Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


The War Years

Author: David Poulson
Published on:August 4, 2000

Introductory note for new visitors to the Esperanto Topic.

If you have only just begun to take an interest in Esperanto and wish to know some basic information about this fascinating subject, please start your reading at the first article of this series. Having already completed 65 articles, I am now at the stage of writing articles for those readers who have learned quite a lot about the Esperanto language and movement already, and who are now wanting to find out more than just the basic introductory information. To get to the beginning of this series

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"Deported!
One simple word.
Deported! - It's not an illusion: it's a fact.
And, also, one more word - immediately!

The next afternoon I was travelling by train to Hong Kong."
[Verda Majo. En Cxinio Batalanta. ]

Liu Ren and Verda Majo reached Hong Kong at the end of February, 1938 and stayed there for four months. (Liu Ren had not been oficially deported but elected to leave his friends and his work in Shanghai and accept voluntary exile). How the couple survived during those extremely difficult months nobody seems to know. Verda Majo left no written record and seems to have been reticent about this period. Perhaps Liu Ren managed to find enough manual work to keep the couple going, but it must have been a very stressful period. Not only did they have to struggle to meet the bare necessities of life, but they were denied the ooportunity to work for the cause to which they had committed themselves - Chinese resistance to Japanese imperialist aggression. Their voices had been effectively silenced

Fortunately, at this critical period of their lives, someone - a very interesting individual - came to their rescue.

Guo Moruo (1892-1978), also known as Kuo Mo-jo, was a dynamic personality who established a reputation for himself as a poet, dramatist, historian, archaeologist and revolutionary activist. Because of his commitment to, and involvement in, revolutionary politics he was compelled to flee from China in 1927. In fact, ironically enough,the country in which he sought refuge was Japan. But as the melting pot of history boiled and seethed during the first half of the 20th century, Guo Moruo was soon forced to leave Japan also and he returned to China to take up the position of Director of the Third Bureau. This was a small department which operated under the auspices of the Military Commission of the Kuomintang and which was responsible for anti-Japanese propaganda.

Guo Moruo was approached by Verda Majo's friend, Ye Laishi, (who has already been introduced to readers of this story), and the latter explained Verda Majo's predicament and asked Guo Moruo if he could possibly help. No doubt his own experiences pre-disposed Guo to take a favourable view of the situation and, as luck would have it, the Central Radio Station of the Kuomintang needed a broadcaster who could speak Japanese. Soon an order was issued for Verda Majo and Liu Ren to be escorted back to Wuhan and the couple arrived there at the beginning of July 1938. Verda Majo began immediately to work for the International Propaganda Section of the Kuomintang.

For more information about Guo Moruo, (a born survivor if ever there was one), whose last residence is now a museum and tourist attraction

Verda Majo did not stay in Wuhan for long because, after a few months, Japanese troops forced a withdrawal of the Chinese defending forces and together with Liu Ren and their colleagues in the Third Bureau, she was evacuated to Chongqing at the end of 1938.

There, for the next 18 months, she worked as a broadcaster and writer but under increasingly difficult conditions. The main problem was, that the leaders of the Kuomintang were showing more and more hostility to the communists. As Ye Laishi (Jxelezo) puts it, their policy was one of "negative resistance to Japan and positive opposition to the Chinese Communist Party." Finally, in the summer of 1940, Guo Moruo was removed from office and another job was found for him outside of the International Propaganda Section in a department dealing with cultural affairs. Many of his former colleagues, including Verda Majo, joined him in this new field of activity, and there she stayed until the Japanese forces were defeated and the struggle for power between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist party began in earnest.

In 1946, Chiang Kai Shek and the Kuomintang armies appeared to be making advances. They captured nearly all of Central and South China and Chou Enlai, one of Mao's most famous colleagues, gave instructions in 1946 for Verda Majo and Liu Ren to relocate from Chongqing to Harbin in the North. On their arrival, they were both appointed to responsible positions and if this were a novel I would take pleasure in telling my readers that the couple finally settled down to a comfortable existence after the struggles and hardship of the last ten years.

But this is a true story and it does not have a happy ending. Verda Majo, who had already given birth to two children by this time, became pregnant again and decided to have an abortion. An infection set in as a result of which she died, at the age of 35, on the 10th of January 1947. Liu Ren also became ill and died four months later on the 22nd of April. They did not live to see the eventual victory of the Chinese Communist Party and the establishment of the People's Republic of China which was proclaimed by Mao Tse Tung on October 1st 1949.

And so we say farewell to this pair of "star-crossed lovers" and I recommend, as I have done before, anyone who wishes to know more about Verda Majo to buy the inexpensive collection of her works published in China and available from Esperanto Book Services.

In my next article, I will discuss some more aspects of the Esperanto movement in China.

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