Aung San file photo [5285]

Aung San

Given NameAung San
Born13 Feb 1915
Died19 Jul 1947


ww2dbaseAung San was born in Natmauk, Magwe in central Burma to attorney U Pha and his wife Daw Suu. He was educated at a Buddhist school, and then continued his learning at Yenangyaung High School. In 1933, he entered Rangoon University, and was elected to the executive committee of the student union with responsibility as the editor of the magazine Oway. In Feb 1936, along with fellow student U Nu, he was threatened with expulsion after refusing to reveal the identity of the author of an article that criticized a high ranking school official; this episode led to the Second University Students' Strike, which in turn led to a quick advance in his political popularity, with him becoming a government-appointed representative on the Rangoon University Act Amendment Committee. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1938. He joined the Dobama Asiayone political party and acted as its general secretary until Aug 1940. He developed much of his strong anti-British stance during this time, bringing various political movements ranging from nationalists to communists into the fight against imperialism.

ww2dbaseIn Mar 1940, a warrant for Aung San's arrest was issued by the British, and he fled to China, where he was captured by the Japanese in Amoy and sent to Japan. In Feb 1941, he returned to Burma to lead what eventually became the Burma Independence Army, which was sponsored by the Japanese, headquartered in Bangkok, Thailand; he held the rank of major general in the Japanese Army at the time. In Jul 1942, the Burma Independence Army was reorganized and renamed the Burma Defense Army, with Aung San still at the helm with the rank of colonel. The force, 4,000-strong, was powerful enough to maintain Aung San as an influential local leader, but was purposely kept to this limited size so that it was far too small to rebel against the Japanese should sentiment ever changed.

ww2dbaseIn 1942, Aung San married Daw Khin Kyi and eventually had three children. Their youngest daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the Burmese political party the National League for Democracy.

ww2dbaseIn Mar 1943, Aung san was promoted to the rank of major general. In the same year, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by Emperor Showa. On 1 Aug 1943, Japan declared Burma an independent country under the leadership of Ba Maw, and Aung San was appointed War Minister with continued responsibility as the head of his troops, now called the Burma National Army.

ww2dbaseSome time in early 1944, however, Aung San had a change of mind. He entered secret talks with the British in India for actions against Japanese occupation starting in early 1944, and formed the Anti-Fascist People's League in Aug 1944. On 27 Mar 1945, his anti-Japanese position was revealed when he led an open revolt which eventually was victorious as the Allies defeated Japan later that year.

ww2dbaseAfter WW2, the British returned to Burma and began the process of Burmese independence. Refusing a post in the military, Aung San instead became a civilian official. By Jan 1946, he became the president of the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League. In Sep 1946, he was appointed the Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Burma under British Governor Sir Hubert Rance. On 27 Jan 1947, he and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee signed an agreement in London, England, United Kingdom which guaranteed Burma's independence within one year.

ww2dbaseAt 1037 on 19 Jul 1947, a group of armed men broke in the Secretariat Building in downtown Rangoon and assassinated Aung San, six of his cabinet ministers, and a bodyguard. U Saw, a rival politician, was later found guilty for ordering the assassination.

Frank McLynn, The Burma Campaign

Last Major Revision: Nov 2007

Aung San Interactive Map

Aung San Timeline

13 Feb 1915 Aung San was born in Natmauk, Magwe in central Burma.
16 May 1945 William Slim and Aung San met at Meiktila, Burma; Slim later noted that although Aung San had an anti-British history, he was a promising candidate to lead Burma after the war.
12 Aug 1945 In Burma, Aung San halted the process of integrating the troops of the Burmese National Army/Patriotic Burmese Forces into the regular Burmese Army, citing uncooperativeness and hostility shown against him by Reginald Dorman-Smith and William Slim.
16 Aug 1945 A three-day conference of the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League began at the Naythuyain Theater on Kandawgyi Lake in Rangoon, Burma. This was the first public meeting of this coalition of several anti-colonial organizations. The absence of Thakin Soe in this conference (who had been accused of bigamy by his political opponents) would give Aung San an opportunity to rise as the foremost leader of Burmese nationalists.
19 Aug 1945 The first public conference of the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League, which was held at the Naythuyain Theater on Kandawgyi Lake in Rangoon, Burma, came to a close. Aung San, who promised to unite the various anti-colonial groups in Burma, emerged the foremost leader of Burmese nationalists, especially as the communists broke away from the AFO.
7 Sep 1945 Louis Mountbatten, William Slim, Reginald Dorman-Smith, Aung San, 6 Patriotic Burmese Force officers, and 4 representatives of Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League reached an agreement in Kandy, Ceylon on the formation of the Burmese Army. Particularly, it was to accept 5,200 men and 200 officers of Aung San's Patriotic Burmese Force. It was to consist of ethnically-separated units; for example, the infantry was to have 3 Burmese battalions, 2 Karen battalions, 2 Kachin battalions, 2 Chin battalions, and 1 mixed battalion. The British government also agreed to share credit of winning the war with the resistance fighters.
25 Sep 1945 Aung San rejected the British offer for him to become the Deputy Inspector-General of the Burmese Army.
7 Apr 1947 In Burma elections for constituent assmblies were won, with an overwhelming majority, by the Anti-Fascist Peoples Freedom League (AFPFL) led by Aung San and will now govern when independence is granted on 4 Jan 1948.
19 Jul 1947 Aung San was assassinated in Rangoon, Burma.

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