,the brigade head, wanted to see me.
He was there, in the room.
As he said nothing,I squatted down.
The meeting took place, but nothingparticularly important was said.
Then, I saw a policemancome out of the adjacent room.
He announced my arrestand handcuffed me.
They asked Zhou Lantingto bring my suitcases to me.
I didn't open them
and I stayed there all night long,lying down, in handcuffs.
I consider myself luckynot to have died there!
I can't remember his name!
An ordinary guy, not very big.
His family name was Zhao.
- Zhao Tingqi?- Zhao Tingqi.
We came from the same place.
One from Yongdeng,the other from Gaolan.
We understood one another.
He'd asked me for roasted flour.I said it had all gone.
Afterwards, I regretted it.
He'd have thanked mefor 2 spoonfuls.
He didn't want more than that.
In such extreme situations,you lose all your humanity.
That's what I can say.
- You didn't give him anything?- Nothing.
- Did he die or did he survive?- He died.
I felt bad.
Acting like thatfor an extra mouthful
when we were starving to death!
I always hadsome roasted flour on me.
When hunger gnawed at me,I'd have some.
There was no questionof having real meals.
Where did he starve to death?
He died in Jiabiangou.
I heard he starved to death.
Starved to death in Jiabiangou.
His mother, a widow,raised him on her own.
Zhao Tingqi. He'd graduatedfrom the University of Taiwan.
Where did he work before?
In Gaolan,in Yongdeng high school.
- Yongdeng.- Yes, the high school.
Was he a teacher?
He was taciturn, medium height.5 feet 4 at most.
A very ordinary guy
who was softly spoken,not like us!
He was well-educatedand very distinguished.
Did you take your sheep out?
Look at all these sheep!
Where are yours?
They're all there.I don't have any more.
They all come and take earth here.
Those 2 mounds over therewere earth taken from here.
The moundyou see over there, too.
At first,we didn't pay any attention,
but then, we discovered the graves.
Normally, we don't take the earthif there are human remains.
We go elsewhereso we don't disturb the graves.
The bones are exposed now!
When you came here,were there a lot of graves?
There were those ones
and others behind the village.
- Behind your house, too?- Yes.
When we leveled the yardin front of our house,
we found bones.
Lots and lots.
And you built your house here?
We built it on the top of the dune.
There was a dune here before.
We found handcuffs
and clothes made of fabricunusual for the time.
Over there, there were human remains
with handcuffs on the wrists.
And also the caves they had dug.
It's hard to say.
We can't say,it's all been leveled.
They destroyed everything.
In one of the cavities they dug,
there were handcuffed bonesat the foot of a wall.
There's nothing left.
It's become farmland.
When they were working on it,
I came to see.
It was a very disturbing sight.
There are more over there.
In what year did you come here?
What was it like here then?
There weren't the cropsthere are now.
It was a big desert.
Down there,there's always been more earth.
Did you clear it yourself?
No, the State did.
The State investedin the farming of this land.
- You gained from the distribution?- Yes.
I don't knowif these bones were dug up
by localsor people who came from elsewhere.
They were under there.
Behind that row of houses,there's a well over there.
Can you see the well?
- Are there caves over here?- Yes.
They leveled the ground here.Look how flat it is.
Now all the land is cultivated.
Where was the handcuffed skeleton?
Somewhere at the topor the bottom.
Before, it was a desert here.
Did they push all the bonesinto this gully?
Into this one and alsoover there behind the trees.
How many would you saythere were?
There were a lot.
All those bones that they pushed in,with skulls as big as this.
How many do you think?
There really were a lot.
How can I put it...?
Do you remember when it was?
It was in 1988.
Well, it was in July 1987.
- Up to where did they fill in?- Up to here.
Before, there were gullies here.
The paths and roads you seewere ditches before.
- There was a ditch right here?- Yes.
- Were there caves in this ditch?- Yes.
If we go backto where we were before
and we go west,you can still see some.
Caves dugout of the sides of the gullies.
They're still there.
What are you here for?
I'm looking for the big well.
It's over there.
You're filming me!
- Where's the big well?- Over there.
Here's the well.
When did they dig it?
In 1959 or 1960.
The station administration was there.
They'd built groups of huts.
Huts that they occupied.
Are there caves?
When I arrived here,I didn't see any.
This one has a name on.Can I get it out?
You can't see anything now.
I sometimes find somewhen I come with He Fengming.
The ropes are still knotted!
We made knotswith their luggage ties.
And on this stone?
It's too old.
- It was written in red paint.- Yes, red paint.
There are still traces of red.
There's a name on this stone.
The paint has worn off.It's been over 40 years!
Over 40 years!
- I was 29 and now I'm 74.- It was the 60s.
It's now 2005.It's been over 40 years!
This is where there are the most.
Over there too, they're everywhere!
- Where did they live?- Further north.
- In the caves?- Yes.
We'd lie low in the caves.
Arriving in October,we had no choice!
No means of building,no drinking water.
Later, they dug a well over there.
That provided some water.
Further up,I saw some more water.
- Here's some sheep fat.- You didn't even have groats!
Cookies and cakesyou missed so much!
If we're alive today,it's at the cost of your lives!
You know that?
You came before us.
Otherwise we'd all be here,buried with you.
Go on, put a bit more on.
Companions of misfortune,
who worries about you here?Who takes care of you?
You're scattered here, abandoned.
We bring you a little moneyto relieve you!
Spend what you have.
Whether it's a little or a lot,spend it.
Companions of misfortunewho sleep here! Share it among you!
I came with my family.
It's thanks to themthat I'm still alive.
They got me food,sometimes stealing it.
Without them, I'd be dead.
In Shigong, there areas many graves as here.
Despite the rescue decision,people continued to die.
I buried 3 of them.
Come see these 2 characters.
You can see them clearly.
- Written in red.- Yes, in red.
You can see them!
run some water over it.
There's a name on it.
Can you read it?
What does it say?
Put it straight to read it better.
- Can you read this character?- It's the clearest one.
Who has some water?You can read something there.
Pour some water on it.
The family name is Cui.
- And then?- Cui...
- This character's legible.- Not the bottom one.
There's a 3rd characterin the middle.
- Look.- It looks like Cui something Zhen.
We need a magnifying glass.
- Cui!- Cui something Guo.
What's between Cui and Guo?
I'd say Cui something Guo.
- Yes, the character Cui is clear.- Very clear!
- Lean it over a bit.- Definitely Cui.
Then, I'd say "Guo".Maybe a name with 2 characters?
3 characters.There's something in the middle.
We were walking deadwith the wolf at the door!
A band of thieves in rags,with a rope for a belt.
It wasn't a pretty sight!
People emergedand rummaged for seeds.
We had no pride left, no dignity.
We had only one thing on our minds:finding food.
When we went near Mingshui station,
where we were diggingan irrigation channel,
we didn't takethe underground passage,
we walked on the track
because of all the wastefrom the restaurant cars.
Bits of noodlesand vegetable peelings
ended up on the tracks.
We would pick them up.
It was hell on earth!
I better show you the ditch.
You should be able to find caves
and shelters dug into the earth.
You should still find some.
- You can still see where they were.- Without any difficulty.
I can show youthe ones they're destroying.
I'll show youall the ones I know.
We'll watch your flock!
When I came here, it was a desert.
We'll make sureyour flock don't eat the crops!
We'll follow you, OK?
Yes, I can take you there.
- I'll ask my daughter to come.- Yes, for the sheep.
Her house is just there.
Come look after the animals.I'm busy!
Some time ago,
a man called Gao Jiyicame from town.
He was looking for information, too.
He stood on the road,
and tears streamed downthis old man's face.
- He'd run away back then.- I don't recognize it.
There are migrants now.
I was here 45 years ago.I was in the camp.
- The re-education camp?- Yes.
Gao Jiyi was also in the camp.
He managed to get away,otherwise he'd be dead.
Can you imagine? It's been 45 years.You've irrigated the land since.
You can't recognize it.
My only landmark is the station.
At the time, we estimatedit was 2.5 km from here.
That's what we thought.
Would you sayit's 2.5 km away?
- Yes, that's it.- You see.
2.5 km this wayand the station at the end.
We could see the trains go past.
We were here.
Of course we could be offby a few dozen yards.
- That'd be normal, wouldn't it?- Oh, yes!
I'd been here for yearswhen that old man came.
Look, the place I lived inwas flat,
as flat as a wheat-field.
I lived in one of those cavesdug into the ground.
The old wall is over there.
There's still some left.
The rest has been destroyed.
All this area was the sheep pen.
The sheep pen was there.
The old wall is here.
This is all that's leftof the outer wall.
What you can see thereis the original wall.
Did you see the building?
- The old building?- Yes.
- I saw it.- What was it like?
It was a group of huts.
A long line of huts.
- How long?- Oh, it was long.
From here to the haystack.
It was on either side here.
- And over there?- There was another group of huts.
Gentlemen, stop there.
Come look over here.
The old man, Gao Jiyi,lived near the tree over there.
In a round hole.
You can just see it over there.
- Gao Jiyi told you he lived here?- Yes, in the hole.
The shelters were in this ditch.
Look, you can see the placewith the fresh earth.
There are 5 or 6 caves over there.
Yes, 5 or 6.
- Look, you can see a hollow.- Was that a cave?
Yes, there's a sort of dip.
That's from back then!
All this dates back to then.
This looks like the entranceto a shelter.
When I arrived here,none of this had been cleared.
The land was neglected.
There were no crops, no food.
- An empty place!- There was nothing to see.
- Nothing.- Just blue skies.
You could clearly hearthe train going past.
At night, it went clickety-clackon the track.
Where I was beforewas an inhospitable desert.
30 families came here.I'm the only one who stayed.
They all left?
They found the place inhospitableand left.
60 new families came.Only 3 stayed.
- Did they leave, too?- Yes.
- I had no choice.- It's hard to emigrate!
I stayed, that's all.
See the opening in the wall?
That was the entrance to a cave.
There were several in this placewhich is cultivated now.
On that mound over there,
there were 4 caves.
The caves have been filled into grow crops.
But you can still see the entrances.
See those 2 openings?
They're the entrances to the shelter.
It was a big shelter.
There's nothing left.There's no need to go.
What offense had I committed?
My past had alreadybeen thoroughly examined.
During the great meeting
aimed at investigatingthe second class cadres,
I told them all about my past,like I'm telling you, today.
On that day, they evencongratulated me for my speech.
Zhang Tianhong,Secretary of the Party Committee,
chaired the meeting.
Zhao Tong was the General Secretary.
At the time, I was the regionalgeneral services section leader.
They had ruled in favor of my case.
They still called me comradeand I wasn't designated an enemy.
They would say:"Comrade Xingde
"gave himself up honestlyand of his own accord."
They spoke of "case-dismissal",or something like that.
I've forgotten whatthe conclusion was.
Even though I wrote it downon my form.
Things were going fine,
but when I went back to work,that's when they got me.
As usual, I preparedthe minutes of the meetings.
This time,it was a plenary session
for our provisions station.
Li Chengming, the secretary,took my case history and read it.
After a while,
Dong Quanzong,an employee of the Secretariat,
took me to my room.
I packed my bags and we left.
He came with me.
I carried my suitcase and hemy two bowls and other belongings.
I left for prison n°3,I didn't even go home first.
My family were unaware.
They had no idea aboutwhat I was charged with.
When I got to prison n°3,
I saw that all kinds of peoplewere gathered there, together.
Some of themwere much younger than me.
They could hold my past against me,but what about those young people?
They had grown upunder the red flag,
and yet,there were many of them there.
There were also peoplefar more important than me.
A peculiar situation.
That's how I ended up in jail,without a clue why.
- How many of you went to Jiabiangou?- 270.
We went by truck to Beidaofu,
before taking the train to Lanzhou
and from there,changing to Jiuquan.
In Jiuquan, some vehiclestook us to the North.
Life was harsh in those provinces.
I didn't get to see the region.
Those who went outto scavenge for food told us
that there were desert date palms.
Did your group of 270 peoplego there with an escort?
Yes, an escort from prison n°3.
I was on the agricultural team,digging the soil.
Little by little,
those who came from Tianshuiwere all transferred to Xintiandun.
So I also ended upin the Xiantiandun annex.
It was a few kilometers away.
Our head of brigadewas called Liu Mingyuan.
I went to find him
to tell him that I wasgood at cooking
but not farming the land.
I didn't know how to cookfor a community,
but as there was no-one else,I could try.
Being in a kitchen was alwayspreferable to working the land.
At least I wouldn'tkill off the crops.
Liu Mingyuan introduced meand I went to the kitchens.
Nobody asked me any questions.
I watched how theyprepared the bread rolls
and how they cooked.
I thought hard
and realized thatwith a bit of effort, I'd manage.
I began by spending two,or rather three nights there.
Three days and three nightswithout sleeping.
Not even going to the dormitory.
Making bread all day long
and all night.
Steaming food, and fanning the flamesif I was asked to,
adding yeast when necessary.
Kneading dough and adding yeastfor fermentation.
We followed the instructionsto the letter.
When we added the flour,it was eight bags in one go.
We poured at least five bagsonto the kitchen counter
before making a holein the middle with a shovel
and pouring in ten buckets of water.
Then, we kneaded the dough wellbefore shaping it.
We added the yeastand left it to rise overnight.
Just enough yeast
so the dough wouldn't betoo sour or too dark.
Otherwise, we would be told off.
That's what I devoted myself to.
I did what I was asked to doin the kitchen.
During our firstDouble Fifth festival,
I made some glutinous cakes,like those from Tianshui.
Nobody knew how to make them,but I did quite a good job.
The team membersand the cadres were happy.
So after that,I began to vary my recipes.
And as everyone was satisfied,
they made me a chef!
From then on, my physical conditionbegan to improve.
I was even given the nickname"chushkaty".
- What does "chushkaty" mean?- "Chushkaty"...
It's Russian, it means "pig".
They called me a pigbecause I was young
and eating on the slyhad made me fat.
People from the teamnever saw us eat.
We ate at night, after midnight.
"Chef, what are we eating?"
I gave my instructionsand we ate a meal in secret!
That meant we were better nourished.
The lighting wasn't electriclike it is now.
We used oil lamps for lighting.
- Like storm lanterns?- They sound like the wind.
They worked with oiland were very effective.
One hung here,and the other over there,
it was a big room.
The winters were cold.
Let me tell you abouthow we were robbed at night.
A lot of steam emanatedfrom the baskets.
As soon as we opened the basket,the steam escaped
and we could no longersee each other.
We took each basket to the door
without seeing anything.
The prisoners took the opportunityto