"The Long March was a Great Retreat" what evidence is there to support or contradict this interpretation of the Long March?

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Rebecca Sigrist 11T        History        01/03/2007

Question 5: “The Long March was a Great Retreat” what evidence is there to support or contradict this interpretation of the Long March? Explain your answer using both the sources and your own knowledge

A retreat is a withdrawal of a military force from a dangerous position or from an enemy attack. The above quote originates from source C and as such portrays purely a GMD view on the significance of the Long March, which is therefore bound to be a negative view. However the Long March undeniably had a great long term impact, as the communist ideals formed by Zedong now form the basis for China’s constitution. Therefore it is questionable as to how much The Long March really was a ‘Great Retreat’ if such an outcome was achieved. Though how far do the other sources and my own knowledge help to contradict or support this view?

 Interestingly, the word ‘Great’ can be interpreted differently depending on the view of the historian. For example it could be seen that the Long March was a beneficial retreat and that the word ‘Great’ is a positive way of describing the March. However it could also be seen that the Long March was ‘Great’ in the terms of the size of the retreat and is therefore not such a positive thing as source C demonstrates.

 If 1934 was considered as an isolated year then it would be possible to agree with the question statement that yes, the Long March was a ‘Great Retreat’. This can be supported through the other sources. Source B indicates that initially the Long March was a retreat as they were ‘getting out of the bases’ and had to ‘break through one ring of fortifications and then another’. This can also be supported through my own research, which has revealed the CCP had decided a ‘strategic retreat would be best to avoid annihilation. This evidence confirms the opening statement in the question. It would have been impossible for the Long March to begin if there had not been some form of retreat to escape from the GMD.        

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In source G Mao said ‘The Long March has ended in victory for us and defeat for the enemy’. The fact he said that the March ‘ended’ in victory for the CCP suggests that there was initially some form of retreat or at least a period where victory looked less likely. This is also echoed in Source B where Han Suyin makes reference to ‘defeat after defeat’ at the hands of the GMD.    

At this point it is important not to undermine the CCP by making reference to the fact the Long March was initially a retreat. The ...

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