My Grandfather the Red Guard

Shawn Lei at Tea Leaf Nation shares his grandfather’s memories of the Cultural Revolution:

There were carrots as well as sticks; those who joined the campaign could get gong fen, points which translated into food coupons. Holders could be allocated rice, meat, and sugar. Every time the village head announced a campaign, my grandfather took my grandmother to the scene for more gong fen. The head of the village’s Red Guards, Lei Songqing, was also present at the rallies with his wife.

[…] Another victim was Lei Enzhan. Enzhan bore three labels – “landlord,” “reactionist,” and “extreme rightist” – because his father had been branded a landlord in the 1952 Land Reform, and Enzhan was an ex-Kuomingtang leader and a teacher. My grandfather was ordered to scrutinize Enzhan; as a result, Enzhan couldn’t attend the Red Guard activities, talk to others, or even walk around the village. All he could do was labor in the fields.

[…] In November 1966, my grandfather began to sense deviations from the Red Guards’ normal routine. He regretted having recruited his brother Ansheng; as more were named Red Guards, their behavior became increasingly thuggish, and infighting engulfed many of them.

[…] Now, my grandfather is aging. His foes are either aging or dead, and they talk to each other very little. Lei Enzhan, the “rightist” teacher, once said that he didn’t care who treated him badly four decades ago. But my grandfather still feels much regret. In fact, he wants to say sorry to Lei Enzhan. [Source]

Earlier this month, Liu Boqin, a retiree from Shandong Province, published an apology ad for his conduct as a Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. In March, the Guardian profiled a 60-year-old man who was trying to atone for his role in his mother’s execution during the Cultural Revolution. Read more about the Cultural Revolution via CDT.

Open popup

Welcome back!

CDT is a non-profit media site, and we need your support. Your contribution will help us provide more translations, breaking news, and other content you love.