Hugh Hubbard Writes Of Chinese Conditions



      A second letter, in diary form, written by Hugh W. Hubbard, who is now in Paotingfu, China, has been received by his wife, Mrs. Mabel Hubbard of North Park street.  The letter is of great interest due to Mr. Hubbard’s first-hand knowledge concerning the Chinese crisis. He tells of the havoc wrought in a war torn country, of his work of organizing schools and of conditions in general.

      Following are excerpts from the letter:


Oct. 13.


      One deep impression is that of the complete evacuation of all teachers and students.  Every teacher gone from Tunghsen (our mission school) except one teacher of classical Chinese.  The same is apparently true of every school in town, and this is a great educational center with a student population of about 7,000, in middle schools and higher. How in the world will we get on without these intellectual leaders? In church and reconstruction it means that the need and value of missionaries will be greater than it has been at any time in my day.

      Yesterday and today the airplanes went back and forth to the front in almost ceaseless procession, apparently coming from Tienstsin and going towards Shih C’hia Chuang. There is a rumor abroad that Shih C’hia Chuang has been taken and it seems likely. One retreating Chinese soldier stopped to talk to our evangelist Wang Tzu Ming.  “What can we do?” he said. “First they come with bombers and bomb us. Then more airplanes machine-gun us. Then an army of tanks run over us. Then comes the cavalry and back of them the infantry, which we seldom get a shot at with our only, weapons, our rifles.”


      Our church is full of soldiers and as I wrote the above, I was asked to go over with them and ask the commanding officer to get the soldiers out of the people’s homes around here so that they could go home.  Also to try to get them to go easy on our furniture.  One band of soldiers who occupied the church started to burn benches, smashed pictures and made a general mess of things.  Another earlier bunch behaved very well, never went into the church, sealed it up, cleaned up the yard before leaving and went out of their way to be friendly, even making a contribution to the refugees here.  The present commander did not invite us to sit, but assured us that he would keep order and would not allow his soldiers to harm the people.


      The Romanist cathedral was bombed and has daylight through its roof. The premises were hit a number of times.


      Went over the Presbyterian residences with Bill Cochran and studied the effect of shell fire.  Merwin’s house was the worst, the roof having been hit at the cross-section of the ridge and smashing a huge hole through, fragments of the shell going through the upper story down into the living and dining rooms into the floors and furniture.  The dining room table has a neat hole as a souvenir.  The Leete’s piano loaned them was untouched.  I later saw that a smaller shell had exploded in Cochran’s kitchen, pitting up walls and ceiling badly.  Three others hit his servants’ quarters.  Every window broken.  Shells missed the Cochran and Mackey house by about six feet, but tore up the sides badly.  One struck Whallon’s study.  Another exploded in the women’s hospital hostel and killed and wounded several refugees.  One of the wounded was the faithful fellow with the big goiter who had I been their postman so long.  The shell that went through the church wall near the pulpit would have killed scores of the 40 refugees inside had it exploded.  The American flag on the men’s hospital had two holes in it, but the hospital seemed untouched.  Many of the fine trees in the compound have great branches lopped off. Three Chinese soldiers came running thru a hole in the back wall and were killed by an exploding shell just back of the Cunningham house.


      In a village to the north of the city a general massacre occurred in which, it was variously estimated, from 300 to 700 civilians were killed.


      On Sept. 22nd 1 took the boat at Kobe and the morning papers had heavy headlines across the pages saying ‘PAOTINGFU NINE TENTHS DESTROYED” and that 10,000 of the enemy had been killed.  Paoting may be one-thirtieth destroyed and that is bad enough, but there is no evidence whatever to support any claims that even 100 Chinese soldiers were killed here.  The greatest loss was probably in the systematic looting indulged in by high and low.  The Japanese command was seen by foreigners to send out several truck-loads of furniture and boxes from the house they occupied.  Almost every store shows signs of having been broken into and it is doubtful if any were overlooked.  Elmer says that our compound was entered over the wall at night by Japanese soldiers from a dozen to fifteen times. They wear no identifying insignia whereby they may be reported, even today.


      Our house still has refugees in it, the Niehs occupying our parlor, Chang Ch’unho’s mother in the dining room and a family in the cellar.  The Su Chieh-ch’en’s were in this office, but left for the south and I have moved out their bedding and occupied it myself.


      Chiang Kai Shek broadcast Saturday night, saying that great sacrifices were being made for the nation, but they were not a tenth of what must be made before we are through.  He then said that what we all need is the sacrificial spirit of Jesus.


      As a missionary, I have a great sense of defeat.  It seemed that we were so near to making of China something of a great Christian democracy, to take her place as a peaceful and cooperative member of the family of nations.  Her leaders were asking for the help of Christian friends and many of them were Christians.  Now China will be rapidly pushed in the direction of Russia and will naturally be deeply influenced by her, or will become thoroughly militarized, either by Japan or against Japan. Armed force and bitter hatred will be rampant for long years. Is China’s fate of no moment to the rest of the world?


Oct. 15.


       Today there seem to be more people daring to appear in the city. There are always some straggling in from the South.  They are carefully searched at the city gates.  Mostly old men and women and children. Young men and women are conspicuous by their absence.


      First mail delivery yesterday!  It comes by carrier down the railroad and takes five days.  I called at the P. 0. and found a subordinate in charge, gradually beginning to reorganize.  Five cent stamps on sale in small quantity.


      A section of the city at the crossroads of the West and North streets was burnt out.  Some of the firemen put it out, but were mistaken by the Japs for soldiers and when they took refuge in the Commercial Guild, they and all the staff of the guild, were shot or bayoneted, including one or two prominent merchants.  This is the origin of the report I gave about the chamber of commerce.  Actually over 20 were killed there.  About 25 shops seemed to have burned.


      Two babies were born on the compound last night and one tonight making a total of 10 among our refugees.


Oct. 17.


      Up at six today to see some refugees off to Peiping, the second batch we have sent through the authorities.  Got two letters off  by one of them.  Then armed myself with the pass I got from the Emergency Bureau and started for Fan Village with Mr. Huan, who arrived from his home in the country only yesterday.  We went past the airfield and found it considerably enlarged at the expense of the farmers’ fields in the vicinity. It runs over and obliterates the motor road at one point.


      Fan Village was largely deserted, none of the important leaders daring to stay.  Only a few men and two old women were around.  Every house and room was said to be thoroughly looted and this was certainly true of the half dozen we went through.  The restaurant where we usually eat was cleared out. I met the owner as I came out and greeted him and said, “They looted your shop, too.” “Yes, they cleaned me out” he said, laughing as though it were a huge joke. I certainly envy these Chinese their ability to laugh at misfortune.


      We found everywhere the sure signs of Japanese occupation – empty wine bottles, Japanese saki, cases of which seem to be on every train and every station platform between here and Peiping.  Eight villagers were killed, mostly run through by bayonets, although one was shot when he tried to run away with the Chinese soldiers.  The language difficulty leads to many misunderstandings and loss of temper and then often a killing.


      We went to our village residence where Mabel and I have lived, and found it had been treated as the other places.


Oct. 18.


      A beautiful full moon sheds its beams upon us tonight and everything seems so quiet and peaceful that it is hard to realize what a business men are making of this wonderful world given us to live in.


      A message came early this morning from Fan Village to say that Mr. Li, the village head, had heard of our visit yesterday and had returned home to await us today.  Mr. Huang and I started out after breakfast and, keeping off the main road, reached the, village.  Mr. Li’s house was deserted and we soon learned that there were Japanese in the village searching for chickens and that Li was hiding in the fields.  After they left, without seeing us, a villager went out and called him.  He came in, a very different man from the one I left last year. He had a month-old beard covering his face, a dirty towel on his head and a manure basket on his back.  His clothes looked like those of a beggar.  This was partly a disguise as a poor man.  But he told me that he had not slept for three days or nights after the Jap flag flew over Paoting, from thinking of the disgrace that this old country should be conquered in this way. His daughters are still in hiding.


      Some Jap soldiers came to church yesterday at the Presbyterians’ and said they were Christians and that there were a good many more in town!  We received a contribution of 160 bags of damaged flour yesterday for our refugees out of the 10,000 or more left in our school by the Chinese army and taken care of by us.  This will help feed the penniless, but if we have to keep them on we will be needing thousands of dollars. These people have many of them lost all they had of food, clothing and belongings and winter is coming on.  What can we do with them?  I believe that 380 were yesterday on the relief roll out of the thousand or more on the compound.


Oct. 22.


      I went in to a busy market – now deserted – to see what had happened to our Christian Union Bookstore.  A bomb had made a large gap in the bazaar wall right opposite and looters had been busy.  Fortunately, they were not much interested in our Christian literature and other stores offered greater attractions.  However, pens and pencils and stationery had disappeared, some being spilled on the floor and in the street and heaps of books lay in confusion.  I got half a dozen refugees to volunteer to rebuild the broken wall and a watchman is now on the job.  The last looters are said to be the local riffraff, who take what is left after soldiers skim off the cream.  I am inclined to believe that there is no looting by any Japanese soldiers in the city now.  In fact, they are pretty well kept out of the city, thanks to their authorities.


Oct. 24.


      Our church looks somewhat the worse for wear. The steps leading up to the pulpit platform were burnt for firewood.  The clock was smashed, as were the pictures of Christ, or at least one smashed and the other removed.  The pulpit has two long scrolls behind it with religious sentiments on them and one of these was torn and mutilated.  The pulpit itself has parts missing to the decorations in the form of crosses.  Most of the benches survived, although some made firewood also.


Oct. 25.


      Haueh-t’ung (our servant) went out of the compound and was stopped and searched in the south suburb and $2.70 taken from him.  He says that these soldiers stood under the entrance to the suburb and searched everyone that looked better than a beggar. As soon as money was found and taken, the victims were sent gruffly on their way.  Another man was threatened with a bayonet and robbed in front of our gate and a few steps away a number were similarly treated. Soldiers have now been billeted in the villages to the south of us.


      On the other hand, we had a visit from the head of the Japanese civil office, who seems to be sincerely trying to put a stop to this lawlessness, but who admits that he has no authority over the military.  He asked us for our frank statements of instances of misbehavior, which were given him.  Let us hope that he succeeds in getting the military authorities to control their soldiers.  But if they misbehave here under the nose of the authorities, what will they not do in the villages?


      Just heard today that P’an Ench’ing, one of our Christians and for years manager of our bookstore, committed suicide by jumping into a well, rather than face the torture of the Japs who were looking for him because his son-in-law is an officer in the Chinese army.  Poor mild P’an, who never hurt a fly!

      The Peiping Chronicle comes quite regularly now, arriving six days after publication.


      The city streets are quite full of people and more shops beginning to open. Some do business only through a window.  One salt shop at the end of the bridge in our south suburb has been doing business through the window some days, but was today forced open by Jap soldiers at about the close of business and money was demanded.  However, the money had been hustled out the back door as they were trying to get in the front.  Disappointed, one of the soldiers lunged with his bayonet at the man in charge, but the latter dodged and got off with only a slight cut in the neck.


Oct. 29.


      Conditions do not improve as rapidly as we might hope.


      Yesterday I took a trip out to four villages. Here is a sample of the kind of story I heard. These gendarmes came out to Yao Chia Chung for cabbage.  They chose the best heads and told the farmers to weigh them.  The farmers said, “Never mind weighing.  Help yourselves.” No, they must be weighed and paid for.  So the farmers weighed them, then were made to carry them to headquarters, where a receipt was made out for $20, the amount due.  One farmer receipted with his thumb print and received the $20.  They were then dismissed, but a soldier followed them out and presently demanded the $20.  It was handed over, of course, and he graciously gave them 40 cents, thus making only $19.60 by the transaction.


      Another typical story from the same village, as told me by an old farmer: “Two soldiers came into my yard and said something which I could not understand.  How can we understand their language?  Then one poked me with his bayonet in the ribs and pointed at my chickens.  I hurried to catch them, but it was not easy. ‘Bang’ went his gun and my dog fell dead.  He made me catch all six.  Then he pointed to the pig pen and I knew he wanted pig.  I had to get down into the pit and wade in the filth, trying to catch a pig, not a simple job.  You’d think that if I gave him one of my two pigs it would be enough.  But no, he threatened me again and I had to catch the second.  Then I had to tie them on a wheel barrow and take them to their camp.  As we left my yard, ‘Bang,’ and my other dog was dead.  I had to skin the pigs for them and they let the skin and the head, which they did not want.”


      This is what the Japanese in Japan hear and read:

      Excerpts from dispatches from Paoting to the Osako Mainichi, a leading Japanese paper,


      By Shoji Takishima, Paoting, Sept. 26:  “Outside the walls many Chinese are returning to their homes and a special corps is going to take good care of the distressed Chinese, putting the city in good order.”


      By Shigeru Sato, Paoting, Sept. 29:  “An animated atmosphere is now fast brewing in and out of Paoting, although the city was pillaged by the lawless Chinese troops.  Reconstruction of the city has already been started with the citizens relieved of fear and terror by the entry of the Japanese troops.”


Nov. 1.


      Have been trying for several days to organize classes for the refugees and others who might care to study.  Committees and sub-committees have been meeting and we finally have a set-up which covers everything from kindergarten to adult education.  It occurred to us day before yesterday to notify the authorities that we were starting these classes.  Then our trouble started.  We have been to see them half a dozen times and finally today get word that we must get textbooks from Peking, from the new educational authorities there. This will delay starting for another week or more.


Nov. 3.


      Conditions are slow to improve.  Soldiers were robbing people on our street yesterday.  I have within half an hour been asked to help the case of a well-to-do farmer from a nearby village who has been arrested by the gendarmerie and is virtually being held for ransom on some flimsy spurious charge.  Weather is getting cold and we must do something for those who have no homes, or who have lost clothes and bedding and money.