Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseCheng Benhua was born in Gaoxiang village, Hexian county, Anhui Province, China to farmer Cheng Chihe in 1914. Her mother's surname was Liang. She was the third child among a total of four siblings by the same parents, and another younger brother by a different mother. When she was in middle school, she received some survival and leadership training with the 1194th Regiment of the Scouts of China. She actively participated in anti-Japanese resistance activities during WW2. In late 1937, she was engaged to fellow resistance fighter Liu Zhiyi. In early 1938, Liu was killed in action with Japanese troops. In Apr 1938, she was captured in combat by a unit under the command of Koichi Yamashita with 13th Regiment of Japanese 6th Division. In captivity, she was tortured by interrogators and was raped by several guards. Several days later, when the Japanese received orders to move to another position, Cheng and her fellow resistance fighters were executed by bayonet.
ww2dbaseIn 1992, Chinese author Fang Jun was a student in Japan, and WW2 veteran Isamu Kobayashi was among the members of his host family. Kobayashi had fought together with Yamashita during the war, and the two worked with Fang in with his academic project as an attempt to address their guilt for crimes that they had commited in China. Among the materials Yamashita shared with Fang was a photograph that Yamashita had obtained decades prior, and the subject was Cheng, moments before she was to be executed. Yamashita noted that her demeanor on her day of execution had made a deep impression in him, and in order to not forget her name, he had written "Cheng Benhua, age 24" in the back of the photograph. In 2005, a widely-distributed Shandong Province publication printed this photograph. In 2009, an editor of a Hexiang-based magazine found Cheng Benhua's sister-in-law, 92-year-old Xu Renzhen, who had married one of Cheng's younger brothers; Xu confirmed the identity of the photographed subject as Cheng Benhua. On 25 Dec 2012, the oldest living member of the Cheng househould, Cheng Naifu, carried a framed copy of the photograph from Yamashita into the Cheng family ancestral worshiping hall to symbolize a proper burial for Cheng Benhua.
ww2dbaseSource: New Tang Dynasty Television
Last Major Revision: Dec 2021
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