Xi’an (Sian) Incident (1936)

KMT members captured during the Xi’an Incident
KMT members captured during the Xi’an Incident

The Long March (1934–35) severely damaged the Chinese Communists, who continued to fight from their new base in northern Sha'anxi (Shensi) province in northwestern China.

Pursuing his policy of "first domestic pacification, then resisting Japan," Chiang Kaishek, leader of the Nationalist government, appointed Zhang Xueliang (Chang Hsueh-liang), the ousted warlord of Manchuria, and his Manchurian army units to complete the task of finishing off the Communists. But Zhang and his troops had been persuaded by rising popular sentiment that all Chinese should unite against Japan, and the campaign ground to a halt.

In December 1936, Chiang convened a military conference at Xi'an, a city in northern China, where he planned to fire Zhang and send in fresh troops willing to fight. Fearful that his plan to form an anti-Japanese united front would be thwarted, Zhang Xueliang, a recently recovered heroin addict, seized Chiang and his aides on the night of December 12. This was the Xi'an incident that shocked China and the world.

Zhang Xueliang presented Chiang with eight demands that included immediate cessation of the anti-Communist campaign and reforming of the Nationalist government to form a united front against Japan. Chiang refused to comply, choosing death if necessary.

He also allowed Zhang to read his diary, which revealed his plans to resist Japan. Zhang Xueliang was completely at a loss on what to do next. Across China popular support rallied around Chiang as the only leader capable of leading the nation against Japan.

At their headquarters at yan'an (Yenan) one faction of Communist leaders advocated killing their enemy Chiang. Another led by Zhou Enlai (Chou En-lai) pushed for a peaceful settlement. The Soviet Union had also concluded that Chiang was the only Chinese leader capable of uniting China against Japan.

Zhang Xueliang
Zhang Xueliang

Under Nazi German pressure in Europe, Joseph Stalin supported a Chinese leader capable of resisting Japan. Zhou flew to Xi'an, as did Madame Chiang and a number of leaders from Nanjing (Nanking), and the parties negotiated and came to an unwritten agreement.

On December 25, Chiang and his party were released, flying back to Nanjing in triumph accompanied by Zhang. Chiang submitted his resignation, which was rejected. Zhang was tried for mutiny by a military court, received a 10-year sentence, was pardoned, but was put under house arrest; his Manchurian army was reorganized.

Importantly, a session of the Nationalist Party leadership convened in the spring of 1937 agreed to stop the anti-Communist campaign, reform and reorganize the government, and negotiate with the Chinese Communist Party to form a united front against Japan. Zhou Enlai arrived in Nanjing to conduct talks on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.

Chinese moves toward unity propelled Japan's militarists to speed up their agenda of aggression, resulting in the Marco Polo Bridge incident on July 7, 1937. This attack developed into an all-out war, which pushed the two parties in China to conclude a second United Front against their common enemy. Thus, the Xi'an incident changed the course of Chinese history.

Yalta Conference (1945)

Yalta Conference (1945)
Yalta Conference (1945)

The Yalta Conference, also called the Crimea Conference or the Argonaut Conference, was a meeting of the leaders of the Grand Alliance in World War II. The meeting took place from February 4 until February 11, 1945, in Yalta in the Soviet Union.

The Grand Alliance included the countries of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. The delegations consisted of over 700 people in total and were headed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the first secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, Joseph Stalin.

The Yalta Conference is considered to be one of the three most important wartime meetings of the Grand Alliance (the other two being the Teheran Conference, which took place from November 28 until December 1, 1943, and the Potsdam Conference, which took place from July 17 until August 2, 1945).

The main purpose of the Yalta Conference was to discuss further strategies for military operations against the Axis powers, the establishment of occupation zones in defeated Germany and Austria, the postwar border settlement of Poland, the creation of the United Nations, and the Soviet Union's military entry in the war in the Far East. The agreements reached at the conference were included in the Protocol of Proceedings of the Crimea Conference.

A major goal of the U.S. delegation at the Yalta Conference was to ensure the Soviet Union's participation in the establishment of the United Nations (UN). Stalin declared the Soviet commitment to take part in the founding conference of the UN in San Francisco in April 1945.

He received guarantees that the Security Council of the UN would include five permanent members equipped with veto powers. Also, he received guarantees that Ukraine and Belarus, which at that time were Soviet republics, would be included as separate members of the General Assembly, giving the Soviet Union three votes instead of one.

Roosevelt proposed that the Protocol of Proceedings of the Yalta Conference should include the Declaration of Liberated Europe, which asserted the principles of democratic governance and self-determination of European nations freed from the Nazi occupation.

In the declaration the participants obliged themselves to facilitate the postwar process of European liberation through supporting conditions of internal peace, providing relief measures, and assisting in the organization of free, democratic, and secret national elections.

The participants at the Yalta Conference reconfirmed their demands for the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. They also agreed that subsequent to their surrender Germany and Austria would be subject to strict demilitarization and de-Nazification policies. The issue of war criminals was to be subject to further inquiry by the foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. The members of the Grand Alliance agreed also on the division of Germany.

This meant that the German territory would be divided into four zones of military occupation controlled by the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and France. The postwar occupation would be governed by the Allied Control Council, consisting of the three states of the Grand Alliance and France.

Stalin was initially opposed to Churchill's demands for the inclusion of France into the Allied Control Council and consented only under the condition that the French zone would not be carved out of the Soviet one. The Soviet Union also became entitled to half of all the postwar reparation payments, which were approximated at US $20 billion.

In order to work out specific reparation policies, a commission was established in Moscow, which included representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. At the Yalta Conference it was also confirmed that after the war all individuals accused of desertion or treason would be made to return to their countries of national origin.

The issue of the Polish borders and the Polish government received a great deal of attention at the Yalta Conference. By then, the United States and the United Kingdom had officially recognized the Polish governmentin-exile, which had moved to London after the German invasion of Poland in 1939.

The Soviet leaders recognized the provisional Polish government established by the Polish Committee of National Liberation, which was created in 1944 in the city of Lublin in the territory controlled by the Soviet Army. The provisional Polish government mostly included members of the former Polish socialist political organizations.

Another controversy during the Yalta Conference was the issue of the revision of the Polish borders. Stalin insisted that in this respect the Western allies should recognize the SovietGerman Boundary Treaty from 1939 (also known as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact).

The treaty had pushed the border approximately 200 kilometers to the west, thus giving the Soviet Union the western territories of Ukraine and Belarus. Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to recognize the legitimacy of the Polish Committee of National Liberation, even though they also insisted that after the war the Polish government should be reorganized on a more democratic basis.

Stalin promised to facilitate democratic elections in Poland and to include in the government members of the London government-in-exile. Also, Roosevelt and Churchill consented to the proposed revision of the Polish eastern border.

The participants of the Yalta Conference decided to compensate Poland's territorial loss at the expense of Germany. Thus, the prewar Polish-German border was pushed west to lines formed by the Rivers Oder and Neisse.

The result of the revisionist border policies was the creation of a much more ethnically and religiously homogenous Poland than before the war, as the areas inhabited by the Ukrainian or Belarusian Orthodox minorities were assigned to the Soviet Union and as over 7 million German residents were forcefully expelled westward.

An important goal of the U.S. delegation was to obtain Soviet agreement to join the war with Japan in the Far East. Stalin made a commitment that the Soviet Union would enter the war two or three months after the German surrender had been obtained.

In return for its involvement, the Soviet Union demanded
  1. the recognition of the independence of the Mongolian's Peoples Republic from China, while China would regain sovereignty over the territory of Manchuria; 
  2. the return to the Soviet Union of the territories of southern Sakhalin and the neighboring islands that Russia had lost to Japan in the 1904–05 war; and 
  3. the surrender of the Kurile Islands to the Soviet Union.
In return, Stalin made a commitment to start negotiations with the National government of China of Chiang Kai-shek in order to facilitate the Chinese war of resistance against Japan. The Western allies expected Stalin to expedite the peace agreement between Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong. Controversially, all these agreements were kept secret from China.

The importance of the Yalta Conference was that it sealed the future of postwar Europe as divided between two spheres of influence. Among the most controversial decisions made in Yalta was the acceptance by the United States and the United Kingdom of Soviet dominance over the countries of Eastern Europe, which legitimized the expansion of the Communist ideology.

It paved the path for the establishment of Soviet-style authoritarian regimes in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. It also meant that the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which had lost their state sovereignty in 1940, became republics of the Soviet Union.

Although the conference in Yalta was characterized by an atmosphere of agreement and cooperation among the three allies, it also marked the initial stages of the cold war. With the demise of the Axis powers, conflicts arose among the former allies due to their divergent political interests, irreconcilable ideological differences, and the escalating economic and military competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Yamagata Aritomo

Yamagata Aritomo
Yamagata Aritomo

Yamagata Aritomo was a Japanese politician who was prime minister on two occasions (1889–91 and 1898– 1900) and an elder statesman during the first decades of the 20th century, when he played an important role as an adviser to other politicians.

Born in Hagi in the town of Choshu, he was the son of a low-ranking samurai. He started working as an errand boy for the treasury and also for the police. As a youth he was influenced by the Sonno Joi movement, which operated under the slogans "Revere the Emperor" and "Expel the Barbarians." At the age of 30 he played a minor role in the Meiji Restoration.

In 1869, Yamagata was sent to Europe to study the system of military training in the West. On his return in 1870, he was appointed the assistant vice minister of military affairs. Two years later the army ministry subsumed the ministry of military affairs, and in the following year Yamagata was put in charge of the new ministry.

As a result, he was involved in the Conscription Ordinance of 1873 but did not take part in the decisions over whether Japan should send a punitive expedition to Taiwan, a province of China. In 1878, he reorganized the Japanese army along the model of the Prussian armed forces and led it in the defeat of the Satsuma Rebellion four years later. One of the important units that Yamagata established was the Goshimpei ("Imperial Force"), which later became the Konoe ("Imperial Guard").

In December 1878, Yamagata resigned as minister of the army and became the first chief of the Japanese general staff. This was part of his move to separate the military from politics, which he confirmed in 1882 in the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors that urged soldiers to follow the orders of the emperor and not the politicians.

However, it was not until 18 years later that Yamagata was able to get a law passed that allowed only active generals and admirals to serve as cabinet ministers of war and the navy. Although this was aimed at ensuring separation, it did not prevent the military governments of the 1930s and early 1940s, where rapid promotion ensured that newly created generals could become ministers.

Made a count in 1884, Yamagata resigned as chief of the general staff later in the same year to become minister for home affairs, a post he held from 1883 until 1889. During this time he remodeled his department, changing the system of running the police force.

He also ensured that the police came under the direct control of the minister. In 1888, Yamagata, still a minister, went to Europe and after a year there returned with new ideas.

He became the first prime minister of Japan on December 4, 1889, under a newly established Japanese diet. Political infighting led to Yamagata's resignation on May 6, 1891. He became minister of justice from 1892 until 1893, and then president of the privy council for two more years.

With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, Yamagata returned to the army as commander of the First Army, which was deployed to Korea.

On November 8, 1898, Yamagata became prime minister again. He had just been promoted to field marshal and appointed many generals and admirals to the cabinet, emphasizing his view that Japan should take a far more aggressive foreign policy. He also issued a government regulation that only officers in active service could become the army or navy minister.

This coincided with the outbreak of the Boxer Rebellion in China; Yamagata immediately sent over a large military force, which was to play a role in the allied attack on Beijing (Peking) and ensured Japan's role in subsequent negotiations.

However, Yamagata was worried about Russia's territorial ambitions. As a result, he drew up a contingency plan in which Japan would be prepared to fight both Russia and the United States simultaneously. Part of the plan was implemented in World War II. By this time, Yamagata's service was recognized, and he was raised to the dignity of a prince.

When Ito Hirobumi was assassinated in 1909, Yamagata, as the "elder statesman," became the most powerful politician of Japan, and cabinet ministers sought advice from him. During the Chinese Revolution of 1911, Yamagata was keen on preserving the Qing (Ch'ing) dynasty.

Three years later he led Japan into World War I as an Allied power. Yamagata overplayed his influence in 1921 and was publicly censured for his criticism of the marriage of the crown prince (later Emperor Hirohito). He had wanted the prince to take a bride from the Satsuma family. He was still in disgrace when he died on February 1, 1922.

Yan’an (Yenan) Period of the Chinese Communist Party

 Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art
 Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art

Yan'an is a small town in northern Sha'anxi (Shensi) province that became the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1936 after the Long March until 1949. The Yan'an period referred to the years between 1937 and 1945; it was crucial in preparing the CCP for power.

Japan's total war against China in July 1937 propelled the Nationalist, or Kuomintang (KMT), government to stop its campaign against the CCP. The two sides formed a second United Front on September 12, 1937. In a manifesto titled "Together We Confront the National Crisis," the CCP agreed to obey Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Three People's Principles (the ideology of the KMT), cease all anti-KMT activities, abolish the Soviet-style government in areas it controlled, and reorganize the Red Army to integrate it into the National Army.

In reality, the CCP retained control of areas where it was already established, only changing the name of its government, and also control of its military units, renaming the Red Army the Eighth Route Army in the northwest and the New Fourth Army in Jiangxi (Kiangsi).

With the Nationalist government bearing the brunt of Japan's assault, the CCP was freed from KMT attacks and used the unprecedented opportunity to grow. The CCP priority, as Communist leader Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) ordered his cadres, was "70 percent expansion, 20 percent dealing with the Kuomintang, and 10 percent resisting Japan."

His goal was to expand the CCP forces from 30,000 men to 1 million by the end of the war. He also mapped out a three-step strategy: first to manage the compromise with the KMT, next to attempt to achieve parity with it, and third to infiltrate to new areas and establish new guerrilla bases. The United Front had broken down completely by 1941 with a major clash in the New Fourth Army incident.

Negotiations during the remainder of the war never resolved the conflicting goals of the two sides. A war within the war enmeshed the two Chinese parties, with the CCP continuing to expand its bases and the KMT blockading the Yan'an area.

The Yan'an period was also important for laying down the principles of Chinese communism. Mao spent much time thinking and writing, as did his second in command, Liu Shaoqi (Liu Shao-ch'i). Mao's essays included "On the Protracted War," "Problems of Strategy in Guerrilla War against Japan," "On New Democracy," and "On Liberalism."

Liu's works included "How to be a Good Communist" and "On Inner-Party Struggle." Mao's works formed the basis of his later claim to be an original contributor in the development of Marxist-Leninist ideology.

The Yan'an period was also marked by the training and education of workers and peasants to be active supporters of the CCP, moderate land reform policies, and improvements to the rural economy. As a result the few Westerners (mostly reporters and not trained specialists on China) who were able to avoid the KMT blockade or were permitted to make brief chaperoned visits reported glowingly of their Yan'an experience.

From journalist Edgar Snow's book Red Star Over China, the result of his visit in 1936 and his interviews with Mao and other leaders, and from the accounts of shorter visits by other journalists, Westerners learned that the CCP leaders were not like the Soviet Communists but were agrarian reformers.

They compared Yan'an favorably with the Nationalist capital, Chongqing (Chungking), which they described as corrupt. Moscow also fostered this view when Joseph Stalin called the CCP "margarine" or "radish" Communists.

Young Turks

Young Turks
Young Turks

Young Turks is the name given to Ottoman dissidents who from the end of the 19th century through World War I sought to reform the Ottoman Empire; the Young Turks were strongly influenced by the earlier Young Ottoman movement of the 1870s.

Turkish exiles in Paris were first known as Young Turks until various other dissident factions throughout the Ottoman Empire, Europe, and North Africa united under the banner of the Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti, or Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in 1907.

Although the groups were varied and widespread, they were all opposed to the autocratic rule of the sultan and sought to restore parliament and the constitution. Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1842–1918) originally introduced the constitution and parliament in 1876, among other reforms initiated by his predecessors during the Tanzimat period, but suspended them in 1878 and moved toward a severely autocratic and repressive regime.

In 1908 CUP-led troops marched to the capital city, Istanbul, and demanded the restoration of parliament and the constitution. The sultan acquiesced, and elections were held for the first time in 30 years. Exiled Young Turks, notably men from Salonica who primarily led the organization and formed the leadership base, returned as prominent members of the CUP.

The CUP allowed Sultan Abdul Hamid to remain in control of politics while they acted as a watchdog over the government. This changed when a counterrevolution, staged by Islamists, conservatives, and those loyal to the sultan, occurred in 1909.

The counter-revolutionaries drove the CUP out of Istanbul, but the CUP reorganized in Macedonia and recaptured Istanbul by force. After quelling the counterrevolution, the Young Turks deposed Sultan Abdul Hamid II and replaced him with his brother Murad V, officially changing the government to a constitutional and parliamentary regime.

The Young Turks did not (nor did they wish to) abolish the sultanate but instead viewed their roles as guardians of the constitution and reformers of the empire and not as leaders of the country (until World War I). The sultan maintained his powers as caliph (leader of the Muslim world), along with the right to appoint a grand vizier and Sheik al-Islam.

International events strongly affected the policies of the Young Turks and the CUP. The Balkan provinces of the Ottoman Empire and the Great Powers of Europe took advantage of the weakened state of the empire caused by the revolution and the counterrevolution. Austria-Hungary, Greece, and Italy made significant claims on Ottoman territories, and the CUP-led government was unable to offer much resistance.

Montenegro, Serbia, and Bulgaria declared war on the Ottoman Empire, resulting in the loss of most of the European provinces, notably the city of Edirne. The loss of Edirne stunned the Ottomans (it was the former capital) and inadvertently brought about a coup d'état from within the CUP inner circle (known as the Bab-I Ali coup) in 1913.

The loss of Edirne exposed the weakness of the CUP, prompting the leading faction to take control of the party. Three figures emerged at the forefront, Enver Pasha, Talat Pasha, and Cemal Pasha. After Enver (who controlled the military) led the successful recapture of Edirne (and became a hero), he was promoted to the position of minister of war.

Talat Pasha, a former postman, became minister of the interior, and Cemal Pasha became the military governor of Istanbul. They were informally known as the leading triumvirate. After the coup the CUP took on a more dominant role in domestic and international government policies.

The start of World War I changed the role of the CUP. The Young Turks entered into an alliance with Germany and joined the conflict in 1914. The Germans used the empire as a buffer against Russia, while the Ottomans needed German protection from Russian encroachment.

The fear of Russian (and later Greek) advancement led to terrible atrocities committed against the Armenian and Christian communities of Anatolia, inspired by the CUP and still controversial to this day. The German alliance proved disastrous for the CUP, whose leaders were forced to flee after signing the armistice in 1918.

Despite their failures, the Young Turks contributed significantly to reforms within the Ottoman Empire that directly inspired the independence movement and the formation of modern Turkey. The CUP was able to consolidate power, free the economy from the control of minority groups, abolish the centuries-old system of capitulations, and set the stage for economic independence.

They initiated basic rights for women, which were expanded and enhanced in the later Republic of Turkey. The Young Turks sought a synthesis of Western and Eastern ideals, fanned the flames of nationalism, and introduced the idea of pan-Turkism, later expanded upon by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (the founder of modern Turkey) and his supporters.

The CUP laid the groundwork for a successful resistance movement. Due to this foresight the Turkish army and the Turkish people were able to fight off the occupying forces of the Great Powers and the Greeks, who after World War II attempted to annex the western coast of Turkey.

They were soundly defeated in 1922. The presentday Republic of Turkey continued many of the reforms and the ideology propagated by the Young Turks and enhanced these ideals in the formation of a state with a democratic emphasis.

Yuan Shikai (Yuan Shih-k’ai)

president of China, Yuan Shikai
president of China, Yuan Shikai

Yuan Shikai was a skilled general and unprincipled politician who rose to be president of China but failed to become emperor. He is remembered among Chinese as the triple traitor for his treachery toward the reforming emperor in 1898 and for betraying the Qing (Ch'ing) dynasty in the revolution of 1911 and the republic after he became president.

Yuan first gained recognition as China's representative to Korea in 1882. He remained in Korea until 1894, where he trained the Korean army and upheld China's suzerainty against Japanese aggression.

When war over Korea with Japan became inevitable and realizing Japan's military strength, Yuan resigned from his post and fled home. China's catastrophic defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95 led the Qing court to establish a modern army (called the New Army) under Yuan.

It also led the young emperor Guangxu (Kuanghsu) to embark on fundamental reforms in 1898. The emperor's policies went against the reactionary faction at court headed by his aunt the dowager empress Cixi (Tz'u-hsi), who had ostensibly retired but continued to dominate the government.

The showdown focused on Yuan, who controlled the troops in the capital, Beijing (Peking), and he betrayed the emperor to Cixi who imprisoned the emperor and rescinded all reforms. The reformers were either captured and executed or fled abroad. Yuan's reward was appointment as acting governor of Shandong (Shantung) province, where in 1899 ignorant and xenophobic people popularly known as the Boxers began to harass foreigners.

Yuan realized the folly of the Boxer movement and suppressed them in Shandong in defiance of Cixi's orders. Both Guangxu and Cixi died in 1908, and the childless Guangxu was succeeded by his brother's three-year-old son, Pu-i (P'u-yi), as Emperor Xuantong (Hsuan-tung). Yuan was forced to retire but kept in touch with the New Army that he had helped to organize and train.

On October 10, 1911, on his 11th attempt, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's followers instigated a revolution in Wuhan that spread rapidly in southern China. Since Yuan held the loyalty of the New Army, the panicked Qing court begged him to lead it against the rebels, acceding to his demands for money and total control.

Yuan defeated the revolutionaries but did not destroy them, proceeding to bargain with both sides to ensure the abdication of the Qing emperor and agreement by Sun Yat-sen to step down as provisional president of the Chinese Republic in his favor.

Once president, his next goals were to wield absolute power, then to become emperor. When parliamentary elections in 1912 resulted in Dr. Sun's Nationalist party winning a majority in both houses, Yuan had the incoming Nationalist party's designated premier assassinated.

When anti-Yuan governors in southern provinces revolted to protect the constitution in 1913, his superior forces defeated them. He then ruled as a ruthless dictator, dismissing all elected local assemblies and using censorship and the army to enforce obedience. Yuan's ultimate goal was to become emperor.

With the European powers engaged in World War I, he only needed to secure Japan's support, which he hoped to do by agreeing to its infamous Twenty-one Demands in 1915. However, his proclamation to become emperor on January 1, 1916, met with widespread opposition.

The governors of southern provinces not under his direct control rose in revolt, and his own lieutenants refused to come to his aid, perhaps because they feared that the realization of his ambitions was detrimental to their own. On March 22, 1916, he canceled his imperial plans and announced that he would resume his presidency, which was widely resisted.

The issue was solved when he died suddenly in May. Yuan's dictatorial rule destroyed China's chance of establishing a constitutional republic after 1912. His death left a legacy of political fragmentation that led to a decade of civil wars and warlordism.

Sa'd Zaghlul

Sa'd Zaghlul
Sa'd Zaghlul

Sa'd Zaghlul was the founder and leader of the Wafd Party, the leading nationalist party in Egypt after World War I. Zaghlul was born in the Delta area and was a scholarship student at al-Azhar University.

He was influenced by the reformers Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abdu, with whom he worked on the Egyptian Gazette. He became a lawyer and worked as a judge before being appointed minister of education in 1906. Zaghlul's abilities and hard work earned the praise of Lord Cromer, the British de facto governor of Egypt.

Zaghlul was elected to the legislative assembly and served as vice president of the assembly from 1913 to its closure by the British at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. A gifted orator, Zaghlul was an outspoken critic of the government and an ardent nationalist. In 1896 he married Safia Fehmy, the daughter of Mustafa Fehmy, a wealthy aristocrat and former prime minister.

The marriage was childless, but Safia became a close confidante and a supporter of her husband's political work. Their large villa in Cairo became known as Beit al-Umma, or House of the People. Sa'd Zaghlul was also politically close to Makram Ebeid, a Coptic Christian, whom he called his "adopted son."

Encouraged by Allied statements regarding selfdetermination and freedom, Zaghlul gathered together a group of like-minded Egyptian nationalists to form a delegation, or Wafd, shortly before the end of World War I.

The Wafd presented its demands for complete independence to Reginald Wingate, the British high commissioner, who forwarded their request to London. However, the British, who had no intentions of relinquishing control over Egypt, refused to meet or negotiate with Zaghlul.

As national unrest increased throughout Egypt, Zaghlul and several other Wafdists were arrested and deported to Malta in 1919. The arrests led to a fullscale revolution that the British put down by force. in her husband's absence Safia Zaghlul became a leading spokesperson for the Wafd and was called Um Misr (mother of Egypt).

She addressed striking students from the balcony of her home and in 1919 led the first political demonstration of women in the Middle East. in the face of unending demonstrations and strikes, the British were forced to release Sa'd Zaghlul, who then traveled to the Paris Peace Conference and London but failed to secure Egyptian independence.

Zaghlul was a national hero in Egypt, and the Wafd was the dominant political party. in 1922 Britain ended the protectorate over Egypt and declared it independent, but it was symbolic rather than actual independence. When nationalist discontent continued, Zaghlul was deported to the Seychelles via Aden.

More demonstrations predictably ensued, and he was freed after more than a year in captivity. Zaghlul won the open and free 1924 elections with a large majority, but he was forced to resign following the assassination of Sir Lee Stack, the British sirdar (ruler) of Sudan, in Cairo several months later.

Sa'd Zaghlul died in 1927 after a short illness. Safia assumed a more important role in the Wafd. As Wafdists met to discuss who should replace Sa'd Zaghlul, Safia Zaghlul announced that she intended to withdraw from the political arena but supported Mustafa Nahhas to assume leadership of the party. With Safia Zaghlul's support, Nahhas became the Wafd's second president.

Emiliano Zapata

Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata

Ranking high in the pantheon of Latin American heroes, the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata gained widespread popular acclaim for his uncompromising demand for "Land and Liberty" (Tierra y Libertad) and for his courageous, principled, and shrewd leadership of his Zapatista army during the Mexican Revolution (1910 - 1920).

During the revolution and after, Zapata came to symbolize the hopes and aspirations of Mexico's poor and downtrodden in their struggle for land, dignity, and social justice. Zapata embodied the agrarian and Indian impulses of the revolution.

Born in the Indian village of Anenecuilco, Morelos, to smallholding parents Gabriel and Cleofas Salazar Zapata, in 1909 he was elected president of the village council, a rare honor for a man only 30 years old. These were troubled times in Morelos.

In the previous decades under the presidency of Porfirio Díaz, the process of capitalist transformation had led to growing landlessness and poverty among the village's nearly 400 residents, as it had across Morelos and much of the rest of Mexico.

When wealthy liberal reformer Francisco Madero announced his Plan of San Luis Potosí on November 20, 1910, calling for "no-reelection" of the dictator Díaz, Zapata did not immediately endorse the plan. Within a few months, however, he allied with the Maderistas, achieving several victories against federalist troops in Morelos.

Emiliano Zapata and his staff
Emiliano Zapata and his staff

After Madero's forces toppled the Díaz regime, Zapata insisted that lands stolen in previous decades be restored to their rightful owners. Madero balked, requiring demobilization of the Zapatista forces. When one of Madero's generals, Victoriano Huerta, launched a campaign against the Zapatistas in Morelos in August 1911, Zapata was infuriated.

He soon withdrew support for Madero. Henceforth, Zapata pursued an independent course, fighting for what he understood to be the revolution's core issues: land and liberty for the poor, landless, and oppressed.

In November 1911 the Zapatistas issued their famous Plan of Ayala, which guided Zapata's army for the remainder of the revolution. Excoriating Madero as a tyrant and traitor, the plan declared that "the fields, timber, and water which the landlords, científicos, or bosses have usurped, the pueblos or citizens who have the title corresponding to those properties will immediately enter into possession of that real estate of which they have been despoiled by the bad faith of our oppressors. . . ." The Plan of Ayala met fierce resistance from both Madero and the Huerta regime that followed Madero's overthrow in February 1913.

The Zapatistas became the most powerful revolutionary force in southern Mexico after 1911, at one point dominating not only Morelos but Puebla, Oaxaca, and Guerrero states. When "Constitutionalist" leader Venustiano Carranza seized power in August 1914, Zapata and Francisco "Pancho" Villa allied against him.

Three times Zapata's forces occupied Mexico City. After most of the fighting had subsided, Zapata returned to his home state, where he was assassinated by Carranza's emissaries at the Chinameca hacienda on April 10, 1919.

His name and legacy remain popularly revered throughout Mexico, as seen most recently in the Zapatista National Liberation Army in the mostly Maya Indian state of Chiapas, whose rebellion against the Mexican government, launched in 1994, still simmered more than 13 years later.

José Santos Zelaya

José Santos Zelaya
José Santos Zelaya

The president of Nicaragua from 1893 to 1909, José Santos Zelaya was leader of the Liberal Party in Nicaragua for many years and a critic of U.S. foreign policy in the region.

Zelaya was born on November 1, 1853, and on May 20, 1893, he became one of the three members of the junta, with Joaquín Zavala and Eduardo Montiel, that took power in Nicaragua, ending the presidency of Roberto Sacasa.

The conservatives had taken over after the defeat of William Walker, and prominent families had rotated the presidency around a small oligarchy largely occupied with plans for a canal through Nicaragua, at the time thought of as easier than the route running through Panama. The overthrow of the government in Nicaragua in May 1893 was also ammunition for people supporting the Panama route.

On June 1 Salvador Machado became the acting president, followed on July 16 by Joaquín Zavala. On July 31 Zelaya became president, and, inspired by the Mexican revolutionary Benito Juárez, he tried to carry out some of the measures introduced by Juárez in Mexico in the 1860s and 1870s.

This led to a new constitution for the country on December 10, 1893. This for the first time unequivocally separated church and state. The supporters of Zelaya quickly became the Zelayistas, the name of his political movement. In Washington, D.C., lobbyists supporting the canal through Panama painted Zelaya as an extremist radical bent on ending contact with the United States.

In fact, Zelaya was a keen social reformer and anxious to make up for the previous decades, when little money had been spent on the infrastructure of the country. Zelaya immediately increased spending on public education and on erecting government buildings, roads, and bridges.

Political rights were also extended to all citizens of the country, including women, who were allowed to vote. Civil marriages and divorce were both made legal, and strong moves to end bonded servitude were enacted.

Zelaya oversaw the paving of the streets of Managua, Nicaragua's capital, and the erection of street lights. In January 1903 Zelaya was the first living Nicaraguan to appear on one of that country's postage stamps, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the revolt against Sacaza.

Zelaya encouraged foreign trade but sought relations with more countries than just the United States and Mexico. An early foreign policy problem for Zelaya was not dealing with Britain. For the previous 300 years, British settlers, descendants of Britons, and former British-owned slaves had been settling on the Mosquito Coast—Nicaragua's Caribbean coast.

Britain had ceded sovereignty in 1860, but the area was an autonomous part of Nicaragua. Zelaya managed to get the area formally incorporated into the Republic of Nicaragua in 1894, but until 1912 the area continued to use a different currency. Good relations with Britain resulted, and Zelaya even brought over British businessmen to survey for a canal through Nicaragua.

In February 1896 the first coup attempt to overthrow Zelaya failed. It ensured that he was more careful about personal security. Another coup attempt by soldiers in 1904 failed, and in 1905 the Rebellion of the Great Lake was also unsuccessful.

In 1906 Zelaya decided not to send delegates to the San José Conference, which was being held in Costa Rica to discuss ways of maintaining peace in Central America. Instead, Zelaya was keen on pushing forward with his plans for a united Central America.

Zelaya's idea did not include Costa Rica and was to be a merging of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras. The only concrete results were the establishment of a Central American Bureau in Guatemala City and a teacher training institute in San José, Costa Rica—both places outside Zelaya's planned country.

Nicaraguan soldiers invaded Honduras, overthrowing its president, Policarpo Bonilla, and then were involved in plans to start a revolution in El Salvador. The United States and Mexico intervened, and at the Washington Conference of 1907 Zelaya and the presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras all signed an agreement whereby they pledged themselves to the maintenance of peace in their region.

Zelaya, still worried about the potential domination of Nicaragua's economy by U.S. interests, believed that the U.S. government was encouraging a revolt in the east of the country. By this time U.S. cartoonists were caricaturing him; he was an easy target with his penetrating eyes and elegantly twirled moustache.

Zelaya moved against some U.S. lumber and mining companies, either canceling their concessions or reducing the scope of their activities. The U.S. chargé d'affaires in Managua was recalled in 1909, when Zelaya made moves to end a lumber concession that had been granted to a Massachusetts-based company, G. D. Emory.

Some Nicaraguan conservatives did try to stage a putsch to get rid of Zelaya, hiring U.S. mercenaries. These forces were led by one of Zelaya's former allies, Juan José Estrada. Zelaya managed to overcome the rebels, but he made the tactical mistake of executing the U.S. mercenaries.

As a result, the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Nicaragua, which led to the collapse of Zelaya's government. On December 1, 1909, U.S. secretary of state Philander Knox sent a letter to the Nicaraguan ambassador in Washington pledging U.S. government action against the Nicaraguan government.

Zelaya offered to compromise and in a telegram to Taft on December 4 said he was prepared to resign and go into exile if that would solve the problem. He resigned on December 21, and in the following year he escaped to Mexico.

In Nicaragua his supporters opposed the U.S. marines who were sent into the country, some under Benjamin F. Zeledon, and in 1912 waged a small-scale guerrilla war inspired by the Mexican Revolution. In exile Zelaya wrote The Revolution in Nicaragua and the United States.

The largest province in the country, along the east coast of Nicaragua (formerly the Mosquito Coast), was named Zelaya after the president, who died on May 17, 1919, in New York City.

Zhu De (Chu Teh)

Zhu De (Chu Teh)
Zhu De (Chu Teh)
Zhu De was the founder of the Red Army (later, People's Liberation Army) and its de facto leader in the resistance against Japan and in the Chinese civil war against the Nationalists during the 1930s and 1940s.

He played an important role in the development of a theory of guerrilla warfare. In the People's Republic of China after 1949 he served as vice chair and later chair of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

Zhu De was born the son of a wealthy landlord in Sichuan (Szechwan) Province. He received a classical Chinese education and obtained a degree in 1904. After studies in Chengdu (Chengtu) and practice as a sports teacher, he visited the military academy in Kunming from 1908 to 1911.

Influenced by revolutionaries, he joined the army of General Cai E (Tsai Ao) shortly before the 1911 revolution and participated in the overthrow of the Qing (Chi'ng) government in Yunnan province. In 1916 he reached the rank of general, commanded a brigade of the Yunnan army, and took up the habit of opium smoking.

In 1919 Zhu changed his life radically. Probably he was influenced by the May Fourth Movement, when Chinese students demonstrated against the Treaty of Versailles. Zhu then managed to get rid of his opium addiction in a French hospital in Shanghai.

In addition, he started to study socialist theory and traveled to Europe in 1922. After a short stay in France he went to Germany and studied at Göttingen University in 1924– 25. In Germany he also met Zhou Enlai (Chou En-lai) and joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Soon the German authorities became suspicious about his political activities. He was arrested twice and expelled in 1925.

Zhu went to Moscow and after some studies returned to China. After Chiang Kai-shek ended the alliance with the Communists in April 1927, Zhu took part in the Nanchang Uprising.

After its failure he joined Mao Zedong and his partisans in the Jinggang Mountains in Jiangxi (Kiangsi) province. In the following years the Communist guerrillas were able to hold and even expand their areas until they were forced on the Long March in 1934.

Zhu de in chinese vintage poster
Zhu de in chinese vintage poster

During the Long March Zhu separated from Mao's troops and joined the western wing of the Red Army under Zhang Guotao (Chang Kuo-tao). Zhu arrived with his remaining soldiers at Mao's newly established base of operations in Sha'anxi (Shensi) province in late 1936, where he again became supreme commander of the Communist forces.

After the United Front of the Communists with the Kuomintang against Japanese aggression was concluded in August 1937, Zhu formally became a commander in the Nationalist army. In reality, the Red Army led a very independent war of resistance against the Japanese occupation until August 1945.

Zhu made good use of his experience in guerrilla warfare, and it is likely that Mao's writings on the theory of guerrilla war were partially developed by Zhu. Changing to a more conventional style of warfare after the Japanese surrender—equipped mostly with Japanese matériel—Zhu's army was victorious in the following civil war against the Kuomintang armies.

In addition to his military position, Zhu also served on the CCP's central committee in 1930 and as a member of the Politburo in 1934. In 1945 he was made vice chair of the CCP. Zhu stepped down as commander in chief in 1954 and became vice chairman of the state council.

He became chair of the standing committee of the National People's Congress in 1959. Like so many prominent leaders of the CCP, Zhu was denounced by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution in 1966. He had to step down and was only restored to his positions in 1971. Zhu De died in 1976.