Mao Zedong And Zhu De, Circa 1937

May 28, 2021

This colorized photo shows a meeting between Mao Zedong and Zhu De in about 1937, which was after the Long March and in the midst of the Sino-Japanese War. 

Mao Zedong (Tse Tung) and Zhu De (Chu Te) in Yenan Communist mountain stronghold Source: (Getty/colorized by Klimbim).

The Communist Party of China was formed in 1921, and in 1927, Civil War between the Nationalists and the Communists began. Around 1925, Zhu De joined the Communist party, and his affiliation with Mao Zedong began in 1928. He had been under the protection of Fan Shisheng, from which he defected and marched his army of 10,000 men to Jiangxi and the Jingjang Mountains. Here, he began building his army into the Red Army. Zhu De met Mao Zedong on April 28, 1928 on the Longjiang Bridge. Mao Zetan, who was Mao Zedong’s brother, had carried a letter from Zhu to Mao Zedong which stated “We must unite forces and carry out a well-defined military and agrarian policy.” After this meeting, they merged forces to become the Fourth Red Army. Zhu acted as Military Commander and Mao Zedong was the Communist Party representative.  

Chang Kai-shek Could Not Trap Them 

The Fifth Encirclement. Source: (Wikipedia).

In 1931, Mao Zedong was elected chairman of the Soviet Republic of China, which was newly established in Jiangxi province in the southeast. Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek began five encirclement campaigns against the Chinese Soviet Republic between 1930-1934. For the first four campaigns, the Communists utilized guerilla tactics to resist the Nationalists. However, in the fifth, Chiang Kai-shek built fortifications around the Communists after raising a massive force. When Mao was removed as chairman and the new Communist leadership began using more conventional warfare tactics, the Red army was decimated.

On October 16, 1934, as they faced defeat, the Communists broke through the encirclement at the weakest points, a campaign which Zhu helped to form. It took weeks for the Nationalists to realize that the main part of the Red army had gotten away. This force first consisted of more than 85,000 troops, along with accompanying personnel, carrying their supplies and weapons, either on their backs or in horse drawn carts. They formed a line of marchers which stretched for miles, typically marching at night, creating a column of torches stretching over valleys and hills.