Peng Dehuai


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(b. 1898, d. 29 Nov. 1974).

Chinese general One of the most important Chinese generals. He enlisted in the Hunan provincial army in 1916 and, during the Northern Expedition, was a regimental commander in the National Revolutionary Army. A brigade commander by 1928, he joined the Chinese Communist Party and became commander of the 5th Red Army. He joined forces with Mao Zedong and Zhu De, and became deputy commander of their 4th Red Army. He played a pivotal role in the defence of the Jianxi Soviet, and in the success of the Long March, in which his unswerving support for Mao was crucial in Mao's assumption of power. He had an important role in the Chinese Civil War, and in 1950–4 commanded the Chinese forces (Chinese People's Volunteers) in the Korean War. He was in total control of the army as Minister of National Defence from 1954, but criticized the disastrous Great Leap Forward, for which he was dismissed from office. His support within the leadership ensured his continued presence in the Politburo, though he was the first victim of the Cultural Revolution, which started with defamations against him. He was imprisoned and put into solitary confinement until his death. He was rehabilitated posthumously under Deng Xiaoping, and became a symbol for Mao's authoritarian nature.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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