A SPEECH TO THE FRIENDSHIP PARTY BETWEEN WEIFANG AND THE FORMER WEIHSIENERS BY ZHANG XIHONG
Respected leaders, dear friends - Good afternoon!
My name is Zhang Xihong. I live in Lijia Village, Kuiwen District, Weifang City.
My father’s name is Zhang Xingtai. He was a sanitation worker in the concentration camp. His work was to sweep away daily rubbish and he got in and out of the concentration camp every day. He was familiar with the internees. In 1966 he died.
My eldest brother Ziang Xiwu and second brother Zhang Xiguang helped father to do cleaning in the concentration camp. At that time I was still young and all of what I know about the concentration camp came from my father’s words.
Originally my father had been running small dealings in the Ledaoyuan [“Courtyard of the Happy Way”] and he knew Dr. Davies, who was the headmaster of Guangwen Middle School, well. Later, when the Japanese set up the concentration camp in Ledaoyuan, my father and two elder brothers became sanitation workers there. Dr. Davies was also interned in the camp and was selected to be one of the managing personnel because he was familiar with the situation of Weihsien.
The interned foreigners lived a hard life without enough food or medicine. My father sympathized with them and detested the cruelty of the Japanese. Dr. Davies secretly contacted my father and asked him to take letters to the local pastor, Mr. Huang Lede, for measures to help the internees. Later the local people of Weihsien collected a lot of money, bought a large quantity of materials in the name of the Red Cross and sent them into the concentration camp through Qingdao Agency. Thus, the life of the internees became much better.
Afterwards Dr. Davies asked my father to try to contact the local anti-Japanese guerrilla forces. My father inquired everywhere and got in touch with a sanitation worker, Yang Ruilan, in the hospital of Ledaoyuan, through whose husband, Wang Shaowen, he formally contacted the guerrilla forces. With the help of the guerrilla forces, Arthur W. Hummel Jr. and Lawrence Tipton escaped from the camp to the guerrilla forces, contacted the US Embassy, and took the conditions of the camp to it.
The day after their escape, the Japanese searched all around for them and happened to meet my father and eldest brother. The Japanese arrested my eldest brother. My father went up to stop them but was beaten onto the ground by the butt-stocks of their rifles. The Japanese forced my eldest brother with guns to search for a long time in the corn field to the north of the camp. My eldest brother was still young and was too frightened to say a word. At last the Japanese had to give up and set my eldest brother free.
After the liberation of the concentration camp, Mr. Arthur W. Hummel Jr., Mr. Tipton and Mr. Raymond Jaegher came back and visited my father and had a photo taken as a memento. During the war years, what my father and two brothers did for the concentration camp was kept secret for personal safety. Neither the interned foreigners nor the other family members knew much about that. Photo --- 60 years old !
In 1983 when Mr. Arthur W. Hummel Jr. was working as Ambassador to China, he came to Weifang and searched for my father but failed to find him. This June the British man, Dr. Norman Cliff, made a special visit to my home for my father’s situation.
Today for the 60th Anniversary of Weihsien Concentration Camp’s Liberation, the Weifang municipal committee of CPC and the Weifang People’s Government set up the Friendship Party and have invited me to join in this celebration. I feel extremely pleased to see so many old friends of Weifang.
I would like to extend hearty congratulations on the establishment of the Party. And I wish an ever-lasting friendship between the people of Weifang and the world, and wish all of us a peaceful environment. Thank you!
[click on the pictures]