Special Exhibition|Massacre of stations – Revisiting the February 28 Incident

 發佈日期:2019-03-13

The vicissitudes of life witnessed by railway stations are the memories that cannot be erased from the minds of Taiwanese people.

Massacre of stations – Revisiting the February 28 Incident is an exhibition that is curated with a focus on what happened at and around the three railway stations of Badu Station, Chiayi Station and Kaohsiung Station, and illustrates how the incident unraveled at these locations. Through the literature, pictures and oral stories surrounding these stations, it is hoped that the truth of their history can be revealed in a clearer way.

The February 28 Incident was not only a resistance movement ignited by a murder committed by a contraband tobacco investigator, and its range was not limited to an ethnic clash between locals and newcomers. The development of the incident was related to the overall dynamics of Taiwanese society and culture and was intertwined with the actions, decisions and ideas of a variety of individuals and organizations. Today, now that these stations have become tourist destinations, it is hoped that by reconstructing and reinterpreting the historical scenes, visitors of the exhibition can understand how the victims of state violence were persecuted, as well as appreciate the historical value inherent in the railway stations in terms of the history of human rights abuses.


The railway in Taiwan and the control of the islanders

Railway not only changes the development and landscape of a city, but it also bolsters the industrial economy and social and cultural exchanges. In 1887, the Qing Empire government set up the Taiwan Railway Business Administration, officially kicking off railway construction in Taiwan. In 1899, the Department of Railway was established by the Japanese colonial government. In order to enhance its colonial governance, it improved the railway routes left behind by the former ruler of Taiwan and started large-scale construction of a railway system to complete the West Coast Line in 1908. Meanwhile, in order to exploit the abundant natural resources, both the public and private sectors vigorously built railways for industrial purposes, such as forestry, sugar, salt, and mining. In 1945, the post-war government set up the Taiwan Railways Administration, which was responsible for taking over and restoring the existing railway facilities and routes. The railway system that was constructed by the Japanese colonial government provided an important foundation for the rule of the Nationalist government over the whole island in its early years of post-war occupation.

 

Qing imperial period 1683-1895

1887:After Liu Ming-chuan requested the building of railway in Taiwan to be approved, the Taiwan Railway Business Administration was established, launching the earliest railway construction in the island’s history.

1891:The construction of the railway line between Taipei and Keelung was finished.

1893:The construction of the railway line between Taipei and Hsinchu was finished.

July 25, 1894:The outbreak of the First Sino-Japanese War.

 

Japanese colonial period 1895-1945

April 17, 1985:The Qing Empire and Japan signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki, ceding Formosa and the Pescadores to Japan. The treaty came into effect on May 8, 1985.

1899:The Department of Railway was set up under the Taiwan Governor’s Office.

1899:Badu Station was built in Keelung (it was called Hatto Provisional Platform at the time).

1900:The West Coast Line’s railway stretch between Tainan and Takao (today’s Kaohsiung) was officially in operation.

1902:Chiayi Railway Station (known as Kagi Station at the time) was set up. The second generation of Chiayi Railway Station was built in 1933.

1908:The construction of the West Coast Line was finished.

1924:The Department of Railway was moved under the Department of Transportation, Taiwan Governor’s Office.

1924:The Yilan Line that stretches between Badu and Su’ao was finished. Badu Station thus became a transfer point for Yilan County residents to the West Coast Line.

1941:Kaohsiung Railway Station (known as New Takao Station at the time and today the Kaohsiung Vision Museum) was officially in operation.

 

Post-war 1945-recent

August 15, 1945:The end of the Second World War.

October 25, 1945:Taiwan was taken over and ruled by the Nationalist government.

November, 1945:The Taiwan Railways Administration was set up by the Department of Transportation, Taiwan Province Chief Executive’s Office.

From March to April, 1947:The February 28 Incident led to island-wide conflicts in different parts of Taiwan, forcing railway services from north to south of the island to suspend operation.

March, 1948:The Taiwan Railways Administration was moved under the Office of Transportation of the Taiwan Provincial Government.

1998:The Taiwan Railways Administration was moved under the Department of Transportation.


Department of Railway under the Taiwan Governor’s Office


The completion of Takao Railway Station


US air attack on Kagi


The Nationalist government taking over Taiwan


“With reverence and respect, I excitedly rushed to the second pier of Keelung Harbor to welcome the Nationalist government’s soldiers and witness their mighty appearance." – Chou Ching-piao, a Badu resident who witnessed the February 28 Incident

“Today everyone celebrates peace and prosperity in Taiwan,
looking up at the blue sky and white sun.
Six million people cheerfully prepare beverages and food
to show our hospitality and welcome.
Ha, ha, you are welcome everywhere here, everywhere here.
Six million people cheerfully prepare beverages and food
to show our hospitality and welcome.” – the lyrics of “Song of Welcome,” which was sung by 300,000 teachers and students from schools of different levels who lined up to welcome the Nationalist government’s army.

“My father was very excited about the arrival of the Nationalist government’s army in Hualien. He even used his own money to make a decorated archway to welcome the soldiers.” – Chang Yu-chen, the wife of Chang Kuo-jen, victim of the February 28 Incident in Hualien.

“One day, our teacher told us that the Nationalist government’s army soon would arrive in Chiayi. Thinking that the Japanese army was already very strong and the Chinese soldiers must be braver than the Japanese so that they could defeat them, I followed everyone to rush to the railway station to welcome them…” – Shih Ching-yung, the son of Shih Chu-wen, victim of the February 28 Incident in Chiayi.

“The whole world is celebrating the national day. Taiwanese people are cheering about the restoration of the previously lost land.” – Antithetical couplet posted on the front door of the Taihoku City Public Auditorium (today’s Zhongshan Hall), reflecting how welcoming Taiwanese people were of the arrival of the Nationalist government.


Railway and the February 28 Incident

After the Allied air forces raided different places in Taiwan in the final years of the Second World War, the railway was severely damaged. Due to a lack of materials and funds for maintenance, as well as extensive repatriation of Japanese technicians after the war, the government in Taiwan loosened the qualification requirement so that it could make up for the shortage of technicians. This approach created issues such as “the unprofessional supervising the professional,” which, coupled with many other factors, resulted in frequent train derailment. Moreover, because the personnel expenditure of the Taiwan Railways Administration was unsustainably high, rates for passengers and freight were constantly adjusted, which indirectly pushed up the price level substantially.

On February 28, 1947, a mass protest broke out after contraband tobacco investigators and police and military police authorities mishandled a situation, resulting in unstoppable social unrest that came with demonstrations, strike action, and market shutdown. The mass protest and conflict soon spread to the whole of the island after activists took control of the radio station, which turned the originally simple security incident into an island-wide political movement. Some local leaders took the opportunity to demand total political reform. In some areas, some local people tried to take over weapons from army and police authorities and sparked militarized conflict. All of these social upheavals were used as excuses to legitimize military crackdown, which was soon carried out vehemently by the Nationalist government’s army to restore order in many parts of the island. The conflict also caused a great number of Taiwanese railway station workers to flee and trains to stop operating. Some of the Taiwanese railway employees strived to maintain railway services so that railway transportation would not experience complete shutdown.

In the era of the February 28 Incident, railways and stations were not only places where people gathered for mass demonstration, but also the frontline of the conflict. These places were also the terminal station where many ordinary people lost their innocent lives and social elites were slaughtered unjustly, bearing the most tragic pages of Taiwanese history.


Song for Building a New Taiwan
Sung by Hsieh Ming-Yu and provided by KAWA Music Co. Ltd.

In 1946, composer Hsu Shih released Song for Building a New Taiwan, which had the original lyrics from which the famous ballad The Taiwan Song was adapted. This song portrays a local society where hard-working people cannot achieve their ambitions and struggle to live with a shortage of essentials, fully reflecting the social atmosphere and predicament of life before the outbreak of the February 28 Incident.


The lyrics of the Song for Building a New Taiwan
I love my Formosa. Originally, we didn’t need to worry about farming. I remember the production of tea, sugar, salt and rice was able to satisfy demand. Farmers and workers please keep striving to build real freedom! Farmers and workers please keep striving to build real freedom!

I love my tropical island. Originally, we didn’t need to worry about clothes and food. Today, rice and firewood have become as expensive as pearls and sweet osmanthus and a comfortable life is hard to find. I hope that officials and civilians will work hand in hand to build a truly free Taiwan! I hope that officials and civilians will work hand in hand to build a truly free Taiwan!

I love my heavenly-blessed island. Originally, we didn’t need to worry about security and accommodation. I hope that the weather stays favorable and the harvest remains abundant in the future, so that I can enjoy good health and entertainment as I wish. Let’s celebrate a peaceful establishment of our country and build a truly free Taiwan! Let’s celebrate a peaceful establishment of our country and build a truly free Taiwan!


One year after the Second World War
Provided by the Memorial Foundation of 228

This cartoon strip was drawn by Shen Tongheng and published in the first issue of New Knowledge on August 15, 1946, depicting the shutdown and dilapidation of a factory after the war.


Cartoon about hyperinflation

This cartoon was originally published in Hsin Hsin Magazine and reflects hyperinflation caused by a shortage of materials.


A headline on The Washington Daily News
Provided by the Memorial Foundation of 228

Many issues arose during the Nationalist government’s takeover of Taiwan in March, 1946. The Washington Daily News reported with the headline “Chinese Exploit Formosa Worse Than Japs Did.”


Unreachable
Provided by the Formosa Vintage Museum

In February 1947, Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News published a cartoon depicting the problem of rice shortages. Rice, a staple that was crucial to the life of Taiwanese people, was “seeable but unreachable.”


The cause of the February 28 Incident

Within a year of the end of the Second World War, Taiwan experienced corruption among the political class, economic bankruptcy, and hyperinflation. In 1946, the island had already witnessed widespread social disruption and public anger toward the government long before the February 28 Incident broke out. Three major incidents that happened in the same year were the Budai Incident, the Sinying Incident and the Yuanlin Incident, all of which were caused by high levels of corruption among government officials and the gun violence inflicted by ill-disciplined police and soldiers on civilians. The society as a whole was so unusually tense that it felt like a large-scale conflict would occur at any moment.

On the evening of February 27, 1947, near the roundabout in Twatutia, Taipei, while contraband tobacco investigators from the Monopoly Bureau were clamping down on the sale of smuggled cigarettes, one of them hit tobacco vendor Lin Chiang-mai’s head with the barrel of his gun and confiscated all of her belongings, which prompted people nearby to surround and argue with the investigators. In the chaos, a fellow citizen Chen Wen-si was accidentally shot dead. Witnessing this, people started to chase and attack the investigators. From this point, the resistance from the people began to escalate to island-wide social unrest. On the morning of February 28, protesters began demonstrating on the street and shutting down commercial activities, urging the government to prosecute the criminals. Some of the protesters even vandalized the office of the Monopoly Bureau and police stations. At noon, a group of protesters went to petition in front of the Chief Executive’s Office (today’s Executive Yuan), where they were assaulted by guards with machine guns, leaving many of them dead. After being dispersed, the survivors of the attack gathered to occupy the Taiwan Radio Station and broadcast to the whole island, urging Taiwanese people to fight against the atrocious regime. From that point, the escalation of the situation was not reversible and the social turmoil soon spread island-wide.

The February 28 Incident not only resulted in the unjust massacre of many Taiwanese social elites, but also inflicted damage on the life, liberty and property of many innocent people, leaving the victims and their families with unforgettable trauma. The incident had a serious impact on the coherence of Taiwanese society and the future development of politics and was undoubtedly a tragedy rooted deep in the historical memory of Taiwanese people and Taiwanese society as a whole.


The very first news coverage of the February 28 Incident

Published in Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News (February 28, 1947)


The situation in Taiwan and the railway routes at the time of the February 28 Incident

On the afternoon of February 28, young people broke into the Taiwan Radio Station (today’s Taipei 228 Memorial Museum) and broadcast the occurrence of the February 28 Incident in Taipei, urging Taiwanese people from different parts of the island to join the resistance movement. The broadcast transformed the originally local incident into an island-wide movement. The image shows the times when the resistance emerged and when the military crackdown began in different places.

Red color: the date when resistance activities emerged.
Blue color: the date when the Nationalist government took control.
References: The survey map portraying the beginning and end of the rebellion in Taiwan and the dates of the military crackdown. The map portraying how the 21st Army Division conducted the military crackdown in Taiwan.


The victims who were employees of the Taiwan Railways Administration

According to the cases that the Memorial Foundation of 228 received and finalized, in 2019 at the time of writing, there were 56 victims reported to have worked for the Taiwan Railways Administration. In addition to Badu, Chiayi and Kaohsiung, this file also includes victims who worked at other railway stations.


Village cleansing in operation

After the outbreak of the February 28 Incident, the Taiwan Province Chief Executive’s Office, a department that was in charge of Taiwan as a whole, could not effectively control the situation. After the reinforcement troops were dispatched by the Nationalist government to the island to implement a military crackdown, people who took part in the settlement of the incident or the resistance movement were soon arrested or killed. On March 17, 1947, the then defense minister Pai Chung-hsi visited Taiwan to inspect the situation. After the “ The plan of appeasement policy” was carried out on March 21, households were inspected, weapons were confiscated, and people were arrested, including elites who had previously advocated political reforms, participants of anti-governmental movements, and anyone who was simply deemed suspicious by the regime. This was called “village cleansing,” and was declared finished on May 15. The February 28 Incident eventually gave way to a murderous and horrifying atmosphere.


Public Notice issued by the Ministry of Defense
Provided by the Memorial Foundation of 228

Pai Chung-hsi, the defense minister, issued an order declaring that people who had participated in the incident would not be prosecuted. However, after he arrived in Taiwan on March 17, 1947, three extrajudicial public executions took place in front of Chiayi Station on March 18, 23, and 25, respectively. In the later “village cleansing” crackdown, many people were arrested and executed by shooting. Most of them did not even go through public, open trials.


“Love the country! Love the nation! Love Taiwan!” – Public notice for village cleansing
Provided by the National Museum of Taiwan History

On March 20, 1947, Chen Yi, the Chief Executive and the head of the Taiwan Garrison Command, urged Taiwanese people to hand in weapons and “villains.”



The village cleansing crackdown announcement
Provided by the Memorial Foundation of 228

Chinese and Japanese versions of the village cleansing crackdown announcement.


Badu Station, Chiayi Station and Kaohsiung Station during the February 28 Incident

Due to their vital role in transportation, railway stations became the major locations where the post-war government intimidated and threatened Taiwanese people. The railway system built during the Japanese colonial period was used as a tool by the repressive, authoritarian regime. Among all the stations, Badu Station, Chiayi Station, and Kaohsiung Station were important historical scenes of state violence at the time of the February 28 Incident.

According to the victim cases that the Memorial Foundation of 228 has received and finalized at the time of writing in 2019, 18, 16 and 24 people are reported to have been victimized respectively at Badu Station, Chiayi Station, and Kaohsiung Station. The actual number of victims is much larger than these figures. Those victims of state violence who were injured, killed, and made missing became part of the tragic stories surrounding these railway stations.

(The victim profiles reviewed by the Memorial Foundation of 228 are from the applications for compensation supported by evidence to prove victimhood. However, it has been a long time since the outbreak of the incident and there was also the 38-year military law period, making it difficult to prove victimhood. Moreover, not every victim or every victims’ family has sought compensation from the Foundation, so the actual number of casualties is supposed to be larger than the above-mentioned figure.)

 

Badu Station

Built in 1899, Badu Station became the transfer point for Yilan County residents to the West Coast Line after the Yilan Line that stretches between Badu and Su’ao was finished. The Badu Station was the first railway station that was built with an underground passage in Taiwan. During the Japanese colonial period and in the early years of the post-war era, Badu Station had been an important railway transportation hub. Unfortunately, a massacre took place here at the time of the February 28 Incident.

 

The history

On March 1, 1947, a group of military officers and soldiers from the Keelung Fortress Immediate Battery in Aodi went to the Keelung Fortress Command to handle the food supply. While passing Ruifang Station in a train, they did not abide by the rules, which infuriated other passengers and ignited arguments. After the train arrived at Badu Station, a scuffle broke out. Later, passengers tied up the leading military officer and took away his gun. Other officers and soldiers suffered light and serious injuries, except one who fell into and drowned in Keelung River while trying to escape. The Badu Station master Lee Tan-hsiu and some station workers helped the group of officers and soldiers that was being attacked by other passengers and arranged vehicles to take them away from the conflict.

After reinforcements for the Nationalist government’s army arrived at Keelung Port, the manager of the Aodi Battery Shih Kuo-hwa led a group of about 30 soldiers to besiege Badu Station on March 11, killing five station workers, Chang shuei-lian, Teng Hsun-chien, Tang Cheng-ping, Hsieh Ching-feng and Chen Jing-chi. Soon after, they asked to take people away who had been working on March 1, including the station master Lee Tan-hsiu and three deputy station masters Su Shuei-mu, Hsu Chao-chung, and Huang Ching-chiang, as well as Chou Chun-hsien (general secretary), Wang Kui-liang (secretary), Liao Ming-hwa (secretary), Su liang-cheng (operator), Lin Tian-chu (operator) and Lin Huei-lung (operator). Whether these people are alive or dead is still unknown today. One of the station workers Hsu Jian-shan was arrested on Badu Street and his body was found floating in the Tianliao Canal.



The Badu Station Replacement Staff Document
Provided by the National Museum of Taiwan History

How station workers were killed and arrested on the day was specifically explained in notes taken on March 11, 1947.


Memorial for the Badu Station workers who lost their lives in the incident
Provided by the Memorial Foundation of 228

The memorial was put up in 1994 by the families of station master Lee Tan-hsiu and deputy master Hsu Chao-chung, who lost their lives in the incident.



An official letter from the Taiwan Railways Administration
Provided by the Memorial Foundation of 228

On October 6, 1992, the Taiwan Railways Administration issued an official letter to announce that their employees (Chen Jing-chi and Hsieh Ching-feng) had been killed at Badu Station.


Chiayi Station

Established in 1896, Chiayi Station became a major station after the completion of the West Coast Line in 1908. After the Japanese colonial government developed forest resources in Alishan, Chiayi Station was connected to the Alishan Forest Railway and its status was thus strengthened. A few hundred meters to the front of the station is the Central Fountain Roundabout, which serves as an important public space for local people. After the outbreak of the February 28 Incident, Chiayi Station was briefly controlled by protesters. During the subsequent military crackdown, Chiayi City government officials and soldiers started their retaliation here. On three different occasions at the same location, 18 people were publicly executed in front of the station without being put on trial. Their corpses were put on display, the cruelty of which had an indelible impression on Chiayi citizens.

 

The history

On March 2, 1947, tens of young people who came south from Changhua and Taichung gathered at the fountain in front of Chiayi Station, asking the citizens of Chiayi to join the resistance movement. Outraged by the barbaric soldiers, insecure living conditions, political incompetence and widespread corruption, emotionally-charged citizens dashed en masse to protest at the mayor’s official residence. As time passed, the protest escalated into a fierce conflict.

Chiayi was engulfed in chaos. Many people who were passionate about local affairs formed a local branch of the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee, trying to maintain order in their hometown. Many young people who came from different places in central and southern Taiwan formed militia headquarters in order to prevent the Nationalist government’s army from hurting civilians in the crackdown. The militia group started to attack military camps and took over the city government building, while the government’s army shelled the city center and retreated to Shueishang Airport at the same time. The battle was deadlocked.

Even after the Settlement Committee learned of the massacre in Keelung, it was still trying to make a final effort for peace. On March 11, eight peace delegates from the committee went to negotiate with the government’s army. Already knowing that reinforcement troops from China had landed at Keelung, the fearless soldiers welcomed the peace delegates at gunpoint and bundled every one of them with sharp wire before taking them to Chiayi Station in three groups and publicly executing them without putting them on proper trial. Such a public execution was not only meant to deter people from joining the anti-government movement, but also was highly motivated by a retaliatory animus.

 

Oral history

Pan Mu-chih, medical doctor and city council member /Pan Ying-san (son of Pan Mu-chih)
On March 24, my father was put in custody in a police station. My family and people from Chiayi City believed that because my father was a kind and gentle doctor, he would likely be released on the same day. The whole family was nervously waiting for further notice. In the evening, a policeman who was called Chen suddenly delivered the last letter that my father wrote on four cigarette papers.

 

Lin Teng-ko, timber trader /Lin Kuo-hsiung (son of Lin Teng-ko)
My father was always a businessman who never took part in any political activity. He never even ran for a local council election. He was simply wealthy. After Chinese soldiers arrived in Chiayi, they first asked about who was rich. Later they came to our house trying to extort some money and started to arrest people after they couldn’t get any money. After my father was arrested, soldiers came to our house twice asking for money, 200,000 dollars each time. Even after my family gave them money, my father was still in captivity. Someone came to tell my mother, “Your father is going to be executed in front of the railway station. I saw him being tied up and carrying a plank with his name Lin Ten-ko on it. He is currently in a parade with a gong being banged.”

 

Tan Ting-pho, artist and city council member /Tan Phik-lu (second daughter of Tan Ting-pho)
When the first person was about to be executed, I didn’t know where I got the courage to pull on the soldier’s trousers. I didn’t know what language I should use, hoping that the soldier would understand me. I said to him, “This is my father. He is a good man. You have to make sure that you’ve got the right intelligence before you execute him!” He kicked me to the side and started shooting one person after another. My poor father was the last one to be executed. Being the last to die was the most excruciating.

 

Chen Jung-mao, police officer /Chen Hsin-niu (son of Chen Jung-mao)
On March 3, the Chiayi City Council urged via radio that police stations should not be left empty and police officers should all go back to work and restore public order…My father Chen Jung-mao went back to work like usual on March 4. He told me that him being appointed as responsible for maintaining public order meant that he might lose his life and he suggested that we stay home to avoid trouble. On March 13, city council member Pan Mu-chih and some other people were said to be arrested and someone advised my father Chen Jung-mao to hide away temporarily. But he believed that he hadn’t done anything contrary to his conscience, and went back to work. However, he was put in custody as soon as he returned to work and never came back. When my family buried my father, we found a note in his trousers’ pocket, saying, “My imminent death will have nothing to do with glory, private interest, or lust for fame. A sense of regret overwhelms me as I find myself caught in a violent calamity. Forty-eight years of my life will be cut short and I hope my sacrifice for the public will not be in vain.”


Embroidered patch of the February 28 Incident Settlement Committee
Provided by National Museum of Taiwan Literature

February 28 Incident Settlement Committee first convened at Zhongshan Hall. Local branches of the Settlement Committee were soon established in many parts of Taiwan. The members of the Settlement Committee did not expect that a massacre would occur after their urging for peace and non-violence.


The last letter of Tan Ting-pho
Provided by National Museum of Taiwan History

The last words of your father Ting-pho:
1. I don’t feel guilty for dying on behalf of 120,000 compatriots.
2. You need to be cordial when looking after your siblings and your mother. You need to diligently study classics and bring glory to your ancestors.
3. Sell some of the possessions in the house and use the money for the living expenses of the family. Please ask Mr. Chin-tsan to look after your mother.
4. Bi-nu should be able to arrange her marriage on her own.
5. Tell the husband of your sister to look after your uncle in this hard time.
6. The coffin should be simple and I should be buried next to your grandfather.
7. I hope that your mother and everyone in the family will be healthy and sound.
Written with tears on March 25, 1947 by Ting-pho



Pan Mu-chih’s last letter
Provided by the Memorial Foundation of 228

My dear wife Su-hsia,
I am already in deep despair! I can only write you my last words and hope you take care.
1. The family Pan is completely reliant on you my wife. You have to look after your health and please do not grieve excessively.
2. My mother is already aged. I hope you can look after her.
3. Our children have to be raised to become adults. Remember that I die on behalf of the people and I still feel proud even if my body will perish.
4. Please forgive me for making you greatly agonize in my lifetime. I will still be by your side every day and every night to protect you and our children.
5. Please take care and don’t give up on yourself. I pray that you all are healthy.
Your husband, Pan Mu-chih


Kaohsiung Station

In 1900, the "Tainan-Takao" stretch of the West Coast Line was officially in operation. Back then, the station in Kaohsiung was called Takao Rail Yard (today’s Kaohsiung Port Station). In 1941, Takao Station that was newly built in Tōa-káng-po͘, was officially opened, which was Kaohsiung Station when the February 28 Incident broke out. Imperial Crown Style was adopted in designing the appearance of the station, within which the very first underground path connecting railway platforms was built in Taiwan.

The conflict in Kaohsiung City after the outbreak of the February 28 Incident started on March 3, 1947 and ended on March 7. The day after the conflict was ignited by the contraband cigarette controversy on February 27, people in Kaohsiung already knew of the news. On March 1, the telephone line was obstructed between Taipei and Kaohsiung. On March 2, the February 28 Incident spread to Chiayi and people in Kaohsiung were in great panic. On March 3, hundreds of people from Taipei went south and at Tainan caught trucks to enter Kaohsiung. Students from the Tainan Institute of Technology, now known as National Cheng Kung University, also arrived in one group after another. The conflict between soldiers and civilians was thus in full swing and it became dangerous throughout the whole city. Lieutenant general Peng Meng-chi, a commander from the Kaohsiung Fortress, independently decided that the incident was a planned rebellion orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party. Without even trying to understand what Taiwanese people might have thought, he lured the peace negotiators (including Tu Guang-ming, Fan Tsang-rung, Tseng Feng-ming, Peng Ching-Kao, Lin Chieh and Li Fo-hsu), from civil society onto Shoushan mountain and incarcerated them. Soon after, the Nationalist government’s army raided the city center via three routes to carry out a military crackdown.

On March 6, 1947, Peng Meng-chi ordered his army to raid the city via three different routes to the city center, where the city government building (the location of Kaohsiung’s February 28 Incident Settlement Committee formed by city council members), Kaohsiung Station, and Military Police corps were targeted. After the students and protesters who were gathered at Kaohsiung Station heard that the army was coming, they hid in the underground path between the platforms. The Nationalist government’s army blocked the two ends of the path. Soldiers slaughtered indiscriminately and even threw grenades into the underground path, which also accidentally killed the train passengers and pedestrians who happened to be there. Because of this, Kaohsiung Station became a very bloody battlefield in the area during the incident.

During the February 28 Incident, Peng Meng-chi, the commander of the Kaohsiung Fortress who had adopted an oppressive attitude when it came to the social unrest, executed the peace delegates without putting them on trial, and caused injuries and deaths to innocent people, was not held accountable for what he did after the incident ended. The defense minister Pai Chung-his even recommended him to be publicly praised by Chiang Kai-shek and to be promoted to commander of the Taiwan Garrison Command. After that, Peng Meng-chi’s promotion was unstoppable, which the families of the incidents’ victims in Kaohsiung still find hard to accept.

Given a large number of people became victims at Kaohsiung Station during the February 28 Incident, only the names of the people who have been compensated by the Memorial Foundation of 228 are listed here.
Chen Tien-sheng (employee of CPC Corporation), Lu Chien-fa (warden, brother), Lu Chien-li (director of the Detention Center, brother), Yang Yi-san-jin (employee of the Food Bureau), Wu Wan-yu (pharmacist, father), Wu Bi-jin (pharmacist, mother), Wu Liang (son), Chang Jui-song (student), Wu Chao-yan (self-employed), Li Chin-jun (contract worker), Kuo Nong-fu (printing industry worker), Yan Sheng-lai (businessperson), Huang Lan-hsiung (student), Huang Tsai-ju (peddler), Yan Tsai-tse (teacher), Liang Hsiung-yun (farmer), Liao Shuei-ming (employee of Taiwan Railway), Su Wan-gen (employee of Taiwan Railway), Dong Deng-fa (employee of Taiwan Railway), Huang Hsueh-yu, Li Hsin-chin (porter), Li * Yu (porter), Su Wan-fu (employee of Taiwan Railway), Chen Kuai (businessperson)


Kaohsiung Station in the early years after the Second World War
Provided by Kaohsiung Museum of History

When Kaohsiung Station was under attack, many people hid in the underground path where they were machine-gunned by soldiers, causing a great number of casualties.


Lessons to be learned

On January 1, 1947, the Nationalist government announced the Constitution of the Republic of China, making it clear to the public that the protection of human rights was its intention. However, two months after the new constitution, Taiwanese people experienced a horrific massacre on February 28, which became the greatest stigma attached to the Nationalist government about to enter the constitutional period. The gap between what the government did to Taiwanese people during the incident and what human rights protections the constitution claimed to provide was utterly ironic.

The massacres that occurred at the three stations of Badu, Chiayi and Kaohsiung highlighted the cruelty and ruthlessness of the Chinese-style ruling model. In order to suppress the social unrest and retaliate against the incident’s participants, the Nationalist government regarded the people of Taiwan as enemies, and the approaches it adopted were appalling. After the reinforcement troops landed on the island, unarmed civilians were randomly and indiscriminately slaughtered. The army, military police and police authorities established intelligence networks, sending intelligence agents to infiltrate civil society and to spy on people’s work and private lives. To control Taiwanese society, the government used household registration checks and forced people to guarantee to report anyone suspicious if they did not want to be punished as well. Using financial reward and extreme punishment to ensure obedience and encouraging people to snitch on each other, the post-war government ushered in a reign of terror on the island. The Taiwan Garrison Command declared martial law on an island that was not in the middle of war. By arresting suspects and putting them on military trials, publicly executing people without proper trial and displaying the bodies in public spaces, and indiscriminately slaughtering civilians on the street, the regime wanted to instill fear in people’s minds and to shock them into total obedience. The Nationalist government applied the methods that it used to deal with bandits and communists in China to a relatively modernized island where the rule of law was prevalent. This had traumatic consequences for Taiwanese society.

In 1987, the 228 Peace Day Promotion Association was established, breaking down the greatest political taboo in post-war history and prompting the government to disclose the truth of the tragic incident. The hidden agony that had lurked in Taiwanese people’s minds was gradually coming to the surface. It has been over 70 years since the outbreak of the February 28 Incident and more than 30 years since the lifting of martial law. These railway stations that once carried an enormous amount of grief and sadness have become enlivened by the fast-walking and busy-looking crowds. However, the historical trauma is not allowed to be forgotten. The February 28 Incident was not only an end to the lives of victims and the start of sorrow for victims’ families, it is also an unhealed wound for the whole of Taiwanese society. It is hoped that through the narration of historical facts, our future will never be stained by unjust bloodshed and that, from the tragic history, we can find the strength to march forward as a nation.

Please take a Badu-Kaohsiung railway ticket and share your opinions about the exhibition with us.