Commemorative drawing: In the historical footsteps of the Chinese Marshal in a German city – Xinhua
A photo taken on April 16, 2021 shows an exterior view of the former residence of Zhu De, founding father and first of the 10 Marshals of the People’s Republic of China, in Goettingen, Germany. (Xinhua / Shan Yuqi)
GOETTINGEN, Germany, May 12 (Xinhua) – With the yellowed paper of a student register from the 1920s and a former residence named after him, a university town in central Germany is remembered faraway by a student who is later became the founding father of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949.
Zhu De was 36 when he entered Goettingen University in 1923. The university library still keeps a recording paper in his own handwriting, indicating that this native of southwest China’s Sichuan province was studying sociology in the philosophy department.
Sociology was then a new discipline in the prestigious university founded at the beginning of the 18th century. Zhu’s choice was very different from that of other Chinese students in Goettingen, and most of them chose to study medicine, chemistry, or other natural sciences.
While most Chinese students were in their early twenties, Zhu came to Goettingen as one of the early Chinese Communists and an experienced army officer. Born in 1886, he participated in the Revolution of 1911 which overthrew the last imperial dynasty in Chinese history and fought in various wars in the country.
Zhu met Zhou Enlai in Berlin in 1922 and joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through Zhou’s introduction. They both viewed the CCP, founded in July 1921, as the only remedy to save old China torn apart by war, poverty and imperialist intimidation. Both were among the main founders of the PRC, also known as New China. Zhou was the first premier of New China, while Zhu ranked first in the People’s Liberation Army’s top 10 marshals.
“Zhu was not young and he had spent many years in the army,” said Rolf Kohlstedt, historian at the city archives of Goettingen. “He wanted to broaden his vision here in an industrialized Western country.”
The city archives keep the local police Zhu’s residence registration document, a yellowed document with a photo of the 36-year-old man in a suit and tie. He recorded his move from Wilmersdorf, Berlin to Goettingen, his temporary accommodation at “Planckstrasse 3” and his return to Berlin in December 1924.
At Planckstrasse 3, Zhu lived with a local family. The two-story red brick house is still intact and has become a must-see for tourists to this university town of 120,000 inhabitants.
In 1986, a marble plaque was attached to its facade, with inscriptions reading “Zhu De, Marshal of the People’s Republic of China, 1923-1924,” in commemoration of his 100th birthday.
In addition to his study, Zhu devoted himself to the work of the CCP. As the head of the Chinese Student Association in Goettingen, Zhu actively promoted communist ideas and the New China perspective among students keen to learn more about their home country.
Historical documents, including the memoirs of Zhu’s friends and colleagues, show that he gained important knowledge about military strategies and advertising skills, said Dagmar Yu-Dembski, a Chinese studies scholar and honorary chairman of the Confucius Institute of the Free University of Berlin.
The city archives still hold a request made by Zhu and other Chinese student leaders to the local police department for a protest, with an attached leaflet titled “What’s Going On in China.” He condemned a massacre of students and workers in Shanghai on May 30, 1925, demanded changes in the miserable living conditions of the working class, and solicited international support for China’s struggle against imperialism and colonialism.
Zhu was arrested twice for his involvement in revolutionary activities before being expelled from Germany. He then studied military affairs in the former Soviet Union and returned to China in 1926.
His activities in Goettingen, however, are remembered almost a century later. “His name is heard often and we are all proud to tell others that we are alumni of the same university as Zhu De,” said Wang Jiawen, president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association in Goettingen. Enditem