MAO ZEDONG. 1893-1976, & PENG DEHUAI. 1898-1974.
Letter Signed in character and stamp by both, 3 pp, 8vo, n.p., n.d. [but likely April 1936], to Zhang Xueliang ("General Hanquin," his courtesy name), on thin pink paper, some creasing horizontally and vertically, mild toning, 3/4 inch loss at upper left corner of p 1 just affecting the salutation, perforations to leaves 2 and 3 at upper left.
This letter, written by Mao and Peng in their respective roles as Commissar and Commander of the Red Army, is an early, if not the first, written communication between the Communists and Zhang Xueliang. Mao opens with salutations and compliments, commending the Young Marshal on his desire to unify the Chinese against the invading Japanese. The letter goes on to outline a road map for peace and a stronger defense against Japan, and suggests that together the two sides can reform the government.
After learning of Zhang's possible openness to collaboration with the Communists against the Japanese, Mao sent Zhou Enlai and Li Kenong to meet with him on April 9, 1936. It is likely this letter was passed to Zhang at that time.
Dear General Hanqing,
It was very nice to meet Colonel Shaoqing [courtesy name of GAO FUYUAN, 1901-1937, Nationalist officer]. We are so glad to hear that you and Mr. Ding Fang [courtesy name of WANG YIZHE, 1896-1937, commander of the Nationalist 67th army] are devoted to the mission of saving our nation from the Japanese invasion. Your dedication has not only been shown by ending the destruction of the Red Army, but also by helping our Army in terms of practical supplies. The people of China are very fortunate to have you, and your greatness will continue to shine from one generation to the other.
The current situation is so fierce that the critical issue is not whether to fight back against Japan or if we have enough strength and commitment in the resistance against the Japanese invasion. On saving the nation from the Japanese invasion, the most critical issues are sincere attitudes and a cooperative spirit in discussing and exchanging ideas on strategies and action planning.
In accordance, our comrade, Li Kenong of the Political Protection Bureau, will convey our thoughts and carry out the discussion based on the following proposals:
1. Beginning from the 16th of this month, the Red Army will start retreating from the cities of Fushi and Ganquan. The two parties will then stop any hostile activities and rather, begin to plan the strategy of the resistance to Japan.
2. Meanwhile, we need to improve our defense, and prepare all necessities for resistance against Japan.
3. Send representatives to meetings to hold discussions on how to cease fire between the two parties, and to establish military strategies in the war against Japan. Meeting locations and dates are to be determined.
4. We suggest the set up of a new national government, and a united army to resist Japan. What do you think, Mr. Hanqing?
5. On the issue of resistance against Japan, Mr. Hanqing, what do you think about the Northeastern Army military strategies and plans, regardless of positive or negative?
The above statements are only our initial proposals. We would like to see you firmly hold your pledge to resist against Japan. We hope you understand that the Red Army shall heartily collaborate in the battle against Japan.
Things are very urgent and not much time is left. The people in China are in days of suffering while the nation is in a dangerous situation. The fall of North China boosts the spread of poverty with the sick and the poor in the country. The heroes will be the ones to avoid fratricide and take initiatives to fight against Japan, and to make an allied power to protect the country. Despite your family having been humiliated by the Japanese, we know that your greatest concern is the people of China. In the same way, we are determined to regain the loss of North China. We sincerely look forward to hearing from you soon, day or night.
The Red Army of China, 1st Field Army
Commander Peng Dehuai (signature and personal stamp)
Political Commissar Mao Zedong (signature and personal stamp)
- Both signatures on this letter appear to be in the same secretarial hand, though the stamps are correct. Estimate should read $150,000/200,000