The nineteen-twenties were important and turbulent years in China's modern revolutionary history. The Nationalist Party was revitalized and acquired military power with assistance from Soviet Russia. The Chinese Communist Party, working within the Kuomintang by direction from the Comintern, grew rapidly and its leaders gained revolutionary experience. A violent anti-imperialist movement swept the country. The Nationalists, with Communist help, launched the Northern Expedition, a great military campaign to put down warlord opponents and reunite the country. Then some of the leaders of the Kuomintang turned upon the Communists and drove them from the coalition in a purge in April, 1927. Other Kuomintang leaders continued to cooperate with the Communists until July, 1927. Then a second purge took place and the Russian advisers were driven from China. The purified Kuomintang went on to unify the country, at least nominally, and to establish a national government which won international recognition.
The documents in this collection pertain only to the events before the purge in April, 1927. They have a rather peculiar interest, for most of them are "action" documents written on the spot by participants in the revolution. Among them are instructions, reports, minutes, letters, and resolutions drawn up by men planning and carrying out the revolutionary program. The writers probably never expected the documents to be made public. It is through a quirk of history that they are available.
The fifty documents here printed in translation are from a much larger number seized in a raid on the office of the Soviet Military Attaché in Peking on April 6, 1927. The raid was conducted by Chinese police and gendarmes under orders from Chang Tso-lin. The Soviet Attaché's office was a directing point for Soviet agents working as advisers and instructors among Chinese revolutionary groups. Other raided buildings in the Soviet Embassy compound were serving as refuge for Chinese Communists and Kuomintang members; hence the intimate nature of many of the documents discovered. Subsequently, three hundred and twenty-four of the documents were published in Chinese, about fifty were published in English, and several compilations were prepared by the Japanese. The raid and its revelations created a considerable international storm in 1927.
This promising source of information about the early history of Chinese Communism, about the Kuomintang, and about the role of Soviet agents in the Chinese Revolution has not been adequately . . .