The Last Stand of the Old Guard
Mao seems never to have ordered the liquidation of a senior colleague during the Cultural Revolution. Unlike Stalin, he did not feel the need for the safeguard of a final solution. Instead, he was content to leave his onetime comrades-in-arms to the tender mercies of the CCRG or Red Guards. If doing so led to their humiliation, torture, injury, or even death, so be it; that was what making revolution was about. Hence his insouciance about the denunciations of Liu Shaoqi and other PSC members at their homes in Zhongnanhai. He may have counted on the Schadenfreude of millions of his countrymen at the fall of the high and the mighty.
Zhou remonstrated with Red Guards about their rough treatment of party veterans1 and also made attempts to protect individual party leaders, both at the center and in the provinces—he had Marshal He Long spirited away to the Western Hills outside Beijing in a manner reminiscent of a thriller movie2—but as the Zhongnanhai raids made clear, his powers were limited. On January 16, 1967, photographs of the first victims of the Cultural Revolution—Peng Zhen, Lu Dingyi, Luo Ruiqing, and Yang Shangkun—showed them with placards around their necks, heads bowed, as they were publicly humiliated.3 On January 22, Minister for the Coal Industry Zhang Linzhi died under interrogation.4 Deputy Director of the Defense Industry Committee of the MAC and CC member Zhao Erlu died about the same time under similar circumstances.5 Finally, Zhou and his State Council colleagues drew up a list of thirty senior government officiais who should be allowed to move into Zhongnanhai for protection and rest—though that concept had already proved problematic—and a second list of regional leaders who should be brought to the relative safety of the capital. Mao agreed to the lists, but the directive could not be enforced in all cases, as some provincial leaders were already in captivity.6
Even vice premiers came under attack, affecting the work of the State