Longhua Martyrs Cemetery - History and Facts | History Hit

Longhua Martyrs Cemetery

Xuhui, Shanghai, China

The Longhua Martyrs Cemetery commemorates those communists who died under the Kuomintang and was a WWII Japanese internment camp.

Peta Stamper

15 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Longhua Martyrs Cemetery

The Longhua Martyrs Cemetery in Shanghai, China, is a memorial to those who died under the regime of the Chinese Nationalist Party – the Kuomintang – led by Chiang Kai-shek. The history of the cemetery is also that of the Longhua Temple, first built around 242 AD.

In addition to various sculptures and a Memorial Hall, the cemetery sits on the location of the actual execution ground and today visitors can also view the prison itself.

Longhua Martyrs Cemetery history

The oldest temple complex in Shanghai, the Longhua Temple and Pagoda were built around 242 AD by Sun Quan of the Song Dynasty. During the 1920s and 1930s, the site of the Longhua Temple was a Kuomintang prison where hundreds of communists were executed in an attempt to obliterate the communist movement. In 1927, the Kuomintang carried out a purge of suspected communists in Shanghai.

Throughout World War Two and the region’s Second Sino-Japanese War, the Longhua site became a vast Japanese civilian internment camp. Prisoners included Americans, British and nationals of other allied countries were held in terrible conditions, as depicted in J. G. Ballard’s novel ‘Empire of the Sun’ and Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation.

Longhua Martyrs Cemetery today

Today, Longhua Martyrs Cemetery is a memorial to the fight for communism prior to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, as well as a site testifying to the suffering of those in the Japanese internment camp. The site is also a burial grounds for those murdered during the Chinese Nationalist purges.

Visitors will see an ever-burning flame in the centre of the cemetery gardens, as well as a large, partially submerged sculpture of a falling martyr. In the centre of the park is a small museum that guides you through the site’s history, and entry is free.

While the cemetery’s history is one of suffering, the area is a suitably quiet and reflective spot away from the bustle of Shanghai’s streets.

Getting to Longhua Martyrs Cemetery

The easiest way of reaching the Longhua Martyrs Cemetery is via public transport: take the bus number 180 Longhua West Road or underground Line 11 or 12 and exit at Longhua Station.

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