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Exodus Before the Storm: Images of the Flight from Shanghai as Communists Approach

Shanghai on the Brink: A Photographer Captures a City in Flux

Shanghai 1949 – A collection of fascinating historical photos of Shanghai made by the American photographer Jack Birns (1919-2008). Life magazine hired Birns to produce a report on the civil war in China. Within a few years, the city seemed to be destined to become a cosmopolitan economic and cultural capital of East Asia, closed in on itself. Before the final battle between Communist and Nationalist forces, who can, leaves: ships set sail, trains full of people are leaving for the South, foreigners linger before the inevitable goodbye.

The Shanghai Campaign (淞沪战役, Sònghù Zhànyì) was a crucial conflict in the latter stages of the Chinese Civil War (1946-1949). The Nationalists (Kuomintang) and the Communists (People’s Liberation Army) clashed for control of Shanghai, China’s most populous city at the time.

The Nationalists possessed several advantages at the outset. They held the city and enjoyed significant support from the United States. However, the Communists possessed a crucial advantage :圧倒的兵力优势 (yōdā de heiryoku yōshi, overwhelming numerical superiority). Through strategic maneuvers and a focus on urban warfare tactics, the Communist forces gradually chipped away at Nationalist defenses.

The Nationalists, despite inflicting heavy casualties, were ultimately unable to withstand the relentless Communist pressure. After several months of intense fighting, the Nationalists were forced to withdraw from Shanghai in May 1949. The capture of Shanghai marked a major turning point in the civil war, significantly bolstering Communist momentum and dealing a severe blow to Nationalist morale.

Related articles: The Battle of Shanghai, Chinese advertising posters of the 30s

Images of Shanghai 1949


Source: Wikipedia

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