“The Greatest Manmade Disaster in History” | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


“The Greatest Manmade Disaster in History”

The Great Famine remains a taboo in China, where it is referred to euphemistically as the Three Years of Natural Disasters or the Three Years of Difficulties. Yang’s monumental account, first published in Hong Kong, is banned in his homeland.

He had little idea of what he would find when he started work: “I didn’t think it would be so serious and so brutal and so bloody. I didn’t know that there were thousands of cases of cannibalism. I didn’t know about farmers who were beaten to death.

“People died in the family and they didn’t bury the person because they could still collect their food rations; they kept the bodies in bed and covered them up and the corpses were eaten by mice. People ate corpses and fought for the bodies. In Gansu they killed outsiders; people told me strangers passed through and they killed and ate them. And they ate their own children. Terrible. Too terrible.”

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