Inheritance | Zhengzhou “Inheriting the Red Revolutionary Spirits and Seeking the Red Memory”, Online Thematic Publicity Activities of Gongxian County

Gongyi City, formerly known as Gongxian County, has witnessed a lot of legendary stories since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. An old water tower, located in Gongyi Middle School, serves as an evidence of the eventful yet memorable years of China’s red revolution.

The historical materials record that to avoid being slaughtered arbitrarily like animals, over the two decades from 1928 to 1948, the revolutionary forces had swept across the two banks of Yiluo River and Song-mang regions.

Water tower of the arsenal in Gongxian County

The origin of “an arsenal built by Germany”

The old water tower, located at Gongyi Middle School, was bathed in the warm sunshine. In the north of Gongyi downtown, this water tower in Germany styling, together with a guesthouse site nearby, is the only relic site of Gongxian County Arsenal on the ground.

Former site of the guesthouse of Gongxian County Arsenal

The Gongxian-based arsenal is one of the four largest arsenals early in the last century in China, and it is in relation to Yuan Shih-kai, Wu Peifu, Feng Yuxiang, and Chiang Kai-shek.

During those years, the ruling class even imported red bricks from Germany to build this arsenal, while common workers had struggled from the oppression of foreigners, warlords, and feudal bureaucrat groups.
Birth of the first CPC branch in Gongxian County

Where there is oppression, there will be a revolution. In 1923, under the leadership of Li You’en, a common worker, the staff of the arsenal involved in the fight to support the Beijing–Hankou Railway Workers’ Strike. In 1926, Li You’en and another two of his fellows were arrested.

In 1928, the newly-established Henan Provincial CPC Committee of that time indicated that “the labor movement is of great significance, and we need to try out utmost to join them.”

Li Zhengang (later renamed as Li Zhanyuan), a CPC member from Xingyang and a participant of the Great Strike of February 7, entered the arsenal in May 1928 and conducted CPC activities under the cover of working. Later, the Provincial Committee assigned Zhang Shaozhen, another CPC member, to the arsenal.

In June 1929, the first CPC Branch was established at the Gongxian County Arsenal, subordinate to Henan Provincial CPC Committee. It had 25 crypto-communist members, 13 league members, and established four Party groups.

During that period, under the leadership of the CPC, the workers organized a series of struggling activities, including “damaging a tunnel of Longhai Railway and intercepting and capturing a trainful of provisions to Feng Yuxiang”, “grabbing flour”, “fighting against dock wages”, and “striving for double pay”, in the arsenal under the control of reactionary warlords.

In June 1931, the Henan Provincial CPC Committee decided to send ten workers across the province to join the Red Army, and three of them were from the arsenal.

In July 1932, the Provincial Committee, together with the CPC Branch of the arsenal, was badly damaged. Zhang Shaozhen, Li Zhanyuan, Duan Bingheng and others were arrested, and other CPC members were forced to leave Gongxian County. Zhang Shaozhen gave up life heroically.

That year, Liu Shaoqi published an article on Red Flag Weekly, narrated and summarized the process and experience of the workers’ struggle at Gongxian County Arsenal.

The collapsed former dormitory site, located at Dawanggou, Xiaobei Village, Xiaoyi Sub-district, Gongyi City, was where the CPC Branch of the arsenal was established.

Long-lasting revolutionary spirits

In September 1937, when China and its people would be conquered, the CPC activities were frequently held in Gongxian County again.

In October that year, Yang Zhangwu, a crypto-communist member, held a “training class for political cadres” at Jiaowan Village, Kangdian, thanks to his relationship with Liu Mao’en, a Gongxian-born Commander of the 15th Corp of the Nationalist Party.

It was in this class that the CPC General Branch was established in secret, with 60 to 70 CPC members and later increased to over 100. Guo Xiaotang, Organization Director of the CPC Special Committee of Yuxi Region holding the control of Yanshi County, Dengfeng County, Gongxian County and other regions, served as the director of academic affairs office and political instructor of this class.

Meanwhile, some CPC members, including Zhang Zhengxing, Xu Baoyu, and Gao Ruilin, gathered in Gongxian County to conduct CPC activities.

Location map of East Heishiguan and West Heishiguan

In January and June of 1938, the CPC Branches of the East Heishiguan (locates at today’s Dufu Road Sub-district) and Bing Li School established successively. Under the leadership of CPC, the anti-Japanese promotion activities had swept across most regions of Gongxian County and the first batch of revolutionary backbones had been trained.

In July that year, with Zhang Zhengxing’s leaving from Gongxian County, the CPC Branch of East Heishiguan stopped related activities.

Heishiguan Bridge in the 1930s

In the 1938 Working Report of the CPC Special Committee of Yuxi Region, after the Gongxian County Arsenal was moved southward, “There are over 50 people from the Workers Mutual Aid Society, over 30 from the Common School of Xiaoyi Town, and over 30 from the School Promotion Teams under our leading”.

Located at the East Gate of today’s Zhenxi Village, Xicun Town, Gongyi City (formerly known as Xicun Village, Shenglin Township, Gongxian County), Bing Li School, was a well-known primary school for its founder and investor named Tang Shengzhi, an influential figure of the Republic of China.

In July 1934, Zhao Jianyu, a Gongxian-based CPC member who lost his contact with the party after being arrested, took the post of the school’s headmaster.

In February 1938, with the introduction of Zhang Zhengxing, Zhao Jianyu and Wang Guiwu, a young and progressive instructor of this school, joined the CPC.

Wang Guiwu, the first Secretary of the CPC County Committee of Gongxian

Under the cover of their legal identities, Zhao Jianyu and Wang Guiwu organized teachers, staff, peasants, and drop-out youth to read books and newspaper of the revolution, held night schools for peasants at Didong Village nearby, and organized performances to villages to publicize the anti-Japanese positions and actions of CPC. Thus this village school had become a revolutionary base with a solid foundation in Gongxian County.

In June that year, the CPC Special Committee of Yuxi Region approved to establish the CPC Branch of Bing Li School, and Wang Guiwu served as the Branch-secretary.

Party-building gallery of Bing Li School

Some CPC members were students of Bing Li School, and according to a participant’s memory, they took a vow under the portrayal of Lenin or Stalin and a paper-made CPC flag, “I pledge my loyalty to the Communist Party of China, and I will obey its rules, observe its discipline, keep all of its secrets, fight to the death to realize its proposition and thus to achieve the communism.”

Li Zhendong, the former Vice-governor of Anhui Province during the 1980s, took the road of CPC and revolution during his studying in Bing Li School.

New look of Heishiguan Bridge

In July 1938, Zhang Zhengxing and his fellows were forced to leave Gongxian County so that the Party Branch of Bing Li School took over all the CPC affairs of the whole county. In January 1939, the CPC County Committee of Gongxian was established, and Wang Guiwu was appointed as the secretary.

According to the CPC History Memorabilia of Gongyi City, in 1939, there were 113 CPC members in Gongxian County, and nine party branches including Kangdian District Committee, Beihou, Huiguo Town, Chengguan (Zhanjie Street), Yi’ai Middle School, etc., marking the vigorously growing fight against Japanese aggression.

Today’s Bing Li School only has a three-layer and nine-room brick-and-wood building left, together with a brick-structured nine-hole cave dwelling. Over the past eighty and more years, it has stood still against the natural damages. It has been certificated as a cultural relic protection site of Gongyi City, known as the first CPC branch at the village in Gongxian County and the former site of the CPC County Committee of Gongxian.

The circumstances may change with the passage of time, leaving dilapidated walls and eaves, what unchanged are the red revolutionary spirits and the original intention for benefiting the people. Since 2017, Gongyi City has developed the Bing Li School as a red revolutionary site and built a gallery to illuminate the party-building history. CPC members, officials, and even primary school students have been invited to visit the gallery for several times, hoping that they can inherit the vision and mission of the martyrs while facing the red flag and listening to the revolutionary stories happened in their hometown.

Copyright by Zhengzhou Municipal Tourism Administration