Long march

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Course of the Long March

The Long March ( Chinese  長征  /  长征 , Pinyin Chángzhēng ) is the central heroic myth of the Communist Party of China and was a military retreat of the armed forces of the Communist Party of China in 1934/35 in order to free themselves from the encirclement by the army of Chiang Kai-shek . During the Long March, several units of the Red Army were on their way west and north. The best known is the march of the army group with the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, which covered 12,500 kilometers in 370 days, crossing some of the most inaccessible regions of China. During the Long March, Mao Zedong succeeded in consolidating and expanding his power within the party. Only about ten percent of the 90,000 who left the Jiangxi Soviet on the Long March reached their destination.

The Jiangxi Soviet (1931-1934)

Flag of the Jiangxi Soviet

After the failed autumn harvest uprising in September 1927, Mao Zedong withdrew to the Jinggang Mountains with a group of the armed forces . Despite the increase in personnel from communist refugees there, the troops moved on to Jiangxi and Fujian due to the frequent attacks by the Kuomintang and then settled in the border area of ​​these two provinces.

Siege by the Kuomintang / outbreak

In May, Chiang Kai-shek had signed a truce with Japan, freeing up his back to take action against the communists. For this purpose he mobilized 500,000 soldiers. On the recommendation of his German military advisor Hans von Seeckt , Chiang had the infrastructure in the surrounding areas expanded in the previous months in order to facilitate the supply and the encirclement. The strategy Chiang was slowly advance it and to put at a distance of several kilometers smaller fortifications that were able to meet each other, and to shrink as the controlled area by the Communists and on.

Due to the hopeless situation - the Kuomintang had ten times as many soldiers, who were also better equipped and armed - it was decided to implement the plan for a relocation to the northwest near the Soviet-controlled border. In July a unit of 6,000 soldiers, nicknamed the "Vanguard of the Red Army heading north in the fight against the Japanese", was sent north-east as a diversion. A political review also took place as part of the preparations, and over 1,000 people were executed .

In October 1934 the preparations were completed and the Long March began. Of the more than 85,000 people, only 35 were probably women. Over 15,000 soldiers, over 30,000 wounded and women stayed behind. Among those left behind were several high-ranking members of the Chinese Soviet, such as Qu Qiubai and Mao Zedong's youngest brother, Mao Zetan . They were captured after taking the area in November and later executed.

The Long March of the First Red Army

In Yudu , the army crossed the river on pontoon bridges. Among other things, some machines from an arms factory and printing presses were brought along. Four lines of bunker fortifications lay in front of the marchers. The first line was occupied by Cantonese troops whose leaders had promised to let the communists go. The other lines of fortification were also crossed without resistance. At the end of November, the First Army reached the Xiang River ; and although the river had to be waded across a wide front due to the lack of bridges, making it an ideal target for air strikes, Chiang did not order the air strike until December 1, after the CCP leadership and most of the soldiers had already crossed over. The amount of losses is controversial. The First Red Army moved further west.

The Zunyi Conference

A conference of communist leaders was convened in Zunyi , Guizhou Province , in January 1935. The causes of the defeat in Jiangxi were discussed in heated debates. Mao, along with his allies Lo Fu and Wang Jiaxiang , tried to blame party leaders Bo Gu and Otto Braun for the collapse. Otto Braun was dismissed from the military leadership, but Bo Gu remained party leader because he was not to be blamed. Mao became a member of the Secretariat and Zhou Enlai was confirmed as the Army Commander in Chief. The decisions that were taken towards the end of this conference largely reflected the views of Mao, who thus laid the foundation for his position as the soon-to-be undisputed leader of the party and the country. Gradually, the military leadership passed from Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong. At the same time, the conference marked the beginning of the final departure of Chinese communism from the Soviet-influenced understanding of the proletarian and urban nature of the revolution.

March to Yan'an

On the way, the Red Army confiscated the property and weapons of the local warlords and landowners and recruited small farmers and the poor for themselves. However, of the initial 90,000 soldiers, only 7,000 reached Yan'an on October 20, 1935. The loss was caused by a variety of reasons including exhaustion, illness, desertion, and military losses.

Although a heavy price to pay, the Long March gave the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) the seclusion it needed to rest and rebuild northern China. At the end of the Second World War , the Red Army (later: People's Liberation Army, 人民解放军, rénmín jǐefàngjūn ) drove the Kuomintang from mainland China to the island of Taiwan .

Classification / evaluation / perspectives

After the founding of the People's Republic of China , the Long March was promoted as the party's symbol of strength and resilience. Even today it still serves as the basis for many films and stories.

The Long March is also a significant event in the consolidation of Mao's role as the undisputed leader of the CCP. Many participants in the march became well-known party leaders, including Liu Shaoqi , Zhu De , Lin Biao, and Deng Xiaoping . Long March is also the name of a Chinese launcher .


  • Jung Chang, Jon Halliday: Mao. The life of a man, the fate of a people . Pantheon, Munich 2007, ISBN 3-570-55033-8 .
  • James P. Harrison: The Long March to Power . Belser, Stuttgart 1978, ISBN 3-7630-1167-6 .
  • Ed Jocelyn, Andrew McEwen: The Long March. The true story behind the legendary journey that made Mao's China . Constable, London 2006, ISBN 1-84529-255-3 .
  • Thomas Kampen: The leadership of the CPC and the rise of Mao Zedong (1931-1945) . Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag GmbH, Berlin 1998.
  • Lily Xiao Hong Lee, Sue Wiles: Women of the Long March . Allen & Unwin Pty., Limited (Australia), 2000, ISBN 1-86448-569-8 .
  • Frederick S. Litten: The Myth of the "Turning Point" - Towards a New Understanding of the Long March . In: Bochum yearbook for East Asia research . tape 25 . Iudicium Verlag GmbH, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-89129-577-4 , p. 3-42 ( [1] ) .
  • Harrison E. Salisbury: The Long March . S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1985, ISBN 3-10-071306-0 .
  • Sun Shuyun: Mao's Long March . Propylaen Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 3-549-07343-7 .
  • Edgar Snow: Red Star over China . Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main. 1974, ISBN 3-596-21514-5 (revised version).
  • Dick Wilson: Mao Tse-tung's Long March 1935. The Origin of the People's Republic of China . Heyne, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-453-48043-0 .
  • Claude Hudelot: Der Lange Marsch (German translation from French) - ISBN 3518065548 Frankfurt: Suhrkamp 1972. (Suhrkamp paperback) (1972)

Individual evidence

  1. Mao Zedong's estimate, quoted from: Snow, Edgar. Red Star Over China (1937), in German see: Snow, Edgar. Red star over China. (Revised version) Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1974. ISBN 3-596-21514-5
  2. Fenby, Jonathan Chiang Kai-Shek , New York: Carroll & Graf, 2004 page 257.
  3. a b c d Litten, Frederick S. The Myth of the "Turning Point" - Towards a New Understanding of the Long March , in Bochumer Jahrbuch zur Ostasienforschung 25 . Iudicium Verlag GmbH, Munich 2001. ISBN 978-3-89129-577-9 . P. 15 ( PDF )


  1. According to Jocelyn, Ed; McEwen, Andrew. The Long March. Constable, London 2006. ISBN 1-84529-255-3 the actual distance traveled is 6,000 km.