A Foreign Missionary On The Long March

"This unique and moving book will shatter much of the Chinese Communist Party's founding myth: that the Long March of 1934-1936, during which Mao Zedong rose to considerable power, established the Party as a victorious fighting force that won the devotion of the peasants by its immaculate behaviour.

"But from the memoir of Arnolis Hayman, a New Zealander who worked for the China Inland Mission from 1913 to 1945, and was a captive on the Long March for 413 days, we learn, or are reminded, of something different: the March was a pell-mell retreat for the Communist forces, there was more than one army—in the one that captured Hayman Mao seems not to have been mentioned—and the marchers often behaved like traditional bandits, looting, torturing, and killing as they moved.

"Anne-Marie Brady, a political scientist at New Zealand's University of Canterbury, is a prolific scholar specializing in how the Chinese have treated foreigners. In her ‘Friend of China: The Myth of Rewi Alley,’ she showed how during Alley's long years in China the New Zealander championed the Communists through every policy twist and turn because he feared that the Party would make public his homosexuality. This enraged some New Zealanders for whom Alley's image as a simple he-man was sacred.

"Ms Brady knew there had been two captive missionaries on the March; their wives and children and a woman colleague were soon released. The better-known captive is Alfred Bosshardt, whose ghostwritten memoirs, composed years after he was freed, and gave a favourable Christian impression of his captors, are fairly well known in books about the March. In China they have been employed to amplify the myth of the Long March. In 2003 Ms Brady tracked down Hayman's eye-witness-account of the two men's experiences, written immediately he was released, and now has published it with a lucid introduction and some explanatory notes. Both Hayman and Bosshardt plainly survived because their unwavering Christian faith and capacity for forgiveness sustained them. But unlike Bosshardt's uplifting narrative, Hayman's is grim, clear-eyed, and informative.

"Always under Communist pressure, Hayman had to be careful about what he wrote to his family, heeding the Reds' orders to demand a huge cash ransom and provisions. Both men were accused of being imperialist spies and were under constant threat of torture and execution. Frequently roughed up, they were once savagely beaten. We learn little about the military side of their captors, whose forces was led by the famous commander Xiao Ke.

"But we get plenty of other information. The Communists began executing their perceived enemies in substantial numbers even before the Long March (their enemy Chiang Kaishek was also a great executer) and along the way this is the sort of thing Hayman saw: ‘Soon after daybreak, three men, perhaps accused of being spies, were rushed to a field a few yards away, and decapitated by a lad. He wiped his sword on
their garments, and we shuddered. His deed that morning earned him our nickname of “The Executioner.” He had an impediment in his speech. The Executioner was often kind to us, however, and I well remember how he gave us a lump of salt for which we longed to help us eat our rice . . .’

"There were many other such occasions.

"When Hayman and Bosshardt are threatened by General He Long, commander of another Long March army, that they must come up with a big ransom, he warns ‘If the money does not come soon, we will . . . and with his flat hand, he motioned the action of chopping off a head.’ Mentioning another foreigner whose ransom did not come, He Long adds, ‘The money did not come so we took his head off . . .’ That legacy lingers. There are more extra-legal executions in China than in any other country.

"The two prisoners often heard men and women being tortured and pleading for their lives and saw recently executed victims. When they sent letters to their wives and senior missionaries, the Communists enclosed them in envelopes spattered with blood. ‘Of course it was not our blood,’ Hayman writes, ‘but the ideas [as written] seemed to be to frighten our dear ones . . . Our Mission Director . . . withheld the envelopes but gave the letters to our wives, thus saving them unnecessary agony of mind.’

"There is much other information. In their biography ‘Mao: the Unknown Story,’ Jung Chang and John Halliday contend that the Long March was never seriously harried by Chiang Kai-shek's forces because Chiang was hoping that his son, Ching-kuo, could be returned from the Soviet Union where he was held hostage. Hayman, however, describes constant Nationalist bombing that terrified the Long Marchers.

"Here is a sample of one of Hayman's interrogations. He is charged with prescribing medicines for local people. ‘How many people have you poisoned?’ ‘None, as far as I know.’ ‘Of course they would be frightened to tell you.’ ‘All I know is that the number of patients who came to me for treatment was always on the increase.’ The official judgment on the two missionaries stated, ‘. . . the two criminals actively misled and tamed the local people in the name of Jesus, attempting to abolish the will of the local people to fight against imperialists, and in the meantime collaborated with despotic gentry, and landlords, using feudal methods to oppress and exploit the masses and acting as pioneers of the imperialists to partition and enslave China.’ This is identical in language to the sometimes-lethal accusations hurled at ‘class enemies’ decades later during the Cultural Revolution.

"After the payment of a much reduced ransom by a rich Chinese, 413 days after his capture, Hayman, very feeble and down to 100 pounds, was released and reunited with his family, who for some time had been told both missionaries were dead. Bosshardt was not released until the following year. (Hayman and Bosshardt were lucky to survive. At least twenty-five missionaries were captured during the late Twenties and early Thirties, and a number, including their wives, were murdered.)

"In his ‘Red Star Over China,’ Edgar Snow, invariably keen to inflate the Communists' image, gives the impression that Bosshardt—Snow never mentions Hayman—had been well-treated and that the Communists were very popular. In her invaluable introduction, Anne-Marie Brady writes that this ‘assured Bosshardt of his place in CCP [Chinese Communist Party] historiography.’ She notes, wholly rightly, that ‘Hayman's unpublished memoirs are a valuable corrective to these distortions of the past."

Jonathan Mirsky in the Hong Kong Economic Journal

“Thanks to Anne-Marie Brady, we are now provided with a full text of this long-overlooked memoir written by a New Zealand missionary in south- central China, who was captured by units of the Communist Party and forced to take part in the so-called Long March for fourteen months in 1934-35. Arnolis Hayman had served with the China Inland Mission for over twenty years and knew both the languages and culture of the local population. This record of his traumatic experiences and intense sufferings at the hands of the Red Armyís Sixth Force was written immediately following his release at the end of 1935, but in fact was never published in any complete version by his Mission Board.

"Brady rightly believes that Hayman's eye-witness account, written so soon after his release, is a valuable corrective to much of the Communist- inspired propaganda, or the subsequent writings by sympathizers such as Edgar Snow, which have seen the Long March as a triumph, making it part of the dominant mythology of the Chinese Communist Party. In fact the Sixth Red Army Corps was literally on the run, pursued by government forces, and occasionally subject to aerial attacks. Its leaders were seeking to find a safe route through China's southern regions in order to link up with the Communist forces further west. They were therefore obliged to undertake numerous and physically strenuous forced marches, often by night. They lived off the land, by seizing supplies and property of class enemies as they marched. It was the misfortune of Arnolis Hayman and his family, along with his colleague Bosshardt, that they should have been caught in the path of this marauding army.

"On the basis of this first-hand evidence, we are presented with a grim picture of life in a Red Army camp, with its incessant propaganda rallies to enlist the support of the local population, the plunder and exploitation of local communities, and the repeated violence against class enemies. There are frequent references to deliberate and brutal executions carried out summarily, with the bodies left to rot in full view. Needless to say, all such reportage has been carefully expunged from the official histories of this violent struggle.

"Brady's 40-page introduction concentrates on these aspects of the memoir, rather than on the remarkable fortitude and faithfulness displayed by Hayman and his missionary colleague. Both were taken prisoner at the China Inland Mission station of Jiuzhou in Giuzhou Province, but luckily their families were not taken and were able to escape. The purpose of their capture by the Communists was clearly first to loot their supposedly wealthy properties. But the subsequent demand for a large ransom, and the labelling of the two men as imperialist spies, provided extra justification. They were not the first missionaries to be so treated. In fact, in 1930, there were an estimated 25 missionaries held by Communist insurgents. A small number were killed. In the case of Hayman and Bosshardt, their captors kept them alive, partly because of the hope of future ransom, but partly so that they could be paraded as examples of the hated imperialists at suitable indoctrination sessions for the local peasantry. At the same time, however, they were compelled to write letters demanding the handover of their ransom within a few weeks, or else they would be executed without mercy.

"Hayman's detailed description of the hardships they experienced makes for piteous reading. But he repeatedly stressed that their fate was better than that of the Chinese prisoners taken by their captors. Many of these men were treated as class enemies and often shot or slain with swords before the army moved on. For their part, the missionaries were able to converse with a wide range of both their captors and the captured. As a result they observed at close range many of the leaders of the Sixth Army Corps, as well as becoming familiar with the character of their guards. Hayman's account is therefore rich in details of such encounters, and as well chronicles the boredom and monotony of the hostages' life in captivity.

"Hayman gives no specific details about his eventual release. But later evidence suggests that it came through the payment of a small ransom obtained from the governor of Guizhou Province. Four months later his companion was also released in Kunming after a lengthy march. Fortunately both men recovered from their experiences and returned to the mission field. Hayman comes across as a courageous and modest man, whose searing experiences fully deserve the wider, if belated, exposure they gain through Brady's helpful and scholarly edition"

John S. Conway, The University of British Columbia, in Pacific Affairs