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> Books > Book Review

Revolutionary martyrs’ letters to their homes

XI YAO | 2021-07-08
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Selected Letters Written by Revolutionary Martyrs

Selected Letters by Revolutionary Martyrs compiles wills, poems composed before a heroic death, letters written to families, and other letters of 30 “red” revolutionary martyrs such as Li Dazhao (1889–1927), Fang Zhimin (1899–1935), and Chen Yi’an (1905–1930), supplemented by a brief introduction to their lives and touching deeds. 


These writings contain the resolute pursuit of faith by revolutionary predecessors and martyrs, their loyalty to the Communist Party of China (CPC), their noble integrity as they give up life for righteousness, their sincere feelings of dedication to the country, and their ardent confessions as they sacrifice for the Party. 
Following the content and theme of each letter, the book consists of four sections which focus respectively on lofty ideals, self-improvement, affection for family, and teaching their children. The part on lofty ideals demonstrates the martyrs’ firm beliefs and perseverant pursuits. The section on self-improvement focuses on their moral integrity and self-discipline. The section detailing family affection reflects on their deep feelings and genuine efforts to console their families. The children’s education section demonstrates the martyrs’ thoughts on edifying their children, revealing their value pursuits for future generations. 
The gunpowder of that revolutionary era has long dissipated. At the moment, as China is enjoying peaceful and cozy years, those turbulent years should be never forgotten, and the countless revolutionary heroes who laid down their lives for current social stability must be honored. 
During the revolutionary war times led by the CPC, countless people with high ideals bid farewell to their wives and children and bravely embraced the threat of death, leaving letters written in the last moments of their lives that were pious and faithful to the Party and the people. Right before his execution, Liu Qianchu (1897–1931) implored his children with deep and pure feelings, “Love your mother (the CPC)! Honor your mother! Listen to your mother!” 
Fang Zhimin voiced a sincere belief in the face of death that “we are always the supporters and executors of the correct line of the Party.” This was responded to in the sonorous declaration of Liu Bojian (1895–1935), “Life is for China, and death is for China. Just listen to and follow her.” The sentiment was echoed when Ji Hongchang (1895–1934) angrily denounced the spies, “You feel ashamed of being Chinese, but I feel glorious for being Chinese!” This was also shared in the tender appeal from Zhao Yiman (1905–1936), “I hope you don’t forget that your mother sacrificed for the country.” 
Xi Yao is from the School of Marxism at the Harbin Institute of Technology.