TIME'S MAN AND WIFE OF THE YEAR, 1937
Excerpts from Time website, July 30, 2004. <http://www.time.com/time/personoftheyear/archive/stories/1937.html>
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...."But there are good reasons why no U.S. citizen is the Man of 1937. In the last five months of the twelve the U.S. led the world not forward toward prosperity but backward toward depression. However great was John L. Lewis' accomplishment, by year end he was in the position of every labor leader and every industrialist when business is receding: battening down hatches to ride out a storm....
In 1937 the world's most populous nation—China—was engaged on land, sea and in the air by the only non-white people who have ever shown aptitude for conquest by machine-age methods—the Japanese. Last week, in remote and neutral Stockholm the great Swedish explorer of Asia, Dr. Sven Hedin, said in a lecture before the Swedish Academy: 'Recent events in China constitute not only a warning but a final signal that the white man's burden soon will be taken over by a very willing Japan. The reign of the white race in the Far East is coming to an end.'
If in 1937 any Japanese had been responsible for creating the situation which Sweden's Dr. Hedin thinks has been created, then that Japanese would assuredly be Man of the Year. There is no such Man. No one Japanese leads or even controls the avalanche which Japanese ambition has in motion. Much as a hill of ants are driven by their impulses to conquer another ant hill, the Japanese have gone forth to war. No Napoleon and no Bismarck guides them. The Japanese Emperor & Elder Statesmen, the Army & Navy chiefs in Japan, the Cabinet, the Japanese Army & Navy chiefs in China, are all mutually rival groups.
But while Japan launched her great adventure without outstanding leadership, China, the victim of the adventure, has had the ablest of leadership. Through 1937 the Chinese have been led—not without glory—by one supreme leader and his remarkable wife. Under this Man & Wife the traditionally disunited Chinese people—millions of whom seldom used the word 'China' in the past—have slowly been given national consciousness.
He is a salt seller's son, she a Bible salesman's daughter. No woman in the West holds so great a position as Mme Chiang Kai-shek holds in China. Her rise and that of her husband, the Geralissimo, in less than a generation to moral and material leadership of the ancient Chinese people cover a great page of history. (On January 25, Houghton Mifflin will publish the first really good biography of China's Chiang: Strong Man of the East, by Robert Berkov, longtime United Press bureau manager at Shanghai.)
Every headline reader knows that in 1937 the Japanese War Machine was halted at Shanghai for 13 long weeks, its timetable shattered by the first Chinese War Machine worthy of the name which the modern world had ever seen. No fault of Generalissimo Chiang was it that he was forced to use his War Machine at least two years before it was finished. His hand was forced by overzealous Chinese patriots, by canny Japanese who believed that unless they beat China in 1937 they might never do so. Today Generalissimo & Mme Chiang have not conceded China's defeat, they long ago announced that their program for as many years as necessary will be to harass, exhaust and eventually ruin Japan by guerrilla warfare. If Generalissimo Chiang can achieve it, he may emerge Asia's Man of the Century. Such success is highly problematical. Meantime, he and Mme Chiang have made themselves Man & Wife of 1937.
Miss Mao. Thirty-six years ago in the village of Chikow lived an indomitable woman. She had a 15-year-old son, Chiang Kai-shek, who had the reputation of a wastrel and under her thumb, according to custom, she had Chiang's bride, a Fenghua maiden named Miss Mao. The bride lived to see her husband become great, to be discarded as his wife, to go back to her village and live on a pension of $3,000 Mex per month. His mother lived to contrive, by dint of much scrimping, to stake young Chiang to four years of military schooling in Japan. She died prosperous in 1921, thanks to her dutiful son, who bought her a fine funeral, later built a Buddhist monastery in her memory. Greatest of all was the reward of the village, to which the General has long sent a gift of $40,000 Mex each month.
When Student Chiang arrived in Tokyo, it was, as Moscow later became, a centre of Chinese revolutionary activity. Thus when Chiang Kai-shek returned to China he drifted gradually into the military entourage of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, "Father of the Chinese Republic." The young officer was about as close to Sun at the time as Stalin was to Lenin—a loyal subordinate but one of many. From Moscow there arrived in Canton in 1924 the great Propagandist Michael Borodin and the able Soviet General Galen. These men in the closing years of Dr. Sun's life assisted and directed his disciples, and the greatest of these in the military sphere became General Chiang Kai-shek.
Conqueror. When the revolutionary army of the Kuomintang ("National People's Party"), founded by Dr. Sun, sallied forth under General Chiang from Canton, the capital of the weak Chinese Republic was Peking in the north, but middle China was then dominated by famed "Scholar War Lord" Marshal Wu Pei-fu. Ahead of Chiang's army marched a horde of Borodin-coached Chinese, preaching Communist-style propaganda in the name of the Kuo- mintang. With him marched competent Soviet military advisers and in his ammunition train he carried, beside cartridges, many "silver bullets" with which he bought off local officials who opposed him.
Seen today, now that all this is known, the conquering advance of General Chiang—first 600 miles from Canton inland to Hankow ("The Chicago of China"); then 600 miles down the Yangtze River to Shanghai ("The New York of China") and Nanking—was not primarily a great feat of arms. General Chiang had not yet developed many of his great qualities. he was almost an out-&-out puppet of the Soviet Union, but, as both Japan and Russia have found to their cost, no Chinese ever fully sells himself or China.
Conqueror Chiang immediately made friends with the Chinese businessmen of Shanghai, turned violently anti-Communist, massacred some 3,500 unimportant Shanghai Reds, permitted Propagandist Borodin and General Galen to "escape" to the Soviet Union. He later made Communism a capital crime. General Chiang's only son by his No. 1 wife, Chiang Ching-kuo, had by this time moved to Moscow, busied himself denouncing his father from Soviet platforms, became a Communist.
Old Charlie's Daughters. Until recently any prominent Chinese obliged to be much away from home usually had one or more concubines (with the knowledge & consent of his wife), and successful General Chiang at this time was no exception. The swankier of the Conqueror's concubines found her social doings recorded even in the British press of Shanghai, which referred to her as "Mme Chiang."
General Chiang was now master of South and Central China but many Kuo-mintang politicians denounced him as a Fascist or worse. With a characteristic gesture he resigned all his offices and went to Japan. There Chiang, the shrewd, hard-headed, hard- living, callous soldier who had made his way to power, proceeded to court pretty, educated, high-minded Soong Mei-ling. Her brother, Mr. T.V. Soong, today China's greatest financier, informed General Chiang as courteously as possible that a husband with concubines was scarcely acceptable as a suitor in the Chinese Christian family of Soong. Mei-ling's father, famed "Old Charlie" Soong, had made his fortune as a pioneer in printing and selling Bibles to Chinese as fast as the missionaries created a demand. Investing his profits at about 40% Chinese interest, he died a merchant prince. Old Mrs. Soong had not forgotten that her late husband had tumbled another of her daughters unceremoniously into the arms of old Dr. Sun Yat-sen (who also had another wife at the time) and that the marriage had been a master stroke for the House of Soong.
Venerable Mother Soong therefore told General Chiang that if he would become a Christian he could marry her attractive, Wellesley-graduated Mei-ling. The Conqueror replied that he would not adopt a new religion merely to win a bride, but that if Miss Soong would marry him he would agree to study Christianity, and then do as he saw fit. No ordained Christian pastor could be found who thought General Chiang free to marry Miss Soong, so a lay Y.M.C.A. secretary united them in holy matrimony. From the day General Chiang thus took his No. 2 wife, both his character and his fortunes rapidly commenced to take on a certain grandeur. Eventually he also became a Christian.
Chiang Conquers All. The marriage of General Chiang was important because it made him the post-mortem brother-in-law of the Kuomintang's late sainted Sun; brother-in-law of Big Banker T.V. Soong; and brother-in-law of Dr. H.H. Kung, famed descendant of China's greatest sage Confucius, who also married a Soong girl. Chiang returned to China to head the Kuomintang Government at Nanking. He was soon styled the Generalissimo, and headed a campaign to conquer northern China. In this war there was by normal Chinese standards some fairly heavy fighting. Most fortunate for the Generalissimo, however, was the assassination at Mukden of the doughtiest fighter among China's War Lords, the great Marshal Chang Tsolin, famed bibber of tiger's blood and keeper of a harem of white women.
The Marshal's son & heir, Chang Hsuehliang, "The Young Marshal," blamed the Japanese for his father's somewhat mysterious assassination, and allied himself with Chiang. Six years ago the Japanese drove The Young Marshal out of Manchuria and reorganized it as their puppet state Manchukuo, but the rest of China had been brought under the flag of the Nanking Government, that is, of Generalissimo Chiang.
Progress. From then until this year's Japanese invasion the material progress of Chiang's China has been phenomenal. He called in Professor Edwin Walter Kemmerer of Princeton to give China the plan for its first sound currency, and the first ever accepted on a nation-wide basis. Roads and busses to run on them were sent stabbing far into China from her ports, and the more busses the fewer bandits. Flood control and famine-fighting agencies which had functioned piecemeal in China were given co- ordination. In a land which has existed for centuries in a state of complete disorganization such elementary progress was revolutionary. The armies or bandit hordes of Chinese Communists who tried to harass Nanking from the hinterland were turned by Generalissimo Chiang into an excuse for not fighting the Japanese. He used them as a football coach uses a scrub team to train the regular army of New China—the first Chinese War Machine, complete with European artillery, German military advisers, U.S. and Italian war planes.
New Life. In China no great moral stigma had commonly attached to graft. It was the custom of nearly every official who could to collect it. For the colossal purchases Chiang had to make, he could not afford the normal luxury of graft. To find someone he could trust to purchase war planes the Generalissimo turned at last in desperation to his own wife. She it was who pored over aircraft catalogs, dickered with hard-boiled white salesmen, and is reputed to have had several Chinese officials of her Air Ministry shot to reduce thieving.
What Chinese officialdom needed, the Generalissimo & Mme Chiang had decided, was a big dose of the castor oil of Puritanism. The tablespoon with which they dished this out they called the New Life Movement, and with every ounce of Nanking's authority they dosed all China. Batch after batch of local mayors and magistrates were ordered to Nanking, drilled and exhorted there in the primary decencies—to stop wiping noses on sleeves, to stop taking bribes from litigants. They were warned that he who did not practice the new Puritanism might expect the worst—and this was no empty threat.
One unique wastrel against whom the new Life Movement struggled in vain was Chiang Wei-kuo. He is the son of a Japanese waitress & a Chinese official whom Generalissimo Chiang obliged by adopting the lad as his own son. In vain Chiang Wei-kuo was put under the direct control of Mme Chiang. She could do nothing with him. He was sent to Germany, last year suddenly appeared in London and forced the Chinese Delegation to the Coronation of King George VI to get him in on it and on all the best parties.
Despite non-success with Chiang Wei-kuo, the New Life Movement otherwise was successfully enforced. The Geralissimo & Mme Chiang had individuals whom they trusted planted unobtrusively in all branches of the Government. These spies for Puritanism reported direct, and in Nanking not a few errant officials' careers were mysteriously broken.
Kidnapping. Year ago the Generalissimo was suddenly kidnapped and held prisoner at Sian. It was The Young Marshal Chang whose troops seized Chiang Kai-shek. This kidnapping was promptly hijacked by Chinese forces allied with the Communists. At Nanking an extremely grave suspicion was abroad that Brother-in-Law T.V. Soong, disappointed in an ambition to become Premier of China, had put The Young Marshal, a "cured" ex-dope addict, up to seizing the Generalissimo. What followed proved that Chiang had remade China. It also gave the lie to generations of Chinese history. Instead of rushing to seize Chiang's power Chinese soldiers and officials from all parts of the country began a bombardment of telegrams demanding the release, rescue or ransoming of Chiang Kai-shek at any cost. It was the ultimate testimony that after centuries the Chinese people had at last found a Leader. It is too early to give credence to rumors that Banker Soong was obliged to unsnarl the kidnapping mistake with millions of dollars in bribes. The more popular, official version is that The Young Marshal Chang and the Communists were "greatly touched" by the contents of the Generalissimo's diary—which convinced them that he was not at heart pro-Japanese. At all events the sequel to Sian was that Chiang's armies ceased to fight the Reds, and joyfully returned from Moscow Son Chiang Ching-kuo with a Russian Communist wife.
"Welcome, my son!" cried the Generalissimo, then indicating Mei-ling he added "and now you must meet your new mother."
"That is not my mother," retorted Chiang Ching-kuo, "and having paid my respects to you, father, I am going to my mother and your wife!"
"This week Red Son Chiang was probably still with his mother, Miss Mao, but proverbially unreliable Chinese newspapers had him suddenly appearing in Suiyuan at the head of 100,000 Soviet Mongol troops.
Long Pull. During 1937 the beginning of the Japanese invasion found the Generalissimo then "the only man in China who did not think it best to fight." In his shrewd head Chiang Kai-shek knew better than anyone else that the New China was not yet ready to use her War Machine; that to fight would be to incur the catastrophic losses China has now suffered; that his Government would inevitably be driven from Nanking; that the hand of the Chinese Communists would be immensely strengthened—unless Japan's triumph should indeed be utter & complete. Knowing all this, Chiang Kai-shek up to the last possible moment counseled, as he had counseled for years, "any sacrifice should not be regarded as too costly!" providing it averted war with Japan.
The Generalissimo was overwhelmed and overruled by Chinese public opinion. He was obliged to lead China to certain defeat. Most amazing was the outward confidence of every public act and word of the Man & Wife of the Year—particularly the tone of her cables from Nanking to the U.S. press. Until the evacuation of Nanking, Mme Chiang was writing about how "my air force" was going to bomb Tokyo, carefully sparing "the women and children."
The spot to which Generalissimo & Mme Chiang have fled was a military secret this week. Their job is now to wage against Japan such guerrilla warfare as General Sandino hurled from his Nicaraguan mountains against the forces of Calvin Coolidge. To such a resourceful man as Chiang the fight is not necessarily hopeless. Japan is not the U.S. Her resources have already been badly strained and it is conceivable that if the fight is sufficiently long and costly, it may break her economically. Nor is China Nicaragua. She is so large that any invader inevitably has long lines open to attack, and so populous that her resources of man power cannot soon be exhausted. Her greatest weakness has always been in will power. If Chiang Kai-shek and Mei-ling can maintain their will as China's will—the same will which said that "any sacrifice should not be regarded as too costly"—Chinese prospects are good. China's prospects now as they have been for 20 centuries are, however, only for the long pull.
This week an Associated Press correspondent "somewhere in the Yangtze Valley" with Generalissimo & Mme Chiang was permitted to flash that influenza had bedded the Wife of the Year, quoted the Man of the Year as saying: "Tell America to have complete confidence in us. The tide of battle is turning and victory eventually will be ours!"
WAR IN CHINA Death and Conquest
Of China's 4,480,992 square miles Japanese forces took: 2,075 in the last week 10,465 in the last month 145,787 in the last year 645,787 since 1931
— Some 100,000 Chinese troops deployed under orders to defend Hangchow, 100 miles southwest of Shanghai, scattered in headlong flight last week and that great city fell to the Japanese—the sixth Chinese provincial capital taken since the present war began last July.
— Japan's new puppet Chinese Government at Peking paid $116,000 to the Imperial Japanese Government last week, described this as the first installment of $348,000 which Tokyo is collecting as "indemnity" for the killing of some 200 Japanese by Chinese at Tung-chow.
— On the same scale of indemnity Japan would owe the U.S. $5,220 for the three men killed in the sinking of the Panay, but the U.S. settled for an apology, promise of indemnity and guarantee against future attack. No Japanese newspaper printed the text of the apology, and the divine Emperor Hirohito—who did not feel that politeness required him to reply to President Roosevelt's personal protest—opened the Imperial Diet with a Speech from the Throne which omitted mention of the Panay. "We feel greatly gratified to see relations between Japan and her treaty powers growing in friendship and cordiality" read His Imperial Majesty. "Our officers and men, winning every battle, are enhancing their military prestige, both at home and abroad."
— Although the Chinese authorities had executed 240 Chinese looters, Chinese mobs had destroyed $100,000,000 of Japanese property in Tsingtao by last week when Japanese forces finally crossed the Yellow River, besieged Tsinan, the capital of Shantung.
— In Japan a schoolhouse at Nishimuro was packjammed with villagers watching a film of Japanese troops advancing in China when the building caught fire last week. Killed were 21 children and 51 adults.
— At Shanghai veteran correspondents reported scenes of "filth, disease, hunger and madness" among the 1,000,000 Chinese refugees from battle areas. In a single theatre 14,000 have been living like vermin for weeks. Biological processes continued: among the 1,000,000 refugees a child was born every minute, there was a death every three minutes, and twelve mothers died in childbirth every hour.
— Dr. Sun Fo, son of China's late sainted Dr. Sun Yat-sen, nephew by marriage to the Man & Wife of the Year, became last week the first prominent Chinese Government official to attempt to leave China since the Japanese captured Nanking. Boarding an airplane at Hankow, Son Sun gave out that he was flying to Hong Kong, would thence speed to Europe on a trip including Moscow. Meanwhile Communist leaders in China were loudly demanding the resignation of various prominent members of the Government which has had to flee Nanking and disperse itself in various Chinese cities. The Reds had not yet asked that the Man of the Year resign, and presumably Son Sun wants to see Joseph Stalin about China's crucial future.
— Japanese claimed to have destroyed 14 Soviet-built planes in a Chinese airdrome last week but Tokyo and Moscow remained on conciliatory diplomatic terms. Dictator Stalin renewed for one year the agreement under which Japanese trawlers are permitted for a fee to fish in Soviet waters.