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Zhū Dé (朱德, Wade-Giles: Chu Teh, zi: Yůjiē 玉阶) (December 1886 - July 6, 1976) was a Chinese Communist military leader and statesman. He is regarded as a founder of the Chinese Red Army (the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army) and the tactician who engineered the revolution from which emerged the People's Republic of China.
He was born into a large farming family in Yilong county, a hilly and isolated section of northern Sichuan province. After a secondary education funded by his clan, Zhu De travelled to Chengdu to study physical education before joining the army. In 1908 he entered the Yunnan Military Academy in Kunming and went on to teach in the academy after his graduation. Zhu joined the rebellion that overthrew the Qing dynasty in 1911. He participated in military campaigns with armies of the Yunnan warlords and commanded units along the Laos and Vietnam borders during the early years of the Chinese Republic. During this time, Zhu De developed a strong opium habit but managed to recover from the addiction in 1922 at a Shanghai hospital.
Zhu De began to read Marxism and Leninism in Shanghai. In the mid-1920s he went overseas to Europe, studying at the Göttingen University in Germany from 1922 to 1925. Around this time he joined the Communist Party with Zhou Enlai and others as his sponsors. After he returned to China, Zhu served in a training regiment of Sun Yat-sen's Kuomintang army and Chief of Public Security in Nanchang. He was arrested twice for his revolutionary activities in China and eventually exiled. In July 1925, he travelled to the Soviet Union to study military affairs before returning to China in 1926.
Zhu's close affiliation with Mao Zedong began after the failed revolutionary uprisings in 1927, when both men fled to the Ching-kang Mountains to avoid the total annihilation of their forces. From these humble beginnings Mao and Zhu built the Red Army into a skilled guerilla force that consolidated and expanded the base areas under Communist control. Zhu's bravery and skill in leading these men made him a figure of immense prestige, and the locals credited him with supernatural abilities.
During the Long March Zhu De and Zhang Guotao commanded the "western column" of the Red Army which barely survived the retreat through Sichuan Province. In Yenan, Zhu directed the reconstruction of the Red Army under the political guidance of Mao and during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and the Chinese Civil War he held the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army. After 1949 Zhu was named Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and was vice-Chairman of the Communist Party. He was made a marshal in 1955. He continued to be a prominent and much respected elder statesman until his death in July 1976, at which time he was Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (since 1975).
- Zhu De Biography From Spartacus Educational
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