Remarks by Zhang Xihong, 3rd Son of Zhang Xingtai, the Weihsien Camp Cleaner
(15:00 pm, August 17, 2005)
I remember, my father’s name is Zhang Xingtai. He was a sanitation worker in the Weihsien Concentration Camp. His work was to sweep away daily rubbish and he got in and out the concentration camp every day. He was familiar with the internees. In 1966 he died. My eldest brother Zhang Xiwu and second brother Zhang Xiguang helped father to make cleaning in the concentration camp. At that time, I was still young and all of my understanding about the concentration camp came from my father’s words.
Originally my father had been running small dealings in the Ledaoyuan and he knew Dr. Davies well, who was the headmaster of Guangwen Middle School. Later 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 a managing personnel because he¡¯s familier with the situation of Weihsien. The interned foreigners lived a hard life without enough food and medicine. My father sympathized with them and detest the cruelty of the Japanese. Dr. Davies secretly contacted and asked my father to take letter to the local pastor Mr. Huang Lede for measures to help the internees. Later the local people of Weihsien raised a lot of money, bought a large quantity of materials in name of the Red Cross and sent into the concentration camp through Qingdao Agency. Thus the life of the internees became much better. [photo: "Zhang Xingtai, Cleaner of the Weihsien Camp, Helped the Escape"]
Afterwards Dr. Davies asked my father to try to contact with local anti-Japanese guerrilla forces. My father inquired everywhere and with the touch with a sanitation worker Yang Ruilan in the hospital of Ledaoyuan, through her husband Wang Shaowen he finally contacted with the guerrilla forces. With the help of the guerrilla forces, Arthur W. Hummel Jr. and Tipton escaped from the camp to the guerrilla forces and contacted with the US Embassy and took situations 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 to stop them but was beaten onto the ground by the Japanese’s buttstocks. The Japanese forced my eldest brother with guns and searched 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. ZhangXihong 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. 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. In this June the British man Dr. Norman Cliff made a special visit to my home for my father’s situation. [photo (above): "Zhang Xihong, 3rd Son of Zhang Xingtai, who was Cleaner of the Weihsien Camp"]
(Provided by Sui Shude, Weifang Foreign Affairs Office)